LeBron returns with triple-double
LOS ANGELES / ORLANDI
LeBron James returned from a five-game absence due to injury and had a triple-double of 29 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 21-point, second-quarter deficit, beating the New York Knicks 122-115 in overtime Feb. 5 night.
James missed the games due to swelling in his left knee, but came back to play in a nationally televised game and with the Lakers three games under .500.
“He’s incredible. I guess the time off served him well,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t want to play him 39 minutes, but overtime impacted that.”
“He was special tonight. Just a great performance.”
It was the Lakers’ largest comeback since they rallied from 21 down at Denver in 2015.
“After the first quarter, the knee loosened up a lot more, my mind loosened up a lot more and I was able just to play basketball,” James said. “Happy I was able to make a few plays to help us win.”
Meanwhile, Ja Morant scored 33 points in three quarters and the Memphis Grizzlies led by as many as 31 points in a 135-115 win over the Orlando Magic on Feb. 5.
Morant scored 22 points in the first half as Memphis won its second straight and for the fifth time in six games. The Grizzlies went on a 14-0 run in the first quarter and led 76-56 at the half.
“It was just me taking what the defense was giving me when they tried to shift to me and pack the paint,” said Morant, who got teammates involved with the pass in the first quarter and then went into attack mode before halftime. “I’ve got too much shooters for that. I was just playing cat and mouse with the defense, pretty much.”
“I thought Ja was phenomenal tonight,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He did a great job against a team that was in an early shift and wanting to take away the paint, and he did a great job getting the ball out early to his teammates. He always gives the defense a different look. Is he in attack mode, is he in score mode, or playmaking mode? Then, when he reads the game, he knows when to take over.”
Morant finished with seven assists, and his most spectacular pass of the game came in the third quarter when he passed behind his back to Zaire Williams, who fed a lob pass to De’Anthony Melton for a dunk. The play put Memphis ahead by 31 points and sent Morant jumping into the arms of his teammates.
“Killing their spirits, we try to do that with every team we play by going out and sending a message,” Morant said. “We keep our foot on the gas, we have a little fun and then we’re going to let you hear about it.”