Thanks to a one-game suspension, LeBron James missed the Los Angeles Lakers’ lone appearance in Madison Square Garden as they would drop their second straight game to the New York Knicks.
Thankfully for LeBron, he didn’t have to wait long to get back on the court as the Lakers traveled to Indiana for the final game of their road trip and James made his presence felt in a huge way.
James finished with 39 points, 17 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime, to go along with six rebounds and five assists to lead the Lakers to a 124-116 victory over the Pacers. LeBron was absolutely unreal down the stretch hitting clutch shot after clutch shot to help his team come back from another double-digit deficit.
Afterward, James admitted his frustration at missing the last game and his eagerness to return to the court for the purple and gold.
“Obviously I love the game of basketball and just having the game taken away from you, it’s frustration and eager to get back out on the floor. Happy to be back in the lineup with my guys tonight, tried to make some plays. Fourth quarter and overtime, I understand my teammates are gonna be looking for me to make plays. I had the ball a lot in my hands so I just tried to come through for them.”
The Lakers were certainly happy to have LeBron back on the court, but unfortunately, the team was without Anthony Davis for the first time this season who sat out due to flu-like symptoms. Injuries have been an issue for the Lakers all season long as they have had 10 different starting lineups in the first 20 games.
James views Davis’ ailment as more adding on to the pile of Laker problems, although he added that getting this win without him was huge.
“It was very important. We got another big blow this morning when AD didn’t make the team meeting and it was doubtful that he would be able to play, hit him with the flu bug. It was just kind of like a ‘when it rains it pours’ moment for our ballclub just not being able to get healthy.
“But I knew I was excited about me being in the lineup and coming of a back-to-back with me not playing last night, I knew I could give our guys a boost of energy with me not being in the lineup yesterday.”
Despite that, the Lakers have some positive momentum to build upon after this victory and LeBron looked every bit like someone who was eager to get back on the floor. This season has been a struggle so far for the Lakers, but if James can keep playing at this level, things can turn around in an instant.
James says celebrations were byproduct of his passion for the game
Just as notable as LeBron’s outstanding clutch shots were his celebrations after some of them. In the fourth quarter, he imitated a dance made famous by Sam Cassell, and after a clutch overtime three, he busted out his famous celebration from his Miami Heat days that he calls ‘The Silencer’. James simply chalked it up to the joy and passion he has for the game of basketball.
“Absolutely. I’m playing the game, I’m gonna play with a lot of joy and a lot of passion. Just excitement to be able to play a game and just love it still, my career. And to know that my teammates look for me to lead them, I take that with a lot of responsibility. So it was just a byproduct of it, we had a lot of Laker fans here and a lot of people came to see us play, came to see me play and I was just trying to make plays for them.”
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