LeBron James carried the Los Angeles Lakers to a terrific 106-101 win over the Utah Jazz on a bittersweet Wednesday night.
L.A. battled Utah with determination from the start and kept the game close early on, in big part thanks to a strong effort from Anthony Davis. However, Davis suffered a freak ankle sprain before halftime and left the game, seemingly struggling to put any weight on the injured leg.
The Jazz built a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but James took over in the fourth, scoring 15 in that period alone to secure a win for the Lakers in the last game before the All-Star break. The four-time NBA champion redeemed himself after a rough finish in the recent loss to the Golden State Warriors.
“On Saturday, obviously we weren’t able to close that game out, but I loved our effort,” James said. “I loved our energy and I loved our spirit and how connected we were. I felt the same way tonight. Obviously, it took the sails out of us for quite a while when AD went out, especially with the game he was having up until that point.
“It took us a minute to kind of recalibrate and get us some bounce back after that, but we closed the third quarter out in good fashion and was able to turn around in the fourth. Glad we were able to close the game out.”
The Lakers’ pace played a major role in their win. L.A. scored 16 points in transition, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. James credited the Purple and Gold’s defense with providing an opportunity for the offense to deal damage in transition.
“Well, it starts with getting stops,” the 37-year-old said. “It allows us to play with good pace, but even when teams score, we’ve been doing a good job of just getting the ball in, getting up the floor, and then seeing what we can do after that. Just get it up the floor, get some reads, take advantage of it, then if not, at least we’re not working against the shot clock.
“We’re still giving ourselves 14, 15, 16 seconds to go get set and things of that nature, so it definitely helps out a lot.”
James says 2021-22 season has been unique
Davis will spend a longer spell on the sidelines for the second time this season, missing over a month out with an MCL sprain earlier in 2021-22. In addition, James has already missed 17 games with various injuries himself.
Asked if he has ever been through a season like this, the Lakers All-Star said: “No. It’s just day-to-day.”
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