Playing without the injured LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers saw their other two superstars step up in a 125-121 overtime defeat of the San Antonio Spurs. 

Anthony Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds and Russell Westbrook contributed 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to carry the Lakers on the road. 

James injured his right ankle Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies but remained in the game. Though he entered the day listed as "probable" against the Spurs, coach Frank Vogel ruled him out before the game. 

Malik Monk got the start in James' place and finished with 17 points but the Lakers needed their big names to pull this one out. 

Los Angeles trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter before rallying to take the lead, but that momentum was halted when Davis went down late in the period with an apparent leg injury. 

Westbrook took control in overtime, though, and the Lakers will have to hope for good news on the injury front. 

Vogel said after the game that Davis banged knees with another player and his status for Wednesday's game at the Oklahoma City Thunder is unclear. 

 

Curry, Warriors rally to stay perfect 

The Golden State Warriors staged a second-half comeback to defeat Oklahoma City 106-98 and remain unbeaten while their opponents continue to search for their first victory of the season. The Thunder (0-4) led 74-64 with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter before Golden State (4-0) went on a 21-2 run to take control. Stephen Curry scored 23 points to lead the Warriors, while Andrew Wiggins had 21 and Damion Lee chipped in 20 off the bench. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 30 for Oklahoma City, who shot just 41.9 per cent from the field (36 of 86).

The Utah Jazz improved to 3-0 with a 122-110 home win over the Denver Nuggets, who lost reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic to a knee contusion late in the first half. Jokic led the Nuggets with 24 points despite playing only 15 minutes, while Rudy Gobert had 23 points and 16 rebounds for Utah. 

Luka Doncic had 26 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Dallas Mavericks past the Houston Rockets 116-106. 

 

Curry disappears as Sixers fall to Knicks

Two days after scoring 28 points in a Philadelphia victory, Seth Curry was held to just four as the 76ers fell 112-99 to the New York Knicks. Curry missed all four of his three-point attempts and attempted only six shots overall in 30 minutes. Joel Embiid also struggled, making only two of seven shots from the field on a 14-point night. 

Los Angeles Lakers star Carmelo Anthony saluted the 40-point performance of Ja Morant as the Memphis Grizzlies just came up short 121-118 at Staples Center on Sunday.

The Lakers had lost their first two matches of the season prior to Sunday's contest – the most recent defeat had been against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

But they got the job done at the third time of asking to kick-start their campaign.

Morant certainly made the Lakers work for their victory, the 22-year-old top-scoring with 40 and also adding 10 assists as he impressed.

While the Lakers ultimately outlasted him and the Grizzlies, Anthony – whose 28 points was the second-highest score posted – made a point of applauding Morant's efforts.

"It's showtime every time teams go against us. We understand that. We expect that," the 37-year-old said.

"Somebody like Ja, he's going to continue to get better. He's going to continue to elevate. He is the future of this NBA, and he shows that every single night, what he's able to bring to the game."

Anthony's 28 saw him surpass Moses Malone in ninth place on the all-time NBA leading scorers list, and while he did not let such an achievement distract him out on court, he did allow for it to process afterwards.

"When you're in a battle like that, like tonight, it's kind of hard to put everything in perspective or even think about it because the game is so close, so tight," he said.

"So, you don't even want to try to think about too many things out there on the court at that moment but making a play, getting a stop and winning the basketball game.

"But – I keep saying this, man – it's an honour, it's a blessing to be in that list, to pass Moses and know what Moses did, what he did for the game of basketball, it's hard to put it in words.

 

"I'm still here doing it. I think that's what I'm honestly excited about. I'm here in year 19 still doing what I'm able to do."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel had been particularly keen to see an improvement following the defeat to the Suns and Golden State Warriors, with an in-depth video session seen as a good way to get ahead of their issues.

Vogel felt it yielded tangible results against the Grizzlies and is hoping that is a sign of things to come in terms of their cohesion.

"Losing your first two home games didn't sit well with our group," Vogel added. "We came out very motivated tonight and we've got a lot of belief in who we can be this year, but we also have a lot of work to do, and we had a very, very productive film session yesterday.

"It cleaned a lot of things up and the effort was much better tonight. The attention to detail was much better tonight and that's how we're going to have to improve and gel."

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed their first win of the season after outlasting Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies 121-118 in the NBA on Sunday.

LeBron James and the Lakers had lost back-to-back games to open the 2021-22 campaign but finally had something to celebrate at home to the Grizzlies.

Anthony Davis posted 22 points and eight rebounds, while team-mate James finished with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Lakers (1-2).

But it was Lakers veteran Carmelo Anthony who led the way with 28 points (on 10-of-15 shooting) from the bench.

Anthony passed Moses Malone for ninth place on the all-time NBA leading scorers list.

Morant excelled with 40 points and 10 assists, but it was not enough for the Grizzlies (2-1), who lost for the first time.

 

 

Curry brothers star as Steph makes history

Stephen Curry was at it again to lead the Golden State Warriors to their first 3-0 start to a season since 2015 after a 119-107 victory against the Sacramento Kings. The two-time MVP put up 27 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals to fuel the unbeaten Warriors. With his fifth assist, Curry became the first player in franchise history to dish out 5,000 career assists.

The Philadelphia 76ers topped the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder 115-103. Seth Curry maintained his red-hot form, going seven-of-10 from three-point range for a team-high 28 points. Curry was six of seven from beyond the arc for 23 points in the opening quarter – a new career-high for a single period. He is the fourth 76ers player with at least 20 points in a quarter since 2010, joining Joel Embiid (four times), Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams. Embiid had 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists against the Thunder.

Jalen Green enjoyed a breakout game, despite the Houston Rockets going down 107-97 to the Boston Celtics. Green became the first rookie in Rockets history with 30-plus points and eight three-pointers in a game after finishing with 30 points – including eight threes, four rebounds and three assists.

The Charlotte Hornets are off to their first 3-0 start to the season thanks to a 111-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets behind Miles Bridges' 32 points. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 38 points in Brooklyn.

 

Harden struggles from the floor in Nets loss

James Harden was far from his best against Hornets, going just six-of-16 shooting from the field for 15 points in 33 minutes, while he also finished with eight turnovers.

Evan Fournier was three-of-11 shooting from the field – making just two of seven three-pointers – as the New York Knicks were stunned 110-104 by the Orlando Magic.

Dwight Howard's row with Anthony Davis is already squashed, with the Los Angeles Lakers duo exuding a calm that was not present during their on-court confrontation in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers, aiming to regain the title they won in the NBA bubble in 2020, fell to 0-2 as they were beaten 115-105 by last season's Western Conference champions.

Their defeat was highlighted by a disagreement between Howard and Davis in the first half, which saw the latter shove his team-mate during a timeout.

However, both men were quick to insist the incident had been put behind them.

"We just had a disagreement about something that was happening on the floor," said Howard. 

"We're both very passionate about winning. We didn't want to lose this game. We got it out of the way. We're grown men. Things happen.

"But we already talked. We squashed it. There's no issues between me and him. And that's my brother. That's my team-mate."

"It's over with," Davis added. "After the situation happened, me and DH talked about it ... and we left it in the locker room at half-time."

Meanwhile, LeBron James made it clear there is no panic among the Lakers after following up their opening-night loss to the Golden State Warriors with another disappointing display.

"There's a process along with building something to become the team you want to become, and I know it firsthand," James said.

"It doesn't happen overnight, as much as you want it. It just takes time, and we'll know when that time is. Right now, we've got to continue to just push."

The Phoenix Suns soared to a 115-105 victory as LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were condemned to back-to-back defeats to start the 2021-22 NBA season.

Chris Paul fuelled the Suns with 23 points and 14 rebounds in Los Angeles, where the Lakers were no match for last season's NBA Finals participants and fell to 0-2.

Paul became the first player in NBA history with 20,000 points and 10,000 assists.

Devin Booker (22 points) and Mikal Bridges (21 points) also impressed for the Suns, while double-doubles from Anthony Davis (22 points and 14 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (15 points and 11 rebounds) were not enough for the Lakers.

James finished with 25 points in front of the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Justin Bieber at Staples Center.

The Lakers' woes were compounded by a row between team-mates Davis and Dwight Howard on the bench during the second quarter as the pair had to be separated.

 

 

Durant's Nets spoil 76ers' opener

The Philadelphia 76ers looked in control and on track for victory but they were upstaged 114-109 by Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant posted a triple-double of 29 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists as the Nets used a 16-1 run to stun the 76ers in their first home game of the season in Philadelphia. James Harden had 20 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points off the bench on 10-of-12 shooting. Seth Curry made all four of this three-pointers to finish with 23 points, the same amount as 76ers team-mate Tobias Harris.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic showed why he was crowned the league's best player last season, scoring 32 points, collecting 16 rebounds and supplying seven assists in a 102-96 win against the San Antonio Spurs. It was his eighth 30/15/5 game, doubling the rest of the Nuggets franchise history combined.

The Chicago Bulls' new-look team improved to 2-0 thanks to a 128-112 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans. Lonzo Ball inspired the win behind his triple-double (17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds), while Zach LaVine (32 points) and DeMar DeRozan (26 points) also came up big.

The Utah Jazz stayed unbeaten courtesy of dominant displays from All-Star duo Donovan Mitchell (27 points) and Rudy Gobert (17 points and 20 assists) in the 110-101 road win at the Sacramento Kings.

Myles turner joined James, Harden, Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady as the only players in NBA history to score 40 points, 10 rebounds, five three-pointers and three blocks in a game. The Indiana Pacers still lost 135-134 to the Washington Wizards in overtime.

 

Celtics lose again

The Boston Celtics were booed off the court at half-time and throughout the second half in their 115-83 defeat against the Toronto Raptors. Jaylen Brown was three-for-13 shooting for nine points and five turnovers, while Marcus Smart ended the game scoreless on 0-for-six shooting in 29 minutes as the Celtics fell to 0-2.

LeBron James says he is "not worried at all" about Russell Westbrook after he suffered first-game jitters in a losing Los Angeles Lakers debut on the opening night of the NBA season.

Westbrook cut a disconsolate figure following a tough bow as Stephen Curry inspired the Golden State Warriors to a 121-114 victory at Staples Center on Tuesday.

Nine-time NBA All-Star Westbrook finished with only eight points, five rebounds, four assists and four turnovers in a debut that did not go to plan.

James, who got his season under way with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, has no concerns about Westbrook following such a disappointing bow for the 2017 MVP.

"I think it was just first-game jitters. I don't put too much into it," James said of Westbrook's performance. 

"There was a lot going through his mind, being a kid from LA and watching the Lakers growing up, then however many years down the road now you're putting on a Laker uniform, you're stepping into Staples Center.

"I can only imagine how many friends and family have contacted him in the last 48 hours wondering if they can come and see his first game as a Laker. Those demands will quieten down as the season goes on, so I'm not worried about Russ at all. He just needs to worry about himself and not worry about the outcome."

James revealed he told Westbrook not to dwell on his below-par display.

He said: "I told Russ just don't be so hard on yourself, it's one game. That's the one thing I tried to get through to him. Go home and see the three babies that he has.

"They might be asleep, but it will put a smile on his face. He can go home and see a beautiful wife and family and realise it's not that bad."

Curry put up a triple-double of 21 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in a great start to the campaign for the Warriors.

Stephen Curry may have produced his eighth career triple-double and first since 2016 but he says he "played like trash" in Tuesday's NBA season-opening 121-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Curry's Golden State Warriors made a statement as they stunned the Lakers, with the star point guard contributing 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals.

The two-time NBA MVP only managed five-from-21 from the field, shooting at 23.8 per cent, with nine of his points coming from the stripe.

"I played like trash, shot the ball terribly," Curry told ESPN after the game.

The Warriors turned in a 38-29 final quarter to claim the win, scoring 46 points in the paint for the game, compared to the Lakers' 34.

Golden State had a good spread of contributors, while the Lakers relied on LeBron James (34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists) and Anthony Davis (33 points, 11 rebounds and two assists), as Russell Westbrook battled on debut, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and four assists.

Curry added: "If we can win a game like that, where we create some good shots and stick with it defensively, against a pretty good team, that is a pretty good omen.

"We've got to learn from our mistakes, quit turning the ball over, make more shots, we'll be good.

"This is a good feeling. We had a lot of excitement coming into the season. New cast of characters mixed with our core. We weathered the storm tonight."

New Warriors additions Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Igoudala, Otto Porter Jr and Moses Moody all got minutes and contributed. Bjelica added 15 points and 11 rebounds from 26 minutes, while veteran forward Igoudala scored 12 points from 23 minutes.

Jordan Poole also stepped into the starting line-up to score 20 points, including 16 in the second half, and Curry was bullish that the team would continue to gel as they get into the season.

"That's what early season is all about," Curry said. "Obviously there was a lot of hype about this game. We want to be in a playoff-like atmosphere like this.

"We have a lot to learn and grow. Our chemistry is solid, in terms of what we're trying to do. When you have to go execute it, it's a different animal. I like learning lessons in wins."

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors spoiled the party as they stunned LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers 121-114 on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season, while defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks started with a bang.

A star-studded crowd was in attendance to watch Curry and James go head-to-head in the season opener at Staples Center, with likes of Justin Bieber, Kevin Hart and Usher watching courtside.

Looking to bounce back from last season's first-round playoff exit as they were eventually dethroned by the Bucks, James and the Lakers were outlasted in Los Angeles, where Russell Westbrook endured a rough debut.

Despite double-doubles from James (34 points and 11 rebounds) and Anthony Davis (33 points and 11 rebounds), the Lakers were no match for the Warriors and Curry – who put up a triple-double of 21 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

It was Curry's eighth career triple-double, while Jordan Poole added 20 points as the visiting Warriors and their bench outscored the Lakers' role players 55-29.

 

Giannis fuels Bucks

The Bucks unveiled their championship banner, rings and crushed Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets 127-104 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the league's season-opening matchup. Khris Middleton contributed 20 points and nine rebounds on a memorable night in Milwaukee, where the Bucks won the Eastern Conference semi-final rematch.

While the Nets were blown away on the road, Kevin Durant produced again with 32 points and 11 rebounds. The former MVP has scored at least 25 points in 11 consecutive games against the Bucks, equalling the feat achieved by James (from 2011 to 2013).

Nets recruit Patty Mills (21 points on seven-for-seven shooting from beyond the arc) tied the NBA record for most made threes on debut for a new team, while James Harden (20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) flirted with a triple-double.

 

Westbrook's woes, Harris behind Brooklyn's struggles?

All eyes were on Westbrook following his return to California and move to the Lakers. But the former MVP failed to impress, however. In 35 minutes, Westbrook was only four-for-13 shooting for eight points, while he had five rebounds and four assists to go with four turnovers.

The Nets went 24-4 (85.7) last season when Joe Harris scored at least 15 points – best in the NBA (minimum 25 games). Harris had the fourth-most games in the NBA with a positive plus/minus, behind only Rudy Gobert, MVP Nikola Jokic and Royce O'Neale. So based on that pre-game fact, it is no surprise the Nets lost after Harris was far from his best in Milwaukee. The 2019 NBA Three-Point Contest champion finished with just nine points on three-for-nine shooting in 31 minutes.

Draymond Green said the Golden State Warriors are "nowhere near a championship team", though the three-time NBA title winner believes they have the pieces to potentially develop into a contender.

The Warriors have failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of the past two years as they prepare to open their 2021-22 campaign against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday.

It comes after the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals prior to Kevin Durant's departure, having won championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018 before Klay Thompson's serious injuries.

Thompson is stepping up his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and Achilles injury, while former number two pick James Wiseman is recovering from a knee problem, though the Warriors still boast two-time MVP Stephen Curry.

"I think this team could be very good," three-time Warriors All-Star Green said of Golden State. "But I think this team has to grow.

"We have to put it all together. Is there aspirations to winning a championship? Absolutely. But this team is nowhere near a championship team.

"I think we have a lot of pieces that could grow to be that, I don't doubt that at all, but we also can't get fooled by 5-0 in the preseason and say, 'Oh man, we're a championship team.' We've got a long f****** ways to go."

Golden State averaged 27.7 assists per game last season, leading the league for the sixth time in seven seasons, according to Stats Perform. The Warriors tied the Brooklyn Nets for the most games with at least 30-plus assists, going 24-3 (88.9) in those games.

Green added: "You don't just win a championship because you think the pieces fit. You don't just win a championship because you think you got good talent. You got to make that s*** work.

"And so do I think we have a good chance to be a really good team? Absolutely. But to say we can win a championship, we're so far away from that as is just about every other team in this league except maybe the Milwaukee Bucks because they're coming off that.

"Everybody else has a long ways to go and we're right there in that group that's going to be trying to create separation to be one of those teams that can contend in June."

Curry will play his 763rd game on Tuesday, with the three-time NBA champion on pace to be the second-quickest player in the last three decades to hit 5,000 assists (currently 4,984) and 18,000 points (currently 18,434), behind only Lakers superstar LeBron James (726 games).

It's difficult to go back to back in any sport and, in the marathon that is an NBA season, that rings particularly true.

Seven franchises have achieved the feat, with the Golden State Warriors the last team to do so in 2018.

But the fact the 73-9 Warriors of 2016 proved unable to retain the title illustrates just how difficult a challenge it is to repeat and hold on to the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

The Milwaukee Bucks will attempt to become the eighth franchise to successfully defend their crown, though they will face no shortage of competition.

With the 2021-22 season beginning on Tuesday, Stats Perform looks at some of the top contenders for the title in the coming campaign.

Milwaukee Bucks

Let's start with the obvious. The Bucks are the favourites because they have the best player on the planet, with all due respect to reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was fourth in points per 75 possessions last regular season with 29.6 and dominated on the defensive glass. His defensive rebounding percentage of 28.9 was 12th in the league.

The main feather in his cap going into 2021-22 is his ability to elevate his game to another level. In leading the Bucks past the Phoenix Suns in last season's Finals, he racked up 211 points. That tied Bob Pettit for the third-most in a Finals debut behind Rick Barry (245) and Jerry West (218). Only West and Michael Jordan (both four) can better his tally of three games with 40 points or more in a single Finals.

Supported by Khris Middleton, who had five games of 30 points or more in the postseason, and an elite facilitator in Jrue Holiday, whose 10.5 assists per 48 minutes ranked fifth among players to play in at least 10 playoff games, Antetokounmpo has a deep and dynamic surrounding cast, making the Bucks excellent candidates to go all the way again.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns may not be the first name on everyone's lips when it comes to title contenders but, having led 2-0 in the Finals before succumbing to Giannis and the Bucks, they are deserving of a place on the list.

In an offseason that could have seen much change, the Suns managed to keep the band together, the headline deal being an agreement that saw Chris Paul signed to a new contract.

While Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker are both the present and the future for the Suns, their title aspirations rest largely on the ageing shoulders of Paul. 

Paul was the only Finals player to finish above Holiday in assists per 48 minutes in the postseason (minimum 10 games), averaging 12.0 across the course of the playoffs.

He set up Ayton 143 times in the regular season and reached three figures in laying on buckets for Booker (118) and Mikal Bridges (106), living up to his moniker of 'Point God'.

However, with a combined plus/minus of -37 across the four successive losses to Milwaukee, he will have to raise his game when it matters most if he and the Suns are to end their respective waits for a title.

Los Angeles Lakers

Rarely has LeBron James not had a chance to win the NBA title over the course of his illustrious career.

However, injuries limited James to just 45 games and Anthony Davis to 36 in the regular season, forcing the Lakers into a play-in game.

James performed heroics to lead the Lakers past the Warriors in that game but they were subsequently bounced out of the playoffs by the Suns.

The Lakers' response was to add to their arsenal of stars by acquiring Russell Westbrook in a trade with the Washington Wizards.

 

Former MVP Westbrook tied Jokic for the league lead with 45.5 points/assists/rebounds per game in 2020-21 while breaking Oscar Robertson's record for career triple-doubles.

Such numbers will not be possible playing alongside James and Davis but, if he can thrive in a more supplementary role, the Lakers should be firmly in the mix to regain their 2019-20 title.

Brooklyn Nets

There is a case to be made that, had the Nets not been hit by injuries in their Eastern Conference semi-finals series with the Bucks, they would have been the ones lifting the trophy.

However, Kyrie Irving and James Harden were limited to only four games in that seven-game series, leaving the burden primarily on Kevin Durant.

For very different reasons, there will be a lot of strain on Durant in 2021-22.

The Nets are facing up to not having Irving for most of if not all of the campaign as the issue of his vaccination status casts a cloud over the start of their season, which begins against the Bucks.

Unable to play in home games or practice with the Nets due to being unvaccinated, the franchise has said Irving will not play until the matter is resolved.

That means the Nets face being without a player who averaged 51.7 points/assists/rebounds per 48 minutes last season.

Despite his absence, the Nets cannot be discounted as contenders due to the presence of Durant (57.5) and Harden (56.9), but that duo must stay healthy and must at least maintain if not exceed their 2020-21 levels for Brooklyn to have a legitimate shot.

Golden State Warriors

Once perennial favourites, the Warriors are perhaps more of an outside bet these days. However, when you have Stephen Curry, you cannot be taken lightly as a potential contender.

The Warriors missed out on the postseason in 2020-21 following consecutive defeats to the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in tournament, Curry having willed Golden State to an eighth-placed finish in the Western Conference.

Curry averaged a career-high 32.0 points per game and his scoring average of 32.1 points per 75 possessions was second only to Joel Embiid (32.9).

 

Converting a league record 5.3 threes per game, last season was the third in which he averaged at least 5.0. He is the only player to achieve the feat even once.

And with fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson due back at some point, having missed the past two seasons through injury, and Andre Iguodala returning to likely finish his career with Golden State, Curry should have much more help this time around.

He still has his main facilitator Draymond Green, who led the league in setting up Curry 194 times last term, while the onus will be on 2020 first-round pick James Wiseman to develop into the floor-stretching big man the Warriors drafted him to be after an injury-curtailed rookie year.

Andrew Wiggins' vaccination status is cleared up, ensuring the Warriors will have a former number one overall pick who shot a career-high 47.7 per cent from the field in the previous campaign.

Jordan Poole's 18 points in 19 minutes in preseason against the Lakers gave further rise to hopes he can emerge as a valuable piece for the Warriors, whose two rookie first-round picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody add to an intriguing blend of experience and youth that could help Golden State get back among the elite.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James insisted reducing his workload will not prevent injuries as he prepares for his 19th NBA season.

James endured a frustrating 2020-21 campaign after the four-time champion and MVP missed 27 games due to injury, while averaging the fewest minutes per game (33.4) of his illustrious career.

The Lakers were also dethroned as champions, having bowed out of the playoffs in the opening round.

James and the Lakers open their season against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, and the 36-year-old is not prepared to protect his body from potential harm.

"I don't play the game thinking about injuries," James told reporters on Monday.

"And I also feel worse when I play low minutes."

James averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game last season, while his field-goal (51.3) and three-point (36.5) percentages were his best since 2017-18.

The Lakers veteran (35,367) is third on the all-time scoring list, behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – James still needs 3,020 points to break the record.

"It took a while," James said of his ankle injury. "I didn't do much basketball stuff for probably the first two months of the summer, which is very rare for me, because my ankle wasn't responding how I would like it to respond.

"And the best thing about the summertime was I had time. I had time to just really get ready when my ankle was ready to go. I was always training, just wasn't on the basketball court much.

"Always doing other stuff, training, pushing, seeing if I could do other stuff with my ankle, and until I got to a point where I didn't feel any sharp pains anymore, and my flexibility was back to where it was before. That's when I knew I could get back on the floor."

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has praised LeBron James for his longevity and pushing him to sustain his prime for as long as he can.

Curry and James are set to face off on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season when the Golden State Warriors meet the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

Four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion James enters his 18th NBA season with the Lakers among the favourites for the title.

Despite being 36-years-old, James remains a key part for the Lakers, who won the NBA in 2020, before bowing out in the first round of the 2021 play-offs.

Curry praised 17-time All-Star James for maintaining his high levels throughout an extended period, when the pair have arguably been the league's best players.

"He set the standard for that," Curry told reporters on Friday. "Let's keep it real – in his 18th year, nine straight Finals, all the things that he's accomplished.

"You have a vision of sustaining your prime for as long as you can, kind of re-imagining what that looks like. The work that goes into it, the intentionality, especially in the off-seasons, especially how you take care of your body, your mind. Balance on court, off court."

The Lakers forward had an injury-interrupted 2020-21 season, averaging 25.0 points,7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, having boasted a career-best 10.2 assists per game in the side's title-winning 2019-20 season. He has averaged 25.0 points per game or more since his debut season in 2003-04 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James is four years Curry's senior, with the 2003 NBA Draft first pick having claimed one more NBA title across his career than the Warriors point guard who debuted in 2009.

"For me, it's a weird perspective just because I still remember my college days and he was just coming into his prime in the league," Curry said.

"And my sophomore year, [NCAA] tournament run he came to a game, then came to a game my junior year. I still have a jersey that he signed back in '08 in my parents' house back in Charlotte. So it's kind of weird to think about what's happened in the last 13, 14 years.

"Hopefully there's more chapters of that, playing at that prime. Re-imagining and extending your prime and playing at a high level for a long time looks like."

Curry, who only played five games in the 2019-20 season due to injury, topped the NBA last season for points per game, at 32.0.

The 33-year-old's 32.0 points per game was a career-best return, while he also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

"I love exactly where I'm at," Curry said ahead of the new season. "I'm planning to be ready for opening night.

"Body feels good, mind feels good, shot feels strong. I'm not pacing myself but I'm being smart about how I approach preseason games."

Spanish legend Pau Gasol has announced his retirement from basketball at the age of 41.

The former Los Angeles Laker, who returned for a second spell with his first club Barcelona eight months ago, confirmed his decision to call time on his illustrious career a press conference on Tuesday.

Gasol enjoyed an extraordinarily successful NBA career spanning 18 years, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks.

He won two NBA titles and was a six-time NBA All-Star after being named the 2001-02 NBA Rookie of the Year.

"It is a very difficult decision as you can imagine, but it's a decision that I have contemplated well," Gasol said. "It's nice to be able to retire as an active player and not on crutches, to retire having won another title with Barcelona and having played in a fifth Olympics with the national team.

"I remember when I was on the youth team coaches used to say to that the important thing was not to reach the top, but to stay there. I didn't try to stay there, I tried to improve with every game and become the best I could."

Gasol was FIBA Basketball World Cup champion in 2006, won three FIBA EuroBasket titles - earning the MVP award in 2009 and 2015 - and three Olympic medals (two silver and a bronze).

He is Eurobasket's all-time leading scorer with 1183 points in 58 appearances, averaging 19.9 points in seven tournaments.

"The example that Pau has given us all, that leadership even this last year, with humility, with an ability to try things that he had never even done, things that he did not even need because of his great talent," said Spain head coach Sergio Scariolo. "Another stage of respect and the consideration that we can only have towards Pau."

Gasol and his younger brother Marc, 36, announced their international retirement after playing in the Tokyo Olympics.

Pau Gasol said: "I was lucky to be a member of great teams with great team-mates, and some of them are here today.

"We started playing in the backyard of our grandparents' house and having [Marc] as my brother and playing the same sport, trying to be the big brother also in basketball, was always a great motivation for me.

"I'd like to be remembered as a player who gave it his everything, who tried to do the best he could and, at end of the day, being able to play until the age of 41 is not bad at all."

Veteran Los Angeles Lakers recruit Carmelo Anthony says he is open to any role in the side as he strives for his first career NBA title.

The 37-year-old boasts a decorated CV, including being an NBA All-Star 10 times, but he is confident not being an automatic featured player for the Lakers this season.

Anthony moved from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Lakers over the off-season, having played 69 games last season, starting only three times.

"At this point, man, whatever we need to do, let's do it," Anthony said on Friday at the Lakers' training camp.

"It ain't ... 'I can't sit,' and, 'Oh, I want to start,' 'I want to come off the bench.' Whatever it is, it is.

"I've had experience being a starter for 18, 17 years and had an experience of coming off the bench for one year. It's not something I think about."

Russell Westbrook also joined the Lakers ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season which commences on October 17 for the Lakers against the Golden State Warriors.

There have numerous roster changes for the Lakers, meaning there is uncertainty about how the line-up head coach Frank Vogel deploys for the new season.

"When we spoke before he signed here, I told him that I envisioned a big role on this team," Vogel said.

"I don't know what that's going to look like, whether he's going to start, whether he's going to come off the bench, but that he's going to be a factor for us."

Vogel confirmed Anthony along with Westbrook and LeBron James will all sit out Sunday's pre-season opener against the Brooklyn Nets for rest.

Forward Anthony played a career-low 24.5 minutes per game last season for the Blazers, but had a career second-best three-point percentage of 40.9 per cent.

Anthony averaged 13.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 1.5 assists per game last season.

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