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LeBron James’ Lakers teammates also in awe of ‘MVP’ Stephen Curry

Lakers-Warriors, NBA Play-In Game

Two days after LeBron James endorsed Stephen Curry for MVP, the Los Angeles Lakers showered Curry with similar respect ahead of their play-in game against the Golden State Warriors.

“He’s carrying his team,” Anthony Davis said in his post-practice Zoom. “Everyone counted the Warriors out, and he’s doing everything he could to lead the team into the position that they’re in now. Fighting for the 7 or 8 seed. Hats off to him. The numbers he’s putting up, the things he’s doing on the basketball floor for the Warriors is insane. MVP candidate…He’s kept these guys alive all season. Winning games that people thought they should lose. And he’s been playing his ass off to put this team in a great position to be in the playoffs.”

Kyle Kuzma co-opted the praise:

“We’re playing someone that could potentially be the MVP of the NBA season. I think for us, we have appropriate fear. I think that’s always important when you’re into the playoffs. Having that type of mental mind-state when you’re going into certain games like this. Understanding that you can be beat. You can catch somebody on a hot night.”

On paper, the Lakers’ top-ranked defense seems ideally equipped to limit Curry. Los Angeles boasts two All-Defense-caliber guards in Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, while Dennis Schröder is pestering and relentless.

Relatively speaking, the Lakers have defended Curry — who won the scoring title and made a career-high 5.3 threes per game this season — about as well as you can hope. Curry averaged 23.0 PPG in three games against L.A. in 2020-21 (two Lakers wins, both without AD) on 42.3% shooting. Schröder personally held Curry to 6-of-19 shooting across three matchups, though he downplayed that figure.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked what worked on Steph. “I’m going out there and giving everything that I have. End of the day, all these stats, it’s over with. Playoffs is a different beast. He just had 46 against Memphis…he’s capable of winning by himself if he wants to. I’ve got to come out, be ready, just not bringing the energy, but be smart how you want to defend him.”

The Lakers know it will take multiple bodies to contain the “ultra-assertive” Curry, as Vogel said, who has averaged 37.o PPG over the past 20 games.

“We know who the head of the snake is, in Steph,” Davis added. “We gotta do our best to contain him, it’s going to be a team effort. Not just all the pressure on the guards.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he expects the Lakers to throw the “kitchen sink” at the Chef.

“We’re going to do the best we can to stop this guy, but he’s a hell of a player. He’s going to make some shots,” Schröder continued. “…He’s the best shooter who’s ever played this game, so any shot, whatever comes from half-court on, it’s a good shot for him. We got to make it as hard as possible.”