Tagged in: LeBron James

Booker, Ayton push Suns past Lakers 108-90

Devin Booker continued to distance himself from a hamstring injury that cost him seven games, scoring 24 points with nine rebounds and seven assists as the Phoenix Suns earned a 108-90 victory Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Booker played 32 minutes and went 8 of 16 from the field one game after he was on the court for 26 minutes in his return Sunday during a blowout triumph over the Charlotte Hornets.

“I feel great, man, and I think every game it’s going to feel better,” Booker said. “I’m just getting some runs up under me but we have a good team that makes it easy to mesh with and get back with. When you have the support of all 15 guys, plus the coaching staff, it gives you a lot more confidence when you’re out there.”

Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Mikal Bridges scored 14 as the Suns won their fourth straight game and improved to 2-2 on the road since the end of their 18-game winning streak Dec. 3.

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LeBron James scored 34 points for the Lakers, who lost their third game in a row as coach Frank Vogel remained in health and safety protocols for the second straight.

Four Lakers players also are in protocols, including starting guard Avery Bradley.

“Obviously, we are in a rough patch right now with guys in and out of protocol, guys who are injured,” James said. “We just have to stay together until we become whole, or as whole as possible. But I love our fight. I thought we had a good fight tonight, we just couldn’t make enough plays.”

Russell Westbrook had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who were without star Anthony Davis for the second consecutive game. Davis is expected to miss at least four weeks with an MCL sprain in his left knee.

James injured his left ankle with 6:05 left in the third quarter when he came down on the right foot of the Suns’ Jae Crowder. He remained in the game but looked hobbled the rest of the way.

“Yeah, I’ll be ready for next game,” James said.

Losing Booker for 2 1/2 weeks could have sent the Suns spiraling backward, but they found success and still hold the best record in the NBA as Christmas approaches.

“I think a big part of it comes down to our team culture, how guys step into situations and we remain ourselves,” said Cameron Johnson, who also had 14 points.

“You can see our identity on the court when we have everybody. It’s a group of guys that likes playing together and we play for each other.”

After a slow start and a 54-52 lead at halftime, the Suns led by as many as 13 in the third quarter on two occasions and carried an 85-73 lead into the fourth. The Lakers’ Carmelo Anthony was ejected in the third period when he argued a non-call after a shot attempt and received his second technical.

Phoenix’s lead reached 20 points for the first time at 100-80 with 5:17 remaining on Johnson’s 3-pointer.

Chris Paul had 11 points and nine assists for the Suns, who face the Oklahoma City Thunder at home Thursday before their Christmas showdown in Phoenix versus the Golden State Warriors. JaVale McGee had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Veteran guard Isaiah Thomas scored three points on 1-of-11 shooting in his third game since signing with the Lakers on Friday. Talen Horton-Tucker had three points on 1-of-13 shooting for Los Angeles in his first game back from health and safety protocols.

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DeRozan leads Bulls over Lakers 115-110 in team’s return

DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points after missing two weeks in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 115-110 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Lonzo Ball added 19 points as the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak. It was Chicago’s first match since Dec. 11 after two were postponed.

LeBron James had 31 points, Carmelo Anthony added 21 and Russell Westbrook 20 as Los Angeles dropped its second straight.

With the Bulls trailing by a point in the final minute, DeRozan hit an 18-footer for a 111-110 lead with 52 seconds remaining. Following a Lakers miss, DeRozan missed a shot but then was fouled with 15.6 seconds left after Ball grabbed the offensive rebound. DeRozan then hit both free throws for a 113-110 edge.

Like much of the first two months of the season, the Bulls turned to DeRozan in crunch time and he delivered.

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“It’s an honor to be trusted in those moments,” he said. “I never take it for granted. It’s an adrenaline rush that you can’t duplicate, so you try to make the most of it every time you’re put in that position. There’s nothing like it. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to take both.”

Before having two matches postponed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Bulls had 10 players in the health and safety protocols. That number is down to four right now, including All-Star Zach LaVine.

Although the Lakers haven’t had any games postponed, they currently have six players — Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker. Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves — and coach Frank Vogel in the health and safety protocols.

Assistant David Fizdale served as coach on Sunday.

It also was Los Angeles’ first match since forward Anthony Davis sprained his left knee on Friday. He is expected to miss four weeks.

“Obviously we’re doing things on the fly, figuring out how to play with the lineups we have and the people we have available,” Westbrook said. “New guys are stepping in here, so we’ve got to do what we can. That’s it. You’ve just got to play hard and let the rest take care of itself.”

Chicago led nearly the entire first half and by as much as 10 points before taking a 61-59 halftime lead. The Lakers went ahead 65-64 early in the third quarter on a floater by Isaiah Thomas.

The teams traded baskets and leads for the remainder of the quarter before Los Angeles took an 84-83 advantage into the fourth.

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Knicks recover to beat Lakers team missing suspended James

Evan Fournier scored 26 points, Immanuel Quickley had 12 of his 14 in the fourth quarter after New York had blown a 25-point lead, and the Knicks defeated a Los Angeles Lakers team missing suspended star LeBron James 106-100 on Tuesday night.

Julius Randle added 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for the Knicks, but sat for eight minutes of the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul. Quickley made sure that didn’t matter, hitting four 3-pointers in the period.

Russell Westbrook had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, with 18 points in a sensational third quarter that permitted the Lakers to tie the game. But with James not in the arena, Anthony Davis struggling through an illness and Carmelo Anthony’s shot off in his old home, the Lakers never could take the lead.

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They beat Detroit on Sunday after overcoming a 17-point deficit in the game James was ejected from for striking Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face and drawing blood.

The NBA suspended the superstar forward for one match.

But the best Los Angeles could do in this one was tie it twice after New York dominated most of the first two quarters.

Davis, who woke up with a fever, had 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting. Anthony was just 3 of 14 for 12 points, and the Lakers lost for the fourth time in five games.

Randle went to the bench with his fifth foul with 9:18 remaining and was hit with a technical foul from there that allowed the Lakers to cut it to 90-87. But Obi Toppin scored before Quickley made a 3-pointer to push it back to eight, and it was back into double digits when another 3 by Quickley made it 105-93 with 4:58 to play.

The Knicks raced to a 10-0 lead that grew to 36-15 on RJ Barrett’s 3-pointer with 1:11 left in the first quarter. It was 59-35 with under 5 minutes left in the half before the Lakers put together a 16-2 run that trimmed it to 61-51 just before the break.

The Lakers scored nine consecutive to open the third and cut it to 63-60, and finally tied it for the first time at 79 on Anthony’s dunk.

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Antetokounmpo, Middleton help Bucks defeat Lakers 109-102

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 47 points and Khris Middleton tied Milwaukee’s franchise record for career 3-pointers as the Bucks defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102 on Wednesday night.

Middleton returned after missing eight games due to COVID-19, played 30 minutes and made consecutive 3-pointers 30 seconds apart early in the fourth quarter to put the Bucks ahead for good. The second of those 3s was his 1,051st with the Bucks to match Ray Allen for first place on the team’s all-time list.

“That’s a very, very special place to be,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think we all just admire what Khris does every night, his ability to shoot, the different ways he gets 3’s and his kind of consistency and longevity here.”

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Allen holds the NBA record with 2,973 3-pointers in a career that also included stints with the Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.

LeBron James missed an eighth consecutive game for the Lakers due to an abdominal strain. The Lakers have gone 3-5 during that stretch.

Los Angeles also is missing Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn, who haven’t yet appeared in a game this campaign.

“It’s a part of the game,” said Anthony Davis, who scored 18 points for the Lakers. “Same thing with the team we just played. They’ve been hit with injuries as well. It kind of goes with the league, the business of the game. You go out there and put your body on the line every night, God forbid, something is going to happen in the course of a season. Someone’s going to get hurt. We’ve got to adjust and continue to fight until we get everybody back.”

Talen Horton-Tucker scored 25 points for the Lakers two nights after getting a career-high 28 in a 121-103 loss to Chicago. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, Malik Monk 11 and Carmelo Anthony 10.

Antetokounmpo posted his highest point total since scoring 50 in a Game 6 Finals victory over the Phoenix Suns that clinched Milwaukee’s first title since 1971.

“I wanted to be the aggressor out there,” Antetokounmpo said. “I wanted to initiate the contact, get in the paint, make the right play and just play with an edge out there.”

Bobby Portis added 17 points for the Bucks. Middleton and Pat Connaughton had 16 each.

This marked just the third game this season in which the Bucks had their three top players – Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Jrue Holiday – all available.

The only other times were in a 127-104 season-opening victory over the Brooklyn Nets and a 121-111 triumph at San Antonio on Oct. 23. Bucks center Brook Lopez hasn’t played since that Nets game due to a back issue and guard Donte DiVincenzo still hasn’t made his season debut. DiVincenzo tore a ligament in his left ankle during the first round of the 2020-21 playoffs.

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LeBron James to miss ‘at least one week’ because of abdominal strain

Lakers superstar LeBron James is expected to miss “at least one week” because of an abdominal strain, a source told ESPN on Thursday.

James was ruled out for Thursday’s match versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, and another source familiar with the injury told ESPN that the Lakers’ medical staff “wants to take their time” with James’ recovery.

“Anytime LeBron’s out and he’s going to miss some time there’s obviously concern,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before Thursday’s game.

“Hopefully this is something that’s minimal, and hopefully he’ll be back soon.” James, a 19-year veteran who turns 37 next month, has already missed two of the Lakers’ first eight games through their 5-3 start to the season because of a sore right ankle.

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James aggravated his ab injury, which the team is calling a rectus abdominis strain, in Tuesday’s 119-117 victory over the Houston Rockets, sources told ESPN.

In the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ win, James started to feel the injury but was unaware of what caused it.

“When he came over to the bench he just said he felt something pulling, was able to finish the game, but then obviously discovered there was something there after the game,” Vogel said.

Vogel stated the injury is unrelated to the groin tear that caused James to miss 27 games during the 2018-19 season.

Vogel added that James’ early-season injuries have not changed the team’s approach to protecting him for the long haul.

“Not any different than in years past,” Vogel said. “We want to be responsible with his minutes … get to the finish line as healthy as possible but also as in rhythm as possible. And that’s a balance that we strike throughout the year.”

James is averaging 24.8 points on 46.7% shooting — his lowest percentage since his rookie year — along with 7 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Los Angeles travels to Portland to play the Trail Blazers on Saturday, followed by home games versus the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, Miami Heat on Wednesday and Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

L.A. will start DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley and Kent Bazemore against the Thunder. “Obviously you can’t replace what LeBron does,” Vogel said, “but everybody else has to do what they do better and you have to start that way.”

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Carmelo Anthony scores 23, leads Lakers past Rockets 95-85

Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points in a reserve role and Russell Westbrook added 20 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 95-85 triumph over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Anthony Davis had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and LeBron James scored 15 points in the Lakers’ fourth victory in five games after opening the season with two losses. Westbrook added eight rebounds and nine assists.

Eric Gordon scored 17 points and Christian Wood had 16 for the Rockets, who lost their fourth consecutive at the start of a five-game road trip. Anthony had another dynamic game in his first season with Los Angeles, hitting five 3-pointers and tying his career high with four blocked shots.

The 19-year NBA veteran, who has led the Lakers in scoring twice already this season, had at least four blocks and two steals in a match for the first time since Dec. 2, 2003.

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“I think people don’t really understand me,” Anthony said. “I think there’s a misconception out there about me not being able to adapt to situations. I’m easily adaptable to any situation and I’ve always tried to adapt to any situation I’ve been in. This is an easy adaptation for me just being here and being around the guys, being ready, staying ready, understanding what’s needed and being prepared.”

James went 6 for 19 in his second game back from a sore right ankle, but he had eight assists and seven rebounds.

Houston guard Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, finished with just seven points after getting in early foul trouble. The rebuilding Rockets trailed by 24 points in the first half and 28 in the fourth quarter before a late rally to trim the deficit.

The Lakers shored up their defense, and Anthony was a big part of that, too.

“I didn’t expect to see him have the defensive performance that he did, he was great,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated. “

The steals and blocks, he’s always good with his hands. He was in the right position … He’s willing to do all these things and he can do all these things. When he’s providing that kind of performance on the defensive side with the way he’s shooting it, he’s a huge part of our win.”

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LeBron James, Anthony Davis reassure Russell Westbrook after his struggles as Los Angeles Lakers drop NBA opener

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook failed their first real test together, a 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on opening night, but they found some common ground.

All three of them have now lost in their Lakers debuts: James versus the Portland Trail Blazers in 2018, Davis versus the LA Clippers in 2019 and Westbrook versus the Warriors on Tuesday.

While James (34 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Davis (33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) outperformed Westbrook, who had a team-worst plus/minus of minus-23 in 35 minutes and finished with eight points on 4-for-13 shooting and four turnovers, their bigger impact might have come in the postgame locker room, lifting up their new teammate.

“I told Russ to go home and watch a comedy,” James said. “Do something that can put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.'” It was similar to a pep talk James gave to Davis when their first match together in Los Angeles also didn’t go their way.

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“My first time, I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, ‘You’re fine, this is Game 1,'” Davis recalled. “He’s laughing. He’s joking on the phone. And I’m like, ‘Why am I upset then?’ And I kind of just went with the flow. And it’s the same thing with Russ. And I told him the same thing. ‘I’m the same way you were.’ We said some things to him, and he smiled and things like that, so I expect him to be better in the game Friday.”

If Westbrook broke out a grin in the locker room, it was gone by the time he reached the media room for his postgame interviews.

“We talked” was all Westbrook would say about the conversation with Davis and James.

His entire media session lasted less than three minutes as he kept his answers as brief as possible.

James, who has often stated that experience is the greatest teacher, was hopeful that Westbrook would glean some perspective from the ordeal.

“I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself,” James said. “That was the one thing that I hoped to get through to him, don’t be so hard on himself. Go home and you’re going to see three babies that he has that might be asleep, but they’ll put a smile on his face. He has a beautiful wife and family. So at the end of the day, you go home and you’re really like, ‘OK, that was not that bad. It’s really not that bad.'”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged the tricky spot Westbrook finds himself in.

“Him more than anybody, it’s going to be an adjustment period,” Vogel stated. “He’s coming into our culture, our system. He’s the new guy, and he’s got to find his way. It’s difficult, when you’re used to being the guy who has the ball most nights, to be able to play off of others like Bron and AD. So it’s just a little bit different for him. He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be an adjustment period.”

While Westbrook looks to grow within the group, James is urging him to be the player he was before he came to Los Angeles — an uber-confident nine-time All-Star, Olympian and former league MVP.

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Los Angeles Lakers debut LeBron James-Anthony Davis-Russell Westbrook combo in preseason loss to Golden State Warriors

The Lakers’ brand-new Big Three made its preseason debut in a 111-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. And while the result of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ first court time together was another defeat to drop L.A.’s record to 0-5 in its exhibition calendar, the postgame message echoed by the stars was one asking for patience but exuding positivity.

“It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we are going to be capable of being,” stated James, who put up 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 6 turnovers. “We’re going to have moments where we’re not quite right there. We may take steps backwards. But that’s all part of … I think nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for.”

Westbrook, who worked his way to the Lakers in the offseason by convincing the Washington Wizards to seek a deal, looked the best he has yet in purple and gold — which isn’t saying much, considering he combined to shoot 4-for-19 with 16 turnovers in his first two outings. But his speed in the open court when flanked by so much talent will be a difference-maker this season.

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“We had some good spurts,” Westbrook said after finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 turnovers. “Obviously, it’s the first game. But there are some good things we can take from it. … We can be a little encouraged by it.”

For James, who comes into the season seeking a fifth ring that would tie his career total with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan, moral victories mean little. Yet the 19-year veteran pledged to guide his group through its nascent stages.

“Me, as a leader, my job is for myself not to get frustrated,” he said. “If I don’t get frustrated, I think it will trickle down to everyone else. I’ve never been a person that’s OK with not being excellent. But I understand things take time as well. As long as I keep the main thing the main thing, stay even keel throughout whatever is going on with our ballclub, then we’ll be fine.”

Davis was more than fine versus Golden State, leading the Lakers with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was encouraged by his first glimpse of L.A.’s new-look lineup with him starting at the 5, along with James, Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore.

“We saw some great things with me, Bron and Russ in action,” Davis said. “There’s endless possibilities, the things we can run and we can do. … And even though there were good things, a lot of things that we can do better.”

The Lakers close out the preseason Thursday on the road versus the Sacramento Kings and have a week until the regular season opens up, back home against the Warriors again.

There is plenty of more work to do before the Lakers come close to a final product, starting with getting all their players healthy. 

Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery) is expected to miss at least two months; Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb surgery) will be sidelined around a month; and Kendrick Nunn (right ankle) and Wayne Ellington (left hamstring) both sat out Tuesday, along with Malik Monk (groin), who will be out about another week.

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Rajon Rondo likely to sign with Los Angeles Lakers after buyout from Memphis Grizzlies

Another former Laker seems to be on his way back to the purple and gold.

Rajon Rondo will likely sign with the Lakers, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, upon clearing waivers after a contract buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Rondo, 35, was traded from the LA Clippers to the Grizzlies earlier this month as a part of the Eric Bledsoe deal, but he reached an agreement on the final year of his contract worth $8.3 million to go back on the market.

The two-time champion and four-time All-Star played for the Lakers for two seasons from 2018 to 2020 and was an integral piece on L.A.’s title team in the Orlando bubble.

The 16-year veteran would provide depth for the Lakers at point guard, with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook figuring to shoulder the ballhandling duties for the starting lineup.

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Rondo would sign with L.A. on a veteran’s minimum contract and occupy one of the Lakers’ three final open spots on the roster.

He would be the fifth former player to come back into the fold for the Lakers this offseason, joining Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington and Kent Bazemore.

Rondo averaged 5.4 points and 4.4 assists in 45 matches with the Clippers and Atlanta Hawks last season, shooting a career-best 40.4% from 3.

He spent the first nine seasons of his NBA career with the Boston Celtics after entering the league in 2006. He has averaged 10.0 points, 8.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds over his career, which also stops stops with the Mavericks, Kings, Bulls and Pelicans.

Rondo will fill the 15th roster spot on the Lakers heading into camp. How much he helps them is up for debate.

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Clippers rout short-handed Lakers 104-86, end 2-game skid

Marcus Morris scored 22 points and the Los Angeles Clippers dominated the short-handed Lakers in a 104-86 triumph on Sunday to end a two-game skid.

Kawhi Leonard had 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Paul George added 16 points for the Clippers.

“We set the tone early defensively, we were physical and got into bodies,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

The Lakers trailed the entire game in which they were without injured All-Star duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as well as Andre Drummond and Wesley Matthews. They’ve dropped six of nine.

Montrezl Harrell led the Lakers with 19 points against his old team. Marc Gasol was the only starter in double figures with 11 points. Kyle Kuzma’s shooting typified the Lakers’ offensive woes. He was held to six points as one of four starters who combined to shoot 12 of 41.

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“We got to play the right way on the offensive end,” Kuzma said. “Defensively, we’ll be all right. Offensively, we got to find ways to play together. Can’t win games scoring in the 80s and 90s. Got to find ways to incorporate everyone.”

The Clippers built a double-digit lead midway through the second that the Lakers never reduced to single digits the rest of the way.

“Credit the Clippers’ defense,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “They got up into us and we didn’t handle their pressure at all and we had a tough shooting night. We got to play through their pressure and physicality better than we did.”

Five different Clippers powered a 12-3 run to start the third, with George’s 3-pointer capping the spurt that created their largest lead of 24 points. They matched that lead later in the quarter on a 3-pointer by Luke Kennard, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth.

The Clippers stretched their lead to 20 points in the second, running off 10 in a row that ended with back-to-back 3-pointers by Marcus Morris.

The Clippers raced to a 13-2 lead to open the game, making their first six shots. Markief Morris scored the Lakers’ first seven points.

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