Flak for James as Lakers fall to Bucks

LOS ANGELES • He may be one of the greatest players in the National Basketball Association (NBA), but LeBron James was accused of a lack of class after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated his Los Angeles Lakers 131-120 to become the first team to clinch a play-off berth.

With 10 seconds left at the Staples Centre on Friday and the result beyond doubt, the forward walked off the court in frustration and was blasted by analysts and fans on social media afterwards.

Fox Sports analyst Skip Bayless tweeted that heading straight to the locker room was "not a classy move".

Fans also slammed the four-time Most Valuable Player, who has also been accused of deflecting blame of the Lakers' struggles of late and not accepting any of the flak himself.

One tweeted: "Lebron is a f****** bum, walks off the court, such bad sportsmanship."

Another said: "Walking off the court and not shaking hands with time left on the clock against the Bucks. Stay classy LeBron."

James had 31 points and 10 assists for the Lakers (30-32), who have followed each of their past six wins with a loss.

"We had our chances," said James, whose team had three of their nine turnovers in the last five minutes. "We broke down individually down the stretch defensively."

The Bucks crucially scored 15 of the game's final 17 points, including Eric Bledsoe's free throw with 2min 25sec left that gave them the lead for good. He finished with a season-high 31 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo chipped in with 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks (48-14), who won their seventh straight game.

Malcolm Brogdon (21), Khris Middleton (18), Ersan Ilyasova (12), Brook Lopez (11) and Nikola Mirotic (11) joined Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo as the Bucks players to record double-figure scores.

Brandon Ingram matched James' 31 points, while Rajon Rondo and Kyle Kuzma had 20 and 12 points respectively for Los Angeles, who were outshot from the floor 51.6 per cent to 47.9 per cent.

"Against one of the best teams in the league we really played well," Lakers coach Luke Walton told the Los Angeles Times.

"And then for some reason, we kind of fell apart at the end there. When we're playing the elite teams, we have to take games… I thought we did that for most of tonight and then we did not finish that."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 03, 2019, with the headline 'Flak for James as Lakers fall to Bucks'. Print Edition | Subscribe