For the first time since the 1991-92 season, the Los Angeles Lakers played three games of extra time in a row.
After the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Lakers by 20 points in the second quarter, the current Lakers recorded a disastrous victory against a lower-ranked opponent. Los Angeles distanced itself from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the lead Wednesday night with a late one-point victory.
The win allowed Los Angeles to improve their points total over the course of the season from 20 to six and extend their winning streak to six games, although nothing has been easy lately.
The Lakers needed two hours of overtime Saturday to contain the Detroit Pistons – without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose (now with the New York Knicks) – and the Thunder forced them into overtime Monday.
The Lakers started the regular season 91-92 and played 16 quarterfinals in three games. First a first loss against the Houston Rockets, then a 114-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks, and on November 5 a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Big West. Two days later, Magic Johnson – who did not play that season after leading Los Angeles to the 1991 Finals – abruptly announced his retirement. (LakeShaw Lake ’91 and ’92 finished 43-39, losing in the first round to conference champion Portland Trail Blazers).
Like the game against the Mavs, where James Worthy chipped in 30 points and the roving Sedale Threatt guard exploded for 28 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, the 2020-21 Lakers beat a weak and unmotivated group of Thunder on Wednesday (this time at Staples Center).
For the second game in a row, Los Angeles played without hamstringers Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso (right). OKC star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (knee sprain) was also kept on the sidelines as a precaution.
It’s dog season, and the Lakers, without any of their stars, have done enough to win.
Los Angeles finally took its first lead of the game with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t do any better. As in each of their three wins in overtime, the Lakers were able to count on a three-point lead from LeBron James – this time to send the game into overtime. The Lakers beat OKC 9-8 in overtime to secure the win.
LeBron sends the Lakers to overtime in their THIRD game in a row ? pic.twitter.com/dxVEy17jZ5
– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 11, 2021
Remarkably, in his third game in a row, James (who many call the “Sedal Menace of his generation”) played at least 41 minutes and led the Lakers with 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds. More importantly, he took John Havlicek out of the game in the closing minutes by stealing the game from him. (He was interrupted by the media after the game).
LeBron says there’s no going back to Double OT ? pic.twitter.com/RkVMQA0LNR
– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 11, 2021
Montrezl Harrell (20 points) provided the main offensive spark from the bench, while Dennis Schroeder (19 points, seven rebounds, five assists), Kyle Kuzma (15 points) and Marc Gasol (Star D) contributed enough to help the Lakers secure a non-threatening victory over a Thunder team in transition with only eight players.
Al Horford scored 25 points for OKC, Kenrich Williams added 24 points (11 of 14 shooting) and Hamidou Diallo recorded 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Both teams shot 47% from the field and fouled throughout the evening.
Before the game, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was asked how to manage LeBron’s minutes for the second game in a row for OKC Mark Daigneault.
“We’re going to be responsible and try to win the game,” Vogel told reporters.
To his credit, Vogel has been consistent with this message in this amazing three-game series. While the Lakers are playing nerve-wracking games, James will obviously be putting in long hours. The 36-year-old played 46 minutes Saturday against the Pistons, 43 on Monday and 41 on Wednesday.
LeBron may claim that he is not tired, but his actions during this unwanted EO period suggest otherwise. After the Battle of Detroit, James realized that working out twice in a row was not good for his heart and he was ready to go home and drink wine.
LEBRON OH MY. pic.twitter.com/lorvTB7RIe
– Cleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 7, 2021
On Monday, the defending champions were again forced into extra time. Late in the evening, a weary king laid the score on the table, put his signature (jokingly) and shouted, “I AM IN THE VOICE.”
Fortunately for the 2020-21 Lakers, they won all three games in overtime – unlike Vlade Divac, A.C. Green and company three decades ago.
“There’s always concern,” Vogel said of James’ minutes after Wednesday’s game. “But his body feels good…. “It’s not in the script to have him play 40 minutes in every game. But he’ll be there in those situations.”
Perhaps James dreamed of a yacht party in Florida with Tom Brady on Wednesday. Instead, he stood in front of an empty Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, pushing his body to its limits.
I hope for his sake that the wine works now.
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