With the Los Angeles Lakers pulling out a hard-fought victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, they now are just one win away from capturing the franchise’s 17th championship.
After a disappointing Game 3 showing, both LeBron James and Anthony Davis made sure there would not be another letdown. James recorded another near triple-double (28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) while Davis contributed 22 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and a dagger 3-pointer in the final minute.
Despite being undersized and undermanned, Miami made life difficult for the two stars offensively by packing the paint and fronting the post to dissuade any entry passes. This led to some stagnant possessions that the Heat capitalized on to keep the game close throughout the night.
However, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his second strong showing of the Finals as he came up huge when the team needed him to. Caldwell-Pope endured a cold shooting stretch in the middle of the game, but managed to overcome that for key baskets.
“Just staying with the game. You’re not going to knock down every shot you shoot, but just staying with that flow,” he said. “Drive, get a foul, go to the free throw line and try to get a rhythm there, or just play the game. Make plays. Do other things. Try to stay in the rhythm.
“That’s what I do. I try not to worry about it if I’m not getting shots or not. I know they are going to eventually come. Just trying to stay within myself.”
Caldwell-Pope scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-8 from distance. Two of his three triples came in the first quarter where he was responsible for the Lakers’ first 12 points, keeping them afloat as the team steadied itself on the floor.
Caldwell-Pope then missed his next five attempts from beyond the arc before draining a clutch three in the corner that extended the lead to five with less than three minutes left. He followed it up with a drive and tough finish over Duncan Robinson that pushed the lead to seven.
Caldwell-Pope’s shooting success has been a huge boost and his contributions will be key in a potential closeout Game 5.
Frank Vogel explains importance of Caldwell Pope’s presence
With James and Davis drawing so much defensive attention, spacing the floor and knocking down shoots is crucial for the Lakers offense.
Caldwell-Pope has shot well throughout the postseason, and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel elaborated on why it is especially important against Miami.
“It matters,” began Vogel. “I mean, gravity is always good for your offense, and that’s what we described even when they’re not making shots, just being on the floor, you have to honor them out there.
“But Miami is an intelligent defense that honors the paint first no matter who’s out there. It doesn’t matter who’s on the perimeter, they’re going to flood to the paint and fly around like we do on the backside, getting to shooters.
“I don’t know if it’s a great value to just have gravity against this team because obviously they’re great at guarding the paint and getting shooters.”
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