LeBron James and Luka Doncic celebrated their All-Star selections with brilliant performances in valuable NBA road victories on Thursday.

James, who will captain Team LeBron against Team Giannis in Chicago next month, led the Los Angeles Lakers to a gritty 128-113 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 35-year-old posted a triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to spoil Kyrie Irving's return after a game out with hamstring tightness.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers team-mates were facing each other for the first time since Irving (20 points) joined the Nets in July 2019.

Doncic gained his first All-Star selection after topping the Western Conference backcourt vote and then inspired the Dallas Mavericks to a 133-125 win against the Portland Trail Blazers.

His nine assists and team-high 27 points ensured 47 from Damian Lillard went in vain as the Mavs prevailed for the fifth time in six games.

Beal brilliant in Wizards' win

After losing to the Heat in Miami, the Washington Wizards bounced back to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-112.

Bradley Beal went 15 of 22 from the field for 36 points and eight assists in a sublime performance at Quicken Loans Arena.

 

Simons fizzles in losing cause

Lillard and Carmelo Anthony (16 points) had to be productive for the beaten Trail Blazers given Anfernee Simons' struggles on home court.

The 20-year-old guard contributed just five points in 23 minutes on the floor.

 

AD denies Kyrie!

Anthony Davis sent a message to Irving and the Nets with a huge rejection in the third quarter.

Thursday's results

Washington Wizards 124-112 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 128-113 Brooklyn Nets
Dallas Mavericks 133-125 Portland Trail Blazers 

 

Clippers at Heat

Providing he overcomes knee soreness, Jimmy Butler will seek to prove he should have been an All-Star starter when the Miami Heat (31-13) host the Los Angeles Clippers (31-14) on Friday.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will return as NBA All-Star team captains after leading the vote for February's showpiece contest in Chicago.

Three newcomers – Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Pascal Siakam – will also take the floor for the 69th edition of the annual exhibition game.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James captained Team LeBron to victory over Team Giannis in 2019 and the pair will renew their rivalry at United Center on February 16.

James, an All-Star for the 16th year of his illustrious career, will have the chance to draft Dallas Mavericks sensation Doncic onto his team for the first time, the MVP contender a walk-up selection amid a brilliant sophomore season in the NBA.

All-Star regulars James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard round out the Western Conference starter pool.

Atlanta Hawks guard Young topped the count among Eastern Conference backcourt options to secure a start alongside the Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker.

The pair gained selection ahead of four-time All Star Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, who scored poorly in the fan portion of the vote.

Siakam's selection comes after averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game for the Toronto Raptors this season, while injury troubles failed to prevent Joel Embiid from sealing a frontcourt berth.

Fan ballots were weighted at 50 per cent, while current players and the media contributed 25 per cent of the starter vote.

Captains James and Antetokounmpo will select their teams from the eight other starters, while NBA head coaches will be responsible for choosing the 14 reserves that will be announced on January 30.

 

Eastern Conference starters:

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Western Conference starters:

James Harden (Houston Rockets), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

Zion Williamson certainly announced his arrival to the NBA on Wednesday night.

The first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft had 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes of action for the New Orleans Pelicans in their 121-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Williamson had been sidelined since preseason due to a knee injury but dazzled in his debut, scoring 17 straight points at one point and hitting all four of his three-point attempts.

But how did other NBA greats fare in their first games?

 

Bill Russell - 6 points, 16 rebounds, one assist (December 22, 1956)

Prior to Russell's NBA debut, the Boston Globe had asked whether it was possible to "be too good to be overrated". No pressure, kid. 

Russell did not make any of his four free throws and went 3-of-11 shooting in 16 minutes. However, a man who would go on to be an 11-time NBA champion shone in other facets, grabbing 16 boards and blocking three straight Bob Pettit shots.

Wilt Chamberlain - 43 points, 28 rebounds, one assist (October 24, 1959)

A star at high school and college, the 7ft 1in center's bow for the Philadelphia Warriors was eagerly anticipated and he did not disappoint, racking up the points and rebounds.

It was a sign of things to come and Chamberlain won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in his first season.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists (October 18, 1969)

The broadcast of this debut included the line "the whole country has waited for it", a reflection of the attention the 7ft 1in Milwaukee Bucks center commanded at the time.

Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, scored 29 of his NBA record 38,387 points that night and he went on to be named to 19 All-Star Games.

Magic Johnson - 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists (October 12, 1979)

The first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft came to a Lakers team that featured Abdul-Jabbar, and it was the veteran's buzzer-beater that delivered the win against the San Diego Clippers.

A pumped-up Johnson certainly impressed, though, and his zeal for the game was evident when he jumped on Abdul-Jabbar amid wild celebrations at the end.

Larry Bird - 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists (October 12, 1979)

Johnson was not the only future Hall of Famer debuting on that night in October 1979 as Celtics great Bird was also making his first appearance.

The Lakers man might have had more points, but Bird had the double-double and he, not Johnson, would go on to be named Rookie of the Year. Both men won three MVPs and were named to 12 All-Star Games.

Michael Jordan - 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists (October 26, 1984)

There was little indication of what was to come when Jordan put up solid but not spectacular numbers against the Washington Bullets.

He would soon find his groove, though, averaging 28.2 points in a campaign that ended with the Rookie of the Year award. Five MVPs and six championships would follow for perhaps the greatest of them all.

LeBron James - 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists (October 29, 2003)

A man well-versed in dealing with insane hype, James' NBA debut for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers was delayed because another game went into overtime and ESPN did not want TV audiences to miss a second of the 18-year-old's bow.

Cleveland lost but 'The Chosen One' delivered exactly what the television executives were looking for, a steal and a dunk providing the first of many highlight-reel plays the four-time MVP would produce.

LeBron James reminded reporters his son Bronny is in the ninth grade and any NBA plans are a long way off.

NBA great LeBron has spoken in the past of the possibility of playing alongside Bronny, who is currently at Sierra Canyon High School.

But after scoring 21 points in a Los Angeles Lakers win at Madison Square Garden, the four-time MVP was taken aback by a question about the possibility of the two linking up for the New York Knicks down the line.

LeBron was asked if he would consider a switch to the Knicks if Bronny, still just 15, was drafted by New York in years to come.

The 35-year-old laughed and replied: "My son's in ninth grade, man.

"We're trying to worry about what project we're turning in tomorrow. That's what we're worried about now.

"That's what's most important: school, home, and being the best big brother he can be."

LeBron James offered no excuses for the Los Angeles Lakers' display in their heavy defeat to the Boston Celtics, labelling it a "good, old-fashioned butt whooping."

The Lakers went down 139-107 to the Celtics on Monday - only the seventh time in the history of the regular-season rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics in which the margin of victory has been 30 points or more.

It was also the largest win by one team over the other since the Lakers beat the Celtics by 35 points in March 1969 and James knows his side were not up to scratch.

"I mean, listen, it was just a good, old-fashioned butt whooping," James said, in quotes reported by ESPN.

"That's all. They beat us in all facets of the game: outside, interior, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds. So, it's the main ingredients in the loss.

"We haven't moved on yet. [Tuesday], we will. Still simmering right now, which it should. But it's a long NBA season. You don't want to have games like this, but if you do, you try to learn from the mistakes. Or you do learn from the mistakes, and you move on."

Monday's big win for the Celtics was also a huge moment for Kemba Walker, who finally ended his career-long losing streak against James - a run which had lasted 28 games.

Walker, who scored 20 points in the win, kept his cool when asked about snapping the unwanted streak.

"I'm happy I got one at least, before he goes," Walker told reporters. "Who knows how long he can play, because he's just incredible. But you know, it's only one. One and 28.

I know everybody is making a big deal of the record. I have the utmost respect for LeBron and he's one of the greatest players of all time. If there was any guy I couldn't beat, it'd be him.

"He's such a great player, done so much in this league, has been so far. It just feels good to win. I'm more excited about the way we played, the way we came out, especially with the struggles we've had in the last couple of weeks, that's what I'm more excited about."

LeBron James was "happy as hell" for Markelle Fultz after the Orlando Magic guard posted a triple-double in a 119-118 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fultz had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists at Staples Center for his second career triple-double as the Magic ended the Lakers' nine-game winning streak on Wednesday.

The former first overall pick struggled with his shooting motion after entering the NBA and made just 33 appearances across his first two seasons in the league with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Fultz was eventually diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and last February got traded to the Magic, where he continued his rehabilitation.

The 21-year-old revealed before the game against the Lakers that James had been a "mentor" to him and the four-time MVP was impressed by his latest display.

Asked how Fultz has been able to turn his career around, James replied: "Confidence and opportunity.

"They're confident in him, he's confident in himself, and he's given an opportunity to go out and play the game how he grew up playing. I think everything else takes care of itself.

"I've been supportive of him ever since he was in high school, when he was a rookie in Philly. Been supportive of his situation and still [am] to this day. I'm happy as hell for him."

Fultz is averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 assists in 27 minutes per game this season and is pleased his perseverance is paying off.

"What I've been through, it just gives me more fire to keep going," he told ESPN. "I put in a lot of hard work to be where I'm at. I've been through a lot, but I never gave up.

"So, it just shows for people out there, whoever is doubting you, whoever is doing something [to you], put something on your mind and if you have something on your mind, go do it.

"Don't ever let somebody tell you that you can't and I'm never going to stop. I'm going to keep working until I can't play no more."

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will miss the showdown with Western Conference rivals the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA franchise announced.

Having already confirmed superstar LeBron James (illness) and Danny Green as absentees prior to tip-off against the Thunder on Saturday, the Lakers added Davis to the list.

Davis – initially listed as questionable for the clash – missed Friday's win over the Dallas Mavericks due to a gluteus maximus contusion suffered against the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Flourishing since arriving from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade, Davis has been averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Lakers.

The Lakers are riding a seven-game winning streak as they top the Western Conference with a 31-7 record.

LeBron James was ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, while Anthony Davis was a doubt.

With Davis absent for Friday's meeting with the Dallas Mavericks due to a gluteus maximus contusion, James played through illness to lead the Lakers to a 129-114 victory at American Airlines Center.

However, the team's official Twitter account confirmed the four-time NBA MVP and Danny Green would sit out against the Thunder. Davis was listed as questionable.

The Lakers are on a seven-game winning streak and lead the Western Conference with a 31-7 record.

James has averaged 34.9 minutes, 25.4 points, 10.7 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game this season.

LeBron James was honoured to again be linked with another NBA great after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time list of field goals made in the Los Angeles Lakers' victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Four-time MVP James surpassed Chicago Bulls legend Jordan's 12,192 field goals as the Lakers defeated the Mavs 129-114 in the absence of Anthony Davis for their seventh straight win.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (12,681), Karl Malone (13,528) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837) remain ahead of the former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat star.

James was proud to be mentioned alongside such esteemed company amid the gruelling regular season.

"When you're on a journey and you're in a marathon, to be able to have feats along the way is pretty special," said James, who had a double-double of 35 points and 16 rebounds to go with seven assists.

"Any time I'm linked with the greats, tonight being MJ himself, that's special.

"Hopefully I continue to make the greats proud, live on that legacy and continue to make my family and my fans proud as well."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James: "He's just special. There's not enough adjectives, really, to describe LeBron James.

"He's a guy that's going to be setting milestones or breaking records every few games, seemingly, probably, for the rest of his career. It's pretty awesome."

LeBron James is hopeful Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis will make a quick recovery from the injury he suffered in Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks.

The Lakers made it six wins on the bounce, with James contributing 31 points in a 117-87 success, but victory came at a cost as Davis left the court in the third quarter following a heavy fall.

Coach Frank Vogel revealed the "initial diagnosis is a bruised tailbone" but said further testing would be required to establish the extent of the problem.

James, however, was trying to remain optimistic.

"We're hoping he'll be fine, and we believe he'll be fine," he said.

Vogel struck a similar tone as he lauded Davis' influence at the Lakers.

"Fingers crossed, hope for the best, pray for the best," he said.

"He's one of our pillars. He's our present. He's our future. He's one of the best players in the world, so obviously he means a lot."

Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf stole the show in the Seattle Seahawks' playoff win at the Philadelphia Eagles, earning plaudits from Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll and even LeBron James.

Metcalf had 160 receiving yards on seven receptions and connected with Wilson for the decisive touchdown in a 17-9 wild-card round win.

The 53-yard TD saw Metcalf go to ground in taking the catch before springing up to lunge into the endzone, securing an advantage the Seahawks protected with relative ease.

Quarterback Wilson was particularly effusive in his praise of the "special" 22-year-old, a second-round pick in 2019.

"DK was special tonight, and he's been special all year," Wilson told reporters. "He's one of the best rookies that's come out.

"He's got a nice little chip on his shoulder, too - I'm glad he's on our team, that's for sure, and he's on our team for a long time.

"I think the great thing about him, though, is that he's always been professional from day one. Nothing happens by accident.

"[It has been about his] his preparation, how he's prepared week in, week out - even since the offseason - all the extra work, all the early mornings, throwing at 5:20 in the morning in the summer. That's what greatness looks like."

Head coach Carroll added: "I think the night was stolen by DK. He did some stuff that it's hard to imagine anyone else doing."

And NBA great James took to Instagram to add his congratulations, posting on his story: "Congrats young [king]. Too fast, too strong."

The Seahawks move on to play the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round in the NFC.

LeBron James has hailed the Los Angeles Lakers' defence after the team made 20 blocks in Sunday's 106-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

James starred offensively with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, although it was the defence that claimed the headlines as they made more blocks than any other NBA team since March 2001.

Their tally of blocks was one shy of the Lakers' franchise record, and James insisted Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee made it easy for him to run the show offensively.

"I think it's an unbelievable, remarkable feat. They make it easy on us," James told reporters in the Lakers' locker room when asked about the team's defensive display. 

"We try to contain these small, quick guards and attackers. To know that you have that safety net behind you is a hell of a luxury.

"We can pressure up on a lot of guards. This is a three-point shooting league. You can get beat a lot in this league with three-point shots, so we just try to force them wide.

"I don't think [block shots] is an underrated stat. Any time you can protect the rim or someone can get back and make a block. Some of the greatest block-shotters have dominated the history of the game.

"We have one in Dwight who has done it through the course of his career, JaVale and obviously AD. When you have guys who are able to change the trajectory of the shot and also either block the shot or make guards or forwards change their shot, it's key to the defence.

"When we acquired AD and when we re-signed JeVale we knew we'd be able to impact a lot of shots. When we acquired Dwight we knew we'd be able to add even more, so we know we can do certain things offensively that other teams can't because of the protection we have. We just try to take advantage of it."

"Obviously it was a huge factor in the game," Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told a news conference.

"Our three big guys just played exceptional basketball. I think we as a group were not happy about giving up 68 points on the paint against the Pelicans. Those guys took a lot of pride in protecting our rim, 20 points is pretty special, the guys did a great job."

The Lakers lead the Western conference with a 29-7 record for the season.

The Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak with a 106-99 victory against the Detroit Pistons thanks to LeBron James' triple-double.

James posted 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Lakers to their fifth consecutive win in the NBA on Sunday.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis contributed 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Western Conference-leading Lakers improved to 29-7 for the season.

The Pistons (13-24) were led by Derrick Rose's 28 points off the bench, while Andre Drummond – the subject of trade speculation – had 12 points and 18 rebounds in Los Angeles.

 

Clippers make history

The Los Angeles Clippers benefited from three players with 30 or more points for the first time in franchise history in their 135-132 win over the New York Knicks. Montrezl Harrell top-scored with 34 points, while Paul George and Lou Williams added 32 in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. Marcus Morris Sr. had a game-high 38 for the Knicks in LA.

Damian Lillard put up 34 points and 12 assists in the Portland Trail Blazers' 122-111 loss at the Miami Heat. Hassan Whiteside's return to Miami yielded 21 points and 18 rebounds. The Heat were led by Goran Dragic's 29 points and 13 assists.

Dante Exum's career-high 28 points headlined the Cleveland Cavaliers' spirited 118-103 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Devin Booker posted 40 points but the Phoenix Suns still went down 121-114 to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, who were inspired by Jonas Valanciunas' 30 points.

 

Anthony struggles from the floor

Carmelo Anthony finished with 11 points but that was on five-of-six shooting from the foul line. The Blazers veteran was only three-of-11 from the floor, while he missed all four three-point attempts in 37 minutes.

Miami's Duncan Robinson was two-of-11 from the floor and the same from beyond the arc for six points.

 

Simons with the jam!

Portland's Anfernee Simons could not be stopped en route the rim for a monster slam.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Clippers 135-132 New York Knicks
Miami Heat 122-111 Portland Trail Blazers
Minnesota Timberwolves 118-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies 121-114 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers 106-99 Detroit Pistons

 

Thunder at 76ers

All eyes will be on Wells Fargo Center when the slumping Philadelphia 76ers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. The 76ers (23-14) have lost four in a row to be fifth in the Eastern Conference, while the Thunder (20-15) are eyeing a sixth successive victory.

Anthony Davis was merciless against his former team and LeBron James played a pivotal supporting role as the Los Angeles Lakers sank the New Orleans Pelicans.

In a stellar show at the Staples Center, Davis plundered 46 points and 13 rebounds in a 123-113 win for the Lakers, who tightened their hold on first place in the Western Conference.

James registered 17 points and 15 assists, with Davis' performance one of his strongest since his trade from New Orleans last July.

Playing for the Lakers on the road against his former team in November took much of the tension out of Friday night's big game for Davis, who said it felt like "just another game for me".

"The first game in New Orleans was definitely a lot more emotional, not only going against my former team but playing in that arena again," he told reporters.

"Tonight I think my team-mates just gave me great opportunities and put me in a great position to score the basketball. I didn't prepare any differently."

Asked about his link-up play with James, Davis said: "We do a great job of finding each other. He does a great job of reading it - when to pass it and when to go finish.

"It's been effective. We're constantly learning from each other and trying to get better. We're finding ways to score other than the pick and roll, but it's been very effective for us.

"I'm finding my way. We're a good team with a lot of players who can score the basketball. We just end up flowing in the groove right now where everybody's clicking.

"When you've got guys like the coaches in my team who constantly tell me to shoot and have a lot of confidence in me, it takes a lot off me to go out there and shoot."

James has no doubt the 26-year-old Davis can go from strength to strength with the Lakers.

"He's efficient, very efficient," James said. "I don't think there was one point where he looked stressed. Just another great performance.

"He's the recipient of our full offense because he's just as fast as anybody on the floor, he's more dynamic than anybody else on the floor with his ability to play on the interior and the exterior. He can do so many things.

"We all have grown and figured out ways we can continue to help each other.

"Any time you come from a different programme, a different franchise or a different system, it takes a little while to understand how you're going to be as best [as you can be] for the better of the team. Every Monday, D has got better and the rest of the team has just filed behind that."

James joked that Danny Green's passing made Davis' finishing at the rim all the more impressive.

"He had some of the best alley-oop finishes off some of the worst passes in NBA history," James said, smiling. "And Danny Green is now up there as one of the worst alley-oop passers now, but it's finished off because you could throw it to AD anywhere.

"For me, I just try to put it there where he can dunk it and he did that."

LeBron James was thrilled to make NBA history as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks but was less impressed about the possibility of having to stump up the cash for his own birthday party.

Superstar James became the ninth player to make 9,000 league assists in the Lakers' 108-95 victory on Sunday but is the first to match the milestone with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds – something he achieved in November.

Over the past two games, which also yielded a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, James has tallied 29 assists and the 15-time All Star said being generous with the ball was an attribute taught to him at a young age.

"It was something that was instilled in me when I first picked up a basketball," James told reporters. 

"One of my earliest coaches said the best part of the game was to move side to side, attract the defense and get the team-mate the open look.

"My team-mates and coaching staff trust me to play the point and run the show. It's my job to take care of the ball, put guys in position to be successful, get them the ball on time and on target.

"The milestone of it is when you grow up in the inner city around a lot of things that you don't want your kids to see, to be able to get to this point in age where the statistics are stacked up against you for obvious reasons, that's a blessing. 

"It's more of a blessing for me to be able to do what I love to do every day and be able to let my family reap the benefits of that, and they allow me to be an inspiration to them. That is really cool."

The milestone moment arrived just a day before James' 35th birthday but any celebrations will be kept low key, in part because of a desire not to pay for his own party.

"I don't wish to have a party because I got to pay for it," he added with a smile. "S***, I got to pay for my own damn birthday party!

"I don't have wishes. Biggest one I had was when I turned 21. This one will be mild. When I turn 40, that will be epic."

Part of the Lakers' success was down to their defensive effort against one of the league's best attacking outfits.

Dallas' 95 points was their lowest tally of the season, while they committed 19 turnovers.

"We just had to find ourselves again," Anthony Davis said. 

"We were able to get back to what we do defensively. And when we do that, we're able to beat any team and feel good about ourselves."

Dallas star Luka Doncic reflected ruefully: "That was one of the worst games we played. We didn't play like us and had a really bad night. I can't say much more."

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