The shots aren’t falling for LeBron James but his Los Angeles Lakers teammates haven’t lost faith. They want the four-time MVP to keep firing.
James is shooting 51.4% from the field but is 0-10 from beyond the arc in the series. Down 0-2 in their Western Conference Finals series against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers are heading into a must-win situation on Saturday.
But James’ teammates don’t want him to change things up.
“I mean, he can shoot all he wants,” Austin Reaves said after Game 2. “It’s LeBron James. I don’t think anybody bats an eye when he shoots a shot or questions his shot. We want him taking whatever he feels comfortable with, just because he’s a winning basketball player for his whole career and that’s all he wants to do, he wants to win.”
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham echoed that sentiment from Reaves and stressed that James should still take the shots the Nuggets are giving to him.
“He was open, they’re playing off of him,” Ham said. “He’s a highly capable 3-point shooter, he let it fly.”
James has never been a sniper from deep but the Lakers could have used some timely 3-pointers in the last few games. James has missed 19 straight shots from deep during fourth quarters, dating back to Game 2 of the first round, per NBA.com. Part of that could be due to James logging some major minutes and fatigue sinking in. The 38-year-old James isn’t using that as an excuse.
“If you’re not tired in the postseason … I mean, everyone’s tired,” he said.
LeBron James Wants Lakers to Desperation
The Lakers head home to Crypto.com Arena looking to gain some ground on the Nuggets, who gained the 0-2 edge thanks to a bonkers fourth-quarter performance from Jamal Murray. The Denver guard struggled through three quarters but went supernova with 23 points in the fourth, nearly matching the Lakers’ output as a team (24).
“We still got to play with the same desperation as we did tonight,” James said. “We came out with an L but doesn’t give us any more comfort. We can’t go into any postseason game with comfort, just because you either haven’t lost at home or you’re going back home.”
History is not on the Lakers’ side. Teams that have trailed 2-0 in a series are 6-56 all-time in the conference finals, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
LeBron James: This is Not the NCAA Tournament
The Lakers might be playing with desperation but that doesn’t mean they’re panicking just yet. James — the most experienced postseason player in NBA history — is setting the tone.
“What you take out of it is the fact that this is not the NCAA tournament,” James said after Game 2. “The first team to four wins.”
Most people did not expect the Lakers to be in this position. The team started the season 2-10 and struggled to climb above .500 for most of the season.
“I’ve been down 2-10, 0-5,” Ham said. “You’re never as good as they say you are and you’re never as bad as they say you are. You’ve just got to treat each day like its own entity. Each day, each game is an opportunity to go out and get better. Never get too high and never get too low.”
The Lakers are a 5.5-point favorite for Game 3. The total is set at 222.5 points.