Basketball / NBA

LeBron returns from 17-game injury absence, leads Lakers to OT triumph over Clippers

AP

LeBron James looked like his old self, even if he wasn’t feeling like it after his first game since Christmas.

James had 24 points and 14 rebounds in his return from a 17-game injury absence, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Clippers 123-120 in overtime Thursday night after blowing a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead.

“Definitely ecstatic about being back out there with my guys,” he said, “but being out five weeks, I’m feeling it right now. I wish I could click my shoes together right now and be home in my bed.”

James came up one assist shy of a triple-double. He made 5 of 7 free throws, had four turnovers and no fouls in 40 minutes of his first game since Dec. 25 at Golden State, when he strained his left groin.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel tomorrow,” he said. “That’s going to be the telltale sign of all the rehabbing and the working and everything I’ve been putting in these last five weeks.”

The Lakers were 6-11 during the longest absence of his 16-year career.

“He looked good,” said Tobias Harris, who guarded James much of the game.

Tied 118-118, James scored the go-ahead basket in overtime. Lance Stephenson drove for a flailing layup, hitting Boban Marjanovic in the nose with his left elbow while getting fouled. After a review by the officials, no additional penalty was called.

The review was for “a possible or potential hostile act,” crew chief John Goble told a pool reporter after the game.

Goble said the on-court ruling was a defensive foul and there was no additional contact.

Stephenson completed the three-point play that kept the Lakers ahead 123-118.

“I don’t know how you can come to that call,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You make contact with the head, it’s a flagrant. It was too obvious. It was an elbow to the face. Why put in those rules if you’re not going to call it?”

Marjanovic’s teammate Lou Williams added, “Boban gets penalized so much for being big. If you elbow a guy away from the basket, it should be an offensive foul.”

Avery Bradley and Williams missed on the same possession, and Williams missed a free throw when Stephenson got called for a technical in a tussle with Bradley. The Clippers were 14 of 26 from the foul line.

Williams couldn’t get a potential tying 3-pointer off in the right corner before the final buzzer.

Stephenson added 20 points and matched a career high with five 3-pointers for the Lakers. Brandon Ingram added 19 points, and Rajon Rondo had 14 points and 13 rebounds. They enjoyed strong support from the Staples Center crowd as the visiting team.

Williams led the Clippers with 24 points. Patrick Beverley added 17.

76ers 113, Warriors 104

In Oakland, Joel Embiid had 26 points and 20 rebounds to spoil DeMarcus Cousins’ home debut with the Warriors, and Philadelphia snapped Golden State’s NBA-best 11-game winning streak.

The Sixers hadn’t won a game in the series in nearly six years. Ben Simmons also scored 26 points and JJ Redick added 15 points for Philadelphia, which grabbed 16 offensive rebounds to give it 10 or more in five straight games and 11 of 15.

The Warriors’ Stephen Curry scored 41 points with 10 3-pointers to go with six assists, and Cousins contributed seven points, six rebounds and six assists.

Bucks 105, Raptors 92

In Toronto, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 points, Khris Middleton had 18 and Milwaukee ended the Raptors’ season-best home winning streak at 10 games.

D.J. Wilson scored a career-high 16 points, Eric Bledsoe had 14 and the Bucks (37-13) wrapped up the season series with their third victory in four meetings with Toronto. NBA-leading Milwaukee has a 1 1/2-game lead over the Raptors (37-16) in the Eastern Conference.

The victory ensures Milwaukee will have the best winning percentage in the East through Feb. 3, meaning Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer will represent the conference at next month’s NBA All-Star Game.

Pascal Siakam scored 28 points and Kawhi Leonard had 16 for the Raptors.

In Other Games

Pistons 93, Mavericks 89

Spurs 117, Nets 114

Magic 107, Pacers 100