By Terrance Turner
May 19, 2021 (Updated May 21, 2021)
LeBron James helped power the Los Angeles Lakers past the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors shined in the game’s first half, with Stephen Curry scoring 15 points before halftime and the Golden State defense smothering the Lakers offense. In that first half, the Warriors held the Lakers’ top three scorers through the regular season — LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder — to just 13 points on 4-for-28 shooting.
The Lakers rallied late in the third quarter and managed to tie the game. The Warriors staged a rally of their own to retake the lead, but the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away (very) late to win. A huge first half for the Warriors gave way to a major surge by Los Angeles. Powered by a game-sealing three-pointer by James, the Lakers sealed their spot in the playoffs, winning 103-100.
The Warriors got off to a hot start, making five of their eight shots. Lakers’ Anthony Davis went 0-of-4. Golden State led Los Angeles 12-4 with 8:18 left in the first. Timeout Los Angeles. After the timeout, the Lakers continued to struggle, with star LeBron James going 1-of-4 to start.
Alex Caruso was an early standout, playing gamely throughout the first half. But the Lakers starters had a brutal time: James was just 1-for-5; Anthony Davis went 1-8, and Dennis Schroder, 0-7. Stephen Curry was just 2 for 5. But as the quarter concluded, the Warriors led by 6. It was 28-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Golden State continued to maintain its lead in the second quarter. The Lakers continued to struggle: James had just 6 points at the end of the half. James and Davis were 3 of 19 from the field in the first half. Golden State went up 35-30 at timeout. Minutes later, with the score 40-33, Curry hit a major three to give the Warriors a ten-point lead. Curry racked up 15 points by halftime, including a dazzling three-pointer just before the buzzer at the end of the second quarter. The Warriors led 55-42 at halftime.
In the second half, Los Angeles worked to close the gap. LeBron James was fouled and had two free throws to narrow the lead to seven, but Warriors player Andrew Wiggins answered with two points of his own. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a layup and then a steal, swiping the ball from Golden State and driving to the hoop. He was fouled and nailed two free throws to make it 57-53.
Another Golden State turnover helped Schroder cut the lead to one. With the score 57-56, the Warriors went on a 5-0 run before a LeBron jumper. The Lakers woke up in the third quarter, cutting the lead to one within four minutes, though the Warriors managed to build the lead back up to 12 points before the Lakers went on another tear. A dominant stretch from James to end the third quarter pulled the Lakers back within two. It was 79-77 at the end of the third.
The Lakers tied the game early in the fourth quarter. A basket by Kyle Kuzma gave Los Angeles its first lead of the game, 81-79. A steal by Alex Caruso gave way to a layup from James, and the Lakers led 83-79. James scored in back-to-back possessions, with the Lakers going up 85-79. Their lead would swell to seven. But Golden State mounted a comeback of its own, erasing L.A.’s lead to tie at 91 and then take it back, 96-95, on a Jordan Poole 3-pointer, with three minutes, 43 seconds remaining.
As the clock ran down, the two teams battled back and forth in a nail-biting volley. Golden State took the lead with 2:30 left, 98-95. Lakers tied it at 98. Then the two teams tied again at 100. As Lebron rose for a shot, Warriors defender Draymond Green reached out with both hands, inadvertently jabbing James in the eye. James fell to the ground and had to be treated on the sideline; he stayed in the game, but was seen telling those around him, “I can’t see.”
But even with one eye, LeBron James still knows how to win. With the ball in his hands and just a minute remaining, he hit a soaring three-pointer to give Los Angeles the lead, 103-100. As he was running back down the court, James indicated that he was still having vision problems. “I was seeing three rims,” he later said, “so I just shot for the middle one.”
The clock ran down to just 2.1 seconds before Golden State coach Steve Kerr called timeout. After an agonizing wait, fans in Staples Center waited to see what the team would do. Curry had the ball for what could’ve been a game-tying three-pointer. But he lost control of the ball, and Los Angeles won, 103-100.
After a dismal start in which they combined for just 11 points, James and Davis combined for 36 in the second half. LeBron’s late-game heroics helped him surge to a triple-double: 22 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists. He powered the Lakers to a seventh-seed slot, punching their ticket into the playoffs.
The Lakers will face the Phoenix Suns in a seven-game series beginning this weekend. The Warriors will battle the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. In this year’s “Play In” tournament, whichever team wins is in the playoffs. The team that loses is eliminated from playoff contention.
UPDATE (MAY 21, 2021): The Warriors’ season is over.
All-Star Stephen Curry led all scorers with 39 points as he and the Warriors battled the Memphis Grizzlies tonight in San Francisco. Golden State worked overtime to keep their season alive tonight against the surging Memphis Grizzlies. Down by 10 with just three minutes left, the Warriors came back to tie the game. Then they overcame a valiant Grizzlies effort to send the game to overtime. In OT they took the lead again, but Memphis overcame their rally to win 117-112.
The Grizzlies and Warriors were tied before Ja Morant drove to the hoop. Then Kyle Anderson got fouled and had a chance for a three-point play. Memphis went on a 7-0 run to take the lead 13-6 in the first quarter. Morant hit a three to make it 16-6 with 8:32 left in the first. Memphis maintained its lead into the second quarter. They capitalized on Golden State’s turnovers — one of which led to a three by Grayson Allen. That made it 52-40 with 4:16 left. Grizzlies led 62-49 at halftime.
Memphis led by 10 before a wide-open Ja Morant hit a three to put them up by 13. Grizzlies were up with 6:39 left. Warriors managed to close the gap, down just 78-73 as the third quarter ended. Memphis held on to a slim lead throughout the third; they led by seven with 2 minutes left.
In the fourth quarter, Ja Morant and Stephen Curry traded triples and two-pointers. Their teams went back-and-forth in a volley that lasted until the final seconds. Memphis was up 99-97 wtih just 33 seconds left when Andrew Wiggins tied the game. It went into overtime.
In overtime, Golden State again threatened to run away with the game. Curry hit a double-double by the 3:48 mark, and the Warriors took the lead. With only 1:52 remaining in OT, The Grizzlies were up 107-106 — until a soaring three-ponter from Jordan Poole. But Morant answered with a three of his own. Now Memphis was up by five, with just 4.5 remaining on the clock. But then Poole hit a corner three to cut their lead to two.
With just two seconds left in overtime, the Grizzlies had the ball and a chance to win the game. Morant came through with the dagger, sealing the win. The Grizzlies beat the Warriors 117-112, making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.They eliminated the Warriors from playoff contention.