Anthony Davis scored 34 points, James had the basket of approval with 12.8 seconds left and the Lakers moved closer to the No.1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs as they edged the Los Clippers Angeles 103-101 Thursday night in Game 2 of the The Double Reopened NBA Title.
James had 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help the Lakers move 6 1/2 games ahead of the West Clippers with seven games to go. Kyle Kuzma added 16 points.
“It was like a real game for me, two teams fighting. … I can’t complain about the first game, ”said Davis.
Paul George had 30 points and Kawhi Leonard scored 28 for the Clippers, who were 11 points ahead halfway through the third in a game with deep ups and downs. The Clippers secured that lead after a 26-5 run; the Lakers immediately rebutted with a 36-14 run to regain control.
And it kept coming back to the last moments.
George’s 3 pointer with 1:50 left reduced the Lakers’ lead to 99-98. James made his way to a layup on the next possession, then George hit another 3 to tie the game at 101 with 29 seconds left.
James followed his own failure in the way for the go-ahead basket, then was brilliant on the last defensive possession – forcing the ball out of Leonard’s hands and covering George as his buzzer 3-point try failed.
“We can’t have self-inflicted injuries and I thought we had too many,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose team – who remain shorthanded with Lou Williams still in quarantine and Montrezl Harrell take care of a family affair – gave up 29 turnover points.
Thursday marked the first NBA game in 141 days, with the league getting back to work after the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown.
During the pandemic, a renewed discussion of racial injustice took place in this country – the conversation surrounding this NBA reboot. The courts have “Black Lives Matter” on them, and the Lakers and Clippers knelt together during the national anthem in a silent protest demanding equality. New Orleans and Utah followed suit in the opening game of the night.
James – who will win his first assist title – had five in the first quarter to push his teammates forward, then his first basket of the recovery dunked early in the second quarter to put the Lakers 37-24.
But for a stretch that essentially covered a full quarter, spanning the second and third periods, the Lakers couldn’t make a shot. They went 1 for 10 to finish the half, then 0 for 9 to start the third and the Clippers took advantage.
They turned a 50-40 deficit into a 66-55 advantage in the third. And then it was the Lakers ‘turn to come together, reducing the Clippers’ lead to 77-76 before the fourth.
“It was a good game,” said Leonard. “I have always had fun. It was great to be back on the pitch. ”
Clippers: The Clippers had won 11 of their last 12 games in Florida state. In these two losses, Dion servers played for the winning team – the first being a game in Miami. … Leonard was charged with two offensive fouls in the first quarter, the first time in his career.
Lakers: The Lakers have hit the 50-win mark for the 33rd time in franchise history, and it’s the 12th time James has helped a team achieve so many wins in 17 seasons. … James’ 3-point 8:30 am left extended his NBA regular-season straight-game record with at least 10 points to 989.
NBA players are allowed to attend games in the bubble as fans – with their seats 6 feet apart to satisfy social distancing rules. Among those who attended: Portland’s Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, San Antonio DeMar DeRozan and Toronto Kyle Lowry.
Clippers: New Orleans on Saturdays.
Lakers: Toronto samedi.
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