Anthony Davis became the latest star to suffer an injury during NBA preseason as the Brooklyn Nets eased to a 91-77 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in China.

Davis suffered a sprained thumb midway through the first quarter, joining the Nets' Kyrie Irving on the sidelines after he aggravated a facial injury in the sides' previous meeting on Thursday.

Star Lakers signing Davis tweaked his thumb while going up to block a shot at the rim, staying in the game for a short period before heading to the locker room for further evaluation.

He came back to the sidelines with an ice pack taped to his right hand and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Davis served as the starting center, finishing the game with six points while shooting 2-of-7 from the field - both buckets coming off assists from LeBron James.

The former New Orleans Pelicans superstar added three rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes before leaving due to the injury.

Los Angeles were able to keep it close through the first half but saw the Nets pull clear in the third quarter as Caris LeVert shone in Irving's absence.

LeVert left the previous clash early with a knock, but he scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. Taurean Prince also played a big role off the bench with 14 points.

The game brought to an end a trip to China that has been clouded in controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Daryl Morey earlier this week, with the Houston Rockets GM supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The two scheduled fixtures went ahead but all media availability was cancelled, overshadowing what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of its key international markets.

As the teams return to the United States, the Lakers' next preseason game is set for Monday against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

The Nets host the Toronto Raptors next on Friday at Barclays Center.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will not face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in Saturday's NBA preseason fixture after aggravating a facial fracture.

Irving left Brooklyn's 114-111 win over the Lakers early on Thursday due to the problem he suffered over the offseason.

The Nets announced on Friday that Irving will not feature against the Lakers at Shenzhen Dayun Arena in China.

Irving suffered the injury just one minute into Thursday's contest after being bumped by Lakers guard Rajon Rondo. He did not record a point, rebound or assist.

This is not Irving's first run-in with this kind of injury.

The 27-year-old point guard suffered a minor facial fracture playing for the Boston Celtics in November 2017 after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face during a game.

He also broke his jaw in December 2012 while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Whether this problem will affect his success in his first season with the Nets remains to be seen.

Irving signed a four-year, $141million deal in the offseason alongside Kevin Durant, who also signed a max contract but will likely miss all of 2019-20 recovering from an Achilles injury.

A six-time All-Star, Irving has averaged 22.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in his career.

Kyrie Irving's Brooklyn Nets debut lasted just a minute as the much-discussed NBA preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers went ahead in Shanghai on Thursday.

Irving, who signed for the Nets alongside the injured Kevin Durant for the upcoming season, was trying to play through a facial fracture suffered in a pickup game last month, wearing a clear mask.

However, the former Boston Celtics star appeared to aggravate the issue early on as he clashed with Rajon Rondo and was immediately withdrawn.

The contest at least finally meant some basketball was played amid a week of controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Morey's comments overshadowed what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of their key international markets in China.

Some fallout continued, with media duties for both teams and league commissioner Adam Silver cancelled, but the game represented a brief respite from a tumultuous few days.

The Nets prevailed 114-111 as some of the NBA's top stars took to the floor, although Caris LeVert followed Irving in making an early exit with an apparent eye problem.

Their absences made Spencer Dinwiddie the key man as he scored 20 points and Taurean Prince added 18 to lead six Nets in double figures.

LeBron James scored 20 points in 24 minutes to pace the Lakers, as he and Anthony Davis (16 points in 25 minutes) shared the floor as team-mates for the first time.

Brooklyn's Theo Pinson broke 111-111 tie with 20.9 seconds to play by hitting the second of two free throws, before Dzanan Musa's dunk with nine seconds left capped the scoring.

Los Angeles had a last shot to tie on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's three-pointer as the clock ran down, but it bounced away.

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry wants the comparisons of Zion Williamson to LeBron James to stop.

Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 draft, has been touted as one of the NBA's next greats, which has led to him being likened to future Hall of Famer James

However, Gentry wants to nip such talk in the bud as the preseason gets underway.

"They shouldn't do that [comparing]," the Pelicans coach said, via ESPN. "We are not doing that. We are comparing Zion to Zion. We want Zion to be the best Zion Williamson that he can be. Not anybody else. We want him to be the best basketball player he can become using his name and no comparison.

"I know that it's inevitable that that's going to be the case, but we are not drinking that Kool-Aid."

Williamson garnered buzz during his lone season with Duke, where it was quickly projected he would be the first overall pick in the draft.

"There's very few guys — at 19 years old — who can come in and impact this league," Gentry said. "There's one in California but there's also not anybody like him."

Despite the hype, Williamson and Gentry seem to be trying to have fun before the season.

When Williamson walked past Gentry as he was talking to reporters, he joked: "Did they ask about me?" 

Gentry replied: "Now why would they do that?"

Williamson will take to the court in his first preseason game on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Paul George insists the Los Angeles Clippers are not looking to compare themselves to the Los Angeles Lakers in the coming NBA season.

Following the arrivals of George and Kawhi Leonard at the Clippers and Anthony Davis joining LeBron James at the Lakers, the two LA teams are seen as genuine championship contenders in 2019-20.

But while the sides will share the same home at Staples Center and comparisons are likely to come easy, the Clippers will not be thinking that way internally.

George said: "Staples Center is where you want to be, with the team we've got and the team they have.

"But I don't put that pressure that that's the team we necessarily have to compare ourselves to. There are 29 other teams we've got to go ahead and go against and compete against.

"It's not a head-to-head battle. We've got to come out, got to play, do what we got to do, the same way 29 other teams got to do."

George has undergone shoulder surgery in the offseason, having seen injury hamper him towards the end of the previous campaign at the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he was an MVP finalist.

George is targeting a return to action in November and is pleased with the way his body is recovering.

"As far as my health, I'm pretty good," he said. "I'll be in camp starting this week. Nothing contact, but all the scripted stuff I'll be a part of.

"I'm used to being in this rehab stage and knowing what it takes to get my body prepared and get my body up to speed.

"It's a long process, but, again, I think me going through it and having had a drastic injury in my leg, I know what to expect. I know what pressures to put on myself and what pressure not to put on myself as well.

"It comes with a lot of stress when you're going through rehab. I'm just in a good place. I know what I need to do, what I'm capable of, and ultimately I know when my body is ready."

George hopes the season will end with a Clippers championship, but he is also aiming to be healthy enough to play for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics.

"I would love to. Hopefully, God willing, I can get through a season healthy," he said. "When that time comes, I would love to be a part of the Olympics and represent.

"But this comes first obviously, getting through this year, giving everything to this year.

"Hopefully, by June, we are the last team standing. I'll deal with it at that point. It doesn't really matter if we go all the way, as long as I'm healthy.

"When I get to that point and I'm healthy, I'm in. I want to be a part of that group."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel warned NBA rivals "you're going to get smashed in the mouth" when facing LeBron James and the team.

Following six consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance, the Lakers head into 2019-20 with huge expectations after acquiring All-Star Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard to join James in Los Angeles.

The Lakers finished their first of two-a-day session on Saturday, and after, Vogel told reporters the tough play is what other teams can expect when they face the Los Angeles squad.

"You're coming to play [the] L.A. Lakers, you're going to get hit," Vogel said. "You're going to get smashed in the mouth."

Vogel is entering his first year at the helm after replacing Luke Walton and the Lakers coach is stressing the importance of defence early.

"He's a defensive coach and wants to have a defensive mindset," Davis said. "We're going to be a defensive team. We made sure we covered a lot of defensive schemes today."

Davis – a six-time All-Star – added: "Obviously, you're not going to try to injure anyone or do anything stupid. We know we have to play with physicality. We did a good job doing that today. So in a way, that makes it a lot easier against our opponent."

The Lakers are hoping to improve on their efforts last season, where they finished ranked 13th in defence.

Los Angeles allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, but on the other end of the floor, the Lakers were actually worse. The team ranked 24th in offense by scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions.

"You know we got a lot of firepower offensively," Vogel said. "But establish that defensive mindset of playing hard and playing tenacious and being physical. And on offense, just beginning to get organised and talking about the importance of playing for each other."

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James cannot wait to team up with Anthony Davis during the 2019-20 NBA season.

The Lakers held a media day on Friday as the team prepare to open training camp.

Four-time NBA MVP James heaped praise on Davis, who joined the Lakers in the offseason via a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.

"I know the calibre of player he is, not only from a basketball standpoint but also from a leadership standpoint and what he can bring to any franchise," James said.

"It's exciting to have such a beautiful young mind, a beautiful player and also a great leader, as well … I think the basketball will speak for itself, but he's just an all-round great person."

"We all know how great Anthony Davis is," James continued (via USA Today). "If we're not playing through him when he's on the floor, there's no sense to have him on the floor. He's that great."

While there are huge expectations for these Lakers, James and everyone else was cautious in making predictions, perhaps understandable for a franchise that have not even made the playoffs since 2013.

When asked about his expectations for this year, forward Kyle Kuzma said: "For the team, make [the] playoffs. That's it. That's the first step. We can't talk about nothing else because this organisation hasn't been in the playoffs for years."

When someone asked Lakers GM Rob Pelinka if this season would be a disappointment if the team do not win a championship, he replied: "Coach [Frank Vogel] made it very clear in the film room just now that success for us is a great two-day practice tomorrow. We optimise that practice and take it one day at a time. We're not going to jump to June."

But the addition of Davis makes the Lakers one of the teams to watch this season. Expectations are huge, but Davis is ready to get started.

"I'm just ready to play … to be with a historical franchise like this … I couldn't ask for nothing better," Davis said on Friday. "I just want to win … I think this year we have a chance to do something special."

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has been sidelined indefinitely due to a foot injury.

On Thursday, the Lakers announced Kuzma is dealing with a stress reaction in his left foot sustained at the FIBA World Cup.

The Lakers issued a statement, saying Kuzma is "progressing with his rehabilitation" but has not been cleared for full practice or game participation.

Kuzma is scheduled to undergo an MRI when the Lakers returns from China, where they are playing a pair of NBA exhibition games against the Brooklyn Nets on October 10 and 12.

The third-year player suffered the injury while representing the United States at the World Cup, where Team USA finished seventh.

Kuzma averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Lakers last season.

 

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained his approach to working with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season.

Vogel will lead the Lakers in the upcoming NBA season after Luke Walton left Los Angeles, where it has been six successive campaigns without playoff basketball.

The Lakers have boosted their postseason and championship chances by luring Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with superstar James.

Vogel knows he is facing big expectations entering his first season and in a Q&A with NBA.com, the former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach said: "Talent-wise, they're the two best players I'll ever have had the opportunity to coach. 

"That brings a lot of fun, a lot of excitement to what we're able to do on the court. It brings a lot of challenges too. You have to make sure you're managing them the right way and putting them in the right positions to feel good about their roles and what's happening around them. There are challenges involved with that. So I'm looking forward to how that all is going to play out."

Vogel replaces Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers after three seasons and just one with James.

Walton and James built a 20-14 record before the 15-time All-Star missed five weeks due to injury.

Vogel acknowledged some of the concerns that coaches have when it comes to leading James, but said he is not relying on the three-time NBA champion's past relationships with coaches to determine how the two will bond on the court.

"I only know how he's been with me. That's the only measuring stick I'm going to use," Vogel said. "I'm not going to look at how it's been with his past coaches. That really doesn't concern me. I want to shape my own opinion of him as a person and one of the greatest ever. I'm going to take my approach and work together with him to hopefully do something special."

As for Davis? Vogel explained that it will be important to determine whether the six-time All-Star plays forward or center.

"To me, he's effective in both positions. But I don't think it's wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full time," Vogel added. "Does that mean he's never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he's going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way."

Vogel said despite the high expectations, he is prepared for whatever this season may bring.

"We have the pieces to compete for a championship. To have expectations that it's all going to come together immediately might be reaching a little bit," Vogel said. "I'm sure we’ll have some bumps in the road. But hopefully as these guys gel … we have a number of guys with terrific resumes, but they have to learn each other. And they'll have to learn each other quickly.

"Then we'll be in the mix for the regular season and positioning ourselves for a playoff run. You just never know how quickly that process is going to play out. So hopefully, whatever the regular season looks like, by the time you get into the playoffs you're gelling at the right time and playing your best basketball."

Josh Hart is not happy with how the Los Angeles Lakers' trade for Anthony Davis went down.

The Lakers acquired Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in June for Hart, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, but apparently the organisation did not keep the players in the loop.

"I played my a*** off for the purple and gold," Hart wrote on Twitter.

"Played hurt and never had an excuse. I'm truly grateful to the Lakers organisation and I do understand the NBA is a business.

"But as a player you just want the courtesy of a phone call saying I got traded and not finding out on Twitter."

Hart did not appear to be upset with the trade at the time as he posted a photo to Instagram of him smiling immediately after the deal.

Clearly though, while he may have been happy to have been moved by the Lakers, he was not a fan of how the team handled the move.

Hart will now play alongside top overall pick Zion Williamson in New Orleans along with Ball and Ingram as well as star guard Jrue Holiday.

He may not have liked how he unceremoniously left Los Angeles, but he wanted to make sure people knew he did appreciate his time there.

"Let's make this clear. I loved my time in LA and loved my coaches, team=mates and training staff," Hart wrote.

"Got nothing but love and respect for the front office."

After acquiring Davis, the Lakers also inked Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and DeMarcus Cousins to new deals. Recently they added Dwight Howard as well.

Dwight Howard said the past does not matter as he looks ahead to his second spell with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers brought back Howard on a nonguaranteed, one-year deal last month after DeMarcus Cousins tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Howard, who spent one rocky season with the team in 2012-13, discussed his decision to return to the Lakers on Wednesday.

"I never had any ill will toward any of the fans here in LA," the 33-year-old said. "I loved this city from the first moment I've been here and started playing in the NBA.

"It was never nothing against anybody here [on] the team or anything like that, it was just a decision I made. I love this city. I love playing in L.A. I'm back here so none of that stuff in the past even really matters to me anymore. I think we all have a fresh start."

Howard came to the Lakers the first time with high expectations. But the team struggled and he clashed with team-mates, leading him to eventually leave and join the Houston Rockets. 

"It's been six years, in 2020 it'll be seven years. ... I'm big on numbers," Howard said. "Seven is for new beginnings ... I'm looking forward to having a fresh start with the fans and stuff like that. Show them my only dedication is to putting another banner up here in Los Angeles."

Howard was a star early in his career with the Orlando Magic but has regressed significantly since then. The eight-time All-Star's path to return to Los Angeles was cleared after he received a buyout from the Memphis Grizzlies, who acquired him in a deal with the Washington Wizards in the offseason.

The Lakers will be the fifth team Howard has suited up for in the last five seasons. 

"We're trying to win a championship," Howard said. "And you know, I think that everybody wants to know what level of commitment that I have, and what everybody else on the team has.

"So, I definitely understand it. I'm very committed to helping this team win a championship. It's not just an interest of mine. It's something that I'm super-committed to. And I'd rather just let my actions speak louder than any words that I can tell you." 

The Lakers rebuilt their roster when they landed Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to pair with LeBron James. They created cap space to add a third max player but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Los Angeles then signed Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Cousins to deals.

McGee and Howard are the only two healthy centers on the Lakers' roster.​

Kobe Bryant said there is no "beef" with Shaquille O'Neal and he has "nothin but love" for his former Los Angeles Lakers team-mate.

O'Neal responded to comments made by five-time champion Bryant, who thought he could have won 12 NBA titles if his team-mate shared the same work ethic.

During an interview at the 10th annual PHP Agency Convention in Las Vegas, Bryant seemingly took another shot at O'Neal.

Bryant was asked what would have happened if O'Neal had his work ethic. Bryant replied: "He'd be the greatest of all time".

"He'd be the first to tell you that," Bryant added. "I mean this guy was a force like I have never seen. I mean, it was crazy. A guy at that size…. Generally guys at that size are a little timid and they don't want to be tall. They don't want to be big. Man, this dude was… he did not care. He was mean. He was nasty. He was competitive. He was vindictive.

"I wish he was in the gym. I would have had f****** 12 rings…. It wouldn't even be close. ... Me and Shaq sit down all the time and I say 'if your lazy a** was in shape'."

The video surfaced on Instagram earlier this week and four-time NBA champion O'Neal responded with a comment of his own.

"U woulda had twelve if you passed the ball more especially in the finals against the pistons #facts. ... You don't get statues by not working hard," O'Neal wrote.

Bryant later tweeted on Wednesday: "There is no beef with @SHAQ I know most media want to see it but it ain't gonna happen. Ain't nothin but love there and we too old to beef anyway #3peat."

O'Neal then responded to Bryant's tweet, writing: "It's all good bro, when I saw the interview, I thought you were talking about Dwite, is that how u spell his name lol."

Bryant and O'Neal became known for their "beef" when they played alongside each other for the Lakers from 1996-2004. The two earned three straight championships before O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004.

Dwight Howard's return to the Los Angeles Lakers was confirmed by the NBA team on Monday.

Howard will head back to the Lakers for the first time since the 2012-13 season, when he spent one year with the team.

After the center cleared waivers, Los Angeles quickly made the well-reported move official.

Howard planned to sign a non-guaranteed deal with the team, according to an earlier report from ESPN. 

Los Angeles lost DeMarcus Cousins to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear earlier this month, leaving JaVale McGee as the only active center on the Lakers' depth chart.

Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights were also considered as potential replacements for Cousins.

Howard, 33, averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Washington Wizards last season but only appeared in nine games because of a back injury he suffered early on in the year.

He was traded to Memphis following the 2018-19 season. The Grizzlies recently negotiated a buyout with the big man so he could rejoin the Lakers.

Los Angeles have seen some major turnover on their roster, as they traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and multiple future first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James.

The Lakers finished last season with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs and will look to improve upon that mark with their new personnel in 2019-20.

The Sacramento Kings and NBA announced on Friday they have cleared coach Luke Walton after a four-month investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

Kelli Tennant, a former Spectrum SportsNet reporter, sued Walton on April 22, accusing him of sexual assault, verbal and physical harassment and unwanted physical contact over a three-year period.

A day later, Tennant held a press conference and recounted an alleged incident at a Los Angeles hotel in 2014 during which, she said, Walton pinned her to a bed.

At the time of the alleged incident Walton was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.Tennant's lawsuit and news conference came only a week after he was named the Kings head coach.

Her allegations prompted the NBA and Kings to launch a joint investigation. Almost two-dozen people were interviewed during the investigation, but despite "repeated attempts" to interview Tennant, she did not participate on the advice of her legal team, according to an NBA statement.

The statement read: "Based on this and the available evidence, the investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations made against Coach Walton."

Tennant's civil suit is believed to still be active. Tennant's attorney, Garo Mardirossian of Los Angeles, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Sacramento Bee.

Walton, who coached the Los Angeles Lakers for three seasons before parting ways with the team in April, takes over a Kings club that finished 39-43 last season.

"I am 100 per cent focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings and energised to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start this preseason," Walton said in a statement on Friday. "I will have no further comment."

"Luke Walton is our head coach and we support him and his team as they continue to prepare for the upcoming season," the Kings said in a statement.

The Indianapolis Colts are in wait and see mode with Andrew Luck.

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the same position but in a different way with DeMarcus Cousins.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the Cowboys have not come to an agreement with any of their three players currently looking for new deals.

All that and more this week in US Sports.

 

1. Colts still waiting on Luck to get healthy

It is 2017 all over again as the Colts continue to wait for quarterback Luck to lead the team's offense. Just two seasons after Luck thought he would start the season but ultimately missed the entire year due to injury, Indianapolis are once again in limbo while Luck deals with an injury.

Exactly what the issue is remains to be seen as it has been reported that he had a calf issue, then an ankle issue and now just a general leg issue. The only thing certain is Luck is not leading the team's offense as the season creeps closer and closer.

Coach Frank Reich told reporters this week he wants to make a decision on who will start week one by the third week of the preseason. Whether that will be Luck or backup Jacoby Brissett remains to be seen.

2. Cousins' season may be done before it started

The Lakers may have already been dealt a devastating injury. Cousins tore his anterior cruciate ligament, the center's agent Jeff Schwartz told ESPN.

Los Angeles were hoping to go with a solid big three with Cousins, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but now they will likely have to build around Davis and James as Cousins could have just suffered his second season-ending injury in the past three years.

 

3. Cowboys no closer to deals with stars

The Cowboys continue to work to sign Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott to deals, but as far as we know, they are no closer to anything.

Jerry Jones offered a colourful illustration as to what trying to sign the three players is like this week.

"Picture you were a driver of a car and you had a wreck and your hand was almost severed off, but you didn't understand your anatomy," Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. "You look down, you're spurting blood, you open the door, and run to the woods, and either die bleeding to death or shock. The educated man looks down, knows his anatomy, squeezes and knows his best chance is to wait for help. That's because he's been there a lot and done that. So I'm squeezing and waiting for help."

Jones might be a little stressed by his current situation.

4. Pitchers starting to look fragile

It is the dog days of summer in MLB and pitchers are dropping like flies. Just this week, Philadelphia Phillies righty Jake Arrieta went on the 10-day injured list (IL) and is likely done for the season as he is considering undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole was scratched for a start with a hamstring issue and Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon underwent surgery on his elbow and then discovered he needed Tommy John surgery. He will now be out for all of 2020 as well.

At this point teams are just trying to get to the end of the year without losing a pitcher for the season but the Phillies and Pirates were unable to escape that fate.

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