LeBron James is hopeful Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis will make a quick recovery from the injury he suffered in Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks.

The Lakers made it six wins on the bounce, with James contributing 31 points in a 117-87 success, but victory came at a cost as Davis left the court in the third quarter following a heavy fall.

Coach Frank Vogel revealed the "initial diagnosis is a bruised tailbone" but said further testing would be required to establish the extent of the problem.

James, however, was trying to remain optimistic.

"We're hoping he'll be fine, and we believe he'll be fine," he said.

Vogel struck a similar tone as he lauded Davis' influence at the Lakers.

"Fingers crossed, hope for the best, pray for the best," he said.

"He's one of our pillars. He's our present. He's our future. He's one of the best players in the world, so obviously he means a lot."

Anthony Davis was hurt in a hard fall during the Los Angeles Lakers' win in the NBA on Tuesday, while Carmelo Anthony delivered a game-winner.

Davis fell awkwardly on his back during the third quarter of the Lakers' 117-87 thrashing of the New York Knicks.

The forward, who had five points, six rebounds and five assists, managed to walk to the locker room slowly after the fall and has reportedly been cleared of a serious injury.

LeBron James saw the Lakers to a sixth straight win thanks to 31 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Anthony hit a pull-up jump shot with 3.3 seconds remaining to see the Portland Trail Blazers past the Toronto Raptors 101-99.

He finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting in a match-winning performance.

 

Drummond, Paul star

Andre Drummond's double-double of 23 points and 20 rebounds guided the Detroit Pistons to a 115-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chris Paul finished with 28 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder edged the Brooklyn Nets 111-103 after overtime.

Harris struggles

Joe Harris managed nine points in the Nets' loss, but the guard struggled from the field. Harris went three-of-12 from the field and one-of-seven from three-point range.

 

Anthony's game-winner

Anthony delivered in a key moment for the Trail Blazers.

Tuesday's results

Detroit Pistons 115-113 Cleveland Cavaliers
Portland Trail Blazers 101-99 Toronto Raptors
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-103 Brooklyn Nets
Memphis Grizzlies 119-112 Minnesota Timberwolves
Sacramento Kings 114-103 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers 117-87 New York Knicks

 

Bucks at Warriors

The Milwaukee Bucks (32-6) will look to bounce back from their loss to the San Antonio Spurs when they visit the Golden State Warriors (9-29) on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak with a 106-99 victory against the Detroit Pistons thanks to LeBron James' triple-double.

James posted 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Lakers to their fifth consecutive win in the NBA on Sunday.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis contributed 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Western Conference-leading Lakers improved to 29-7 for the season.

The Pistons (13-24) were led by Derrick Rose's 28 points off the bench, while Andre Drummond – the subject of trade speculation – had 12 points and 18 rebounds in Los Angeles.

 

Clippers make history

The Los Angeles Clippers benefited from three players with 30 or more points for the first time in franchise history in their 135-132 win over the New York Knicks. Montrezl Harrell top-scored with 34 points, while Paul George and Lou Williams added 32 in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. Marcus Morris Sr. had a game-high 38 for the Knicks in LA.

Damian Lillard put up 34 points and 12 assists in the Portland Trail Blazers' 122-111 loss at the Miami Heat. Hassan Whiteside's return to Miami yielded 21 points and 18 rebounds. The Heat were led by Goran Dragic's 29 points and 13 assists.

Dante Exum's career-high 28 points headlined the Cleveland Cavaliers' spirited 118-103 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Devin Booker posted 40 points but the Phoenix Suns still went down 121-114 to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, who were inspired by Jonas Valanciunas' 30 points.

 

Anthony struggles from the floor

Carmelo Anthony finished with 11 points but that was on five-of-six shooting from the foul line. The Blazers veteran was only three-of-11 from the floor, while he missed all four three-point attempts in 37 minutes.

Miami's Duncan Robinson was two-of-11 from the floor and the same from beyond the arc for six points.

 

Simons with the jam!

Portland's Anfernee Simons could not be stopped en route the rim for a monster slam.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Clippers 135-132 New York Knicks
Miami Heat 122-111 Portland Trail Blazers
Minnesota Timberwolves 118-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies 121-114 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers 106-99 Detroit Pistons

 

Thunder at 76ers

All eyes will be on Wells Fargo Center when the slumping Philadelphia 76ers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. The 76ers (23-14) have lost four in a row to be fifth in the Eastern Conference, while the Thunder (20-15) are eyeing a sixth successive victory.

Anthony Davis was merciless against his former team and LeBron James played a pivotal supporting role as the Los Angeles Lakers sank the New Orleans Pelicans.

In a stellar show at the Staples Center, Davis plundered 46 points and 13 rebounds in a 123-113 win for the Lakers, who tightened their hold on first place in the Western Conference.

James registered 17 points and 15 assists, with Davis' performance one of his strongest since his trade from New Orleans last July.

Playing for the Lakers on the road against his former team in November took much of the tension out of Friday night's big game for Davis, who said it felt like "just another game for me".

"The first game in New Orleans was definitely a lot more emotional, not only going against my former team but playing in that arena again," he told reporters.

"Tonight I think my team-mates just gave me great opportunities and put me in a great position to score the basketball. I didn't prepare any differently."

Asked about his link-up play with James, Davis said: "We do a great job of finding each other. He does a great job of reading it - when to pass it and when to go finish.

"It's been effective. We're constantly learning from each other and trying to get better. We're finding ways to score other than the pick and roll, but it's been very effective for us.

"I'm finding my way. We're a good team with a lot of players who can score the basketball. We just end up flowing in the groove right now where everybody's clicking.

"When you've got guys like the coaches in my team who constantly tell me to shoot and have a lot of confidence in me, it takes a lot off me to go out there and shoot."

James has no doubt the 26-year-old Davis can go from strength to strength with the Lakers.

"He's efficient, very efficient," James said. "I don't think there was one point where he looked stressed. Just another great performance.

"He's the recipient of our full offense because he's just as fast as anybody on the floor, he's more dynamic than anybody else on the floor with his ability to play on the interior and the exterior. He can do so many things.

"We all have grown and figured out ways we can continue to help each other.

"Any time you come from a different programme, a different franchise or a different system, it takes a little while to understand how you're going to be as best [as you can be] for the better of the team. Every Monday, D has got better and the rest of the team has just filed behind that."

James joked that Danny Green's passing made Davis' finishing at the rim all the more impressive.

"He had some of the best alley-oop finishes off some of the worst passes in NBA history," James said, smiling. "And Danny Green is now up there as one of the worst alley-oop passers now, but it's finished off because you could throw it to AD anywhere.

"For me, I just try to put it there where he can dunk it and he did that."

James Harden and Ben Simmons both had triple-doubles as the Houston Rockets overcame the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Friday, while Anthony Davis shone for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rockets guard Harden posted 44 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to edge a scintillating showdown with 76ers star Simmons and guide Houston to a 118-108 win in Texas.

Simmons kept Philadelphia in touch with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, but Joel Embiid's 20 points on seven-of-17 shooting failed to match Rockets centre Clint Capela's 30 points and 14 rebounds.

The 76ers (23-14) have now lost four on the trot, all on the road, ahead of Monday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets (24-11) sit three places behind the Western Conference-leading Lakers, who downed the New Orleans Pelicans 123-113 at Staples Center.

Davis punished his former team, registering 46 points and 13 rebounds, while LeBron James had a double-double of 17 points and 15 assists.

 

Lillard back in form for Trail Blazers

Kept quiet in Wednesday's disappointing defeat to the New York Knicks, Damian Lillard bounced back to form in Washington.

Lillard had 35 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers snap a five-game losing streak in a 122-103 win over the Wizards, who had Isaiah Thomas ejected in the second minute for what was deemed a shove on an official.

Jimmy Butler's double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) proved in vain for the Miami Heat as they slipped to a 105-85 loss against the Orlando Magic.

Devin Booker passed 30 points for the fifth successive game to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 120-112 victory over the Knicks.

 

Trouble for Tatum

The Boston Celtics edged the Atlanta Hawks 109-106 despite having little support from Jayson Tatum, the 21-year-old going two-of-16 from the field while missing both of his three-point attempts.

 

Theis says no!

Daniel Theis produced a crucial late block on Atlanta guard Trae Young to see the Celtics home in Boston.

 

Friday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 123-113 New Orleans Pelicans
Orlando Magic 105-85 Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers 122-103 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 109-106 Atlanta Hawks
Houston Rockets 118-108 Philadelphia 76ers
Phoenix Suns 120-112 New York Knicks

 

Spurs at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has the chance to record an eighth double-double in as many outings when the Milwaukee Bucks (31-5) take on the San Antonio Spurs (14-19) on Saturday.

Anthony Davis warned the Los Angeles Lakers must be more ruthless after they made hard work of beating the Phoenix Suns on New Year's Day.

The Lakers made a brilliant start to 2020, bossing the Suns to open up a 74-41 half-time advantage at Staples Center.

Phoenix rallied in the second half and although the Western Conference leaders ran out 117-107 winners, Davis says there can be no repeat of their second-half showing.

"You can lose games like that, which is the worst feeling in the world," the forward said.

"You gotta be able to play the same way the entire four quarters. If we're going to continue to play like that then we’re going to lose games like that.

"We don't want to come in and blow a 36-point lead. … When we get leads like that we gotta make sure we continue to play the right way."

Davis added: "We started playing a lot of one-on-one, we completely stopped playing defense.

"They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds, attacking the basket. Nobody was getting open shots."

The Lakers are 27-7 following three consecutive victories and next face the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

LeBron James' triple-double helped the Los Angeles Lakers past the Phoenix Suns, while Giannis Antetokounmpo starred in the NBA on Wednesday.

James posted 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the Lakers' 117-107 victory.

Anthony Davis had a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Lakers closed out victory despite being outscored 28-16 in the fourth quarter.

The Bucks were pushed on their way to a 106-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Antetokounmpo starred with a double-double of 32 points and 17 rebounds for the Bucks (31-5).

Khris Middleton (13 points), Brook Lopez (11) and Eric Bledsoe (10) also managed double digits.

 

Anthony shines on Madison Square Garden return

Carmelo Anthony posted 26 points on his return to Madison Square Garden, where his Portland Trail Blazers were thrashed by the New York Knicks 117-93.

Nikola Vucevic's double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds helped the Orlando Magic past the Washington Wizards 122-101.

 

Lillard, Thomas struggle

Portland star Damian Lillard and the Wizards' Isaiah Thomas struggled in losses. Lillard went five-of-20 for 11 points, while Thomas was three-of-10 for his nine points.

 

LeBron, Davis combine

James and Davis combined brilliantly during the Lakers' win.

Wednesday's results

Orlando Magic 122-101 Washington Wizards
New York Knicks 117-93 Portland Trail Blazers
Milwaukee Bucks 106-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Lakers 117-107 Phoenix Suns

 

Raptors at Heat

Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference meet as the Miami Heat (24-9) host the Toronto Raptors (23-11).

LeBron James was thrilled to make NBA history as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks but was less impressed about the possibility of having to stump up the cash for his own birthday party.

Superstar James became the ninth player to make 9,000 league assists in the Lakers' 108-95 victory on Sunday but is the first to match the milestone with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds – something he achieved in November.

Over the past two games, which also yielded a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, James has tallied 29 assists and the 15-time All Star said being generous with the ball was an attribute taught to him at a young age.

"It was something that was instilled in me when I first picked up a basketball," James told reporters. 

"One of my earliest coaches said the best part of the game was to move side to side, attract the defense and get the team-mate the open look.

"My team-mates and coaching staff trust me to play the point and run the show. It's my job to take care of the ball, put guys in position to be successful, get them the ball on time and on target.

"The milestone of it is when you grow up in the inner city around a lot of things that you don't want your kids to see, to be able to get to this point in age where the statistics are stacked up against you for obvious reasons, that's a blessing. 

"It's more of a blessing for me to be able to do what I love to do every day and be able to let my family reap the benefits of that, and they allow me to be an inspiration to them. That is really cool."

The milestone moment arrived just a day before James' 35th birthday but any celebrations will be kept low key, in part because of a desire not to pay for his own party.

"I don't wish to have a party because I got to pay for it," he added with a smile. "S***, I got to pay for my own damn birthday party!

"I don't have wishes. Biggest one I had was when I turned 21. This one will be mild. When I turn 40, that will be epic."

Part of the Lakers' success was down to their defensive effort against one of the league's best attacking outfits.

Dallas' 95 points was their lowest tally of the season, while they committed 19 turnovers.

"We just had to find ourselves again," Anthony Davis said. 

"We were able to get back to what we do defensively. And when we do that, we're able to beat any team and feel good about ourselves."

Dallas star Luka Doncic reflected ruefully: "That was one of the worst games we played. We didn't play like us and had a really bad night. I can't say much more."

LeBron James bested Luka Doncic as the Los Angeles Lakers eased to a 108-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA.

Two MVP candidates went head-to-head at Staples Center on Sunday and Lakers superstar James emerged on top after making history on his way to a double-double of 13 points and 13 assists.

One day out from his 35th birthday, the three-time NBA champion became the ninth player in history to reach 9,000 assists and the first to do it with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds.

Doncic, making his 100th appearance in the league, needed treatment after a heavy fall in the first quarter, although he still led the Mavs with 19 points and seven assists.

Dallas (21-11) are now four and a half games adrift of the Western Conference-leading Lakers (26-7) and two games behind the second-placed Denver Nuggets, who prevailed 120-115 against the Sacramento Kings.

Nikola Jokic made a clutch fadeaway jumper in the fourth quarter and finished with 17 points, while Will Barton and first-time starter Michael Porter Jr had 19 apiece for the Nuggets (23-9).

 

Lonzo leads Pelicans past Rockets

Lonzo Ball starred in James Harden's absence as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Houston Rockets 127-112 to notch a fourth consecutive victory. Rockets guard Harden joined Russell Westbrook on the sideline due to a toe problem and Ball – the former number two draft pick – took advantage with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander consigned defending champions the Toronto Raptors to a third loss in four games, his 32 points, plus 25 and 11 rebounds from Chris Paul, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 98-97 triumph at Scotiabank Arena.

Dillon Brooks went eight of 13 from the floor for 20 points as the Memphis Grizzlies overcame the Charlotte Hornets 117-104.

 

Rivers dries up

The Rockets needed scoring production from elsewhere with star pair Harden and Westbrook unavailable, but Austin Rivers struggled to step up against the Pelicans. The 27-year-old guard managed nine points and five assists in 29 minutes, hitting one of four three-point attempts and just two of seven from the floor.

 

Jokic shows off skills

Denver big man Jokic showcased his slick handles with two brilliant behind-the-back dribbles in the Nuggets' five-point win against the Kings.

 

Sunday's results

Oklahoma City Thunder 98-97 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 117-104 Charlotte Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans 127-112 Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets 120-115 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 108-95 Dallas Mavericks

 

Bucks at Bulls

The Milwaukee Bucks (29-5) will hope Giannis Antetokounmpo can overcome back soreness in time for Monday's trip to the improving Chicago Bulls (13-20).

LeBron James made NBA history when he recorded his 9,000th career assist in the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

James, 34, became the ninth player to reach the mark and the first to combine it with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds, which he achieved in November.

The four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion registered the record-breaking assist with a pass to Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis in the first quarter at Staples Center.

Western Conference leaders the Lakers led the Mavericks 54-43 at half-time as they looked to build on the skid-snapping 128-120 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Lakers superstar James was averaging 25.5 points, 10.8 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game heading into Sunday's matchup.

Luka Doncic sent a scare through the Mavs camp after a heavy fall following a hard foul in the second quarter, but the star guard was cleared to return for the second half.

LeBron James is confident he will be fit for the Los Angeles Lakers showdown against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday as he continues to manage a groin problem.

James was listed as questionable ahead of Saturday's game at the Portland Trail Blazers, having aggravated the injury during a Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the four-time MVP played through the pain to score 21 points and make 16 assists as the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 128-120 victory.

Despite also landing heavily on his elbow after a fall, James is ready to patch himself up and go again against the Mavs.

"I'm fine, I’ll be alright. Yes [it was the same part of the elbow I hit in Miami], pretty much," he told reporters before being asked if he would face Dallas.

"Yes, I'm planning on it," he replied. "As long as this ice takes care of its business and I wake up comfortably and healthily, yeah.

"I'm doing alright for myself."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel maintained James would need to be assessed closely.

"When you have a back-to-back, you just treat it like this is the only game you're playing and then figure out tomorrow tomorrow," he said, as quoted by ESPN.

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 24 points, while Anthony Davis contributed 20 and Rajon Rondo provided 15 points and four assists from the bench.

"Rondo came in with so much, his pace was incredible. Kuz is keeping up his streak of scoring the ball with the punch we’ve been wanting all year," James added, with Kuzma having defused potential pre-match tension caused by his personal trainer making critical comments of LeBron on social media.

"He's getting back to his groove. And AC [Alex Caruso], and Dwight [Howard] was a monster in the paint. Everybody else just chipped in. It was a good all-around game."

LeBron James led the way as the Los Angeles Lakers ended a four-game losing streak with a 128-120 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA.

James posted a double-double to snap the Lakers' season-long winless run away to the Trail Blazers on Saturday.

In doubt with a groin problem, James took to the court and scored 21 points and tallied 16 assists for the Lakers in Portland.

Kyle Kuzma put up 24 points and Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis added 20 points.

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard had a game-high 31 points as Portland lost their third consecutive game.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers lost 120-107 at home to the Utah Jazz.

Paul George had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard recorded 19 points, but the Clippers went down to the visiting Jazz – who were led by Donovan Mitchell's 30 points.

 

Doncic delivers another triple-double

It was the Luka Doncic show as the Dallas Mavericks star had 31 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds in just 30 minutes. His ninth triple-double of the season led the Mavericks past the Golden State Warriors 141-121. Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell finished with 35 points and nine three-pointers.

James Harden starred with 44 points and 10 rebounds as the Houston Rockets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 108-98.

Joel Embiid posted 35 points and 11 rebounds but the Philadelphia 76ers suffered a heartbreaking 117-116 overtime loss to the Miami Heat.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors topped the Boston Celtics 113-97 thanks to Kyle Lowry's 30 points. Serge Ibaka contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan (29 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points, 12 rebounds) combined to help the San Antonio Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons 136-109.

 

Fultz falters

Former number one pick Markelle Fultz has shown glimpses of his talent this season. However, Fultz was just one of 10 from the floor in 30 minutes of action. He finished with just four points as the Orlando Magic went down 111-100 to the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

Happy Holidays

Jrue, Justin and Aaron Holiday made history in the New Orleans Pelicans' 120-98 victory against the Indiana Pacers. It was the first time in the NBA three brothers shared the court at the same time.

 

Saturday's results

Denver Nuggets 119-110 Memphis Grizzlies
Toronto Raptors 113-97 Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans 120-98 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 117-116 Philadelphia 76ers (OT)
Chicago Bulls 116-81 Atlanta Hawks
Cleveland Cavaliers 94-88 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 107-100 Washington Wizards
Houston Rockets 108-98 Brooklyn Nets
San Antonio Spurs 136-109 Detroit Pistons
Dallas Mavericks 141-121 Golden State Warriors
Milwaukee Bucks 111-100 Orlando Magic
Phoenix Suns 112-110 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 128-120 Portland Trail Blazers
Utah Jazz 120-107 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Mavs at Lakers

Doncic and the Mavericks will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to face James and the Lakers in a Western Conference showdown.

LeBron James insists he could "not care less" about being criticised by the personal trainer of Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Kyle Kuzma.

Clint Parks took to Instagram on Friday to claim James is not working as hard as fellow NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard, who was part of a Los Angeles Clippers team that defeated the Lakers on Christmas Day.

Around the same time, Kuzma tweeted "call a spade a spade", leading to some suggesting there was could be a rift with James.

Kuzma later denied such a suggestion and sought to distance himself from Parks' comments.

"Obviously I don't feel that way," he said. "Everybody knows me and Bron have a great relationship. And I left it at that."

Asked if he would continue to work with Parks, Kuzma said: "I don't know. That's a private conversation. So, that's not really a conversation to have with you guys."

For his part, James said he had been sought out by Kuzma but was nonplussed as to being called out by Parks.

"Kuz came to me yesterday at practice and told me what's going on, and that was it," James said. 

"I really don't care for someone's trainer or whatever the case may be. Everyone can have their own opinion. 

"Any time someone wants to get some notoriety, they can throw my name in it and people are going to pick it up. 

"That's why you asked me about it. My name was in it. I've never met the guy. I don't know the guy. I couldn't care less about the guy. Whatever the case may be, I wish him the best."

The Lakers are on a four-match losing streak in the NBA but still top the West with a 24-7 record and face the Portland Trail Blazers later on Saturday.

Kawhi Leonard was impressed by how well the Los Angeles Clippers kept their cool in a thrilling Christmas Day triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Clippers consigned their rivals to a fourth loss in a row as MVP contender Leonard starred with 35 points in a 111-106 road victory on Wednesday.

With the scores tied at 86 apiece heading into the fourth quarter, it was the Clippers who showed the greater composure and Leonard was delighted to get the job done.

"We were just saying we've got to stop worrying about the game," he said of his team's focus ahead of the crunch final period.

"We're not going to blow teams out, it's not going to be easy. Every night is going to be a battle and [we need to] stop worrying about the score. Just play every possession. Play hard.

"If we're losing, don't look up [at the score], just keep doing what we have to do to win. I think we did that in the second half.

"I'm just happy we got a road win. The battle of LA is for the fans and the people that are watching, but that's not our mind set.

"We stayed composed, we kept fighting and when things weren't working for us we just played one possession at a time and we were able to get a win."

The result improved the Clippers to 23-10 this season and up next is the visit of the Utah Jazz.

 

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James suggested he re-injured his groin in the Christmas Day defeat to rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

James returned from a thoracic muscle strain as the struggling Lakers went down 111-106 against the Clippers at Staples Center on Wednesday.

The three-time NBA champion, who missed the loss to the Denver Nuggets, was nine of 24 from the floor and two of 12 from three-point range for 23 points and 10 assists.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, James – whose first season with the Lakers was ravaged by a groin injury – said he was kneed in the groin by Clippers opponent Patrick Beverley.

"I felt healthy going into the game. The second or third defensive possession I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev," James said.

"That kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago."

It was another disappointing outing for Western Conference leaders the Lakers (24-7), who crashed to a fourth consecutive defeat.

The Lakers lost to the Clippers (23-10) for the second time this season, having dropped Opening Night against Kawhi Leonard's team.

"They got stops, they made shots," James said. "When we got stops, we weren't able to counter on the other end and make shots. We'll watch the film at our next practice and see ways we can get better.

"It's a long season, it's a marathon, so, you know, it was a great atmosphere. We had a chance to win. But they made the plays."

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