The LA Lakers star was back on the field for the first time after his second career ever ruled out against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, and the 36-year-old expelled all remaining frustrations in a 124-116 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis. .
Despite the absence of Anthony Davis due to illness, James rose with the season’s highest 39 points – seven of which came in overtime – as well as six assists and five rebounds to pull his team across the line.
Point guard Malcolm Brogdon led to scoring for the Pacers with 28 points, seven rebounds and two assists as Indiana drops to 8-12 in the East.
The Lakers were behind for most of the game and only moved ahead for the first time late in the fourth quarter before two three-pointers in the final 30 seconds from Pacers pair Justin Holiday and Chris Duarte sent the game into overtime.
Enter James: the 17-time All-Star who lowers two clutch triples on his way to surpass the Pacers on his own in the OT as the Lakers kept their nerves up to equalize their season record of 10-10.
There was another expulsion at a Lakers game, but this time it was not a player. On Sunday, James was thrown out after making contact with Pistons star Isaiah Stewart in the face – a quarrel that triggered a confrontational reaction from Stewart and a fight on the field.
Stewart was subsequently hit with a two-game quarantine by the NBA for “escalating” the situation and “repeatedly and aggressively” pursuing James, who himself received a one-game quarantine for “ruthlessly hitting” the Pistons center in the face.
Halfway through the overtime against the Pacers, James spoke to the referee and seemed to be gesturing towards two fans sitting on the pitch. The couple were subsequently escorted out of security guard from Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“There is a difference between cheering on your faithful home, buh to opponents, not wishing your opponents success, and there are moments when it goes off the line with obscene gestures and words,” James told journalists when asked about the incident after the match.
“It should not be tolerated in our game by anyone. I would never say that to a fan, and a fan should never say that to a player.”
James also shed more light on his own bounce on Sunday, revealing that he had not spoken to Stewart since the incident, which he says was strictly “random”.
“I went over the apology to him and you saw what happened after that,” James said.
“Definitely coincidental, I’m not that type of player. I hate to see what escalated after that. I thought it justified an expulsion because of what happened after that … but a suspension, I did not think was justified. “
‘A performance for the times’
Away from the expulsion drama, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was simply happy to have his superstar back and to witness “an achievement of all time.”
“I know he wanted to get this ‘W’,” Vogel said.
“He really wanted to play in that Knicks game that he looks forward to every year. So to come back tonight that quarterback defense and perform the offense that he did – it’s just an achievement for eternity.”
Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors crossed to a dominant 116-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. A family affair led to the Warriors’ Steph Curry topping his younger brother Seth with a 25-point victory to secure a fifth straight victory for Western Conference leaders.
In terms of streaks, the Phoenix Suns continued their hot form with a 14th straight win – with an overhaul of the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-115 – while the Houston Rockets got a losing streak of 15 games with an astonishing 118-113 showdown against Chicago. Tire.