Lakers News: LeBron James Was ‘Channeling My Inner Ed Reed’ Against Nets
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis’ return to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup went as well as fans could hope as the team was able to win against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets were without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, so James Harden took it upon himself to single-handedly carry their offense in the first half. However, the second half was a different story as head coach Frank Vogel was more aggressive with his coverages on Harden, blitzing him near half-court and forcing him to give up the ball.

The strategy was sound as it allowed LeBron James to be more active in the passing lanes as highlighted by a pair of back-to-back steals in the fourth quarter that resulted in transition dunks. James finished the night with three steals and compared himself to NFL legend Ed Reed in the process.

“Just kind of channeling my inner Ed Reed at that point in time,” James said. “Playing the passing lanes and seeing the direction of the ball, but just trying to be in the right place and protect my teammates while we’re in coverage and doing some of the things we’re doing defensively. I was able to pick-six two of them in a row.”

Vogel stayed true to his word and stuck with James at center despite having Davis back. James’ steals came without Davis on the floor but did acknowledge that having his running mate around allows him and the team to take more gambles defensively.

“As much as I would love to give AD credit, he was not on the floor when I did that. He ran on the floor after I did that when the timeout happened, but he was not on the floor when that happened [laughs]. But when you’ve got an every-year potential Defensive Player of the Year on the floor for whatever his minutes is, you can definitely get away with some things you wouldn’t try if he wasn’t on the floor because you know you got the protection behind you or in front of you or whatever the case may be.

“I’ve never been a gambler or things of that nature anyways when it comes to basketball, I’ve always tried to be as solid as possible, I’ve been taught that my whole life, and if I have an opportunity to shoot the passing lane or shoot the gaps or whatever the case may be, I do it. But you definitely can take more chances when you got a guy like AD behind you, for sure.”

Davis is far and away the Lakers’ best defensive player and having him back should get rid of mistakes they routinely made while he was out. With Vogel embracing a small ball identity, he has had to tweak his defensive strategies to incorporate more switching, and Davis should play a big part in that as a big who can hang on the perimeter for stretches at a time.

Defensively, the Lakers should look much better going forward as long as Davis remains in the lineup and they will need it as they have one of the toughest remaining schedules left. With a matchup against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, Davis and James will need to be even more attentive defensively.

LeBron James does not anticipate scoring load decreasing with Anthony Davis back

Davis should take away most of the defensive burden from James, but scoring is an entirely different matter. James has been on a scoring tear in the past several weeks, and he does not believe his offensive responsibilities are going to lessen even with Davis available.

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