Lakers Coach Frank Vogel Makes Bold MVP Prediction

Getty Images Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

The Los Angeles Lakers gave LeBron James the night off from talking to the media after a third consecutive overtime victory on Wednesday night, but that didn’t stop his head coach Frank Vogel from making a bold statement about him.

James racked up 40-plus minutes for a third consecutive night against the Thunder, coming up with the game-clinching steal with just seconds left. The 36-year-old also put up 25 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.

“He made several defensive plays to be honest with you. He’s really leading the charge, taking the matchup of [Al] Horford on certain situations,” Vogel told reporters of James, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “That’s what LeBron does on both sides of the ball. That’s why he’s probably going to be this year’s MVP — carrying the load offensively and quarterbacking the No. 1 defense in the league. He’s taking these tough assignments and making these plays down the stretch. He’s playing terrific.”


ESPN Straw Poll Has LeBron James as MVP Favorite

James hasn’t missed a game this season and has carried an extra load the last two games with Anthony Davis on the shelf nursing an Achilles injury. He’s made his case for MVP by scoring 25.5 points per game to go with 7.9 assists and 7.9 rebounds, shooting 39.4% from beyond the arc.

Most importantly, the Lakers are 20-6, just a half-game back of the Jazz for the best record in the Western Conference and in a firm position for a championship repeat.

James has established himself as the MVP frontrunner, which was backed up by a straw poll done by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. James was named on 99 of 100 ballots and finished with a total of 760 points, leading Sixers big man Joel Embiid — who garnered 23 first-place votes — by 95 points. Denver center Nikola Jokic, Nets star Kevin Durant and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard rounded out the top five.


LeBron James Says Lakers Have Championship DNA


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No one wearing purple and gold was particularly happy about going to overtime for the third time in as many tries, especially against an Oklahoma City squad that was missing its best player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But the victory was impressive in its own way, with the Lakers able to erase a 20-point deficit and come up with big plays down the stretch.

James shared previously that he feels that his squad has shown “championship DNA” in the tight victories.

“Every game is going to be its own challenge. We don’t mind playing games that go down to the wire, we don’t mind playing games where you’ve got to execute. We have that championship DNA. I mean, it’s good for us to be tested,” James told reporters on Monday. “I love that no matter who you’re playing against. Teams that take you down to wire, make you execute, you have to be perfect defensively and offensively to win a game. It’s pretty cool. I love it.”

The Lakers will try for their 21st win of the season on Friday as they close out their five-game homestand.

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