LeBron James credits ideal ‘Lakers basketball’ for Game 3 thrashing of Warriors

The recipe for success is simple for the Los Angeles Lakers: When they — namely, Anthony Davis — get to the line and dominate inside, they win.

Darvin Ham calls it playing “downhill.” LeBron James has another label for their preferred style.

“We played the game the right way,” LeBron said about the Lakers’ 127-97 Game 3 thumping of the Golden State Warriors. “One thing we were not very good at in Game 2 was being very forceful at the rim. We allowed their pressure to get us on our heels. We do have the ability to hit the outside shot, but we’re a paint team first.

“I think tonight we just played more Lakers Basketball.”

The Lakers only scored two more paint points (a tad misleading due to garbage time) than the Warriors on Saturday, but, as was the case in Game 1, they got Draymond Green in foul trouble while AD feasted inside. In general, the Lakers committed to inside-out ball for 48 minutes.

“If you have a ton of energy, you’re competitive … things will usually work themselves out,” Ham said. “I just think our guys were really, really, really awesome tonight in terms of their competitiveness, doing the little things, covering for one another, getting the ball, pushing it with pace, just playing a really physical, downhill, forceful game.”

Ham said pregame that the Lakers’ strategy to get AD going was to “feed him the ball relentlessly.” Davis finished with 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 11-of-12 from the stripe. The Lakers — who led the NBA in total free throw attempts this season by a wide margin — outshot the Warriors by 20 at the line.

In the two games the Lakers have won this series, they’ve been +40 on free throws and +28 in the paint, while Davis has been a two-way wrecking ball. In Game 2, the teams converted the same number of freebies and AD passively accepted the Warriors’ efforts to load up inside. (Davis reiterated his opinion that the differences in his performances are a result of shots falling, but the disparity in ferocity has been obvious.)

Anthony Davis leads the line as the Lakers blow out the Warriors to go 2-1 up

25 PTS (O 24.5)
13 REBS (U 13.5)pic.twitter.com/d8TBM3UYZt

— ClutchPoints Betting (@CPBetting) May 7, 2023

After Game 2, LeBron assured that the Lakers are the “best defensive team in the league” and would “be better” in Game 3. His pledge came to fruition. The Lakers, who shot 52.5% from the field, held Golden State to 39.6% shooting, including 13-for-44 from 3.

“We got punked tonight,” admitted Klay Thompson. “Unfortunately on the boards, on the glass, on the free-throw line.

A few other takeaways:

— D’Angelo Russell’s 21 first-half points kept the Lakers relevant as the Warriors jumped out to a hot start. Prior to a 30-8 second-quarter surge by Los Angeles, Golden State was up 11 and in control. Who knows what would have happened had DLo not come out en fuego.


He has 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 3-of-4 from three!pic.twitter.com/13keiM6oER

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 7, 2023

LeBron said his decision to not take a shot in the first quarter (for the first time in his playoff career) was a result of Russell and Davis’ early production.

“Obviously you see the way DLo started the game. I think he had our first 11 and then AD chipped in I think seven in that quarter. So, it allowed me to kind of focus on the glass. Also, I had a few assists in that first quarter. Wasn’t how the game was played, but that was just how the game was going. And for me, I’m never a force guy. I’ve always been a guy, I let the game come to me and make my imprint when needed.”

D’Angelo Russell talks about the many ways LeBron can impact a game without scoring pic.twitter.com/dGJGv92YFO

— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) May 7, 2023

— In poker parlance, LeBron perfectly slow-played his hand. James gradually eased his way into 21 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, and he pinpointed the precise moment to go all-in. With the Lakers up by 12 and about four minutes remaining in the third quarter, LeBron turned on the jets for a hustle play that took him into the stands, checked himself out of the game for a one-minute breather, then came back in and sandwiched four points around a nifty block. The Lakers opened up an 18-point lead going into the final frame, enabling James (32 minutes) and Davis (33 minutes) to clock out earlier than expected, which Ham called a “luxury.”

Darvin Ham said LeBron’s commitment to the “little things” in Year 20 is part of what makes him a “top five” all time player pic.twitter.com/TSshTGUFQx

— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) May 7, 2023

— Speaking of free throws, Austin Reaves got back to the line. Reaves has looked gassed chasing the Splash Bros around, evidenced by his zero FTA and 3-for-10 3-point shooting through the first two games. On Saturday, Reaves — who was 12th in the NBA in FTA and averaged 17.4 PPG in March — shot 2-for-8 from the field but went 5-for-7 from the line.

— Ham made his first significant rotation adjustment. Seeking a spark from the 2-guard spot, he took a flyer on Lonnie Walker IV over Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley. Walker responded with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in 24 minutes.

— Despite their home-court advantage, the Lakers know they’ll have to be on their A-game to topple a highly motivated Warriors team in Game 4. LeBron said he has advised his teammates to stay off social media during the playoff run.

“You start feeling comfortable or complacent, [Warriors] are gonna burn you every time. We definitely have to stay on our toes… Each game is it’s own entity and you have to prepare as such.”

—Darvin Ham, on the Lakers heading to Game 4

(via @NBATV)pic.twitter.com/NSIuUY9txc

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 7, 2023

See you Monday!

The post LeBron James credits ideal ‘Lakers basketball’ for Game 3 thrashing of Warriors appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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