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LeBron James wanted to guard Kawhi Leonard in Lakers-Clippers matchup

NBA, Lakers, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard

According to Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy, LeBron James had been preparing for their games against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers. In fact, the night before their duel with the Clippers, James expressed his desire to guard Kawhi Leonard.

As Handy noted, James entered with a different mindset after the All-Star break. This different approach was in full effect when James not only did his usual damage on the floor, but also showed willingness to chase after loose balls.

Most noteworthy is the fact that LeBron stepped up to guard the opposing team’s best player.

“People forget what he gets like after the All-Star break; he’s a different guy,” the Lakers assistant coach said, per LZ Granderson of the Los Angeles Times. “He’s preparing himself for that — that’s what you saw today and Milwaukee, you see him saying ‘Let me get myself and help my team in the right frame of mind.’ So for him diving on the floor for loose balls and taking the challenge defensively, that’s what you see.

“Last night I texted LeBron and asked him who he wanted to guard and he texted back, ‘I’m guarding Kawhi [Leonard].’ ”

While Kawhi Leonard finished with 27 points, he only had three rebounds and zero assists. These are way below his averages of 7.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

On the other hand, LeBron James finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers to a 112-103 victory. It was their first win of the season against their LA rivals, avoiding a potential series sweep against the Doc Rivers-coached squad.