James, Lakers defeat Warriors 103-100 in Play-In Game

Lakers defeat Warriors 103-100 in Play-In Game

With the game on the line, one of the greatest players of all time had a chance to make a 34-foot prayer to win the game and send his team to the playoffs. Ironically, this player was not Stephen Curry, but LeBron James who made a laser-like three-point shot from way beyond the arc. With the shot clock running down and the game tied 100-100, James nailed a clutch shot. Which gave Los Angeles a three-point lead with 58.3 seconds remaining. 

Curry said it the best. “All-time great players make tough shots.” 

Before what was one of the most dramatic fourth quarters since the 2016 NBA Finals, James and Curry relied on their team in an intense defensive battle. The Warriors held a 13 point lead at the half, mostly in part due to impressive defensive efforts from Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green

In the first half, James, Anthony Davis, and Dennis Schröder were a combined 2-22 from the field and had only eight points among the trio. Green posted his usually unusual stat line with only two points to go with eight assists, nine rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. In a game that could have been defined by the outlandish disadvantage Golden State was facing in the paint, Green held his own. 

Neither James nor Davis had incredible scoring nights. The two combined for 47 points, 23 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. The biggest difference for the Lakers was the defensive performance they produced in the third quarter. James led the defensive effort with two steals and a clear knowledge of the Warriors’ offense. 

Ultimately, the Warriors lost their lead and the game in the third quarter. In a quarter where Curry normally lights up opposing defenses, the Lakers turned up their defense to an entirely new level. 

“We for sure lost that game in the third quarter. I think we had five turnovers in the whole first half and we had I think 10 in the third quarter alone,” said Steve Kerr. “This is a bitter pill to swallow. This was our game and we couldn’t get it done.” 

There were plenty of positives for the Warriors. Going toe to toe with the healthy, reigning NBA Champions is an impressive feat for a team lacking Klay Thompson and other key pieces. With Draymond playing his best and Andrew Wiggins as a reliable second scoring option, Golden State could still make some noise. 

The Warriors will have to wait until Friday to know if they have a spot in the NBA playoffs. They defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday to secure their place in the 7-8 seed play-in game. Now Golden State has to defeat Memphis for a second time in five days to earn their right to play the Utah Jazz. 

The Los Angeles Lakers advance to a seven-game series against James’ good friend Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns. The Suns will have their hands full with a rested and motivated defending championship team coming into town. 

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