The Los Angeles Lakers were in for a serious fight in their Play-In Tournament game against the Golden State Warriors with the team’s stars struggling for much of the night. But when push came to shove, it was the Lakers’ biggest star, LeBron James, who hit the biggest shot of the night.
James hit a three to beat the shot clock buzzer with under one minute remaining that would lift the Lakers to a 103-100 victory over the Warriors. He shot just 7-of-17 in the contest, but in the biggest moment of the game came through as clutch as possible.
The possession itself wasn’t the prettiest one as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope nearly turned the ball over before finding James way outside the 3-point line with just a second left before the shot clock expired. Fortunately though, James was ready and drained it in Stephen Curry’s face to earn the win.
Following the contest, James spoke on exactly what was on his mind at that moment, which came just seconds after he was poked in the eye by Draymond Green.
“Well, the first thing I did when KCP kicked it out to me was look at the shot clock,” James said after the game. “I saw that I had to get it up. At least get it up, at least get it on the rim. Second thing I saw was three rims from being poked in the eye on that previous possession when I drove to the hole in transition, so I just aimed for the middle one.”
On the play where James was hit in the face, the referees reviewed it and ruled it a common foul despite the contact to the face, which led to the vision issues.
But that didn’t stop him from hitting the shot and lifting the Lakers to victory over a more than game Warriors team. The Lakers found themselves down 13 at the half, and James credited the Warriors for their fight while also praising his own team for responding.
“We just brought the fight to the fight. They was ready to fight,” James added. “We tried to ease into the game a little bit. It’s been a while since it’s been a postseason. It’s been a while since we had one of those type of those energy, effort every-possession-counts games.
“I feel like they’ve been playing playoff basketball for quite a while, so we had to catch up to that, but once we made that adjustment in the second half, we were able to take the fight to them and make a game out of it.”
The Lakers were clearly the more talented team, but the Warriors were unfazed and truly brought the fight to the Lakers. But in the end that talent, and championship pedigree, brought the Lakers to victory and, as usual, James was leading the way. Most importantly, James made it clear that he is good to go moving forward.
“I’m good. I told you guys I was good. I’m good. It’s the most minutes I’ve played in a long time and I didn’t feel anything on that (Draymond Green) play. Draymond, it was a finger or a thumb or whatever went directly into my eye and that’s why I was down, so I was making sure I was okay. Making sure I wasn’t bleeding, making sure I could see a little bit at least, so I could finish the game.”
James credits Dudley & Morris for halftime speech
The Lakers came out much more focused and energetic in the second half after a lethargic first 24 minutes. Often times it is the coach or perhaps the star player to pump the team up, but in this case it was two players who didn’t see the floor who had a major impact in the locker room.
“Dudz and Smooth [Markieff Morris] pretty much got on our ass at halftime,” James said after the win. “They got on us. They told us we got to pick it up, pick this s*** up.”
James had nothing but praise for the two veterans, as well as the team for responding well to their words.
“They brought the fight to our building and we got to bring it right back. Guys like that, when they speak you listen. Didn’t take it to heart, didn’t take it personal. We just took it with us and improved our effort in the second half.”
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