Claxton oops on James late, Nets hold back Lakers 122-115
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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Nic Claxton threw a tie-breaking lane over LeBron James with 40.7 seconds left, and James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets returned from a week-long COVID-19 break to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 122-115 Saturday night.
Harden had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The latest assist was a lob that Claxton grabbed with both hands as he hovered over James, who had just helped Los Angeles clear a 20-point deficit. Claxton posted the All-Star 17 times, then made a free throw for a three-point play and a 118-115 lead.
Patty Mills added 34 points for the Nets, who saw their last three games postponed because they didn’t have enough players to compete. They were still without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others. Bruce Brown had 16 points and DeAndre ‘Bembry had 15.
James scored 39 points to pass Kobe Bryant for most career points on Christmas Day, but that wasn’t enough to keep the Lakers from reaching five straight losses. Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds for his second career vacation triple-double, and Malik Monk scored 20 points.
James overtook Bryant with the first of two free throws with 3:52 left in the first half of his 16th game at Christmas, tying Bryant’s record for most appearances. James has 422 points on vacation compared to Bryant’s 395.
After Claxton’s alley-oop, Westbrook missed a dunk on the other end, and Harden knocked down four free throws to see the victory.
After falling behind at the start of the third quarter, the Nets reasserted themselves to end the period with a 102-82 lead thanks to strong shots from several contributors. Harden paced Brooklyn with nine points, and the Nets knocked down 13 of 21 field goals while forcing the Lakers into another cold streak after struggling to make shots in the first quarter.
Harden is the seventh player to record a triple-double this Christmas. … Clayton finished with nine points and six rebounds. … Darren Collison had zero points, an assist and two rebounds in 12 minutes in his first game after signing a 10-day contract with the Lakers. The 34-year-old, born in Rancho Cucamonga and played for UCLA, retired in 2019 after playing 10 seasons with New Orleans, Indiana, Dallas, the Clippers and Sacramento.
Nets: At the Clippers on Monday.
Lakers: In Houston on Tuesday.
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