WATCH: LeBron James' successful heat check as he knocks 3 triples in a row
LeBron James is shooting 38.7% from behind the arc this season, the second-best in his career. When he hits trifectas the way he has been doing, the four-time MVP is nearly impossible to stop. Even in his 21st season, the NBA’s all-time points leader is a nightmare to defend when he is firing on all cylinders. The New Orleans Pelicans were hoping he wasn’t going to hit his stride from deep in the semifinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
James went 1-1 from long range in the first quarter. He opened the second period aggressively looking to take advantage of the way the Pelicans were playing defense on him. New Orleans would rather have him shoot rather than cause chaos with his barreling drives.
LeBron James made them pay. He hit back-to-back threes so go perfect from behind the arc. The last one was a heat check:
James’ triples opened up the lane for the LA Lakers to attack. He capitalized on that and dropped 11 straight points. The pro-Lakers crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas gave him loud cheers every time he scored during that stretch.
The 19x All-Star now has 17 points, two rebounds and two assists with roughly still half the second quarter left. New Orleans will be in big trouble if they can’t slow him down.
The New Orleans Pelicans are competing despite LeBron James’ hot start
Following LeBron James’ 17th point, the New Orleans Pelicans were just down 50-41. They have been able to keep the LA Lakers within striking distance despite the four-time MVP’s scorching-hot second quarter. James’ 14-point second-quarter output has been the main reason the Pelicans are trailing.
Four Pelicans players have scored six points each. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado have contributed to keep them in sight of their opponents. CJ McCollum leads New Orleans with seven points. They all have to step up to prevent the Lakers from building a big lead.
Williamson hasn’t missed from the field, going 3-3 with all baskets coming within five feet of the rim. The Lakers are daring him to shoot from deep and are packing the paint when he drives. He has to find a way to have more impact on the game.
There is a lot of basketball to be played. The New Orleans Pelicans are showing poise and composure despite LeBron James’ early onslaught. This promises to be an all-out battle for a seat in the finals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.