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November 15, 2019

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No Davis, no problem for Lakers

No Anthony Davis for the first time this season, no problem for the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James had 23 points and 12 assists in three quarters, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee dominated the middle, and the Lakers rolled past the hobbled Golden State Warriors 120-94 on Wednesday night.

Kuzma scored 22 points starting for Davis and McGee had 18 points and 17 rebounds.

“Our bigs were amazing,” James said. “They controlled the interior both offensively and defensively.”

The Lakers improved to 9-2 despite playing without Davis, who was held out because of a sore right shoulder.

“If one of our stars go down, we have to pick up for him,” McGee said.

The Lakers had 31 assists in the second half of a back-to-back. Their 39 at Phoenix a night earlier was the franchise’s most since April 14, 2009. They notched 31 against defending National Basketball Association champion Toronto.

“We know we’re very good when we’re moving the ball,” said James, adding that assists totaling in the high 20s to 30s “let’s me know we’re definitely paying attention.”

James & Co. didn’t waste any time breaking out at Staples Center. He won the opening tip and McGee scored off his alley-oop pass. James keyed a 12-0 run with six points in the first quarter when the Lakers shot 70 percent and made five 3-pointers. Their 38 points tied a season high for points in a quarter.

Los Angeles extended its lead to 18 points in the second. The Warriors scored 11 in a row to get within seven, but the Lakers quickly restored their lead to double digits at halftime. James’ vicious one-handed dunk riled up the crowd. Their 67 points tied a season high for points in a half.

Former Laker D’Angelo Russell scored 21 points for the Warriors, who lost their fifth in a row and fell to 2-10, worst in the West.

“We are playing hard, but we have defensive lapses and it adds up,” Russell said. “We have to figure it out. We have guys that are capable, but we have to continue to learn.”

Golden State is but a shadow of the franchise that made five straight NBA Finals appearances. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are injured, and Kevin Durant departed in the offseason.

“We’re getting a great effort but we’re not executing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Right now, we are taking our licks and we must learn from our mistakes. Our young guys are learning by getting thrown into the fire.”

Twice the Lakers led by 23 in the third, the second time on a 3-pointer by Dwight Howard. He finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds.

James sat out the final period, but he still assisted, pulling Davis and DeMarcus Cousins out of their seats to join the team during a timeout.

In Houston, Texas, James Harden poured in a game-high 47 points and served as the closer down the stretch of the Rockets’ 102-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

After Kawhi Leonard provided the Clippers an 86-85 lead with a fadeaway jumper in the paint, Harden converted a driving layup and then drilled a 3-pointer as Houston reclaimed a 90-86 advantage. With just over 90 seconds to play, Harden nailed a dagger 3 for a 95-88 lead.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was ejected immediately thereafter. Houston extended its winning streak to five games. Harden shot 7 of 13 on 3-point attempts, grabbed 6 boards and also had 7 assists.

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook added 17 points, despite 6-for-20 shooting, while center Clint Capela posted his third consecutive 20-rebound game, pairing 12 points with 20 boards. Leonard paced the Clippers with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists.

In Boston, Kemba Walker led a balanced Celtics attack with 25 points as Boston defeated Washington 140-133 to extend its winning streak to nine.

Seven Celtics scored in double figures, including a career-high 18 off the bench from rookie Carsen Edwards. It marked the first time the Celtics have scored 140 points since November 25, 1992, when they beat the then-Washington Bullets 150-112.

Bradley Beal led all scorers with 44 points for the Wizards, who have lost six of seven. Isaiah Thomas, making his first start in Boston since the Celtics traded him in 2017, scored 18 points and dished out 7 assists.

Elsewhere in the NBA on Wednesday, it was: Grizzlies 119, Hornets 117; Timberwolves 129, Spurs 114; Raptors 114, Trail Blazers 106; and Magic 112, 76ers 97.


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