The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans for their 46th win of the year. They were without superstar Anthony Davis (sore knee) and Alex Caruso (sore hamstring), relying heavier on others to contribute. The Lakers trailed by two after three quarters, but took control late, eventually winning the fourth 29 to 19. They were led by LeBron James who would finish with 36 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds for another triple-double. LeBron had a size advantage over any of the Pelican defenders. He recorded 13 points and three assists in the final frame alone, with almost all of it coming out of the post. LeBron discussed what he sees when he gets the ball in that position (via Spectrum SportsNet):
For me, I’m very patient, very patient when I get the ball in the post. Understanding that it’s me versus the guy that is guarding me, but understanding that its eight other eyes that’s looking at me on the defensive end. And then its also eight other eyes, my guys.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 2, 2020
It is no secret who will have the ball late in games for the Lakers. LeBron leads the team in both points and assists in the fourth quarter. Having a guy aware of not only the one guarding him but all other eyes on the floor makes it easier for everyone else. One of those guys on Sunday was Kyle Kuzma, who stepped up with 20 points. He hit a huge three off of a LeBron pass in the post, and LeBron talked about what he saw on that exact play:
On that particular play, I was able to get middle, and I saw Jrue Holiday at one point want to come double, and then I saw the weak side come and double. I think we had a slash from the slot, I think it was KCP who dove down the middle, which attracted their defense to collapse on KCP, which left Kuz in the corner for the three. It’s my job to put it on time and on target where all he has to do line it up and shoot it. He was able to knock it down and make it a five-point game.
That fourth quarter was a LeBron James masterclass on attacking out of the post. pic.twitter.com/QaDKEo20nz
— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) March 2, 2020
LeBron showed his patience tonight from the post. You can see in the clip above, in single coverage he went to score against small defenders. When they sent help he found the open guy every time. The pass to Kuzma for the big corner three is the final clip, with LeBron recognizing the double coming from the weak side. The Lakers also did a nice job spacing the floor here, with just one big in the “dunker spot” on those possessions.
Doubling LeBron in the post is a dilemma a lot of teams will face when playing the Lakers. He just about always hits the open guy, and if you leave him single covered its likely a basket at the rim. With the playoffs as matchup dependent as they are, this is something the Lakers could also look to exploit in the post season.