DENVER — The Los Angeles Lakers improved their stranglehold on the Western Conference’s No. 1 place with an amazing highway acquire against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, but LeBron James promises seeding is just not a subject matter of discussion for L.A.
“We will not communicate about it,” James stated soon after the Lakers’ 120-116 overtime gain gave L.A. a 4-video game guide in excess of the Nuggets heading into the All-Star split. “For us, we would adore to enjoy in front of our property admirers as a lot as we can. We appreciate remaining there with our Laker devoted.
“But at the conclude of the day, you go out and participate in each and every and each game like it’s its own match. You can not fret about what could occur the next working day. You can only glance at the present, like we did tonight.”
Perhaps James failed to want to say just about anything to let his crew know the importance of Wednesday’s video game. Various of his teammates famous his critical tone in the pregame locker room as he suited up 80 minutes prior to tipoff — significantly earlier than usual — to demonstrate 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 time and retain tempo with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks for the league guide. It was James’ 20th triple-double considering that he joined the Lakers, earning him just the fourth participant in group background to file that quite a few, signing up for Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant, according to investigation by the Elias Athletics Bureau.
James, Anthony Davis and the coaching staff members will head to Chicago for All-Star Weekend and choose the courtroom in Sunday’s most important function. Dwight Howard will make the vacation to contend in the dunk contest Saturday night time. Many other players, such as Kyle Kuzma and Troy Daniels, will also be in city to finish advertising obligations.
When the team returns from the break, it will be a 6-week dash to the postseason, as the Lakers are all but assured to make the playoffs for the initially time given that 2013.
James likes in which L.A. stands.
“We are where we will need to be,” he mentioned. “We are going to occur back off the crack and get ready for the closing extend of the common time. You will not place much too significantly into it. You recognize you played some superior basketball alongside the way, performed some not superior basketball. But you want to go on to get much better and proceed to rely on the approach. We appear ahead to when we get back, acquiring back again on the floor and see how far we’ll proceed to grow.”
Davis had 1 of his finest game titles as a Laker on Wednesday, single-handedly outscoring the Nuggets 7-5 in extra time en route to a last line of 33 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
He reported the Lakers reclaimed their edge ahead of the layoff, and they did so in what quite a few gamers described in the postgame locker home as a “playoff ambiance.”
“I consider we form of received our defensive depth back a tiny little bit,” Davis mentioned. “We permit that slip in that second 50 % of the very first 50 % of the year, and a match like this, to occur on the road pre-All-Star, we variety of acquired our defensive depth back, and I consider that’s something that we are going to carry on to have in the estimate-unquote 2nd 50 percent of the season.”
The Lakers are 10-5 versus groups with improved than .500 data, including 2-1 in opposition to the Nuggets, with both equally wins coming at the Pepsi Middle and the loss taking place in a recreation James sat out.
“I assume in a way, they’re already defeated, viewing that we previously defeat them two times on their individual court docket,” Avery Bradley mentioned. “I’m just joyful we were being able to get the position performed.”
There are even now inquiries for the Lakers to figure out, these as whom L.A. could goal on the buyout/free-company market place to improve the roster or how specified players’ roles could develop or diminish — mentor Frank Vogel termed Alex Caruso his “top secret weapon” Wednesday and stated he was pondering additional minutes for the bodily guard — or even how Kobe Bryant’s loss of life will continue on to affect the crew.
But all points thought of, it’s hard to imagine a improved on-court docket general performance from the Lakers by way of the to start with 4 months of the season, in terms of equally the standings and team chemistry.
“There is certainly in no way been egos on this team,” Caruso mentioned. “I imply, you can see it in the video clips and pics. That is not faux chemistry. It’s not phony. We are not just carrying out it because you can find a digicam in front of us. We truly appreciate hanging out with each other, cracking jokes and then enjoying basketball.”
Vogel mentioned it really is on his workforce to have the very same aim following the split.
“I like the determination we’ve proven to keep in the minute, to be fantastic each and every time we contact the floor simply because that builds behaviors that will win for us in the playoffs,” he stated. “There’s continue to areas we can even now surely increase, and we’ll continue on to operate on these.”