The Los Angeles Lakers look formidable with LeBron James controlling proceedings, and his impact has been felt since his return from the abdominal injury he sustained that kept him out for eight consecutive games. An emphatic 116-95 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder was a step in the right direction for the team.
Although the OKC game is one the Lakers should win nine times out of ten considering the quality of their roster, they lost the first two games against them, giving up double-digit leads on both occasions. Given how poorly the team has performed without LeBron in this fixture, him making an appearance and leading them to a 21-point victory was a breath of fresh air for the Lakers.
Speaking to Mike Trudell in the walk-off, LeBron talked about how important it was to get the victory, and him being impressed with how the team looked on both ends of the floor. According to the Lakers beat reporter, LBJ said:
“I’m starting to get a lot healthier as the season goes on, especially with my low ab and my groin. That’s been feeling a lot better as of the last couple weeks."
LeBron has been in and out of the lineup for several reasons since the start of the season. Added to the eight-game absence due to the abdominal injury, he was suspended for a game after an altercation with Detroit Pistons Isaiah Stewart and was also wrongly placed in the league's health and safety protocol.
With LeBron coming back to full strength, the Lakers will have a lot to cheer about as his ability to impact games is undeniable. In his last seven games, he has scored 30+ points in five while also creating assists for his teammates. He finished the game against the Thunder with 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists on an effective 13-of-20 shooting from the field.
Avery Bradley deserves honorable mention for his contribution. He was brought in to help lockdown Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who torched the team in their two previous meetings.
In the process, Bradley saw an opportunity on offense and thought to himself, "why not?" He finished the game with a season-high 22 points and held Shay to 11 points on a 5-of-12 shooting from the field.