The Los Angeles Lakers played down double digits for almost the entire second half of Sunday’s Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The loss of Anthony Davis to a Grade 1 groin strain clearly deflated LeBron James and the Lakers roster, and the Suns looked to run away with things, leading by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter.
However, the Lakers — behind some of their best defense of the season — rallied to make things interesting. They stormed back from down 18 to down seven with just 2:40 to go. Then, Dennis Schroder got himself on a fastbreak situation, driving to the rim for a layup that would have put L.A. down five. It bounced around and fell out, and the Suns took it across the court for a Jae Crowder three to ice the game.
James gave his thoughts on the late rally and what it meant for the team despite coming up short. “Well I mean every possession needs to feel like our last,” James said. “That’s just what playoff basketball is all about and that’s a five-point swing right there.
“DS makes that layup, which is 99% of making a layup right there in front of the rim, he misses it and it kind of let the sails out of us. They go down, Jae Crowder hits a three by their bench, timeout, the game is pretty much over at that point, it was a quick five-point swing. We stuck with it, we stuck unto it, we kept on fighting back and got stop after stop after stop and still made it a game. But they played well, tip my hat to them, they came in and played extremely well and it’s gonna be a big-time Game 5 come Tuesday.”
As for specific adjustments the Lakers can make before Game 5, James had a very simple solution. “Sometimes it comes down to knocking down shots. We’re getting some great looks. Obviously, I’m going to take a look at the film when I get back home as I wake up from a nap. See other ways maybe we can exploit the defense, but they’re giving us some good looks we’re just not knocking them down.
“We’ve had this happen before in the past, but we always trust each other. We gonna trust the past. Get the ball moving from side to side and trust our shots and get up there and knock them down.”
For the series, the Lakers are shooting 29.1% from 3-point range through four games. That’s simply not the way to win a series, and even if they managed to escape the first round with those numbers, they wouldn’t last much longer beyond that.
Now, home-court advantage transitions back to the Suns with the series tied 2-2. During Tuesday’s Game 5, the Lakers will make their adjustments and try to pull ahead in a pivotal moment.
James looks forward to challenge of possibly playing without Anthony Davis
Perhaps the biggest wrinkle in the hugely important Game 5 is that Davis could very well not be in action. James is getting ready to do whatever it takes to win, however, with or without his co-star.
“The best teacher in life is experience. Me personally, I look forward to the challenge. However the hand is dealt. I’ll be ready to play it.”
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