Rob Issa, FISM News
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 27-point deficit against the Dallas Mavericks in a showcase of superstars Sunday.
Down 48-21 on the road at Dallas near the midpoint of the second quarter, James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers rallied for the largest comeback win in the NBA this season. James, who has also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, tied the largest comeback victory of his career.
The Lakers hadn’t overcome a deficit this big since coming back from down 30 against the Mavericks on Dec. 6, 2002. NBA teams were 138-0 when leading by at least 27 points this season.
“The guys never got discouraged,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “They had that look of frustration, but it wasn’t a look of defeatedness on their faces. Everybody just wanted to stay encouraged.”
James left the arena walking with a slight limp after injuring his ankle in the third quarter. The NBA’s all-time scoring leader was down for several minutes holding his lower right leg but he stayed in the game.
“It’s been better,” James said afterward. “But I definitely wasn’t going to the locker room and not finish the game. The importance of this game and then the momentum that we had, I felt like we could steal one after being down.”
James finished with 26 points and eight rebounds. Davis had 30 points and 15 boards. Newly acquired Jarred Vanderbilt added 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won three in a row as they continue to battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Luka Doncic led Dallas with 26 points. Kyrie Irving scored 21 and grabbed 11 boards. The two All-Stars have only played together in one win since Irving was acquired in a blockbuster trade with Brooklyn.
“We have to grow up if we want to win a championship,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “What the Lakers just showed us is it’s not the rabbit that wins; it’s the turtle. And they worked the game. And that’s what we have to get better at.”
BUCKS TOP SUNS
In another marquee matchup Sunday, Jrue Holiday scored 33 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their 14th straight victory, 104-101 over the Phoenix Suns in a rematch of the 2021 NBA Finals.
Brook Lopez made a tiebreaking layup with 24.8 seconds left for the Bucks, who edged the Suns without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time NBA MVP was out with a bruised right quadriceps suffered in the first quarter of a 128-99 victory over the Heat on Friday.
The Suns still haven’t played with Kevin Durant, who was acquired in a major trade with Brooklyn. Durant has been sidelined since Jan. 8 with a sprained right medial collateral ligament.
Lopez had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks. Devin Booker led Phoenix with 24 points, Deandre Ayton had 22 and Chris Paul scored 18 for the Suns.
The game featured 14 lead changes and plenty of physical play.
“Both teams obviously have history,” Lopez said. “Those are the fun games, where the refs let it get physical a little bit, you can really go after each other. It was a great atmosphere.”
The Bucks are second in the Eastern Conference, only a half-game behind Boston. The Suns are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth in the West.
Antetokounmpo’s injury isn’t considered serious. He banged his knee against an opponent in Friday’s game.
“It’s enough where he can’t play today, but I think we’re also confident that this is just a fairly common occurrence in our league,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “You hit knees, you knock, sometimes it takes a day or two, and it’s really nothing more than that. The level of conversations have all been kind of along that line.”