LeBron prepares for ‘next challenge’ after Lakers win Game 3

Dave McMenaminESPN staff writerMay 7, 2023, 02:29 AM ET4 minutes of reading

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers’ 127-97 Game 3 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday meant Los Angeles began its second straight series with a win, followed by a loss, then another win to make it two. 1.

Los Angeles lost by 27 on Thursday and won by 30 two days later — and LeBron James is urging his teammates to ignore the noise that comes out after each game’s outcome.

“For young people who haven’t been a part of the postseason or haven’t had much experience in the postseason, stay off the TV and off social media,” James advised after putting up 21 points, eight rebounds and eight. helps. “You win a game and everybody’s the best player in the world; you lose a game and they throw dirt on you. It’s really that simple. It’s just training your mind for the next challenge. And, ‘What’s the next challenge? This game is over, we played well. OK. , cool. But we got another one on Monday.

Anthony Davis has become the face of the Lakers’ postseason ups and downs, with some fans suggesting his nickname, AD, is “Alternate Days” because of the night-to-night variation in his play.

Through just nine games so far — a small sample size compared to the consistency he showed in 56 games during the regular season, where he averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks — Davis continued to play hot and cold on Saturday.

He started the streak with 30 points and 23 rebounds in the 1 game win. He lost the 2nd game by 11 and 7 runs. Then it was 25 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3.

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Davis said after the Lakers went 6-3 in the playoffs — 10 wins away from a title — he hasn’t heard any criticism of his performance and doesn’t believe his approach varies from game to game. His numbers are there.

“I’m not on social media,” Davis said. “My teammates don’t talk about it, my circle, my inner circle doesn’t talk about it, so I don’t talk about it. [heard about it]. That’s madness.”

Davis was 7-of-10 from the field and 11-of-12 from the foul line in Game 3. He was 5-for-11 from the field (1-for-1 on free throws) in Game 2 and 11-for-19 (8-for-8 on free throws) in Game 1.

“Same shots as in Game 1, same shots in Game 2. I made Game 1 and missed Game 2,” he said. “The same shots I made in Game 2, I had in Game 3. And I missed in Game 2, I did in Game 3. So, I look at it because I missed shots. I didn’t do anything different.

“I know, especially this time of year, I put everything on the floor and I can do it.”

The biggest change in the Lakers’ approach in Game 3 was when coach Darwin Hamm had Lonnie Walker IV leapfrog Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley in his rotation. Walker, who played a total of 27 minutes in Saturday’s playoffs, scored 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in 25 minutes, added four rebounds and two steals.

The biggest difference in the Lakers’ performance was their perimeter defense. After allowing the Warriors to make 42 3-pointers in the first two games — the most 3-pointers made in two games to start a series — Golden State shot 13-of-44 (29.5%) in Game 3.

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“We’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, if not the best,” James said, repeating the same line he said after the Game 2 loss. “And for us to reach our potential, we have to defend at a high level. And there’s not a team in this league that tests you more than Golden State.”

Starting with the first 11 points in the first quarter, including 21 points from D’Angelo Russell on 8-for-13 shooting, the Lakers knew nothing in Game 3 could guarantee what was going to happen in Monday’s game. 4 of this Western Conference semifinal in Los Angeles or Game 5 on Wednesday in San Francisco or beyond.

By qualifying for the playoffs, the Lakers can control their play with energy, effort and urgency, just as Hamm has been preaching since struggling to make up for a 2-10 start to the season.

The shots fall. Shots will miss. Players’ legs are fresh one game and tired the next.

Still, as James and Davis said on Saturday, the Lakers’ mindset is stable as long as they stay disciplined.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, the deficit, no matter what we win, 30 doesn’t represent who the team really is. Losing Game 2 doesn’t represent who we are,” Hamm said. “It will be a battle to the end.”

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