LeBron James notched 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in the Lakers’ last-gasp 107-106 win Sunday over the Hawks, but the 33-year-old is well aware of his shortcomings, with missed free throws the biggest issue in his game.
The Hawks led 106-105 with 20 seconds remaining when James was fouled. With the game in his hands, James missed both free throws. Luckily, the Lakers got the offensive rebound and James made up for it with a decisive dunk.
Despite the win, it was the missed free throws James was stuck on.
“I suck from the free-throw line right now,” James said. “I’ll get my rhythm back, but I’ll thank [Kyle Kuzma] for giving me another opportunity — giving us another opportunity.”
James has shot more free throws than all but Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki among current players, with just under 7,000 in his career, and is eighth on the all-time list.
But while James shoots free throws at just under 74 percent — lower than the rest of the top 10 — Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver revealed just how dire the situation is.
The win moved the Lakers to 7-6 and eighth in the West, ahead of the .500 mark for the first time this season.
After James’ dunk, the work wasn’t over for the Lakers, as Tyson Chandler blocked Trae Young’s driving lay-up to preserve the win.
James shouted and hugged Chandler in celebration of the Lakers’ fifth win in six games.
“I find myself acting like a kid in a candy store again,” said Chandler, who couldn’t hear James amid the din of music and cheering.
“I said, ‘That’s my dawg,”’ James yelled across the Lakers’ locker room.
Chandler’s defense helped the Lakers prevail in wins against Minnesota and at Sacramento after having his contract bought out by Phoenix and coming to Los Angeles last week.
“He’s been big,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Not only the way he is on court but the way he talks in the huddles. Very happy to have him.”
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