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James scores 32 points as Lakers rally to beat Suns, Celtics down Nets

By AFP - Nov 11,2023 - Last updated at Nov 11,2023

23 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot over Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns and Grayson Allen #8 during the second half of the NBA In-Season Tournament game at Footprint Centre on Friday in Phoenix, Arizona (AFP photo)

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James shook off an early injury scare to score 32 points and key the Los Angeles Lakers’ 122-119 comeback win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday in his first taste of the NBA’s new in-season tournament.

After a knock to his lower left leg had him hobbing briefly in the first quarter, the 38-year-old superstar settled in and produced another age-defying performance, helping the Lakers snap a three-game losing streak.

He connected on 11 of 17 shots from the field, including three of four from three-point range. He added 11 rebounds and six assists.

James was delighted not only with a first road win of the young season but with a victory in the Lakers’ first game in the new in-season tournament — a Cup-style competition that commissioner Adam Silver hopes will fire players’ competitive instincts and give added interest to early season games with the promise of a trophy and prize money.

“It feels great because it’s an in-season tournament win and we’ll take that,” James told broadcaster ESPN after the game. “We’ll take that for sure. Y’all heard there’s 500,000 (dollars) on the line, so we’re going for that. We’re going for that.”

Kevin Durant scored 38 points to lead the Suns, who led by as many as 14 on the way to a 63-55 halftime lead.

Austin Reaves’ layup with 9:45 left to play gave the Lakers their first lead since the first quarter.

It was part of a 14-0 Lakers run, and Los Angeles were able to make the lead stand up.

“I think we just finally got sick of being out-rebounded,” James said of the Lakers’ improvement on the boards late in the contest. “We kept bodies in front of bodies.

“We finally started hitting our three pointers and that definitely helped us get back into game,” added James, whose Lakers made 12 three-pointers — nine of them in the second half.

While James wasn’t shy about targeting the in-season tournament, Boston star Jayson Tatum was more pleased to see the Celtics end a two-game skid with a 121-107 victory over Brooklyn.

Jaylen Brown scored 28 points and Tatum added 23 in a relatively comfortable victory.

Stung by back-to-back defeats, the Celtics came out strong and led by as many as 17 in a first half in which they made 12 three-pointers.

“Yeah, it would be nice to win [the in-season tournament], but more importantly it was just good to get back in the winning column.

“We lost two in a row, so it was important to come back home and get a win.”

Eight teams will advance from group play to knockout rounds, all culminating with a title match on December 9 in Las Vegas.

All the games in the tournament, except for the final, count in the regular-season standings.


Doncic dominates 


The Dallas Mavericks improved to 1-1 in tournament play, and 7-2 for the season, with a 144-126 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, fueled by 44 points from Luka Doncic and 27 from Kyrie Irving.

The Mavericks exploded for 47 points in the second quarter to take control on the way to a 144-126 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Doncic — who now has five 40-point games against the Clippers — was devastatingly efficient, connecting on 17-of-21 shots from the field.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 26 points. James Harden scored all 14 of his points in the first quarter and the Clippers lost their fourth straight — their third with Harden in the lineup after his trade from Philadelphia.

In other games, sensational San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama scored 29 points with nine rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots but came up short in a duel of French big men as his Spurs fell to Rudy Gobert’s Minnesota Timberwolves 117-110.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Minnesota, who won their fifth straight. Anthony Edwards added 28 points and Gobert had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid scored 33 points and Tyrese Maxey added 29 to lead the Philadelphia 76ers back from a 16-point deficit to a 114-106 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.

Embiid added 16 rebounds for the Sixers, who shook off a slow start to win their seventh straight game — and hand the Pistons a seventh straight defeat.

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