NBA

Lakers must play 'mistake-free basketball' against Nuggets, warns James

By Sports Desk April 17, 2024

LeBron James has warned the Los Angeles Lakers must play "mistake-free basketball" if they are to overcome the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 on Tuesday, meaning they progress to the first round of the playoffs.

A series against the reigning NBA champions awaits, starting on Saturday.

And James, who finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, knows the Lakers will have to deliver a near-perfect performance.

"It's the defending champion," James said.

"They know what it takes. They know how to win. They've been extremely dominant on their home floor over the last few years.

"They've got an MVP on their team. They've got a closer on their team. They've got high-level players, high-IQ players, and they've got a hell of a coach.

"So, we have to play mistake-free basketball. Make it tough on them. They're going to try to make it tough on us, obviously.

"But if we can play as great of a game as we can play, and they're going to play as great of a game as they play, it's going come down to one or two possessions. We'll see who executes then."

It was put to Lakers coach Darvin Ham that there had been reports the Lakers might throw their game against the Pelicans in order to go up against either the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors in the other play-in game.

The Kings ultimately won, and will now face the Pelicans, with the prize a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Western Conference's No.1 seed.

"There was a report of what?" an incredulous Ham said. "Insane asylum sources say?"

The Lakers reached the Conference Finals last year, and Anthony Davis is confident Los Angeles are coming into their best form at the opportune moment.

"I think we're clicking at the right time," Davis said.

"Guys are playing well. Guys are very confident. Guys are feeling good. And we're going to need it, especially against Denver."

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