LOS ANGELES (AFP) – LeBron James made several clutch baskets in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a late seven-point deficit to beat the Sacramento Kings 122-114 on Tuesday.
James scored 14 of his team-high 31 points in the final quarter as the Lakers won for the fourth time in the last five games.
Los Angeles’ Malik Monk also had a strong final quarter, scoring 11 of his 24 points in the last seven minutes of the contest in front of a crowd of 17,900 in Los Angeles.
Monk drained six three pointers in the game and James and Russell Westbrook put the finishing touches with layups in the final moments. Westbrook finished with 19 points.
Reserve Talen Horton-Tucker also scored 19 points for the Lakers, who beat a Pacific Division team at home for the first time this season.
De’Aaron Fox scored 30 points and Buddy Hield added 26 with seven three-pointers for the Kings.
In Cleveland, Ja Morant scored the go-ahead basket with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift the Memphis Grizzlies to a 110-106 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Morant scored six of his 26 points in the final minute as the Grizzlies won their sixth straight game.
“I don’t fear nobody,” said Morant. “If you are seven-foot-seven I don’t care, I am coming straight at you.”
Morant hit a short jump shot to give the Grizzlies a 106-104 lead, then stole the ball from Cavs Brandon Goodwin for another score with 22 seconds remaining.
Morant then sealed the win by hitting a pair of free throws as the Grizzlies won for the 10th time in the last 11 games on the road.
The Grizzlies were coming off a 118-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
“We came in knowing we had back-to-back games. We just had to lock in defensively and find a way. We came up with some key stops at the end of the game to get the win,” Morant added.
Morant also added six assists but his franchise-record run of 30-point games was halted at five.
Elsewhere, Devin Booker scored 33 points and Chris Paul finished with 11 points and 15 assists as the undermanned Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-110.
Mikal Bridges scored 23, Cameron Johnson added 18, Bismack Biyombo had 16 and Jalen Smith had 12 in the win.
The Suns were without head coach Monty Williams. They were also missing starters Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder, and reserve players JaVale McGee and Abdel Nader, all because of COVID-19 measures.
Devonte’ Graham scored 28, Jonas Valanciunas had 25 points and 16 rebounds, Brandon Ingram scored 16 and Josh Hart had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans.
In Toronto, Fred VanVleet scored 24 of his 33 points in the first half as the Toronto Raptors won their third straight game with a dominating 129-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
VanVleet also had seven assists and was seven of 14 in three-point attempts at Scotiabank Arena.
VanVleet has scored at least 30 points in the past three games as the Raptors improved to 17-17 to reach .500 on the season.
He’s the first Toronto player to score 30 or more in three straight since Kawhi Leonard did it in four straight in 2019.
“You recognise when you’re in rhythm and you just try to hold on as long as possible because it’s not always like that,” VanVleet said.
“I try to keep my floor a little higher but when you’re hot, you’ve just got to be aggressive and ride it out as long as you can.”
Pascal Siakam added 18 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, Gary Trent tallied 21 points, OG Anunoby and Justin Champagnie each scored 14 points in the win.