LeBron James made his return for the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and while he was a little rusty, he did just enough to help the Lakers escape with a critical overtime win over the Clippers.
James was a little slow to start, as anyone that hasn’t played in over a month would be, but he was still effective, tallying a game-high 24 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists. He nearly notched a triple-double while going 60 percent. He also played over 40 minutes in his first game since Christmas.
LeBron James is still really, really good at basketball, in case anyone was wondering.
However, while the night belonged to James, he couldn’t have done it without Brandon Ingram, who continued to build on his stretch of strong outings for the Lakers.
In 43 minutes against the Clippers, Ingram scored 19 points on an efficient 7-12 shooting from the field. Ingram was just a point short of grabbing his sixth 20-point game in 10 games. He also contributed 4 rebounds and 4 assists on his way to a team-high +9 box plus-minus.
Ingram and James weren’t the only players that stuffed the box score, though. Rajon Rondo was just three assists shy of a triple-double, putting up 14 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists.
In the absence of Lonzo Ball, Rondo has shown that he is still a starting caliber point guard. Obviously there are some concerns about whether or not he can stay healthy, but beyond that he has been an invaluable asset to the team.
Of course, a whacky overtime win wouldn’t be a whacky overtime win without a big night from Lance Stephenson, who poured on 20 points off of the bench. Make ‘em dance, Lance, indeed.
With the win, the Lakers are now 27-25, a game back of the eighth seed in the Western conference, which is currently held by the Clippers. L.A. will have the day off before hitting the road for an actual road game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. We’ll see you then.