Lakers News: LeBron James Believes Cleaning Defensive Glass Was Key To Win Over Thunder
LeBron James, Lakers, Thunder
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James didn’t have to go crazy offensively for the Los Angeles Lakers to take down the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. LeBron finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the victory, but it was the Lakers’ defense that was the story on this night.

The Lakers held the Thunder’s high-powered offense 17 points below their season average and just 39.4% shooting overall. It was another example of the identity the Lakers want to impose, playing hard-nosed defense and being able to get out in transition offensively for easy buckets.

The Thunder are not an easy team to hold down and when asked how the Lakers were able to do so, LeBron pointed to the team just keeping the Thunder in front of them, and clearing the glass.

“I think we did a good job of keeping bodies in front of bodies,” James said after the Lakers’ 12-point victory. “We know they’re one of the best one-on-one teams in the league and they live in the paint, but they’re also been shooting the ball extremely well from the outside as well. So just trying to keep bodies on bodies and then if we can get them to miss, we can clean glass. We didn’t give them many second-chance points and that was key.”

LeBron would continue, noting that rebounding was a point of emphasis against this team. “We definitely understood that if we’re gonna make a team like this miss, if they do miss, we got to clean glass. I thought we did that from start to finish.”

The Lakers out-rebounded the Thunder 55-to-38 and while Oklahoma City did grab 13 offensive rebounds on the night, they finished with just 15 second-chance points, unable to take advantage of it.

But it wasn’t just defense as the offense shined as well. The Lakers had 29 assists on their 41 made baskets and knocked down 16 3-pointers. LeBron understands there are still areas to clean up, but is happy with the state of the team’s offense right now.

“Yeah, we understand that when the ball is popping and everybody’s feeling comfortable, we’ve been playing some really good basketball offensively,” James added. “One thing tonight was we had too many unforced turnovers, which we’ll work on. We know we can’t do that. But all in all, I think obviously, DLo caught fire, TP was sensational tonight with his shooting ability, and everybody came off the bench. I think Spence had a plus-35 off the bench. So that was big time for our ballclub too.”

The Lakers continue to prove that they can hang with the best teams in the league on any given night, it will simply be a matter of consistency to get them where they want to be.

LeBron James wants defensive performance vs. Thunder to be Lakers’ standard

Regardless of how good the offense is playing, defense is where the Lakers want to hang their hat and their performance against the Thunder was one of their best this season. Now LeBron James wants the Lakers to carry this level of play moving forward.

“Obviously every game is different. Every games will present different challenges. We understand that. But this is one of the better offensive teams that we have in this league, and we did a good job. We did a good job from start to finish and we can take some key moments from this and apply it to the next game.”

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