One question that has dogged LeBron James throughout much of his career is whether or not he possesses the ability to consistently make free throws in clutch situations. A mere 13 games into his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, James has already faltered on multiple occasions.
The first instance was in an overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs. It dampened what was otherwise a prolific performance by James: 32 points, 8 rebounds and 14 assists.
He was back at the free throw line on Sunday night, with the Lakers trailing the Atlanta Hawks by one point and 19.9 seconds remaining. James missed both attempts but Kyle Kuzma managed to corral the offensive rebound.
Kuzma was stripped, recovered and put up a floater that went off the side of the rim. James was there to redeem himself, with a put-back slam dunk giving the Lakers a lead. Tyson Chandler then blocked Trae Young’s floater at the buzzer, and the Lakers secured a one-point win.
“I’m garbage. I suck from the free throw line right now,” James said post game. “I’ll get my rhythm back. I thank Kuz for giving us another opportunity. He gave me another shot, so I tried to get him another shot.”
James finished with 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. He helped jumpstart the Lakers early, scoring eight points in the first quarter, and spearheaded them taking a 15-point lead by scoring 10 points in the third and helping create for others.
James made just 3-of-7 attempts from the charity stripe in the nail-biting win. On the season he’s shooting 73.6 percent at the line. Despite his late misses, the Lakers focused on their win and what James did contribute.
“All of a sudden, the beast comes out of nowhere for the win,” Chandler said of the dramatic dunk.