On Sunday night, LeBron James averaged 28.6 points per game, his highest average since the 2009-10 season when he played in Cleveland. He led the NBA in games by over 30 points (15), despite having only played 25 games that season before taking on the Timberwolves. He started nearly eight 3-pointers per game while shooting at his best depth percentage (37.6%) since 2013-14.
But James ‘minutes have also increased – they increase to 36.8 per game, as the Lakers rely more on him without Anthony Davis in the line-up. That’s most since the 2017/18 season before James came to Los Angeles.
If James kept this average throughout the season, he would only be the third player in NBA history to be 37 or older with an average of at least 36 minutes per game, alongside Michael Jordan and Karl Malone.
« That’s just my way of thinking: don’t get caught up in how many minutes I’ve played, how many days off, » James said last month. “I don’t limit myself to that. I think (when) you think negative thoughts or negative energy, it just creeps into your mind. »
When asked about James ‘minutes, Vogel joked that James only played 29 minutes against Portland, on his way to a season high of 43 points. But by and large, Vogel said he was paying more attention to how much James’ minutes seem to be bothering him.
« Sometimes he can play 32, 34 intensely used, heavy-weight fighting minutes, » said Vogel. “And sometimes I think it was the game in Houston that he started in the center, he was in a good rhythm all night and at no point in the game did he look really strained. So we keep an eye on that more than the total numbers. »
The Lakers will no longer have players in the NBA’s COVID-19 log system as of Sunday afternoon: Rajon Rondo was tested on December 26th after entering logs.
While unavailable under an overhaul designation on Sunday night, Rondo is unlikely to be with the Lakers for long. A widely reported deal with Cleveland is imminent, with the Lakers planning to ship Rondo in exchange for Denzel Valentine, whose partially guaranteed contract is being cut to create a roster slot
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The team cannot comment on pending trades, but Vogel admitted that Rondo would not be in the game on Sunday night.
The Lakers are close to the end of Stanley Johnson and Darren Collison’s 10-day contracts. Johnson started the game against the Timberwolves; Collison was inactive for the second game in a row. With the number of players now available for the Lakers, it is unlikely that they will be able to sign another 10-day contract player under the hardship waiver.
Johnson started three games for the Lakers in his stint. Vogel said the final decision rests with Rob Pelinka and the front office, but added that Johnson “did everything” to show that he can help the Lakers if they choose to use the squad seat for him .
« He plays small ball center and sometimes that unlocks things with certain players, » he said of Johnson. « And I think he showed us a lot and showed us that this could be a position shift for him that could help his career. »
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