LeBron James
(Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

James’ Late Fadeway Key In Thrilling Rivalry Win

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES – A shot worthy of the rivalry.

That’s what LeBron James uncorked on the right block in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ 104-102 victory over the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon.

The King, who moments earlier had missed a free throw to tie the game, got another shot after the Lakers regained possession and punished the single coverage provided by Jaylen Brown.

Turns out he’d been saving that move for the right moment:

“I had been setting him up all night with the back down to the drop step to the baseline”, he said. “I figured he would sit on it thinking that I would try it again. Went to my back down, gave a little Dream Shake to the baseline and I was able to open up middle and get my fadeaway.”

A handful of free throws by Anthony Davis and an excellent defensive sequence on Jayson Tatum clinched the victory to the delight of a delirious STAPLES Center crowd.

L.A.’s stars delivered, with James going off for 29 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, and AD surpassing him to the tune of 32, 13 boards and a pair of blocks.

They combined for 40 points of the 58 points from the purple and gold in the second half:

An old adage says that victory has many fathers, and that couldn’t have been truer this time.

The Lakers bench outscored the Celtics’ by a 43-11 margin thanks to a myriad of contributions from the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Dwight Howard.

Howard’s energy and Caruso’s intensity kept the Lakers afloat during the tougher instances of the matchup, while Kuzma’s defense on Tatum proved to be game-changing.

The Celtics forward had 41 points and confounded the Lakers defense throughout most of the afternoon, but it was Kuzma down the stretch that managed to slow him down just enough and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – another silent hero – drew an offensive foul by catching an elbow on the final play of the game.

“It’s worth it,” he said.

The Lakers held Tatum to just four points on three shots in the fourth quarter.

“He has the ability to go for what would’ve been a potential 50, 60-point night had we not brought extreme double teams for the better part of the second half,” coach Frank Vogel said.

And Rondo, a year after his game-winning deuce in Boston, was instrumental once again – this time on the defensive end. His five steals and some crafty playmaking were necessary in what ended up being a one-possession affair.

The Lakers prevailed on a game that was tied six times and had seven lead changes against not only one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, but also a storied rival that had Bill Russell, among others, in attendance.

“That was a heavyweight fight,” Vogel said.

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