LeBron James proved to be his own worst critic after putting up the winning shot in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 107-106 win at home against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, November 11.
LeBron may have been the deciding factor in the victory, but without a timely offensive rebound off of the second consecutive shot he missed from the free throw line in the contest’s closing moments, he would have been responsible for another Lakers loss. He’d acknowledge that much during his postgame chat with reporters, thereby giving credit to those around him for being the real difference makers in upholding their roles.
“I’m garbage. Yea, I suck from the free throw line right now,” Yahoo Sports quotes LeBron as stating from his stool in the Lakers’ locker room. “I’ll get my rhythm back, but I thank Kuz (Kuzma) for giving me another opportunity – giving us another opportunity.”
Kyle Kuzma backed LeBron’s game-high 26 points with 18 of his own, but it was without a doubt that final rebound that made him the middling Lakers’ saving grace ahead of the last minute comeback victory. As Lakers Nation tells it, LeBron fell to three-of-seven from the line following his second brick on a pair of attempts with just under 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Thanks to Kuzma being in a position to corral the ball off of the rim and flip it back up, LeBron got the opportunity to redeem himself with a slam dunk that gave L.A. the lead it needed to move up to eighth place in the Western Conference via a record of 7-6.
LeBron’s shout out to Kuzma preceded kudos for Tyson Chandler. It was the clutch block that Chandler put up to deflect a final attempt by Trae Young that solidified the win. The play brought the Staples Center crowd to pandemonium and only further proved his value following key plays to also help the Lakers beat Minnesota and Sacramento since he transitioned to L.A. last week. “That’s my dawg,” LeBron would pause his recap to holler over to Chandler.
If LeBron is going to help the Lakers meet the expectations set out for them with his acquisition, he will certainly need to tighten up his efficiency at the line. Sunday’s scare nearly forced fans into a flashback of last month’s loss to San Antonio that came as a consequence of LeBron booting free throws.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, many of his misses are coming at vital times, with him only making good on shots from the line 58 percent of the time in the last five minutes of each game on average, and his free throws made dwindling to 44 percent in the final minute thus far this season.