LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James had no idea why he was so tired. He slept 11 hours overnight, missing his company Christmas party in the process, and then had a 2½-hour nap before the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against San Antonio.

Perhaps his body just knew he would need all that stored-up energy to hold off the Spurs during a frantic finish.

 

gettyimages 1068933092 LeBron Scores 42 As Lakers Surge Past Spurs Late, 121 113

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores as he is fouled by LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs during a 121-113 Laker win at Staples Center on December 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

James scored 20 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter and Josh Hart hit two clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes of the Lakers’ fourth straight victory, 121-113 on Wednesday night.

 

gettyimages 1068930362 LeBron Scores 42 As Lakers Surge Past Spurs Late, 121 113

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his pass to LeBron James #23 resulting in a score during a 121-113 win over the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Kyle Kuzma had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who lost Brandon Ingram to a sprained left ankle in the first quarter. Los Angeles still beat the Spurs for the first time in three tries this season, but only after James dramatically took control of another fourth quarter during his third 40-point game since joining the Lakers.

“It’s the fourth quarter, and my teammates look at me to make plays,” James said with a shrug. “Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way but I put that type of pressure on my back because I love my teammates giving me that responsibility.”

 

gettyimages 1068930736 LeBron Scores 42 As Lakers Surge Past Spurs Late, 121 113

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after his blocking foul during a 121-113 win over the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

James went 7 of 8 from the field with three 3-pointers in the fourth, but he was quick to point out he had plenty of help from younger Lakers, even after Ingram went down. Kuzma scored nine points in the fourth, including a key dunk on a pass from James with 2:13 left, while Hart and Lonzo Ball both hit big 3s.

Everything added up to an impressive finish by the Lakers, who improved to 15-9 with their eighth win in their last nine home games.

“You just know” when James is about to take over a game, Hart said. “I’ve said it before. He’s the best ever to put on a uniform. When it’s happening, sometimes it’s amazing. People should stop criticizing, shut up and enjoy his greatness.”

 

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LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs scores on a jumper over Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 121-113 Laker win at Staples Center on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and Rudy Gay had a season-high 31 before fouling out for the Spurs in the first of back-to-back games in three days to wrap up the season series between these longtime West rivals. They’ll meet again in San Antonio on Friday night.

“We made everything tough for them, (but) it got away from us in the fourth quarter,” DeRozan said. “Even though we were scoring, going back and forth, we couldn’t get those critical stops when we needed them, and that killed us.”

San Antonio held an eight-point lead in the fourth before James started a rally by scoring nine consecutive points. The Lakers hit seven 3-pointers in the final period while making 13 of 20 shots overall with one turnover.

 

gettyimages 1068927640 LeBron Scores 42 As Lakers Surge Past Spurs Late, 121 113

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks up for a shot in front of LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, who have lost seven of 10.

“They made tough shots,” Aldridge said. “Guys competed and tried to keep guys in front of them, but they found the back side of the defense.”

TIP-INS

Spurs: Longtime Lakers big man Pau Gasol didn’t get to play against his old team. He is out with a stress fracture in his left foot. … Davis Bertans hit three 3-pointers but also drew a technical foul in the third quarter. “I think I said one more word than I was supposed to,” he explained.

 

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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

Lakers: Ingram had played at least 25 minutes in every game since he returned from a four-game suspension for fighting in Los Angeles’ home opener. … Ball had 14 points and nine assists, hitting three 3-pointers.

INGRAM OUT

Ingram left midway through the opening quarter after getting hurt while Aldridge committed a flagrant foul against him. The Lakers’ third-leading scorer had X-rays that came back negative, but the Lakers seem to think he’ll miss additional games. “(Ingram) said they got him pretty good,” coach Luke Walton said.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick has been a key component of the Lakers’ starting lineup around James, providing length on the perimeter and improving his drives to the hoop.

BIG GAME FOR RUDY

Gay poured in 16 points during the third quarter of his highest-scoring performance for the Spurs and a personal best for the injury-plagued scorer since Jan. 5, 2016. He had just one basket in the final 10½ minutes before fouling out with 27 seconds left.

UP NEXT

Spurs: Host the Lakers on Friday.

Lakers: Visit the Spurs on Friday.

 

© 2018 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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