Up by seven points entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers had the lead, but the game was still within reach for Portland.
Then LeBron James went to work.
He delivered a sharp dime to Wood in the paint with the shot clock winding down for an easy basket. James hits a three in the following possession and does the ‘freeze celebration’ as the road crowd transitions into a home environment for James and the Lakers.
That Rui x LeBron connection pic.twitter.com/QGilELgO5i— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 18, 2023
He then proceeds to make the following four assists for the Lakers, including a beautiful no-look pass to Rui Hachimura and a corner three for Taurean Prince, who has been struggling with his conversions from downtown.
After this offensive onslaught from James, the Lakers lead ballooned from seven to 14 and Portland never threatened again.
“I just try to read and react,” James said after the win. “It’s never predetermined with me. I seen some guys that were leaving some of our shooters open. I was able to find (Prince) down in the corner by their bench when I drove the lane and seen a lot of eyes on me. We came up with an offensive rebound and I was able to hit Rui for a dunk and then off another offensive rebound, they rotated to me and I was to hit Rui for another corner three away from their bench. Just trying to be very efficient with our offense. We turned the ball over a little bit too much in the first half and early in the third and we wanted to clean it up in the fourth.”
Fans used to call the fourth quarter ‘Kobe Time’ during Bryant’s tenure because of his awareness and ability to take over a game when the result was still hanging in the balance. A new moniker for a 21-year veteran is unlikely, but more and more, the fourth is becoming a ‘King’s calling’ for James.
He doesn’t always do it with scoring, but with his ability to chasedown blocks, willingness to pass to open shooters and still unstoppable when driving to the rim, James has time and time again been the guy the Lakers go to in the fourth when the game is on the line.
This is one of the reasons his usage has consistently been above the 30-minute mark they’ve desired for him and discussed aiming for at the start of the season. Even at this late stage of his career, there isn’t a player better equipped to lead this team to victory on the roster than LeBron.
Thanks to his heroics on Friday, the Lakers currently sit at the top spot in West Group A in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.