The Los Angeles Lakers got a bit of momentum heading into the All-Star break with their 18-point win over the New Orleans Pelicans. With LeBron James back in the lineup, the Lakers put together arguably their best performance of the season.
Currently, the Lakers are 13th in the Western Conference but are just two games behind 10th place Oklahoma City for the final Play-In spot and only 3.5 games out of the sixth seed. Needless to say, one good stretch of wins for the Lakers will have them right in the thick of the playoff race.
Perhaps Wednesday’s victory will be the catalyst the team needs to go on that run, but LeBron knows they still have a lot of work to do. “Yeah, but we got a lot of work to do still,” LeBron said after the win. “And every game is going to be tough for us, especially going down the stretch, knowing the type of push that we need to make.
“I want the guys to enjoy the break but don’t get 100% detached because we want to come back and try to keep this thing going. I feel really good about what we have brewing, but it’s going to take a lot of commitment from us going down the stretch so I’m looking forward to that.”
As D’Angelo Russell noted, it takes time for a team with this many new pieces to gel, but the Lakers can’t afford to use that as an excuse. The Lakers may have found something with their new starting lineup as Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt joined LeBron and Anthony Davis and LeBron believes the group works well together.
“I think we’re going to continue to build off tonight,” James added. “I think our skill sets all kind of fit each other with Vando and DLo and Beas, three guys that just know how to play the game. We’re all just trying to get the ball popping, get the ball moving and everybody is trying to play to their advantage out of the floor. Tonight we had 32 assists and our starting lineup had 22 assists. That’s huge so we want to try to continue that moving forward.”
The group provides spacing the Lakers haven’t had as Russell and Beasley must be accounted for from beyond the arc which opens up the paint for LeBron and Davis to do their best work. The overall IQ of the group is excellent and with the ball and player movement increasing, the Lakers become far more difficult to stop.
LeBron James believes All-Star break will be beneficial for himself and Lakers
James will be the lone Lakers player participating in NBA All-Star Weekend this year, but it still provides an overall break for himself and the Lakers to reset before this final stretch and he believes this will be beneficial for both himself and healing his injured foot, as well as the team as a whole.
“It’s amazing. It’s great. It falls at the perfect time,” LeBron noted. “I didn’t want to have to take off the last three games, but my foot and ankle just wasn’t allowing me to go out and compete like I know I can compete. It was good to get a game under my belt with these guys tonight to digest what we got going into the break and will do some more homework during the break obviously to see how we can be even better.
“But it’s going to be very beneficial to myself. I know I got a game on Sunday, but we don’t play again until Thursday. It’ll be great for not only me, but the rest of the group as well.”
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