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Lakers’ LeBron James strongly disagrees with ‘small ball’ label on situational lineup

LeBron James, Lakers, Rockets

After dropping Game 1 of their West semifinal series against the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers racked up three straight wins after matching the Rockets’ “small ball” line-up with a situational starting unit of their own. But as far as Lakers superstar LeBron James is concerned, his team didn’t really lose size and just made significant adjustments on the defensive side of the ball.

Following the Purple and Gold’s masterful performance that led to a 110-100 victory in Game 4 on Thursday, James explained how the Lakers managed to win the last three games of the series with a rather unorthodox first five.

The Lakers, of course, boasted one of the most intimidating rosters in the 2019-20 NBA regular season. They had the 7-foot JaVale McGee at center, who was relived by another defensive force in Dwight Howard off the bench. Anthony Davis, who would usually start at center for most teams, plays at power forward. James slid back to his natural small forward position, while Danny Green and Rajon Rondo rounded up the backcourt.

However, the Rockets ran circles around that big Lakers unit in Game 1, forcing head coach Frank Vogel to tweak his line-up. While the Rockets frontline of PJ Tucker and Robert Covington were massively undersized, their penchant for operating outside the perimeter posted a lot of problems defensively for LA.

The Lakers managed to adapt quickly and had Davis return to playing the five position. McGee has been limited by an injury and sat out the last two games, while Howard has been DNP since Game 1. With James being the facilitator anyway, this allowed the Lakers to have their best perimeter defenders Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the starting line-up at the same time.

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