LeBron drops 48, Lakers beat Rockets 140-132 to quickly sweep

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James had a season-high 48 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in his third 40-point…

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James had a season-high 48 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in his third 40-point performance since turning 38 less than three weeks ago, and the Los Angeles Lakers » snapped a three-game skid Monday night with a 140-132 win over the Houston Rockets.

Russell Westbrook scored 24 for the Lakers, who never recovered in another poor defensive performance. James’ brilliance in the 100th 40-point outing of his career — including the postseason — was enough to hold off NBA-worst Houston.

James scored his 38,000th career point Sunday night, and he showed no side effects as he played in back-to-back games despite a sore left ankle that has plagued him for weeks. After carrying the exhausted Lakers for long stretches with ferocious dunks and five 3-pointers, James hit a 17-foot jumper and four free throws in the final minute to preserve the Lakers’ victory.

James scored 40 points for the 72nd time in his 20-year career. Only Michael Jordan has more than 40 points in NBA history after turning 35 — Jordan had 12, James had eight.

Kendrick Nunn had 15 points for the Lakers, who have won six of nine overall despite a thin lineup.

Alperen Sengun scored a career-high 33 points and Jalen Green added 23 in the Rockets’ 11th straight loss. Sengun, a 20-year-old Turkish center, went 14-of-17 from the field and added 15 rebounds and six assists.

Houston has lost 16 of 17 over the past five weeks, dropping to last in the NBA overall at 10-34. At least the Rockets are just halfway to a franchise-record 20-game losing streak just two seasons ago.

James scored 11 of his first-half 18 points in the second quarter and Los Angeles led 73-61 at halftime. James fired up the home crowd with two brutal dunks in the final minute, both punctuated by boos at his fans.

Senggun held his own with a career-high 20 points in the first half. James kept the pressure going right after halftime with back-to-back 3-pointers.

TIPS

Rockets: USC product Kevin Porter Jr. missed his third straight game with an injured left leg, but coach Stephen Silas is optimistic Porter will play this week. … Houston rookie Jabari Smith Jr. scored 14 points. His father was a member of the Kings when James played his first NBA game in Sacramento nearly 20 years ago.

Lakers: Venien Gabriel had 14 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 2:41 to play. … Anthony Davis (right leg) missed his 16th straight game. … Lonnie Walker (left knee tendinitis) missed his ninth straight game. … Austin Reaves (hamstring) missed his sixth straight game.

FURTHER

Rockets: Host Charlotte on Wednesday.

Lakers: Host Sacramento on Wednesday.

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