Tagged in: LeBron James

Kendrick Nunn, 26, opts into final year of contract with Los Angeles Lakers

Kendrick Nunn, who missed all of last season because of a bone bruise in his right knee, is opting into the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers worth $5.25 million, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Nunn, who turns 27 this summer, signed with Los Angeles for the midlevel exception last summer but never played a match during the regular season after injuring an ankle during training camp and later discovering the bone bruise, which was slow to heal.

The Chicago product came into the league undrafted out of Oakland and latched onto the Miami Heat, averaging 15 points on 36.4% from 3 and 88.1% from the foul line in two seasons, along with 3.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

During his exit interview with reporters in April, Nunn announced his plan to return to Los Angeles.

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“Knowing that I just took this entire year off, it’s a no-brainer for me to opt in,” Nunn said.

Nunn’s decision puts the Lakers at five guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, along with LeBron James ($44.47 million), Anthony Davis ($37.98 million), Talen Horton-Tucker ($10.26 million) and Austin Reaves ($1.56 million).

Russell Westbrook, entering into the final year of his deal worth $47.06 million, has until June 29 to inform L.A. whether he intends to opt in or not.

Los Angeles also has team options on Stanley Johnson ($2.35 million) and Wenyen Gabriel ($1.88 million) for next campaign.

Even if the Lakers exercise those options, the front office will still have half the roster to fill out this summer as it looks to regroup from one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history (33-49 in 2021-22).

In other Lakers news, the team is hiring Nets assistant coach Jordan Ott for a more prominent role on Darvin Ham’s new staff.

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Los Angeles Lakers stumble out of play-in position, now 11th in Western Conference

For the first time since the first week of the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves on the outside of the play-in tournament looking in after Tuesday night’s 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Playing without LeBron James (left ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (right mid-foot sprain), the Lakers trailed by as many as 37 points as Luka Doncic recorded a 30-point triple-double through the first three quarters (34 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists).

“We just didn’t execute well enough and play with enough toughness, IQ, intelligence, focus and fight,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated. “So, not acceptable and just a poor performance across the board. Coaches, players, everybody.”

L.A. is currently No. 11 in the Western Conference with seven games left. The Lakers, at 31-44, have the same record as the No. 10 San Antonio Spurs, but the Spurs own the tiebreaker. Looking ahead to the final stretch, the Lakers have gone 4-10 against their six remaining opponents (they play the Denver Nuggets twice).

The Spurs have gone 5-11 against their six remaining adversaries (they play the Portland Trail Blazers twice). The Nuggets (45-31) are No. 6 in the Western Conference standings. The Blazers (27-48) are No. 12 and will be out their star, Damian Lillard, for the rest of the season.

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Vogel said James and Davis will both be re-evaluated Thursday to determine their availability for L.A.’s game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Davis, who has been sidelined since Feb. 16, is targeting a return by Friday at home versus the No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans, sources told ESPN.

Tuesday was about as bad as it has been for the Lakers in a season already full of disappointment. The 82 points they allowed in the first half were the second-most points allowed in a first half in franchise history, narrowly avoiding the record set when the Boston Celtics hung 83 on them in the first half on Feb. 27, 1959, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Info.

L.A.’s 26-point halftime deficit Tuesday combined with the 28 points the Pelicans outscored them by in the second half on Sunday represented the worst points differential, minus-54, over a two-half span for the Lakers in the shot-clock era.

“The standings are the results,” Vogel said when asked if falling out of the play-in ups the Lakers’ urgency. “We have to keep our focus on the process and the work and the things that are going to lead to the next win. That’s the only place that our focus will be.”

Russell Westbrook, who had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists but was part of L.A. being outscored by 25 points in the 32 minutes he was on the floor, added another contentious postgame exchange with a reporter to his season resume.

As the exchange continued for a few more moments, Westbrook noticed a video camera pointed in his direction and changed his tone, offering a half-hug to the reporter, before leaving the room.

“We cool,” he said. “Y’all gotta make sure to record that.”

The Lakers are now 4-13 since the All-Star break, which is on pace to be the franchise’s second-lowest win percentage post All-Star break in team history.

“We just got our butt whooped. Straight up,” Stanley Johnson said. “So, whatever spirit or whatever, they kicked our ass. It was 30 points pretty much the whole game. I don’t know how else you want to put it. We got to be a lot better than that.”

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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James sits out loss to San Antonio Spurs with ‘significant’ knee soreness

LeBron James did not play Monday night versus the San Antonio Spurs, with Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel saying pregame that James had “significant” soreness in his left knee coming off his 56-point effort versus the Golden State Warriors.

James, 37, missed five games because of his knee from late January until early February, but had not missed any time because of it since.

“With the heavy load that he’s carrying for us this year, we know that it’s always a possibility,” Vogel said of James sitting out, before the Lakers’ 117-110 loss.

“I think that’s why we continue to list him as questionable to see how it’s responding over the 48 hours between games. And this is just one of those days where it was significant enough to hold him out.”

Aside from James’ 39-minute workload versus Golden State, Los Angeles’ travel day on Sunday — when a mechanical issue caused the Lakers to sit on the runway for two hours before changing planes for the nearly three-hour flight to San Antonio — did not help with recovery time, sources told ESPN.

Vogel stated the Lakers are “hopeful” James will play Wednesday in Houston.

James’ performance against the Warriors was his highest-scoring game with the Lakers and tied for third-highest in his 19-year career, as Los Angeles rallied from a 14-point deficit to win 124-116.

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That triumph still only brought the Lakers’ record to 28-35, leaving them in ninth place in the Western Conference entering Monday’s games. The Spurs were No. 12 in the West, 4½ games behind the Lakers.

“His health takes precedence over any matchup, any individual one game, for sure,” Vogel said of the playoff implications of James resting.

Los Angeles also is dealing with the absence of Anthony Davis, who has been out for nearly three weeks with a midfoot sprain.

James is averaging 29.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 36.8 minutes per game for the Lakers this season.

The Lakers started Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Russell Westbrook against the Spurs, accounting for the 32nd different starting lineup of the season.

“No one player is going to have to try to pick up where he left off,” Vogel said. “Although I did tell Malik that he’s got to score 56 tonight since Bron’s out, he can try to have that mindset. And then I told him quickly that I was just kidding. Because he will actually go out and try to do that. But, it’s the next man up, but when it’s someone like LeBron, it has to be done by committee.”

Vogel was asked how he thinks James’ knee will be a factor down the stretch as the Lakers jostle for a spot in the play-in tournament over the final games of the regular season.

“I think the simplest way to put it is he’s going to plan on being in unless his knee tells him otherwise,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if we can really forecast any more clearly than that.”

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LeBron James, thrilled to be ‘able to play basketball,’ steers Los Angeles Lakers to victory in return

LeBron James picked things back up right where he left them, continuing his offensive surge with 29 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 122-115 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday following a five-game absence with swelling in his left knee.

“After the first quarter, the knee loosened up a lot more,” James said after accompanying the points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists to notch his 103rd career triple-double. “My mind loosened up a lot more. And I was just able to play basketball. But just excited to be back in the uniform, back on the floor with my guys. Missed them, missed the game. I was happy I was able to make a few plays and help us win a ballgame.”

Los Angeles went 1-4 without him and his return initially didn’t seem to do much to impact that trend as the Knicks led 42-29 after the first quarter. But James, who stated he “didn’t feel that great” during his pregame warmup as he attempted to play a game for the first time in a week and a half, got it going and so did his team, coming back from as many as 21 points, accounting for the franchise’s biggest comeback since December 2015.

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“It’s a hell of a return,” said Anthony Davis who put up 28 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. “He’s doing LeBron-type things. Expected nothing less from him. Efficient from the field. S—, he did what he’s supposed to do. He helped us, for sure. So, I missed him. He’s a big part of our team with his voice, his leadership, play-making ability. And he came back and showed it.”

James extended his streak of scoring 25-plus points to 19 games, the second longest streak of that nature of his 19-year career.

He played 39 minutes and 55 seconds on Saturday, which Lakers coach Frank Vogel admitted was more than he wanted to play the 37-year old in his first game back.

“He’s incredible,” Vogel said. “I guess the time off served him well. We didn’t want to play him 39 minutes and obviously the overtime impacted that, but just played a great basketball game. His defensive competitive spirit and IQ is everything to us and the way he scores the basketball in all ways and the way he sets up teammates it’s just, it’s rare and he was special tonight. Just a great performance.”

While James was out, one of his professional athlete peers, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retired after 22 seasons in the NFL.

“I personally was just so in shock when I saw it … as a guy who’s kind of been my motivation factor over the last few years, seeing what he’s able to do at his age and always kind of being a leader of a team and even at his age people still gravitate towards him and gravitate towards his energy and how he prepares and things of that nature,” James said. “So, a small piece of me definitely left when Brady decided to retire, that’s for sure.”

James has one more season on his deal with the Lakers, that will take him through 20 seasons in the NBA.

Even at this stage of his career, there’s no disputing his importance to the Lakers. He was a plus-12 in the minutes he appeared on the court, and he played all but one minute and 29 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime to close things out.

“I mean obviously the computer — his ability to process and read offensively, it’s something that’s always missed,” Vogel said. “You miss him on both ends, but I would say in this situation, late game, that’s where you miss him the most.”

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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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