Sports

LeBron James Chokes in Final Seconds as Lakers Lose Again

Patty Mills hit a go-ahead jumper with 6.8 seconds left and the San Antonio Spurs kept the Los Angeles Lakers winless with LeBron James, rallying from a six-point deficit in the final minute of overtime for a wild 143-142 victory Monday night.

James hit a tying 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in regulation and finished with 32 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds. But the superstar missed two free throws with 12.8 seconds to play, and Mills coolly put the Spurs ahead.

James missed a long shot at the buzzer, thoroughly deflating Staples Center.

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LaMarcus Aldridge had 37 points and 10 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan added 32 points and 14 assists as the Spurs made a tremendous rally to bounce back from a loss at Portland.

Kyle Kuzma had 37 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who played without suspended starters Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo. Josh Hart added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

James’ dramatic 3 from a full step beyond the arc capped the Lakers’ improbable rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:04 of regulation. The Lakers then took a 142-136 lead late in overtime with a lineup matching James with three second-year pros and unsung rookie Johnathan Williams in his NBA debut.

But the Lakers sputtered and the Spurs rallied. Rudy Gay’s 3-pointer cut the Lakers’ lead to 142-141, and James missed his free throws before the jumper by Mills, who had 12 points.

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“It’s always fun to play close games and have them be that type of atmosphere, and overly competitive,” Aldridge said. “It was nice to get a close win. It just builds character and makes guys be more confident.”

Ingram and Rondo began their suspensions stemming from their brawl with the Houston Rockets last Saturday. Ingram got a four-game ban for confronting an official and throwing punches, while Rondo got three games for punching and spitting on Chris Paul.

Kuzma and Ball were in the starting lineup in their teammates’ absence, and both second-year pros excelled.

The Spurs jumped on the Lakers early, hitting 14 of their first 17 shots and opening an 18-point lead. James missed six of his first eight shots, but regained his game along with the rest of the Lakers, who trailed only 99-96 entering the fourth quarter.

James did not seem discouraged by the Lakers’ last-minute failure against a quality opponent — and while Los Angeles was missing Rondo and Ingram.

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“It’s not” discouraging, James said.

“I know what I got myself into,” he added. “It’s a process. I get it, and we’ll be fine. I didn’t come here thinking we were going to be blazing, storming right out of the gate. It’s a process, and I understand that.”

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