LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers injured his ankle against the Phoenix Suns. Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images via AFP
LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers injured his ankle against the Phoenix Suns. Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images via AFP

LeBron James injures ankle as Phoenix Suns roll over Los Angeles Lakers

By AFP Time of article published Dec 22, 2021

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Los Angeles - Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton powered the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns to a 108-90 victory Tuesday over the Los Angeles Lakers, whose superstar LeBron James suffered a left ankle injury.

Booker delivered 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Bahamas big man Ayton contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Suns won their fourth game in a row and sixth in seven starts.

The Suns, who lost to Milwaukee in last season's NBA Finals, improved the NBA's best record to 25-5, just ahead of the Golden State Warriors (26-6). It marks the team's second-best 30-game start in team history.

Phoenix started 0-for-9 from 3-point range and finished 12-for-41 with Booker, just back from a hamstring injury that had him miss seven games, going 6-for-11 from beyond the arc.

"Just trust your work," Booker said. "We spend countless hours in the gym. There are four quarters in the game so we try to keep going and stick it out."

The Suns led only 54-52 at halftime but stretched the margin to 85-73 entering the fourth quarter and pulled away from there.

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James led the Lakers with 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting and added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals while Russell Westbrook added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the hosts, whose losing streak hit three games.

James, who turns 37 next week, drove to the hoop near the midpoint of the third quarter and his left foot landed on the foot of Phoenix forward Jae Crowder.

James collapsed to the court, grabbed the ankle, rolled over and pounded the court three times with his left fist.

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He stayed in the game but wasn't around for the finish, and the Lakers have to be concerned about the status of his ankle with big man Anthony Davis sidelined for four weeks by a knee injury.

The Lakers fell to 16-16 to share seventh in the Western Conference.

At Miami, Heat reserve Tyler Herro and starter Duncan Robinson each scored 26 points to power Miami over Indiana 125-96, delivering the Pacers' most lopsided loss of the season.

Despite Miami stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler being injured, the Heat won for the fifth time in seven games.

Heat guard Kyle Lowry just missed a triple-double with eight points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists for the Heat.

Herro, the NBA's top reserve scorer, missed the prior three games with a quad injury and said the Heat thrive on depth and being prepared every game.

"Next man up mentality," Herro said. "Everyone has been filling in for other guys, picking up the quality. When we get everybody back, we'll be in great shape.

"We want to win a championship. We feel like we have a great locker room and the guys who can get the job done. We're deep. Once everyone gets healthy, there's no limit for this team."

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French guard Evan Fournier scored a game-high 22 points while Kemba Walker added 21 points and Julius Randle had 21 points and 11 rebounds to power the New York Knicks over visiting Detroit 105-91.

Jalen Brunson scored 28 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks over visiting Minnesota 114-102. Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves while Malik Beasley added 22 points in a losing cause.

Brandon Ingram scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and passed off eight assists to power the New Orleans Pelicans over visiting Portland 111-97.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker came off the Pelicans bench to score 27 points while Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 16 rebounds for the hosts.

Damian Lillard netted 39 for the Trail Blazers in a losing effort.

The NBA has placed 85 players in the Covid-19 health and safety protocols and seven games have been postponed, including a Washington at Brooklyn contest that was set for Tuesday.

AFP

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