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Lakers coach Luke Walton explains benching LeBron James in final minutes of win vs. Bulls

Luke Walton, LeBron James, Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton was ready to break the loose 32-minute playing time limitation for LeBron James, who prepared to enter the game late in the fourth quarter with three minutes left after exiting the game a few minutes earlier, only to run back from the scorer’s table and sit down for the remainder of their 123-107 win over the Chicago Bulls.

“He was going back in,” Walton said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “He understood that depending on how that one or two baskets went while he was at the scorer’s table, he was going to finish that game out for us. And he wants to. But when we went on the run, we put him back to the bench.”

Three shots right at the heart of the basket opened up a commanding 121-105 lead, giving the Lakers a 16-point advantage they could manage without James for the last few minutes of regulation.

James said that while Tuesday’s game was relatively meaningless, it was a testament to his overall approach to the game, always the consummate professional when it comes to taking the court when his number is called.

“I don’t talk about [being professional]. That’s what I live,” James said. “You guys ask me questions, I answer questions, but I live being professional. I live playing every game like it’s my last. No matter what’s going on. You finish out strong. That’s just who I am.”

The Lakers might have very slim chances to make the playoffs, but as long as there is a purpose, LeBron James will be in uniform, fighting the good fight as he has over his 16 years of service to the league.