While the Los Angeles Lakers’ comeback win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night was an incredible team effort, it was LeBron James that put his mark on one of the best wins of the season. In total, James finished with 33 points — 14 in the fourth — eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals on 14-for-23 from the field.
With Super Bowl LVI champions Aaron Donald and Robert Woods at Crypto.com Arena, James dialed up the intensity. He and the Lakers desperately needed a win heading into the All-Star Break, and he was the main reason that goal was accomplished.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had nothing but praise for James following the win. “What we saw LeBron [James] do, it’s just remarkable. What he continues to do at this point of his career, to take over a game in the fourth quarter the way that he did, which is energy, will and determination, it was really something special.”
Vogel also spoke about the difference between James on a normal night and James on Wednesday against the Jazz. “He frequently leads with his voice. Tonight was about his action. Just the look in his eyes, the way he was playing, the way he was approaching the defensive end,” Vogel said of James. “Again, the engagement we continue to talk about; when he is super locked in, the rest of the group follows.
“He was something else during that stretch in all the ways we just discussed. To be that locked in and deliver with the shot-making and the play-making, it’s just remarkable. This is the No. 1 offense in the league. Second game in a row we held them around one hundred points largely because of that engagement they were talking about with [LeBron]. They were getting locked in and he just made big plays offensively.”
When the Lakers trailed 94-89, James went on an absolute tear, going on a 10-2 run by himself to give the Lakers a 99-96 lead with 1:24 to go. It capped off a remarkable effort from him, Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Malik Monk.
With this type of energy, the ceiling of what the Lakers can accomplish this season absolutely rises. However, consistency has always been a massive factor. After an eight-day All-Star Break, the Lakers will have a chance to come back energized for a stretch run to end the season.
James credits Lakers defense
While Vogel gave much of the praise to James for his lead-by-example effort, James’ compliments went to the team’s defense.
“Well, it starts with getting stops,” the 37-year-old said. “It allows us to play with good pace, but even when teams score, we’ve been doing a good job of just getting the ball in, getting up the floor, and then seeing what we can do after that. Just get it up the floor, get some reads, take advantage of it, then if not, at least we’re not working against the shot clock.
“We’re still giving ourselves 14, 15, 16 seconds to go get set and things of that nature, so it definitely helps out a lot.”
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