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James keeps eye on ultimate prize as Lakers win NBA Finals opener

Agence France-Presse

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LeBron James, seeking a fourth NBA title in his 10th Finals appearance, has no trouble keeping his Los Angeles Lakers’ dominant victory in game one of the 2020 title series in perspective.

The Lakers shook off a slow start to lead the Miami Heat by as many as 32 points on the way to a 116-98 victory in Orlando, Florida, but James insisted it was no time to celebrate.

“The best teacher in life is experience,” James said. “I’ve experienced moments in my career where you have all the momentum in the world and you felt like you had the game under control, and one play here or one play there could change the course of a series or change the course of a game.”

James is still rankled by the memory of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when he played alongside Dwyane Wade for the Heat against the Dallas Mavericks.

“D-Wade hits a three right by their bench,” James recalled. “I believe it put us up either 13 or 17.

“From that moment on, Dallas went on a hell of a run and finished it off with a Dirk Nowitzki left-hand layup to steal that game.

“That burns me to this day,” James said, adding that’s why he was already looking forward to seeing where the Lakers can improve before Game 2 against the Heat on Saturday (Manila time).

“I’m extremely amped up about watching the film with our ballclub tomorrow,” he said. “I’m going to watch some tonight obviously by myself, but I’m looking forward to getting together as a group tomorrow.”

While the championship series stage is nothing new to James — or the 16-time champion Lakers franchise — it’s a first for star teammate Anthony Davis.

Davis scored 34 points in an impressive Finals debut, but he, too, said the Lakers should have started and finished the game better.

The underdog Heat jumped to a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. And even after injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo they were able to narrow the final margin with a solid fourth-quarter performance.

“We have to be able to come out a little bit more aggressive and come out with a little more sense of urgency, and that’s on the starters, especially me and Bron,” Davis said. “But it feels good to get the first game.

“We’re not satisfied. We don’t like how we ended the game. That wasn’t a championship mentality, and you know, we have to be better in that regard.

“We’ll take the win, but we’ll watch film and try to take advantage, as well.”

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