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Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been steady shooting hand – Press Telegram

Last week, LeBron James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each laid out their cases as the best 3-point shooter on the Lakers. Then on Thursday night, they had a contest.

Caldwell-Pope, the top shooter by percentage and volume for the season, came out on top, besting James’ six 3-pointers with seven of his own, with each man attempting 10 apiece.

Perhaps callously used to seeing the Lakers (12-4) drain the long ball this season, Alex Caruso registered surprise when a reporter told him the final tally.

“He made seven threes?” he exclaimed. “I didn’t even know that.”

That’s been the case for the 27-year-old Caldwell-Pope this season: making the spectacular look routine. His season-high in made 3-point shots and points (23) could blend in a bit with other performances because his hand has been so steady: He’s shooting nearly 57 percent from long range through 12 games (he sat out four).

It’s been quite a 15-month shift for Caldwell-Pope, whose ugly start to the 2019-20 season left fans openly booing whenever he touched the ball. Frank Vogel called his turnaround one of “the most rewarding things” about his coaching tenure.

“When you see a guy that plays as hard as he does, that brings value whether he’s making shots or missing shots, guys like that earn minutes,” Vogel said. “When they earn minutes, they get more comfortable shooting the basketball and he really had a remarkable growth year last year and has taken it to another level this year.”

Caldwell-Pope did come under some friendly fire in the last game, a loss to Golden State. James tore his ear off after he passed up an open look and sent it back to James, which ended the possession after James was whistled for traveling.

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