The performances that LeBron James has put forth in the Los Angeles Lakers’ last two games have truly been special. But points weren’t the only thing over 40 for LeBron as his minutes have also been around 40 in each of those contests, something head coach Darvin Ham has spoken previously about wanting to limit.
Ideally, James wouldn’t be playing this many minutes. But with the Lakers in need, LeBron is doing whatever he needs to in order to get this team victories. Ham was asked about the number of minutes James has been playing and the Lakers coach said that each game is different but they are in constant communication throughout the game, via NBA.com:
“It’s just like the lineup I finished with and we kind of rode them. Called a couple timeouts to get them some breathers. Whoever has a great rhythm, it’s tough, it’s different from game to game. We have other guys that are rolling and I look down there and Bron will wave at me like ‘No let them keep going, let them keep going.’ It’s gonna be nights where he has it going like he did tonight and last game and I’m looking at him like ‘I want to come get you’ and he said, ‘Nah I’m good, I’m good.’ The constant communication and collaboration with just picking your spots and whether to sub him or call a timeout. A night like tonight, a night like last game where he’s just got it going not just from a scoring perspective, but a playmaking perspective and the way he’s rebounding, the way he’s defending, you just want to ride him. And he allows you to do that because he takes such great care of himself. It’s a great luxury to have.”
Indeed, LeBron has spoken about doing everything he needs to ensure his body is prepared for whatever he needs to do on the court each and every night. Without Anthony Davis, even more of a workload is on James’ shoulders, but he has thrived and uplifted his Lakers teammates along the way.
Ham sees James controlling the game not just for himself, but allowing his teammates to gain confidence as well and hopes that continues going forward:
“He’s feeling good. He’s in a good space physically. He’s really at this point where I think the game has completely slowed down for him where he can see things three or four plays ahead, three, four, five seconds ahead. He’s doing a great job as I mentioned here earlier, knowing when to attack, really getting out running, getting himself some easy buckets in transition. Reading the pick-and-roll whether he’s setting the screen, whether he’s handling. Reading how the defense is playing him whether they’re blitzing or hedging, and he’s making the right play. And it’s giving his teammates around him a ton of confidence where teams just can’t collapse the defense on LeBron. When guys step up and make shots, Troy Brown making threes, Pat Bev making threes, Thomas Bryant rolling and finishing in the paint, Austin coming out and making plays. The ball moving is giving our team a ton of confidence and hopefully we continue to trend in that direction.”
The Lakers can’t win without the role players stepping up and LeBron is putting them in places where they can succeed and do well in their roles. Whether they are hitting open shots, finishing at the rim or wreaking havoc defensively, the Lakers are getting big contributions from the others on the roster and that is allowing this team to come away with wins at a time when they really need them.
LeBron James praises Austin Reaves for pushing through recent slump
One player who has had his struggles recently is second-year guard Austin Reaves. But with Russell Westbrook shut down for the second half on Monday, Reaves broke out of his slump and helped the Lakers to victory.
Afterward, LeBron praised Reaves for not getting too down on himself and coming through when the Lakers needed him most. LeBron also went into the journey Reaves has been down since joining the Lakers as he was thrust into an important role as a rookie that no one foresaw coming.
Now Reaves is an integral part of the Lakers and James understands that and is happy to see him push through what had been a rough stretch.
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