LeBron James hits go-ahead basket as Lakers edge Clippers in NBA restart

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James makes a shot against the Los Angeles Clippers during their NBA game on Thursday. (AP)
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Updated 01 August 2020

LeBron James hits go-ahead basket as Lakers edge Clippers in NBA restart

  • With the win over the Clippers, the Lakers moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers showed some rust.

They knocked it off with time to spare.

Anthony Davis scored 34 points, James had the go-ahead basket with 12.8 seconds left and the Lakers moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs by topping the Los Angeles Clippers 103-101 on Thursday night in the second game of the NBA’s reopening doubleheader.

James had 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help the Lakers move 6 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers in the West with seven games remaining. Kyle Kuzma added 16 points.

Paul George had 30 points and Kawhi Leonard scored 28 for the Clippers, who had an 11-point lead midway through the third in a game with deep ebbs and flows.

 

Jazz 106, Pelicans 104

Rudy Gobert sank two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to cap a 14-point, 12-rebound and three-block performance, giving Utah the victory in the first game of the NBA’s restart.

New Orleans, which led for most of the game and by as many as 16 points, nearly pulled out the victory as time expired when Brandon Ingram’s 3-point attempt rimmed out in a bitter end to his 23-point night.

Zion Williamson, who missed nearly two weeks of practice after leaving the team for a family medical matter on July 16, was deemed fit to start, although his playing time was limited. He scored 13 points in just more than 15 minutes, highlighted by a couple alley-oop dunks, one on a nearly half-court lob from Lonzo Ball. 

But Williamson checked out for good with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter and had to watch the tense finish from the sideline.

Jordan Clarkson scored 23 points for Utah and helped lead a second-half comeback, while Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley each added 20.


NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

Updated 08 August 2020

NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

  • Orlando and Washington are last two teams contending for one spot in the East
  • The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: The NBA playoff picture is getting a little clearer.
Brooklyn secured one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference on Friday, defeating Sacramento 119-106. That leaves Orlando and Washington as the last two teams contending for one spot in the East, with the Magic needing only one more win or one Wizards loss to clinch.
Orlando and Washington were both playing later Friday.
For the Nets, the clinching comes as something to savor in a topsy-turvy season.
Kevin Durant couldn’t play at all because of his recovery from Achilles surgery — yet still got a $1 million contract bonus because Brooklyn made the postseason. Kyrie Irving missed much of the year because of injury, the Nets had several regulars opt out of participating in the restart, changed coaches in March and have used 24 players so far this season.
“It’s great to punch our own ticket into the playoffs,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I joked with the guys: I like my laundry being done, but nothing like doing your own laundry.”
The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close, with teams vying to grab the No. 8 spot and play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. If the eighth- and ninth-place teams are within four games of one another when the seeding game schedule ends next week, there will be a two-game series to determine who gets the last playoff spot.
Should that series take place, the ninth-place team would have to go 2-0 in a best-of-two series to advance.
Memphis remained alone in eighth, after the Grizzlies snapped a four-game bubble losing streak by beating Oklahoma City on Friday 121-92. The Grizzlies are one game ahead of Portland in the West standings.
“We channeled what we’ve done all season long,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We played Grizzlies basketball. Grizzlies basketball equals Grizzlies wins, more often than not. We hadn’t done that in the first four games.”
San Antonio leaped idle Phoenix into 10th in the West by beating Utah 119-111, with the Spurs improving to 3-2 in the bubble. The Spurs (30-38) are one game behind Portland in the standings.
“At the end of the day, we can’t control what they’re doing,” Spurs center Jakob Poeltl said. “We can only control what we’re doing. We’re going to take every game as it comes. We’re going to try to win every game.”
Phoenix, Sacramento and New Orleans remain in the mix for a play-in series spot. The Suns, who are 4-0 at Disney, play Miami on Saturday.