Despite leading by double-digits for most of the game, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers nearly lost to the Dallas Mavericks at the buzzer.
While the Lakers showed improvement in rebounding and defending without fouling, they started to relax as their lead grew to 13 points late in the fourth quarter.
As the Mavericks made their run, Harrison Barnes made a wide-open 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one with 24.5 seconds remaining in the game. Following the team’s third win of the 2018-19 NBA season, James took responsibility for his poor defense on a crucial possession.
“I made a dumb mistake,” he acknowledged. “The cardinal sin rule is to give up a corner three, up four (points). I can’t stand myself for that. I gave up a wide-open three to Harrison Barnes when we were up four in the game, and that just can’t happen. You can put that one on me.”
At this stage of his career, it is no secret James’ defense has slowly declined, but he is still able to lock down players when he chooses to. As the best player in the league today, it is encouraging to see him take responsibility as the Lakers need to improve as a whole.
With the Lakers having multiple lineups due to new players and suspensions, head coach Luke Walton and company now have all of their rotation players. As they approach Game 10, the hope is they can build chemistry on both ends and start a much-needed winning streak in the Western Conference.