Propelled by LeBron James erupting in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers improved to 15-9 on the season with a 121-113 victory over the San Antonio Spurs to finish undefeated on a four-game homestand.
Having traded leads with the Spurs for much of the contest, the Lakers entered the fourth quarter trailing by four points. James took over from there, by scoring his 20 points on an impressive 7-for-8 shooting display en route to a comeback victory.
It came on the heels of Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant offering sharp criticism of the media environment around James and raising the question over whether stars truly would want to play beside him.
James downplayed his late-game heroics and instead directed the attention to key contributions made by the Lakers’ young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
And while James elected to not address what was said about him, Hart was more than happy to go to bat for his teammate. “People should really stop criticizing, shut up and witness greatness while he’s still doing it,” Hart said.
Hart added that he believes James has evolved since his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, citing his efficiency from behind the arc. “He’s definitely extended his range,” Hart noted.
“He’s so confident, especially shooting the ball. You see him taking big shots, making big shots. That’s why he is who he is.”
Through 24 games, James is converting an effective 36.9 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts. That mark represents his highest since the 2013-14 NBA season.
Against the Spurs, James shot 3-for-7 from behind the arc, overcoming initial misses from deep. Over his last three games dating back to the end of November, the three-time NBA champion has sunk 6-of-his 16 attempts — good for 37.5 percent.