LOS ANGELES — In one half, the Los Angeles Lakers played with the sluggishness and frustration that defined their injury-riddled and condensed season. In another half, the Lakers played with the dominance that still makes them capable of defending their NBA championship.
The Lakers finished with a 103-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at Staples Center in a game that yielded both literal and symbolic implications.
The literal? The Lakers secured a No. 7 seed and will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first-round of the playoffs, while relegating the Warriors to an elimination game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday to decide which team will become the eighth-seed to face the top-ranked Utah Jazz in the first round.
LeBron beats the shot clock from way outside for the tiebreaking 3! 👌🤯
The symbolic? In one game, the Lakers showed why they look both equally vulnerable and dangerous in their quest to win a second consecutive title and 18th overall to set a new NBA record.
LeBron James made a 34-foot 3-pointer over Stephen Curry for a 103-100 lead with 58.2 seconds remaining. The Lakers then trapped Curry at halfcourt, prompting Warriors coach Steve Kerr to call timeout with 2.1 seconds left. The Warriors inbounded the ball to Curry, but Lakers forward Anthony Davis disrupted the play just as time expired.
Overall, the Lakers secured the win by relying on their star power in James (22 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) and Davis (25 points, 12 rebounds) as well as their role players in Alex Caruso (14), Dennis Schroder (12) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10). But the Warriors held a 55-42 half-time lead after Curry made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer after a swarm of defenders chased him. Curry then danced at mid court and flexed, while the Lakers walked to the locker room in frustration. At that point, James, Davis and Schroder combined for a 2-of-20 mark from the field.
Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Source: Read Full Article