Lakers officially eliminated from NBA postseason contention by D'Angelo Russell and the Nets

It’s official: the Los Angeles Lakers have been eliminated from postseason contention and the NBA playoffs will be without LeBron James for the first time since 2005.

The Lakers lost to the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 111-106 on Friday, their 10th loss in their last 11 games and one that mathematically eliminated the team from the playoffs.

The Lakers were effectively eliminated long ago, but this season naturally had to come up with one last ignominy. This time, it was receiving the official elimination loss at home against a Nets team led by a player the Lakers had previously cast off.

Of course D’Angelo Russell helped eliminate the Lakers

D’Angelo Russell finished with 21 points, 13 assists and three steals to finish off his former team, another highlight in what has been a breakout season for the point guard.

Nearly two years ago, the Lakers traded Russell to the Nets along with Timofey Mozgov’s albatross contract to the Nets for Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma. The move was meant to make room at point guard for Lonzo Ball, who was shut down earlier this month with an ankle injury. Russell has since blossomed into an All-Star and the exact kind of reliable offensive option that the Lakers could have used this year.

Another ex-Laker, Ed Davis, also finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Nets off the bench.

Funnily enough, the Lakers actually showed a lot more fight than usual in their current run of losses, but it obviously wasn’t enough. There was rarely a lead larger than five points for either team, and LeBron James finished with 25 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in his return from a groin injury. However, he also shot a ghastly 8-of-25 from the field.

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Lebron James as a Laker
EL SEGUNDO, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for a portrait during media day at UCLA Health Training Center on September 24, 2018 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
September 24, 2018; El Segundo, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James before speaking to media at UCLA Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the basketball against Paul Millsap #4 of the Denver Nuggets on October 25, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates with fans after scoring during the overtime period of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Spurs won 143-142. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) grabs a rebound over Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Houston Rockets' Chris Paul, second from left, is held back by Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, left, as Paul fights with Lakers' Rajon Rondo, center obscured, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Rockets won, 124-115. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers misses a last second shot in front of Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs to lose 143-142 in overtime at Staples Center on October 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 24: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 24, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lakers defeated the Suns 131-113. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the basketball against Paul Millsap #4 of the Denver Nuggets on October 25, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 10: LeBron James #23 and Lance Stephenson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after James made a shot against the Golden State Warriors and was fouled during their preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on October 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles reacts during a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets at Valley View Casino Center on September 30, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot in front of Torrey Craig #3 of the Denver Nuggets during a preseason game at Staples Center on October 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the basketball against Paul Millsap #4 of the Denver Nuggets on October 25, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores a basket and gets fouled by Mo Bamba #5 of the Orlando Magic during the first half at Staples Center on November 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to his missed shot as he is fouled during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on November 14, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 07: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers, center, is picked up by LeBron James #23 and Kyle Kuzma #0 after scoring the game winning basket against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter at TD Garden on February 07, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Lakers defeat the Celtics 129-128. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Where do the Lakers go from here?

The Lakers still have 10 games left to play, but with Ball and Brandon Ingram shut down and LeBron James on a minutes limit, their only incentive going forward is to lose and improve their lottery position. To do that, they could also shut down James, but pride might stop that from happening.

The Lakers now haven’t reached the playoffs since 2013, the longest drought in team history. It’s also the fourth longest active playoff drought in the NBA, behind only the Sacramento KingsPhoenix Suns and Orlando Magic.

The team will enter this offseason with some hard questions to answer. Will the team be able to land another superstar to play alongside James? Are Ball, Ingram and Kuzma truly stars in the making, or would the Lakers get more use out of them as trade chips? Can they find an improvement from Luke Walton at head coach?

We’ll see if the LeBron James show gets any better in Season 2.

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