Over the course of 18 seasons, LeBron James has accomplished many, many things. But in a Lakers blowout win over Houston on Tuesday, he did something entirely new: Took a no-look corner 3-pointer. And made it.
James finished with 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting and 4-for-9 shooting from the 3-point line in the runaway victory—the Lakers never trailed in the game and led by as many as 30 points—but it was one 3-pointer in the second quarter that stole the show.
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The play came with 7:44 to go in the half and the Lakers already holding a 45-24 lead. Lakers big man Markieff Morris drove toward the rim, drawing the Houston defense and leaving James mostly alone in the left corner. Morris found him with a pass and, as former teammate DeMarcus Cousins tried to recover and contest the shot, rose for the 3-point try.
While the ball was still mid-flight, James then turned his back entirely on the basket and looked right at the Lakers bench. His teammates erupted in celebration when the ball swished through.
“He turned the other way!” Lakers play-by-play man Bill MacDonald announced. “He turned the other way and looked at the bench as he let it fly!”
Here’s an up-close look at the play from the Lakers’ official Twitter accout:
"First time I’ve seen LeBron do that.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 13, 2021
And a wider view:
LeBron turned around before his 3-pointer went in and stared at the Lakers bench 🤣 pic.twitter.com/LEND9QrRvf
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 13, 2021
Dennis Schroder Bet LeBron James Would Miss the Shot
Some context for the shot was given by Spectrum Sports Lakers reporter Mike Trudell on Twitter. According to Trudell, James explained that teammate Dennis Schroder was on the bench and, as James was lining up the shot, said, “Bet you won’t make it.” That inspired to James to turn and face him as the shot was in the air.
This attached replay shows James turn and look directly at Schroder (whom James called, “Dennis the Menace”):
* @KingJames said that Dennis Schroder went “bet you won’t make it!” from the bench on the catch in the corner … so LeBron felt it was necessary to turn and look him in the eye to cement the bet. https://t.co/d5WAGJyKlQ
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 13, 2021
“My teammate hit me with a bet on the sideline,” James said in his press conference. “I took the bet while I was still shooting the ball. A bet is not official until you look a man in the eye.”
When asked about the no-look 3-pointer on NBATV after the game, James credited Stephen Curry of the Warriors as the foremost purveyor of the shot.
“Steph is definitely probably better than most in our league,” James said. “When you shoot the ball as beautiful and effortlessly and precisely as Steph does, he has the ultimate, ultra-green light to shoot that because 10 times out of nine it’s going in for Steph.”
“Ten times out of nine it’s going in for Steph.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 13, 2021
LeBron James Looking for Consistinency in Long-Range Game
James’ shooting from the outside on Tuesday was a welcome sight, because he’d been struggling from the arc in his last three games. Going back to the Spurs loss on January 7, when James missed his final two 3-point attempts, James had made just one of his previous 13 3-point tries.
His performance against the Rockets raised his 3-point percentage to 36.0, which represents his best shooting from the arc in his three Lakers seasons. For his career, James has made 34.4% of his 3-point shots, making him just about an average 3-point shooter.
He did catch some heat last week when he did something else that Curry has made famous—attempted a “logo-3,” which is a 3-pointer that comes so far behind the line that the player is toughing the center court logo.
LeBron was at it again, running from the late-game free-throw line. Instead of driving it, getting to the free-throw line, making 2 to give Lakers a 3-point lead, he tried a LOGO THREE, missed badly, giving LaVine a last shot, a mid-range that he missed, fortunately for LBJ.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 9, 2021
That in itself was not bad, but the fact that James took it in a critical situation—head by one point with 20 seconds to play against the Bulls—drew some well-earned criticism for James.
But the shot in front of Schroder was acceptable—mostly because it went in. As Lakers coach Frank Vogel once said about James’ 3-point shot selection: “When it goes in, it’s a good one.”