The Los Angeles Lakers have moved one step closer to their ultimate goal, advancing to the NBA Finals after their 117-107 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
Head coach Frank Vogel’s team survived the best shots that the Nuggets had to offer, but in the end LeBron James took things over down the stretch to make sure that the Lakers got rid of Denver for good.
James finished with 38 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists for his 27th career postseason triple-double to lead the way for the Lakers. He saved his best work for the final quarter as the Nuggets had erased a 16-point deficit to make things close down the stretch.
This entire season has been one of proving doubters wrong for LeBron as many wondered whether he would be able to play at a high level in his 17th NBA season. Vogel has noticed this mindset from James as well, and undoubtedly believes it is something that has pushed LeBron.
“I just feel like he’s had a chip on his shoulder all year long,” Vogel said after the Lakers Game 5 victory. “Everybody has doubters.
“To be in the Eastern Conference and get there as much as he had, now to come over to the Western Conference, I think just an enormous accomplishment to do it with a third team. So much respect for him and love for him and what he’s meant to me.
“He has empowered this whole group with just buying into the plan that we had, with how we wanted to play this year, and getting the whole group to buy in. Obviously a great part of why we’ve had this success. Understanding that the job is not done.”
The only thing more dangerous than a player as talented as James is him with added motivation. He has been exactly that throughout the 2019-20 season. It worked as well considering James was a finalist for MVP and also was named to the All-NBA First Team.
In the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets, James again came under some scrutiny after a couple of less-than-stellar performances. But when it came time to end things, it was James who was the best player on the court.
At this point, the idea of questioning anything in regards to LeBron’s standing amongst the NBA’s best players seems comical.
LeBron will ‘give it all I got’ when on the floor
There had been some concern regarding James in the Western Conference Finals as it seemed that he was conserving some energy and didn’t quite have that same burst at times during the series. But James quieted plenty especially in the Lakers’ closeout Game 5.
Furthermore, James doesn’t agree with the idea that he was conserving energy. “I’m on the floor, I give it all I got. If I need a break, I ask for a break,” he said.
“Coach has done a good job of getting me out throughout the course of the game. I don’t look at it as a reserve tank. I’ve got pretty good energy when I’m on the floor all the time. It’s winning time and I don’t have a chance or time to be feeling tired.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!