Klay Thompson scored 16 of his season high 33 points in the final quarter and LeBron James missed a key free throw in the closing seconds as the Golden State Warriors edged the Los Angeles Lakers 117-115 on Saturday.
Thompson hit a trio of late three pointers as the veteran finished five of nine from beyond the arc for the Warriors, who snapped a two-game losing skid.
“That was fun,” said Thompson, who was playing in just his 14th game back after missing over two years thanks to serious injuries.
“No matter how many I miss I always feel confident I will make the next one.”
Thompson said he was proud of his intensive rehab, which allowed him to play at a high level again.
“I am not good at watching. I have to keep working,” he said. “It was hard. There were a lot of days in the squat rack. This makes it all worth it.”
James failed to take advantage of three free throws late that would have tied the game and set the stage for overtime.
Behind 117-114, James — who missed two of six free throws earlier — was fouled and went to the free throw line with two seconds left.
He missed the first of his three shots but made the second, before intentionally hitting the rim on the third — however the Warriors got a piece of the rebound and swatted it out of harms way.
Elsewhere, Anfernee Simons drained a clutch go-ahead three pointer with just over three minutes left, as the Portland Trail Blazers roared back from a 23-point deficit to beat the New York Knicks 112-103.
Simons finished with 30 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who erased the big third quarter deficit before dominating the fourth quarter in front of the packed Moda Center arena.
Newly acquired guard Josh Hart — one of several new Portland players, joining the club in a deal just before Thursday’s trading deadline — poured in 23 points in his Portland debut.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I’m definitely going to love playing here.”
Ben McLemore contributed 17, Jusuf Nurkic posted a double-double with 12 and 20 rebounds, while Justise Winslow chipped in 14 for the Blazers, who won their second straight contest, following a six-game losing streak.
Hart was acquired in a multiple-player deal that sent long-time Blazers guard CJ McCollum to New Orleans, and marked the end of the Portland era of McCollum and Damian Lillard anchoring the guard positions.
“He plays with a sense of urgency and chip on his shoulder all the time,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said of Hart.
“He loves to play defense. You know, he loves to take matchups on offensively. He can obviously shoot the basketball but he’s a downhill driver.”
‘We fell apart’
Julius Randle had a team high 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Kemba Walker finished with 23 points for the Knicks, who were outscored 53-21 over the final 16:55.
“We just fell apart,” Walker said. “They got momentum and never looked back. Pretty disappointing.”
The Trail Blazers cut the Knicks lead to just six points, 98-92, in the fourth quarter. Nurkic then capped a 20-4 run with a dunk that gave Portland a 99-98 lead with 4:23 left.
Portland shot 47.6 percent from the floor and hit 15 three-pointers.
The Knicks lost starting center Mitchell Robinson to a sprained left ankle in the fourth quarter and Cam Reddish to a sprained right ankle.
In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid had 40 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals to lift the host Philadelphia 76ers over the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-93 on Saturday.
Bam Adebayo scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the host Miami Heat sent the Brooklyn Nets to their 11th straight loss with a 115-111 victory on Saturday night.
The Nets part-time player Kyrie Irving scored 18 straight team points in the fourth quarter as the Nets cut a 21-point deficit to just one on a three-pointer by rookie Cam Thomas with 38 seconds left.
Irving had just four points at halftime.