The result leaves L.A. only one win away from the championship, which might be the group’s 17th — tying the Boston Celtics for essentially the most all time — and James’ fourth, unfold out over three totally different franchises.
James led the Lakers with 28 factors, 12 rebounds and eight assists and overcame six turnovers — 5 of which had been dedicated earlier than halftime — to safe the sport.
“I felt like for me, personally, this was one of many largest video games of my profession,” mentioned the 35-year-old James, the league’s all-time chief in playoff wins. “I simply needed to relay that message to my teammates, the kind of zone I used to be in, the kind of second it was and the type of crew we had been enjoying towards. …
“They’re only a gritty, so damn-well-coached crew. I really feel like if we’ll be a championship ballclub, if we need to actually be a championship crew, that we obtained to have that very same grit and that very same perspective. It was my mindset. I am nonetheless in it.”
As a lot as James exemplified that method by enjoying your complete fourth quarter and tallying 11 factors (on 7-for-7 taking pictures from the foul line), 5 rebounds and a couple of assists within the remaining body, it was Davis’ defensive work on Jimmy Butler that made it a winnable recreation down the stretch within the first place.
Coming off a 40-point triple-double through which he shot 14-for-20 in a Sport Three win, Butler stayed sizzling to start out Sport 4, scoring 11 factors on 5-for-5 taking pictures within the first quarter. Butler scored solely 11 factors the remainder of the sport, going 3-of-12 within the remaining three quarters, together with 1-for-7 when Davis was guarding him, based on analysis from ESPN Stats & Data.
“We simply needed to provide him a unique look, actually,” mentioned Davis, who completed with 22 factors, 9 rebounds, Four assists and Four blocks and helped L.A. outscore Miami by 17 within the 42 minutes he was on the ground. “We had been asking rather a lot out of Bron. I simply instructed Bron, ‘I will take him.'”
James — who touted Davis for Defensive Participant of the 12 months all season lengthy the identical approach Davis endorsed James for MVP, just for the duo to each end second for the respective awards — heaped reward on the large man.
“That man can do every little thing defensively,” James mentioned. “Guarding the ball, guard the publish, slide his toes with guards, contest, can physique up with bigs. I imply, want I say extra?”
L.A. took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, pushing it to as many as 9 with a Davis Three with 39.5 seconds left earlier than profitable by six. The Lakers prolonged their document to 56-Zero this season when main after three quarters — staying on high as the most effective crew at defending late leads in league historical past. Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who had been 78-1 (.987) taking a lead into the fourth, are second.
“I feel the fourth quarter, clearly it is profitable time,” James mentioned. “You’ve got obtained 12 minutes to buckle down defensively with the lead, type of maintain that lead, after which it’s a must to execute offensively. Clearly, I did not know the stat coming into tonight. However for us, that is simply the mindset. … If we win the quarter, we win the sport.”
And if the Lakers win Sport 5 on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ABC), they win the title. It does not sound as if there might be a lot napping for James between from time to time.
“At this level within the season, I do not care about relaxation. I actually do not. I do not care about sleep,” James mentioned. “I do not care about resting as a result of I can relaxation in every week, max, if it occurs to go there. I may relaxation for a month straight, which I will not do due to who I’m; you guys know that.
“However I can relaxation then. I can sleep eight hours and stand up and eat after which go proper again to sleep if I need to.”