With the game on the line, the Lakers put the ball in LeBron James' hands.
And Knicks forward Mario Hezonja stopped him.
Hezonja blocked James' 13-foot driving shot with 2.3 seconds left to seal the Knicks' 124-123 win over Los Angeles on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
DEFEND HOME COURT! pic.twitter.com/MvhtDzKEPd- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) March 17, 2019
"He's one of the most un-guardable guys in the world and one of the greatest players of all time," Hezonja said, according to ESPN's Ian Begley. "So it is tough. But when we're on the court, who cares? I think you gain respect by fighting for that, so I just didn't care. I wasn't trying to look around. I was just trying to play as hard as I can and try to stop him."
New York trailed 122-111 with 3:45 left after James made a 22-foot jumper, but DeAndre Jordan's alley-oop started a game-ending 13-1 run that snapped the Knicks' eight-game losing streak.
After Damyean Dotson's layup with 37.1 seconds remaining cut it to 123-122, James missed a jumper on the ensuing possession. Emmanuel Mudiay made both his free throws after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fouled him with 22.3 seconds remaining, and the Lakers had one last chance.
James drove down the left side where Hezonja guarded him closely. James tried putting up a fadeaway shot but Hezonja got his right hand on the ball, deflecting it back to Jordan as the clock expired.
"To beat a great player, sometimes you've got to do the unexpected and you've got to make big plays," Knicks head coach David Fizdale said, according to the Associated Press, "because you know that they're gearing up to make a big play."
James, who finished with a game-high 33 points to go along with eight assists and six rebounds, went 4-for-15 from the floor in the fourth quarter, to which Hezonja attributed to a team effort.
"He just missed shots," Hezonja said, according to Begley. "Don't get that twisted. ... We did a good job of sending him of where he doesn't like to be, if I can say that because he likes to be everywhere. But yeah, overall good job by the team on playing defense on him."
Starting for the first time since Feb. 13, Hezonja scored 17 points and brought down eight rebounds in a season-high 36:36. The 24-year-old Hezonja, who signed a one-year deal last offseason, has averaged 7.6 points and 3.7 rebounds this season.
While he said he wasn't known especially for his defensive presence prior to the season, he has made a larger effort to improve his skills.
"I've never played like this," Hezonja said, according to Begley. "It happens you know. Especially now. If you look at guys like Klay Thompson and Kawhi (Leonard) and stuff like that: they are as effective on offense as they are on defense and that's what the NBA needs right now to win. That's what teams need. I'm trying my best to be one of those type of guys."