LeBron James whipped a pass to Cam Reddish, who was standing behind the three-point arc when he caught the ball. With Ziaire Williams closing out on him, Reddish pump-faked the Memphis forward to clear some room. Reddish then calmly reset his feet and confidently knocked down the three-ball early in the second quarter.
Reddish sheepishly smiled, as did the rest of his Lakers teammates, all of them sensing that Tuesday it was going to be that kind of night for the team, which had struggled from behind the three-point line.
At the end of the first half, the Lakers had shot 55% from three-point range, making 11 of 20, a big reason they led by 23 during their second game of the NBA’s new in-season tournament.
By the end of their 134-107 win, the Lakers had made 22 three-pointers tying their franchise record, in 35 tries.
Their 62.9% three-point shooting was the highest in a game with at least 35 attempts in NBA history, according to ESPN.
And this was from a Lakers team that entered as the second-worst three-point shooting team in the NBA, making just 30.5%.
No one wanted to spoil the shooting show, but they kept firing without fear.
“You don’t want to be that guy when the team is shooting extremely well,” said James, who was three for six from three-point range. “You want to try to chip in and be a part of that. So, definitely a great shooting night for us tonight and a good win for us.”
The leader in the Lakers’ three-point shooting contest was D’Angelo Russell, who shot six for eight three help tally a team-high 24 points.
Austin Reaves, coming off the bench for the third game in a row, and Rui Hachimura were perfect from three-point range, a combined seven for seven, with Hachimura leading the second unit with 23 points and Reaves adding 16.
“Just making shots is a beautiful thing to see,” said Reaves, who was five for nine from the field and four for four from deep. “Probably doesn’t matter if you make almost 63% from three, but did you like the other stuff? We shot [62.9]%? That’s impressive. Yeah, our last game we shot 21 and now we’re shooting [62.9%].”
James back in action
The left calf bruise that forced James to sit out Sunday’s win over Portland still isn’t healed, but that didn’t stop him from playing 23 minutes against Memphis and it wasn’t expected to keep him out of Wednesday night’s game at home against Sacramento (5-4).
James had three days to rest after he was injured during Friday night’s win in Phoenix.
“I got better as the game went on, started to warm up a little bit,” he said. “Still not 100%, but good enough for me to go out there when I went through my pregame warmup, things of that nature. Happy to be back on the floor with my guys.”
James was efficient during on the court, shooting six for 11 from the field for 16 points. He also had nine rebounds and six assists, another all-around game to push the Lakers to 6-5, and 2-0 to top their tournament group halfway through the group stage.
“I’m just going out there and just playing free. Free basketball,” said James, who turns 39 next month. “I feel like it’s not anything that I cannot do that I did back in my 20s on the basketball floor. So, I’m going to continue to just try to be the ultimate triple threat: scoring in the low post, scoring in the paint, scoring in the midrange, scoring three. Get to the free-throw line when I can. Things of that nature. So I’m always just trying to keep the defense at bay and always have the ability to be able to rebound and find my teammates.”
Jaxson Hayes was sprinting down the court in the second quarter, doing his best to keep up with the fast break the Lakers were running. By the time he reached the three-point line, he saw that Reaves was throwing a lob pass and that it was intended for him.
The 6-foot-11 Hayes caught the pass and threw down a dunk, his teammates enjoying the finish of the exciting play.
“The lob that Austin threw me, I was surprised because he threw it when I was at the three-point line and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I got to take off.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to catch this.’ And then I somehow got to it,” Hayes said. “Shout-out to AR for that pass.”
It was the best game Hayes has played in his first season as a Laker.
He made all four of his shots, scored 11 points, blocked three shots and dunked with force when he got the opportunity.
“I just felt like I actually saw a rhythm tonight,” he said. “Go with the flow of the game. I felt like I was actually in the flow of the game, just getting more used to playing with this team.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.