LeBron James’ help with the Los Angeles Lakers has officially arrived

Finally – and without Anthony Davis – the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to figure things out. And while 37-year-old LeBron James had a tear behind him for a month, it’s the improved performance of his supporting cast that helped the Lakers find their mojo.

The Lakers (21-19) pulled away from the Atlanta Hawks, 134-118, at the Crypto.com Arena on Friday night. It was the team’s fourth win in a row – the first time this season – and the fifth win in six competitions. You still have to lose in 2022.

The Lakers are 9-2 in their last 11 games unless they have five or more players (and their head coach) on the COVID-19 logs, resulting in a mid-December loss over five games.

Granted, the Hawks don’t play defense. Even so, the Lakers don’t make it to the schedule, and the most productive outcome of that matchup was exactly what happened: The Lakers flew around, sending Crypto into a frenzy with over the edge highlights, and getting great performances from key role-players. Last but not least, such victories build trust – in one another and in the collective.

Lebron James did not win Western Conference Player of the Month for December, despite putting up ridiculous numbers and playing all five positions for a squad that was often exhausted and drained. Instead, the award went to Donovan Mitchell, who is great but arguably the second most valuable player in Utah jazz.

The only explanation for this was the Lakers’ 6-8 record during the month, while Utah won 12 of 14. After the Protocols Lakers fell to the Protocols Nets at Christmas, interim head coach David Fizdale complained that the Lakers “wasted” LeBron’s epic. Gameplay.

Since then, the Lakers have been 5-1. They effectively opened up the bottom by committing to small-ball. They stand 5-0 and averaging 127.0 points per game when LeBron starts in the center.

“I think with me on 5 there is more room for our offensive,” said LeBron. “Because I have the ability to peck and roll, I have the ability to choose and pop, I have the ability when I pick and roll, to be able to get the ball and make moves to do, not only “for myself, but for my teammates, and our offensive has flowed pretty well with me in this position.”

James’ personal production has not waned – nor has his caged nature, two-way energy, and nocturnal showmanship. He averages 33.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists with 0.532 / 0.458 / 0.763 shot splits. He has dominated every facet of the sport and has rightly gained momentum in the MVP race.

LeBron SKIES for this praise! ️Pic.twitter.com / f082baTgVg

– LakeShow (@LakeShowCP) January 8, 2022

It was no different on Friday. LeBron scored 32 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and four steals (and moved up to 10th all-time) against Atlanta.

pic.twitter.com/u3akURQ9Qk

– Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 8, 2022

LeBron’s last piece of another show-stop performance pic.twitter.com/At8W2ARHXQ

– Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 8, 2022

The real spark of the Lakers turnaround, however, was the game – and the very presence – of its competitors.

“We’re literally bringing our boys back, it’s that simple,” said LeBron when asked about her new success. “We’re starting to see what we have because guys are in the lineup. And soon we come too (Kendrick Nunn), and not too far from here, AD is returning. When you have a team that is built on depth and chemistry on the ground and you don’t have the depth or chemistry because the guys are out there it’s just hard to gauge. And lately we’ve had both. “

Malik monk is enjoying the best of his career. In the six games (five starts) before Friday, Monk averaged 20.7 points at 56.6% shooting. Against Atlanta, Monk continued to exude self-confidence and finished with 29 points – the last two came after an electrifying put-back slam.

this is a confident person pic.twitter.com/q4WuCEsHzG

– Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 8, 2022

“What we love about him is that he can be creative and be a finisher,” said Frank Vogel after the game. “He’s playing really well. In every respect you can be offensive – create for others, catch 3s and shoot, attack the basket, hit in the middle – and really compete on the defensive too. “

Malik Monk on whether he feels more self-confident when he starts a game that is as hot as it is today: “It’s about the same. It’s the same all the time. It’s the same all the time. I’m not going anywhere else. “

– Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 8, 2022

Talen Horton-Tucker – the fourth highest paid player in the organization – had looked lost since the protocols were cleared. He’s found his game in the last two games, scoring a total of 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting.

THT POSTER DUNK 😤pic.twitter.com / Jqp2LJ3ltM

– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 8, 2022

Avery Bradley is still a nuisance defensively and is drilling his 3s. His off-ball cutting and uninterrupted efforts rub off on his teammates. Hours after his contract was guaranteed for the season, Bradley helped force eight Trae Young turns, scoring 21 points in an 8-of-11 shootout.

LeBron on Avery Bradley. “He’s just a real professional. He’s a guy who knows exactly what his role is and he never steps out of it … He brings a defensive intensity that everyone feeds on … It’s a pleasure to have. “

– Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 8, 2022

“I think the smaller line-up activates us at either end of the floor,” said Bradley.

Avery Bradley: “Thanks to Russell Westbrook and LeBron – they make the game a lot easier for me.”

– Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 8, 2022

Stanley Johnson, on his second 10-day contract, is unbeaten as the starting power of the Lakers (4-0). He offers an obvious physical and athletic presence on the wing that the team has sorely lacked.

Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Austin Reaves continued to do what they did all season. Westbrook makes head-scratching decisions and lays stones one by one, but he increases the pace effectively and collects pennies. He has three total sales in the last two games. Anthony has remained reliable as a rapid-fire sniper. Reaves is always in the right place, which is still reflected in his plus / minus (the Lakers are 16-5 when Reaves is playing).

In general, the Lakers moved the rock as smoothly as they did all year, evidenced by a season high of 37 assists. Your recent consistency of lineup has accelerated the development of cohesion.

“I think the boys are getting used to the way we play,” said Vogel. “Playing the smaller lineups with Bron at the center only made other guys feel a little more comfortable … It opened things up for the likes of Malik, Avery Talen, and even Melo. Russ had a strong game with 13 assists. A lot opens up. “

Not every question is answered. The Lakers need to figure out how to pair Anthony Davis with their overhauled style. Nunn’s debut will stir up the rotation. Vogel is still experimenting with Dwight Howard’s reduced role. Trevor Ariza doesn’t have much bounce after an ankle surgery.

At the moment, however, I can confidently report that the atmosphere in this team is indeed good. That is a big development.

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