Lakers defeat Houston following return of injured trio

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The Lakers are slowly starting to become whole, the return of versatile defender Jarred Vanderbilt, up-and-coming defender Cam Reddish and active big man Jaxson Hayes three more pieces to their puzzle.

Vanderbilt missed the start of the season while recovering from a left heel injury he suffered in the first preseason game against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 7, while Reddish had missed four of the last five games with groin soreness and Hayes had missed the last game with left elbow soreness.

But even with the three of them back, the most excitement the crowd at Arena got was from yet another highlight from ageless wonder LeBron James during the Lakers’ 107-97 win over the Houston Rockets Saturday night.

James, 39 and in his 21st season, thrilled the crowd with an amazing move in the second quarter, spinning baseline around Tari Eason and then making a 360-degree spin around Jeff Green for a layup.

The Lakers on the bench were so caught by the moment that they had their mouths open, eyes wide and hands on their heads. They also stepped on the court while celebrating, causing Christian Wood to be hit with a technical foul for being on the floor.

It didn’t matter.

The Lakers rolled on, looking nothing like a tired team that was playing its fifth game in five days.

That’s because Anthony Davis produced his 30th double-double of the season (27 points and 14 rebounds plus five blocked shots), Austin Reaves scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, and James had 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Vanderbilt played 14 minutes but didn’t score, missing his two shots. He did have four rebounds. Reddish started and played 24 minutes, finishing with 11 points and five rebounds, while Hayes had two points, those coming on a lob dunk off a pass from James.

Rui Hachimura was available to play, but did not because the Lakers were being cautious with the forward after his recent nasal surgery.

The game in which the Lakers once led by 19 points turned chippy in the fourth quarter.

It began when Reddish and Eason exchanged words after the Lakers forward fouled the Rockets forward. Reddish was called for a technical foul, and a few seconds later Eason was held back after walking toward Reddish.

Then James and Rockets coach Ima Udoka exchanged words, and both were assessed technicals. Because it was his second of the game, Udoka was ejected.

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