LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers showed some rust, but knocked it off with time to spare on Thursday in the second game of the NBA’s re-opening doubleheader, while the Utah Jazz beat the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points and James had the go-ahead basket with 12.8 seconds left as the Lakers moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs by topping the Los Angeles Clippers 103-101.
James had 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help the Lakers move 6.5 games ahead of the Clippers in the West with seven games remaining. Kyle Kuzma added 16 points.
Photo: Mike Ehrmann / USA TODAY
Paul George had 30 points and Kawhi Leonard scored 28 for the Clippers, who had an 11-point lead midway through the third in a game with deep ebbs and flows.
Earlier, Donovan Mitchell said that his feud with teammate Rudy Gobert was firmly in the rearview mirror after the two Jazz players combined to engineer victory over the Pelicans 106-104.
Mitchell scored 20 points and Gobert chipped in with 14 as the Jazz overturned a 16-point deficit to snatch victory.
Encouragingly for Utah, there was little sign of the rift that had left Mitchell and Gobert barely on speaking terms four months ago when Gobert’s positive COVID-19 case triggered the NBA’s shutdown.
French star Gobert had attracted widespread criticism for his conduct in the days before his positive test, which included theatrically touching multiple recording devices and microphones during a press briefing.
Gobert later apologized for what he described as “inexcusable” behavior.
Mitchell, who later tested positive for COVID-19 soon after Gobert, later spoke of a need for individuals to “educate themselves” and “behave responsibly.”
Mitchell said Thursday’s performances showed that there was no lingering bad blood between the teammates.
“It’s just me trusting him and him trusting me,” Mitchell said.
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