By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – LeBron James left no doubt that the injuries that plagued him last season were a thing of the past as the Los Angeles Lakers’ forward scored at will en route to a 95-86 win over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Friday.
James overwhelmed the Jazz with his aggression in the team’s home opener, powering his way to the hoop and hitting a variety of deft jump shots to see off their Western Conference opponent.
James left to a standing ovation from the adoring crowd, which included singer Rihanna, musician Flea and actor Jack Nicholson.
“It was fun to get out there in front of the Laker faithful,” James told reporters while exiting through the tunnel at the Staples Center after the game.
The 34-year-old 15-time All-Star, who was sidelined with a groin injury for stretches of last season, finished with a game high 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a dominant performance that made it clear that King James was back.
“He was really locked in and had a really good night,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the game.
The Lakers’ prized offseason acquisition Anthony Davis added 21 points, including several emphatic alley-oops from James that sent the purple and gold clad crowd into a frenzy.
The towering Davis also recorded five blocks to establish himself as the team’s primary defensive weapon, something the squad sorely lacked last season.
“We did a great job defensively,” Davis said after the game.
“The more we can defend like this, the easier it will be for us.”
Pressure from James and Davis going toward the basket opened up shooters at the perimeter and guard Troy Daniels took advantage, coming off the bench to score 15 points including four three pointers for the Lakers, who fell to their cross-town rivals the Clippers in the season opener on Tuesday.
Next up for the Lakers is a meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)