The Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James sidelined and their new recruits still getting up to speed, snapped a three-game skid with a 109-103 victory over the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
Dennis Schroder led the Lakers with 26 points. Rui Hachimura added 16 and D’Angelo Russell — newly arrived in a trade deadline deal — chipped in 15 with five rebounds and six assists. Anthony Davis had a quiet scoring night with just 13 points on five-of-19 shooting.
James’s absence with a sore ankle less than a week after he became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and the injury absence of Warriors’ star Stephen Curry robbed the contest of some glamour, but there was plenty of drama in the back-and-forth battle.
The Warriors took the lead on Jordan Poole’s three-point play midway through the fourth, but Russell answered with a pair of baskets, drawing a foul and converting the free throw on the second.
It was tied again with 5:01 to play, but a Hachimura three-pointer put the Lakers up for good.
While he was not an offensive force, Davis grabbed 13 rebounds and came up with two of his three blocked shots in the final two minutes.
“One thing about me, I’m able to shift my mind on the defensive end,” Davis said. “So I’m not getting foul calls, I’m not making shots, I never give up on the other end. Rebounds, blocked shots, whatever my team needs me to do.”
The Miami Heat pulled off a second nail-biting victory in as many nights, beating the Magic 107-103 in overtime in Orlando.
One night after Jimmy Butler’s buzzer-beating dunk gave Miami a win over Houston, the Heat escaped again. They trailed by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, and even though this time Butler saw a potential game-winner miss at the buzzer in regulation time, they had enough in the tank in the extra session.
Tyler Herro scored 23 points, Butler added 22 and Gabe Vincent scored 20 for Miami, who played their 40th “clutch” game of the season — a game with a five-point margin at any stage of the final five minutes.
“Home or away it’s must-see,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of his team’s penchant for late-game drama. “We showed a lot of grit. Last night down five, tonight down 10.
“It just felt like the entire second half we could never get our footing, but we just stayed with it.”
The victory moved the Heat within one and a half games of the Brooklyn Nets for fifth in the Eastern Conference after the Nets fell 101-98 at home to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Nets had a chance to force overtime, but Spencer Dinwiddie’s three-pointer did not beat the buzzer.
Sixers center Joel Embiid scored 37 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and James Harden scored 29 points in his first game in Brooklyn since he was traded to the Sixers by the Nets last year.
Harden, who was traded at his own request last year, shrugged off the boos of the crowd.
“I don’t get caught up in homecomings or the outside distractions,” Harden said. “I think our focus was just to come here and win a game and we did a good job of that tonight.”
Denver’s two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic delivered his league-best 20th triple-double of the season in a 119-105 victory over the Hornets in Charlotte.
With regular starters Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon sidelined by injury, Jokic capably filled the void with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
His effort saw the Western Conference leaders erase a 15-point first-half deficit.
In Cleveland, the Cavaliers pushed their winning streak to six games with a 97-89 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Donovan Mitchell scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half and Jarrett Allen added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavs, who trailed by 13 midway through the third quarter.
Zach LaVine scored 23 points, DeMar DeRozan added 16 and Nikola Vucevic chipped in 14 points with 14 rebounds for the Bulls.