NBA

'Quarterback' LeBron James praised as Lakers escape with win over Magic

By Sports Desk December 12, 2019

Frank Vogel highlighted how well LeBron James "quarterbacks the action" for the Los Angeles Lakers after the team avoided a potentially damaging collapse in a road win over the Orlando Magic.

The Magic (11-13) recovered from 24 points behind to level Wednesday's match at 71-71 in the fourth quarter, but James had a hand in all 10 unanswered points the Lakers produced from there to regain control of the game.

James finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, his sixth triple-double of the season helping the Lakers to a key 96-87 win.

That improved the team to 22-3, Vogel's squad having won 15 of their last 16 games to sit level with the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA's best record.

Having surrendered such a big lead, going on to suffer a defeat would have come as a heavy blow to the Lakers, with Vogel quick to recognise James' impact in ensuring that did not happen.

"LeBron was great, especially down the stretch," Vogel said.

"He quarterbacks the action for us, keeping the lead at a healthy distance and making plays on the defensive end."

Team-mate Alex Caruso, who connected with a corner three assisted by James as part of that crucial 10-0 run, added: "He is the best in the world for a reason.

"Him just getting to the paint draws so many bodies that we're open on the backside. He creates a lot of attention so it's up to us to play off that and we did a good job."

James insisted it was a team game when asked about his starring performance.

He said: "Everyone is just playing their roles, buying into what the system is and trusting one another. That's what has got us off to a really good start. 

"We believe in each other and want each other to succeed. We trust what coach Vogel and the coaching staff's gameplan is every single night and we just try to execute that. 

"I assert my will when I step on the floor. It's all about just trying to make the right plays, the right passes, the right reads as a point guard on the team and do the right things defensively to help us win."

Anthony Davis recorded 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who had Jared Dudley ejected as he attempted to stand up for Dwight Howard when the teams were engaged in a fourth-quarter shoving match. 

James disagreed with the decision, adding to ESPN: "I mean, that's all it takes to get ejected? These days? Little shove?

"I've seen a lot more than that. But Duds will do whatever. He told you guys at media day his job is to come in here if somebody goes crazy, do something crazy to me or AD whoever on the team, he's going to be the muscle."

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