LeBron James puts Lakers on brink of 17th NBA championship

LeBron James puts Lakers on brink of 17th NBA championship
LeBron James started slowly but clicked in the second half to lead the Lakers’ scoring. (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)
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Updated 07 October 2020

LeBron James puts Lakers on brink of 17th NBA championship

LeBron James puts Lakers on brink of 17th NBA championship
  • Win leaves the Lakers 3-1 up in the best-of-seven series
  • LeBron James started slowly but clicked in the second half to lead the scoring

ORLANDO: LeBron James scored 28 points as the Los Angeles Lakers moved to within one win of a 17th NBA championship on Tuesday with a 102-96 victory over the Miami Heat.
Humbled by Miami in game three on Sunday, James and the Lakers came roaring back in a hard-fought defensive battle that was finely balanced until Los Angeles pulled away in the closing minutes.
The win leaves the Lakers 3-1 up in the best-of-seven series, meaning they can clinch the championship with victory in game five in Orlando on Friday.
“It felt like both teams were desperate, understanding the situation they had put themselves in,” James said afterwards.
“Trying to get every extra possession, execute offensively, not to make mistakes defensively, that’s what it was all about.”
James started slowly but clicked in the second half to lead the scoring while providing eight assists and hauling down 12 rebounds.
Anthony Davis meanwhile finished with 22 points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in with a vital 15-point contribution.
Caldwell-Pope’s tally included a three-pointer and a layup in the closing stages that put the Lakers seven points ahead with two minutes remaining.
Davis then drained only his second three-pointer of the night with 39.5 seconds left on the clock to give the Lakers a 100-91 lead and effectively seal the contest.
Butler, the 40-point hero of Miami’s win on Sunday, was restricted to 22 points, frustrated throughout by a commanding defensive display from Davis.
“He challenges me every night, I challenge him every night,” James said of Davis.
“We have to do things to help our team win, defensively, and offensively, and he did that tonight – he was spectacular.”
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the game had been decided in key moments in the closing stages.
“There were some moments of truth there at the end, and probably the bottom line is they won those moments of truth,” Spoelstra said.
“It came down to making plays. They just made more plays and more shots to seal it.”
An attritional contest saw defenses on top throughout, with Miami containing the threat of James and Davis for long periods.
James in particular struggled to generate his usual rhythm throughout the first half, giving up five turnovers and scoring just eight points.
The Lakers looked to have built a head of steam toward the end of the first quarter, edging into a 27-22 lead after a Kyle Kuzma three-pointer and a driving layup from Alex Caruso.
But Miami responded swiftly at the start of the second quarter, transforming a five-point deficit into a 33-29 lead after Jae Crowder’s three-pointer.
Butler, meanwhile had started smoothly, going five-from-five in the first quarter to move into double figures.
Despite Miami’s defensive efforts, the Lakers were still able to carve open a series of good looks, only for off-target shooting to let them down.


Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp

Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp
Updated 23 January 2021

Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp

Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp
  • Liverpool suffers alarming loss of form going five league games without a win

LIVERPOOL, UK: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said whether any new players come in the January transfer window will not be up to him as he does not hold the purse strings.

The German may be keen for fresh blood as the champions have suffered an alarming loss of form going five league games without a win.

Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Burnley ended a 68-game unbeaten home run and left them six points adrift of leaders Manchester United — who they play in an FA Cup fourth round tie on Sunday.

Injury has deprived Klopp of key central defender Virgil van Dijk but it is up front where their previously irresistible forward have failed to fire.

It is seven hours and 18 minutes since they last found the net in the league.

“Of course somebody else is making the decisions,” he said laughing at his press conference on Friday.

“It was always like this.

“We discuss the situation pretty much on a daily basis, could we improve something or not and we make recommendations but I cannot spend the money.

“I never did.”

Klopp said he would be taking Sunday’s game at Old Trafford seriously against a side they drew 0-0 in the league at Anfield last Sunday.

Klopp left the likes of Mo Salah and Robert Firmino on the bench against Burnley although both came on eventually.

“It is a different competition and yes we want to go through and for that we have to play really well,” he said.

“United are in a good moment and have got the results so far but we are ready 100 percent.”

Klopp had said in the immediate aftermath of the Burnley match that seeing the unbeaten home run end was “a massive punch in the face.”

However, on Friday the 53-year-old said it was about looking forwwards.

“Sixty-eight matches unbeaten is an incredible number,” he said.

“I never spoke about the number (referring to the home unbeaten run) but now it is onto a new series.”

Klopp said the players should not take the blame for what did not go right against Burnley.

“We go again, no doubt about that,” he said.

“I said what I thought after the game.

“When things don’t work out as we want them to then there’s an issue.

“The issue is that I didn’t tell the boys things clearly enough.

“I have to change the way I tell the boys (these things).”