LOS ANGELES — The push-and-pull of the Lakers’ small lineup with Anthony Davis at center, at this point, is a little tired.
Why not shake it up: Should the Lakers play LeBron James at center?
The intriguing super-small lineup became viable on Wednesday night when Davis was out with the flu, and it produced interesting results: The Lakers were able to come back in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers and win in overtime.
At 6-foot-9, James is an interesting option to play the middle, even if the Lakers have a difficult enough time playing him at power forward. But the four-time league MVP seemed to acknowledge its viability after the win on Wednesday, saying it allowed him to call out defensive signals and plays from the back line better.
Teammate Malik Monk concurred with James’ assessment.
“He knows every play for every team,” he said of James. “He knows what’s coming. He’s been in this situation too many times, man, not to know what’s going on and not to communicate with us. Us being better is him communicating and letting us know everything while he’s in the back line.”
Indiana center Myles Turner was essentially played off the court by the lineup with James and Carmelo Anthony as the two bigs, and the spacing it created helped the offense pile up points surrounded by shooters. Stat site Cleaning the Glass listed the Lakers’ lineups with either James or Anthony at center with a plus-38.8 net rating, but entering Friday night, the Lakers had played only 49 possessions with that arrangement.
Vogel said he sees the potential of those lineups, but in limited doses – especially to help protect James from too much physical post play among his other duties.
JAMES FINED $15K FOR GESTURE, WARNED ON PROFANITY
In the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ win in Indiana, James did a salacious dance that former NBA player Sam Cassell once made famous by exaggerating his manhood.
On Friday, the NBA hit him back in the wallet.
James was fined $15,000 for the celebration, which the NBA called “obscene,” as well as using explicit language when referring to his one-game suspension in an interview with ESPN. The NBA has fined players before for the dance, including Cassell himself and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. Following the suspension itself, it was the second time the league came down on James in one week.
Friday was also the day when Detroit forward Isaiah Stewart spoke for the first time since his dust-up with James, which cost him a two-game suspension. Stewart’s notable contradiction from James’ version of events – that he didn’t mean to hit him in the face – was that he didn’t think James was so innocent.
“I watched the film – me personally, I don’t feel like it was an accident,” he said. “But it’s my last time addressing it. My main focus right now is on my team and my teammates, getting back to playing basketball. I’m not going to let that define who I am.”
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)