LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James walked into Staples Center on Halloween dressed as Jason from the “Friday the 13th” movies. Five hours later, he saved the Los Angeles Lakers from a horrifying ending.
The four-time MVP scored 29 points and made the game-winning free throw with 2.1 seconds left Wednesday night as the Lakers held on for a 114-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
“I don’t like the way we closed out the game, but for the majority of the game we played well,” James said.
Los Angeles led nearly throughout and was up 111-98 with 3:42 to go before the Mavericks went on a 15-2 run to pull even. Luka Doncic tied it at 113 with 7.2 seconds remaining on a jumper from the corner, but on the next trip down the floor James was fouled by Wesley Mathews while shooting a jump shot.
James missed the first free throw but made the second. J.J. Barea missed a 3-pointer for Dallas as time expired, and the Lakers (3-5) stopped a two-game skid.
“NBA games are never over and you have to play the game a certain way,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “If you mess with the game, the game will mess with you and I thought we did that a little bit. Hopefully we can learn the same lesson even if it was a win.”
JaVale McGee added 16 points and 15 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma scored 18 and Brandon Ingram had 17 for the Lakers.
Matthews led Dallas with 21 points and Harrison Barnes scored 19. The Mavericks (2-6) have lost five straight.
“I love the fight. Our first quarter was very disappointing but we battled back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were able to get stops in the fourth quarter and we were getting some momentum on offense.”
The Lakers scored the first eight points and led by 18 in the first quarter as they went 15 of 23 from the field and made six 3-pointers.
Dallas trimmed the margin to 66-59 by halftime. Matthews’ driving bank shot pulled the Mavericks to 70-64 before the Lakers went on a 17-4 run — which included 10 points by James — to open their largest lead at 87-68 with 4:40 remaining in the third.
The closest the Mavericks got in the first eight minutes of the fourth was 98-90 with 8:12 left.
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