LeBron James returned with a vengeance after serving a one-game suspension. The Sacramento Kings can only hope that the “King” has calmed down.
James will look to follow up a big effort when the Los Angeles Lakers host Sacramento on Friday night.
James scored a season-best 39 points and matched his season high of five 3-pointers Wednesday in Los Angeles’ 124-116 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers at Indianapolis.
The big outing came after James served a one-game suspension for striking the Detroit Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart in the face with his fist on Sunday.
Though the incident left Stewart bleeding heavily thanks to a large gash on his face, James maintains it was unintentional.
After serving the suspension Tuesday against the New York Knicks, James was ready to deliver against the Pacers. He scored eight points in overtime, including back-to-back 3-pointers that put Los Angeles ahead for good.
“I was excited about being in the lineup,” James said. “Me not playing (Tuesday) night on the (first) night of a back-to-back, I knew I could kind of give our guys a boost of energy with me (on Wednesday).”
James’ play helped the Lakers finish their five-game road trip with a 2-3 record. It also helped soften the absence of Anthony Davis (non-COVID illness).
“What LeBron did tonight was just a performance for the ages,” said Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel, who formerly coached the Pacers. “I know these fans and how much they love their hoops here in Indianapolis. And he put on one hell of a show and obviously he gets the game ball.”
Russell Westbrook, who added 20 points against the Pacers, is averaging 25.7 over the past three games.
The Lakers went just 1-2 against the Kings last season and have lost three of the past four matchups. The teams also play Tuesday in Sacramento.
The Kings are playing their third game under interim coach Alvin Gentry. They lost Gentry’s debut, then recorded a 125-121 home win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Buddy Hield scored 22 points to lead seven Sacramento players in double digits during a victory that was very much a team affair.
Harrison Barnes missed the fourth quarter with a foot injury and De’Aaron Fox was ejected midway through the stanza for arguing with an official.
“It takes a village,” Gentry said. “We’re not a team of one guy we throw it to or two guys we throw it to. We’re a team that has to have different people do different things for us and step up. That’s exactly what we did.”
A surprise fourth-quarter contributor was former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III, selected immediately ahead of superstar Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft.
Bagley was buried on the bench under former coach Luke Walton, appearing in just four of the team’s 17 games before Walton was fired.
He has played in both games under Gentry and had season highs of 10 points and eight rebounds against Portland. With Barnes injured, Bagley played the entire fourth quarter and knocked down a big corner 3-pointer to give the Kings a seven-point lead with 30.3 seconds left.
“I shot it with confidence and was able to knock it down,” Bagley said. “My biggest thing is staying ready. It pays off, especially in times like this. I’m just staying locked in and being ready for whatever comes my way.”
Kings big man Richaun Holmes (eye) sat out Wednesday, and it was unclear if he would return Friday. Holmes averages 14.4 points and a team-best 9.8 rebounds.
–Field Level Media