The Los Angeles Lakers extended their road-game winning streak to 13 games with a win over the Miami Heat on Friday, and stayed right at the top of the league standings with the 23-3 Milwaukee Bucks. However, while the Lakers’ record might suggest otherwise, nothing has come easy for them. Friday night was no exception.
Just three points separated the Lakers and Heat when the final buzzer sounded on Friday, and it took a lot for Los Angeles to climb back into the game. At the end of the second half, they were down eight points, which may not seem like a lot, but on the road it’s an uphill battle.
The Lakers put themselves in a hole by being careless with the ball, or, to be more accurate, because LeBron James was being careless with the ball. In the first half alone, James turned the ball over seven times — more than all of his teammates combined.
After the game, James held himself accountable for the way he played in the first half (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
“Well, we were down today because of me,” James said, referring to a Miami lead that swelled as big as 14 as James turned it over seven times and missed seven of his 11 shots in the first half. “I was reckless.”
James wasn’t the only person to call out his turnovers, though. He also heard it from his teammates at halftime:
And James was able to rally personally thanks to a little help from his friends, namely Laker big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
“My teammates got on my ass,” James to ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez during a walk-off interview on the game broadcast. “They told me you’re playing too passive, thinking about the game way too much instead of read and reacting and doing what you do. ... [Davis] got on me, Boogie Cousins got on me and they told me to just be me. So I was like, ‘Thank God we have two halves in a basketball game,’ where I can flush the first one, and then come back and try to help us win.”
Whatever they said to James must have worked, because he turned the ball over just two times in the second half despite the fact that he dished out nine of his 12 assists in those final two quarters.
Anthony Davis told reporters that the team’s ability to respond to constructive criticism has played a big role in how successful they’ve been this season:
Anthony Davis on challenging LeBron: "We all have respect for each other and have the confidence to go up to whoever and try to get him going. The fact that he listens and everyone on the team listens and can accept criticism from our guys is what makes us so good."— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) December 14, 2019
It’s also a sign of a locker room that just wants to win, which is something that will go a long way when the games get tougher in May and June. A lot can change between now and then, but the Lakers have the talent and chemistry to compete for a championship, and Friday was the best example of that we’ve seen all season.
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