Dominant Finish Propels LeBron James and the Lakers to Victory Over Clippers
In a thrilling showdown, halfway through overtime, with the Los Angeles Lakers clinging to a 130-125 lead against their crosstown rivals, the LA Clippers, all eyes were on LeBron James, who had already been on the court for nearly 40 minutes. But it was a moment of brilliance from a lesser-known Laker that stole the spotlight.
On a fastbreak, Austin Reaves, with a burst of speed, swiped the ball from Kawhi Leonard. However, instead of going for the basket himself, he made an astounding decision to involve his 38-year-old teammate, LeBron James.
“At no point after I got that ball did I think I was going to shoot it,” Reaves said with a grin. “I saw him, and I was going to pass it the whole way.”
It wasn’t just an ordinary pass; it was a jaw-dropping alley-oop over his shoulder, and LeBron James, showing his timeless athleticism, soared for a thunderous dunk that put the Lakers ahead by five with only 2 minutes and 12 seconds left on the clock. The electrifying play forced the Clippers to call a timeout and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“I have a sense that I can just throw it anywhere, and he’ll go get it,” Reaves marveled about James. “That’s the crazy part with how long he’s been playing.”
LeBron, with an impressive stat line of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in a marathon 42 minutes on the court, reflected on the trust his young teammate had in him. “I’m just happy I’m still able to go get it at this point in my career. He trusted me to go get it, so I wanted to go up there.”
This awe-inspiring dunk marked a dominant finish to the game for the four-time MVP, who single-handedly ended the Lakers’ 11-game losing streak against the Clippers. James scored 14 crucial points in the fourth quarter and overtime, connecting on 6 of 8 field goals.
“I mean, he took over,” Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell declared about LeBron’s heroics.
The win improved the Lakers’ record to 3-2, and LeBron James continued his tradition of coming through in clutch late-game situations. He has now scored 51 points in the fourth quarter and overtime this season, shooting a scorching 68% from the field.
“If we keep the game close, I feel like in the fourth quarter, that’s when I’m at my best,” James confidently stated. “If the game is close, I can make plays to help us win the ballgame, no matter who is out on the floor for us.”
Despite early-season injury setbacks affecting the Lakers, with Taurean Prince, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, and Jarred Vanderbilt sidelined, LeBron has admirably shouldered the team’s burden.
“He’s been phenomenal down the stretch,” praised Anthony Davis, who himself had an outstanding performance with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks. “I think [the coaching staff is] kind of banking minutes early on and then letting [James] just kind of flow throughout the fourth quarter.”
However, the only caveat to James’ late-game brilliance has been his consistent disregard for the team’s playing time guideline, which aims to limit him to 28-30 minutes per game. Over the first five games, James has averaged 35.6 minutes, a slight increase from last season’s 35.5 minutes.
As Lakers coach Darvin Ham gets more options at his disposal, he plans to reduce James’ playing time gradually, keeping him as fresh as possible for the playoffs. For now, the Lakers are content with the fact that they can rely on LeBron James to carry them home in the most challenging moments.
“He doesn’t prepare to just be available and be another body on the floor,” Ham emphasized. “He prepares to be at a high, high level. Not only available, but available and elite. So kudos to him.”
This dominant finish by LeBron James is a testament to his enduring greatness and the invaluable role he plays for the Lakers as they aim for another championship.
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