Closing time is winning time for James in OT victory

LOS ANGELES • Lakers superstar LeBron James returned from the first suspension of his National Basketball Association (NBA) career to score 39 points on Wednesday and lead the Lakers to a 124-116 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Russell Westbrook added 20 points for Los Angeles, who trailed by 12 in the third quarter but rallied despite the absence of fellow All-Star Anthony Davis, who missed the game with flu-like symptoms.

Indiana, led by 28 points from Malcolm Brogdon, were in control for most of the night, but the Lakers took their first lead of the game at 101-100 on Malik Monk's three-pointer with 4min 30sec left to play.

Chris Duarte drained an off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer, forcing overtime for the Pacers.

However, a fired-up James scored eight of the Lakers' 12 points in the extra session, draining a pair of three-pointers for the win in his first game back since serving a one-game ban as his team fell to the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

"Just taking what the defence gave me, just trying to get into a rhythm," he said of his late burst.

"I understand that it's closing time, it's winning time, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime.

"We're going to continue to work on our habits, continue to play Laker basketball and if we do that close to 48 minutes, we put ourselves in position to win."

The victory saw the Lakers finish their five-game road trip 2-3, improving to 10-10 overall.

In Boston, Kevin Durant's 21-point performance saw him move him past Allen Iverson (24,368) into 25th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Durant finished the night with 24,388 points.

Teammate Patty Mills paced the Brooklyn Nets with 23 points as they routed the Celtics 123-104.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2021, with the headline 'Closing time is winning time for James in OT victory'. Subscribe