Riding an orange wave of support at home, the Suns sent the four-time league MVP to the locker room early and took control of their first-round playoff series with a 115-85 Game 5 win.
James scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter in a desperate attempt to rally the Lakers from a 30-point half-time deficit, its largest in a playoff game since 1998, but lamented his team’s ability to hit open shots.
The Lakers head home for Game 6 down 3-2 in the series, needing a win to send the series back to Phoenix for a winner-takes-all Game 7.
James holds a 15-0 career record in the first round of playoff series, and has only needed to go to a Game 7 once, back in 2018 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This series is the first time he has been down 3-2 in a first-round match-up.
“They pretty much just kicked our a– there’s nothing else really to say,” James told reporters after the loss.
“It’s literally win or go home at that point, so you shoot all the bullets you’ve got and throw the gun too.
“I look forward to the environment, obviously our Laker faithful are going to give us a lot of energy. I look forward to the challenge to see what brings out the best in me and my teammates.”
James and his teammates were without All-Star forward Anthony Davis after he injured his groin in the Game 4 loss to the Suns, and the 36-year-old said he expects Davis to miss Game 6 as well.
“My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6, I have to go in with that,” he said.
“If something changes, we’ll go from there, but I’m preparing as if he’s not.”
The Lakers will host the Suns in Game 6 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday at 12:30 pm AEST.
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