A great pass, a bad shot and a missed opportunity for the Lakers decided Game 5 of the NBA Finals
When the Los Angeles Lakers' best shot at winning the game resulted in zero points and free throws for the Miami Heat, there was always someone to blame.
In the Lakers' case, there were two very obvious candidates.
What went wrong with the attempted Lakers game winner?
After 109.88 minutes and 16.8 seconds of some more heroics from Jimmy Butler, the Lakers were clearly poised to end the season the classic way. A basket and another Larry O'Brien Trophy went to Los Angeles.
What happened instead started with the ball in the hands of LeBron James, to nobody's surprise. James faced Butler in half the square and burned a few seconds before Danny Green arrived to set a screen. James took the ball the other way and ran for the paint.
At this point, all but one Heat defender approached the Lakers star. James made the right decision when he was devoured and returned the ball to a wide open green at the top of the perimeter. Green caught the slightly flawed pass and still had more time than an NBA sniper should ever need for a simple 3-pointer.
Green's shot was narrow but the Lakers had a second chance when Markieff Morris found an offensive rebound. What Morris didn't seem to see was James, whom Butler had left open around the wing. Instead, Morris tried to find Anthony Davis, who was aggressively guarded by Bam Adebayo.
This is how it worked:
So you have one player, Green, who didn't take the kind of shot the Lakers paid him $ 30 million in his sleep, and another in Morris who just made a bad decision after an offensive rebound in the chaos.
By the end of the game, there were soon social media pitchforks for both players, including from a rather notable rapper.
For his part, James blamed himself for the pass after the game, but that's understandable, given the difficulty.
None of this means Green and Morris lost the game for the Lakers, although Morris' 0 points, 3 turnovers and 4 personal fouls in 23 minutes certainly didn't help. During the game there were dozens of other possessions where the Lakers could have improved their score. This happened to be the most momentous.
The Lakers' success in these playoffs was determined by the efforts of superlative James and Davis and the solid efforts of their role players. Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma were tremendous assets on the defense, Rajon Rondo was a key creator, and Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fired enough shots on the perimeter to keep the defense honest.
With this possession, the unfortunate results began to roll as soon as the ball left James' hands.
Danny Green had a shot at Lakers fame on Friday. He didn't understand. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)
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