LeBron James on Lakers' Lack of Turnovers vs. Kings: 'That's the Reason We Won'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 5, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) dribbles during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James credited ball security as the driving force behind the Lakers' 122-114 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, James said:

"Well, that's the reason we won the game. We won the game because we did not turn the ball over tonight. And when we get shots at the goal, we can be very dangerous. And we weren't shooting the ball well at all, and because we didn't turn the ball over, we caught fire. We caught fire, because we got shots at the goal and we didn't turn the ball over."

L.A. only turned the ball over five times, while the Kings coughed it up 18 times. That discrepancy was likely the biggest difference in the contest.

James led the way for the Lakers with 31 points, marking his eighth 30-point showing in the past nine games. He also tied for the team lead in turnovers with only two.

For comparison, the Kings had four players turn the ball over at least three times, including guard De'Aaron Fox, who turned it over a team-high four times while also leading Sacramento with 30 points.

Although James was the Lakers' top performer Tuesday, Russell Westbrook accomplished something he hadn't done in nearly six years and played a big role in the victory as well.

In addition to his 19 points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes, Westbrook didn't commit a single turnover. Per McMenamin, Westbrook hadn't accomplished that feat since 2016, ending a streak of 407 games with at least one turnover.

Westbrook has faced a great deal of criticism this season since the Lakers gave up a big haul that included Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to acquire him from the Washington Wizards during the offseason.

The 33-year-old veteran's 19.5 points per game is his lowest scoring average since 2009-10, but he is also averaging 8.1 assists and 8.1 rebounds per contest, plus his 4.6 turnovers per game are right in line with what he has done over the past several years.

James needs Westbrook to play well now more than ever with Anthony Davis on the shelf because of a knee injury, and Russ undoubtedly answered the bell Tuesday.

With the victory over Sacramento, the Lakers have won three games in a row and are back over .500 at 20-19.

The Lakers are one of only five teams in the Western Conference with 20 or more wins, and while they are technically in seventh place, they are only percentage points behind the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks for fifth.

LeBron and Westbrook will look to maintain their high level of play Friday when the Lakers host the Atlanta Hawks and go for their fourth win in a row.