As someone who has extensive playoff experience, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James knows exactly when and what buttons to push to help his team win games.
Such was the case in the Lakers’ 109-95 Game 3 victory over the Phoenix Suns where James looked to once again be feeling out the matchup before making his move.
The 36-year-old committed several turnovers and settled for jump shots but the Lakers still managed to take a three-point lead into the halftime locker room.
However, James admitted that he was not happy with how he came out and took it upon himself to try a different approach in the second half.
“Just making adjustments,” he said of what sparked the third quarter run. “I was reading the game, I wasn’t reading the game like I would like to in the first half so came back into the locker room, made some mental adjustments for me individually that I felt would work for our team and we were able to spark a run in the third.”
Head coach Frank Vogel echoed his superstar and noted that James’ shift in mindset is what broke the game open in favor of the Lakers.
“He changed the whole game. His mindset just reversed the whole course of tonight’s game. Wanting to get to the rim. Honestly, our whole group did,” Vogel said.
“AD, even though he was dinged up with his knee and little hobbled, really committed to what worked for us in Game 2, which is really running the floor and being the first big down. Putting pressure on their transition defense and that opened up a lot of driving lanes for Bron, who mentally made the decision to get downhill and just live in the paint and live at the rim. He was dominant in that stretch. Those two guys really reversed the whole course of the game.”
James was a different player in the second half, taking it upon himself to get to the rim and finish in traffic like he normally does. It was the best James has physically looked since returning from his ankle injury and it was a clear sign that he is getting closer to 100% health-wise.
Now up 2-1, the Lakers have an excellent opportunity to take a stranglehold on the series if they can manage to take Game 4. James appears to be rounding into form after each contest, and if that trend continues then it will be hard to imagine the Purple and Gold losing another game the rest of the way.
James happy to play in front of Lakers fans
James has been looking forward to playing a playoff game in Staples Center and discussed what it was like to make his postseason debut in front of Lakers fans.
“It’s always special to play in front of the Laker faithful,” he said. “We hope our numbers continue to rise as the series goes on and get more and more fans in the building. But it’s a beautiful thing.
“There hasn’t been a playoff game for the Lakers at Staples Center since 2013 so it was a special night and we just tried to reward our fans with their loyalty that they have for us and just tried to play the game the right way.”
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