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LeBron James admits Alex Caruso saved Lakers’ ass vs. Warriors

LeBron James, Lakers, Alex Caruso

LeBron James and Anthony Davis woke up in the second half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ thrilling 103-100 play-in tournament victory over the Golden State Warriors, with LeBron hitting the game-winning dagger triple over Stephen Curry. But don’t forget the massive contributions from Alex Caruso in the first half to keep the Lakers within striking distance when they were sucking, and then his big plays down the stretch in place of a struggling Dennis Schroder.

James certainly won’t forget. The Lakers star admitted Caruso saved the team in the first half and set a standard for them to hit in the second half (via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times):

“His attention to detail, just smart, very smart, knows what he wants to do,” James said of Caruso during his videoconference after the game. “Always in the right place at the right time. He just makes plays, just makes plays. Some of them show up in the box score, some of them don’t. But tonight, they definitely showed up in the box score. I mean, he pretty much carried us in the first half offensively and we just had to match him in the second half.”

While James, Davis, and Schroder were tossing up bricks in the first half, Caruso made all five of his shots to notch 12 points. The Lakers still trailed 55-42 at the break, but it would have been much worse without Caruso’s scoring exploits.

Caruso’s shooting cooled off in the second half as he finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 from the field, but he still made a number of winning plays on both ends of the floor. He forced a Curry turnover with the Warriors up 98-95 with two and a half minutes to go, and not long after that, he assisted Davis on a dunk to give the Lakers a 100-98 advantage. He also helped play solid defense on Curry in the final minute.

L.A. badly needed Caruso’s big game since Schroder had one of his worst efforts of the season. The Lakers point guard had 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting and was a game-worst minus-20.