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."

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