February 1, 2019 / 6:52 AM / 8 months ago

LeBron returns, Lakers down Clippers in OT

EditorsNote: fixes to “seventh consecutive” in sixth graf

Jan 31, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) warms-up before the game against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James returned to action and scored 24 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-120 overtime win against the host Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

James, who missed the previous 17 games due to a groin injury sustained in a Christmas night win against the Golden State Warriors, also matched his season high with 14 rebounds and distributed nine assists while playing 40 minutes.

Lance Stephenson matched his career high with five 3-pointers on eight attempts and scored 20 points off the Lakers’ bench. Brandon Ingram added 19 points, and Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers.

Lou Williams scored 24 points off the bench to lead the Clippers, who had won 22 of their previous 25 matchups against the Lakers. Patrick Beverley had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Tobias Harris and Montrezl Harrell scored 15 apiece.

Clippers guard Avery Bradley was questionable because of a sore right knee but started and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. He slipped while closing out on a perimeter shooter and sustained a right quad strain midway through the third quarter but returned in the fourth.

The Clippers were already without second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari, who sat out his seventh consecutive game because of a back injury.

James made a fallaway jumper to break a 118-118 tie with 1:15 left in overtime, and Stephenson followed with a three-point play for a 123-118 Lakers lead with 45 seconds remaining.

The Lakers led by 14 early in the fourth quarter, but the Clippers pulled within two on a three-point play by backup center Boban Marjanovic with 7:25 remaining. The Clippers tied the score 112-112 on a 3-pointer by Harris with 35 seconds left, and neither team would score again in regulation.

Neither team led by more than eight until Rondo made a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 72-63 lead with 6:02 left in the third quarter.

James had a rough start with three turnovers in the first seven minutes, but the Lakers shot 12-for-19 in the first quarter and led by as many as eight before taking a 32-26 lead into the second quarter.

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