MANILA, Philippines — The Sacramento Kings spoiled LeBron James' return after a 20-game absence due to injury when they beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 110-106 at the Staples Center on Friday (Saturday, Manila time).
James would miss on a potential game-winner with 2.7 ticks left to cap off a 16-point performance in his first match back.
The Kings held on to a four-point lead with less than a minute left, 108-104, after two charities from Richaun Holmes.
But James converted on a driving layup to bring the Lakers within two, 106-108, with 39.8 remaining.
His fellow star Anthony Davis then registered his fifth block of the game on a Delon Wright floater to give the Lakers a chance to tie the game or take the lead.
However, the Kings' defense stiffled the LA squad and forced them to take a timeout with only 7.8 left in regulation.
James missed a 3-pointer and Tyrese Haliburton sank two more free throws to arrive at the final score.
Haliburton was the top performer for Sacramento with 23 points and 10 assists.
Davis, for his part, paced the Lakers with 22 points and 11 boards.
The loss marked the Lakers' fifth in their last six assignments.
They remain struggling and are ranked fifth in the Western Confernce standings, and are only a game ahead of the sixth-ranked Dallas Mavericks.
If the Lakers fail to break into the top four, the defending champions will not have homecourt advantage in the postseason.
Elsewhere, the Phoenix Suns overtook the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference standings after winning their matchup in a blowout, 121-100.
The Suns were riding a two-game win streak and extended it to three with the Jazz still missing top scorer Donovan Mitchell because of injury.
Devin Booker paced the Suns in the contest with 31 points. Bojan Bogdanovic, meanwhile, led the Jazz with 22 markers.
For their part, the Milwaukee Bucks made easy work of the struggling Chicago Bulls, 108-98, despite missing the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Khris Middleton stepped up with 22 points.
In other games, the Memphis Grizzlies eliminated the Orlando Magic from playoff contention with a 92-75 victory.
Russell Westbrook also continued his triple-double barrage against the Cavaliers with a 122-93 win for the Washington Wizards.
Westbrook tallied 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the the Wizards to their ninth win in their last 10 games.
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