As of the time of this writing, the Los Angeles Lakers are in real danger of being eliminated from this years’ NBA playoffs, and that’s got former Lakers superstar Shaquille O’Neal slightly upset. No, that’s not true. He’s downright mad.
The most recent game saw the Phoenix Suns completely dominate the Lakers in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series earlier this week (again, as of the time of this post). One more loss, and it’s lights out for the defending champs.
How bad was it? Well, the Lakers never cut the lead to fewer than 25 points after the midpoint of the second quarter. Phoenix is up 3-2 in the series.
Game-wise, the Lakers had to go without Anthony Davis due to a groin injury, and as for LeBron James, he didn’t get much help on offense from his teammates. James finished with 24 points on 6-for-10 3-point shooting, while the other Lakers starters combined to score just 11 points. Excluding James, the Lakers shot a mere 6-for-25 from 3-point range in the blowout loss.
All that led to O’Neal’s less-the-flattering words. The Hall of Famer ripped his former team on TNT’s Inside the NBA show immediately afterwards, calling the Lakers “soft.” and said they played “with no heart.”
Shaq: “As a former Laker, I have G-14 classification to say what I’m about to say. They played soft. They played with no heart. Played with no pride, and they played with no sense of urgency. When it comes to the Lakers and great championship teams, they play with pride. We always ain’t have all our players healthy, but we still played with pride. The stars played well. Stars played when they were hurt. And the others stepped up.”
See Shaq’s full reaction – click here: NBA on TNT on Twitter: “Shaq reacts to the Lakers’ 30-point loss to Phoenix in Game 5. https://t.co/zkXlh7IcPy” / Twitter
While acknowledging that James didn’t have his best performance, O’Neal didn’t spare the tough words for the rest of the team, either. Only two Lakers besides James scored in double-figures: Kyle Kuzma with 15 points and Talen Horton-Tucker with 11, most of which came with the game well out of hand.
Davis has hinted at a possible return for Thursday’s Game 6, but he and the training staff will have to see how he looks leading up to tipoff. With or without Davis, the Lakers will need to come out with much more energy and aggression in order to avoid elimination.