Lakers' LeBron James 'Is Unbelievable' for Playing Center vs. Rockets, Says Fizdale

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts after blocking a shot by Houston Rockets forward David Nwaba during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

Los Angeles Lakers acting head coach David Fizdale marveled at LeBron James on Tuesday after the decorated superstar started at center in a much-needed 132-123 win over the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, Fizdale noted that he was thoroughly impressed by James, who was making his first start at center not only in his NBA career but also in his basketball-playing life:

"I just told the team ... 'I don't think you guys realize what this guy just did.' He just played the 5 for four quarters and dominated at the position and played it while playing point guard, while playing [forward], he just ... Ah, my gosh, this guy is unbelievable.
"I can't help it, man. We all are, we're very lucky as basketball people to get to watch what we're watching right now out of this man and it's just beautiful."

Fizdale, who is filling in as the Lakers' head coach while Frank Vogel is in COVID-19 protocols, said he received Vogel's permission to try LeBron at center amid L.A.'s five-game losing streak.

The decision paid major dividends, as James posted a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He also went 11-of-19 from the field and made three of his five three-point attempts.

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James oftentimes went head-to-head with Rockets center Christian Wood, who finished with 22 points and six rebounds while also posting a minus-11 rating, which was tied for worst in the game.

While LeBron missed some time because of injury this season, he has played MVP-caliber basketball when healthy regardless of position, averaging 27.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 23 contests.

James is always hugely important to the Lakers' success, but that is even truer now with Anthony Davis set to miss at least the next few weeks with a sprained MCL.

Tuesday's win helped the Lakers inch closer to .500 at 17-18, and they are in possession of the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

While it is a far cry from where a team with championship aspirations wants to be, Fizdale's unconventional coaching decision has Los Angeles back on track for now.