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Monday February 6th, 2023 8:19PM

Lakers top Spurs in James' return for first road victory

By The Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LeBron James’ return from a five-game absence helped push the Los Angeles Lakers to their first road victory of the season.

James scored 21 points, Anthony Davis had 25 points and 15 rebounds and the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs 105-94 on Friday night.

“It felt pretty good to get out there on the court with my guys,” James said, “and make some plays and help them get the win.”

San Antonio lost its seventh straight, the second-longest losing streak in the NBA this season. The Spurs have lost 13 of 14 after a 5-2 start.

James wasted no time returning to form following a strained left adductor, hitting a 16-foot jumper 17 seconds in for the game’s first points. James finished 8 for 17 from the field and had eight rebounds and five assists.

“He was a real force for his first game back after missing five, especially down the stretch,” Davis said.

James had eight points, four rebounds, two assists and only one turnover in the final quarter as the Lakers outscored the Spurs 26-19 to close out their first road win in seven games.

With James and Davis sitting, San Antonio closed the third quarter on an 11-2 run in cutting Los Angeles’ lead to 79-74. James led an 11-0 run after the Spurs closed to 81-78.

“That changed the whole dynamic of the game,” Lakers guard Lonnie Walker IV said about James’ return. “When you have someone that can close it night in and night out, puts ease in the heart for everyone else. He certainly turned it up to a whole another level.”

Davis, who averaged 31.8 points and 17.4 rebounds during James’ absence, was five points shy of his fifth straight 30/15 game.

The teams will meet again in San Antonio on Saturday night.

“Strong possibility I play tomorrow,” James said. “I just sat out two weeks. I’m good.”

Tre Jones had 19 points for San Antonio. Devin Vassell added 18 and Keldon Johnson had 15.

Walker had 18 points in his return to San Antonio after signing with the Lakers in the offseason.

San Antonio opened the game 2 for 19 on 3-pointers, finishing a season-low 6 for 33.

“We didn’t back down tonight when we went down 20,” Jones said. “We continued to fight, continued to claw back into the game and give ourselves a shot. I think we just ran out of gas because we didn’t get out to a hot start.”

TIP-INS

Lakers: Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham initially said James’ status was uncertain 1 1/2 hours prior to tipoff. Twenty minutes later, the Lakers officially cleared the four-time MVP to play. … Davis was listed as probable with lower back tightness. … Juan Toscano-Anderson returned after suffering mid-back soreness. … Walker was honored with a video highlighting his four seasons in San Antonio after pre-game introductions. Walker and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich embraced and spoke prior to tip-off.

Spurs: San Antonio’s current skid equals the seven-straight losses Detroit suffered from Nov. 9 to Nov. 20. Charlotte has the longest streak, dropping eight straight from Oct. 31 through Nov. 12. … C Zach Collins returned after missing 10 games with a non-displaced head fracture of the left fibula. In nine games this season, Collins is averaging 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 17.7 minutes. … F Doug McDermott sat out after suffering a sprained left ankle in Monday’s home loss against New Orleans. … G Josh Richardson missed his second straight game with a sore right ankle.

BEVERLEY SUSPENDED

Lakers guard Patrick Beverley began serving a three-game suspension after forcefully shoving Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton and knocking him to the court late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss.

___

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