James knocks out Bulls but Lakers still a long shot

Andre Ingram Los Angeles Lakers Under Armour Curry 3

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are now mired in 11th place in the Western Conference and 6.5 games behind a playoffs berth.

Robin Lopez scored 20 points for the Bulls while Otto Porter Jr. registered 19.

Despite the Lakers' plan to scale back James' minutes for the remainder of the season - with the 32-minute range being a guidepost - coach Luke Walton was prepared to sub James back into the game with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and his team up by 10, sending him to the scorer's table to check in.

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He took over after the Lakers' 14-point lead was cut to four with 8 minutes, 38 seconds left, making a jumper and then going through the lane for a thunderous dunk on the next possession. Everybody just had a joy for the game, happy for each other, everybody was moving the ball, passing it. "So he's frustrated with it too, and he's continuing to battle out there, and he did a really nice job of helping us get a win tonight".

LeBron James continues to do it all for the Lakers. He scored the first six points for Los Angeles, including a breakaway reverse dunk from Kuzma. He was 4 of 17 for 11 points. But they are still playing with a sharp edge, thanks to their team captain. "I'll be watching if we're not in there and it looks like we're not". Before the game, Walton was asked what would've been his reaction if he was told they would have the same record (30-36) as they did after 66 games last season. Another personal highlight for the Lakers was the return of G League hero Andre Ingram, but he only posted two minutes in his first National Basketball Association game since last April. "They'll get an opportunity to learn, and I get an opportunity to play with them, so we can take that out of it for sure".

But, the Lakers are once again expected to become major players in this June's free agency, and with enough cap space to sign another superstar to pair with LeBron, there's a lot of optimism in Los Angeles, that all the frustrations will end soon.

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