LeBron James put on another remarkable show in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
From start to finish, nearly everything good that happened on the court for L.A. had James’ fingerprints all over. The four-time NBA champion started the game by sending a lob pass to set up Anthony Davis for a spectacular one-handed jam in the duo’s first game since the 28-year-old forward injured his knee in mid-December.
The 37-year-old All-Star then effectively put the game to bed, notching steals on back-to-back plays and finishing both of them with dunks in the fourth quarter, extending the Lakers’ lead to 15 points.
James finished with 33 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals, two blocks, and no turnovers, putting up the 14th 30-point performance in the last 18 games.
“It’s just remarkable,” head coach Frank Vogel said of James’ performance. “I think the thing that you have to credit LeBron for during this stretch is his willingness to adapt this late in his career. Our shift of our system of playing with an open paint, which is different from what we’ve done the last couple years.
“His willingness to not be the initiator with everything, but trust in his teammates. Becoming a roller, getting other guys open because they don’t want to leave him or he’s getting more pocket passes than he ever has in his career, but his willingness to shift in that way and obviously his willingness to grow his three-point game over the few couple years is to where he’s at right now is like you said, it’s just a great rhythm and he played remarkable really on both sides of the ball tonight.”
Besides James’ input on offense, Vogel pointed out the 17-time All-Star’s defensive impact in the victory over Brooklyn.
“We didn’t want to double James [Harden] the whole game. It puts a lot of pressure on us to really run around. He made it difficult with the way he was scoring the ball early, but yes, late in the game, we wanted to take the ball out of his hands,” the Lakers’ head coach explained.
“When we do that, Bron is great as a free safety. Looking for steal opportunities. He missed the one that led to the James Johnson three but got two consecutive ones right after that and obviously tore the rim down on the other end.
“He was really locked in on the defensive side of the ball all day long, starting with shootaround really getting our guys locked into the coverages and talking about how we finished the game in Miami.”
James ‘channeled his inner Ed Reed’ in win over Nets
Asked about his back-to-back steals that ended in transition dunks in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game, James said he tried to emulate a legendary Baltimore Ravens safety and one of the NFL’s all-time best interceptors.
“Just kind of channeling my inner Ed Reed at that point in time,” James said.
“Playing the passing lanes and seeing the direction of the ball, but just trying to be in the right place and protect my teammates while we’re in coverage and doing some of the things we’re doing defensively. I was able to pick-six two of them in a row.”
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