LeBron James was looking forward to coming back in a big way. After the suspension game that his incident with Isaiah Stewart supposed, the Akron forward returned to the courts with a magnificent performance at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indapolis, in which he was the clear dominator of a game that the Lakers ended up taking by 116 -124. The Angelenos needed extra time to beat the Pacers and claim their 10th win, but not even the extra five minutes of basketball stopped the King from enforcing his law.
With 39 points, LeBron was clearly the top scorer of the game, giving wings to a Lakers really in need of wins. After a start to the game at half throttle, James went from less to more and threw his back on his team in many sections of the match, assuming an enormous role at the offensive level. The forward threw 29 times to the basket, more than in any other match of the course, and managed to score 13 of them (44.8%) to repeatedly punish the Indiana defense, including five triples to each more important.
With one of them, the former Cavaliers put the 104-110 on the scoreboard with just over a minute to go and seemed to sentence the game, but the Pacers had other plans. Carlisle’s men managed to score in several consecutive actions, placing only three down and with possession to tie the game, something they did with a sensational triple by Chris Duarte. The rookie He received the ball locked in the corner and with Avery Bradley without conceding practically an inch, but he managed to take a shot without any space and score the basket that made it 112-112 and led the duel to extra time.
LeBron had a chance to avoid overtime with one last long pitch, but failed to convert his pitch. Those who did convert, however, were just as decisive, since with consecutive triples he was in charge of dynamiting the duel in that period and giving his team an advantage that they would no longer abandon. As if that were not enough, he finished bringing tranquility to the Los Angeles side with a house-brand turnaround launch, reaching the aforementioned 39 goals and remembering that, to beat these Lakers, you have to impose on him.
“I know how much he wanted this victory,” said Vogel. “I really wanted to play the game at Madison, it is a date that is marked every year. The way he has recovered today, leading the team in defense and in attack in this way, is worth remembering.
James could not count on the support of Anthony Davis, who is still ill, but he could count on the 20 points scored by Russell Westbrook despite his 5/15 shooting and the 17 from Malik Monk, the leading scorer of the second unit. Also from the bench came Carmelo Anthony and Wayne Ellington, who with 14 goals each also gave the necessary support to add another victory.
On the Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon led the team with 28 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter, in which he was key to holding his own until the end. The point guard was also the author of the assist in the decisive triple by Duarte, who with 17 goals was the second in scoring. Justin Holiday, meanwhile, was third with 16, while Domantas Sabonis added 14, to which he added 12 rebounds and 6 assists.
(Cover photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)