LOS ANGELES (AFP) – LeBron James’ arrival in Los Angeles this season immediately put the Lakers in the NBA playoff conversation, but the superstar admits he’s still looking for the best way to improve his teammates less experienced.
The offensive abilities of the quadruple NBA MVP were in full view as he led the Lakers to a 104-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, November 29, when he scored 12 of his 38 points over the course of the last five minutes.
“Spectacular” was the verdict of Lakers coach Luke Walton, but James said he had thought long and hard this season when it came to taking over and handing over control to his young teammates for their development.
“It’s the challenge of the things I’ve struggled with since the start of the season,” said James. “How much do I postpone and allow some of our young guys to try to figure it out and how much do I have to try to resume games? I think (Thursday) was one of those cases where they looked at me and they wanted me to close the game. I just tried to make games. “
In addition to praising James, Walton highlighted the contribution of the whole team after a game in which Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all scored in double digits.
Although the Lakers lost a 24-point lead early on – with the Pacers taking a 69-66 lead in the third quarter – Walton said there were many encouraging signs.
“It never goes as planned, but I like the progress we have made, where we are now as a team versus where we needed to start the season,” he said.
“Our defense has really turned for us, we slowed down, we played a little slower than I imagined or liked, but that’s okay because we’re finding out who we are and what works best for us and let’s start to win a few games. “
Thursday’s victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Lakers. During the mini-slip, ESPN reported that James began to ignore Walton’s practice and play calls during games – a claim that echoed reports that James was running the show when he was in Miami and in Cleveland.
Lakers manager Magic Johnson called the report “bogus.”
“We have a system (in which) the ball moves, a lot of pick and roll,” Johnson told Sirius XM NBA Radio.
“If you watch us play, the ball isn’t always in LeBron James‘ hands. It can’t be, because you want to circulate it, you want to get into your pick-and-roll games.
“But, hey, we’re the Lakers, people are going to be talking about us.”
Walton said any team with a player of James’ caliber will sometimes rely on that player.
“There are times in the game where you’re LeBron James or the best player on the team, you’re going to take over. He knows when those times are, and he’s good at it. Now we have to keep on becoming. good, better at those other times when we’re just playing basketball. “