LeBron James ‘Takes Over’ Again As Los Angeles Lakers Defeat Los Angeles Clippers

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Austin Reaves had to make a choice midway through overtime in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 130-125 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday since LeBron James’ playing time was fast approaching forty minutes.

After stealing the ball from Kawhi Leonard, Reaves could try to make the hoop on his own or pass the ball to his 38-year-old colleague as he charged up the floor on a fastbreak.

“At no point after I got that ball did I think I was going to shoot it,” Reaves said. “I saw him and I was going to pass it the whole way.”

This was no ordinary pass. With 2:12 remaining, Reaves fired an alley-oop over his shoulder, and James, who was playing with a lot of intensity, slammed it to put the Lakers ahead by five. It made the fans agitated and forced the Clippers to take a timeout.

“I have a sense that I can just throw it anywhere and he’ll go get it,” Reaves said of James. “That’s the crazy part with how long he’s been playing.”

Following his 42-minute performance of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists, James continued, saying, “I’m just thrilled I can still go grab it at this point in my career. I wanted to go up there since, after all, he trusted me to get it.”

The four-time MVP’s slam completed an impressive end to the game. He helped the Lakers end an 11-game losing run against the Clippers by scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter and overtime while shooting 6-for-8 from the floor.

The Lakers’ record improved to 3-2 with the victory, as James kept coming up big in the closing moments of games. Despite shooting a scorching 21 for 31 from the floor (68%), he has scored 51 points (10.2 points per game) in the fourth quarter and overtime this season.

While Rui Hachimura (concussion protocol), Gabe Vincent (left knee swelling), Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), and Taurean Prince (left knee discomfort) were all forced to sit out the game on Wednesday due to injury, James took up the slack for L.A.

The catch to James’ late-game genius has been his consistent disregard for the team’s playing time policy, which caps him at 28–30 minutes per night.

James has averaged 35.6 minutes through five games, which is a little more than the 35.5 minutes he played the previous season. As was intended, Lakers coach Darvin Ham will limit James’ playing time in order to keep him as fresh as possible for the postseason. Ham has more options at his disposal.

James is taking them home, content for the time being as the team finds its feet.

“He doesn’t prepare to just be available and be another body on the floor,” Ham said. “He prepares to be at a high, high level. Not only available, but available and elite. So kudos to him.”