Lebron James finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, but passed the ball to Danny Green for a wide-open 3-pointer and could not get it back on Lakers possession in the diminishing seconds of a 111- 108. Friday night loss in Game 5 of the NBA Finals
LeBron James flexed his muscles high above the black Lakers jersey; he seemed too strong to stop.
He had just scored while making a mistake and completed a three-point game that gave Los Angeles a point ahead with 1:34 remaining. When the Lakers fell back again, he fought back his own missed shot to provide them with a lead also 58 seconds from time.
James tried to do whatever it was ok to take out the Miami Heat and hand the Lakers a championship, but he needed another chance.
He couldn’t get it.
James finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, but handed the ball to Danny Green for a wide triple and failed to get it back to Lakers possession in the diminishing seconds of a 111-108. Defeat Friday night in Game 5 of the NBA finals.
The Lakers took their final timeout after Jimmy Butler’s free throws gave the Heat a 107-106 lead with 16 seconds left. James drove then went from a double team to Green, who was short on the 3-point open.
“He was ready to take on the whole team,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He had two guys on him. A third defender arrived, and then with three guys on you, he made the right play. Danny is one of our best shooters, he looked fantastic, and we live with the results.”
James thought the same way. He always believed in making the right pass rather than forcing a bad shot, and the lack of Green will not change that.
“I mean, if you just look at the play, I was able to draw two defenders below the free-throw line and find one of our shooters at the top of the key for a wide-open 3 to win a championship,” James said. “I trusted him, we trusted him, and it just didn’t go. You live with that.”
Markieff Morris got the rebound and tried to throw the ball into Anthony Davis, but failed it out of bounds as James stood helpless near the straight sideline.
If he had recovered the ball, he might have scored. Minutes later, he might have owned the Larry O’Brien trophy in his hands and then an NBA Finals MVP trophy on his hands, just as he did in 2012, 2013, and 2016.
James had never missed an opportunity to close a series of NBA Finals after scoring three wins. In his 259th playoff game, Derek Fisher was drawn the most in NBA history; he was determined to finish the game and send everyone home after three months in the bubble.
James made six three-pointers – some so deep that they seemed closer to halfway than to the basket – and kept bringing the Lakers back whenever they fell far behind.
In the fourth quarter, Los Angeles lost 11.90 seconds when James made one of those three points to trigger a 17-3 wave that gave him a 99-96 lead. But Butler continued to make big plays for the Heat, and he pulled out the winning finish James was looking for.
“He was able to make one more play than I was able to make tonight and come away with a victory,” James said.
James had one last lift after Tyler Herro’s free throws with 1.6 seconds to go, but it came from close to midcourt and was not immediate.
The Lakers then walked out of the field underdogs for the first time in their Black Mamba sweaters, co-designed and now worn in honor of Kobe Bryant. They will have to wait until Sunday for another shot at winning their first title in ten years.
It’s not a sure thing right now. Davis sometimes limped from a foot injury. The bench that had been so good couldn’t give James the boost James needed, and the Lakers were powerless to stop Butler for the second time in their last three games.
There was only a 3-1 lead out in the NBA Finals, and James was the catalyst for Cleveland that time in 2016.
Now he has two more chances to prevent it, starting on Sunday.
“We’ve just got to be better in Game 6 and close the series,” James said.