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LeBron James hits clutch 34-footer, leads Lakers over Warriors in NBA Play-In

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James recorded 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a Play-In Tournament win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Los Angeles. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James recorded 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a Play-In Tournament win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Los Angeles. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James added another clutch moment to his NBA resume, with a 34-foot go-ahead 3-pointer and another triple-double in an NBA Play-In Tournament win over the Golden State Warriors.

James hit the long-range winner with 58.2 seconds remaining in the 103-100 win Wednesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The victory secured the No. 7 seed for the Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs.

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"It's has been awhile since we've been in the postseason," James told reporters. "It's been a while since we've had an every-possession-counts game. We had to catch up to that.

"Once we made that adjustment in the second half we were able to take the fight to them and made a game out of it."

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James poured in 22 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Lakers. All-Star teammate Anthony Davis scored a team-high 25 points with 12 rebounds in the win. The Lakers held on for the win despite Stephen Curry's game-high 37 points for the Warriors.



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Curry made 12 of 23 shots from the field, 6 of 9 3-point attempts and 7 of 8 free throw attempts. Andrew Wiggins chipped in 21 points in the loss. The Warriors now must beat the ninth-place Memphis Grizzlies to secure the No. 8 seed in the West.

"We've had to do this the last 20 games, so it's no different," Curry told reporters. "It's a win or go home scenario, but we have high confidence."

Wiggins and Warriors guard Kent Bazemore were on the attack in the first quarter. The scored seven points apiece to help the Warriors take a 28-22 edge into the second quarter. Curry heated up in the second quarter, with a trio of 3-pointers. The 2020-21 NBA scoring champion scored 10 points in the frame and the Warriors led 55-42 at halftime.

The Lakers defense tightened up on Curry down the stretch and only allowed the sharpshooter to make three more 3-pointers in the second half. They used a 14-2 run to cut the deficit to 57-56 through the first three minutes of the third quarter. The Lakers used another 9-2 run toward the end of the frame and trailed 79-77 entering the fourth quarter.

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James threw an alley-oop pass and Davis tied the game with a dunk 15 seconds into the final frame. The slam sparked an 8-0 run for the Lakers. The game stayed tight until the Warriors snatched the lead back with 3:43 remaining.

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Davis overwhelmed the Warriors over the final minutes. He helped spark a 5-0 run to give the Lakers and gave his team a 100-98 lead with a dunk with 1:31 remaining. Curry responded with two made free throws to tie the score, but James hit his clutch shot on the next possession.

Warriors forward Draymond Green fouled James on the Lakers' previous possession and poked James' eye, which blurred his vision for the crucial moment.

James held the ball at the top of the 3-point arc with the shot clock at seven seconds at the start of the go-ahead sequence.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rolled off Warriors defenders and caught a pass from James in the paint as he stepped toward the rim. Caldwell-Pope then threw a pass back out to James, who stood on the Staples Center logo well behind the 3-point line.

James caught the pass, elevated and launched a prayer of a shot as Curry jumped toward him to defend the attempt. James fell backward as the 3-pointer fell through the rim at the same time the shot clock horn sounded.

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The Warriors called a timeout on the next possession to set up a final attempt. Curry caught an inbound pass, but couldn't get a clean look at a game-tying 3-point attempt.

"We just smothered him and tried to make someone else beat us," Davis told reporters. "That's the type of defense we had to have, especially in the second half."

Davis scored 13 points in the final 12 minutes of the victory. The Lakers outscored the Warriors 61-45 in the second half.

Lakers guard Alex Caruso scored 14 points off the bench. Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Schroder scored 10 and 12 points, respectively, in the win.

"We are looking forward to what's in store for the postseason," James said. "We've got one postseason game under our belt and we look forward to the next ones."

The Lakers battle the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix. The Warriors face the Grizzlies in the final NBA Play-In game at 9 p.m. EDT Friday in San Francisco.

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