Kevin Durant’s intriguing comments on LeBron James coaching the Lakers in their win vs. the Suns

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers looked to be on their way to their second straight loss to start the new NBA season on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns. But they fought back from a double-digit deficit to earn an ugly 100-95 win at Arena.

Kevin Durant scored 39 points in the Suns’ defeat and did all he can to try to help his team secure the win. But in the end, there was too much LeBron James, who asserted himself and led the way in the fourth quarter. James had just 11 points entering the final period, but ended with 21 and came up with huge bucket after huge bucket to lead his team down the stretch.

Afterward, Durant noted that James led not just by example but also by coaching his teammates.

“He was pretty much coaching the team on how to guard certain actions,” said Durant. “… It’s always a battle playing high IQ players like that.”

For three quarters, the Lakers were outclassed by a shorthanded Suns team that was without Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. They looked flat, both in terms of effort and emotion, and they had trouble manufacturing points outside of fast breaks and early offense situations.

Through three quarters, Phoenix led by 12 points, and the Purple and Gold seemingly couldn’t throw a pea into the Pacific Ocean. But they got back to basics — somewhat — in the fourth quarter by controlling the paint and getting to loose balls.

Los Angeles didn’t win the game the way it would’ve likely preferred to — by running teams out of the gym and dominating. But James set the tone by attacking the basket down the stretch after a somewhat lackluster first three quarters. He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists while also helping out on the defensive end with a couple of steals and blocked shots.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis got back to his old self with 30 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, with lots of his production coming in the second half. Newcomers Christian Wood and Gabe Vincent also pitched in by hitting the boards, fighting for loose balls and forcing misses and miscues on defense.

Despite head coach Darvin Ham saying James will essentially be on a minutes restriction, the four-time MVP played 35 minutes on Thursday. He didn’t look tired down the stretch, and he will have two full days of rest before L.A.’s next game at the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.