LeBron James showed up when his team needed him the most.
The 36-year-old superstar finished with a triple-double, posting 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a 103-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Play-in tournament.
James buried the game winner with 58 seconds left -- a 33-foot, fallback jumper that just beat the shot clock.
“After Draymond’s (Green) finger to the eye, I was literally seeing three rims out there, so I just shot at the middle one,” James said afterwards. “And all grace to the man above, I was able to knock it down.”
A possession before making the winning shot, James took a finger to the eye from Draymond Green on a drive to the basket. James’ eye requirement treatment from the trainer during the timeout.
The Warriors had one last attempt to tie the game with two second left, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got a steal to secure the victory.
The NBA scoring leader during the regular season, Golden State’s Stephen Curry finished with 37 points, including a long-range three pointer to beat the buzzer at halftime.
With the win, the Lakers earned the No. 7 seed and will face the No. 2 seed, the Phoenix Suns on Sunday in the dessert in the first round of the playoffs.
With the loss, the Warriors are on the brink of elimination, and now must defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in San Francisco on Friday to advance as the No. 8 seed.
According to a team spokesperson, the Lakers allowed about 6,000 fans at Staples Center for the play-in game against the Warriors -- the largest crowd to watch a game since fans were allowed back in the arena last month -- and approximately one-third of the building’s capacity.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 11 in the opening quarter, as Golden State took a 28-22 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors upped the lead to 12 points on Curry’s three-pointer just before the buzzer.
However, the Lakers used a 35-point third quarter to cut Golden State’s lead to two points, 79-77 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lakers overtook the Warriors early in the fourth quarter and then held on for the victory.
Top player: Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Alex Caruso added 14 points off the bench.
What I liked: The Lakers finished with 15 steals and seven blocks. Golden State finished with 20 turnovers.
What I didn’t like: Los Angeles shot just 41 percent from the floor and 32 percent from behind the arc.
Injuries: Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said his team is healthy for the first time in awhile this season. However, he would have liked to get players like James more time to get acclimated before the postseason began. “I would say he’s not at full strength, but he’s getting there,” Vogel said, when asked how close to full strength James is. “It’s really tough for me to put a number on it, a percent or anything like that. He looked pretty good the last two games, but obviously we would have loved to have a couple more weeks to get him where he wants to be.”
They said it: “I always have a script on what I intend to do, with the mindset of being willing to adjust. And obviously be willing to adjust quickly with a one-game play-in situation. So, we have it scripted out, but we’ll be willing to adjust.” -- Vogel commenting on his planned rotation at the center position, which included Andre Drummond starting. Drummond finished with four points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes.