LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Anthony Davis scored a game-high 33 points and delivered a pep talk to LeBron James as the Los Angeles Lakers handed the Miami Heat their first loss at home with a 113-110 victory on Friday.
James scored 28 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds and leading scorer Davis also had 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who extended their winning streak to six games.
The matchup between two of the top teams in the league resulted in a playoff-type feel as the Heat suffered their first loss at home after going 11-0 to start the season.
“It was like a heavyweight bout,” said James, who led Miami to two NBA titles in 2012 and 2013. “It was like the old days, (George) Foreman and (Muhammad) Ali-type atmosphere. These are two teams that play physical and are both playing extremely well this season.”
Davis said he had to reprimand James, who finished with eight turnovers, because he could see the future Hall of Famer was struggling in the first half.
“I had to get on him tonight, he was thinking too much,” Davis said of James. “He was playing a little timid for me. I told him, ‘We are going to ride with you whether you go two-for-20 or four-for-25, I don’t care. You got to make an impact on the game’.
“We have great chemistry. Us two are the leaders of this team, we are the head of the snake.”
James agreed with that critique and said he needed a wake-up call.
“We were down today because of me,” said James. “I was reckless. I am supposed to be the quarterback and my teammates got on me.
“They told me to be myself. Get my head out of my ass and just play basketball.
“I had seven turnovers in the first half. The second half I just got back to myself.”
Jimmy Butler had a team-high 23 points for the Heat, who had won six of its previous seven games.
Miami trailed 112-110 with eight seconds left. But they couldn’t rebound a missed free throw by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Butler then missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
Elsewhere, James Harden made Orlando pay for covering him one-on-one, delivering another brilliant 50-point performance as the Houston Rockets trounced the Magic 130-107.
Harden pounded Orlando from the outside and under the basket by scoring 54 points and seven assists.
Orlando chose not to double team Harden in the first half and then half heartedly attempted to do it in the second, but it was too late.
“I feel like we lost against just him tonight,” said Magic guard Evan Fournier. “He’s the MVP for a reason. We talked about in pregame that he’ll take shots, and we’ll just live with the results. He did not miss.”
Harden scored 50 or more for the fifth time this season and the fourth time in his past seven games. The rest of the NBA has combined for only five 50-plus games this season.
Harden’s 54-point night comes two nights after he embarrassed the Cleveland Cavaliers with 55 points.
Harden nailed a franchise record 10 three-pointers against the Magic. He finished 10-for-15 from behind the arc against Orlando.