LeBron Makes Lakers The Story In Clippers’ Final Home Game Of Series

LOS ANGELES—- The Los Angeles Clippers were up 19 points with one quarter to go, in their final home game vs. their LA rivals in Crypto.com Arena, however, LeBron James led the Lakers to an historic comeback, as they defeated the neighboring hosts, 116-112.LeBron James

Thereupon, this just so happened to be the largest fourth quarter deficit (19 points) overcome for the Lakers’ franchise since April 4, 2003. 

The game appeared to be entering blowout territory, as the Clippers were up by 21 points at one point during the end of the third quarter, but that was before the Lakers went on a 29-8 run in just a span of seven minutes.

Ultimately, this was due to the fact that LeBron actually outscored the entire Clippers team by himself, 19-16 in the fourth quarter. To note, this is the 16th time that LeBron has scored more points than his opponent in the final quarter, and it is the third time he did so in a Lakers’ uniform.

After the win, LeBron elaborated on the late-game performance, “The game is not ever over until there is double zeroes, which you see over there. So we just kept fighting and getting defensive stops, and made some shots.”

LeBron certainly made some shots from deep, as he sunk five three pointers in the fourth quarter, and ended the night with 34 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and two blocks. That is to say, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer is now only exactly 40 points away from being the first player to reach 40,000 regular season points. 

To start the game, there was a poor shooting display from both teams, who shot a combined 6-of-33 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Although, the Clippers still dominated the ball on both ends of the floor, especially through the first three quarters as LA natives Kawhi Leonard and James Harden found their rhythm, contributing 26 points and 23 points on a night without their co-star Paul George.

Nevertheless, the Lakers started to heat up heading into the last quarter, as they outscored the Clippers 39-16 in the fourth. And in particular, the momentum shifted as a result from the disparity of late-game shooting between both teams, as the Clippers shot 1-for-7 from the three-point line in the final 12 minutes, while the Lakers shot 9-for-14 from long range. 

Coach Darvin Ham elaborated on the historic comeback, “After a tough first half, we just talked about at halftime, pointing some things out on our film, talking about being aggressive and active, giving resistance, not allowing them to just go and do whatever they wanted to do on the basketball floor.

We came out and fought through a tough third quarter… that group that started the fourth quarter really set a tone with their activity, their aggressiveness in that fourth… we needed one of these.”

The starting five for the Lakers’ team ended with a combined 102 points on 57% shooting from the field. Anthony Davis, who had 20 points, was the key contributor on the defensive end with three blocks and two steals.

Notably, the Lakers forced seven turnovers in the final quarter, and Davis said this was the key for the resurgence at the end of the game, “Obviously Bron went to his little sicko mode, but you know we just had to get stops in order to get the win… we never folded, we never gave up, we stayed together and stayed resilient.” 

Davis went on to talk about LeBron’s explosive fourth quarter, “I was off the floor when he went through his little stretch… I’ve been around him long enough to see when he has those moments, he is who he is, phenomenal, phenomenal basketball player… to witness it from the sideline tonight, it was definitely a fanboy moment.”

Ham also spoke on LeBron’s late-game spectacle, “He had to tape the cape tucked under his seat on the bench I guess, it was time for him to whip it out, and he definitely did that and put the cape on. He just got aggressive and got in a good rhythm, he’s been shooting the ball extremely well this whole entire season, that was just another case of it.

Once he got in rhythm with his playmaking skills, he set the tone with his shooting and going down hill. Once they started scheming and double-teaming late, he was able to pick them apart with the pass.” 

LeBron scored or assisted on 30/39 Lakers’ fourth quarter points. To highlight, after LeBron made his fifth three-pointer, the Clippers started double-teaming, nevertheless, the Lakers’ teammates certainly stepped up when they were left open, as the supporting cast went 4-for-6 from three.

A key moment in the game happened when LeBron passed the rock to Rui Hachimura, who sunk a go-ahead three-pointer with 3:10 left in the quarter. Then with 1:12 left in the game, LeBron assisted D’Angelo Russell’s long range three-point shot, which put the Lakers up 114-108, and this was followed by Russell shushing the crowd as he ran up the floor. 

With a win tonight, the Lakers win the battle of the LA season series, 3-1, and improve to a 32-28 record on the year, while they currently hold the ninth seed in the Western Conference. On the other hand, the Clippers now have a 37-20 record, and remain at the fourth seed. 

And to point out as mentioned before, this will be the last time the Clippers host the Lakers in the arena formerly known as Staples Center, which has been shared by the two teams since the 1999-00 NBA season. Being that, Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer’s new $2 billion Intuit Dome arena in Inglewood, will be move-in ready for next season.

In the postgame press conference, Ham added, “It’s a great carry over game, but tonight means nothing if we don’t come out and take care of business tomorrow night.”

The Lakers will host the team with the worst record in the NBA tomorrow night, as the Washington Wizards come to town. Nevertheless, the upcoming schedule for the Lakers looks to be extremely difficult for the month of March.

Considering that after playing the worst team in the NBA, the Lakers’ next 13 games on the schedule include only two games against teams with losing records (Hawks and Grizzlies), and features matchups with some of the best teams in the league: Nuggets, Thunder, Kings- twice, Bucks- twice, Timberwolves, Warriors, 76ers, and Pacers- twice. On the positive side, the Lakers won’t have to travel much, as their next 11 games will be played in California.

LeBron was asked about the upcoming schedule, “We know where we stand right now in the standings, but health has always been our kryptonite, but we are starting to get healthy.” With this in mind, Lakers’ forward Cam Reddish made his return tonight, as he contributed five points, three rebounds, and one steal, after missing 14 straight games with a sprained ankle. However, the team still remains without their key big men Jarred Vanderbilt and Christian Wood, who will be off the court with injuries for the foreseeable future.

The Lakers certainly have a long road ahead, but as long as the rest of the team remains healthy down the home stretch, they will have a fighting chance at making the playoffs, with tonight being a step in the right direction. 

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