LOS ANGLELES (AFP) – LeBron James made no excuses after the Los Angeles Lakers were left facing elimination from the NBA playoffs on Tuesday following a humiliating defeat to the Phoenix Suns.
“We got our ass kicked – it’s that simple,” James said, after being asked to sum up what had gone wrong in a 115-85 mauling in Phoenix.
The game five loss leaves the Suns 3-2 ahead with two games to play, meaning the Lakers must win both of their remaining games to extend their postseason.
James however said the Lakers would need to show improvement in game six at the Staples Center on Thursday if they are to keep the series alive.
“We’ve got to be better if we want to force a game seven,” James said. “A lot to cover and see what we can do better in game six, but they pretty much just kicked our ass, there’s nothing else really to say.”
James hopes the high-stakes nature of Thursday’s game in Los Angeles will bring out the best in the reigning NBA champions.
“It’s literally win or go home at this point,” James said. “You shoot all the bullets you got and throw the gun too.
“I’m looking forward to the environment. Obviously the Laker faithful will give us a lot of energy. I look forward to the moment and the challenge, and see what brings out the best of me.”
James meanwhile said he is not expecting team-mate Anthony Davis to recover from a groin injury in time for Thursday’s game. Davis’s physical presence was sorely missed on Tuesday as the Suns ran riot.
“My mindset is he’s not going to play in game six,” James said. “If something changes we’ll go from there, but my mindset is that he’s not going to be playing.”
The Suns victory leaves Phoenix 3-2 ahead in the best-of-seven Western Conference first round series, meaning the Lakers must win in Los Angeles in game six on Thursday to keep their season alive.
Phoenix led by 36 points in the third quarter, and a disconsolate James left the court well before the end of a grim night for the Lakers.
James led the Los Angeles scoring with 24 points, with Kyle Kuzma adding 15 from the bench. No other Lakers player made double figures.
LILLARD DROPS 55
Elsewhere Tuesday, Damian Lillard produced a record-breaking 55-point display but it was not enough to prevent the Portland Trail Blazers from slipping to a 147-140 double overtime defeat to the Denver Nuggets.
The game five defeat leaves Denver 3-2 ahead in the best-of-seven playoff series.
Lillard’s final points tally included 12 threes, a record for the NBA playoffs and only two behind the all-time record of 14 in a game held by Klay Thompson.
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets scorers with 38 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, while Monte Morris added 28 points. Michael Porter Jr. finished with 26 points.