Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) finished with 33 points and nine assists in a 119-117 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday, December 18. 2022 (Courtesy Photo)

LeBron James led all scorers with 33 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers held on late to defeat the struggling Washington Wizards 119-117 on Sunday night at Crypto.com Arena.

Los Angeles played its first game since receiving the news that star big man Anthony Davis is expected to miss at least one month after suffering a right foot injury.

“Injuries are a part of our league and a part of major sports in general, and unfortunately he’s had the injury history that he’s had,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “But it’s no time to cry over spilt milk. The season is fairly early, and he just has to take care of his business starting with first and foremost getting back healthy.”

The Lakers (13-16) have now won three of their last four games and will travel for a two-game road trip to take on Phoenix (18-12) and Sacramento (16-12) over the next three days.

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“We’ll try to hold down the fort for as long as we can until we get our number one guy back,” James said of Davis.

Washington dropped its 10th straight game and their 13th in 14 games.

Thomas Bryant started at center for Davis and was productive while finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes to help LA outscore the Wizards 66-58 in points in the paint.

“You have to follow the lead and sometimes wait for your (name) to be called,” said Bryant. “It doesn’t change the fact that you have to be ready and stay ready and do what you can to make sure you’re in that mode in case something like this happens. I take pride in the preparation that I have.”

Lonnie Walker IV had 21 points for Los Angeles while Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder both added 12 points apiece. Reaves exited the game momentarily late in the third after rolling his ankle but returned in the fourth.

“If it ain’t broke, go play. Thats what my mom and dad use to tell me. I’ve always tried to play through nicks and bruises,” said Reaves.

James attacked the lane with the game tied at 115-115 and flushed home a ferocious dunk to give Los Angeles two-point lead with 27 seconds remaining after Bradley Beal made a two-foot jumper on the possession before for Washington.

Bryant finished the play of the game after James nearly lost the ball near midcourt, but regained possession and found Bryant down low for the game-winning dunk with 7.1 seconds remaining.

“I knew if LeBron had an open lane I just had to make myself available, luckily it went my way right there and got the easy dunk,” said Bryant.

“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky,” said James following his game-winning assist to Bryant.

The Lakers led by as many as 14 for the game and held a 66-52 advantage at halftime.

Beal led the Wizards with 29 points in his return to the lineup after missing the last six games due to a hamstring injury. Former Laker, Kyle Kuzma, who won an NBA championship with LA in 2020 had 22 points and 16 rebounds while Kristaps Porzingis added 21 and 11.

Washington closed the third quarter on a 13-3 run to get their first lead since the first quarter after back-to-back threes by Kuzma and Porzingis with 2:02 remaining in the period.

James however took over the final period, scoring 13 points, and Reaves added huge back-to-back floaters with less than two minutes to play to put LA ahead by four.

Kuzma had a chance late to win the game but missed a three-pointer for the Wizards with 2.1 seconds left.

“It’s frustrating for sure,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after giving up a score off a broken play. “We were playing to get the ball out of (James’) hands and missed it. We got a hand on the ball to knock it loose, we just didn’t come up with possession.”