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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) guarded by Brooklyn Nets.

LeBron James sprinted up the court, streaking down the left wing. He caught a pass from a legendary ex-UCLA guard and slashed past Blake Griffin, fighting off contact to score while drawing a foul.

While the fans roared, James flexed his arms and stared at his teammates, slapping their hands. First, he celebrated with Stanley Johnson. Then Mason Jones. Then Jemmerio Jones.

The assist? It came from Darren Collison.

Only James was on the Lakers‘ roster last week.

Despite another terrific performance from their leader, the Lakers couldn’t overcome their lack of depth and other persisting problems in a 122-115 loss Christmas night to the Brooklyn Nets at newly named Arena.

Billed this preseason as a potential NBA Finals matchup, the Lakers looked like a modest speedbump for the Nets, a team minus two of its stars, for huge chunks of the game. Only during a pair of furious comebacks did the Lakers actually look like a team with a shot to steal a win.

James scored 39 points in 40 minutes, both making things close but neither good enough to snap the Lakers’ losing streak, which grew to five games.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is fouled driving between Brooklyn Nets forwards Bruce Brown and James Johnson.Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is fouled driving between Brooklyn Nets forwards Bruce Brown and James Johnson.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, center, is fouled driving between Brooklyn Nets forwards Bruce Brown, left, and James Johnson in the first half. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Relying on James to play center for most of the second half, the Lakers climbed back from down 23 to tie the score in the final minute before the Nets pulled away again.

Aiding Brooklyn was a badly missed Russell Westbrook dunk, a left-handed attempt that jammed off the front of the rim, his latest in a series of frustrating misses at and around the basket.

James Harden scored 36 and Patty Mills had 34 for the Nets, who played without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.