NBA

That's why LeBron is probably going to be MVP - Lakers coach Vogel in awe of James

By Sports Desk February 11, 2021

LeBron James showed in the Los Angeles Lakers' latest overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder why he is likely to win this season's MVP award, according to head coach Frank Vogel.

The Lakers claimed a second straight overtime victory against the Thunder on Wednesday, having needed two additional five-minute periods to get past the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

It was the first time in franchise history the Lakers won three straight overtime games, with the last NBA team to achieve the feat being the Minnesota Timberwolves in January 2007.

James played at least 40 minutes in all three – he last played that much in three successive games in January 2017 – and became the first player aged 35 or older in NBA history to do that in a trio of consecutive overtime triumphs.

Despite his increased time on the floor, the four-time MVP showed no noticeable dip in production. In a total of 130 minutes across the three wins he had 86 points, 30 assists, 25 rebounds and eight steals. The last NBA player to reach those numbers over a three-win span in the regular season was Michael Jordan in January 1989.

The Lakers were without Anthony Davis for a second straight game and Vogel felt the leadership LeBron displayed offensively and defensively was evidence of why he is a frontrunner for the MVP award.

Asked if he was concerned by the minutes James had racked up, Vogel replied: "Of course, there's always concern but his body's been feeling good.

"These aren't scripted plans to go to overtime each night and get him up to 40 minutes, but he's gonna be there in those situations to win the game.

"We'll continue evaluating how he's feeling, his workload on a day-by-day basis and make decisions on a game-by-game basis.

"He made several defensive plays to be honest with you, he's really leading the charge taking a matchup of [Al] Horford on certain situations. That's what Bron does. Bron does it on both sides of the ball.

"That's why he's probably going to be this year's MVP; carrying the load offensively and quarterbacking the number one defense in the league and taking these tough assignments and making the plays down the stretch, so he's played terrific."

Vogel joked that James was getting rest after the game by being excused from media duty.

He added: "These are the toughest games to play, when you have a sub-.500 team that comes in with guys out. Everybody on their team is getting an opportunity. You've got an opportunity to be the go-to guy. We've seen that with a few different games.

"We've certainly got to be better, we're not making things easy on ourselves but at the end of the day we're doing enough to grind things out in the second half and do what we need to do to get that W. Happy to get three wins but certainly got to be better.

"We're not worried about being tired. We're a no excuse team."

Kyle Kuzma praised James mentality after he contributed 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in the 114-113 success over the Thunder.

"You've heard it from him: being tired is just in your head," said Kuzma, who contributed 15 points and nine rebounds.

"If you put your mind to it, you don't really see yourself getting too tired and that's always been his mindset through his unbelievable career. That dude's a beast. If he says he's not tired, doesn't get tired, [then] he doesn't get tired."

Related items

  • Kane playing like his party balloon's burst - Gary Neville says Spurs star looks unhappy Kane playing like his party balloon's burst - Gary Neville says Spurs star looks unhappy

    Gary Neville claims Harry Kane is playing as though someone pooped his party after the Tottenham star drew a fifth successive blank in the Premier League.

    The England skipper had not experienced such a league goals drought since August 2016, and his loss of form follows a turbulent period in his career when he looked set to leave Spurs.

    Kane appeared destined for a move to Manchester City, but that transfer did not materialise as the Premier League champions could not prise him from the north London club's clutches.

    He had five goal attempts in Sunday's 3-1 derby defeat to Arsenal but could not find a way past Aaron Ramsdale.

    "He doesn't look happy," Neville said.

    Pointing to Tottenham's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in their previous game, Neville said: "Last week was a risk, I thought, shoving him out on the left wing. He was out on the left wing last week.

    "Today I thought he did play higher, to be fair, but the balls played up to him were just long punts in the first 20 minutes.

    "Harry doesn't look himself in terms of his body language. He looks like he's still carrying over the situation from over the summer.

    "He could still have had two or three goals today and a penalty, so there's still a contribution, but he's just not himself. Neither is Son [Heung-min].

    "Son and him look like they've had their balloons burst at a party as a kid. That's what it looks like."

    Neville said Spurs have "good senior pros" in their ranks, as he sought an explanation for why their form has nosedived since starting the league campaign with three straight wins.

    Rough losses to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and now Arsenal have seen them plummet from the top of the league and into mid-table.

    Nuno Espirito Santo may have a big job on his hands in turning Spurs back into a winning side, and Neville suspects some players are pining for a coach in the mould of former boss Mauricio Pochettino.

    "Those players to me look like they want a high-pressing, Pochettino-style coach that plays out from the back and gets the centre-backs on the six-yard line, rather than one that sits behind the ball and counter-attacks," former Manchester United captain Neville said on Sky Sports.

    With the derby defeat, Nuno became the first Spurs boss to lose as many as four times in his opening 10 fixtures since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

    Kane attempted just four passes in the first half at Emirates Stadium and was successful with only five of his 11 passes across the 90 minutes.

    He has also failed to get a goal in back-to-back games against Arsenal for the first time in his Tottenham career.

    Former Spurs captain Ledley King said of his old team-mate: "He cares, but there's no doubt he's out of shape at the moment. He's out of form. He's a big part for the club so when he's not playing well we struggle."

  • Nuno takes responsibility for Tottenham capitulation in north London derby Nuno takes responsibility for Tottenham capitulation in north London derby

    Tottenham head coach Nuno Espirito Santo took responsibility for his side's damaging 3-1 defeat to Arsenal in the north London derby.

    Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka dismantled Spurs in a thrilling first-half display from Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

    Son Heung-min pulled back a late consolation, but Spurs have now lost their last three league games by an aggregate score of 9-1. Tottenham are only the second team in Premier League history to win their first three games of a season and then lose the next three, after Everton in 1993-94, who went on to finish 17th.

    Nuno's team were top of the table at the end of August, but they will head into October below Arsenal in the standings for the first time in almost 12 months.

    "The performance was not good. The game plan was not good. The decisions were not good. So it was not a good day for us. Definitely not a good day," Nuno told Sky Sports.

    "I'm going to be honest. When you have a game plan, you have to make the right decisions in terms of who you want to put on the pitch to develop that game plan.

    "I take responsibility because the decisions were not right according to the game plan. I won't name individuals but the game plan was not right according to the players who were on the pitch.

    "We were not aggressive enough to control the dynamic of Arsenal in midfield. We suffered when we wanted to go in front and we allowed Arsenal to always come to us. By saying that, bad decisions."

    Nuno started with a three in midfield but took Dele Alli off at half-time. Alli completed the five passes he attempted in Arsenal's half, but only managed 24 touches in total as he failed to have a shot or create a chance, while Tanguy Ndombele was similarly ineffective going forward.

    Harry Kane struggled again, though his tally of five attempts more than doubled the total amount he had managed across his other four Premier League appearances so far this season.

    Kane was partly at fault for Arsenal's third goal, conceding possession and then failing to prevent Saka making progress in the area with an attempted slide tackle, though Spurs were aggrieved that referee Craig Pawson did not blow up for a foul on the England captain in the build-up to Aubameyang's strike.

    However, Nuno did not look to make any excuses.

    "I didn't see the images. The referee and VAR are there to judge. My head is more now focused on what I have to do now," the Spurs boss said.

    "We prepared the game, we had a good meeting, but then we were not able to do it. We were not strong enough."

    Asked if a breakdown in communication was the main problem, Nuno said: "That's another issue. I would not say they are not doing what I tell them to do. They were not able to do it. Credit to our opponent, they were better than us."

    Spurs have now conceded three goals in their last three league games for the first time since September 2003.

  • 'They are doing amazing' – Aubameyang hails Arsenal derby freedom fighters 'They are doing amazing' – Aubameyang hails Arsenal derby freedom fighters

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said Arsenal's youngsters played with freedom after the Gunners cruised to a 3-1 derby victory over Tottenham.

    Emile Smith Rowe turned in a star display as he scored Arsenal's opener before teeing up Aubameyang to double their advantage at Emirates Stadium.

    In a blistering first-half display from Mikel Arteta's side, Bukayo Saka made it 3-0 after Arsenal capitalised on Harry Kane's error in the 34th minute.

    Son Heung-min netted a late consolation for sorry Spurs, who also hit the crossbar late on, though Nuno Espirito Santo's side were deservedly beaten as they suffered a third successive top-flight defeat. Tottenham are only the second team in Premier League history to win their first three games of a season and then lose the next three, after Everton in 1993-94.

    "It means everything. It means the world to us. We gave everything for them today. The fans give us everything. They push us. It's an amazing feeling, unbelievable," Arsenal captain Aubameyang told Sky Sports, as he spoke alongside Smith Rowe.

    Asked if he offered guidance to Arsenal's younger players, Aubameyang said: "These boys are great guys, they're doing well, and I'm happy that my kids will grow up [in London] and one day be maybe like [Smith Rowe].

    "It's quite easy when you have boys like this who always listen and are ready to learn. So I try to give them some advice.

    "The most important thing is they feel free as they play. This is what they did today. They are doing amazing."

    Smith Rowe created two chances and scored with his only shot in a scintillating performance. With his goal having been teed up by Saka, the duo have now assisted one another five times in the Premier League. Among players both aged 21 or younger, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney (eight) have teed each other up more often in the competition's history.

    "I've always dreamt of this day, to score for Arsenal against Tottenham. To have my family here as well, it's just the best feeling ever," said Smith Rowe, before explaining Arteta's influence.

    "He just tells us to keep calm. We're young players in a massive game. He just encourages us so much and gives us so much confidence. Not just the manager, but the players in the team as well, they give us so much confidence."

    After heading into the last international break bottom of the table, having lost their opening three games by an aggregate score of 9-0, including a 5-0 thumping by Manchester City, Arsenal have now overtaken a Spurs side who were top at the end of August.

    It is the first time Arsenal have ended a day of Premier League action above Spurs since October 25, 2020.

    "We are doing a good run for a couple of games now," said Aubameyang.

    "After the game against Manchester City it was time to have a chat between us players and this is what we did. We want to go forward and win games.

    "This was important for us to make everything clear. We are doing well right now and the feeling is very good."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.