SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — They went back and forth, one beating the other, two of the greatest players of all time believing he could force his team to win. Stepback 3s, fadeaway jumpers, drives and dishes. Two extensions.
LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry. At its best.
And at the very end, James made two free throws with 1.2 seconds left to cap his triple-double with 36 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists, surpassing Curry, while the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors with 145 points fended off -144 on Saturday night.
“It's something I can talk to my grandchildren about, being able to compete with one of the best players to ever play the game,” James said. “So I hope at that point I can definitely be cool with my grandkids.”
Curry danced through the paint for a layup that sent the game into overtime. In the second overtime, he hit Anthony Davis with a high 3-pointer to take the lead.
James scored the first points of a second extra session and found D'Angelo Russell behind the next time for a 3.
“Every year we get to do this, the back and forth battles, all the finals, all the way up to the playoffs last year, after the horn sounded tonight there was a little laughter that we can't imagine a scenario where a Game is happening Like happening tonight, his year, what, 21, and my year 15,” Curry said. “All the other guys in the league that have been doing this for 15-plus years, KD (Kevin Durant), CP (Chris Paul), it’s crazy.
“You look forward to the fights, but you also appreciate the mutual respect for what it takes to continue at this level, because few people know how hard it is. “I'm happy to be in this group.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham had to stay focused while sitting up close to witness the magnificence.
“Oh, man,” he exhaled afterwards.
“I’m trying to control myself as a basketball fan first and foremost,” he said. “They should be really happy in New York, it was a hell of a basketball game, a basketball game at the highest level. Two legends going back and forth, two great organizations. It was fun to be there. It's just one of those wins where it showed our character. Our group is really coming together.”
Curry hit a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left in the second over and sank the 1-for-22 shot over Davis to bring his season-high 46 points with nine 3s.
Russell scored from deep with 53 seconds left in the second period and scored again early in the period after also hitting two 3-pointers en route to 28 points late in regulation.
James scored 12 points in the two OT periods and recorded his third triple-double of the season and the 110th of his career. Davis added 29 points and 13 rebounds.
Klay Thompson scored an tying goal with 5.9 seconds left in the first overtime and another late in the second overtime before scoring with 1:14 left in Golden State's first double-OT game since a 143-141 win over Atlanta eliminated on January 2, 2023.
Davis returned after an injury scare in the third round. He made two free throws with 29 seconds left in regulation, then missed the first of two with 14.7 seconds left to give Golden State a 118-116 lead. With just under 6 seconds left, Curry drove through the paint for a crucial layup to force overtime.
These star-studded teams played another exciting game after the Lakers defeated the Warriors in a six-game Western Conference semifinal last year.
Los Angeles made 38 of 43 free throws while the Warriors attempted just 16 – and they didn't like it.
“I could comment on the free throws they shot, but my mom is here right now and I want to be on my best behavior, so I won't comment on their 43 free throws to our 16,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I’m not going to comment on the fact that Steph shot three free throws in 43 minutes.”
Curry scored his second straight game with six or more 3s and his third in five games, as well as his fifth straight game with 25 or more points. It was his third 40-point performance of the season and the 65th of his career.
James and Davis combined to shoot 14 of 19 in the first half, went 25 of 49 on the night and contributed to a 55-50 rebounding advantage.
The Warriors scored a season high and their 23 3-pointers were a season high. Golden State used its 15th starting lineup – with Draymond Green and Jonathan Kuminga on the field, calling first tip-off together for the first time this season.
This was the second straight heartbreaking loss for the Warriors after they lost to Sacramento 134-133 on Thursday night in another 2023 playoff rematch. The Warriors eliminated the Kings in Game 7 of their first-round matchup.
Kuminga followed up his best performance of 31 points with 22 points on Thursday, scoring 20 or more points in his best six consecutive games.
Lakers: At Houston on Monday night to begin back-to-back road games with a game at Atlanta on Tuesday.
Warriors: Host the 76ers on Tuesday night.
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