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LeBron James had 40 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 129-120 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City on Saturday, December 23 (Sunday, December 24, Manila time).
The win snapped the Thunder’s three-game winning streak.
His team having lost four consecutive games, and facing what Anthony Davis called a “must-win” game, Lakers coach Darvin Ham tried to inject some life into his team by shuffling the starting lineup.
Ham started Jarred Vanderbilt and moved D’Angelo Russell to the bench.
Russell hadn’t come off the bench in the regular season since late in the 2020-21 season.
Russell did come off the bench for the Lakers in Game Four of last season’s Western Conference Finals loss to Denver.
Ham’s move paid off, as the Lakers scored 71 first-half points to lead by 12 at the break.
Russell was particularly effective in the second, scoring 8 consecutive Lakers points to start a 13-3 Los Angeles run to start the quarter and put the Lakers ahead.
Russell scored 12 points in the quarter, going 4 of 5 from the field.
Russell was far from the only Laker to get hot in the second, as Los Angeles shot 63.6% from the floor in the quarter.
Having James, who missed Thursday’s loss at Minnesota due to ankle tendinitis, back in the lineup helped as well.
The Lakers’ offensive production kept humming right along in the third, adding 36 more points to lead by as much as 26.
James and Davis scored 10 each in the third.
The Thunder didn’t go away, though, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 15 of Oklahoma City’s 32 third-quarter points.
The Thunder cut the deficit to 8 points on Chet Holmgren’s layup with just less than six minutes left to end a 15-6 Oklahoma City run.
James scored 11 in the next 3:30 to keep the Thunder from getting any closer.
Davis finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds while Rui Hachimura added 21 points off the bench.
The Lakers finished 16 of 32 from beyond the arc.
Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 34 points. Jalen Williams had 28 points, while Holmgren added 19 points and 10 rebounds. – Rappler.com