Davis, James lead Lakers' late rally over Spurs, 109-103

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Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis, right, keeps the ball from San Antonio Spurs' Rudy Gay, left rear, and Drew Eubanks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

SAN ANTONIO – The Los Angeles Lakers know they are not always going to feel or play like the defending league champions.

Anthony Davis had 35 points and 11 rebounds and LeBron James added 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 on Friday night.

The Lakers closed the game with a 9-0 run for their second win against the Spurs in three days.

“We persisted through our struggles,” Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel said. “That’s going to happen from time to time. In a 72-game season, you are going to have some wins that are uglier than others. We knew coming into this season, with the quick turnaround, there was going to be some ugly nights. The key is to find a way to win when you are not at your best.”

The Lakers found a way to win by attacking the paint late against the youthful core of the Spurs.

San Antonio forward Keldon Johnson blocked James’ layup attempt, but Kyle Kuzma tipped in the follow to give the Lakers a 105-103 lead with 53.9 seconds remaining. James followed with a layup and Davis closed the scoring with two free throws.

“Their game plan tweaked,” Kuzma said. “They added a little bit of a different element for us. We had to adjust down the stretch.”

Johnson had a career-high 26 points and added 10 rebounds for his fourth game of 20-plus points in two seasons. Only Hall of Famer Tim Duncan had more 20-point efforts through his first 25 career games with the Spurs, getting six during his rookie season.