HOUSTON — The Los Angeles Lakers‘ late-season surge, with Sunday’s victory over the Houston Rockets marking the 10th win in their past 14 games, has LeBron James talking about a hopeful title run once again.
“We just want to put ourselves in position to be able to compete for a championship,” James said after the Lakers’ 134-109 win. “It’s a journey, and obviously, we don’t have as much chemistry as a lot of other teams trying to compete for a championship or that have aspirations to win a championship, but I like what we’ve been building over the last month or so.
“Even when I was out for the four weeks, I liked what we’ve been building, and I’m happy to be back in the mix.”
In James’ fourth game back following a monthlong absence because of a torn tendon his right foot, the 20-year veteran put up 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to register the 107th triple-double of his career, tying him with Jason Kidd for No. 4 on the all-time list.
Meanwhile, the Lakers (40-38) moved up to No. 7 in the Western Conference standings, just a half-game behind the No. 6 LA Clippers with four games remaining in the regular season.
While James orchestrated the offense — in part because starting point guard D’Angelo Russell sat out the second half due to a sore left foot — Anthony Davis dominated.
Davis scored 40 points on 15-for-20 shooting with nine rebounds and two blocked shots. The big man is averaging 38.7 points on 65.2% shooting through the first three games — all wins — of the Lakers’ road trip.
“Not so much just getting the numbers, but how he’s getting the numbers,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of Davis. “Him being in attack mode. Just playing downhill constantly toward the paint, toward the rim. Living in the paint. Being the main catalyst. … And we expect him to continue that.”
L.A. also got big contributions from Rui Hachimura (20 points while tying career highs with 12 rebounds and three blocks) and Austin Reaves (18 points and eight assists while attempting double-digit free throws for the fourth time in the past nine games) against the Rockets.
The Lakers’ trip concludes Tuesday against the Utah Jazz before the team returns to L.A. for a “road” game against the Clippers on Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back.
After that, the Lakers close out the 82-game slate by hosting the Phoenix Suns on Friday and the Jazz on Sunday.
“These last four games are very important for our team,” James said. “Not only in wins and losses but in the chemistry side of it, as well. We got to continue to build what we’ve been building over the last month or so. So, we’ll see what happens.”