LeBron James delivers in clutch as Los Angeles Lakers take 7th seed in NBA playoffs
ESPN NBA (LOS ANGELES) — The Los Angeles Lakers‘ postseason run opened with Wednesday’s win-and-you’re-in play-in game against the Golden State Warriors. And it took everything the defending champions had to win it, 103-100.
LeBron James‘ 34-foot 3-point heave to beat the shot clock buzzer fell through the net with 58.2 seconds remaining, breaking a tie at 100 and giving L.A. the lead for good.
James hit it with his old NBA Finals foe, Stephen Curry, a man who has made a name for himself on shots just like that, closing out on him on defense.
“It was a great shot,” Curry said. “That was a tough one because you don’t really expect it to go in. … Everything changes when it goes in. All-time great players make great shots. That’s what happens.
“No different tonight, but it’s a tough one.”
James, playing on a right ankle that caused him to miss 26 of the Lakers’ final 30 games because of a sprain, finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the first play-in triple-double in the tournament’s two-season existence.
With the win, the Lakers claimed the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, and they will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round. L.A. opened as a -300 favorite to win the series, according to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. It’s the first time in at least the past 30 years that a 7-seed is favored over a 2-seed, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“The West is a gauntlet of guards, starting tonight with Steph and obviously with our next-round matchup, Book [Devin Booker] and CP [Chris Paul],” said Alex Caruso, who led L.A.’s bench with 14 points and three steals. “It’s going to be a handful.”