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LeBron James scores 34 points, leads Lakers comeback from 21-point deficit into 116-112 win over Clippers

LeBron James scored 19 of his 34 points during a brilliant fourth quarter, leading the Los Angeles Lakers back from a 21-point deficit for a dramatic 116-112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Kawhi Leonard missed a 12-footer with five seconds to play, and James threw a long pass to Cam Reddish for a dunk that punctuated a stunning victory for the Lakers in these Los Angeles rivals’ final regular-season game as co-tenants of their downtown arena.

The 39-year-old James was the center of it all, hitting five of his season-high seven 3-pointers while outscoring the Clippers by himself in the fourth quarter (19-16). He either scored or assisted on 11 of the Lakers’ 13 baskets in the final period.

Leonard scored 26 points and James Harden had 23 points and nine assists for the Clippers, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 23. The Clippers played without All-Star Paul George, who missed his second straight game with a sore left knee, and starting center Ivica Zubac, who was ill.

The Clippers led 98-77 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but James led a 29-8 run in just 7:34. Anthony Davis’ free throws tied it 106-106 with four minutes to play, and James found Rui Hachimura for a go-ahead 3-pointer moments later.

D’Angelo Russell’s 3-pointer put the Lakers up 114-108 with 1:12 to play, but Harden and Leonard scored on drives to the hoop while James missed a pair of shots for the Lakers. But Leonard’s last shot was off target, and James found Reddish for the capper to the delight of the thousands of Lakers fans in attendance at a “road” game.

The Lakers won three of four over the Clippers this season, winning the season series for the first time since 2011-12.

Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, while Russell had 18 and Hachimura added 17.

The Clippers and Lakers moved into the building long known as Staples Center — along with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings — when it opened in 1999. The NBA franchises shared their home for the next 25 years, usually facing each other four times annually in a rivalry known as the Hallway Series because their locker rooms are about 100 feet apart in the same corridor.

The era ends this fall when the Clippers move into Intuit Dome, owner Steve Ballmer’s lavish new arena in Inglewood. Ballmer decided the Clippers needed their own home to complete their move out of the shadows of the Lakers’ 17 NBA championships and the accompanying banners on the walls of the shared arena, and the billionaire quickly got it done.

The balance of power in Los Angeles still tilts completely in the Lakers’ direction, but the Clippers have made progress: They’ve finished with a better record than the Lakers in 10 of the last 11 seasons, failing only in 2020 when the Lakers won their 17th title.

The teams could always meet in a playoff series, but that’s never happened.

Reddish returned from a 14-game absence due to a sprained right ankle,

The Clippers built a 17-point lead shortly after halftime while the Lakers struggled, missing 15 of their first 18 3-point attempts and shooting only two free throws in the first half. Harden torched the Lakers for 18 points in the first half, noticeably again asserting himself as a shooter when one of his high-scoring teammates is out with an injury.

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Lakers: Host Washington on Thursday night

Clippers: Host Washington on Friday night.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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