Since coming back from a foot injury in March, LeBron James has been playing his best basketball. He has helped the Lakers to three consecutive wins, and with the Utah Jazz missing several key players due to injury, the Lakers had a great chance to extend their winning streak and secure at least a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament. Unfortunately, the Lakers may have underestimated the Jazz, and the Jazz took advantage of that.
The Lakers were ahead 124-114 with less than two minutes remaining, however, Utah went on a 10-0 spree to send the game into overtime. The Jazz even led the Lakers with one minute left in the extra period. Austin Reaves made a shot to bring the Lakers ahead, but Talen Horton-Tucker tied it up at 133 with a free throw. After a timeout, the renowned Laker had his defining moment of the year. LeBron James dashed forward for a layup to give the Lakers a 135-133 lead. One defensive stand later, the Lakers had secured the victory.
LEBRON SEALS THE OT WIN FOR THE LAKERS 💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/49cKb9Jga7
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 5, 2023
James scored an impressive 37 points, the most since his return from a foot injury, when he made two layups. His teammates were so awed by his performance that they almost prevented him from talking to the media post-game, instead trying to drown out his answers with goat noises.
The last few times LeBron James has addressed the media at his locker, his teammates have chimed in with 🐐 noises. This is the loudest it’s been — most of the locker room was doing it. pic.twitter.com/70u30H67zd
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) April 5, 2023
The Lakers’ win puts them in charge of their own fate for the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoffs. At present, the Clippers lead the standings, yet the two teams will compete head-to-head on Wednesday in a match that could give the victor a one-game advantage with only two matches remaining. It is yet unknown if the Lakers will field their best team because they are playing on consecutive days. The Lakers have been careful in this regard throughout the season and will check on James, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell tomorrow before a conclusion is made.
Two months ago, the Lakers were struggling, sitting at the No. 13 seed with a below .500 record. Despite James’ injury, they managed to climb up the standings. It is only fitting that, with James now healthy, he gave them the final push needed to qualify for the playoffs. While he didn’t play a major role in all of their recent success, he came through when his team needed him the most. The Lakers’ playoff prospects now look brighter than ever.