It wasn’t pretty, but the Los Angeles Lakers took the lead in the 3-1 series in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers made seven turnovers in the first quarter, and while LeBron James looked desperate in the opening match, Anthony Davis made a defensive effort to stop the Miami Heat throughout the second half. Win 102-96 on Tuesday.
“Between me and AD, we are holding each other to a standard that no one else can hold us,” James looked at 36 years a bit, telling ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a post-match broadcast. “He challenges me every night. I challenge him every night. It doesn’t matter whether the ball goes in or not. We have to do something to help our team win both the defensive end and the offensive end. He did that tonight. He was great.”
James finally survived in the middle of the third quarter to score or support 12 consecutive Lakers scores, including a pair of three-point shots that pushed the two-point deficit to the six-point lead. They were never left behind. Miami tied 83-83 at 6:27 in the fourth quarter, but James responded with another seven points in a row for the Lakers. The hit didn’t get any closer than 90-88.
James scored 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, with a third other franchise to win one in the fourth NBA Championship. Potential Closing Game 5 is scheduled for Friday night.
“We understand what’s at stake,” added James. “The work is not over.”
Davis added 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, but did his best against hit star Jimmy Butler. He split the Lakers into a 40-point triple double, pulling the series 2-1. Butler was aided by his second career playoff triple double, but scoring 22 in 17 at-bats was far from the efficiency he gained on Sunday. With no more foul issues, Davis once again became the dominant force inside. The hit scored 34 at 52 in Match 3 and then 32 at 30.
The Lakers seemed indifferent overall, despite being in the lead at 49-47. James posted five sales in the opening second quarter. He and Davis were just 16 points in the 15 shots going into the break, while Heat took the lead 52-49 against the ridiculous Tyler Herro plotter in the second minute. Miami was one minute ahead, and James’ first three days led the Lakers with 55-54 in the third quarter at 8:18. It opened the floodgates for the four MVPs and Heat couldn’t stop the tide.
James and Davis could belong to the tie series, and if they weren’t LA B-Stars, they pointed both fingers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 points. This includes 5 points that lead the Lakers back to 95-88 with 2 minutes left. Miami’s Jae Crowder responded with three points, but Rajon Rondo’s lone two-point-driving finger roll-turned the Lakers’ lead back to six. The veteran point guard found Davis at the top of the key for a dagger 3-point shot on the next property.
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