LeBron James Understands Lakers Can’t Rely On Shooting Every Night, Emphasizes Defense’s Ability To Generate Offense
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers lost 103-97 against the L.A. Clippers after a hard-fought battle on Thursday. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker IV each scored in double-digits. But the horrendous shooting from the rest of the team allowed the Clippers to run away with a win even despite L.A.’s commendable defensive performance.

The Lakers shot just 35.1% from the field and 20% from 3-point range with Patrick Beverley, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn together making just one bucket on 25 attempts (4%).

But James liked the effort from the Lakers, even if they struggled to knock down shots again. “When you play the right way, it was a joy to be happy about,” the Lakers All-Star said.

“We played the way we wanted to play. We defended at a high level, we shared the ball offensively. You can’t control when the ball goes in and doesn’t go in, so I think we made another step forward today, and our development will continue to get better and better.”

James praised the Lakers for following the game plan and making the right decisions on defense. L.A. registered 12 steals on Thursday, nearly double the Clippers’ number.

“I mean, you got to be tactical about it, too,” James said. “You got to go out and compete. Just got to be tactical. Know what you’re doing.

“Keying in on players, pros and cons and what they want to do, what they love to do, and the way they exploit defenses, so I thought we were very locked in with what the game plan was, and it resulted in us getting some stops, getting some run-outs and get back into the game, especially after that first quarter.”

The defense allowed the Lakers to come back from two double-digit leads before the Clippers sealed their win in crunch time. James thinks the Purple and Gold’s ability to hurt opponents in transition is a valuable weapon, particularly while their 3-point remains unreliable.

“There’ll be a game when we make multiple threes in a game. Multiple games. But if we’re relying on that every single game, then we’re in trouble,” he said.

“So I’m not worried about it or thinking about that. It’s how hard we play, how aggressive we play, how determined we are going to compete every night, and we’ve got to defend. When we defend, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. And that’s a good ingredient to have.”

Darvin Ham believes Lakers’ shooting will come around

Head coach Darvin Ham echoed James’ praise for the Lakers’ defense and his belief in L.A.’s ability to improve shooting.

“We get a huge stop, running and balls coming around player to player. Guy shoots it and it doesn’t go down. Yeah, it stings a little bit, but nobody’s gonna feel sorry for you,” Ham said.

“You gotta move on to the next play. And that’s one of the things I talked about postgame. We talked about it in pregame, actually. Just having been highly competitive. Again, not feeling sorry for yourself. Not having those disappointment lags. Even not shooting the ball very well for three, we still were in a position to win the game.”

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