Basketball / NBA

Lakers continue strong start to season


For a player who wasn’t even part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ plans this offseason, Dwight Howard is providing a powerful impact alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Davis had 25 points and 11 rebounds, james added 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds and Los Angeles held off the San Antonio Spurs 103-96 on Sunday night.

Howard had 14 points and 13 rebounds in a throw-back performance to help the Lakers improve to 5-1. He was 7-for-7 from the field.

“Just effort and energy,” Howard said. “(James and Davis) are going to take most of the scoring bulk, so my job is just to make sure I clean up all the mistakes. On the defensive end, be a force, make guys take tough shots and be aggressive. I enjoy it.”

Dejounte Murray had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, Rudy Gay added 16 points off the bench, and DeMar DeRozan had 14. They lost for the second time in three games to drop to 4-2.

James also had a triple-double Friday night in an overtime victory in Dallas. The Spurs rallied in the fourth just as the Mavericks did in forcing overtime, but this time Howard put a stop to rally in regulation.

Howard missed all but nine games last season with the Washington Wizards after suffering a knee injury. The 15-year veteran remained an unsigned free agent until August when the Lakers took a chance after DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season with a knee injury.

The signing has been huge for Los Angeles, which has the best record in the Western Conference.

“Any time he’s on the floor, he always seems to do something huge for us,” Davis said.

The Lakers missed their first three shots and had two turnovers but the Spurs only managed a 5-0 lead. The teams combined to commit 13 turnovers in the first quarter in a sloppy start to a battle between the early leaders in the Western Conference standings.

The Spurs were 4 for 16 on 3-pointers in the first half and finished 6 for 25 on 3s.

“Defense, that’s our staple,” James said. “We’ve been talking about it and we believe it. No matter how it’s going for us offensively. If we’re struggling to shoot the ball, if we turn the ball over, we have to still continue to get stops and we did that tonight in a very hostile environment. An environment that’s very tough to win in, I know from experience. It’s a very good win for us early in the second.”

In Other Games

Clippers 105, Jazz 94

Mavericks 131, Cavaliers 111

Heat 129, Rockets 100

Kings 113, Knicks 92

Pacers 108, Bulls 95