To officially begin the 2019 NBA China Games in Shanghai, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers fall short to the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets, 114-111.
Following an impressive preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors, head coach Frank Vogel tried a new starting lineup which featured Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, James, Davis, and Dwight Howard.
As Rondo quickly found James for an easy layup to start the game, Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert were both injured on back-to-back possessions which forced an early timeout.
While Davis set the tone against the Warriors, it was James this time around as he scored the first five points. However, seven quick fouls in three minutes hurt the game’s flow.
James and Davis both scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Lakers took an early 33-29 lead in Shanghai.
With Vogel staggering James and Davis’ minutes, the former continued his hot start as he had 16 points in 14 minutes, but the Lakers were unable to extend their lead.
While James and Davis closed the first half, Dzanan Musa‘s eight points in the quarter gave the Nets a 57-55 lead.
Unlike the first preseason game, James and Davis started the second half. As both teams went back and forth, Rondo and Caldwell-Pope stepped up to help regain the lead.
And at the 4:30 mark of the third quarter, both James and Davis were subbed out and did not play the remainder of the game. They combined for 36 points in about 25 minutes.
Despite their two All-Star players not on the court, JaVale McGee played well in limited minutes (six points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, and three steals in only 18 minutes).
With an 87-84 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the South Bay Lakers played the majority of the minutes. Despite trailing by five points late, Zach Norvell Jr. went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 111 with 28 seconds remaining.
With an opportunity to win and then eventually tie the game, Alex Caruso turned the basketball over and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the potential game-tying shot.