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."

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.

Brett Brown heaped praise on Ben Simmons after the Philadelphia 76ers star's "incredible" triple-double display against the Brooklyn Nets.

Simmons posted 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the 117-111 win at Barclays Center on Monday.

The performance continued a fine run of form that has come at the right time for the 76ers, who remain without Joel Embiid after the All-Star center underwent surgery on his injured left hand on Friday.

"Ben was ridiculously dominant tonight," 76ers coach Brown told reporters after beating Brooklyn.

"He played some four, I played him at five, he had the ball. He was just multi-skilled, used all over the place in multiple positions. Ball handler, screen setter, post target, he was on the five man defensively.

"He was just incredible."

Simmons was earlier named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, having impressed throughout what is now a four-game winning streak.

"I'm just trying to win," the Australian told NBC in an on-court interview. "I know Joel is out so a lot of guys have got to step up. I take a lot of responsibility, just being a leader.

"Offensively I've got to pick it up, so I'm glad we could get this one."

Philadelphia return to action on Wednesday in a road game against the Toronto Raptors.

Nikola Jokic's double-double proved in vain as the streaking Indiana Pacers pulled off a 115-107 heist against the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.

The Pacers outscored the Nuggets by 15 points in the fourth quarter to snatch the eight-point victory on Sunday, their fifth in succession.

Jokic had a game-high 30 points and 10 rebounds for Denver (29-13), while Domantas Sabonis led Indiana (28-15) with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists – his first career triple-double.

TJ Warren and Malcolm Brogdon also chipped in with 22 points apiece for the Pacers, while Doug McDermott added 24 in 21 minutes.

LaMarcus Aldridge (21) and DeMar DeRozan (20) combined for 41 points to help the San Antonio Spurs to a 107-102 victory over the Miami Heat.

Bam Adebayo had 21 points and 16 rebounds in a losing cause for Miami, beaten for the first time in three games.

 

Mills makes history on special occasion

Patty Mills celebrated San Antonio's inaugural Indigenous Night in fitting style, contributing 18 points and five rebounds from the bench against the Heat.

The 31-year-old guard drained four shots from beyond the arc to become the first Australian to register 1,000 three-pointers in NBA history.

Lamb labours in Denver

Indiana overcame the Nuggets despite receiving little assistance from Jeremy Lamb, who managed zero points and a solitary assist in 23 minutes on the floor.

 

Dozier dazzles and dishes

PJ Dozier produced a neat crossover and pass for Mason Plumlee as the Nuggets tried unsuccessfully to streak clear at Pepsi Center.

Sunday's results

San Antonio Spurs 107-102 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 115-107 Denver Nuggets

 

Lakers at Celtics

LeBron James leads the Los Angeles Lakers (34-8) to Boston on Monday for a date with the Celtics (27-14), who will be eager to snap a three-game losing streak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo urged his Milwaukee Bucks team-mates not to let up after they improved their league-leading record with a 117-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Antetokounmpo's 29 points and 12 rebounds fuelled Saturday's triumph as the NBA's Eastern Conference leaders extended their winning run to six matches.

The Bucks' latest victory came two days after they let a commanding double-figure lead against Boston Celtics diminish to four points, eventually holding on to win 128-123.

And reigning MVP Antetokounmpo accepts there is still room for improvement, despite leading the Miami Heat by seven and a half games in the East.

"We've got to keep getting better, game by game," he told reporters. "I think we're in a good place, but we've got to play good basketball for 48 minutes, not for a quarter or a couple of quarters. 

"We've got to play the whole game and get ourselves to a place that we can play and compete for 48 minutes and be smart for 48 minutes, be sharp for 48 minutes.

"We were focused today [against the Nets]. We had the lead but we didn't play like we had the lead - we played like it was a tied game. 

"We know that Brooklyn is a team that can get hot at any moment. They can make threes, they can go for runs, but we were able to be smart, move the ball and get good shots."

Giannis Antetokounmpo and NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks eased past the Brooklyn Nets, while LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers topped the Houston Rockets.

Antetokounmpo's 29 points and 12 rebounds fuelled Milwaukee's 117-97 victory away to the Nets on Saturday.

Khris Middleton scored 20 points for the Bucks, who improved their league-best record to 38-6 amid a six-game winning streak.

James also had a double-double as the Western Conference-leading Lakers powered past rivals the Rockets 124-115 on the road.

After the Orlando Magic snapped their nine-game winning streak, the Lakers bounced back thanks to 31 points and 12 assists from James in Houston.

Kyle Kuzma added 23 points, while Lakers team-mates Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 20 points apiece.

The Rockets were led by Russell Westbrook, who put up 35 points for his fourth consecutive 30-point game, and James Harden (34 points).

 

Sixers end road woes

The Philadelphia 76ers snapped a six-game road losing streak with a 90-87 victory at the lowly New York Knicks. Ben Simmons had 20 points for the 76ers.

The Los Angeles Clippers rallied to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 133-130 on the back of Kawhi Leonard's 39 points.

Rudy Gobert's 28 points and 15 rebounds, and Bojan Bogdanovic's 30 points inspired the Utah Jazz to a 123-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Devin Booker had 39 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Phoenix Suns stunned the Boston Celtics 123-119. Marcus Smart's franchise-record 11 three-pointers were not enough for the Celtics.

 

Carmelo struggles in OKC

While Chris Paul shined with 30 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder, fellow veteran Carmelo Anthony struggled in the Portland Trail Blazers' 119-106 loss. He was four of 13 from the field and missed all three attempts from beyond the arc for nine points in 32 minutes.

 

From Noel to Bazley

After Nerlens Noel blocked a shot, Darius Bazley went up the other end and hammered home the slam for the Thunder!

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 117-97 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 133-130 New Orleans Pelicans
Phoenix Suns 123-119 Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers 90-87 New York Knicks
Detroit Pistons 136-103 Atlanta Hawks
Toronto Raptors 122-112 Minnesota Timberwolves
Chicago Bulls 118-116 Cleveland Cavaliers
Golden State Warriors 109-95 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Lakers 124-115 Houston Rockets
Utah Jazz 123-101 Sacramento Kings
Oklahoma City Thunder 119-106 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Pacers at Nuggets

Only two games are scheduled for Sunday, with the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are the only other teams in action. The Indiana Pacers (27-15) are riding a four-game winning streak, while the Denver Nuggets (29-12) are coming off three straight victories.

Luka Doncic is a "walking bucket" and the Dallas Mavericks fans should really appreciate being able to watch him, according to Carmelo Anthony.

Last season's Rookie of the Year Doncic made a career-high eight three-pointers and had 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Mavs defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 120-112 at American Airlines Center on Friday.

Anthony had 22 points for the Blazers, who slipped to an 18-25 record and sit 2.5 games back of the playoff positions in the Western Conference.

When the 10-time All-Star was informed Doncic had referred to him as a "walking bucket", he returned the compliment.

Anthony continued: "As far as Luka goes, he's gonna be in this league for a long time.

"He's a young player and he's gonna get better and better. For years to come we're gonna to be watching a special player.

"I hope you guys out here in Dallas really appreciate what you have in front of you right now."

Anthony, who in November joined the Blazers after nine months without a team having been waived by the Chicago Bulls following his trade from the Houston Rockets, became the 18th player to reach 26,000 career points when he scored a free throw in the first quarter in Dallas.

"This is a situation where I've always continued to believe in myself and I think with that being the case I'm able to still go out there and perform the way I want to be able to perform and enjoy the game again," he said.

"I think people understand the situation I was in, but most important I think people understand the type of person I am. When you have that organic natural energy, people pick up on those vibes."

Portland lost CJ McCollum to a left ankle sprain in the second quarter and he did not return to the game. It is unclear if he will be fit to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

"Usually, the second day is the worst," McCollum said. "So we'll see how it feels [on Saturday]. Get some treatment, try to compress it and see how it feels."

Kyrie Irving stands by his criticism of some Brooklyn Nets team-mates and defended his leadership style as he insisted he is not a "f****** a*****e".

Irving – who joined the Nets as a free agent in the offseason – made headlines this week when he claimed the team had "glaring" needs following a 117-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, the 27-year-old, a one-time NBA champion and a six-time All-Star, believes he was right to criticise his team-mates and cites his career achievements as the basis for taking a leadership role.

"It's probably a tell-tale sign of the career that I've had, some of the moves that I've made individually as well as coming to different environments and organisations," Irving told reporters in a video shared by SNYtv.

"At the end of the day, it's an entertainment league. We're drama-filled, everything revolves on these media platforms, which is part of society. I can't really do anything about it, except really be a pillar in our locker room and when I'm out there, winning, that's what it comes down to.

"It's not like I'm a f****** a*****e shouting all of the time in the locker room.

"I'm going to continue to push, demand greatness from my team-mates and we go from there. If it's harsh as a leader or it's too much for anybody, you're not in our locker room – stay the f*** out, it's as simple as that."


Irving also insisted he has earned the right to be respected and listened to by his team-mates, as he attempts to propel the Nets towards a championship win.

"At the end of the day, my name is in a lot of people's mouths all of the time," Irving added.

"I've earned that respect because of how great I am as a player and there's still more goals I want to accomplish in this league and I can't do it without improving an organisation and winning a championship, and that's what it comes down to."

The Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference with an 18-22 record for the season, with pacesetters the Milwaukee Bucks next up on Saturday.

Brandon Ingram served a timely reminder of his quality ahead of Zion Williamson's impending return by scoring a career-high 49 points against the Utah Jazz, and Lonzo Ball called him the New Orleans Pelicans' "go-to guy".

It was confirmed on Monday that Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and one of the most hyped prospects to ever enter the NBA, is expected to make his regular-season debut next week against the San Antonio Spurs.

A knee injury has kept the teenager sidelined since preseason and Ingram, traded to the Pelicans in the offseason as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, has thrived in his absence.

The forward led the Pelicans to a 138-132 overtime victory over the Jazz, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped as a result on Thursday.

Ingram is averaging 25.8 points per game this season - the 10th best return in the NBA - and Ball said that he has to be considered the main man on the team that landed Williamson.

"He has come into his own. It is Brandon Ingram time now," Ball, who also came across to New Orleans from the Lakers in the Davis trade, told reporters.

"Since I have known him, he has been a confident person but this whole year, he has been on a whole other level.

"Obviously, he is our go-to guy on this team and we trust him."

NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks topped the Boston Celtics 128-123 thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double.

Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and collected 17 rebounds as the Bucks (37-6) extended their winning streak to five games on Thursday.

It was the 35th double-double of the season for reigning MVP Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

Kemba Walker posted a game-high 40 points for the Celtics (27-13) on the road.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers made it back-to-back wins via a 122-95 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Orlando ended the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak on Wednesday, but they were unable to back up that performance against the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 32 points, five assists and five rebounds in LA, where Montrezl Harrell added 21 points and Jamychal Green put up 11 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Ingram and Mitchell explode for career highs in shoot-out

Brandon Ingram recorded a career-high 49 points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a stunning 138-132 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tied his career high with 46 points.

Will Barton (31 points) and Nikola Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds), Michael Porter Jr. (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Malik Beasley (27 points) helped the Denver Nuggets outlast the Golden State Warriors 134-131 in OT.

 

Hayward struggles

It was a tough night for Celtics star Gordon Hayward. Struck down by injuries during his time with Boston, Hayward was one of 10 from the floor and one of nine from three-point range for seven points in 32 minutes.

The Pelicans soared but Lonzo Ball did not. While managing 13 assists, Ball had just five points on two-of-12 shooting from the field and one-of-five from beyond the arc in 42 minutes.

 

Tatum leaves opponents in a spin

In fine form this season, Boston's Jayson Tatum sent one opponent to the floor while he turned another en route to the basket.

 

Thursday's results

Phoenix Suns 121-98 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 128-123 Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans 138-132 Utah Jazz (OT)
Denver Nuggets 134-131 Golden State Warriors (OT)
Los Angeles Clippers 122-95 Orlando Magic

 

Bulls at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers will look to generate some momentum when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday. The 76ers (26-16) are 19-2 at home and 7-14 on the road as they welcome the Bulls (15-27) to Wells Fargo Center.

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."

Luka Doncic's sensational numbers in the Dallas Mavericks' 127-123 beating of the Sacramento Kings were "hard to fathom" for gleeful head coach Rick Carlisle.

The Mavericks won a third straight game with Doncic finishing with a stunning triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists.

In doing so, Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double consisting of at least 15 rebounds and assists.

Doncic's display earned effusive praise from coach Carlisle, who said: "These numbers are just crazy. It's hard to fathom. 

"They're trapping him all over the court every time down. He's both beating the traps and playing beautifully out of the traps."

Doncic really came to life in the third quarter where he put up 11 points and six rebounds.

Even more impressively, Doncic made his triple-double despite going 0-5 from beyond the arc, a statistic that left the Slovenian insisting he can play better.

"Obviously, not as good as I can play. I have to practice those threes," Doncic said. 

"They were doubling me every time, and I like it. Basketball is five players so somebody's going to be open if they double me."

Doncic's night started in inauspicious fashion with a wayward pass that found its way into the stands.

The 20-year-old was able to see the funny side of things.

"It was a bad pass," he added. "I was laughing. He was open. I should have hit him. That was a very bad pass."

The Orlando Magic snapped the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak in the NBA, while the Houston Rockets were also stunned on Wednesday.

The Lakers' nine-game winning run was ended with a shock 119-118 loss to Orlando.

LeBron James had a double-double of 19 points and 19 assists, but the Lakers (33-8) were stunned at the Staples Center.

Markelle Fultz was the star for Orlando (20-21) with a triple-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Houston were also surprised in a 117-107 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Russell Westbrook contributed a triple-double of 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, but James Harden (13 points) went three-of-12 from the field.

Damian Lillard (25 points) and CJ McCollum (24) combined for 49 points for Portland, while Hassan Whiteside (18 points and 18 rebounds) and Carmelo Anthony (18 points and 12 rebounds) managed double-doubles.

 

Doncic delights as Sabonis shines

Luka Doncic starred with 25 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds in the Dallas Mavericks' 127-123 win over the Sacramento Kings. The 20-year-old became the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double with at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists.

Domantas Sabonis' double-double of 29 points and 13 rebounds helped the Indiana Pacers past the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-99.

The Philadelphia 76ers overcame the Brooklyn Nets 117-106 as Ben Simmons contributed 20 points and 11 assists.

 

Kuzma struggles

Kyle Kuzma struggled in the Lakers' defeat, going two-of-10 from the field for just four points in 27 minutes.

 

Mykhailiuk from deep

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk converted from beyond half-court to beat the buzzer in the third quarter of the Detroit Pistons' 116-103 victory against the Boston Celtics.

Wednesday's results

Detroit Pistons 116-103 Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers 117-106 Brooklyn Nets
Miami Heat 106-100 San Antonio Spurs
Chicago Bulls 115-106 Washington Wizards
Indiana Pacers 104-99 Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors 130-121 Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets 100-86 Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers 117-107 Houston Rockets
Dallas Mavericks 127-123 Sacramento Kings
Orlando Magic 119-118 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Celtics at Bucks

The Celtics (27-12) get a chance to bounce back when they face Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks (36-6) on Thursday.

Luka Doncic made NBA history during the Dallas Mavericks' 127-123 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old dominated with 25 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds as the Mavericks improved to 26-15.

Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double with at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists.

The Slovenian is enjoying a brilliant season to be among the NBA MVP contenders.

Doncic was averaging 28.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists heading into the clash with the Kings.

Joel Embiid said "I'm trying to win a f***** title" as the Philadelphia 76ers star craves NBA glory following last season's heartbreaking playoff exit.

The 76ers are championship contenders in 2020 after re-signing Tobias Harris and adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson to a roster headlined by All-Stars Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Embiid is seen as the key to Philadelphia's title hopes and the popular center is hellbent on winning a ring after being left in tears when the 76ers suffered a buzzer-beating defeat to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Recovering from a finger injury, Embiid – whose 76ers last won a championship in 1982-83 – wrote in The Players' Tribune: "You know, we all came into this year talking about how bad we want a title. We're pretty good at talking, myself included. But it's not enough just to talk it. You gotta walk it. You gotta bring it every single night. And that includes me, too. 

"Listen, I know it sucks that I'm out. Nobody feels worse than me about it. But it's just a finger. It's nothing. Compared to what I've been through, it's nothing man. 

"I'm going to be back. And we're going to get this thing right. And we're going to be a problem in the playoffs, I promise you. But I have to say it now — the one thing I'm not going to do is change who I am as a basketball player. 

"I got nothing but love for the legends of the game like Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal] and Charles [Barkley]. So I respect what they're saying about my game. But I'm never going to be the kind of traditional big like Shaq was in the '90s. You can't go down to the post every single time down the floor and have success in this league. Not in 2020. Not with the way the game has evolved. Not with the way teams double-team now. You have to be able to spread the floor and pass the ball and get buckets all over the court.

"It doesn't matter if you're a guard or a 7-footer, you need to be versatile to win in this league. You need to be unpredictable. Yes, I idolised guys like Dream [Hakeem Olajuwon]. I watched hours and hours of Dream every single day, literally. Everybody knows that story. But you know who I love watching now? KD [Kevin Durant], [James] Harden, even point guards like Steph [Curry] and CP3 [Chris Paul]. For me, that's where the game is the most interesting right now. 

"Above everything, I'm a student of the game. That's the only way I was able to pick it up in such a short amount of time. You can't just be a Big on the block anymore. You need to be a basketball player.

"If we're going to win a title, I gotta be a little bit of Dream, and a little bit of [Allen] Iverson, and a little bit of Kooooobeeeeeeeeeeeeee [Kobe Bryant]. That's the way I'm always going to see myself. 

"And I know you guys on TV want me to score 35 on the block every night. I know it. I hear you. But I gotta be honest with you. This isn't 1995. This is 2020. I'm not working every single day to be the next Dream. There's only one Dream. There's only one Shaq. I'm not trying to be the best Big ever. I'm trying to be the best basketball player in the league, and I really believe I can be that. 

"I'm done with the trash talking and the memes and all that. Once I'm holding that trophy in my hands, maybe I'll be back to my charming self. For now, I got one thing on my mind. I'm not trying to win a debate. I'm trying to win a f***** title."

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