Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has proved again he continues defying Father Time, putting on an electrifying display against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.
L.A. fell 116-112 to Sacramento, ending the preseason winless. However, the Lakers had reasons to keep their heads up and look forward to next week’s Opening Night despite the disappointing result.
Head coach Frank Vogel’s line-up featuring DeAndre Jordan at the five and Anthony Davis as forward dominated the Kings in the paint. Jordan and Davis combined for 23 of the team’s 56 rebounds while the Lakers gave up 49 boards themselves. L.A. also outscored the Kings by 18 in the paint, scoring 60 points in the protected area.
The last stat had a lot to do with James’ enthralling performance. In his 19th season, the four-time NBA champion dropped 30 points in the final preseason game. James’ showed a much-improved shot selection compared to previous games, making 60% (12-of-20) of his field-goal attempts and shooting 40% (2-for-5) from downtown.
However, he made the night’s highlight reel by aggressively driving into the paint. James scored 53.3% of his points in the protected area; one in five came off the break.
“Nothing he does surprises me,” Vogel said. “He was terrific tonight. Final dress rehearsal with our group, this new team. I liked how he attacked the rim.
“I liked how he took jump shots when the defense gave him too much space and made them pay over the top. That’s something he’s really done really well over the last few years. Great performance overall,” Vogel summed up.
Russell Westbrook chipped in 18 points, joining James in attacking the rim and harassing Sacramento in transition.
James looks forward to high-tempo partnership with Westbrook
The Lakers’ ability to move the ball up quickly, inflicting damage on the break emerged as one of the main takeaways of the preseason. The increase in tempo had a lot to do with the addition of Westbrook, known for his pace and athleticism.
James thinks he can create a dangerous partnership with the 32-year-old guard that — as in the loss to Sacramento — will put pressure on rival defenders in the paint and create open looks for their teammates.
“Well, one thing it does do with both of us on the floor, it takes a set of eyes or two [sets of] eyes off of us individually, and now when the ball is swung to us, we’re able to just attack,” he said.
“So it’s just constant pressure that we’re going to put on the defense and it ultimately is gonna help AD, it’s going to help our shooters, it’s going to help everybody on the floor because we can break down the defense at a high level.”
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