LeBron James Praises Lakers’ Supporting Cast for Game 1 Win

As Sunday’s Game 1 of the first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies entered the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers were holding onto a narrow six-point lead.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis only took one shot each in the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Despite expectations, the Lakers managed to secure a comfortable 128-112 win in the game, with significant contributions from unexpected sources such as a bench player and an undrafted player who had only left college two years ago.

Fourth Quarter :

In the fourth quarter, Rui Hachimura had a standout performance by scoring 9 out of his total 29 points, which tied the record for the most points scored by a substitute player in a playoff game in the Lakers franchise, previously held by Mychal Thompson. Additionally, Austin Reaves was perfect in the fourth quarter, making all five of his shots and scoring nine consecutive points late in the quarter, resulting in a total of 23 points for the game.

“Tonight’s victory was largely due to the efforts of our supporting cast,” remarked James, who contributed 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks to the team’s success.


A Challenging Time :

The Lakers had a challenging time in the first half of the game and had to rely on the exceptional effort from their supporting cast to turn things around. Anthony Davis, who had an impressive game with 22 points, 12 rebounds, 7 blocks, and 3 steals, suffered a stinger to his right shoulder towards the end of the second quarter and was forced to leave the game. It’s worth noting that Davis’ postseason statline was the first of its kind since Tim Duncan accomplished a similar feat almost two decades ago.

At that moment, the Lakers were behind by six points. However, things quickly turned around when Hachimura took the court in the third quarter and made all four of his attempted 3-point shots in just six minutes of play. As a fourth-year forward who joined the Lakers through a trade with Washington earlier this year, Hachimura had been practicing these specific shots in preparation for the series. He credited Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy with identifying the gaps in the Grizzlies’ defense that he could exploit.

Rui Hachimura acknowledged

Rui Hachimura acknowledged that the Grizzlies tend to guard him in a way that leaves the paint open, and he knows he needs to be prepared to take advantage of those opportunities. “The way they guard me, they’re going to be in the paint so I got to be ready to shoot those kind of shots,” said Hachimura. Meanwhile, Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane took note of Hachimura’s comments and issued a challenge to him for Game 2.

Bane stated that their game plan was to force their opponent to make shots, and he did just that. He acknowledged the impressive performance and called it probably the best game of his career. However, it’s important to remember that it’s a seven-game series, and they will see if he can replicate his performance on Wednesday. Reaves, who joined the Lakers on a two-way contract after going undrafted from Oklahoma and being converted to a full-time member, finished the game.

Reaves expressed his delight by saying, “This is the kind of stage you dream of performing on, and I was able to hit my stride in the later part of the game and enjoy the moment.”

Score in a Single Game

In the playoffs, it had been over three decades since four Lakers players scored 20 or more points in a single game, last achieved on May 15, 1988 by James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Byron Scott. D’Angelo Russell came close to making it five players with his 19 points and seven assists.

Despite winning 10 of their last 12 games, which included a crucial play-in victory over Minnesota to secure the No. 7 seed against No. 2 Memphis, the Lakers showed signs of slippage. Their performance in their final four regular-season games was lackluster, culminating in a loss to the Clippers. Additionally, their effort against Minnesota in the play-in game was disjointed at best and undisciplined at worst.

Darvin Ham

According to Lakers coach Darvin Ham, his team took advantage of the four-day break between their win over the Wolves and Game 1 against Memphis to reevaluate and make any necessary adjustments.

Ham acknowledged that during the last week of the season, specifically in the play-in game, the team struggled with maintaining control of possessions. He explained that the team made mistakes by either not passing the ball or only making one pass before taking a shot, resulting in wasted opportunities.

After a motivational team talk from James and Davis on the heightened intensity required in the playoffs, the Lakers seemed to lock in and regain the momentum that propelled them to the playoffs in the first place.

Ham Explanation :

“Ham explained that the aim of the time off was to maximize the group’s production. They needed to figure out what would work best against their upcoming opponent and what areas they needed to improve upon. It was a combination of taking a deep look at their offense, evaluating what was working well and what wasn’t, while also focusing on staying fresh and rested for the upcoming games.”

The Lakers began the series on a high note with a convincing win, which allowed them to snatch the home-court advantage from the Grizzlies. However, despite this achievement, LeBron James did not shy away from acknowledging some of the team’s shortcomings in the game. Specifically, he highlighted the issue of turnovers, noting that the Lakers gave away possession 16 times, which allowed the Grizzlies to score 15 points. Furthermore, he took responsibility for his own contribution to this problem, acknowledging the five turnovers that he personally committed.

According to James, “I believe that the team comprehended the task at hand and executed it well tonight. However, there is still room for improvement and I am confident that we can perform even better in the upcoming games.”







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