LeBron James had many NBA Finals matches in which he played brilliantly and lost. It is one of his career stories.
But Game 5 duel James staged with Jimmy Butler in the Miami Heat victory that saved Friday’s 111-108 over the Los Angeles Lakers on the spot in his professional showdowns.
Before Friday night, James’ greatest heavyweight man-to-man match was with Paul Pierce, who remains the stubbornest of all James’s rivals, in the seventh game of the 2008 Conference Semi-Final. James scored 45 of 92 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers this afternoon. Sunday in Boston. Pierce had 41, the two guys were guarding each other, reach for their sweet spots and play hard while holding a shove and cursing. The Celtics won five times.
But this guy probably went down after this James Butler show. These two were adorable at going chest-to-chest all night, culminating in the final three minutes as they traded scoring for six in a row. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gondy, and Mark Jackson were on the James Versus Pierce broadcast 12 years ago, and they were there again on Friday to summon Beautiful Game.
Butler finished 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals and a block in play except for 48 seconds into the game. It was an incredibly effective performance, shooting 11 versus 19, although he repeatedly had to deal with an elite heavy-duty defender in Anthony Davis.
James simply had one of the greatest shooting games of his final impressive career already. He made 15 of his 21 shots and 6 of 3, which are dream numbers for a player who appreciates competence. He closed with 40 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 breaches.
“That’s the beauty of the game,” James said. “The ability to compete at the highest level.” “You seize these opportunities and live in the moment. You try to do plays for your team and be successful on both ends.”
In the end, they were already guarding each other. James was working with Team Butler when his teammate on Hitler’s team Jay Crowder put in a perfect back screen that freed Butler to get into the basket and drew a foul on Davis. The next free throws were the all-in-game difference.
Butler screened James in the last play, but James faced a double and triple team when he got into the paint, leading him to a kickoff that resulted in a loss of a 3-pointer that would stalk Danny Green for a while.
LeBron James passes the ball to Danny Green, who misses the chance to win the match, then Markeff Morris throws the ball out of bounds while the Lakers stumble late in the fifth game.
That was it – so the gap was small. In between, there were plenty of displays of strength matched by accurate readings and dexterity that led to a strong and sublime back and forth.
That fourth quarter, James had 12 points, 7 rebounds and assists as he had to carry the Lakers while Davis limped to his feet. Butler scored 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists, and went on to play Het’s goalkeeper Goran Dragic with a leg injury.
“That’s what really great players do,” Butler said of the battle. “But we’re not holding back. We’re not shy. We can go ahead at the other end and do what we do. I think [James] It was a great performance tonight. “
James now has 10 play-off losses in his career when he scored 40 points, second only to Michael Jordan 12.
Butler scored or assisted with 240 points in the past four games. This is the largest number in the finals other than James, who had 245 in the 2017 finals. Jordan scored 239 in four consecutive matches in 1993.
These guys touch history, and when it comes to James, that’s a ridiculously high standard. But that’s just how awesome Butler is. This is how differentiating what is unfolding is between these two matters.
“We were just trying to do it and trying to make our team win,” James said. “You know, he was able to play more than I was able to tonight and score a victory.”
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