LOS ANGELES — Sporting a jet-black Deion Sanders Atlanta Falcons jersey after a 112-103 win over the LA Clippers on Sunday, Los Angeles Lakers middle JaVale McGee made a declaration that might have made the boastful “Prime Time” proud.
“It was crucial,” McGee stated when requested to place the Lakers’ win over their Staples Middle cohabitants into perspective. “Simply to quiet the doubters.
“The Lake Present [is] the perfect crew on this planet proper now.”
After the weekend the Lakers had, it is laborious to argue with him. L.A. beat the Milwaukee Bucks, homeowners of the perfect document within the league and that includes the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, on Friday. Then they dispatched the Clippers, homeowners of the fourth-best document within the league and that includes the reigning Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, two days later.
The final time the Lakers defeated two of the highest 4 groups within the NBA in consecutive video games was February 2009 (taking down the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers), in line with the Elias Sports activities Bureau analysis, and so they gained the title that season.
“There’s a number of components that go into these video games that basically do not matter come playoff time, whether or not you win or lose,” stated Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “However to measure some habits we’re attempting to construct, it’s totally encouraging to see our guys carry out at this degree in opposition to two of the perfect groups within the league.”
And after LeBron James pumped in 28 factors, 9 assists, seven rebounds and two blocks, he had his teammates, as soon as once more, making his case as the perfect participant within the league.
“They should watch the final two video games,” Anthony Davis, who had 30 factors and eight boards, stated when requested what he would say to anybody who did not plan to vote for James for MVP. “I imply, what he is been capable of do — taking over matchups defensively, main the pack offensively, making the best performs. You do not see that from a man who’s 17 years within the league and his crew is No. 1 within the West.
“He is persevering with to point out the world why he is the perfect, and if folks do not perceive that, then the final two video games, I believe they perceive now.”
Anthony Davis argues that the way in which LeBron James performed in opposition to the Bucks and the Clippers makes him the MVP of the season.
Rajon Rondo stated that James’ defensive effort in opposition to the likes of Antetokounmpo and Leonard is what has actually elevated his MVP standing.
“He units the tone, particularly when he takes the problem in opposition to supposed MVP candidates, he is making his mark,” Rondo stated.
James was requested if he’s certainly nonetheless bettering even at 35 years previous, as Clippers coach Doc Rivers advised earlier than the sport.
“I put together myself each in my physique and my thoughts to endure something,” James stated. “Even at this stage of my profession. I do know what it takes for me to be ready mentally and bodily to exit and carry out at a excessive degree. And it is my accountability to place this crew ready to achieve success. They take a look at me as a frontrunner. And it is my job, not solely on the ground to get guys alternatives, get them nice appears to be like, however to encourage them as nicely. To indicate them that I am not slowing down, even at this stage of my profession. So, it is only a blessing. It is a blessing to have the ability to do what I am doing at this juncture of my profession.”
And a Lakers-Clippers playoff collection — which has by no means occurred earlier than in NBA historical past — would appear like a blessing from the basketball gods ought to it happen this spring, contemplating how aggressive the primary three conferences went, with the Clippers taking the primary two earlier than the Lakers might tally a W on Sunday.
“The perfect kind of video games are while you come out of there with bloody lips and scratches, and guys taking expenses and guys chirping,” Davis stated. “These are the kind of video games that you simply stay for, the enjoyable video games in basketball that each participant on this locker room needs. It was a enjoyable sport at this time.”
One streak continued for the Lakers — they’re now 42-Zero this season when taking a lead into the fourth quarter — as one streak ended for the Clippers: It was the primary time all season they misplaced when their whole roster was wholesome.
“Wasn’t there like a stat they’re 10-Zero full power, one thing like that?” requested McGee, appropriately citing the quantity. “Welp. It is one loss now.”
As daring as McGee might need been, Avery Bradley — Sunday’s shock star with a season-high 24 factors — reminded of us that the Lakers (49-13), with 20 video games left earlier than the postseason, nonetheless have a protracted option to go to achieve their final purpose.
“They’re actually massive video games for us, nevertheless it’s nonetheless the common season,” Bradley stated. “We’re transferring on to the following opponent.”