It is one thing to be an exceptionally great player. It is something else entirely to channel and tap into that greatness in the exceptionally important and pressure-filled moments of the NBA playoffs.
That reality — and the stark gulf between greatness in the moment, and greatness overwhelmed by it — was on vivid display Thursday night in the Lakers‘ 110-100 win over the Houston Rockets to put them up 3-1 in the second-round playoff series.
On one end of this equation, behold LeBron James: Even with a mild 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists he was the quintessential winner, and his team followed suit.
On the other, see James Harden: 2 of 11, a misleading 21 points on the night, most coming at the free-throw line, as the Beard braved literally nothing in a fourth quarter in which he did not take a single shot.