LeBron James scored a 28-point triple double as the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers bagged a fifth consecutive win on Monday in a 119-112 overtime defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For a second straight game, James and the Lakers were forced to dig deep in overtime, overturning a double-digit deficit early in the fourth quarter to grind out their 19th win of the season.
With the Lakers missing Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso through injury, Oklahoma City led for long periods with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (29 points) and Darius Bazley (21) outstanding.
Oklahoma City led 90-79 with just over 10 minutes remaining but saw their lead cut in half at 107-102 with two minutes left.
An 8-0 run put the Lakers in charge with just seconds of regulation left before Gilgeous-Alexander nailed three free throws to tie the game and force overtime.
The Lakers reasserted themselves in the extra period however, with Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder and Wesley Matthews putting them 117-110 ahead.
A James slam-dunk made it 119-112 to seal the Lakers win.
James finished with 14 rebounds and 12 assists to complete his third triple double of the season.
He was backed with 19 points from Schroder and 21 from Harrell off the bench. Matthews also delivered a big contribution off the bench with 16 points.
A relieved James said the Lakers needed to improve their urgency after being forced to come from behind.
“We’ve got to be more conscientious how we start games,” James said.
“Getting down double digits is not something we want to have. Our pace was very slow at the start of the game, but we understand that and we know what we need to do to change that.”
Bucks roll on
In Denver, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way as the Milwaukee Bucks notched a fifth straight victory with a 125-112 defeat of the Nuggets.
Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points and nine rebounds as Middleton added 29 points with 12 assists and eight rebounds.
Bryn Forbes had 15 points while Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo added 13 points apiece.
Elsewhere in the Western Conference on Monday, Devin Booker poured in 36 points as the Phoenix Suns overpowered the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-113.
Mikal Bridges added 22 points for Phoenix with Deandre Ayton adding 15 against a Cavaliers side who slumped to a fourth straight defeat.
In San Antonio, Stephen Curry led the scoring with 32 points including six three-pointers but it was not enough to stop the Golden State Warriors falling to a 105-100 reverse against the Spurs.
San Antonio improved to 14-10 with the win and are now fifth in the Western Conference standings.
The Spurs recorded a third straight victory thanks to 27 points from Dejounte Murray while DeMar DeRozan added 21 points.
In Dallas, the Mavericks withstood a late fightback from the Minnesota Timberwolves before completing a 127-122 win.
The Timberwolves, bottom of the Western Conference with only six wins against 18 defeats, looked to be on course for a crushing defeat after trailing by 20 points early in the fourth quarter.
But Minnesota whittled the deficit to just three points at 120-123 with 27.7 seconds before the rally faltered.
Elsewhere Monday, LaMelo Ball had a hot hand with seven three-pointers in a 24-point tally as the Charlotte Hornets routed the Houston Rockets 119-94.
Six Hornets players finished in double figures as the visitors slid to defeat.