Oct. 27 (UPI) — LeBron James abandoned plans to limit playing time early in the season, shredded the Phoenix Suns defense and led the Los Angeles Lakers to their first win of the season before addressing his critics on a TNT broadcast .
James scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter in a 100-95 comeback win Thursday at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The veteran forward also added nine assists and eight rebounds.
Center Anthony Davis was criticized on social media for going scoreless in the second half of the Lakers’ season-opening loss to the Denver Nuggets, but he got one in the final 12 minutes against the Suns 13 out of 30 points.
“we do not give (expletive) criticism About Anthony Davis,” James said on the TNT broadcast. “We don’t care. Nothing can disturb us. AD doesn’t care. I don’t know if my friends have understood it yet. AD doesn’t care. He is not on social media. So he doesn’t see that crap. He rarely spoke, except to us. “
Davis made 10 of 17 field goals and 9 of 10 free throws. I scored 19 points in the second half.
Suns forward Kevin Durant scored 39 points. He also had 11 rebounds and eight turnovers. Lakers guards D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reeves contributed 14 and 10 points respectively.
The Lakers defeated the Suns 60-36 in the paint and 16-6 on the fast break. They trailed by 12 points at one point, but eventually got their first win.
James played 35 minutes Thursday, exceeding the 30-minute guideline the Lakers set before the season. The minutes limit is intended to keep the future Hall of Fame inductee fresh and healthy in his 21st NBA season.
James played 23 minutes in the first three quarters against the Suns. Then he played the entire fourth quarter. The Lakers star said he discussed the increased playing time during the game with coach Davon Hamm.
“He asked me if I could play (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 hard work I put in to get through the quarterfinals or whatever happens. I know we’ve definitely got a system in place, but tonight required me to step out of the box.”
Durant led the Suns to defeat the Lakers 30-18 in the first quarter. The Lakers led the Suns 30-22 in the second quarter, but still trailed 52-48 at halftime. Durant scored 15 points in the third quarter and the Suns entered the fourth quarter with an 84-72 lead.
“We were dragging our feet for most of the first half and things weren’t going well,” Ham said. “He has that spirit, that intensity of carrying the team on his shoulders. I had timeouts. So I went to him and I said, ‘How do we feel? What do we want to do?’
“I answered my questions and you saw the results.”
The Lakers outscored the Suns 28-11 in the final 12 minutes to move to 1-1 on the season.
Los Angeles will host the Sacramento Kings (1-0) in Sacramento on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. The Suns (1-1) will face the Utah Jazz (0-1) in Phoenix on Saturday at 10 p.m.