The Los Angeles Lakers have been as inconsistent as they come this season, with a pair of four-game losing streaks, five three-game winning streaks, and the In-Season Tournament Championship highlighting the ups and downs of their campaign.

They have struggled to put together any real semblance of consistency which has left them stuck in the middle of the pack. They came into their match versus the Los Angeles Clippers ninth in the Western Conference standings with a 31-28 win-loss record, though their place in the play-in tournament has become more secure in recent weeks as the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets have slid down the standings.

Nonetheless, the Lakers have proven that they can still hang with the league’s best when the timing is right and they showed this yet again as they beat their crosstown rival Clippers, 116-112.

For most of the contest though, the Lakers actually looked like a team that was destined for an overhaul as they fell behind by as much as 21 points in the early goings of the fourth quarter.

However, a three-pointer by reserve forward Cam Reddish with 11:34 remaining on the game clock seemed to have sparked something in the Lakers, particularly LeBron James.


On their next possession following Reddish’s triple, James proceeded to hit one of his own off an assist from D’Angelo Russell to bring them within 15 points, 98-83.

This kickstarted a six and a half minute stretch where James scored 19 points, including five three-pointers, to bring the Lakers within two points of the Clippers, 106-104, with less than five minutes left to play. When his team needed him the most, the 39-year-old put on a captivating performance that brought the crowd–composed mostly of Laker fans despite it being a Clipper home game–to their feet.

More importantly, James’ stunning stretch lit a fire under his teammates as he passed the baton to Russell, Anthony Davis, and Rui Hachimura who secured the lead then sealed the win for the Lakers.

James wound up with 34 points on 13-of-21 field goal shooting, seven three-pointers, six rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks in the win. Davis added 20 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three blocks while Russell provided 18 points, three three-pointers, two rebounds, and six assists. Hachimura chipped in 17 points and Austin Reaves had a strong all-around performance with 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and a steal.

These types of wins highlight the potential of this Laker team, but they have to perform at this level on a more consistent basis if they are to make a deep run in the upcoming postseason. The production from James and Davis is a given so the onus is on Russell, Hachimura, and Reaves to do this on a nightly basis.

Another notable development during this contest was that James moved a game or two away from hitting 40,000 career points. He is now only 40 points away from becoming the first player to achieve this milestone just a season after becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer. With the way that he is playing, it looks like there is no end in sight to his career and the breakthroughs should only continue to come for the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft.