The NBA delivered a weekend of high energy games and in this piece we look at some of the talking points that shaped the weekend’s action. 

The Return of LeBron James. 

Lakers star man and leader, LeBron James was a game-time decision going into Saturday night. He said he didn’t feel great in warmups, but he felt better as the clock ticked towards game time. 

On a sore knee, he delivered a triple double in a 122-115 overtime win against the Knicks in 40 minutes. “He’s incredible,”  Lakers coach Frank Vogel said

 “I guess the time off served him well. He just played a great basketball game. His defensive competitive spirit and IQ is everything to us and the way he scores the basketball in all ways. Also the way he sets up teammates it’s just, it’s rare and he was special tonight.”

Frank Vogel

Vogel has said in recent days that the Lakers want to be cautious with James’ minutes and workload. Despite playing for almost 40 minutes, after coming off a knee injury, LeBron didn’t seem to miss a beat. At 37 years of age, the king continues to perform at an MVP level. 

Westbrook’s Struggles Continue. 

Russell Westbrook had one of his worst NBA games of the season, scoring just five points. He also had four rebounds, six assists and four turnovers. Russell defended poorly and was the weak spot in many of the Lakers defensive breakdowns. He was just 3 of 7 at the free-throw line, missing two critical attempts late in the fourth quarter. The Lakers were outscored by 15 points in his 29 minutes on the floor. 

Vogel was left with not much choice but to bench Westbrook to start overtime, the second time Westbrook has been benched this NBA season. Afterward, Vogel admitted that the benching was in part due to Westbrook’s crunch-time struggles.

“That stretch was part of it,” Vogel said. “I think obviously Russ was having a tough night on both sides of the ball and ‘Bron was really going.”

The Lakers are going to need Westbrook to come out of this slump to really give themselves an even better chance. 

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The Celtics Find Their Rhythm. 

Jaylen Brown scored 26 points to help the Boston Celtics to a 116-83 victory over the Orlando Magic, night for their season-best fifth straight win. Dennis Schröder scored 23 points and hit four 3-pointers off Boston’s bench, while Al Horford added 13 points and 11 rebounds. Jayson Tatum scored 15 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Brown, who scored a career-best 50 points in an overtime victory over Orlando last month, made 10 of 22 shots.

It is Boston’s first five-game win streak since April 2021, when they won six straight. “We’re finding some continuity and chemistry. We’ve had some adversity, but now we’re finding ways to win some games,” Brown said. “I’d say before the season, with the way our team was structured, we had a defensive group. This is what we imagined when we started.”