James provides guiding light

LeBron James getting fouled by Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges. But the Suns could not prevent the LA Lakers star from recording a triple-double.
LeBron James getting fouled by Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges. But the Suns could not prevent the LA Lakers star from recording a triple-double.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Lakers built a huge early lead against the Phoenix Suns only to see it shrink to single digits.

They still won their third National Basketball Association (NBA) game in a row, but it was a lesson learnt.

LeBron James notched his eighth triple-double of the season, Anthony Davis had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the Western Conference leaders (27-7) opened the new year with a 117-107 home victory on Wednesday night.

"We have to do a better job of holding big leads. I'm asking our guys to dominate everybody they play," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

Davis agreed, adding: "We can't allow ourselves to fall into a trap like that. You got to learn how to handle success within games."

James finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a game that appeared well in hand by the end of a dominant first quarter in which the Lakers led 43-17.

The Suns rallied in the fourth, getting within seven points after trailing by 36 earlier in the game. That forced the Lakers' starters back in, and James steadied them with eight points to close out the win.

"You always got to be engaged until the clock hits zero," James said.

The Lakers shot 70 per cent in a ferocious opening quarter when they made their first 11 shots. They missed just eight attempts, putting together a 25-4 run in which the Suns were limited to only free throws.

Devin Booker scored 32 points and Kelly Oubre Jr added 26 for the Suns (13-21).

"We turned it up a notch in the second half and came out swinging," Booker said. "We did it with defence and a will to play and a competitive spirit. We know we can do it. We'll figure it out."

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'James provides guiding light'. Print Edition | Subscribe