No restrictions for James in win over the Clippers


November 2, 2023

Jevone Moore

The Lakers Anthony Davis scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Clippers last Wednesday

Lakers coach Darvin Ham stands on the sideline with his hands in his pocket, resolute, resolved and relaxed, yet he is sandwiched by a dilemma. Ham must manage LeBron James' minutes restriction while bringing out the best in Anthony Davis. Last Wednesday night during their 135-125 overtime win against the Clippers there were no restrictions. James played 42 minutes and Davis played 48 minutes. James scored 35 points, 13-19, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out seven assists. Davis scored 27 points, 10-18, grabbed 10 rebounds and had four blocks.

The Lakers find themselves in a tough spot-seemingly at the crossroads of necessity and choice. The realization seems clear: they may have to lean heavily on James, pressing him beyond reasonable limits to eke out victories like they did on opening night and Wednesday. They entered the season aiming to temper his playing time, preserving him for the crunch time of playoffs. But if last Thursday's clash against the Suns and the game against the Clippers revealed anything, these long-term plans have quickly become a fluid prospect, casting James' health and the Lakers' championship aspirations in a precarious light.

In the win over a Kevin Durant-led Suns team in their season opener, James bore the brunt of the load, maneuvering the Lakers through the challenge. It's an ominous sign-emphasizing that they might have to rely on him more this season. Amidst the offseason hype surrounding reinforced support, they might still rely heavily on James's all-around performances to secure victories. This may signal more trouble than triumph.

The Lakers might not have the luxury to reduce James's playing time, potentially needing more than the 36 minutes he averaged last season. The joy today will demand payment later.

When Ham sought James's approval to extend beyond the agreed playing time limits, James couldn't decline. He was compelled to rally his team when the game demanded it, despite the laid-out plan for his playtime.

"I know how much work I've put in to be able to play four quarters or whatever the case may be. And I understand that we definitely have a system put in place, but tonight called for me to go outside the box today," James reflected, realizing the moment required more than a rigid plan could offer.

James didn't merely agree but delivered on the promise, surpassing expectations, and earning resounding victories during the past week. His commitment and ability speak volumes, igniting the crowd and delivering a message of inspiration.

Amidst the temporal deviation from the original plan, Ham insists it's a momentary adjustment, assuring that the Lakers won't need to over-rely on James in the long run. He's confident in the team's progress and believes that with time and unity, they can alleviate the pressure on James.

The banter about James's playing time has just begun, sparking debates on social platforms. It's a tongue-in-cheek observation, understanding that opinions will sway based on game situations.

There's a humorous acknowledgment of the crowd's voracious appetite for basketball strategies and time allocation, compared humorously to wanting a buffet when sometimes one plate is just enough.

Jevone Moore

As the Lakers decide on James's court time, let's hope they stay within the bounds, maintaining a balanced approach to honor their most experienced player's vitality while managing the team's success.

The Lakers are 3-2 and tied for second place in the NBA's Pacific Division with the Clippers. The Golden State Warriors are in first place at 4-1 and Sacramento and Phoenix have records of 2-2. The Lakers start a four-game road trip Saturday against the Magic. On Monday they face Miami and Wednesday they are at Houston. They finish the trip on Friday, November 10 against the Suns.

Follow Eric on X @elambsquared and Instagram @elamb5quared.


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