LEBRON James recovered from a sloppy first half to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an action-packed 102-96 win over the Miami Heat to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals series.
The 17-year veteran leads all scorers with 28 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 8 dimes to move the Lakers a win away from clinching his fourth ring and the Lakers 17th franchise title.
Bam Adebayo returned to the Heat lineup after sitting out in Games 2 and 3 and provide a strong inside presence in the middle. But the one-time All-Star could not make the difference as Miami will have to dig deep on the next game to turn things around.
Adebayo however was a huge factor as the Heat fought tooth and nail while putting up a tough challenge with their outside shooting and aggressive plays down low.
However, the determined Lakers could not be denied as they never let go of the lead after trailing 52-54 on the 9:09 mark of the third period.
James ignited the comeback of the Lakers scoring 9 points of a 19-10 blitz that put LA on the lead for good.
The Heat managed to even the score at 83-all on Jimmy Butler’s layup at the 6:27 mark of the 4th.
James broke the deadlock, 86-83, with a conventional 3-point play on Jae Crowder’s foul. The 4-time MVP added two more free throws 35 seconds later.
The Heat continued to push hard, but the Lakers had answers ready for whatever Miami put up on the floor.
Anthony Davis added 22 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with 15 and Danny Green tallied 10 for the Lakers while Miami had Butler top-scoring with 22 points, Tyler Herro adding 21, Duncan Robinson making 17 points and Adebayo contributing 15 points on his first game back from injury.
The Lakers made 35-of-79 field goal attempts, Miami was 32-of-75. LA made 14 triples while Miami connected 11 and the Lakers converted 18 of 21 free throws compared to 21-of-26 of the Heat.
LA again ruled the board 42-39, assists 25-18, blocks 4-3 and points in the paint 34-32.
The Lakers strong finish came on the heels of a sloppy start where LA committed seven turnovers in the opening quarter.
But when James came alive after scoring only eight points on the first two quarters, Lakers rolled off to its third win in the best-of-7 series that could end on October 8, (Oct. 9 PHI time). RCM