It took all of 1 game for the Lakers to bend LeBron’s minutes ‘restriction’

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If the rumored minutes restriction for LeBron James is contingent on whether the Los Angeles Lakers need to play him an entire fourth quarter to win, he’s not going to get the desired rest that Darvin Ham wants to give him. Heading into the fourth and trailing a Phoenix team that was without Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, L.A. resorted to plan B.

“[Coach] asked me if I could go the [whole] quarter, and I looked at the time and the score and what was going on in the game, and it was an easy answer for myself,” James said after the game. “I know how much work I’ve put in to be able to play quarters or whatever the case may be. And I understand that we definitely have a system put in place, but tonight called for me to go outside the box.”

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James ended up with 21, 8, and 9 on the night, rallying L.A. to a 100-95 win. He also logged 35 minutes in the second game of his 21st season.

I’m not sure this Lakers team is ever going to be able to pedal the Schwinn without James’ training wheels, but they definitely aren’t going to do it if this is all it takes to relapse/go “outside the box.” That’s an addict taking the edge off Sober October on the second day of the month with a morning Screwdriver.

Additionally, and I can’t emphasize this enough, the only person who’s going to dictate how much playing time LeBron gets is LeBron. The guy’s been shadow coaching and GM-ing his teams for a decade, and the Lakers only think they’re in control because it’s easier that way.

Ham really should’ve said the plan is to get a bunch of 20-point leads by the end of the third quarter, and hope the B squad can hold on for the win. The reason average players like Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell are all of a sudden redeemable is partly because of the confidence that James instills in his teammates, but mostly because playing next to James is extremely easy for role guys.

Take him off the court, and it becomes basketball follies. OK, maybe it’s not that bad. All I’m saying is the Lakers aren’t a super team according to the recently redefined term. They’re capable of making a deep playoff run, and top-heavy. Two things can be true at once, and unless Austin Reaves makes a leap, it’ll remain the AD and Bron Bron show.

Or, on random nights when the Lakers are losing, the LeBron Show. 

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