The Los Angeles Lakers erased a 27-point deficit to grab a much-needed 111-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, as the Milwaukee Bucks pushed their NBA winning streak to 14 games.
Anthony Davis scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won three straight as they try to claw their way into a playoff position.
LeBron James added 26 points and unheralded Jarred Vanderbilt scored 15 points with 17 rebounds and four steals in an impressive performance that included strong defense on Mavs star Luka Doncic.
The Lakers were in full flight in the third quarter when James went down hard, clutching his right ankle and heel in pain and saying he heard something “pop.”
He stayed in the game, draining a three-pointer to tie it up early in the fourth and making the basket to give them their first lead since early in the first quarter.
Davis grabbed the rebound of a Vanderbilt miss and made a put-back dunk to stretch the lead with two minutes to play and the Lakers held on for the win.
Doncic scored 26 points, but 14 of those came in the first quarter.
Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Mavs, but couldn’t assert himself in the final period.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham called his team’s biggest comeback win of the season “a huge shot in the arm.”
“The way we were able to continue to scratch, claw, fight, compete,” he said. “There were some tough, depressing moments in that first half as they were building their lead. The guys never got discouraged. They had that look of frustration but it wasn’t a look of defeatedness.”
James said he’d monitor his ankle, but he never considered leaving the game with the Lakers on the upswing.
“I thought we could steal one,” he said.
Bucks, Nuggets win
In Milwaukee, Jrue Holiday scored 33 points to help the Bucks shake off the absence of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in a 104-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
The Sunday matinee was minus some star power as Antetokounmpo sat out with a quadriceps contusion and Kevin Durant’s Suns debut remained on hold as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer singled out Holiday’s defensive effort, which included a crucial late steal to rob the Suns’ Devin Booker.
“His hands are phenomenal, his competitiveness is at a high high level, and he’s got a knack for getting deflections and steals at meaningful moments — and that’s what winners do,” Budenholzer told reporters.
The clash between the 2021 NBA finalists offered plenty of drama as the Bucks erased a seven-point deficit with 5:47 left in the fourth quarter to extend their league-best streak.
Brook Lopez scored 22 points for Milwaukee, his cutting layup putting the Bucks up for good 102-100 with 28.4 seconds remaining — just seconds after Booker’s turnaround basket under heavy pressure had pulled the Suns level.
Booker missed his first six shots but warmed up to lead the Suns with 24 points.
In the late game in Denver, Nikola Jokic dropped a 40-point triple-double as the Nuggets downed the Los Angeles Clippers 134-124 in overtime.
The Clippers clawed back an 18-point deficit to lead by two points late in the fourth quarter before Denver regrouped to pull clear again in overtime.
Jokic finished with 40 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Denver scoring, with Michael Porter Jr adding 29.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers scorers with 33 points.
Denver improved to 43-19 to remain in charge at the top of the Western Conference while the Clippers fell to 33-30.
Trae Young was the hero in Atlanta, his floater as time expired lifting the Hawks to a 129-127 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets had trailed by as many as 18, but tied it up at 127-127 on Cam Johnson’s three-pointer with 7.8 seconds left.
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