Throughout the 2021-22 season, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has been one of the few bright spots of a disappointing team. Amid rumors surrounding Frank Vogel, Russell Westbrook, and others, James has continued to put up incredible scoring numbers.
In his last two home games, James has scored 56 and 50 points, respectively, totaling 106 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists on an incredibly efficient 37-of-56 shooting. This type of output would be impressive for just about anyone, but for James to do this in his 19th NBA season at age 37 is unprecedented.
Vogel has seen all of this from up close, and is almost out of words to describe James’ performance this season.
“He’s really good at basketball. I hope that answers your question,” Vogel joked. “I think what stands out to me is the league has never seen a player at this stage of his career do what he’s doing. I think that’s the biggest thing that needs to be recognized.
“It’s just unbelievable the level that he’s playing at. Maybe after all these years, him playing center was really the best way to utilize him. Because that’s how he’s been doing it, playing the center position with AD out, doing whatever the team needs to win games. Just an incredible, unbelievable, epic performance by LJ.”
Against the Washington Wizards on Friday, James scored 12 straight points in the third quarter to help push L.A. ahead. Vogel credited that and improved defense for the turnaround. “The third quarter is where we took control of the game, obviously with Bron getting red-hot, but also our defense held them I think to 23 points in the third.
“Much better start in the second half than we did in the first half. I think the combination of how we were guarding and obviously Bron taking over the game offensively was a critical stretch in us getting the W.”
For the Lakers, Vogel believes a lot of the team’s energy and confidence comes from their superstar.
“That’s most of the confidence. But I believe in our group, in our system, in the habits that we drill, and we build with our guys every day. Obviously, the large portion of our confidence comes with knowing that he’s on our side.”
Without James, it’s difficult to think of where the Lakers might be this season. He has absolutely kept the team alive during what has been the most difficult season in recent memory.
And while keeping the Lakers alive is James’ main goal, he also has a chance to do the unthinkable and win a scoring title in his 19th NBA season. With 16 games left in the season, James is in a three-way deadlock for the scoring crown, alongside Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
James understands low margin of error for Lakers
Even with the win on Friday against the Wizards, L.A. is just 2-6 since the All-Star break. The reason for this — as James puts it — is a low margin for error. “We just don’t have a lot of room for error,” the Lakers superstar said.
“We make a mistake or we break down defensively or we don’t get a good look at the basket. Teams are literally making us pay every time. It’s not like we’re getting away with things and it’s just that simple. We have a very small margin of error and teams are making us pay.”
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