Lakers

LeBron’s Play, Postgame Comments Should Comfort Lakers Fans Despite Loss to Pacers

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The Lakers dropped their third-straight game in the bubble, falling 116-111 to the Pacers Saturday. TJ Warren continued his supernova efforts for Indiana, recording 39 points on 15-22 shooting. He also splashed in a dagger three over the outstretched hand of Anthony Davis with 10.6 seconds left that put the Pacers up six.

Davis had a subpar performance himself, however, finishing with an uncharacteristic eight points on 3-14 FGs and 0-4 from deep. That in addition to Warren giving him work in the second half.

But LeBron James, who had his best bubble game with 31 points, eight boards and seven assists, noted his team stepped up despite Davis’ off night.

“Even with AD’s struggles, we put ourselves in a position to still win a ballgame,” James said postgame. “That’s what a team is all about.”

Spacing is key

A reporter then asked James, a recently announced MVP finalist, about what areas the Lakers can improve in. The King went on to acknowledge that when his superstar teammate Davis is doubled, it opens the Lakers’ offense up in a variety of ways. James also harped on how important spreading the floor is to their success.

“It’s all about spacing….It’s actually a luxury for our team when AD gets doubled because you have the numbers. You have a 4-on-3 on the backside. But we have to have great spacing to put ourselves in a position to be successful. There’s going to be somebody open.”

“There’s times where we’re great with our spacing. There’s times where we’re not as great [with our spacing]. So, we have to be able to give AD an outlet because there’s two on the ball.”

While he didn’t say it directly, the 17-year veteran conceivably knows the Lakers’ offense strives when Davis plays center, or when there is only one big on the floor. He also highlighted a few of the bench players whose production kept the Lakers in the game.

It’s a team sport

Quinn Cook had 21 points in 24 minutes and knocked down five triples. Dwight Howard chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds (three offensive). Rookie wing Talen Horton-Tucker made the most of 16 minutes, too, scoring 10 for the Lakers.

We shouldn’t expect to see Cook on the floor much during the postseason, if at all. But after watching the last few games, it seems like Frank Vogel wants to keep his guys fresh in case they are called upon at some point. He likely doesn’t want to show all his cards in the seeding games.

“I got a good feel for what our playoff rotation’s going to look like,” Vogel said after the loss. “But there’s some wiggle room [and] we’re going to continue to evaluate.”

Howard’s impressive performance, on the other hand, should earn him more minutes at the center position. Preferably over JaVale McGee who continues to disappoint in Orlando.

LeBron’s just warming up

And for all the noise and criticism James had received for not being aggressive since the Lakers first bubble game against the Clippers, well, he silenced the critics by filling up the box score. Something we should get used to, according to the three-time Finals MVP.

“I think I’m just getting more and more comfortable, personally, with my game, playing here in the bubble,” he said. “My rhythm is getting better and better. I feel my legs are continuing to get up underneath me. My shot is starting to feel a lot better.

“Finishing with contact. Getting into the paint. Making passes on-time, on-target. My ball-handling. I’ve done a great job of not turning the ball over for as much as I’ve been initiating the offense. Those are all good, positive things not only for myself, but for our team.”

LakersNation has no need to worry, as James is just getting started for what he and his team expect to be a long postseason run.

Looking ahead

The Lakers have two seeding games remaining, although, their No. 1 seed is already locked in. They take on the Denver Nuggets Monday night before concluding the “regular season” with the Sacramento Kings Thursday.

These games don’t mean anything to the Lakers in the win/loss column. Rather, it’s about continuing to find their groove as they look to be the last team standing in October.

“We played Lakers basketball tonight (Saturday),” James said. “Win, lose or draw–when we do that, we’re going to give ourselves a good chance to be successful in the win column.”

Follow us on Twitter @LakersLead for the latest Lakers news and insight.

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About Sandeep Chandok

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