Lakers’ LeBron James Vetoed Darvin Ham’s Defensive Strategy So He Could Guard Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard

On the second episode of his podcast called “Mind the Game” with former NBA guard JJ Redick, LeBron James revealed that he vetoed Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham‘s defensive strategy so he could guard Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard on February 28.

LeBron James, Lakers, Clippers, Kawhi Leonard, NBA
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Ham wanted the Lakers to switch everything on defense, but LeBron knew his team had no chance to complete their comeback unless he was guarding Leonard. 

“We had switching built in versus Kawhi and versus James [Harden] and whatever the case may be and I vetoed it in the second half,” LeBron said. “I know T-Lue more than any other player that’s ever been with T-Lue and I know he plays target ball too. It got to a point where I knew in order for us to get back into the game, switching anybody else onto Kawhi is not favorable for us.”

The Lakers were down 21 to the Clippers in the fourth quarter. LeBron scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and held Leonard to only six points.

LAL came back to defeat LAC by a final score of 116-112

LeBron finished with 34 points, six rebounds and eight assists against the Clippers while shooting 13-of-21 from the field and 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. The leading scorer in NBA history outscored the Clippers by himself in the fourth quarter. 

LeBron is averaging 25.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.1 assists this season while shooting 53.0% from the field, 40.6% from beyond the arc and 75.1% from the free-throw line. The NBA legend continues to defy Father Time. 

The Lakers (40-32) are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings. They are only 2.0 games back of the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed. 

Seeds 1-6 automatically qualify for the 2024 playoffs, while seeds 7-10 compete in the play-in tournament. 

“It’s been flip-flopping so much over the last few weeks, I kind of stopped looking at it,” LeBron said of the West standings, via The Athletic. “Just kind of just like focusing on each game at a time. So, obviously, we know where we are right now. Just continue trying to play some good basketball.”

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