After missing five games with left knee soreness, LeBron James made his return to the court for the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night as he and Anthony Davis led the team to a comeback victory over the New York Knicks.
James looked like he hadn’t missed a beat as he notched a triple-double and showed no signs of rust. He finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists while Davis added 28 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals to lead the Lakers back from 21 points down to snatch a victory from the Knicks. Afterwards, Davis praised his teammate for doing everything he expected him to do in his return.
“Hell of a return. He did what he did,” Davis said. “I think he had a triple-double, right? He’s doing LeBron-type things. Expected nothing less from him. Efficient from the field; he did what he was supposed to do. He helped us for sure. Missed him. He’s a big part of our team with his voice, leadership, playmaking ability. He came back and showed it.”
The one thing that many have pointed to that was missed about James was his leadership and IQ especially in late-game situations. The Lakers have had many close games with LeBron on the sideline and were just unable to get over the hump. But having LeBron on the court undoubtedly helps the Lakers immensely, except with the team’s free-throw shooting much to Davis’ dismay.
“He definitely helps us in crunchtime situations, late-game situations, for sure,” Davis added. “I think even in that Clipper game, we executed phenomenally at the end and tonight too as well. Guys are fighting, guys are competing and I think the thing that almost cost us the game was our free-throw shooting. Terrible, again. 17-for-28. So we got to go to the gym and just shoot free throws for the next two days. That’s gonna cost us games and it almost cost us tonight. But it definitely helped having [LeBron] come back and kind of lead the pack in the late-game situations.”
The most important thing for the Lakers is that LeBron and Davis are healthy and playing at an extremely high level. If the Lakers can get that consistently down the stretch they give themselves a chance against any team.
James encourages Westbrook after rough night
While James and Davis were outstanding against the Knicks, the same can’t be said about Russell Westbrook. The Lakers’ point guard shot just 1-of-10 and was benched in overtime in favor of Talen Horton-Tucker. But despite the tough shooting night, LeBron continued to encourage his teammate.
“I just told him to text me later. I told him to keep going and stop second-guessing himself during the game,” James said. “There was a couple times where he had good looks and second-guessed himself, couple times where he had some drives and second-guessed himself.
“He’s an instinctive player and with what he’s done in this league, he should never second-guess himself. He’s put the work in, so I just told him to just hit me later and I don’t need to harp on what we need to say to him. He’s a big-time player and I have the utmost confidence in his ability. Not only for this team, but for himself individually.”
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