INDIANAPOLIS – LeBron James missed his chance to shine at Madison Square Garden this season. Thus, he recovered his teammates on his return Wednesday night in Indiana.
After receiving the first suspension of his career due to a brawl in Detroit on Sunday, James scored a grueling 3 decisive points in overtime and finished with 39 points to help the Los Angles Lakers beat Indiana, 124-116. .
“I was excited to be in the lineup,” he said. “I didn’t play last night on the second night of a back to back, I knew I could kind of give our guys a boost of energy if I didn’t play last night.”
James was out on Tuesday night in a loss to New York after hitting Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face and spilling blood on Sunday. James said he hadn’t spoken with Stewart.
“I know he wanted to get that ‘W’,” said coach Frank Vogel. “He really wanted to play in that Knicks game, he looks forward to that every year. So bouncing back tonight, quarterback on defense and carrying offense like he did, is just a performance for ages. “
James was 13th of 29 on the field and had six assists and five rebounds. And with all-star center Anthony Davis out due to a flu-like defense, James was also tasked with calling defensive assignments in a game the Lakers never led until Malik Monk’s 3 points with 4. : 35 to play in regulation time.
But on the home stretch, James was his dominant self as the Lakers won for the second time in six games.
“James is a great player, he got hot,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “We had to do some things to limit his hits. We didn’t and we paid the price.”
He bailed out the Lakers from a game that had all the hallmarks of a pre-vacation competition at the end of a long trip – inconsistent play, neglect and sometimes bad basketball.
Still, James & Co. finally found a way to clean it up and deliver the final blow.
He helped force overtime by scoring seven straight points to give the Lakers a 110-104 lead with 76 seconds left in regulation.
Russell Westbrook made two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to bring the score to 112-109 and only an unbalanced 3 by Chris Duarte and stray 3 by James as the buzzer kept the Lakers from gaining in regulation.
James did not give the Pacers a second chance in overtime.
His first 3 reached 117-114 with 2:51 to go. A minute later he made the second to extend the margin to six and added a midrange jumper before Wayne Ellington closed him. Indiana only managed one basket in the final three minutes.
Lakers: Russell Westbrook had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Monk had 17 points. Carmelo Anthony and Ellington each added 14.… DeAndre Jordan had 11 rebounds and Dwight Howard had nine. … Rajon Rondo and Kent Bazemore also did not play and were not on the pre-match injury report.
Pacers: Brogdon added seven rebounds. … Domantas Sabonis had 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Myles Turner had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Just Holiday scored 16 … Indiana was 13 of 46 on 3s … After committing just two turnovers in the first half, the Pacers started the second half with three in a row. They ended up with 11.
Pacers forward TJ Warren continues to recover from a stress fracture in his left foot and he took another big step forward on Wednesday. Less than three weeks after giving up the walking boot, Warren took a few shots on goal in the pre-game shootout, coach Rick Carlisle told reporters ahead of the game.
“He doesn’t move a lot but he participates a bit, which is heartwarming for us and I think for him too,” said Carlisle. “We’ll see, I guess, Tuesday where he’s at and then maybe we’ll get a schedule.”
Lakers: Host Sacramento Friday night.
Pacers: Host Toronto on Friday night.