LeBron James shrugs off criticism, playing restriction in Lakers' first win

Center Anthony Davis (L) and forward LeBron James helped the Los Angeles Lakers rally past the Phoenix Suns on Thursday in Los Angeles. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 5 | Center Anthony Davis (L) and forward LeBron James helped the Los Angeles Lakers rally past the Phoenix Suns on Thursday in Los Angeles. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 27 (UPI) -- LeBron James ditched plans to limit his minutes early in the season, shredded the Phoenix Suns defense and led the Los Angeles Lakers to their first win of the season before addressing critics on the TNT broadcast.

James scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter of the 100-95 comeback victory Thursday at Arena in Los Angeles. The veteran forward also registered nine assists and eight rebounds.


Center Anthony Davis, who was criticized on social media for not scoring a point in the second half of the Lakers' season-opening loss to the Denver Nuggets, scored 13 of his 30 points over the final 12 minutes against the Suns.

"We don't give an [expletive] about criticism about Anthony Davis," James said on the TNT broadcast. "We don't care. Nothing bothers us. A.D. doesn't care. I don't know if guys have figured that out. A.D. does not care. He's not on social media. So he doesn't see that crap. He rarely talks, unless it's to us."


Davis was 10 of 17 from the field and made 9 of 10 free-throw attempts. He scored 19 points in the second half.

Suns forward Kevin Durant scored 39 points. He also logged 11 rebounds and eight turnovers. Lakers guards D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves chipped in 14 and 10 points, respectively.

The Lakers outscored the Suns 60-36 in the paint and 16 to 6 off fast breaks. They trailed by as many as 12 points before rallying for their first victory.

James played for 35 minutes Thursday, past a reported guideline 30 minutes set by the Lakers before the season. The minutes restriction is an effort to keep the future Hall of Fame inductee fresh and healthy during his 21st NBA campaign.

James logged 23 minutes through the first three quarters against the Suns. He then played the entire fourth quarter. The Lakers star said he spoke to coach Darvin Ham about the increased playing time during the game.

"He asked me if I could go the [entire fourth quarter], and I looked at the time and the score and what was going on in the game, and it was an easy answer for myself," James said.


"I know how much work I've put in to be able to play quarters or whatever the case may be. And I understand that we definitely have a system put in place, but tonight called for me to go outside the box."

Durant and the Suns outscored the Lakers 30-18 in the first quarter. The Lakers outscored the Suns 30-22 in the second, but still trailed 52-48 at the break. Durant poured in 15 points in the third and the Suns carried an 84-72 edge into the fourth.

"We were dragging our feet there for the better part of the first half, and things weren't clicking," Ham said. "He has that spirit, that intensity to put the team on his shoulders. And I had timeouts to play with. And so I went to him, I said, 'How we feeling? What do we want to do?'

"He answered my question and you guys saw the results."

The Lakers outscored the Suns 28-11 over the final 12 minutes to improve to 1-1 this season.

Los Angeles will face the Sacramento Kings (1-0) at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday in Sacramento. The Suns (1-1) will host the Utah Jazz (0-1) at 10 p.m. Saturday in Phoenix.


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LeBron James when he was a high school senior playing basketball at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo

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