LeBron James Passes Tim Duncan For 2nd In All-Time Playoff Wins In Lakers' Game 3 Victory Over Portland
LeBron James passed Tim Duncan for No. 2 in All-Time playoff wins with a 116-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday.
After his 38-point, 12-rebound and eight-assist performance, James took a moment to put the milestone in perspective.
"Basically, he lived in the postseason," James said of Duncan, a five-time NBA champion who led the San Antonio Spurs to the playoffs all 19 seasons of his career. "That was his address. So, for me to be linked with a great in the Big Fundamental, it means a lot. Not only to myself, but my hometown and whoever has been with me following my career."
Duncan supported James from the get-go.
After the Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, Duncan pulled aside the 22-year-old James and softened the blow.
"This is going to be your league," Duncan said.
James, now in his 17th season in the league, was asked to relive that conversation with Duncan.
"How did I feel in that moment?" James asked. "We had just got swept, so I didn’t feel great about it. I actually felt like s---. And he gave me a smile by saying that."
Duncan's words, of course, proved prophetic.
James, a three-time champion and four-time MVP, is widely considered one of the greatest players of all-time. And on Saturday, he took a tiny step closer to leading the Lakers to their first championship in 10 years.
It started on the defensive end.
After Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 39 points on 56 percent shooting in the first half, the Lakers cranked up the pressure, holding them to a combined 23 points on 30 percent shooting in the final 24 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers outshot the Trail Blazers, 50 percent to 33.3 percent, and held them to one-for-seven shooting from beyond the three-point line.
James said defense has always been the Lakers' fulcrum.
"From the first day of training camp, we wanted to be the best defensive team in the league," James said. "So, nothing has changed. The mindset has not changed."
Anthony Davis had his second-straight big game in the series.
After a quiet first half in which he had six points on one-for-three shooting, Davis felt a duty to make himself a bigger threat.
He went on to finish with 29 points, 23 of which he made in the second half, on 11-for-18 shooting, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
"I didn’t want [James] to just carry the team, the entire time," Davis said. "I wanted to take some pressure off of him. You’ve got guys trying to get into him and make it tough for him. Picking him up 94 feet. Just trying to take some pressure off."
But James didn't seem to mind the heavy load.
He dazzled from all corners of the court, penetrating the lane, making finesse jumpers and even scoring four three-pointers in eight tries.
In fact, James moved up to third for All-Time three-pointers made in the playoffs with 375, trailing only Stephen Curry (470) and Ray Allen (385).
"He was in attack mode," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "He was living in the paint, living at the rim and seeking contact and trying to just play the power game that he’s been so accustomed to. He was finishing at the rim, he was drawing contact, getting to the free throw line, and we encouraged him to be aggressive shooting over the top."
The Lakers have a 2-1 lead over the Trail Blazers, with Game 4 set for Monday.
And even at age 35, James is refusing to make Duncan a liar.
It's his league.
There's no doubt about it.