Analyst Rips Lakers’ LeBron James for Passing on Game-Winning Shot

LeBron James

Getty LeBron James of the Lakers

Fox Sports talking head and notorious blowhard Skip Bayless has never been much of a LeBron James fan. So it’s not surprising that the Los Angeles Lakers’ 96-94 loss at home Saturday to the Miami Heat did little to change that. 

The source of Bayless’s latest gripe against the four-time NBA champion, four-time league MVP and 16-time All-Star stems from a decision James made in the final seconds of Saturday’s game.

Down two with 8.4 seconds left, LeBron tipped an ill-advised Heat inbound pass back to Lakers teammate Alex Caruso, who took three dribbles and passed the ball to James for what would’ve been a make-or-break 3-point attempt.

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Alex Caruso UPSET for missing the Game Winning Shot vs HeatLeBron James steal & don’t want to take the crucial shot Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat2021-02-21T04:16:22Z

But James, who was immediately double-teamed by Miami’s Kelly Olynyk and Jimmy Butler about eight feet behind the arc, opted not to launch and instead passed back to an open Caruso who front-rimmed the game’s final shot. 

Soon thereafter, Bayless spoke his Twitter mind: 

 


Did LeBron Make the Right Decision?

Despite the double and the distance, and seemingly disregarding his own observation that James had shot poorly from long-distance, Bayless clearly thought Lebron should have taken the shot. But Caruso told reporters afterward that James made the right decision and even blamed himself for bringing the extra defenders. 

Alex Caruso Nearly Sends Game To Overtime vs. HeatLeBron James stole the ball in the final seconds and gave Alex Caruso a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. Subscribe: youtube.com/user/BleacherReport?sub_confirmation=1 Follow on IG: instagram.com/f/bleacherreport Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/bleacherreport Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/bleacherreport2021-02-21T04:28:17Z

“I brought it down, three guys on the left, saw ‘Bron on the right, tried to set it up and give it to him and then get out of his way,” explained Caruso. “I think I accidentally brought in extra help instead of cutting to the opposite side.

“He made the right play with two guys on him. I was probably caught a little off guard because I was expecting them to stay with me and go 1-on-1 with ‘Bron. So I was a little late to get ready. I missed the shot short.”

For his part, meeting with reporters after the game, LeBron didn’t much dwell on who should or shouldn’t have taken the shot. In fact, the only real opinion he voiced about those final seconds regarded Caruso’s position on the court.

“We had a great look to tie the game and send it to overtime,” said James. “I think the only bad thing about it was he shot a long two. I wish he would’ve shot a three, and make or miss, I live with that. But other than that it was a good look.”


Continuing to Shoulder the Burden

The loss to the Heat was the Lakers’ third in four games and coincides with an injury to All-Star big man Anthony Davis, who suffered a calf strain and a re-aggravation of his right Achilles tendonosis February 14 against Denver. Davis is expected to miss at least four weeks. The Lakers were also without point guard Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) who is expected to miss at least two more games.

The absence of Davis especially looks to increase the workload of the 36-year-old James, who is playing in his 17th season after being drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.

Though undoubtedly still one of the top players in the NBA — averaging 25.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists — and currently a prime candidate for MVP, James has struggled at times shooting the long ball this season. And his turnovers (3.7), much like previous seasons, are perilously close to tops in the league. Two issues that Bayless, who rarely fails to reiterate his loudly-held belief that Lebron is overrated, was more than happy to emphasize:

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