LeBron’s team had never blown a lead like this
Eighteen years into LeBron James’ NBA career, it’s uncommon to see any new firsts, but his team’s Monday night loss to the Warriors was an unprecedented happening.
The Lakers led by as many as 19 in the first quarter and carried an 11-point advantage into the fourth. And then they lost. A LeBron-led team had, according to Stats LLC, taken a double-digit advantage into the fourth quarter 284 times while playing at home. Until Monday, they’d never lost one of those games in regulation.
Now, there are a few asterisks here. Specifying “in regulation” means that there has been at least one game where LeBron’s team blew a big fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime. And of course, home games this season are different since the Staples Center is without fans this season.
Still, the fun fact is a fascinating way to think about LeBron’s career. He’s played 1,280 career regular season games, 647 of which have been at home. That means that his team has held a double-digit lead after three quarters in 43.9% of all home games. And it took until Year 18 for his squad to blow one. He has won 850 career regular season games, so 33% of those wins came in relatively easy fashion, protecting a double-digit cushion over the last 12 minutes.
LeBron has played on some really good teams, but good teams still blow games. The Clippers choked away a 22-point third-quarter lead to the Warriors two weeks ago. But LeBron’s teams, even the ones in Cleveland where he was asked to do everything himself, never surrendered a big fourth-quarter lead at home. Nearly 300 games isn’t a small sample, either. It’s a testament to how great LeBron’s career has been.
As for Monday’s game, it was Stephen Curry who came up in the clutch, burying a contested three over Anthony Davis with 1:07 left to push the Golden State lead to five.
LeBron had a chance at a game-winner but his deep, fade-away three didn’t drop.
He’s great in crunch time, but he’s not perfect.
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