LOS ANGELES — The Lakers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and then reversed it.
After running off an 8-0 run in the final 64 seconds of regulation, L.A. conceded a 7-0 run in the final 51 seconds of overtime to lose 143-142 to San Antonio and fall to 0-3 on the season.
LeBron James rode a rollercoaster all night, struggling throughout the first half, hitting a game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation and then missing two free throws and a potential game-winning buzzer-beater in overtime.
Here are three quick-hitting thoughts from a wild night in L.A.
LeBron’s first magical moment in LA ends in disaster
James finished with a typically excellent line—32 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists—but it came after one of his ugliest halves in recent memory. The four-time MVP scored just four points in the first half, missing six of his eight shots and committing three turnovers. With James frustrated by a lack of calls all night, Lakers coach Luke Walton stepped in to complain on his behalf, picking up a first-half technical foul after a particularly egregious no-call.
After halftime, James came out firing and it looked for a minute like he would have his first heroic moment of his Lakers tenure. Down three in the closing seconds of regulation, James stepped into a pretty three from the right angle to tie the game and force overtime.
In the extra period, though, James uncharacteristically came apart. With L.A. by one with 11.2 seconds left, James missed both free throws, giving San Antonio a final chance. Patty Mills made the most of it, burying a long two to give the Spurs the improbable 143-142 win. James had one final opportunity to play hero again, but he missed a long jumper from the left wing as time expired.
Standout showings from the stand-in starters
Despite the heartbreaking finish, there were positive takeaways for the Lakers, who hung around and made it a game after giving up 40 points in the first quarter. Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball stepped in as starters for Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo, who were both serving suspensions for their roles in a Saturday night brawl with the Rockets.
Kuzma scored 37 points and added eight rebounds, falling just one point shy of his career-high for scoring as he displayed his all-around offensive game. The second-year forward hit four threes and he even dropped in a pretty baby hook. Ball finished with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists; in overtime, he keyed a transition opportunity for James with a nice touch pass and hit his third three of the game.
What a debut
To be honest, the Lakers didn’t play much defense all night. After conceding 143 to the Spurs, they’ve now allowed an eye-popping average of 131.7 points through three games. LaMarcus Aldridge pounded L.A.’s bigs for 37 points and DeMar DeRozan added 32.
Even so, rookie big man Johnathan Williams was a rare bright spot on the defensive end, coming through with two key blocks in overtime. Called into action because starting center JaVale McGee fouled out, Williams put his length and mobility to good use in his NBA debut. Given that Walton is desperately searching for options inside and filling rotation holes due to the suspensions, Williams should get some more looks in the near future.