Opening the 2022-23 NBA season against the defending-champion Warriors was never going to be an easy task for the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James and Co. didn’t help their own cause on Tuesday night at Chase Center.
The team’s 3-point shooting has been an issue dating back to last season, and their 123-109 loss to Golden State forced James to address it head-on after the game with some brutal honesty.
“I mean, to be completely honest, we’re not a team that’s constructed of great shooting,” James said during his postgame press conference in response to a question from the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike.
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“And that’s just what the truth of the matter is.”
The Lakers went 10-for-40 from 3-point land on Tuesday, with James -- the leading scorer for Los Angeles on the night -- shooting just 3-of-10 from behind the arc. Last season, Los Angeles shot 34.7 percent from 3-point range and posted a 28.6-percent mark in the preseason this year.
The Warriors, who boast two of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, sank nearly 36 percent of their triples on the night, with Andrew Wiggins leading the way on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
Golden State Warriors
It wasn't Golden State's most explosive shooting night by any means, but the stark contrast in not only percentages but the types of shooters the two teams possess had to be glaring to James.
“It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team,” James continued. “But that doesn’t deter us from still trying to get great shots. When you get those opportunities, you take them.
“But we’re not sitting here with a bunch of 40-plus [percent] career 3-point shooting.”
It’s an undisputed fact that Curry’s 3-point shooting changed the way basketball is played, forcing NBA teams to gravitate toward the arc just to keep up as the Warriors star came into his own.
A decade later, that strategy is a recipe for success for many teams.
Attempts from behind the 3-point line are more common now than ever before, and James believes the Lakers’ shots eventually will begin to fall as long as his team continues to defend, he said, and trusts their shots.
“You put in the work. And if you put the work out on the floor when the cameras are not watching, then you trust it. You trust it,” James said. “And I don’t see myself missing the open looks I had tonight. I mean, I had four or five damn good looks from the 3-point line. I put the work in here, so I live with those results.
“And if everybody is putting the work in, you live with those results. That’s all you can do. You continue to defend, you continue to push the ball, you continue to share the ball, you continue to play for one another.”
While both teams certainly put in work ahead of Tuesday’s opener, it’s clear the Warriors were able to cause more of a splash to start the season.