LeBron James flexed his muscles heavily over his Lakers black jersey, very strong to stop.
He just scored when he was fouled, finishing the game with three points, giving Los Angeles a one point lead with 1:34 left. When the Lakers pulled back again, he put back his own missed shot, they had 58 seconds to go.
James is trying his best to knock out the Miami Heat and give the Lakers the championship, but he needs another chance.
He could not get it.
James finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, but dropped the ball to Danny Green for a wide-open 3-pointer and was unable to recapture the Lakers’ possession within seconds of losing 111-108. Friday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The Lakers’ last time came when Jimmy Butler’s free throws gave the Heat a 107-106 lead with 16 seconds. James drove, and then went from double-team to Green, who was low on the open 3-pointer.
“He’s ready to support the whole team,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “There are two guys on him. The third defender came and he played the right game with the three guys on you. Danny was one of our best shooters, he looked great and we live with the results.”
James felt the same way. He always believes in making the right pass instead of forcing a bad shot and Green’s miss will not change it.
“I mean, if you watch 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 wide-open 3 to win the championship,” James said. “I trusted him. We trusted him. It didn’t happen. You live with it.”
Markif Morris got a rebound and attempted to throw the ball towards Anthony Davis, but it missed from the boundary, with James standing helplessly near the right.
If he could get the ball back, maybe he would have scored. A few minutes later, he may have the Larry O’Brien trophy in his hand and then the NBA Finals MVP trophy, as he did in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
James never missed a chance to close the NBA Finals Series after three wins. In his 259th playoff game, Derek Fisher tied for the most part in NBA history, finishing it and deciding to send everyone home three months later.
James made six 3-pointers – some very deep they looked closer to midcourt than the basket – and brought the Lakers back every time they were far behind.
Los Angeles fell 11 90 seconds in the fourth quarter, giving James a 99-96 lead with a 17-3 surge on one of those 3-pointers. But Butler continued to make big plays out of the heat and he removed the winning ending that James had sought.
“He was able to play another game tonight than I could and went away with the win,” James said.
James won the final with 1.6 seconds left on Tyler Herro’s free throw, but it was not close and close to midcourt.
The Lakers walked out of the floor losers for the first time in their Black Mamba jerseys, co-designed and now worn in honor of Kobe Bryant. They will have to wait until Sunday to get another chance at their first title in a decade.
This is definitely not the case now. Davis has been hobbling a few times with a foot injury. The very good bench failed to give James the required ost pun and the Lakers were helpless to stop Butler for the second time in the last three games.
There was only a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, and James was the catalyst at the time with Cleveland in 2016.
Now he has two more chances to avoid it, starting Sunday.
“We did better in Game 6 and closed the series,” James said.