NBA gains momentum

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Damian Lillard (left) of the Portland Trail Blazers goes for the basket against the challenge of Wendell Carter Jr. of the Chicago Bulls in the third quarter at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Photo/AFP

Los Angeles, Wednesday

LeBron James and Anthony Davis picked up the pace when the Los Angeles Lakers needed them most, coming up big in the waning minutes of a 94-92 NBA victory over the Grizzlies in Memphis on Tuesday.

James and Davis scored 26 points apiece as the reigning NBA champions escaped with a victory that kept them unbeaten in four road games this season and improved their record to 6-2 overall.

James, who added 11 rebounds and seven assists, scored 21 of his points in the second half to make sure Los Angeles came out on the right side of the ledger on a night when both teams struggled shooting.

The Lakers trailed 79-77 with 5:18 remaining. Davis drained a three-pointer to put Los Angeles ahead, and he and James took over.

A steal by Davis led to a James jumper, and a block by Davis kept the momentum rolling as they combined for 15 straight Lakers points.

Each had a turnover in the closing span, but Kyle Kuzma’s layup, off a feed from James, pushed a three-point lead to five with 3.5 seconds left and Devin Brooks’ three-pointer for the Grizzlies wasn’t enough.

“We were able to close the game out, get some timely stops and some timely buckets,” James said.

In Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving carried the load for the Nets in the absences of Kevin Durant, scoring 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting in a 130-96 romp over the Utah Jazz.

Irving made his first nine shots as the Nets raced to a 21-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

His performance, which also included six rebounds, five assists and three steals, was just what the Nets needed with Spencer Dinwiddie sidelined by a knee ligament injury and Durant ruled out this week by coronavirus safety protocols after contact with someone who tested positive.

Nets head coach Steve Nash shook up his starting line-up, and center Jarrett Allen, making his first start of the season, outplayed Jazz big man Rudy Gobert as he amassed 19 points, 18 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

Caris LeVert, who added 24 points off the bench for the Nets, said Irving’s performance was no surprise to his teammates. “We kind of expect that from him,” he said. -AFP

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