DENVER LeBron James played 29 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers' 119-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday to start his 21st season. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said the 38-year-old superstar's decreased workload is part of the team's plan.
"It's easy with him to get caught up in the emotion of the game and you tend to forget you want to play these long stretches, but in order for him to be as effective as possible, we have to be mindful of the minute output and how long his stretches are," said Ham.
Lakers VP of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka stated during media day earlier this month that the organization "partnered" with James to devise a strategy to "get him all the way to the end" this season.
According to Ham, James' longtime trainer Mike Mancias was involved in the deliberation process. James claimed he was "not surprised or upset" by the team's decision to limit his playing time versus Denver.
Ham has stated that the team's initial strategy to limit James' playing time to between 28 and 30 minutes each game is subject to change.
Davis scored 17 points to lead Los Angeles in the first half against Denver on 6-of-11 shooting, but he went scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting in the second.
Double-teaming began "Davis explained. "To crowd the paint. Missed some easy rim layups and jumpers. Give our men a chance to make the proper play. Kick me out if doubled. Gabe Vincent had open 3s, Rui Hachimura had open 3. They didn't fall. But I must shoot more."
Vincent, who scored six points on 3-for-8 shooting in his Laker debut, said L.A. needs Davis but also needs every player seeking for his opportunity to optimize the system.
"I think we're going to continue to try to get him involved," he added. "Everyone must remain aggressive. Too often, we stood motionless and watched. We must be proactive and play the game. We'll keep looking for him and being aggressive, so we'll continue."