OC Register: Lakers coach Darvin Ham said ahead of Saturday’s In-Season Tournament championship game between his team and the Indiana Pacers that he didn’t want to reveal too much of their strategy. But the way the Lakers attacked the Pacers’ defense said everything that needed to be known about their gameplan: constantly attack the paint against an Indiana team that allows points in the paint at a league-worst rate (62.5 points per game).
OC Register: And the strategy worked, with the Lakers beating the Pacers 123-109 at T-Mobile Arena to win the inaugural Tournament and NBA Cup – and roughly $7.75 million spread throughout the Lakers roster and additional monetary compensation for the coaching staff. The Lakers attacked the heart of the Pacers’ defense repeatedly, scoring 86 points in the paint – more than they have in any other game this season – to make up for their lack of perimeter shooting (2 of 13 on 3-pointers).
ESPN.com: The Los Angeles Lakers are tied with the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history. But after Saturday night, they are the only team in NBA history to have won the NBA Cup. Behind a masterful performance from Anthony Davis, who had 41 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks, the Lakers won the inaugural in-season tournament with a 123-109 victory over the Indiana Pacers at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. LeBron James, who added 24 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists, was named tournament MVP.
ESPN.com: The NBA Cup may be new, but the lesson it taught was as old as the league itself. To win anything of value, and the in-season tournament seems to have quickly established itself as such an event, you’re going to need superstars. In a way, that future Hall of Famers and champions LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ brilliant play proved to be the deciding factor in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 123-109 victory over the Indiana Pacers to claim the first-ever edition of the event verified its consequence. Playing on a neutral floor in December in a single game, it was hard to truly compare Saturday night it to any sort of playoff setting. But one thing was for certain, it was treated like an elimination game. There were aggressive game plans, heavy minutes and intensity. Situations where James has thrived for a long time.
Nikola Jokic stood near halfcourt and unleashed a roar that had been years in the making.
Late in the fourth quarter of Monday’s gripping Game 4, after one of Jokic’s sublime dimes found Aaron Gordon for a dunk, Jokic screamed at the history he and the Nuggets were approaching. Not four minutes later, in front of championship banners that Denver had only been allowed to dream about, the Nuggets seized the Western Conference crown over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-111.
Their victory punched Denver’s first-ever trip to the NBA Finals by virtue of its first-ever playoff sweep in franchise history.
As James drove to the hoop in the final seconds, Jamal Murray got his hands on the ball in an attempt to thwart James. At the same time, Aaron Gordon soared over and blocked the ball. Game over, and Denver’s reserves stormed the court.
“We got four more wins to go,” Murray said.
Jokic, named the Western Conference Finals MVP, finished with a 30-point, 14-rebound, 13-assist triple-double, setting an NBA record with his eighth in the postseason.
LeBron James would yawn, often, when the cameras were, and weren’t, aimed at him. From early in the season, when the Lakers were still trying to tackle to unsolvable problems of last year, until deep into this playoff push, it never was much of a secret.
He was tired.
This was the best argument among plenty of credible ones why Monday evening would be it, the end to Year 20, the conclusion to a season in which he made history and improbably got his team to the conference finals.
The year was so long, so mentally exhausting, so physically demanding, that the Lakers and James wouldn’t be able to fight to extend it any longer.
Yet Monday night, James gave everything, all of the energy that was left in his 38-year-old body. He got his team close. He couldn’t get them any further than that.
Nikola Jokic hit the game’s biggest shot while two chances for James couldn’t get converted pushed Denver to the NBA Finals after a 113-111 win to sweep the Lakers.
LeBron James made his return to action today, but the results for the Lakers weren’t good. Via the LA Times:
Yet Sunday, the surprise return, in part, translated into a turnover-riddled mess with no real purpose in a 118-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Players inside the Lakers’ locker room didn’t find out James would be back until after his pregame workout Sunday, the type of addition that does so much good long term while throwing the short term into a bit of chaos.
He came off the bench for just the second time in his career, joining the Lakers for their final eight games of the season.
In his return, James scored 19 points. Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley each had 18, while Dennis Schroder contributed 17 and Austin Reaves 13.
Anthony Davis scored 15 points and shot six for eight from the field — Beasley, Brown, James, Reaves and Schroder all attempting more shots.
The Lakers turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 34 Chicago points.
The Sacramento Kings ended Wednesday night’s game on an 8-3 run in the final minute to beat the Lakers 116-111, handing L.A. its third loss in the past week by a total of 10 points.
Afterward, LeBron James said the Lakers have “zero room for error” given the injuries the team is dealing with.
“We are limited with bodies,” James said. “So until some of our big guys or some of our key guys get back … we got to continue to play how we’ve played the last couple games. Play mistake-free basketball.”
James led L.A. with 32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and was on the floor more than any other Laker — logging 36 minutes, 30 seconds of playing time.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has been named NBA Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, it was announced today.
James averaged 35.0 points (.548 FG%), 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists in three games as the Lakers finished the week 4-0 with victories over Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta and Sacramento.
To start the week, James recorded 43 points (16-26 FG), 11 rebounds, six assists and one steal in a win at the Hornets on Jan. 2, good for his second 40-point game of the season. James joined Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to record consecutive 40-point games at age 35 or older.
In a home win over the Hawks on Jan. 6, the 38-year-old recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 25 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. James then recorded 37 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and one steal in a 136-134 road victory over the Kings on Jan. 7, extending the Lakers’ current winning streak to five consecutive victories. The performance marked James’ 13th consecutive game with at least 25 points, good for the fourth-longest streak of his career.
In 31 games (all starts) for the Lakers this season, James is averaging 29.1 points (.510 FG%), 8.2 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 35.9 minutes. James has scored in double figures in all 31 games this season, extending his NBA-record double-digit scoring streak to 1,127 consecutive games.
The 18-time NBA All-Star owns a league-record 66 career weekly awards, including five weekly honors with Los Angeles. This marks his first weekly award since Dec. 13 of 2021.
The 0-5 Lakers are still trying to find out the best way to utilize Russell Westbrook’s skill-set. Via ESPN.com:
Russell Westbrook came off the bench in a regular-season game for the first time since his rookie year in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 111-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and impressed his team by taking to the role.
“He was great,” said LeBron James, who said Westbrook’s energy “catapulted” L.A.’s overall effort. “He was great all game.”
Westbrook played 33 minutes, more than he had in any of the three games he started this season, and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists. However, he shot 6-for-17 overall and 5-for-10 from the free throw line and was responsible for five of the Lakers’ 22 team turnovers.
Anthony Davis didn’t play, so LeBron started alongside a very limited supporting cast.
A growing number of people, including many fans as well as those in the business of basketball, would be happy to see a Las Vegas-based NBA team in the future. Well, add LeBron James to that list. Via ESPN.com:
LeBron James, whose net worth was recently valuated north of $1 billion by Forbes, has made it known for years that he plans to own an NBA team when he is finished playing.
Now that vision has a location.
“I want a team in Vegas,” James said in a clip from the latest episode of his talk show, “The Shop,” that will debut Friday. “I want the team in Vegas.”
James, who is already a part-owner of Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox, said last season that his “goal is to own an NBA franchise,” adding, “and it will be sooner than later.”
The guess continues to be that if the NBA does add expansion teams again someday, Vegas and Seattle are the favorites to land squads.
The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Frank Vogel.
Vogel was the 27th head coach in franchise history. During his tenure, Vogel compiled a 127-98 (.564) record and led the Lakers to their 17th NBA championship during the 2019-20 season.
Per the Los Angeles Times, “the Lakers fired coach Frank Vogel on Monday just two years after he led the team to its 17th NBA championship and first since 2010. In the seasons since, Vogel’s teams have been decimated by injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers losing in the first round of the 2021 playoffs before missing the postseason in 2022. It culminated with a 49-loss season during which the Lakers were never more than three games over .500 and in which Vogel used 40 starting lineups.”
Per the Orange County Register, “LeBron James spoke to reporters Monday morning as Vogel’s status remained unconfirmed. He said he had not been told that Vogel had been fired: “I’ve seen the reports just like everybody else.”
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court,” said Rob Pelinka, the Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. “Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship. This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point. All of us here wish Frank and his wonderful family all the best for the future.”