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    LeBron James fuels Lakers’ late rally to beat Suns in home opener
    • October 27, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — Lakers coach Darvin Ham knew there could be pitfalls in his team’s home opener with their opponent, the Phoenix Suns, not having two of their top three players in Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

    Although the Suns would be a different team without two of their stars, Ham knew they couldn’t be underestimated.

    “I mean, they’re still pros,” Ham said. “They have a lot of firepower still over there. This is not going to be a cakewalk by any means. We have to go out and make sure we take care of our business, and that starts with bringing energy and effort.”

    Ham added: “It has to be about maximum effort, maximum effort on both sides of the ball. It’s as simple as that.”

    The Lakers (1-1) heard Ham’s message and did just enough of what was required to pull out the win, beating the Suns, 100-95, Thursday night at Arena. Anthony Davis had 30 points and 13 rebounds, LeBron James scored 10 of his 21 points while playing the entire fourth quarter, and the Lakers blew past their short-handed opponent in the final minutes with a dominant fourth quarter.

    Despite a slow start in which the Lakers allowed 12 second-chance points in the first quarter that led to an early 30-18 deficit, they still had a shot to secure their first victory of the season.

    Trailing 84-72 at the end of the third quarter, the Lakers locked in defensively for the final period. The Suns missed 13 of their next 14 shots and committed 10 turnovers in the next 10 minutes.

    An Austin Reaves steal led to a James layup in transition to give the Lakers an 89-87 lead with 3:43 remaining, the Lakers’ first lead since the middle of the second quarter.

    Kevin Durant, who finished with 39 points and 11 rebounds, hit back-to-back shots to tie the score at 91 with 1:30 remaining.

    But James made sure the Lakers weren’t going to start another season 0-2.

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    He made a layup with 1:11 left for a 93-91 lead. After forcing a Durant miss on a 3-point attempt, James again methodically brought the ball up the floor for a pick-and-roll with Davis, driving into the paint while using his body to shield the ball from Jusuf Nurkic to make another layup for the deciding bucket.

    Davis (who also had three blocked shots, three steals and two assists) sealed the victory with four free throws with the Suns fouling late. James added nine assists and eight rebounds to his point total in 35 minutes. The Lakers outscored the Suns 28-11 in the fourth.

    Booker, who played in the Suns’ season-opening victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, sat because of left foot soreness. Beal has missed the first two games of the season because of lower back tightness.

    The Lakers get a couple of days off from gameplay before traveling to Sacramento for a matchup against the Kings on Sunday night at Golden 1 Center.

    More to come on this story.

    “We gotta keep putting it together one game at a time.” Anthony Davis speaks with @LakersReporter about guarding Kevin Durant and transitioning into the new offense.

    — Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) October 27, 2023

    LeBron James and Kevin Durant dueled off in a #KiaTipOff23 thriller, with the Lakers coming out on top

    LeBron: 21 PTS, 8 REB, 9 AST, 2 BLK, 2 STL
    KD: 39 PTS, 11 REB

    — NBA (@NBA) October 27, 2023


    DLo with the TOUGH bucket in transition!

    — NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 27, 2023

    LeBron KD

    Mutual respect between two of the best from this generation.

    — NBA (@NBA) October 27, 2023

    ​ Orange County Register