LeBron James Leaves Blowout Loss Early as Suns Crush Lakers

Phoenix dismantled Los Angeles 115-85 to take a 3-2 lead in the first-round series

LeBron James
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers walks off the court.
Christian Petersen/Getty

Trailing by more than 30 points with almost six minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, LeBron James was pulled from Tuesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns. With the Los Angeles Lakers about to fall into a 3-2 hole in their first-round series, James didn’t stick around.

James headed back to the locker room and was not on the bench to see Phoenix win by a 115-85 margin to put the defending champion Lakers on the brink of elimination from the playoffs.

James, who has previously been criticized several times during his career for exiting games early during losses, was roundly ripped on social media for the timing of his exit.

The 36-year-old has been battling a troublesome ankle injury over the past several weeks and would have needed to overcome that, as well as a feisty Phoenix club, for LA to have a chance on Tuesday. He couldn’t do it and the Lakers were blown out in the desert.

If the Suns are able to win one more game and start LA’s summer vacation early, they will be the first team in 15 tries to send James home in the first round of the postseason. After winning last night following a victory on Sunday, the Suns are already the first team to hand James consecutive first-round defeats in his 15-year career.

“We got our ass kicked. It is that simple,” said James, who scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter. “They did whatever they wanted to win this game. We have to be better if we want to force a Game 7. They pretty much just kicked our ass. There’s nothing else to say.”

If LA wants to force a seventh game, they will likely have to do it without All-Star Anthony Davis, who is expected to sit again in Game 6 after missing Game 5.

“My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6, but that’s just my mindset,” James said. “If something changes, we go from there. It’s literally win or go home … so you shoot all the bullets you got and throw the gun too. I look forward to the environment.”

Game 6 is Thursday in Los Angeles.

“We didn’t play well on either side of the ball,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ll find out what we are made of and how bad we want this.”

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