Even though the Los Angeles Lakers let an 11-point lead get away in the final minutes against the New York Knicks, the team still had a chance to win the game as LeBron James sized up Mario Hezonja with just seconds left.
James didn’t settle for a jumper, attacking the basket and attempting a short fadeaway jumper, but Hezonja rose up and blocked it, sealing a 124-123 comeback victory for the Knicks. Getting a game-winning block is one thing, but doing so on an all-time great like James is another thing entirely.
Hezonja spoke about his thought process during the final play, explaining he couldn’t think about it being James and just had to play as hard as he could, via ESPN’s Ian Begley:
“He’s one of the most un-guardable guys in the world and one of the greatest players of all time. So it is tough. But when we’re on the court, who cares? I think you gain respect by fighting for that, so I just didn’t care. I wasn’t trying to look around. I was just trying to play as hard as I can and try to stop him.”
That final play sealed possibly the worst quarter in James’ career. He shot just 4-for-15 in the fourth and along with the final block by Hezonja, also had another shot blocked by Knicks big man DeAndre Jordan in the final minutes.
Even with that, James had an outstanding performance, finishing with 33 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
As Hezonja said, James is still one of the most un-guardable players in the NBA, but you can’t focus on that when you’re on the floor at the time. He said you can gain respect by fighting for everything on the court and he undoubtedly gained some with this final play.