LeBron James rallies Lakers to overtime win over Pacers after suspension
One of the Lakers’ stars returned just as another one of the stars was out, still leaving them incomplete with LeBron James back from his one-game suspension but playing without Anthony Davis, who was out with a fever.
But having James back seems to make the Lakers whole.
And when James delivers a monumental performance, when he’s a force that can’t be stopped, when he wills his team to win, the Lakers are better for it when the 36-year-old master is on the court with them.
His 39 points in 43 minutes 28 seconds was enthralling, lifting the Lakers to a 124-116 overtime win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night to help the Lakers return home 2-3 on a five-game trip that had many twists and turns.
“Obviously I love the game of basketball and having the game taken away from you, it’s frustration and eager to get back on the floor and happy to be back in the lineup with my guys tonight and just tried to make some plays,” James said. “In the fourth quarter and overtime, it’s winning time. Understand that my teammates look at me to make plays. Had the ball a lot in my hands, so I just tried to come home for them.”
Russell Westbrook led another furious Lakers comeback, but they came up short this time against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
James had nine points in the fourth quarter and eight in the overtime, each basket more thrilling than the previous.
He made one three-pointer in the fourth quarter and hopped around the court, his arms extended down low.
He made a three-pointer in the overtime and broke out another celebration by pushing his hands downward while pumping his knees and yelling.
“That’s why he’s the GOAT, man,” Malik Monk, who did his part with 17 points on six-for-11 shooting, said. “Take control of the game, let everybody know he was in no rush. He’ll bring us home, man, and that’s what I seen. Like you said, I’ve been watching him my whole life. He’s like our Jordan in my generation. So, just seeing that and I’m just blessed to be able to be out there with him and just learn from him every day.”
James had not talked since he was ejected from that Detroit game, but he explained what took place, saying it all started at the free-throw line during a box-out situation. James said Stewart’s elbow lifted his arm and he tried to “swim down” on Stewart’s arm.
James’ elbow to Stewart face left the Pistons forward bloodied.
James said, “No,” he hasn’t talked to Stewart since the incident.
“I knew right away I caught some part of his head,” James said. “So, I went over to apologize to him and obviously you guys seen what happened after that. But definitely an accidental… Definitely I’m not that type of player, so I hate to see what escalated after that… I thought it warranted an ejection because of what happened after that… But a suspension, I didn’t think that was it warranted, but the league made that call.”
During the game against the Pacers, James and Russell Westbrook were going back up court when they looked over at two fans and eventually had them ejected from the game with two minutes 29 seconds left in the overtime.
Westbrook claimed not to know what reporters were talking about, but James explained what took place.
“It’s a difference between cheering on your home faithful, booing opponents, things of that nature, or not wanting your opponent to be successful,” James said. “And then there’s moments where it goes outside the line with obscene gestures and words that shouldn’t be tolerated in our game from nobody. I wouldn’t never say it to a fan and a fan shouldn’t never say it to a player.”
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook must be able to share stage with others, writes columnist Dylan Hernández.
Davis was able to play against the Knicks only after his fever broke, allowing him to get to Madison Square Garden.
But earlier in the day Wednesday, before the Lakers departed for Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Davis felt ill again and was unable to join his teammates.
“The fever returned after the game,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, referring to the Knicks game. “He’s been in bed all day with that fever.”
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