NBA

LeBron James: 'Easy' call to ignore minutes limit in Lakers' comeback win

By Sports Desk October 27, 2023

LeBron James said it was an "easy" decision to play beyond a planned limit to his gametime after helping the Los Angeles Lakers to Thursday's come-from-behind victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers had planned to limit James' time on court to around 30 minutes per game in the early stages of the season, with the NBA's all-time leading scorer having missed a total of 111 games since joining the team in 2018, most of them through injury. 

James played just 29 minutes – well below his 2022-23 average of 35.5 per game – as the Lakers began the new season with a 119-107 defeat against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.

Head coach Darvin Ham suggested that would become the norm, but with the Lakers trailing the Suns by 12 points going into the fourth quarter, he was forced to rethink that plan.

Following a conversation with Ham, the four-time NBA champion played the entire fourth quarter and led the Lakers to a 100-95 victory, ensuring they avoided a 0-2 start to 2023-24.

James ended the game with 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 35 minutes, and he had no hesitation in staying out there to get Los Angeles back in the contest. 

"He [Ham] asked me if I could go the [whole] quarter, and I looked at the time and the score and what was going on in the game, and it was an easy answer for myself," James said after the win.

"I know how much work I've put in to be able to play quarters or whatever the case may be.

"I understand that we definitely have a system in place, but tonight called for me to go outside the box."

The Lakers outscored Kevin Durant's Suns 28-11 in the fourth, with James racking up 10 points alone, vindicating Ham's decision to leave the 38-year-old on the floor.

"We were dragging our feet there for the better part of the first half, and things weren't clicking," Ham said. "He [James] has that spirit, that intensity to put the team on his shoulders. 

"I had timeouts to play with, so I went to him, I said, 'How we feeling? What do we want to do?' 

"He answered my question and you guys saw the results. So we used a couple of our timeouts to get him some breathers."

James' team-mate Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 30 points after going scoreless through the second half against Denver last time out. 

That performance led to Davis receiving fierce criticism from some quarters, but James made it clear that Los Angeles were not affected by the noise surrounding the eight-time All-Star.

"We don't give a s*** about criticism of AD," James said. "We don't care. Nothing bothers us. AD doesn't care. I don't know if guys have figured that out. 

"AD does not care. He's not on social media, so he doesn't see none of it. He rarely talks, unless it's to us, so we don't give a s*** about it, and he definitely doesn't. 

"He just goes out and does his job, and we're happy to have AD."

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