Los Angeles: LeBron James delivered his second straight triple double as the Los Angeles Lakers won their fifth game in a row for the first time in over a year with a 103-96 victory against the San Antonio Spurs.
James finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for the Lakers, who have missed the playoffs six seasons in a row and went the entire 2018-19 season without winning five consecutive games. “I’m playing injury free. I’m not injured. My quick twitch is back. My speed is back, my strength is back,” James said.
The Spurs kept it close in the fourth thanks to Dejounte Murray’s 16 consecutive San Antonio points. He made a lay-up with just over four minutes to play to tie the contest 90-90. Los Angeles then went on a 9-2 to hold off the Spurs down the stretch and get the victory.
“It was about us and how we could execute on the offensive end which we did,” James said. “We held a great offensive team to 40 percent shooting and under 100 points.”
Anthony Davis finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who are trying to rebuild their team around James, who also had a triple double two nights earlier against Dallas.
James said being healthy makes all the difference in the world.
“Playing with a torn groin last year — even when I came back it was still partially torn — it was difficult to be able to move and shift like I’m capable of doing that defensively,” James said. “For me I just take the challenge. I love being challenged.
“I put a lot of hard work into my off-season by getting my quick twitch, getting my bounce back, getting may speed back, my reaction time back. My mind has always been there.”
Avery Bradley added 16 points while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dwight Howard had 14 points each. Howard also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 5-1 on the season.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was especially pleased with the play of journeyman reserve player Howard, who is with his fifth team in the last five seasons.
The former first overall draft pick by Orlando in 2004 is past his prime as a starter in the league and appears to be more comfortable coming off the bench. “He’s bought into his role on this team… he is dominating on the defensive end,” Vogel said of the 33-year-old Howard.
Elsewhere, Luka Doncic also recorded his second consecutive triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 131-111.
Doncic, of Slovenia, finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists for the Mavericks, who trailed 73-69 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter before dominating the rest of the game. The 20-year old Doncic is the youngest player in NBA history to have back to back 25-point triple doubles. It is the 11th triple double of his burgeoning career. — AFP