Ohm YoungmisukESPN Staff Writer4 Minute Read
LeBron James, despite a shin injury, overcame Kevin Durant to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 122-119 in-season tournament victory over the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center in an epic duel. James had 32 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists while Durant finished with 38 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.
Despite the painful injury suffered in the first quarter from Durant’s knee, James found a way to lead his team to victory, even shaking off the discomfort to secure the win. The Lakers were in desperate need of the victory, snapping a three-game losing streak on a four-game road trip, and they made a lineup change to refresh the team, ultimately securing the win.
Coach Darvin Ham’s decision to change the lineup paid off as the Lakers got a much-needed win thanks to the contributions of players like Cam Reddish and Austin Reaves. Despite the changes, Reaves responded well, making 6 of 11 shots and finishing with 15 points and seven assists, showing resilience and commitment to the team’s success.
Ultimately, the Lakers’ ability to make 12 of 27 3-point shots and capitalize on second-chance opportunities allowed them to secure the win. “I think it’s the first time that we finally got over the hump as far as this road trip,” James said. “We finally were able to make one of those momentum shots and once that momentum shot opened, I felt like the floodgates started [early in the fourth] and then guys really started knocking them down.”
At the end of the night, James couldn’t resist a little jab at rival Michigan and football coach Jim Harbaugh when asked about Phoenix’s defense. His humor and competitive spirit added a unique touch to the Lakers’ victory and his personal triumph over the injury.
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