The Los Angeles Lakers returned home on Monday night after a road trip and a short stint in Las Vegas to play the team's first game in LA in two weeks. LeBron James and Co. were unable to return home victoriously, as the New York Knicks came into town and handed the purple and gold a 114-109 loss.
Los Angeles celebrated winning the first NBA In-Season Tournament on Friday with a banner that will now hang from the rafters. Any feelings of joy in the fanbase pre-game have already subsided as Monday's loss is indicative of how this team is playing right now.
The Lakers have not looked sharp since winning the In-Season Tournament. Los Angeles is 1-3 since winning the NBA Cup with the only win being a three-point victory over the worst team in the Western Conference.
This play has frustrated Lakers fans and LeBron James only added to the frustration after the loss to the Knicks. LeBron walked around the question when asked if the In-Season Tournament has since impacted the Lakers' play, essentially confirming that the Lake Show is using the tournament as an excuse for its current struggles.
LeBron James' excuses are frustrating Lakers fans
The Indiana Pacers, who the Lakers defeated in the In-Season Tournament Final, have also struggled since the tourney. Indiana is just 1-3 since the team's trip to Las Vegas with some ugly losses mixed in. The Pacers allowed Giannis Antetokounmpo to score 64, lost to the Washington Wizards by 14, and just got blown out by the Clippers in a game where LA scored 151 points.
It definitely appears that pushing hard for the NBA Cup is having some kind of impact on the teams that made it the farthest. After all, it can be hard to come back down to earth and playing normal regular-season games after playing several games with stakes.
But the Lakers still cannot use this as an excuse. LeBron and his teammates knew exactly what they were getting into when they decided to push so hard for the NBA Cup. This was not a surprise, it did not sneak up on the Lakers.
On the other hand, though, Lakers fans should cut the team some slack. If these struggles continue in a larger stretch then there is reason to be worried. But every single team in the league is going to have a bad stretch. The Lakers have already earned the benefit of the doubt from the fanbase.