DENVER — The Los Angeles Lakers greater their stranglehold on the Western Conference’s No. 1 spot with an spectacular street gain from the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, but LeBron James statements seeding is just not a subject matter of dialogue for L.A.
“We really don’t chat about it,” James said immediately after the Lakers’ 120-116 extra time get gave L.A. a four-activity lead in excess of the Nuggets heading into the All-Star crack. “For us, we would like to play in entrance of our residence enthusiasts as considerably as we can. We enjoy currently being there with our Laker trustworthy.
“But at the close of the day, you go out and engage in every and each individual activity like it really is its very own sport. You won’t be able to worry about what could happen the pursuing working day. You can only search at the existing, like we did tonight.”
Perhaps James didn’t require to say anything at all to let his staff know the significance of Wednesday’s activity. Several of his teammates observed his really serious tone in the pregame locker room as he suited up 80 minutes prior to tipoff — much before than standard — to clearly show his stage of preparedness.
James went on to direct L.A. with 32 points, 14 helps and 12 rebounds to notch his 12th triple-double of the season and keep speed with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks for the league guide. It was James’ 20th triple-double since he joined the Lakers, creating him just the fourth participant in workforce record to file that several, joining Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant, according to investigation by the Elias Sporting activities Bureau.
James, Anthony Davis and the coaching staff will head to Chicago for All-Star Weekend and choose the courtroom in Sunday’s key celebration. Dwight Howard will make the vacation to contend in the dunk contest Saturday night. Quite a few other players, together with Kyle Kuzma and Troy Daniels, will also be in city to full advertising obligations.
When the staff returns from the crack, it will be a 6-7 days sprint to the postseason, as the Lakers are all but assured to make the playoffs for the 1st time because 2013.
James likes in which L.A. stands.
“We are exactly where we will need to be,” he mentioned. “We’ll arrive back off the crack and get prepared for the last extend of the frequent season. You don’t set way too a great deal into it. You fully grasp you played some great basketball along the way, played some not good basketball. But you want to proceed to get improved and keep on to rely on the system. We glimpse ahead to when we get back, receiving back on the floor and see how considerably we will continue to increase.”
Davis experienced one particular of his greatest game titles as a Laker on Wednesday, one-handedly outscoring the Nuggets 7-5 in overtime en route to a last line of 33 factors, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
He stated the Lakers reclaimed their edge just before the layoff, and they did so in what quite a few players described in the postgame locker room as a “playoff atmosphere.”
“I imagine we form of bought our defensive intensity back again a minor little bit,” Davis explained. “We allow that slip in that next 50 percent of the 1st 50 percent of the 12 months, and a recreation like this, to come on the street pre-All-Star, we type of got our defensive depth back again, and I believe that is one thing that we’re going to go on to have in the quote-unquote next 50 % of the season.”
The Lakers are 10-5 versus groups with improved than .500 data, such as 2-1 versus the Nuggets, with both wins coming at the Pepsi Heart and the reduction transpiring in a video game James sat out.
“I consider in a way, they’re now defeated, viewing that we already conquer them twice on their have courtroom,” Avery Bradley claimed. “I am just pleased we ended up equipped to get the occupation finished.”
There are still inquiries for the Lakers to figure out, this sort of as whom L.A. could goal on the buyout/free-company current market to increase the roster or how selected players’ roles could grow or diminish — mentor Frank Vogel identified as Alex Caruso his “solution weapon” Wednesday and said he was pondering extra minutes for the bodily guard — or even how Kobe Bryant’s loss of life will go on to influence the crew.
But all points thought of, it can be hard to visualize a better on-court general performance from the Lakers by way of the first four months of the time, in conditions of both equally the standings and team chemistry.
“There is hardly ever been egos on this staff,” Caruso explained. “I imply, you can see it in the videos and images. That is not pretend chemistry. It really is not phony. We’re not just undertaking it simply because you can find a digicam in front of us. We truly appreciate hanging out with each individual other, cracking jokes and then enjoying basketball.”
Vogel explained it truly is on his group to carry the similar concentrate right after the split.
“I like the motivation we have proven to continue to be in the moment, to be wonderful each and every time we touch the flooring due to the fact that builds habits that will gain for us in the playoffs,” he explained. “There is certainly however spots we can however definitely improve, and we will continue to work on those people.”