LeBron’s 40-point game fuels win over Thunder with new starting lineup

AP Photo/Nate Billings

The Lakers got the win over the Thunder with their new starting lineup. This win ended a four-game losing streak.  

LeBron James led the way for LA with 40/7/7 on 13-20 shooting from the field and 5-5 from three.

Darvin Ham debuted a new starting lineup with Jarred Vanderbilt replacing D’Angelo Russell. Vanderbilt brought added defense and switchability to the starting lineup.

This move also boosted the bench unit as Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura had great games.

With that in mind, let’s move on to our two takeaways from the Lakers win.

LeBron and AD’s dominance

James and Davis had phenomenal games, leading the charge. To add to James’ 40 points, Davis had 26 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and two blocks. He shot 11-21 from the floor and 1-1 from downtown and played the entire second half.

James shifted to the starting point guard spot as Russell moved to the bench. It was an easy transition for the 38-year-old, who has played every position throughout his career, including point guard in the 2019-20 season when they won the title.

James and Davis were often double-teamed but found their open teammates, finishing with seven assists each.

The superstar duo had a dominant effort on both sides of the ball and will look to continue this play moving forward.

Lakers lineup cohesion

LA’s new starting lineup was questioned by many entering the game. It was a lineup focusing on defense with James, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince, Vanderbilt, and Davis. Although this group doesn’t fit well, Ham's substitutions worked well.

He was able to stagger minutes well and find productive lineups throughout the game. Hachimura had a great game, with 21 points and six rebounds off the bench in 30 minutes. He shot well from the field (8-14) and behind the arc (3-5). 

Reaves and Russell were also productive in their minutes. Reaves had 11 points and nine assists, shooting 4-8 from the floor and 2-5 from distance. In his first game with the bench unit, Russell had 15 points and three assists in 17 minutes on 5-9 shooting and 3-6 from three.

It’s still up for debate if the Lakers will continue to use this starting lineup long-term. However, that debate shouldn’t overshadow LA getting a victory over Oklahoma City, who has the second-best record in the Western Conference.

Davis called this game a “must-win,” and they got it. The 16-14 Lakers will look to build on this win as they take on the long-time rival Boston Celtics in LA on Christmas, who are 22-6.

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