The matchup began with Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin backtracking.
It ended with him earning respect.
Mathurin, who boldly claimed he was better than LeBron James earlier this year, had 23 points and eight rebounds in the Pacers' stunning 116-115 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday. The Pacers rallied from 17 in the fourth quarter before winning at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by rookie Andrew Nembhard. James finished with 21 points and seven rebounds and the Lakers' five-game winning streak was halted.
Before the game, Mathurin cleared the air over comments he made about James in June. James, who led the Miami Heat to titles in 2012 and 2013, is widely considered among the game's top five all-time players.
“I think he's the best to ever play," Mathurin said. "People probably misunderstood what I was trying to say. Me just coming into the league, I won’t say anybody’s better than me. That’s me being confident.”
When the subject of James surfaced during a pre-draft interview, Mathurin did not hold back.
"A lot of people say he's great. I want to see how great he is," Mathurin said. "I don't think anybody is better than me. He's going to have to show me he's better than me."
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Shandel Richardson covers the Miami Heat for Inside The Heat.
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