LeBron James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope downplay heated Game 2 exchange
LeBron James got in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s ear in a heated sideline exchange during the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 2 showdown Tuesday night with the Phoenix Suns. After the team’s huge 109-102 victory to even up the series at one game apiece, the two teammates downplayed the entire affair.
Caldwell-Pope has had a rough go of it early on this postseason. At the time of his interaction with James, which occurred late in the fourth quarter and the Lakers up by eight points, Pope had missed all four of this three-point attempts in the game.
James clearly felt that his teammate’s was understandably lagging, so he offered up some impassioned words of encouragement for the struggling Caldwell-Pope. Getting right up in the veteran guard’s face, James told Caldwell-Pope, “I want you to shoot!”
Such a scene obviously did not go unnoticed under the white-hot spotlight of the NBA playoffs. Presumably recognizing that there would be an abundance of chatter over the exchange, both James and Caldwell-Pope took to social media to downplay the entire situation.
James’ emotionally expressed support did not pay any immediate dividends down the stretch in the Lakers’ win, as Caldwell-Pope finished the game with zero points after not taking another shot following the interaction.
Heading into Thursday night’s Game 3, Caldwell-Pope is shooting at an awful 15.4% clip from the field and 9.1% from three-point range across two games, per Basketball Reference. It’s a small sample size to be sure, and the hope for the Lakers has to be that James’ tough love will get Caldwell-Pope rolling, or at least marginally effective.