Lakers end road losing streak in LeBron James’ return

LeBron James was in good spirits going into the game, his luck coming from playing against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night after missing the previous five with a strained left adductor.

James had seen the Lakers go 3-2 in his absence, and Anthony Davis became a force by dropping at least 30 points in four games and averaging 17.4 rebounds in those five games. James also saw Patrick Beverley miss his first of three games without pay for shoving Suns center Deandre Ayton during a Lakers game in Phoenix on Tuesday. Dennis Schroder started instead of Beverly.

Though the Lakers lost their way in the third quarter by not playing with intent and determination and saw a 20-point lead shrink to three early in the fourth, James and the Lakers rebounded and clinched a 105-94 win over the Spurs at AT&T Center for their first road win of the season.

James had 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and nine turnovers in 33 minutes.

“Well for me personally it’s just my rhythm, my timing was a bit off on some of my passes,” said James. “This is the product of my sales. I had six in the first half and halved it in the second half. But obviously I’ll be much better as the games go on, I’ll get my rhythm back. But I felt pretty good about going out onto the pitch with my guys and making a few plays to help them win the game.

Davis had another double-double with 25 points in just 13 tries and 15 rebounds.

Also in the middle was Lonnie Walker IV with 18 points. Spurs shared a video of Walker from his first four years playing for them, ending with a “Thanks Lonnie” message.

He smiled and waved at the crowd and then played well, as did the rest of the Lakers, who had four players who scored double digits.

After the Lakers’ lead dropped to 81-78 early in the fourth quarter, they had to pull themselves together after dropping 34 points in the third quarter to narrow the score before the final third.

Anthony Davis (3) of the Lakers celebrates with LeBron James and Dennis Schroder on November 25, 2022.

The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) celebrates with LeBron James and Dennis Schroder on Friday night. Davis finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds.

(Darren Abate/Associated Press)

“We had three excellent defensive quarters. We had a lot of slip-ups in the third quarter,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “We keep them in the first at 21, [20] in the second, 19 in the fourth. But the fact that 34 points come from half-time is extreme. And it’s something that we kind of struggle with all year long. But we kept grinding, kept digging and were able to right the ship again.”

James pushed the ball up as the Spurs defense pulled back until it was too late and the Lakers forward ended the game with a dunk.

On next possession, Austin Reaves threw a behind-the-back pass to James for another layup.

The Lakers kept going and put on an 11-0 run that turned into a 14-2 stretch that increased the Lakers lead to 95-80 midway through the fourth quarter.

And it was James, who had eight points and four rebounds in the fourth round, and Davis, who had 11 points and six rebounds in the last 12 minutes, that paved the way for the Lakers.

“It was good. I mean, his voice, his leadership, the way he played, his ability to score. I think everything came into effect tonight,” Davis said of James’ return. “He’s been really good for us in his first game after missing five especially on the track pick and roll and calling plays and stuff I think it’s been really good for us looks like he felt comfortable out there hopefully he feels continues to do well and prepares for tomorrow’s game.”

The Lakers play the Spurs here on Saturday, making it a back-to-back set and leaving it up to reporters to ask James if he’ll play in that game.

“Yes, it’s very likely that I’ll play tomorrow,” said James. “I only sat for two weeks. I’m doing well.” Lakers end road losing streak in LeBron James’ return

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