Throughout his 16-year career and counting, there have been debates about whether LeBron James should shoot or pass in late-game situations. As the best player in the game today, some feel James should take and make big shots.
However, for the 33-year-old, he prides himself on making the right basketball play regardless of the situation. In the 108-104 loss to the Orlando Magic, James had a late opportunity to tie or win the game.
As James drove toward the basket, the defense collapsed and he passed it to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who missed the potential game-winner.
Following the team’s second loss to the Magic in eight days, James was asked if he could have shot it himself. “I’ve always got a chance at a shot, that’s not even a question,” James said.
“You attract so many eyes and defense. I had a good shot, but he had a great shot and you live with the results.”
Meanwhile, Lakers head coach Luke Walton was perfectly accepting of the shots James took and those he deferred to Caldwell-Pope. “We live with those. Absolutely we live with those. KCP is one of our best shooters, LeBron is one of the best finishers our game has ever had,” Walton said.
“If they get open looks, we’ll take that. That’s not why we lost the game. We hit those and you can find a way to steal the game back but it was the second and third quarters why we lost.”
Through 19 games of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers have found themselves in these type of situations. As they are 2-1 in games decided by three points or less and 8-5 in games decided by single digits, there is pressure on James to close out games.
James has experienced every situation possible, the young core is still learning on the fly. While the Lakers have shown improvement, they will need to improve their free-throw shooting and limit their turnovers for the remainder of season.