The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night to pick up the team’s first win of the season. It did not start out great for the Lake Show, who were trailing to a depleted Suns team that was without both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.
However, the Lakers were able to rally in the fourth frame, outscoring the Suns by 17 points to take home the five-point victory. It might only be the second game of the season, but coming back against the Suns was a huge morale victory for the purple and gold.
Leading the way in that fourth quarter was LeBron James, who did not have the biggest game statistically but showed up when it mattered most. James delivered in the two biggest possessions of the game, and more importantly, played every single minute in the fourth frame.
This came two days after Darvin Ham said that LeBron’s workload would be around 30 minutes a night. LeBron pushed back, saying that he wanted to be on the floor more. It seems like LeBron won that argument, as Ham deferred to James in the fourth as he ended up playing 35 minutes.
LeBron James proves he calls the shots over Darvin Ham on the Lakers.
LeBron James’ load management season did not last very long. Fans were ready to see around 18-20 minutes of non-LeBron basketball in this game but they were instead treated to a masterful fourth quarter.
In the long run, it is absolutely the right call to limit how much LeBron plays in an effort to keep him healthy for the playoffs. But as this game showed, Ham and the team may lose sight of the long-term vision in the moment, as LeBron will be able to keep himself in games.
And quite frankly, that is not a surprise. The entire reason why Los Angeles is even a contender is because LeBron chose to live in LA five years ago. Ham was probably hired with some of LeBron’s blessing. LeBron is the most influential player in the league. If any player can override his coach, it is LeBron.
In fairness to LeBron, this game was as important as a second game of the season could be. Losing to a depleted Suns team two nights after getting smacked by the Denver Nuggets in crunch time would not have been a great start and would have been terrible for the fanbase.
Instead, LeBron proved that the vintage version of himself is still there in year 21. Hopefully, the Lakers won’t have to call on it too often this season.