The Lakers beat the Pistons on Saturday night, which wouldn’t typically be noteworthy, but after having lost to the Pistons in Detroit, they got taken to double overtime in the return game in L.A. as the Lakers can’t seem to shake their propensity for sleep-walking through games this regular season.
It’s not an issue anyone expects to linger into the playoffs, as the reigning champs get the benefit of the doubt that they’ll be able to flip the switch come playoff time, but it does mean they find themselves in some tight games late against teams that probably shouldn’t be pushing them to the brink. The good news is, for the most part, they’re coming out on top in these battles as they are 18-6 on the season and headed towards one of the top seeds in the West.
The bad news is, they’re having to call on LeBron James for heroics a bit more often than I think he would like in this regular season, coming off of a quick turnaround from winning a title in the Bubble back in October. On Saturday, it was James who put the dagger in the Pistons late in double overtime with a stepback three to go up four late and end the suddenly hour-long game.
Afterwards, he was asked about that shot and noted that his old heart can’t handle these two OT games like they used to and he just needed to end it.
LeBron James on his reaction after his second dagger 3 late in double-OT: "I'm 36 years old. My heart is not sustainable for two overtimes."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) February 7, 2021
It’s a joke but also, somewhere in there, is a hint of truth that James probably would prefer it if the Lakers were getting more easy wins than they have been so far this season. Part of the problem is how they seem to be going through the motions early in games — which at times includes James — and allow teams to hang around, but LeBron has been carrying the load so far and it has him firmly in the MVP race. Still, this is a team that has been in single-digit games seven times in their last 10 games, winning six of them, but that’s still a lot more tension than the defending champs would like on a nightly basis.
In any case, it helps to have LeBron in those situations but maybe the Lakers can ease the strain on his old heart by giving him a few easy wins in the near future.