LeBron James scored seven consecutive points over a one-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter to help the Los Angeles Lakers record a 122-115 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday in Indianapolis.
James, playing his first game since May 2 and just his third since March 20, finished with 24 points, a team-high eight assists and seven rebounds.
Anthony Davis collected 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Lakers (41-30), who entered play a half-game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the final guaranteed playoff bid in the Western Conference. Los Angeles closes the regular season on Sunday in New Orleans.
The Lakers took care of business in the first half of the weekend back-to-back, leading Indiana (33-38) almost the entire way. But behind Caris LeVert’s 28 points and game-high 12 assists, the Pacers battled back from a deficit of as many as 14 points to pull within a single possession late in the fourth quarter.
LeVert hit a jumper with a little more than three minutes remaining, cutting the deficit to three points. James, who missed his first three 3-point attempts, responded with a successful shot from beyond the arc on a step-back off a ball screen.
That 3-pointer ignited James to seven consecutive points, pushing the Los Angeles lead back to eight points with 1:43 remaining. Indiana could not come within fewer than five points for the rest of the way.
Los Angeles’ Dennis Schroder scored 14 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13, Talen Horton-Tucker had 11 and Andre Drummond finished with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Indiana’s JaKarr Sampson scored 20 points, Doug McDermott had 17 and Kelan Martin added 15. Goga Bitadze made one of his game-high four blocked shots on James during Indiana’s late-game rally, and also posted 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
With star forward Domantas Sabonis sidelined, however, Indiana was out-rebounded by a 45-37 margin on Saturday.
Although the Pacers lost, Charlotte’s defeat at New York on Saturday keeps the teams tied for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
–Field Level Media