LeBron James scored a team-high 33 points and Anthony Davis returned to spark the offense as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 106-96 on Tuesday in New York.
James shot 14-of-21 from the floor and added seven rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, who have lost five of their last eight and are struggling to maintain a .500 win-loss record this season in the Western Conference standings.
Davis played his first game since injuring his knee in a 110-92 loss to Minnesota on December 17 and finished with eight points. Davis had a dunk on the game’s first possession and played 25 minutes.
The Lakers went 7-10 while Davis was sidelined, with James carrying the offensive load.
“Just his presence impacts this ball club,” James said of the superstar forward.
“He adds another dynamic player on the floor. You can’t have all the eyes on myself, Russ (Westbrook) and Melo (Carmelo Anthony).”
James said he used the motivation of playing in New York to ignite the fire inside him. The last time the Lakers played in New York, James was serving a suspension for fighting.
“I missed my first appearance in New York because of a suspension. Hopefully, I make them proud,” he said of the fans who cheered him on Tuesday.
Malik Monk hit six threes and added 22 points as the Lakers shot 47.2 percent from the field. Westbrook added 15 points and Anthony chipped in 13.
Tuesday’s loss continued a string of inconsistent performances by the Nets, who were missing all-stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Durant sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the second quarter of their 120-105 home win over the New Orleans Pelicans on January 15.
Irving has been banned from playing home games by New York City health officials because he refuses to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
With those two out, the Nets are leaning on James Harden, who bounced back from one of his worst games of the season with a triple-double of 33 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against the Lakers.
In Washington, Luke Kennard scored seven points in the final nine seconds as the Los Angeles Clippers engineered one of the biggest comebacks in NBA history with a 116-115 win over the Washington Wizards.
Kennard delivered the go-ahead four-point play with two seconds remaining for the Clippers, who at one stage were down 66-31 in the first half before scoring 80 points in the second.
“We kept chipping, chipping away,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “When we got to (within) 10, I was like, ‘OK, we’ve got a real shot, we’ve got a real opportunity here if we can get some stops.'”
Kennard hit a 32-foot basket out of a timeout and then, after Washington committed a five-second inbound violation, sank another running three-pointer while being fouled by star Wizards guard Bradley Beal. Kennard finished with 25 points.
The result tied the second-largest comeback in NBA history, when the Sacramento Kings dug their way out of a 35-point hole against the Chicago Bulls in 2009.
The record is held by the Utah Jazz, who overcame a 36-point deficit to defeat the Denver Nuggets in 1996.
Amir Coffey scored a career-high 29 points for the Clippers. The Wizards have now lost four in a row.
“This January has been wild,” Coffey said. “You never know when the game’s over. Just play through the buzzer.”
Elsewhere, Joel Embiid had 42 points and 14 rebounds to lift the host Philadelphia 76ers past the New Orleans Pelicans 117-107.
Embiid shot 12 of 24 from the field and 18 of 20 from the free-throw line. It was Embiid’s sixth game with at least 40 points this season.
In Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined to score 66 points as the Boston Celtics clobbered the Sacramento Kings with a 128-75 victory for their seventh win in 10 games.