NBA: LeBron James returns, Lakers beat Spurs | Inquirer Sports
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NBA: LeBron James returns, Lakers beat Spurs

/ 01:51 PM November 26, 2022
LeBron James Lakers NBA

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a basket against the San Antonio Spurs in the second half at AT&T Center on November 25, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. Ronald Cortes/Getty Images/AFP

LeBron James returned from a five-game injury absence to score 21 points on Friday as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Spurs 105-94 in San Antonio for their first road win of the NBA season.

James pulled down eight rebounds and handed out five assists with three steals and a blocked shot in 33 minutes on the floor, with Lakers coach Darvin Ham saying the four-time NBA champion looked “phenomenal” after missing five games with a groin injury.

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The Boston Celtics, led by 30 points from Jayson Tatum, downed the red-hot Sacramento Kings 122-104 to improve their league-leading record to 15-4.

Meanwhile, on a busy night in the NBA after a day off for the US Thanksgiving holiday, the Milwaukee Bucks rallied for a 117-102 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a battle for second place in the Eastern Conference.

In San Antonio, all eyes were on James, who is on pace — if he stays healthy — to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer as early as February.

He scored the first basket of the contest as the Lakers quickly powered to a double-digit lead.

They led 59-41 at halftime, but the young Spurs team had sliced the deficit to 81-78 by early in the fourth.

The Lakers responded, with James pushing the ball up the court on the way to a dunk that took the lead back to 10 points.

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“I felt pretty good,” James said. “I’ve been non-stop around the clock (getting treatment) for the last couple of weeks to get back on the floor.”

Anthony Davis scored 11 of his 25 points in the final period, finishing with a double-double that also included 15 rebounds.

“It was a great first half for us,” said Davis, who had stepped up to help the Lakers go 3-2 in James’s absence. “We came out in the fourth quarter and turned it back up.”

Ham was delighted with what he saw from his superstar, James’s nine turnovers notwithstanding.

“He was moving great,” Ham said. “Obviously there’s going to be some rust there … but I thought he looked great.”

James said he expected to be back on the floor when the Spurs hosted the Lakers again Saturday — and he expects to see improvement.

“My rhythm, my timing was a little off on a few of my passes,” he said. “But I’ll be a lot better as the games go on.”

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