LeBron powers his biggest 4th-quarter comeback

NBA

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LOS ANGELES — LeBron James authored a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback by the Lakers to beat the Clippers 116-112 on Wednesday night, marking the largest fourth-quarter comeback of James’ 21-year career, according ESPN Stats & Information research.

James singlehandedly outscored the Clippers 19-16 in the final frame, including hitting 5-for-8 from 3 with four assists, to close out the franchises’ “hallway series” in dramatic fashion. Wednesday marked the final regular-season matchup for the two teams while sharing the same arena, with the Clippers opening the brand-new Intuit Dome at the start of next season.

James hit three 3s in the first 3:13 of the fourth quarter, quickly cutting the Clippers’ cushion to nine and prompting coach Tyronn Lue to call timeout.

“It’s just a zone, and you can’t really describe it,” James said afterward, having finished with 34 points and eight assists. “You wish you could stay in it forever, but obviously it checks out once the game ends. But during it, you don’t feel anything. It’s just like a superpower feel.”

The Lakers looked anything but super through the first three quarters, continuing to show signs of a post All-Star break malaise after losing two of their previous three games coming into the night.

Then, as he’s done so many times in his decorated career, it was James to the rescue.

“He had to take the cape, tuck it under his seat on the bench, I guess,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of his star. “It was time for him to whip it out. He definitely did that, put the cape on, and just got aggressive and got into good rhythm.”

The final surge was fueled by seven Clippers turnovers in the fourth quarter, leading to 18 points for the Lakers.

“I don’t think that’s ever happened in my career since I’ve been coaching to lose a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter,” Lue said. “But LeBron got hot. We talked about it before the game: You can’t turn the ball over against his team because it’s deadly.”

The Lakers are now in the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference playoff picture at 32-28 — just three games behind the No. 5 Phoenix Suns with 22 games left to play.

James not only carried the offensive load Wednesday, but he guarded Clippers star Kawhi Leonard throughout the second half and on Leonard’s baseline fadeaway with 7 seconds left that could have tied it, but clanged short off the rim.

“If I’m in a lineup, if I’m on the floor, I got to make plays. Sometimes I got to make even more plays,” James said. “And tonight was one of those moments where I had to make even more plays in order for us to even get back into the game and then ultimately win the game.”

Anthony Davis was subbed out to start the fourth quarter, giving him a prime seat to take in James’ brilliance.

“Sometimes you sit on the bench and you get to witness greatness and be a fan,” Davis said. “And that’s what it was for a lot of us tonight.”

Davis was on the floor as L.A. completed the comeback, however, making defensive plays along with Austin Reaves and Taurean Prince and reveling in every made shot from D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura.

“I think this was a huge win for us,” Davis said. “Not only just [because it was against] the Clippers, but also for ourselves in general. I think this is a big reassurance win for us to hopefully get us playing how we were playing right before the break.”

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