Tagged in: match

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James says he’s ‘ready to go’ on Christmas Day after rolling ankle

LeBron James says he will be “ready to go” for the Los Angeles Lakers’ game versus the Dallas Mavericks on Friday despite rolling his left ankle in the season opener.

“I’ll be ready to go tomorrow on Christmas Day,” James told reporters Thursday. “I’ve never missed a Christmas Day match, and I don’t plan on missing one tomorrow.”

James sat out the final eight minutes of the Lakers’ 116-109 opening night loss to the LA Clippers on Tuesday after rolling his ankle but indicated after the game that he planned to play versus Dallas.

His ankle buckled when his sneaker appeared to catch on the court when he and Markieff Morris converged on Clippers center Ivica Zubac to defend the big man in the paint.

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James exited with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter and the Lakers trailing 99-92. He ended with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 turnovers in 28 minutes.

He elaborated on the experience of playing in Christmas Day games.

“People have opened their gifts. Everyone is excited. It’s a day of giving for a lot of us,” James said. “And then being at Staples Center, I’ve gotten the opportunity to play here on Christmas as a Laker and also as an opponent. It’s just a beautiful feeling being here.

“But it’s not the same without the Laker faithful, without the fans, without celebrity row, without the bright lights. It’s just a totally different feeling. It’s just strictly basketball, which is fine. But our game is entertainment as well. And when you’re out there, you hope to entertain some people live as well. But we have to do it. Hopefully we know we’re making a mark while they’re watching the game.”

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Washington Wizards teammates laud Russell Westbrook’s ‘great’ overall impact in his debut

Russell Westbrook drove the lane, found Thomas Bryant open for an easy dunk as the Washington Wizards’ big man drew a foul and then immediately ran to Bryant to scream his approval.

In his first match with the Wizards, Westbrook logged only 17 first-half minutes in Washington’s 99-96 triumph over the Detroit Pistons. But his impact was felt with his energy, pace and ability to get the ball moving and draw the defense’s attention.

“You could see in the first half really how many open shots we got,” Wizards forward Davis Bertans said of Westbrook’s impact. “And how many good looks we had and it was all I would say Russ.

“He set the tone for driving and kicking … I am pretty sure it is going to get better from here.” After being held out of the Wizards’ first two preseason games, Westbrook played in the team’s final tuneup before the regular-season opener at Philadelphia on Dec. 23. Westbrook ended with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and shot 4-for-10, including 0-for-3 from behind the arc.

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“It was good,” Westbrook said of his first game as a Wizard. “We won, the most important part … I like where we were tonight.

“My job is to try to set the tone. Have them be ready to play.”

The Wizards saw Westbrook’s encouragement on offense in the ability Bradley Beal had to work one-on-one against defenders and how much the Wizards tried to push the pace. Washington led by as much as 16 and had 10 fast-break points in the first half when Westbrook played.

“It just felt great,” Beal said of playing with Westbrook. “It was great energy … I don’t think it will be tough as people are trying to make it out to be. We both do a really good job off of feeding off of each other, just adjusting to how each other plays.

“The most important thing is his pace and energy he brings to the table … it just works out well. We just continue to play off each other, feed off each other and push each other.”

While Beal missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, he scored 15 points and hit seven field goals.

Beal averaged 30.5 points last campaign but drew the majority of the opposing defense’s attention as the Wizards’ lone star.

“Our job is to make the game easier for him,” Westbrook said. “Find a way to constantly feed him the ball so he can score at a high rate. He has shown he is able to do that. He is going to be great. I am not worried about Brad one bit.”

Bryant benefited from the attention Westbrook drew, scoring 22 points and making 7 of 12 shots. And Wizards coach Scott Brooks loved seeing an animated Westbrook celebrating Bryant’s dunk with the foul and encouraging the big man in the first quarter.

“Really good,” Brooks said when asked about Westbrook’s first preseason action. “He’s been looking like that all training camp. His spirit is about winning, not about stats. He plays the right way and teaches our young fellas the right things. He’s great. “He’s nothing short of spectacular, what he tells the guys, how he coaches his teammates and they listen. What he’s done, how he prepares and how he trains and how he looks at the game is priceless.”

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Serena wins, Venus falls in 1st round at US Open

Making quick work of an opponent for a change, Serena Williams wrapped up her 102nd career US Open match victory to break a tie with Chris Evert for the most in the professional era. Then Williams headed back out to the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands Tuesday night, her dog in tow.

Williams had a match to watch – her older sister’s, which did not work out as well. Serena Williams, who turns 39 this month, overpowered Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3. But Venus Williams, who is 40, lost in the US Open’s first round for the first time in 22 appearances, beaten 6-3, 7-5 by No. 20 Karolina Muchova.

It is the fourth time in the past five Grand Slam tournaments that Venus exited in her opening match.

“I just ran out of time today,” Venus stated. Venus, who won two of her seven major singles championships in New York, was trying to become only the third woman in her 40s to win a US Open singles match.

“We would have never thought we would still be out here, to be honest. I love my job. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I’ve always said, ‘You can’t do it forever’. One of these days, it’s going to end,” Serena said after delivering 13 aces and dropping only six points on her serve.

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She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in the professional era, which started in 1968; only Margaret Court collected more, with 24. Six of Serena’s trophies came at the US Open, and she also was the runner-up four times, including each of the past two years.

Entering Tuesday, Serena had been 3-2 since tennis matches resumed after a hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic – and all five went three sets. So Tuesday’s match was a welcome change. “It’s been years – since the ’90s – since I won a match in straight sets,” Serena joked.

“I’ve been playing a ton of tight matches. I felt like, all right, I just wanted to be ‘Serena-focused’ from the first point to the last point, no matter what happens,” she said.

Her career mark at the hard-court event is 102-13, a winning percentage of .887. “In a weird way, I feel like every time I come here, I’m being told I broke another record. It’s cool. I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. But I’m in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it’s not the time to be focused for me on records when I’m thinking about winning a tournament,” Serena stated.

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