LeBron James scored the go-ahead basket as the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers returned to NBA action with a 103-101 victory against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.
James' layup with 12.8 seconds remaining ensured the Lakers topped the Clippers to move a step closer to clinching the number one seed in the west in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.
The Lakers – led by Anthony Davis' 34 points and a 16-point, 11-rebound James double-double – are six-and-a-half games clear of the Clippers in the Western Conference.
Paul George top scored for the Clippers with 30 points, while Kawhi Leonard added 28 of his own.
Tie game. Orlando opener. Top two teams in the West.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 31, 2020
The King came through pic.twitter.com/i77YzyrknH
The Lakers-Clippers showdown was the second game in a doubleheader as the NBA resumed with the Utah Jazz outlasting the New Orleans Pelicans at Walt Disney World Resort.
COVID-19 forced the 2019-20 season to be postponed in March, but the league restarted behind closed doors, with all four teams kneeling in unison during the United States national anthem.
Four-time MVP James and the Lakers dusted off some early rust to earn bragging rights against Leonard and the Clippers.
The Lakers raced out of the blocks to lead 35-23 at the end of the opening quarter, but the Clippers moved ahead by 11 points midway through the third period.
In the final quarter, George nailed a three-pointer with less than two minutes remaining to reduce the Lakers' lead to 99-98 before hitting another shot from beyond the arc to level the game at 101-apiece 29 seconds from the end.
Three-time champion James, however, came up big with the late layup and a strong defensive effort on George, who missed a buzzer-beating three.
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