The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in a back-and-forth battle with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament. But with the game tied up and a possession going south quickly, it was LeBron James who bailed out the Lakers with a deep 3-pointer that wound up being the game-winner in the team’s 103-100 victory.
Coincidentally, the shot was reminiscent of the deep 3-pointers that Warriors star Stephen Curry is known for, but this one came right in his face as James lifted the Lakers to the seventh seed. Curry has hit plenty of those shots in his career and hit six 3-pointers for 37 points on this night, but it wasn’t quite enough.
James and Curry have a long history together, facing off in four consecutive NBA Finals between 2015-2018, but he had nothing but praise for James’ clutch shot after the game, via NBA TV:
“It was a great shot. Broken play. I sunk in thinking he was kinda out of the play and they found him, he got his balance just in time and knocked it down. That was a tough one because you don’t really expect it to go in, you expect us to get the rebound, come down in transition and have a possession to take the lead, but everything changes when it goes in. All-time great players make great shots, that’s what happens. No different tonight, but it’s a tough one.”
Shots like the one James hit can be demoralizing especially in that situation. As Curry noted, it was a broken play in which the Warriors could have easily forced a turnover. Furthermore, James had been hit in the face on the previous possession and says he was seeing three rims on that game-winning shot.
But as Curry said, all-time great players make great shots and he just happened to be on the other side of a great one from James. The Lakers star finished with 22 points, but there were no three points he made this season that were more important than those ones in that moment.
Matthew on James’ clutch shot: “That’s who he is”
In the eyes of some, James is not a clutch player, but that is not the case in the eyes of his fellow players. Wesley Matthews has been on the opposite side of James and is now his teammate and he made it clear that James making clutch shots is expected.
“That’s who he is,” Matthews said after the game “He steps up in big moments, big games and to hit that shot was huge.
“But I mean all the plays that he made prior to that, coming and putting the team on his back and getting downhill, making the right passes, talking on defense. That’s who he is and that’s why he’s one of the best to ever play this game.”
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