Category Archives: NBA

Mitchell scores 25 of 37 points in 3rd, Jazz beat Bulls

Donovan Mitchell scored a Utah-record 25 of his 37 points in the third quarter, Jordan Clarkson added 26 and the Utah Jazz defeated the Chicago Bulls 125-110 on Wednesday night.

Mitchell made a franchise-record seven 3-pointers in the third period on nine attempts. He broke Karl Malone’s team mark of 22 points in a quarter.

Mitchell finished with nine 3-pointers, besting his previous career best of seven.Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.

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Alexander-Walker, who came to Utah in a Feb. 9 trade from New Orleans, had only nine total points in his first seven matches with the Jazz.

Chicago’s Zach LaVine, who has been affected by a sore left knee, made five 3s and had 33 points in tying his highest scoring output in four months. DeMar DeRozan added 25 points.

The Bulls have dropped seven of nine.

Ayo Dosunmu’s layup trimmed Utah’s lead to 103-99 before the Jazz responded with a clinching run.

Alexander-Walker had two 3-pointers from the corner in a 14-0 run that featured suffocating defense and floor-spacing offense. Rudy Gobert’s free throws capped the run and lifted the Jazz to a 117-99 lead with 4:38 to play.

Mitchell’s huge third quarter pushed the Jazz ahead 89-81 entering the fourth quarter.

Rudy Gobert had 14 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks while Mike Conley had in 14 points and seven assists.

The Jazz played without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (left calf strain), along with key reserves Trent Forrest (right wrist sprain), Danuel House (left knee bone bruise) and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain).

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Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green returns off bench, with minutes restriction

Draymond Green returned for the Golden State Warriors on Monday versus the Washington Wizards in Chase Center after missing the past two months with a lower back injury.

Green came off the bench in Monday’s game, and coach Steve Kerr stated he probably won’t start his first several games back. Green said he expects to play with a 20- to 23-minute restriction for the next 10 to 14 days as he builds up his conditioning.

“I’m usually against any restrictions. I hate them,” Green said earlier Monday. “Any time I’ve had one I get into a fight with Coach or with [team president] Rick [Welts]. I am actually very inviting of it this time around. I know I need it. I know I need them to protect me from myself.”

Kerr said he wants to make Green available for end-of-half and end-of-game scenarios, which would be hard to do under his minutes restriction if he started the game.

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“We’ve found this with Klay [Thompson] and Otto [Porter Jr.] — it’s really hard to start a guy on a minutes restriction and get him into some meaningful parts of the game,” Kerr said. “This is very temporary.”

Green said he plans on using the next two to three weeks to get his legs under him and his reaction-time quickness back, with the hope that by the time there is a week or more left in the regular season, he will be close to where he was before his injury as the team gears for the playoffs.

“In returning from an injury, it’s never what you left,” Green said. “It’s not like I’m going to come back doing all the same things I was doing when I went out. Just kind of coming in and figuring out where I can help. I’ve watched for two months — I already have in my mind where I can help … But you still have to figure the flow of the game out. I’ll just come in and let the game come to me.”

It had been 1,005 days since Green, Thompson and Stephen Curry had played in a game together, not including the seven seconds Green was on the court for Klay Day on Jan. 9.

The Warriors have been tracking the numbers until the trio would reunite because, as Green put it, “we built this thing from ground zero.”

During Green’s absence the Warriors have struggled, stringing together a five-game losing streak for the first time this season.

The hope, and expectation, is that simply having Green on the court will address a lot of the issues the Warriors have had. But they know he won’t fix everything, especially as he gets back into game shape.

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Rookie Green has 32 as Rockets down Lakers in OT, 139-130

Rookie Jalen Green scored a career-high 32 points, including 10 in overtime, and the Houston Rockets outlasted the slumping Los Angeles Lakers for a 139-130 victory Wednesday night.

The Rockets, who have the worst record in the Western Conference, withstood a triple-double from LeBron James and 30 points from Russell Westbrook to get just their second win in 15 games.

The loss is the ninth straight on the road for the Lakers, who have dropped six of their last seven games and are running out of time to get things together before the playoffs start.

Green, the second overall pick in the draft, opened overtime with a layup before adding a 3-pointer and then swishing a hook shot soon after that to make it 127-120. Eric Gordon added a 3-pointer to push the lead to 10 before the Lakers finally scored in the extra period on a basket by Westbrook with 2 1/2 minutes to go.

But the Rockets used a 6-3 run with 3s from Kenyon Martin Jr. and Green around a 3 from James to extend the lead to 136-125 with a minute left in OT and seal the victory.

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James had 23 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high 12 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season. But his career-long streak of consecutive games with 25 points ended at 23 games on a night he was 9 of 26 overall and made just 1 of 9 3-pointers.

It was his first game since scoring a season-high 56 points Saturday night after he sat out Monday at San Antonio with a sore left knee.

Rookie Alperen Sengun set career-highs with 21 points and 15 rebounds to help the Rockets to the win.

A jump shot by Westbrook tied it at 120-all with a minute to go but he missed a shot a few seconds later to give Houston the ball back.

Green missed a layup under heavy pressure from James to give the Lakers another shot to take the lead.

James missed an off-balance shot in the lane with 17 seconds left but officials ruled that Houston knocked the ball out of bounds while vying for the rebound. The Rockets challenged the call, but it was upheld.

James drove into the lane and dished to Carmelo Anthony in the corner for the final shot of regulation, but his 3-point attempt was off to send it to OT.

A 5-2 spurt by the Rockets later in the fourth tied it up, but James drove into the lane and finished with a monster, one-handed dunk to put the Lakers up 113-111 with 5 ½ minutes to go.

Los Angeles trailed by 1 with about three minutes left when James made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 118-116.

Green scored four quick points to give the Rockets a 120-118 lead with about two minutes left. He made two free throws and then grabbed a rebound on the other end and finished with a jumper to put Houston on top.

Houston led by 3 late in the third quarter but the Lakers scored the last four points of the period to take a 98-97 lead into the fourth.

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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James sits out loss to San Antonio Spurs with ‘significant’ knee soreness

LeBron James did not play Monday night versus the San Antonio Spurs, with Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel saying pregame that James had “significant” soreness in his left knee coming off his 56-point effort versus the Golden State Warriors.

James, 37, missed five games because of his knee from late January until early February, but had not missed any time because of it since.

“With the heavy load that he’s carrying for us this year, we know that it’s always a possibility,” Vogel said of James sitting out, before the Lakers’ 117-110 loss.

“I think that’s why we continue to list him as questionable to see how it’s responding over the 48 hours between games. And this is just one of those days where it was significant enough to hold him out.”

Aside from James’ 39-minute workload versus Golden State, Los Angeles’ travel day on Sunday — when a mechanical issue caused the Lakers to sit on the runway for two hours before changing planes for the nearly three-hour flight to San Antonio — did not help with recovery time, sources told ESPN.

Vogel stated the Lakers are “hopeful” James will play Wednesday in Houston.

James’ performance against the Warriors was his highest-scoring game with the Lakers and tied for third-highest in his 19-year career, as Los Angeles rallied from a 14-point deficit to win 124-116.

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That triumph still only brought the Lakers’ record to 28-35, leaving them in ninth place in the Western Conference entering Monday’s games. The Spurs were No. 12 in the West, 4½ games behind the Lakers.

“His health takes precedence over any matchup, any individual one game, for sure,” Vogel said of the playoff implications of James resting.

Los Angeles also is dealing with the absence of Anthony Davis, who has been out for nearly three weeks with a midfoot sprain.

James is averaging 29.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 36.8 minutes per game for the Lakers this season.

The Lakers started Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Russell Westbrook against the Spurs, accounting for the 32nd different starting lineup of the season.

“No one player is going to have to try to pick up where he left off,” Vogel said. “Although I did tell Malik that he’s got to score 56 tonight since Bron’s out, he can try to have that mindset. And then I told him quickly that I was just kidding. Because he will actually go out and try to do that. But, it’s the next man up, but when it’s someone like LeBron, it has to be done by committee.”

Vogel was asked how he thinks James’ knee will be a factor down the stretch as the Lakers jostle for a spot in the play-in tournament over the final games of the regular season.

“I think the simplest way to put it is he’s going to plan on being in unless his knee tells him otherwise,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if we can really forecast any more clearly than that.”

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Khris Middleton scores 44 points, Bucks rally to beat Suns

Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday made sure the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foul trouble and got through arguably the toughest three-game stretch of their schedule unscathed.

Middleton scored a season-high 44 points, Holiday had 24 and the Bucks rallied to defeat the short-handed Phoenix Suns 132-122 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive triumph.

Holiday scored 17 points and Middleton had 16 in the fourth quarter to help the Bucks outscore the Suns 12-1 over the last three minutes. They’re the first Bucks teammates to each score at least 15 fourth-quarter points in the same game over the last 25 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We love being in those type of games,” Holiday said. “They’re a really good team. We kind of know what it takes, especially in moments like that, what it takes to win games.”

The Bucks won their fourth consecutive overall and third in the last five days. Milwaukee beat the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat 120-119 on Wednesday night and Chicago 118-112 on Friday night before knocking off the Suns, who own the NBA’s best record.

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Milwaukee erased a 14-point deficit in the final six minutes of the Heat game and trailed the Bulls by seven points at the start of the fourth quarter.

“We’re just trying to lock in a little bit better,” Middleton said. “We’ve spoken on it multiple times in the past where we’ve had these lapses and what not. We’re trying to be dialed in, trying to be your best self for 48 minutes out there.”

This was the Suns’ first visit since Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in a 105-98 Game 6 victory gave the Bucks their first NBA title in 50 years. In their only previous matchup this season, the Suns won 131-107 in Phoenix on Feb. 10.

This time, Antetokounmpo had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes before fouling out with 1:12 left.

“That was a big statement game for us. … We really wanted to get that win,” said Phoenix’s Jae Crowder, who scored 19 points. “I’m really disappointed with how we finished the game.”

The Suns were playing without their usual All-Star starting backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Booker missed his third consecutive game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Paul broke his right thumb Feb. 16.

Phoenix also was missing Cam Johnson, two days after he scored 38 points and made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in a 115-114 victory over the New York Knicks. Johnson has a bruised right quadriceps.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 30 points. Cam Payne had 23, Landry Shamet 17 and Mikal Bridges 14.

Serge Ibaka had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks. Jordan Nwora had 12 points and Grayson Allen added 10.

The Suns led 107-102 when Antetokounmpo went to the bench after picking up his fifth foul with 7:40 left.

But the Bucks outscored the Suns 18-11 in the four-plus minutes Antetokounmpo missed and owned a 120-118 lead when the two-time MVP returned with 3:23 left. Holiday and Middleton combined for 16 of the Bucks’ 18 points during that stretch.

“They were both being aggressive,” said Antetokounmpo, who scored only one point in the fourth quarter. “They took over the fourth quarter offensively and defensively.”

Crowder sank a 3-pointer to put the Suns back ahead with 3:13 left. Nwora missed a 3-point attempt on the Bucks’ next possession, but Antetokounmpo got the rebound and passed to Nwora, who hit a jumper to put Milwaukee back in front for good with 2:52 remaining.

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Tatum scores 33 to help Celtics push past Hawks 107-98

Jayson Tatum had 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help the Boston Celtics rally in the second half and beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-98 on Tuesday night.

Derrick White and Grant Williams each added 18 points off the bench. Marcus Smart concluded with 16 points and four assists.

Boston has won 10 of its last 12 and three of four since the All-Star break.

The Celtics played the final three quarters without starter Jaylen Brown, who left the game in the first quarter with a right ankle injury. Being able to recover from Brown’s injury taught the team a lot, Smart stated.

“It just shows, that if we continue to come out like this, this is the team that we are. This is the identity that we have. It’s going to be hard for teams,” he said.

Trae Young had 31 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 25 for the Hawks, who have lost two of three.

“They came out aggressive, ready to attack and I thought we got back on our heels,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We just settled for the long ball. We didn’t attack.”

Atlanta led by as many as 17 points in the first half before that cushion evaporated in a 14-0 run by Boston to open the third quarter.

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The Hawks shot selection didn’t help, going 7 of 31 from 3-point range in the game.

“I think we kind of bailed them out and let them off the hook taking some shots and obviously not attacking like we did in the first half,” Young said.

The Celtics seized on it and kept their momentum going, outscoring the Hawks 31-13 in the period to take a 82-78 edge in the fourth.

The surge was keyed by Boston’s defense, which held Young to just nine points after halftime. The increased intensity was a response to a plea by coach Ime Udoka at halftime for his team to be more physical.

“It’s part of us. It’s part of me. It’s something that when we’re being physical, it helps us on the defensive end. But also on the offensive end,” Smart said.

Boston’s lead grew to 102-88 with 3:11 left in the game following back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams. Both baskets were set up by defensive plays by Smart. First, he chased down De’Andre Hunter on a fast break and came up with a block from behind. Then, he stepped in front of an errant pass by Bogdanovic to start another Celtics’ sprint out.

The plays were examples of how they want to play, Smart said.

The Celtics entered the game at full strength for the first time in weeks, but that changed in the first quarter when Brown left with a right ankle sprain after taking an awkward fall during a drive into the lane.

He grabbed at his right leg as he toppled to the ground, but was able to walk to the locker room on his own power. Udoka stated he was able to move around on the ankle in the locker room, but he is day to day.

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Ja Morant breaks own Memphis Grizzlies record with 52 points, dazzles crowd with highlight plays

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant threw down a massive dunk over 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, knocked down a buzzer-beater without touching the ground and then broke his own franchise record for points in a regular-season game just two days after setting it.

Morant scored 52 points on 22-of-30 shooting to help the Grizzlies defeat the San Antonio Spurs 118-105 on Monday night.

The arena was still buzzing from Morant’s fast-break slam late in the second quarter when Steven Adams delivered a length-of-the-court pass to Morant, who caught the ball in midair and nailed a buzzer-beater from the left baseline for a 68-58 halftime lead.

Morant stated that shot was “something I’ll probably never be able to do again.” But he added that if Adams is the quarterback from that type of throw, there’s a bit of wide receiver in Morant’s ability.

“I’m only a red zone guy,” Morant said. “Fade route. Jump ball.”

Morant also hit a 3-pointer from near the logo with the shot clock running down, creating a load of highlights from a memorable night.

“It’s got to be the 50,” Morant said when asked what was most memorable, adding: “I’m thankful for my teammates, my coaches. They believe in me and have all the confidence in the world that I’ll make the right plays.”

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Morant added 13 consecutive points during the fourth quarter to break the game open, following up a career-best 46 points in a win Saturday at Chicago that initially set the franchise record. He hit all four 3-point tries versus the Spurs as Memphis won its second consecutive.

Morant’s performance was the first 50-point game in Grizzlies franchise history.

His previous career-high was 47, set in the first round of the playoffs last season.

“He’s at the rim every night, but the way he put it together tonight, he was just in attack mode from the jump,” Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton said. “He got whatever he wanted, and it looked easy out there. It was just special to be out there and watch that.”

The win pulled the Grizzlies to just two games behind the Golden State Warriors in the loss column for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

The Spurs’ loss left coach Gregg Popovich one game short of tying Don Nelson for the most regular-season victories by an NBA coach.

“He’s a beautiful player,” Popovich said of Morant. “What else can you say about him? It’s not just that he’s athletic. Everybody says, ‘He’s athletic.’ Somebody says, ‘He’s a freak of nature,’ because he’s so fast. … But he makes decisions. He knows what is going on on the court.

“So, you combine that cerebral part of his game with his athleticism and you’ve got a special kid.” The Grizzlies built the lead to 13 early in the fourth, their largest of the game at that point, but the Spurs were within 104-99 near the midway point of the fourth. That’s when Morant scored 13 straight.

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving drops 38 to beat Milwaukee Bucks, can see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving stated he can finally see “light at the end of the tunnel” after playing the best game of his truncated season in Saturday’s surprising 126-123 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Irving scored a season-high 38 points to lead his undermanned team down the stretch versus the defending NBA champions. Afterward, he acknowledged the possibility of New York City ending the vaccination mandate that has kept him off Brooklyn’s Barclays Center floor all season, saying he is looking forward to “turning the page.”

“I’m glad that things are kind of settling down and there’s light at the end of the tunnel here,” Irving said. “Hopefully, I can get back on that home floor playing in the Barclays and now we can finally have that conversation that you’ve been dying to have just about turning the page and moving forward beyond this.

“But like I said, I’m not the only one. I feel for everybody that’s either in my boat or a similar boat or have dealt with some type of trauma from this. And just wishing everybody well-wishes, always.”

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Irving’s comments are his first since New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters earlier in the week that he “can’t wait to get it done” while discussing phasing out vaccination restrictions like other cities across the country.

“I’m following it as much as you guys are,” Irving said. “So just remaining patient and just seeing where things end up in this next week or so, next two weeks, I’m not too sure, but I know as much as you do. And I want to say this — is that I’m very appreciative of all those that are pushing behind the scenes to make our world a better place.

“And with everything calming down with the COVID cases, the most important thing for me was just making sure everyone’s OK. I’ve been on record saying this that it’s not about me, that I don’t want to feel like it’s all on me, but the circumstances this year have not been ideal.”

Irving also stated he appreciated NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s recent comments on ESPN’s Get Up, where Silver defended Irving while noting that the mandate “doesn’t quite make sense to me,” given that unvaccinated players from opposing teams could still play in New York City.

“I know his job is not easy,” Irving said. “Standing in the fire, sometimes, on behalf of our league. So my respect level went to a whole new one for him, and I’m just grateful that he did that, and he really took one for the team. And I’m grateful for that. But like I said, we want to set a great example for the world in what we’re doing, and we try to stand for what’s right and respect everyone else’s decisions and their personal beliefs.”

On top of Irving’s status, what makes the Nets so hopeful with just 21 regular-season games left to play is that star forward Kevin Durant is expected to return this week from a sprained left MCL after missing a month and a half. New addition Ben Simmons also is expected to be available in the near future as he ramps up his conditioning after waiting to be traded from the Philadelphia 76ers, although Nets coach Steve Nash stated Saturday that Simmons was dealing with “a little soreness in his back.”

For Irving, he said the victory in Milwaukee was even more special given that he injured his right ankle in Game 4 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals versus the Bucks, prematurely ending his season.

“It was definitely emotional for me to prepare for this game,” Irving said.

“Just because — I haven’t been back in this building since then. I try my best not to wear my emotions on my face or on my shoulders, but sometimes, they can get the best of me. But it definitely felt like there was a weight lifted just being back here, being healthy, getting a win and knowing that there’s a possibility we could see them down the line again … there was nothing personal about this game, just about the team.”

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Giannis pours in 50 to lead Bucks past Pacers 128-119

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a season-high 50 points, two off his career best, and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the skidding Indiana Pacers 128-119 on Tuesday night.

The Bucks (36-23) swept the four-game season series from the Pacers and have won eight consecutive versus their Central Division foe.

Antetokounmpo, who didn’t play in Milwaukee’s loss to Portland on Monday night because of a sore left ankle, showed no ill effects as he racked up 12 first-quarter points that included a pair of thunderous dunks and a 3-pointer.

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Antetokounmpo set a career high with his seventh 40-point game of the season and scored 50 for the first time since the memorable title-clinching game in the NBA Finals last season, which gave the Bucks their first championship in 50 years.

Milwaukee bounced back after consecutive double-digit losses to hand Indiana (19-40) its seventh consecutive defeat.

Both teams had only 10 players available due to injuries.

Buddy Hield scored a season-high 36 points and Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points and eight assists for Indiana.

The Bucks led 34-27 after the first quarter before the Pacers grabbed a short-lived lead midway through the second. A pair of 3-pointers by reserve guard Lindell Wigginton sparked a 12-2 surge that grew the lead to double digits.

Milwaukee led 69-63 at halftime, paced by Antetokounmpo’s 18 points. Milwaukee built a pair of nine-point leads in the third but couldn’t shake the Pacers. When Indiana got close again in the fourth, Antetokounmpo swished a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws after a clear-path foul and Milwaukee eventually increased its lead to 14 before holding off the Pacers down the stretch.

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LeBron James, thrilled to be ‘able to play basketball,’ steers Los Angeles Lakers to victory in return

LeBron James picked things back up right where he left them, continuing his offensive surge with 29 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 122-115 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday following a five-game absence with swelling in his left knee.

“After the first quarter, the knee loosened up a lot more,” James said after accompanying the points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists to notch his 103rd career triple-double. “My mind loosened up a lot more. And I was just able to play basketball. But just excited to be back in the uniform, back on the floor with my guys. Missed them, missed the game. I was happy I was able to make a few plays and help us win a ballgame.”

Los Angeles went 1-4 without him and his return initially didn’t seem to do much to impact that trend as the Knicks led 42-29 after the first quarter. But James, who stated he “didn’t feel that great” during his pregame warmup as he attempted to play a game for the first time in a week and a half, got it going and so did his team, coming back from as many as 21 points, accounting for the franchise’s biggest comeback since December 2015.

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“It’s a hell of a return,” said Anthony Davis who put up 28 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. “He’s doing LeBron-type things. Expected nothing less from him. Efficient from the field. S—, he did what he’s supposed to do. He helped us, for sure. So, I missed him. He’s a big part of our team with his voice, his leadership, play-making ability. And he came back and showed it.”

James extended his streak of scoring 25-plus points to 19 games, the second longest streak of that nature of his 19-year career.

He played 39 minutes and 55 seconds on Saturday, which Lakers coach Frank Vogel admitted was more than he wanted to play the 37-year old in his first game back.

“He’s incredible,” Vogel said. “I guess the time off served him well. We didn’t want to play him 39 minutes and obviously the overtime impacted that, but just played a great basketball game. His defensive competitive spirit and IQ is everything to us and the way he scores the basketball in all ways and the way he sets up teammates it’s just, it’s rare and he was special tonight. Just a great performance.”

While James was out, one of his professional athlete peers, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retired after 22 seasons in the NFL.

“I personally was just so in shock when I saw it … as a guy who’s kind of been my motivation factor over the last few years, seeing what he’s able to do at his age and always kind of being a leader of a team and even at his age people still gravitate towards him and gravitate towards his energy and how he prepares and things of that nature,” James said. “So, a small piece of me definitely left when Brady decided to retire, that’s for sure.”

James has one more season on his deal with the Lakers, that will take him through 20 seasons in the NBA.

Even at this stage of his career, there’s no disputing his importance to the Lakers. He was a plus-12 in the minutes he appeared on the court, and he played all but one minute and 29 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime to close things out.

“I mean obviously the computer — his ability to process and read offensively, it’s something that’s always missed,” Vogel said. “You miss him on both ends, but I would say in this situation, late game, that’s where you miss him the most.”

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