LeBron James Pleased With Lakers’ Recent Progress
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers got another win after a chaotic clash with the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, making it five victories in the last six games.

The Lakers beat the Spurs 143-138 after a shootout, defeating San Antonio for the third time in the past week. L.A. couldn’t stop their opponents from making threes, allowing them to knock down 18 shots from downtown on 37 attempts (48.6%).

But the Purple and Gold responded with a barrage of triples on their own, drilling 17 of them on 33 tries to end up with the highest single-game 3-point field goal percentage of the season (51.5%). The Lakers’ aim has improved substantially after they shot terribly over the first weeks of the 2022-23 season, leading to a poor 3-10 start.

After Saturday’s contest, LeBron James said he can see the progress L.A. has made, adding the Lakers are starting to learn each other’s game, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“I think we’re more and more on a string. We’re continuing to learn each other. As I said earlier in the season, we’re a new group, with a new system, new coaching staff, trying to implement things on the fly and our teaching moments was during games — and unfortunately losing at times. It’s just a sense of we’re not really sure of each other, we don’t know each other. But I think over the last couple of weeks, we continue to learn one another, we continue to play some good ball, share the ball. And it’s definitely worked in our favor.”

However, James said the Lakers still have plenty of room for improvement, pointing out transition defense and rebounding as the two main areas they need to work on:

“I mean, we’ve made progress over the last couple of weeks. I mean, obviously tonight, you know, it’s tough on — me coming to back-to-back versus a very young, energetic team. They are going to do a lot of running and gunning and shooting. We have some game plans that didn’t work to our favor tonight. We had some guys that we wanted to see if they would make from the outside. They did. But that was part of the game plan. And you tip your hat to that. But with things that we could control was controlling the 39 points in transition, we could get back, obviously, with that. The 25 second-chance points, we can do better with that. Those are two of the points of emphasis. And then, you know, we had 17 turnovers for 24 points. Those are things that we can control. When you’re out on the floor and the guys are hitting threes, but you’re getting great contests, you can’t control those — you tip your hat. But some of the things that we can control, we got to be better at, but we were able to still find a way to win, you try to find some good even with the bad throughout the course of any game that you play.”

James himself had his best game of the season, putting up 39 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in Anthony Davis’ absence on Saturday. The Lakers All-Star also went 7-for-12 (58.3%) from deep, a major jump from the 24% rate he had registered prior to the game.

James thinks Davis has been playing like ‘best player in the league’ recently

The Lakers pulled Davis from the game out of caution as the forward grappled with a calf issue. In the past couple of weeks, the 29-year-old forward has been in tremendous form, averaging 33.4 points, 17.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.6 blocks in his previous five games — as James was sidelined with an adductor strain.

The four-time NBA champion thinks Davis has looked like the NBA’s best player recently. “I thought AD was the best player in the league over the last, you know, four or five games,” he said ahead of the second of the back-to-back games against the Spurs.

“Just his numbers and productivity on both sides of the floor.”

Davis should return for Monday’s clash with the Indiana Pacers.

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