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Lakers news: LeBron James on the challenge of leading L.A. to playoffs

LeBron James, Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers will get back to work on Thursday night with LeBron James and company hosting James Harden’s Houston Rockets at the Staples Center. As the final stretch of the 2018-19 NBA season gets underway, the pressure is on in Los Angeles with the team currently out of the playoff picture in the highly competitive Western Conference.

On Wednesday, the Lakers went through their first practice with media availability and James fielded questions immediately after with an emphasis on the team fighting for a playoffs spot. James was asked if he felt pressure to clinch a spot in the postseason, prompting a quick response from the three-time NBA champion.

“Pressure? I don’t know what pressure is,” LeBron said. “You go out there and do your job and live with the results.”

Ahead of Thursday’s game against the Rockets, the Lakers are sitting in 10th place in the conference with the Sacramento Kings (30-27) and L.A. Clippers (32-27) ahead of them. Luke Walton’s squad is sporting a record of 28-29 with the prospect of making a playoff push dwindling.

However, LeBron claims the team is highly motivated heading into the final 25 games of the regular season.

“I think everyone is excited to get back on the floor,” James said. “Get back after the All-Star break and see what we’re made of.”

With the Lakers one game under .500 and the Kings and Clippers both being legitimate threats to clinch the eighth spot, James and company will have their work cut out for them in this final stretch. Although it remains to be seen whether Los Angeles can make a final push, LeBron knows what it means for the Lakers fans to get back into the postseason after the longest playoff drought in franchise history.

“That’s the job. That’s our goal. It’s been our goal from the beginning of the season and it’s still our goal. That’s what we’re working our tails off to get there.”

If the Lakers miss the playoffs this year, it will be the sixth in a row. Needless to say, the pressure is mounting, especially with the team bringing in arguably the best players in the world last summer.

Despite the obvious pressure to make the postseason and all the added attention the team has gotten this season with his arrival, LeBron claims he fears nothing and embraces the uncomfortable heading into an uncertain final few months of the 2018-19 campaign.

“I don’t fear nothing…I’m all about feeling uncomfortable,” LeBron said. “I love being uncomfortable. I fall in love with being uncomfortable, so this is another uncomfortable thing and I love it.”

James went on to describe why he loves uncomfortable situations and how he’s embracing the challenge of a difficult situation in Los Angeles.

“Why not? I enjoy the challenge of anything,” James said. “I enjoy being uncomfortable. I enjoy being counted out. I enjoy everything. I mean, I’m an African American kid from Akron, Ohio. Single-parent household, so playing basketball is nothing compared to how I made it out. This is just basketball and I know I’m ready for the challenge.”

Following the matchup with the Rockets on Thursday, the Lakers will go on the road to face the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies before hosting Anthony Davis’ squad back at the Staples Center on Feb. 27. Los Angeles will play five out of the next six games at home starting with the Pelicans with opponents including the Milwaukee Bucks, Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and Boston Celtics.