NBA: Kings down Lakers despite James' return, Suns overwhelm Jazz to tie Utah for best record

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (right) in action against Sacramento Kings forward-guard Maurice Harkless, on April 30, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(REUTERS) - Terence Davis scored 10 fourth-quarter points on Friday (April 30), and the visiting Sacramento Kings rallied for a 110-106 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, spoiling the return of LeBron James from injury.

The Lakers led by 10 points at the end of the third quarter, but the Kings outscored Los Angeles 32-18 in the fourth.

Los Angeles had a chance to retake the lead late, but James' long three-point attempt bounced hard off the back of the rim with 2.7 seconds left.

Sacramento's Tyrese Haliburton subsequently sank two free throws to seal the outcome.

The Kings earned their first victory against the Lakers at Staples Centre since 2018. Even more impressively, they won the game without front-line players De'Aaron Fox (health and safety protocols) and Harrison Barnes (left abductor tightness).

Haliburton paced the Kings with 23 points and 10 assists. Richaun Holmes added 22 points and nine rebounds, and Davis had 15 points.

The Lakers lost for the fifth time in six games.

Two days after earning their first play-off appearance in 11 years, the Phoenix Suns claimed a share of the best record in the NBA with a 121-100 win over the visiting Utah Jazz.

Devin Booker led the way with 31 points as Phoenix dominated Utah in an outcome that left both teams with 45-18 records. This was the Suns' third win over the Jazz in as many games this season, giving them the tiebreaker if they end up tied going into the play-offs.

The match-up of the two top teams in the NBA went about as well as one would expect, considering the home team were mostly at full strength and the visitors were missing two All-Star guards.

The Jazz did not just miss Donovan Mitchell (ankle) and Mike Conley (hamstring) - they also missed a lot of shots, hitting just 43.8 per cent of their shots. The Suns, meanwhile, shot a blistering 54.5 per cent.

Mikal Bridges scored 18 points, while Chris Paul (12 points, nine assists) and Deandre Ayton (11 points, nine rebounds) each had strong showings in limited action as the Suns won their third game in a row.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Utah with 22 points, but only three of his teammates scored in double figures as the short-handed and slumping Jazz fell for the third time in four games.

Meanwhile, James returned to the floor after the longest absence of his National Basketball Association career, 20 games. But at times, he looked as if he never left.

He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said pre-game that the 36-year-old star would not have a minutes restriction and the team would be responsible with his playing time.

With James out since March 20 due to a right high ankle sprain, the Lakers were 8-12 in his absence.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Andre Drummond totalled 17 points, and Ben McLemore added 12 points off the bench, shooting 4-for-7 from beyond the three-point arc.

Alex Caruso missed his second game in a row for the Lakers with back spasms.

The Lakers (36-27) host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday in the second game of a three-game homestand.

The Kings (26-37) face the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday in the second game of a four-game road trip.

Sacramento, which shook off a 49-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, has alternated losses and wins over their past eight games.

Elsewhere, Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 60 points, including four free throws in the final 12 seconds of overtime, as the Boston Celtics came back from a 32-point, second-quarter deficit to beat the visiting San Antonio Spurs 143-140 in a wild game.

And Dwight Howard scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Philadelphia dominated visiting Atlanta for the second straight game, winning 126-104.

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris each scored 18 points for Philadelphia. The Sixers have won each of their past three games by a combined 97 points. Atlanta lost their third game in a row.

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