LeBron James leads Los Angeles to win in duel with Kevin Durant after 5 years

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When Kevin Durant scored within the last minutes, LeBron James answered. These two generational basketball greats placed on a scintillating duel of their first head-to-head matchup in almost 5 years.

Though Durant was higher within the first three quarters, he finally needed to concede he couldn’t do it alone.

James didn’t need to.

Anthony Davis had 30 factors and 13 rebounds, James scored 10 of his 21 factors whereas taking part in your complete fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers blew previous Phoenix within the last minutes for a 100-95 victory over the short-handed Suns on Thursday evening.

James made the tiebreaking layup with 1:11 to play for the Lakers, who rallied from a 12-point deficit coming into the fourth to get their first victory of the brand new season within the dwelling opener of James’ twenty first NBA marketing campaign.

The 35-year-old Durant completed with 39 factors and 11 rebounds whereas transferring into twelfth place on the NBA’s profession scoring listing.

However James, who reigns atop that listing, stepped up with back-to-back layups within the last 90 seconds to grab the win in one other memorable assembly.

“We’ve had so many battles, (and) we don’t have many matchups left,” the 38-year-old James mentioned. “Undecided what number of we’ve got left, so that you don’t ever wish to take it with no consideration once you’re on the market with such an excellent participant, top-of-the-line to ever play this recreation. It’s all the time a deal with. It’s enjoyable.”

Durant almost carried the Suns to an inconceivable victory with no assist from injured Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, however James was ever-so-slightly extra clutch whereas additionally including 9 assists and eight rebounds.

“There have been a couple of moments the place you simply recognize what the followers are watching,” mentioned Phoenix coach Frank Vogel, who has coached each superstars.

“Two of the sport’s greats simply going face to face. Some collisions on the market. The extent of competitors for Sport 2 of the NBA season was super-high. Felt like a playoff recreation on the market. A boxing match. A slugfest. … To see these two guys on the market combating for it was fairly particular.”

Durant and James have been associates since Durant’s senior yr of highschool 17 years in the past, however they improbably hadn’t confronted one another on an NBA courtroom since Christmas 2018. Accidents, load administration and well being and security protocols prevented them from taking part in within the earlier 13 conferences between James’ Lakers and Durant’s Warriors, Nets and Suns.

“Somebody you simply examine your self to,” Durant mentioned. “For those who may accomplish and obtain a number of the stuff that he’s performed, you’re doing fairly strong for your self. It’s only a baseline for your self as a participant to see how nice you might be.”

Whereas James was good, he wasn’t completely answerable for how the Suns flailed down the stretch with out Booker or Beal to take the main target off Durant. Phoenix led 84-72 coming into the fourth, however missed 13 of its subsequent 14 pictures and dedicated 10 turnovers within the subsequent 10 minutes.

Durant nonetheless tied it at 91 with 1:28 to play by scoring on two straight possessions. Along with his last bucket, he handed Hakeem Olajuwon for twelfth place on the scoring listing.

However James replied with two baskets sandwiching a missed 3-pointer by Durant. Austin Reaves and Davis hit free throws within the last seconds to ice it for LA.

James is coming into his third NBA decade with the Lakers decided to restrict his minutes for well being optimization, but Los Angeles struggled mightily every time James was off the courtroom within the first half.

James and coach Darvin Ham determined to throw out the plan for one evening as a result of the Lakers had all of their timeouts to maximise the freshness of James, who mentioned he felt nice after taking part in solely 23 minutes within the first three quarters.

“It was robust,” Durant mentioned. “He was just about teaching the workforce on how one can guard sure actions. That’s what he’s been doing his entire profession. … It’s all the time a battle taking part in towards high-IQ gamers like that.”

Eric Gordon added 15 factors in Suns coach Vogel’s first journey again to face the Lakers, who fired him 18 months in the past after three seasons and one NBA title.

Booker sat out with left foot soreness after tweaking his foot late in his 28-point efficiency towards Golden State on Tuesday. Beal nonetheless hasn’t made his Suns debut as a result of decrease again tightness.



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