Lakers' LeBron James delivers timeless takeover performance with clutch fourth quarter in win over Rockets

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LeBron James, Dillon Brooks 11202023
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Even in Year 21, LeBron James is proving he still has what it takes to completely take over a game in the fourth quarter.

Hardly showing signs of age, James looked as determined as ever when he carried the Lakers to a win over the Rockets on Sunday.

Houston led at the half but Los Angeles came out strong in the third quarter to take a six-point lead going into the fourth. The Rockets countered that punch, bringing the deficit within two with five minutes to play, but James wasn't going to let the Lakers drop one at home.

LeBron, who had already logged 35 minutes to that point, seemed to kick things into another gear that he should not be capable of reaching at 38 years old.

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He went on to score or assist on 14 of the Lakers' final 15 points, including a game-winning free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining to secure the victory. Here's how James used a vintage performance to close out Houston.

LeBron James delivers timeless takeover performance in Lakers win over Rockets

With 5:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, Rockets wing Dillon Brooks buried a 3-pointer to cut the Lakers' lead to two. From that point forward, James made it his mission to close this game out.

James responded immediately with a quick two and when Brooks answered back with another 3, James countered with a 3-ball of his own to extend Los Angeles' lead to four.

Every time the Rockets struck back, James seemed to find more gas in the tank. He had enough burst to get to the rim with ease and draw fouls. He didn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact, scoring an easy go-ahead layup off of an assist from Austin Reaves with 1:21 on the clock.

The young Houston squad would not go away as Alperen Sengun tied the game instantly with a layup, but, as he has done time and time again, James showed he can be just as dangerous as a playmaker when he has it going in these moments.

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LeBron had the ball at the top of the key with under 30 seconds remaining and 10 seconds on the shot clock, and the Rockets sent a double-team his way to force someone else to make a play.

James quickly made the correct, unselfish read and swung the ball to Reaves, who buried a deep 3-pointer to give the Lakers the lead.

Sengun eventually tied the game at 104 with a bully ball layup on James, but the 19-time All-Star made sure the 21-year-old wouldn't get the best of him.

The Lakers took a timeout to advance the ball and inbounded it to James with four seconds remaining. James immediately put his head down and attacked Brooks off the dribble, driving all the way to the rim to draw a foul and go to the free throw line.

With 1.2 seconds on the clock, James stepped to the line and hit the game-winning free throw after missing his first attempt.

For those keeping score at home, this is how the Lakers' final 15 points were scored in the fourth quarter:

  • LeBron FG
  • LeBron FG
  • LeBron 3PT
  • LeBron FT
  • LeBron FG
  • Reaves 3PT (LeBron AST)
  • Reaves FT
  • LeBron FT

James finished the night with a jaw-dropping 37 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in 40 (!) minutes played.

At 38 years old, in Year 21, James continues to challenge Father Time. This vintage takeover performance against the Rockets was just another reminder that he has not fallen off yet.

Kyle Irving Photo

Kyle Irving is an NBA content producer for The Sporting News.