Devin Booker has earned his first selection to the NBA All-Star Game after Damian Lillard was ruled out with a groin strain.

In-form Portland Trail Blazers star Lillard suffered the injury in his team's 111-104 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Lillard still tallied 20 points and 10 assists in 37 minutes, but his 2020 All-Star absence was soon confirmed.

Commissioner Adam Silver named Phoenix Suns guard Booker to the Western Conference's Team LeBron as Lillard's replacement for Sunday.

Booker, in his fifth season, is averaging 26.4 points, 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds this season.

The 23-year-old is also to take Lillard's place among eight NBA stars taking part in the Three-Point Contest, having won the event in record-breaking fashion in 2018.

Damian Lillard has been ruled out of the NBA All-Star Game after suffering a groin injury in the Portland Trail Blazers' defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 29-year-old was due to be part of Team LeBron, yet the five-time All-Star will instead take a watching brief on Sunday night - insisting he will be at the game in Chicago, but as a spectator.

Lillard announced his unavailability after scoring 20 points for Portland in their 111-104 setback against the Grizzlies.

He said: "That's something you look forward to, those festivities and having fun. But my health is first, and I knew right away. I'll still be there and be a part of it, but I'm not going to play."

His injury occurred in the fourth quarter, in an awkward landing.

"When it happened, I just felt it," said Lillard.

"I knew I pulled it, it made no sense to be out there for the last few minutes of the game and risk trying to play through it and making it worse.

"But I walked off the court just fine even though it was like, a little bit painful. I came in and it was strong when they were making me go against resistance and stuff like that.

"It was strong, wasn't like, weak and I couldn't do stuff. That was all I needed to know."

Lillard said he hoped his place would go to a worthy substitute, naming the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker as a possible candidate.

He is set for an MRI scan on Thursday to determine the seriousness of the injury, which also rules him out of the three-point contest in the All-Star break.

It remains to be seen whether he is available for the Blazers' next outing, a February 21 home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

An irate Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said a missed goaltending violation "cost us the f****** game" against the Utah Jazz on Friday.

The Trail Blazers were trailing by two points when Lillard's layup was blocked by Rudy Gobert with 13.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz center's touch clearly came after the ball hit the backboard.

The three officials on the floor failed to make to make the call, though, and Utah went on to claim a 117-114 victory at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Speaking to a pool reporter after the game, officiating crew chief Josh Tiven admitted a mistake had been made: "We've since looked at it via postgame video review, and unfortunately saw that we missed the play, and a goaltending violation should have been called."

Lillard was incensed and had to be held back after the buzzer, with his temper still running hot when reporters entered the locker room.

"We get to the last play until the game and they miss an easy call, then they tell us it's an easy no-call, like that was obviously not a goaltend. It cost us the f****** game, man," said Lillard, who finished with 42 points, six rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

"It's an easy call. Three referees out there and they don't call that. And I don't want to see no report about, 'Oh, we should've called it'. None of that. They cost us a game. We're in a playoff race and they cost us a game on an easy call.

"There's no way to take the sting out of it, we can't have the game back, they cost us a game. It's a loss on our record.

"We're in a playoff race and we need every game that we can get and we had that type of effort and they miss an easy call like that, and then you want us to walk away and say nothing? It cost us the game. Of course we're gonna have something to say about it, man, it's BS."

Shooting guard CJ McCollum suggested the officials need to be punished for the glaring error.

"The call they missed was very costly for us, it cost us the game, we can't get it back," said McCollum. "I just don't like the explanation I got, that really p***** me off.

"There's three of you [referees] out there so if one of you doesn't see it the other two are supposed to be in another position to see it, so for you to say, 'It wasn't even close', and one person to say, 'It might've been obvious to you but it wasn't to us', it makes me just think you're not capable of doing the job in the way you're supposed to do it, which means you should be reprimanded, you should be fined accordingly.

"When we make mistakes we're fined, and they cost us a game that could cost people money. So they should be fined accordingly, because that's terrible. Not just bad, terrible."

Portland coach Terry Stotts said: "It's just a shame it was decided on an inexcusable missed call, there's no other way to describe it. They could've called goaltending and reviewed it, but they swallowed their whistles on a play that was pretty obvious.

"It's disappointing that such a great effort was decided by that. Everybody's pretty p***** off. You would think they would get that one right. I don't complain about officiating - they've got a tough job - but a play like that is inexcusable."

Despite appearing to suggest it was not a goaltending violation by shaking his head as Lillard appealed to the referees in the immediate aftermath, Gobert acknowledged the on-court decision was incorrect.

"I was just trying to make a play on the ball, and obviously after watching the replay you can see that's a goaltend," he said. "I was just trying to make a play. Goaltending happens all the time, it's part of the game.

"It's what people are going to talk about, they're not going to talk about us coming back from 14 [points behind] at half-time and us playing well as a team and fighting to come back in the game.

"Obviously it's a big play because it's the last play and it's what everyone is going to remember, but I think we did a great job in the second half. Mistakes are made, officials are humans and I feel it's part of the game."

LeBron James registered a triple-double to earn the Los Angeles Lakers an uplifting win on Saturday, while Kyrie Irving suffered an injury scare.

The Lakers needed a boost against the Sacramento Kings after paying emotional tributes to Kobe Bryant and subsequently losing to the Portland Trail Blazers less than 24 hours earlier.

Their star man delivered at Golden 1 Center, James posting 15 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a 129-113 victory that snapped a three-game slump.

Irving sent a shock through the Brooklyn Nets when his right knee bent awkwardly under Bradley Beal (34 points) in the fourth quarter of a 113-107 road loss to the Washington Wizards.

The Nets described the injury as a knee sprain and Irving, who received treatment on the floor, said he needed further assessment.

"Just got to get an MRI. X-rays were negative. Just go home and see what's going on," the Brooklyn guard told reporters.

"I've done some pretty decent things to my knees in the past. The most important thing was my ACL, just making sure it was fine. It was just a weird, weird, weird, weird fall. I just felt a lot stretching and tension afterwards. Just a bad fall."

 

Lillard extends incredible scoring streak

After blitzing the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday, the red-hot Damian Lillard continued his brilliant form to help the Trail Blazers top the Utah Jazz 124-107.

Lillard dropped 51 points on 17-of-29 shooting as he became the first player in NBA history to average 45 points and 10 assists across a six-game span.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 52 points as they shared the floor for the first time since January 2 in the Los Angeles Clippers' 118-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jaylen Brown put up 32 points and Jayson Tatum added 25 to inspire the Boston Celtics to a comfortable 116-95 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Dallas Mavericks overcame a two-game hiccup thanks in part to Jalen Brunson, who scored a season-high 27 points to sink the Atlanta Hawks 123-100.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers lost forward T.J. Warren to a third-quarter head injury en route to a 92-85 defeat at the hands of the New York Knicks.

 

Gobert wilts against Whiteside

Named an All-Star for the first time this week, Rudy Gobert was given a dose of reality in the Jazz's lacklustre loss to the Trail Blazers.

Hassan Whiteside, the Frenchman's direct opponent, pulled down 10 more rebounds and tallied 11 extra points at Moda Center.

 

LeBron's brilliant pass

The league's eighth greatest assist provider displayed his vision with a classy cross-court dime for Avery Bradley.

 

Saturday's results

Los Angeles Clippers 118-106 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 92-85 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 102-89 Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards 113-107 Brooklyn Nets
Golden State Warriors 131-112 Cleveland Cavaliers
Dallas Mavericks 123-100 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 116-95 Philadelphia 76ers
San Antonio Spurs 114-90 Charlotte Hornets
Los Angeles Lakers 129-113 Sacramento Kings
Portland Trail Blazers 124-107 Utah Jazz

 

Pelicans at Rockets

Zion Williamson and the improving New Orleans Pelicans (20-29) take on James Harden's Houston Rockets (30-18) in one of Sunday's four games.

LeBron James shed tears, Usher sang 'Amazing Grace' and Staples Center fell silent in reverence to Kobe Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the floor on Friday.

Fans crowded outside the venue and those inside, including the players, donned replica Bryant jerseys amid heartfelt tributes to a franchise legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

An emotional video played on the big screen and a 24.2 second moment of silence was taken to honour all seven victims of Sunday's helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

James read their names and gave a speech asking for the event to be a "celebration" of Bryant before the on-court action against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers began.

After a subdued start, Damian Lillard lifted the energy in the third quarter, hitting 23 points en route to a game-high 48 to issue the Lakers a 127-119 loss.

Lillard became the first NBA player to make 40 three-point shots in a five-game span and the first to record at least 35 points, five rebounds, five assists and five three-pointers in five straight games.

Irving inspires Nets, Nuggets upset Bucks

On the other side of the country, an inspired Kyrie Irving paid a personal tribute to his old mentor in fitting fashion.

The Brooklyn Nets guard, who earlier in the week vowed to "carry the torch", shot 19-of-23 from the floor and hit seven three-pointers as he tallied 54 points, five rebounds and five assists in a 133-118 win over the Chicago Bulls.

James Harden (35 points, 16 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (32 points, nine assists) did likewise, the pair leading the Houston Rockets to a 128-121 victory against the Dallas Mavericks, who were without the injured Luka Doncic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo played his part, putting up 31 points in a double-double at Fiserv Forum, but the Milwaukee Bucks failed to prolong their nine-game winning run, losing to the Denver Nuggets 127-115.

The Toronto Raptors had more success preserving a streak, recording a 10th successive victory thanks to Pascal Siakam's 30 points in a 105-92 road win over the Detroit Pistons.

Zion Williamson posted a career-high 24 points in 29 minutes to outscore draft rival Ja Morant at Smoothie King Center, the New Orleans Pelicans topping the Memphis Grizzlies 139-111.

 

Rubio struggles in Suns loss

The Phoenix Suns might have avoided a late 111-107 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder had Ricky Rubio made more of his shooting opportunities, the Spaniard going two-of-eight from the floor for eight points in 30 minutes.

 

Lillard too hot for Lakers

The Lakers simply could not stop Lillard, the All-Star reserve delivering a clinic in long-range shooting.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 105-92 Detroit Pistons
Houston Rockets 128-121 Dallas Mavericks
Brooklyn Nets 133-118 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 139-111 Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-107 Phoenix Suns
Denver Nuggets 127-115 Milwaukee Bucks
Portland Trail Blazers 127-119 Los Angeles Lakers

 

76ers at Celtics

Due to knee soreness, the Boston Celtics (32-15) could be without Kemba Walker for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers (31-18).

Devin Booker was the most notable omission as six first-timers won NBA All-Star selection among the 14 reserves named on Thursday.

Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook headlined the list of players selected by NBA coaches to round out the roster options for Team LeBron and Team Giannis.

Phoenix Suns guard Booker was denied a place despite averaging 27.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 44 games this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder veteran Paul, Houston Rockets star Westbrook, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz youngster Donovan Mitchell snatched Western Conference guard spots, the latter handed his maiden selection alongside team-mate and fellow first-timer Rudy Gobert.

Brandon Ingram, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis will also be among the newcomers at United Center in Chicago on February 16.

Suns general manager and three-time NBA champion James Jones questioned Booker's absence.

"I've played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star," Jones said in a statement.

Frenchman Gobert's inclusion alongside Sabonis (Lithuania), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Nikola Jokic (Serbia) plus starters Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) lifts the number of international players to eight, a record for an All-Star Game.

The 2020 edition will feature several format changes to honour Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Among them will be a 'target score' to chase in a timeless fourth quarter, the figure being the leading team's tally after three periods plus 24 points - representing the number Bryant wore during the second half of his glittering NBA career.

LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, the designated captains, will select their teams from the available player pool on February 6.

 

Eastern Conference reserves:

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)

Western Conference reserves:

Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their heaviest loss of the NBA season on Monday, while Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard inspired victories with stunning performances.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis featured from the start but the Lakers never got going in a heavy 139-107 defeat to the Boston Celtics.

Jayson Tatum registered a game-high 27 points to help Celtics team-mate Kemba Walker celebrate his first career win against superstar James at the 29th attempt.

Joel Embiid's absence through injury failed to hurt the Philadelphia 76ers as Simmons shone in a 117-111 road victory over the slumping Brooklyn Nets.

Simmons enjoyed one of the best games of his career, posting a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, plus five steals.

There was similar joy elsewhere for Damian Lillard, who erupted for a career-best 61 points – including 11 three-pointers – as the Portland Trail Blazers overcame the Golden State Warriors 129-124 in an overtime thriller.

 

Westbrook heroics not enough as OKC complete comeback

Russell Westbrook's 32 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds went unrewarded as the Houston Rockets squandered a big lead to lose 112-107 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets were overrun after taking a 16-point advantage into the fourth quarter, as Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari shared 53 points for OKC.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (28 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists) also recorded a triple-double, the reigning MVP reaching 10,000 career points as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Chicago Bulls 111-98.

The Miami Heat resumed their charge in the Eastern Conference, outlasting the Sacramento Kings 118-113 in overtime.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the Denver Nuggets bounced back to winning ways, topping the Timberwolves 107-100 thanks to double-doubles from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr.

 

Lowry misses out in Atlanta

The Toronto Raptors claimed a 122-117 win against the Atlanta Hawks but it was still a game to forget for five-time All Star Kyle Lowry, who went three-of-11 from the floor and missed each of his five three-point attempts.

 

Brown posterises LeBron!

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown had 20 points and a huge dunk on an NBA superstar at TD Garden.

Monday's results

San Antonio Spurs 120-118 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 129-124 Golden State Warriors (OT)
Utah Jazz 118-88 Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards 106-100 Detroit Pistons
Toronto Raptors 122-117 Atlanta Hawks
Philadelphia 76ers 117-111 Brooklyn Nets
Miami Heat 118-113 Sacramento Kings (OT)
Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 Houston Rockets
Orlando Magic 106-83 Charlotte Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans 126-116 Memphis Grizzlies
New York Knicks 106-86 Cleveland Cavaliers
Boston Celtics 139-107 Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Nuggets 107-100 Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Clippers at Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis could return from a knee injury when the Dallas Mavericks (27-15) entertain the Los Angeles Clippers (30-13) in Tuesday's only game.

Damian Lillard conceded his team record 60-point performance for the Portland Trail Blazers had lost some of its lustre due to defeat against the Brooklyn Nets.

Despite Lillard's setting a new career high, the Nets claimed an impressive 119-115 road win as the Blazers, who reached last season's Western Conference Finals, dropped to 3-6.

The four-time All-Star was sensational in his 40-minute outing, hitting seven three-pointers and converting all 15 of his attempts from the free-throw line.

But somehow his exploits – the highest-scoring performance in the NBA this season - were not enough to earn the Blazers a first home win of the season, Spencer Dinwiddie scoring 34 points off the bench with Kyrie Irving adding 33 for the Nets.

"Anytime you set a record it's obviously an accomplishment, I guess it's not as fun losing," Lillard, 29, said after the game. "It's fine. It's whatever.

"I didn't have a feeling this was going to be one of those nights. I've had that in the past but in the warm-up I was a little bit stiff. I tweaked my ankle the night before [against the Los Angeles Clippers] and got kicked in my leg against the [Golden State] Warriors too.

"When the game started, I think it was just my mind, I was thinking I was going to jump and dive into the game and make my body follow. That is what happened.

"We are in position to win games in the third quarter and the fourth quarter – but you've got to be present mentally and physically.

"You have to do a little bit more than the other team to win games. I think we compete, we're together and we try to do the right things but it's that little bit of wanting it more than the other team.

"Wanting it more doesn't mean playing harder, it means being able to be sharper on one more possession when you are tired and wearing down. We might be last in the league defensively in the fourth quarter. But we must stand together and cannot fold."

Irving was a happy man as the Nets moved to 4-4 on the back of a third win in four games.

"The game could have gone either way as well as Lillard was playing," he said. "Anytime someone has a big performance like that, it can go either way. He can really take over the game like he did."

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson could not come up with a plan to stop Lillard's scoring spree.

He said: "We tried zone, box-and-one, we tried blitz, we threw the kitchen sink at him. He just kept making incredible shots."

And Dinwiddie added: "He got 60, but luckily for us he would have needed 65."

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he has never seen anything like the Golden State Warriors' injury crisis.

The struggling Warriors (1-5) have been ravaged by injuries this NBA season, with stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the sidelines.

Curry broke his hand last week and Thompson is recovering from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament after Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals prior to his switch to the Brooklyn Nets.

Draymond Green also tore a ligament in his left index finger, while D'Angelo Russell sprained his right ankle in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on November 1.

"I've never seen it," Lillard said prior to Monday's clash between the Trail Blazers and Warriors. "I think they might be the first to do a lot of things.

"At one point they had a starting five of five All-Stars, won 73 games, they've done a lot of great things, made a lot of history.

"It just seems like adversity has hit hard at this point for them. Those guys aren't old. They'll bounce back from it, but you just hate to see it."

Lillard, whose Blazers are 3-3 for the season, added: "It's just unexpected. You don't expect to see them go from being such a huge deal, big super team, to one guy [Durant] leaves and injuries.

"It's just an unfortunate situation that you hate to see. In that way, it's just different. It's kind of weird to see them not as the Warriors.

"I feel for the players. You never want to see any of your peers go down with injuries. Klay's a great dude, so it sucks to see him go down that way. Same thing with Steph. ... They'll recover and they'll be back hopefully at 100 percent. That's what we all want to see."

Brooklyn faced adversity early against Houston on Friday night, but they rebounded to claim a 123-116 victory at Barclays Center.

The Nets fell into a hole early and trailed by as much as 15 in the first half before it found scoring from some surprising places.

Taurean Prince unexpectedly led the way offensively with a team-high 27 points for Brooklyn while Garrett Temple chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Brooklyn still called Kyrie Irving's number down the stretch and he sealed the game with a step-back dagger on a corner 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 points on the night.

James Harden continued his ridiculous run at the charity stripe, tallying 36 points and eight rebounds while sinking 14 free throws. But he struggled from deep and made only two of his 16 long-range shots.

Houston has made a name for itself by shooting a large number of threes, but shooting at a 25 percent clip against a Brooklyn team that converted 59.4 percent from downtown didn't help their chances.

The Rockets dropped to 3-2 in the western conference, while the Nets improved to 2-3 in season 2019-20.

Kemba makes himself at home in the Garden

Kemba Walker scored 33 points in the Celtics' 104-102 win over the Knicks at TD Garden.

Russell Westbrook totalled 27 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and four steals against Brooklyn.

Andre Drummond tallied 25 points and 24 rebounds as the Pistons fell to the Bulls 112-106.

Lopez and Garland wayward

Brook Lopez went 1-of-7 from the field and scored three points in the Bucks' 123-91 rout of the Magic.

Cleveland's Darius Garland missed all 10 of his shots and notched just two points in his team's 102-95 loss to the Pacers.

Tatum ices the game for the Celtics

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and nailed the decisive basket as the Celtics snuck past the Knicks.

 

 

76ers at Blazers

Philadelphia is undefeated but they face a talented Portland team without Joel Embiid who is serving a two-game suspension for a skirmish with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. How will the 76ers respond without their dominant post presence and defensive stud down low? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum certainly won't make things easy for the Eastern Conference powerhouse.

Damian Lillard does not intend to move on from the Portland Trail Blazers to team up with other NBA stars any time soon.

The guard signed a four-year, $196million extension with the Trail Blazers and refuses to "sell out" for championship rings by leaving the city that picked him sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Lillard spoke with Complex on Wednesday and discussed his thoughts about super teams.

"I think people are taking control because there's no greater time to do it than now," Lillard said.

"And I don't have a problem with that, but the way I see stuff is, like, I don't prefer to go that route. Just like they're choosing to do this stuff for their career, I'm choosing to do what I want for mine, too."

This offseason was an eventful one in the NBA. Kevin Durant elected to part ways with the Golden State Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets, Anthony Davis forced his way to the Los Angeles Lakers via trade request and Paul George leveraged his way to an ideal situation when he joined Kawhi Leonard on the Los Angeles Clippers. 

The balance of power has shifted in the NBA because of these moves, but Lillard wants to stay put and win it all on his own terms.

"To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?" Lillard said. "If I go play with three other stars, I don't think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?"

Lillard, a four-time All-Star, has consistently been one of the best guards in the NBA in recent years. He has career averages of 23.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists and has developed a reputation for knocking down clutch shots – like the signature dagger that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2018-19 playoffs.

"I wanna be the one, the star that wants to be here [in Portland]," Lillard said. "I wanna be the one that embodies all of those things and then be a part of the rise from 'we haven't won since '77, and now we won, and Dame's everything to our city'. I just am who I am, and that fits here."

The Golden State Warriors have reached their fifth successive NBA Finals after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers. 

LeBron James made his home debut at Staples Center but it did not go according to plan after the Los Angeles Lakers lost a feisty game against the Houston Rockets. 

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