The Los Angeles Lakers have played some of their best basketball of the 2021-22 season over the last three games, racking up a couple of key wins for their Play-In Tournament hopes.
L.A. started March with a 2-7 run, scoring 113.2 points per game and shooting 46.2% from the field. But against the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers’ point average jumped up to 126 and they made a much-improved 52.7% of their shot attempts.
The two victories they claimed allowed the Purple and Gold to move back up to ninth in the Western Conference after the New Orleans Pelicans briefly leapfrogged them in the standings over the weekend.
“We have played 11 out of 12 really good quarters,” head coach Frank Vogel said, commenting on his team’s performance over the last week.
“I thought the Toronto game was the best we played all season in terms of our guys really starting to play the way we’re teaching them to play. We’ve been teaching them modern NBA, principles about multiple positionless rollers and flip game and things like that.”
Vogel pointed out the Lakers’ offense did a good job moving the ball around recently. However, he thought their defense still wasn’t “where we want it to be, but they guarded for the most part.”
LeBron James — who put up a 38-point triple-double against the Cavaliers — agreed that defensively, L.A. has a lot of room for improvement.
“We just want to continue to work our habits, try and push forward,” James said. “For about 11 quarters straight, we played some really good basketball, besides the fourth quarter of that last Wizards game. But we’ve played some good basketball, we want to continue that trend. Obviously we want to defend a lot better, but [the Cavaliers] are making a lot of shots, a lot of plays, and they’ve been scoring a lot of points verse everybody.
“So to come into this building where they’ve played exceptional basketball all year and for us to come here on the last game of a road trip before we head back west, it was a good game for us.”
Vogel doesn’t know where Lakers would be without James
The recent progress wouldn’t be possible without a tremendous effort by James who, apart from his triple-double, also become the second-leading scorer of all time during the recent three-game stretch.
Marveling at the 37-year-old’s accomplishment and career in general, Vogel emphasized how important a figure James is for the Lakers.
“The fact it is later in his career and he’s still doing it at this level is different,” Vogel said. “Obviously, the way he’s continuing to evolve his game with the deep shooting, the turnaround fadeaway jump shot that Kobe [Bryant] and Michael [Jordan] had later in his career. Now he’s growing as a receiver.
“That part is special, but it’s just an incredible game, season and I don’t know where we’d be without him.”
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