Anthony Davis beat on his chest in celebratory fashion, LeBron James yelled and smiled while walking back to the bench after Davis capped off the biggest possession of the game.
Davis buried a dagger three-pointer with 39.5 seconds remaining to take a commanding nine point lead, followed by the game sealing block on the next possession to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 102-96 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
“Big-time play, big-time moment,” James said on Davis’ clutch 3-pointer. “Not only for Anthony Davis but for our ball club and franchise.”
The Lakers lead 3-1 in the series and are now one win away from winning their 17th championship in franchise history.
James finished with a game-high 28 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists and sent a pregame text in the afternoon to his teammates describing the game as a “must win”.
“I felt like for me personally this was one of the biggest games of my career, and I just wanted to relay that message,” James said.
Davis finished with 22 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 and Danny Green added 10 for the Lakers, who held a lead midway through the third and never saw it disappear.
The Lakers are also now 56-0 when leading after three quarters, which is the best in NBA history.
“Buckle down defensively, execute offensively,” James added. “For us, that’s just the mindset. We have 12 minutes.”
“You have to credit our guys’ competitive spirit,” Lakers coach Vogel said. “They were flying around and just competing at an extremely high level on that end of the floor.”
Jimmy Butler had 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Heat. Tyler Herro had 21, Duncan Robinson had 17 and Bam Adebayo added 15 in his first game back after missing two games with a neck injury.
“Like I always say, they’re a really, really, really good team and we’ve got to play damn near perfect to beat them,” said Butler. “We didn’t do that tonight. … We’ll watch this, learn from it, but we can’t lose another one.”
“Our backs are against the wall,” Adebayo said. “We still got hope, still going to fight to the end from start to finish.”
The Lakers led 49-47 at halftime in a defensive slugfest that saw James commit five turnovers.
After an even third period, veteran guard play was pivotal for the Lakers down the stretch in the fourth which the Heat would have no answer for.
With 2:58 remaining, Caldwell-Pope scored back-to-back baskets, a crucial three-pointer in the corner, followed by a tough lay-up. Rondo then kept the momentum going and drove to the paint and scored his only points of the game with a lay-up of his own on their next possession to give the Lakers a six-point advantage, 97-91.
“My teammates are looking for me to shoot so I’m going to continue to shoot,” Caldwell-Pope said.
Davis then seemingly put the game away himself after nailing a three from the top of the key to give the Lakers a 100-91 lead with 39.5 seconds remaining, followed up by recording a block on the other end, which led to the 102-96 victory.
“You don’t have to say anything to Anthony Davis. He wants this more than anything,” Vogel said. “Obviously he’s a great player capable of imposing his will on the game on both ends of the floor.”
Game 5 between the Lakers and Heat will take place on Friday at 6:00 PM., as the Lakers will have the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy on their mind.