LeBron James has started to resemble himself more the past week and the Los Angeles Lakers may have gotten a glimpse of what he can do the rest of the 2021-22 season after he dominated the Oklahoma City Thunder in a blowout victory on Friday night.
Like his performance against the Memphis Grizzlies, James came out aggressive offensively, especially with Anthony Davis a late scratch due to a knee injury. James bullied the Thunder at the rim and had his jumper going, and he eventually ended the night with a game-high 33 points to go along with five rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks.
While the star was able to carry the offense, he believed that playing more mistake-free helped them get the victory as they only committed 16 turnovers against Oklahoma City.
“We kept our turnovers down for the majority of the game,” James said. “Still had 16, but we had better ball security… I thought we did a better job on the defensive end of rebounding as well even though they shot so many threes there was a lot of long rebounds, but for the majority, we did a good job of rebounding the ball.
“Then offensively, I think everybody’s just felt in a good rhythm. We had the ball popping tonight. It was going from side to side. Even with a lot of the looks that we missed, we had really good opportunities, but I just thought we played a better game of following the game plan.”
Getting a win against a lowly Thunder team should not be such a big deal, but the Lakers blew large leads against them previously though the caveat was James missed both contests. The 36-year-old admitted there was an extra level of excitement for this game after not being available for the previous matchups.
“Well, I was excited to play in this game just for that reason. I understood the leads that we built and me watching from the sidelines seeing those leads evaporate. Them celebrating on our floor the last time they played and I couldn’t do nothing but sit there and watch. They earned those wins, but I was looking forward to making an impact in this game and trying to control the game how I know I can control the game on both sides of the floor. I was lucky enough that my teammates put some things, put some work in tonight and I just tried to lead them in the right direction.
“Like you said, they made a couple runs. Every team makes a run. It’s just how you handle that adversity and we handled that extremely well.”
Oklahoma City is in a clear rebuild and while having James was great for Los Angeles, there was no excuse for them blowing leads on multiple occasions. The margin of error for the Lakers is razor-thin, so any losses carry more weight than they normally would as this could affect them in the standings down the stretch of the season.
As far as James goes, though, he has only appeared in 15 games so far, which explains why he had some added enthusiasm for playing against the Thunder. No one would blame James for having trouble getting up for a December regular-season game against a bottom-dwelling team, but it sounds like he is just happy to finally be getting in some sort of rhythm after being in and out of the lineup.
James points out turnovers as recent for loss against Grizzlies
Committing 16 turnovers against the Thunder was an improvement for the Lakers as they coughed up the ball 22 times the previous game against the Memphis Grizzlies. James chalked up L.A.’s loss to Memphis due to the mistakes, but they were much better in this area in the win against Oklahoma City.
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