“We might really feel his anger,” Lance Stephenson advised ESPN’s Dave McMenamin of Walton’s disposition in the course of the morning assembly on the staff resort. “We needed to get that W.”
LeBron James earned his first win as a Laker and helped halt a three-game dropping streak with a close to triple-double of 19 factors, 10 assists and 7 rebounds within the Lakers’ 131-113 win over the Phoenix Suns.
“It feels nice; it is a win, interval,” mentioned James, who received to relaxation within the fourth quarter with the Lakers up by as a lot as 27. “But it surely feels good for us to know what we have been doing over coaching camp [and] in these first few video games to proceed to get higher.”
“We’re very gifted offensively,” James added. “However I feel it is all the time going to start out with our protection.”
Seven Lakers completed in double figures as Los Angeles overwhelmed the Suns 44-24 within the second quarter regardless of taking part in with out suspended starters Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram. The Lakers’ protection, which had surrendered a median of 131.6 factors within the first three video games, compelled 9 of the Suns’ 20 turnovers for 15 factors within the second quarter.
Stephenson — who was key within the victory after additionally coming near a triple-double with 23 factors, eight assists and eight rebounds — mentioned Walton deserved an help for the Lakers’ defensive focus and elevated communication.
“We talked lots on protection,” mentioned Stephenson, who offered the Lakers with a spark with eight factors and 4-for-Four taking pictures from the sector within the second quarter. “We watched quite a lot of movie yesterday and right this moment, and Coach was very mad at us and he received on us about our protection and speaking on D on the defensive finish and being very unselfish. So, I imply we took care of enterprise tonight.”
Requested how irate Walton was on the morning assembly on the staff resort, Stephenson replied, “Oh, he was mad.”
“He got here in right this moment very mad, he yelled at us, he advised us we have to lock in on protection and play unselfish basketball and get a W.”
Walton was livid with the officiating on Monday night time after the Lakers dropped a 143-142 extra time loss at dwelling to the San Antonio Spurs. Walton criticized officers for what he and the Lakers felt had been a number of missed calls, and was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Wednesday.
On Wednesday night time, for the primary time this season, the Lakers went to the road extra instances in a sport than their opponent, taking pictures 23 free throws to the Suns’ 21. They went into the sport targeted on lowering their fouling, in addition to defending, rebounding and sharing the ball.
JaVale McGee additionally continued to exceed expectations, posting his finest sport as a Laker with 20 factors, six rebounds and 4 blocks in 25 minutes. McGee battled with No. 1 general choose Deandre Ayton, who had 22 factors, 11 rebounds and three blocks for Phoenix, which misplaced Devin Booker to a strained hamstring late within the third quarter.
By 4 video games, McGee is averaging 16.2 factors, seven rebounds and three.2 blocks in 24 minutes, and he made it clear afterward that he can play extra and isn’t restricted by his bronchial asthma situation.
“That is what I wish to say concerning the bronchial asthma,” McGee mentioned when requested about it after the sport. “Cease bringing that up like I am out right here wheezing and having bronchial asthma assaults. I’ve by no means had an bronchial asthma assault in my life. I really feel like that is positively lowered my worth as a basketball participant.
“Individuals say, ‘Oh he solely can play 20 minutes as a result of he has bronchial asthma.’ No. there’s lots of people with bronchial asthma within the league. I really feel like any person stamped that excuse on me like, ‘Cool, we will play him low minutes as a result of he has bronchial asthma.'”
McGee, who has not averaged greater than 18.1 minutes per sport in his earlier six seasons, believes the narrative of him having to play in shorter stints attributable to bronchial asthma got here whereas he spent three seasons in Denver from 2012 to 2015.
“Most likely Denver due to altitude,” McGee mentioned. “Anyone has an issue inhaling Denver.”
“They’ve bronchial asthma medication,” he added. “There is a motive I take it, so I haven’t got bronchial asthma once I take my bronchial asthma medication.”
The Lakers (1-3) will look to place collectively their first profitable streak when the undefeated Denver Nuggets (4-0) go to on Thursday. Los Angeles will nonetheless be with out Rondo, who’s serving a three-game suspension, and Ingram, who’s suspended for 4 video games, for his or her roles in a battle with Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
“I do not really feel like folks have been trying on the first three video games we performed. We performed towards playoff groups,” mentioned McGee, who additionally hit his first 3-pointer because the 2012-’13 season and second general of his profession. “Nice playoff groups, too.
“So for us to solely be collectively for a few months, I really feel like we’re jelling extraordinarily effectively. Once we get to that threshold of greatness that we could be at, I really feel like we will be unstoppable.”