It was only the ninth time in LeBron James' illustrious 1377-game career that he has committed nine turnovers in a game, but he was able to figure it out in "winning time" to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 105-94 on Friday.
James had missed the previous five games with an adductor injury, but returned to the line-up to help the Lakers collect their fourth win from their past five games.
He had six of his nine turnovers in the first half, and had only 13 points through three quarters, but he turned it on down the stretch to finish with 21 points (eight-of-17), eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.
Speaking to the media after the win, James said he felt rusty in the early stages, but was pleased to deliver in his "favourite quarter".
"My rhythm, my timing was a little off on a few of my passes," he said.
"I had six [turnovers] in the first half, and cut it in half in the second half. I'll be a lot better, obviously, as the games go on I'll get my rhythm back.
"[But] the fourth quarter has always been my favourite quarter. That's winning time, that's closing time and to be out there and being able to execute and make plays in the fourth quarter, it's always a treat for me."
Transition buckets by bron pic.twitter.com/UN8LeP5rSp— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 26, 2022
James was supported in style by Anthony Davis, who continued his red-hot form with another 25 points (10-of-13 shooting), 15 rebounds and three blocks.
It continues Davis' best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers ahead of the 2019-20 season, averaging 27.7 points per game in November and a career-high 12.6 rebounds for the season.
"AD was the best player in the league over the last 4-5 games," James said. "Just his numbers and productivity on both sides of the floor.
"It's not just offensively, but defensively he's been super engaged, and tonight once again he was amazing."
Davis is the anchor of the Lakers' defense, which was their calling card during their run to the 2020 championship.
They were the third-ranked defense in the league that year, and the number one defense in the 2020-21 season, before plummeting to 21st this past campaign.
With the additions of athletic defenders Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr, as well as Davis' return to form, the Lakers are back up to the sixth-best defense this season, and guard Dennis Schroder made it clear James is a big part of that.
"Defensively, [James] was amazing," Schroder said. "Switching, holding off players and not letting them get to the rim.
"If we got him and AD committing on the defensive end like that, then we're going to go a long way."
Davis echoed that sentiment that James' performance was a two-way clinic.
"His voice, leadership, his playmaking, scoring ability – I think it all came into effect tonight," he said.
"Especially down the stretch, pick-and-roll and calling plays and stuff. I think it was really good for us."
James and Davis being back in the line-up together should see the Lakers begin to work out their offense, which has been weighing the team down early and is the big reason they are 6-11.
Their offensive rating of 106.3 is the second-worst in the league, but if they can get that end of the floor to even league average, their defense has the potential to lead the Lakers to the playoffs.