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LeBron-less Lakers fall to Denver with Davis injury fear

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Agence France-Presse

With superstar LeBron James sidelined by a muscle strain, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered their most lopsided loss of the NBA season Sunday as injury fears were raised about star big man Anthony Davis.

Paul Millsap scored 21 points, Nikola Jokic added 18 and Will Barton had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Denver in a 128-104 road victory over the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nuggets (20-8) won their sixth straight game to pull within three games of the Lakers (24-6), who dropped their third game in a row.

James missed his first game of the season due to a thoracic muscle strain, suffering the mid-section injury in the Lakers’ Tuesday loss at Indiana but playing Thursday and producing a triple double in a loss at Milwaukee.

Without James, the Lakers had 19 turnovers and a season-low 18 assists, eight off their average.

Davis was bothered by a right knee issue in the third quarter but kept playing and produced 32 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

He went to plant his right foot but it didn’t land solidly when he moved right to defend the basket and he fell to the floor.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Davis “tweaked it” but “felt good enough to go back in” and added, “I didn’t feel like he looked limited.”

Denver trailed 67-65 before going on a 37-15 run for a 20-point lead with 10 minutes remaining. Denver’s 73 second-half points were the most allowed by the Lakers in a half this season.

“We didn’t have enough juice defensively the whole game,” Vogel said. “That’s why you see that kind of number.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points, the 21-year-old Canadian guard matching his career high, while New Zealand center Steven Adams added 20 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Los Angeles Clippers 118-112.

Paul George scored 18 points and received a warm welcome in Oklahoma City in his first visit since a blockbuster trade sent him from the Thunder to the Clippers in the off-season.

It was the Thunder’s third comeback victory from 18 points or more down this month and Oklahoma City’s fourth win in a row.

German guard Dennis Schroder scored 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Thunder rally, which included a late 9-0 run to seize the lead for good.

“Everybody did a great job on the defensive end, locking down, making great steals,” Schroder said. “On the offensive end we were making great shots. That was a the key to winning.”

– Raptors make epic rally –
Defending champion Toronto made the greatest comeback in club history, rallying from a 30-point deficit to defeat visiting Dallas 110-107.

Kyle Lowry scored 20 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter and also passed off 10 assists while Chris Boucher had a career-high 21 points to spark the Raptors’ comeback victory.

Down 85-55 late in the third quarter, the Raptors battled back over the last 15 minutes and made the first fightback from 30-down to win since Sacramento rallied past Chicago from 35 points behind 10 years ago.

Toronto’s fifth consecutive victory snapped a seven-game road win streak for the Mavericks, who were without guard Luka Doncic for the fourth straight game due to a right ankle sprain.

Jalen Brunson led Dallas with 21 points while Kristaps Porzingis had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks.

“Very disappointing loss,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We lost our aggression. They did a good job with the trap but that’s on me.”

Porzingis sank two free throws to put Dallas ahead 107-106 with 32 seconds remaining before Boucher answered with a dunk and added two final free throws to seal the triumph.

– Bucks, Celtics romp –
NBA-best Milwaukee and Boston each captured lopsided home victories to keep pace atop the Eastern Conference.

Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 18 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, passed off nine assists and added two blocked shots and two steals in Milwaukee’s 117-89 win over Indiana.

Wesley Matthews led the Bucks (27-4) with 19 points while Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 19 points.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum scored 39 points on 15-of-29 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds to spark the Celtics (20-7) over Charlotte 119-93.

Kemba Walker added 23 points against his former club while Devonte Graham led Charlotte with 23 points.