Elliott: LeBron James shows what is possible for the Lakers when he is on the pitch

Lebron James he proclaimed it extravagantly NBA debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 29, 2003, the 18-year-old finished high school in just a few months. He showed no fear on the court that night: he scored 25 points, grabbed six rebounds, four steals and earned nine assists in a loss at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. But his prematurely secured performance hid what he really felt.

“I will never forget the moment I was in Arc and I first wore this Cavs uniform, this wine and gold and stepped on the NBA floor. It was very unique, “he said.” Very unique – and I don’t want this moment for any other athlete because he was very nervous, I tell you. “

Four NBA titles and exactly 18 years later – really a lifetime later – James battled the Cavaliers at the Staples Center on Friday. He resolutely returned to the Lakers after missing two games due to a sore right ankle and scoring 26 points in nearly 38 minutes in an occasionally uneven defense that developed into a satisfactory Victory over Cleveland with 113: 101 in the introduction to a four-game home match.

He was impressed when he learned that at 36, with 1,314 regular-season races and 266 races in the playoffs on the odometer, he managed to surpass the debut performance of his 18-year-younger self.

“I’m just trying to get up. I’m getting better. It’s getting better with age, “he said. “Just like wine.

“It’s just a treat. I think I can play the game for so long and play it at a level where I can play it, it’s just an honor and a treat. And I don’t take that for granted.”

James injured his ankle last Sunday in the Lakers ’home win over Memphis, their first win of the season after two defeats. He missed their victory after overtime in San Antonio on Tuesday and their terrible defensive effort wasted a 26-point lead in the loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

His return on Friday was uncertain, and coach Frank Vogel called James a “real decision about the time of the game” during a conversation with reporters Friday morning and again before the game. James said he made the decision around 5.30 or a little later after doing some tests and getting the approval of the team medical staff and feeling good enough to make the decision.

“I definitely feel it a bit now, but it’s just an adrenaline rush,” he said. “But it’s much better today after the game than after Sunday when we played Memphis.”

The loss of James for even as short a period as two games has posed a problem for the Lakers, who are still noticing each other’s inclinations and habits. Their defense, Vogel’s power, was disorganized and disorganized and was utterly formidable against Oklahoma City. The more time they can work together and establish connections and communication, the sooner they should get out of the mud in which they are.

On Friday, they had some lively discussions about defensive play and caring for the ball during timeout. Vogel described the debates as “tense”. Whatever the word, they worked and the Lakers held the Cavaliers up to 16 points in the fourth quarter. “When we don’t turn the ball around, we’re a pretty good team,” James said. “When we turn the ball, it definitely takes our sails. [sic]”

They are far from where they should be, but despite making 22 substitutions, they saw their efforts as a sign of progress.

“It’s every day. It’s every day,” James said of the coaches’ focus on improving their defensive play. “This year we have a lot of guys, a lot of new guys who came from different systems and played in defense in different ways. to work every day.

“Our film sessions are probably the most important because we get a chance to watch them and shoot them and watch them in slow motion and say,‘ Okay, if we could do it better ’or,‘ So if we’re going to play this specific action, it’s what gives us the best possible chance of getting stop after stop. ‘ And I think we were able to translate the movie we watched about the OKC game in the second half [Friday] night and keep that team at 42% shooting, and that’s fantastic. ”

James had just three rebounds against the Cavaliers, but had eight assists, four of them in a crucial fourth quarter. Three set-up shots by Carmel Anthony, including a pass for Anthony’s three-point shot that put the Lakers forever ahead with 93:91 with seven minutes and 23 seconds until the end of the fourth quarter. The second assist was in cutting anthony by Anthony Davis.

Asked about the benefits of adding Anthony as a specialist in floor spacers and hunting and shooting, James was thrilled. “Threat. He’s a sniper, what we call guys in our league who don’t need a lot of airspace to shoot him because of his fast trigger, ”James said. “It creates so much space for me, Russ [Westbrook] and AD to do our pick-and-roll magic when you have guys like Melo and guys who lay the floor and keep the guys fair on the edge. “

The crowd was thrilled with the connection between Anthony and James, as they imagined they would take the Lakers back to the top of the NBA league. Before that can happen, the Lakers must regain their identity as a diligent defensive team. If they succeed, the options will be as interesting as the chances for that nervous kid who played his first game in the NBA 18 years ago and still shows everyone how to do it.

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