LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers confirmed some rust.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball towards Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers at The Area at ESPN Extensive World Of Sports activities Advanced July 30 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photograph by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Photographs)

They knocked it off with time to spare.

Anthony Davis scored 34 factors, James had the go-ahead basket with 12.Eight seconds left and the Lakers moved nearer to clinching the No. 1 seed within the Western Convention playoffs by topping the Los Angeles Clippers 103-101 on Thursday evening within the second sport of the NBA’s re-opening doubleheader.

James had 16 factors, 11 rebounds and 7 assists to assist the Lakers transfer 6 half of video games forward of the Clippers within the West with seven video games remaining. Kyle Kuzma added 16 factors.

“It felt like an actual sport to me, two groups battling. … Can’t complain for the primary sport,” Davis mentioned.

Paul George had 30 factors and Kawhi Leonard scored 28 for the Clippers, who had an 11-point lead halfway by way of the third in a sport with deep ebbs and flows. The Clippers received that lead after a 26-5 run; the Lakers instantly rebutted with a 36-14 run to reclaim management.

And it nonetheless got here right down to the ultimate moments.

George’s 3-pointer with 1:50 left minimize the Lakers’ result in 99-98. James muscled his approach to a layup on the following possession, after which George hit one other Three to tie the sport at 101 with 29 seconds remaining.

James adopted his personal miss down the lane for the go-ahead basket, then was good on the final defensive possession — forcing the ball out of Leonard’s palms and overlaying George as his 3-point strive on the buzzer misfired.

“We will’t have self-inflicted wounds and I believed we had too lots of them,” mentioned Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose staff — which stays short-handed with Lou Williams nonetheless in quarantine and Montrezl Harrell tending to a household matter — gave up 29 factors off turnovers.

Thursday marked the NBA’s first sport motion in 141 days, the league getting again to work after the coronavirus pandemic pressured a shutdown.

Through the pandemic, a renewed dialogue about racial injustice occurred on this nation — the dialog that surrounds this NBA restart. The courts have “Black Lives Matter” on them, and the Lakers and Clippers knelt collectively through the nationwide anthem in a silent protest to demand equality. New Orleans and Utah did the identical within the evening’s opener.

James — who’s going to win his first help title — had 5 within the first quarter to get teammates going, after which his first basket of the restart got here on a dunk early within the second quarter to place the Lakers up 37-24.

However for a stretch that mainly spanned a full quarter, spanning the second and third durations, the Lakers couldn’t make a shot. They went 1 for 10 to finish the half, then zero for 9 to begin the third and the Clippers took benefit.

They turned a 50-40 deficit right into a 66-55 edge within the third. After which it was the Lakers’ flip to rally, slicing the Clippers’ result in 77-76 going into the fourth.

“It was a great sport,” Leonard mentioned. “Nonetheless had enjoyable on the market. It was nice to be again on the ground.”

TIP-INS

Clippers: The Clippers had received 11 of their final 12 video games within the state of Florida. In each of these losses, Dion Waiters performed for the profitable aspect — the primary being a sport in Miami. … Leonard was charged with two offensive fouls within the first quarter, the primary time in his profession that occurred.

Lakers: The Lakers received to the 50-win mark for the 33rd time in franchise historical past, and that is the 12th time that James has helped a staff get to that many wins in his 17 seasons. … James’ 3-pointer with 8:30 left prolonged his NBA document of consecutive regular-season video games with not less than 10 factors to 989.

CELEB ROW

NBA gamers are permitted to attend video games within the bubble as followers — with their seats 6 ft aside to fulfill social distancing guidelines. Amongst those that attended: Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.

UP NEXT

Clippers: New Orleans on Saturday.

Lakers: Toronto on Saturday.