In the Los Angeles Lakers' last game before they face the Warriors, LeBron James made his much-awaited return and did LeBron James things.
On the same night Golden State's 11-game winning streak came to an end, James led the Lakers to a 123-120 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. James nearly posted a triple-double in his first game action since injuring his groin on Christmas, giving the Lakers the lead for good over their cross-town rivals with 1:18 remaining in overtime.
James finished the night with 24 points (on 9-of-22 shooting), 14 rebounds, and nine assists. His last dish ultimately put the game out of reach, as Lance Stephenson finished off James' outlet pass and gave the Lakers a 123-118 lead with just over 45 seconds remaining.
It wasn't a perfect return for the four-time MVP, however. The Lakers were only plus-2 with James on the court, and he missed five of his six attempts from beyond the arc.
"I'm about 80 [percent] right now," James told Spectrum SportsNet's Mike Trudell in a postgame interview. "But I was good enough and feel confident to be able to just keep pushing throughout the game. ... It's going to take me a litlle while to get my rhythm back; I didn't shoot the ball particularly well. I'm [normally] very efficient, I take that personal but I was able to help out in other ways."
The win moved the Lakers within a game of the Clippers for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. James and his new team face an uphill climb to clinch a postseason berth, and the Warriors can make it steeper with a win on Saturday.
Of course, it's not like they needed additional motivation facing the best player on the planet.