LeBron James set the tone early and closed the game out for the Los Angeles Lakers!
LeBron James started the game on fire scoring five early points while setting up Kyle Kuzma for two 3 point shots of his own as the Lake Show got out to a 11-2 lead. The Lakers offense was running so smooth that Memphis called two timeouts in less than five minutes.
LeBron James for the last couple of seasons has found motivation in eliminating narratives that has dogged him throughout his career. Last year, he concentrated on playing defense after the media (Lake Show Life included!) criticized him since his days in Miami. Then there was the issue of many wondering if he and Anthony Davis could co-exist seamlessly like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were supposed to last year.
This year, he is looking to take on the challenge of being the closer of the team.
For years, NBA pundits would mention that he cannot close games like other superstars. Instead of taking the big shot, he would defer to his teammates in Cleveland and Miami.
Checking notes: LeBron not closing games? Nope. Got any more material?
In the previous game against the Spurs, he closed the game as a playmaker. In this one, he closed out the game as a scorer. He was the story of this game as he took over and made sure the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t give this game away. From ten minutes on, it was over for Memphis.
Here’s how it started…
- With the Lakers up three points, LeBron James rebounds the Tyus Jones miss from the corner with one hand ready to throw the long ball up the court.
- Instead he pulls the ball down and runs a one man fast break outrunning one Memphis player and taking on two others at the rim.
- He splits them both and hits the layup forcing the Grizzlies to call time out.
Here’s how it ended…
- As hot as LeBron was in the last quarter, the two man game with Anthony Davis made Jonas Valanciunas look like a G-Leaguer. They weren’t the only ones (More on this later!).
- Both AD and LeBron kept forcing Valanciunas to switch on the perimeter to defend LeBron.
- LeBron sizes the big man up with dribbles between the legs, hits him with the step back and tells Jonas to smile for the camera.
In between these two plays, LeBron dominated Memphis with 13 of his 22 points in winning time, including a shot from the logo.
It wasn’t about the 22 points that he scored, but when. This box score is not about chasing stats. He shot an efficient 9-16 from the floor (3-6 from the land of the extra point!), led the Lakers with 13 rebounds, had 8 assists with only 2 turnovers. He led the team by a country mile in plus/minus ratio of +19. Right now LeBron James is playing an elite level that stats don’t tell.
It’s a good thing too. As dominant as Anthony Davis was against the Spurs in the previous game, it was a struggle in Memphis. How did he do? Read on to see how things went.