LeBron James makes first center start as Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston Rockets to break skid
Starting center not only for the first time in his 19-year career, but for what he said was the first time in his life, LeBron James earned a 132-123 victory for the Los Angeles Lakers over the Houston Rockets. The victory ended a five-game losing streak for an LA team that entered the season with title talks before a series of setbacks set in.
âI was a lanky, lanky kid growing up, but I was never one of the bigger guys or the middle position,â said 6-foot-9, 250-pound James, who took the first hit. Tuesday against Houston 6- center foot-9, Christian Wood. “I have always played on the wing or in some way handled the ball.”
The Lakers had already experienced James at 5 this season – he memorably finished a game overpowering Domantas Sabonis on the perimeter in an overtime victory in Indiana just before Thanksgiving – but had yet to make it through. go full time.
However, with Anthony Davis sidelined for another month due to a sprained knee, Dwight Howard still found his breath after a stint through health and safety protocols and DeAndre Jordan delivering spotty production throughout. season, interim Lakers head coach David Fizdale has decided to give it a try.
âLeBron’s plus-minus at 5 is so ridiculous right now,â said Fizdale, who is replacing Frank Vogel in Protocols afterwards. âTo have guys with COVID and stuff like that, I just took a bet and I said, ‘You know, I think tonight is the night to start it at 5pm. “”
In 1,332 regular season starts before Houston’s victory, James had never started at center, but LA’s desperation coupled with the positionless trend the league has headed for in part because of how James’ Miami Heat teams played, created the opportunity.
âI think I’ve been proud in my career to be able to play five positions,â said James. “Or at least know the five positions. Know the controls. So tonightâ¦ asked me to start in the middle and I just tried to be in a hell of a lot of plays.”
He finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, notching his third triple-double of the season. And he made history (Beyond Moonlight at 5 for the first time) by becoming the first player in league history aged 35 or older to score 30 or more points in five games. consecutive.
James, who turns 37 on Thursday, edged out Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Elgin Baylor, who all managed the feat of scoring four straight games while in that age bracket.
“I just feel like I’m in a really good offensive zone right now,” said James.
Assisting in the roster exchange was a rare on-field practice hosted by the team on Monday before leaving for their back-to-back Houston-Memphis trip. The session allowed Fizdale to test James in the middle.
“It was good just to practice, to be on the ground,” said Russell Westbrook, who also finished with a triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. âWe haven’t been able to do this for a long time.â¦ And you’ve seen part of it. [pay off] tonight how spotty we played throughout the game. “
Carmelo Anthony, another 19-year-old veteran who entered the NBA at the same time as James played the same small forward position, also played 5 against the Rockets at times when James was seated.
“This is the evolution of the game,” said Anthony, who had 24 points and nine rebounds off the bench. âYou have a five playing on the perimeter now. You have to adapt and you have to adjust, and you have to stay sharp, because if you don’t, you will be left behind.â
Fizdale, who has said Vogel has given him his blessing to try James at 5 if he chooses, has made no commitment that this will be a constant strategy going forward. LA will continue to have small balloon lines, but there are always big, beefy men on opposing teams to face and that’s what Howard and Jordan are there for.
But overnight, his instincts worked. And James, already linked to the all-time greats by bringing a championship to the franchise, can now say he played the position Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal played when they played. for purple and gold.
âI just said to the teamâ¦ ‘I don’t think you realize what this guy just did,â Fizdale said. “‘He just played 5 for four quarters and dominated in position and played it playing point guard, playing [forward], he just … Ah, my God, this guy is amazing.
“I can’t help it, man. We all are, we’re very lucky as basketball players to be able to watch what we’re watching right now with this man and it’s just beautiful.”