LeBron James came through in the crunch to tow the Los Angeles Lakers past Western Conference rivals Los Angeles Clippers as the NBA season officially resumed.
The Lakers banked on a strong fourth-quarter finish to nail a 103-101 win over the Clippers at the start of the seeding games in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, July 30 (Friday, July 31, Philippine time).
Anthony Davis chalked up 34 points on a 14-of-15 clip at the free throw line to go with 8 rebounds and 4 assists in the win, catching fire just when the Lakers were about to drift.
The Clippers led 71-64 in the third quarter before Davis stringed 8 consecutive points – including back-to-back three-pointers – to bring the Lakers back into the game.
Davis’ third-quarter surge gave the Lakers the momentum as they seized a 94-85 advantage in the last frame – enough cushion to weather a late Clippers storm led by Paul George.
James struggled to find his offensive rhythm in the first 3 quarters, but he came up clutch by knocking down the go-ahead bucket and locking down on defense in the dying seconds.
As George knotted the score at 101, James gave the Lakers the lead back with a putback off his own miss with 12.8 ticks left.
James then hounded Kawhi Leonard before he switched to the red-hot George and forced the Clippers star to miss what could have been the game-winning three-pointer.
Limited to 9 points going into the final quarter, James finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Kyle Kuzma provided the much-needed boost off the bench with 16 points on a 4-of-7 shooting from deep.
Lakers’ new acquisition Dion Waiters added 11 points.
George paced the Clippers with 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals, while Leonard chipped in 28 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
The Clippers missed the services of Lou Williams, who is completing his 10-day quarantine, and Montrezl Harrell, who is out due to personal reasons.
Earlier, the Utah Jazz hacked out a come-from-behind 106-104 win over the Pelicans off a balanced scoring attack with 6 players scoring in twin digits.
Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson put up 23 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals off the bench to lead the Jazz as Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley each wound up with 20 points. – Rappler.com