NBA in-season tournament: Lakers take LeBron James-Kevin Durant duel, while Clippers stumble hard

by 24USATVNov. 12, 2023, 1:01 a.m. 20

The second day of the NBA in-season tournament saw LeBron James and Kevin Durant nearly combine to score their ages, with the Los Angeles Lakers pulling out a much-needed 122-119 comeback win in a battle between two future Hall of Famers.

The Lakers entered Friday on a three-game losing streak and responded by swapping out Austin Reaves, whom they just gave $56 million, for Cam Reddish. The Phoenix Suns were still without Devin Booker, but it didn't look like a huge issue for most of the night.

Phoenix held a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, but the Lakers finally clicked and outscored them 33-23 in the fourth. James finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Durant had 38 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Elsewhere in the West, the Los Angeles Clippers moved to 0-3 since adding James Harden to their lineup, and this was their worst loss of all.

Facing the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers took a double-digit lead late in the first quarter and then, well, became incapable of stopping the Mavericks from putting the ball in the basket. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Mavericks took the lead. Four minutes later, they were up by 19. At halftime, they led by 26.

The Mavericks' lead peaked at 32 points. The big night was powered by a 44-point performance from Luka Dončić on 17-of-21 shooting.

Unsurprisingly, the team starting Harden and Russell Westbrook had issues keeping Dallas in front of them. The Clippers can only hope the team gels once Harden gets more than a week with the team under his belt, but there were concerns around his fit at the time of the trade that becoming mighty loud.

Earlier, the Minnesota Timberwolves win the battle of the French 7-footers, but not for lack of trying from Victor Wembanyama.

The T-Wolves defeated the San Antonio Spurs 117-110 in the second day of the NBA's new tournament, in which games count for both the regular season and in a group play that will decide the eight-team field in the knockout stages in December.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards combined for 57 points in the win, Minnesota's fifth straight, while Wembanyama had one of the more productive games of his young career with 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting (3-of-7 from 3-point range) with nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks.

It was a meaningful night for Wembanyama, as he was facing his countryman and "proud dad" Rudy Gobert.

And yes, there was the usual swath of highlights from Wembanyama, who bounced back after a difficult performance on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in a loss to the Knicks. He also showed off his range with a long 3-pointer late in the second quarter.

In case you need a reminder (we wouldn't blame you), the top team from each group and two wild cards will advance to a single-elimination knockout stage, with quarterfinals played on Dec. 4 and 5 in team markets and the final two rounds played in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 and 9.

Each team plays every team in its group once. Tiebreakers are, in order: head-to-head record, point differential, total points scored, 2022-23 regular-season record and a random drawing.


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