LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles LakersThe postseason run opened with the win-and-you-in-play-in game against the USA on Wednesday Golden State Warriors. And it took everything the defending champion needed to win it. 103-100.
Lebron James’34 foot 3-point slash to hit the shot clock buzzer fell through the net 58.2 seconds ahead, breaking a draw at 100 and finally giving LA the lead.
James met his old opponent in the NBA finals. Stephen Curry, a man who made a name for himself at such shots and who excludes him from the defense.
“It was a great shot,” said Curry. “That was a tough question because you don’t really expect it to come in. … Everything changes when it comes in. Great players of all time make great shots. That is exactly what happens.”
“Tonight no different, but it’s a tough question.”
James played on a right ankle which resulted in him missing 26 of the Lakers’ last 30 games with a sprain. He finished the tournament with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the first triple-double game in the tournament’s two-season existence.
With the win, the Lakers got the number 7 in the playoffs of the Western Conference and will compete against the runner-up Phoenix Suns in the first round. According to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, LA opened as a -300 favorite to win the series. According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, it’s the first time in at least 30 years that a 7-seed has been preferred to a 2-seed.
“The west is a battle of the guards starting tonight with Steph and of course our matchup in the next round, Book [Devin Booker] and CP [Chris Paul], “said Alex Carusowho led the LA Bank with 14 points and three steals. “It’ll be a handful.”
James’ clutch 3 against Golden State was his longest mark of the season. It was also the longest starting shot in the last three minutes of a game in his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
About a minute before he met the game winner, James was shocked when he drove to the basket and was faced with a tough foul Draymond Green.
“After Draymond put his finger in his eye, I literally saw three rims out there,” said James. “So I just shot the middle one. And I knocked it down with the grace of the man above.”
As James trotted back down the pitch after the make-up, he turned to the Lakers’ bank, waved a hand in front of his face and said, “I can’t see.”
Warrior trainer Steve Kerr paid tribute to James for his performance in the clutch, but also praised his team’s efforts.
“He obviously made a great shot in the end,” said Kerr. “We’ve played him so many times over the years that we know how good LeBron is and what he’s capable of. He prevailed for them.”
“I love our boys’ efforts throughout the game. Draymond was amazing tonight [Anthony] Davis, and I thought [Andrew Wiggins] did a great job at LeBron. Our boys really, really just fought and competed. I couldn’t be more proud of the team for what it has become over the past few months. “
The Warriors, led by Curry’s 37 points, couldn’t get their star one last shot to try to tie it when Kent Bazemore turned it over and threw a faulty pass 2.1 seconds ahead, which bounced weakly across the field after the time ran out.
The game mirrored the Lakers’ struggles for much of the second half of the season as LA struggled to find a rhythm at first before charging back in the end.
A Davis Alley-oop dunk in the first game of the fourth quarter brought the result to 79 – the first time LA had knotted the result since the opening tip – and the Lakers opened the floodgates from there.
James faced isolation runs in consecutive possessions, putting the Lakers 9 minutes 50 seconds ahead of 85-79.
Davis said James was motivated by Toscano-Anderson trash talk early in the game.
“You never want to poke the bear,” said Davis after scoring 25 points and 12 rebounds. “It’s funny. I said Jordan PooleWhen we both got the double techs, I came down and hit the midrange [shot] and I said, “You woke me up.”
“So, it’s playoff basketball. It’s going to happen. Anderson did the same thing to LeBron, and we’re confident enough in our game, especially when we’re fighting that you’ll never want to poke the bear.”
The Warriors, pushed by Curry, the league’s top scorer, did not go quietly into the night.
Golden State made its own comeback, wiping LA’s lead – which rose to seven – to regain the 96-95 lead on a Poole 3-pointer by three minutes and 43 seconds.
Curry drove and hit a swimmer out of the glass on the next run, increasing the warriors by three on the next possession.
It couldn’t have been much worse for the Lakers in the first half when James shot 7-1. Dennis Schroder Shoot 1: 9 and Davis 2: 12.
“I just told them, ‘It’s up to us. We have to go. The three of us, we have to be better on both ends of the floor,'” Davis said, remembering a scrum with James and Schroder. “And both said: ‘Say less.’ And we were able to take off a bit. “
It was the Lakers defense that ranked # 1 in the regular season and kept the Warriors from interrupting the game. Even when Curry hit the halftime summer with a 3-pointer in front of his team’s bench and left his teammates in a euphoric dizziness, Golden State went to the locker room at 13.
“Dudz and Smoove [Morris] pretty much got our asses at halftime, “said James.” They got us; They showed us that we have to pick it up. You brought the fight to our building and we have to bring it back in a moment. When people like that speak, you listen. “
Andre DrummondLA’s big acquisition in the season after it was signed by the buyout market looked out of place, taking in more fouls (three) than points (two) in the first half.
Lakers manager Frank Vogel stuck to his starting line-up, including Drummond, to start the third quarter and the big man’s presence began to pay off. His defensive ricochet and prescient pass for James early in the third round resulted in a 1-1 loss for the Lakers star, leading Golden State to demand a just 1 minute and 28 second time out in the third, being LA reduced its deficit to six points.
A Schroder 3 brought LA within one minutes later, at 57-56, but the Warriors – with James on the bench to rest – responded with their own 15-4 run to bring their advantage back to 12 .
However, LA reacted again and followed with just two points into the fourth quarter.
“We look forward to what’s coming in the postseason,” said James afterwards. “And we have one postseason game in store. Look forward to the next one.”