LeBron James continues to lead Lakers’ road dominance in rout over Thunder
LeBron James sized up Oklahoma City center Isaiah Roby on the wing early in the third quarter Wednesday, dribbling back and forth between his legs four times before gathering for a side-step and launching a three-pointer that settled into the net while being fouled.
James turned around and looked into the stands, his head bobbing, his teammates in awe at their leader making yet another three-pointer on this night that the Lakers made easy work of the Thunder 128-99 in Oklahoma City.
He made the free throw to compete the four-point play that gave the Lakers another 24-point lead like they had in the second quarter, part of James’ 26 points on nine-for-20 shooting, including five of eight on three-pointers. His makes beyond the arc were a season-high.
“There was actually somebody up there, but I was actually looking for nobody,” James, on a videoconference, said about his glance into the stands. “I was just visualizing us having fans back in the building again at some point. It was great to see some fans in Houston.
“So, me playing the game that I love to play and then along with the fans is something that I dream about all the time. So, even when I’m on the floor, I just try to let them know that we miss them and that was one of those moments.”
James Harden is reunited with former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant, giving the Brooklyn Nets the NBA’s best Big 3 and hopes of challenging the Lakers.
James did all this in just 27 minutes, taking a seat on the bench and putting his mask on with nine minutes 15 seconds left and the Lakers holding a 102-76 lead.
James began his three-point blitz with three in the second quarter, the shots coming in a barrage. He then hit the Thunder for back-to-back three-pointers in the third quarter.
For good measure, James added six rebounds and seven assists in doing more than his share to help the Lakers win their seventh consecutive road game this season, the best start away from home in franchise history.
“We just have a bunker mentality when we go on the road,” James said. “It’s just us. And obviously it’s even more just us, because of the restrictions and the COVID and everything that’s going on. So we come together even closer. We go on the road, we understand it’s gonna be challenging and different because we’re not at home. We’re staying at a hotel and things of that nature, which allows us to zero in.”
They won all three games on this trip by an average of 21.3 points, sending them home with the best record in the NBA at 10-3.
And each double-digit win left the Lakers with more and more confidence, especially the 29-point beatdown of the Thunder.
“Our group just has a mind-set to be great every time we touch the floor,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said on a videoconfernce. “We want to have a sense of urgency and we want to develop the habit of playing harder than our opponent and I think we saw that definitely with the seven games that we started on the road, but in particular on this trip the last three games.”
For Dennis Schroder, this was his first time playing in Oklahoma City since the Lakers acquired him from the Thunder in November.
The NBA and players’ union will follow stricter health protocols over the next two weeks to try to reduce game postponements due to COVID-19.
With so many of his former teammates now gone, Schroder could really chat it up only with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Foul troubled slowed Schroder some, but he still finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game,” Schroder said. “It was good to see those guys though. I think we had great chemistry with organization, myself, my teammates. So, I just tried to focus on getting the ‘W’ and after the game I talked to some guys, catching up a little bit.”
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.