NBA

LeBron leads Lakers to ninth straight win, Celtics cruise

By Sports Desk January 14, 2020

LeBron James guided the Los Angeles Lakers to a ninth straight win in the NBA, while the Boston Celtics claimed a victory on Monday.

James' 31 points and eight assists saw the Lakers ease past the Cleveland Cavaliers 128-99.

Dwight Howard contributed a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds off the bench as the Lakers improved to 33-7 this season.

The Celtics made it back-to-back wins by overcoming the Chicago Bulls 113-101.

Boston had four starters manage double-digits in points, with Jayson Tatum leading the way with 21.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander shines as Lillard lifts Trail Blazers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a triple-double of 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game.

Damian Lillard's 30 points and nine assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers past the Charlotte Hornets 115-112.

Nikola Vucevic finished with a double-double of 26 points and 15 rebounds in the Orlando Magic's 114-112 win over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Misery for Morris

Markieff Morris went two-of-12 from the field for just seven points in 18 minutes in the Detroit Pistons' 117-110 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Lillard from deep

Lillard hit a buzzer-beater from near half-court to finish the third quarter.

Monday's results

New Orleans Pelicans 117-110 Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers 101-95 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 113-101 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
Portland Trail Blazers 115-112 Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic 114-112 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 128-99 Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Cavaliers at Clippers

Things get no easier for the Cavaliers (12-28) as they stay in Los Angeles to face the Clippers (27-13) on Tuesday.

Related items

  • How Zion Williamson's debut compares to LeBron James, Michael Jordan and other NBA greats How Zion Williamson's debut compares to LeBron James, Michael Jordan and other NBA greats

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • LeBron laughs at suggestion of joining son Bronny James at Knicks LeBron laughs at suggestion of joining son Bronny James at Knicks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Zion Williamson backed to continue shining after dazzling NBA debut Zion Williamson backed to continue shining after dazzling NBA debut

    Alvin Gentry and Jrue Holiday believe there is even more to come from Zion Williamson after his impressive NBA debut for the New Orleans Pelicans.

    The number one overall draft pick belatedly made his regular-season bow following knee surgery, scoring 22 points - including 17 in a stunning fourth-quarter stretch - in the 121-117 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.

    Williamson made each of his four three-pointers following a slow start, and head coach Gentry quickly saw progress in his game.

    "I think you'll see that in him," Gentry said. "It's his first NBA game, but I think the third time he went out there he was much more comfortable, much more aggressive.

    "He found out that everybody makes mistakes and he just continued to play through them. I think, for him, it was just a relief to have one game under his belt.

    "And now all of this goes away: first game, first game, first game. Now he can just play and get himself in a situation where he can continue to learn and continue to grow."

    Gentry saw evidence of Williamson's "really, really high ceiling" but had to take the 19-year-old out of the game with more than five minutes left on doctors' orders.

    "It was going to be a learning experience either way - if he played well, if he didn't play well," the coach said.

    "I think the big thing is that he was much more aggressive during that situation. We talked at half-time, as I thought he was deferring way too much and I wanted him to be aggressive.

    "I knew that he would make some mistakes, but I think what you saw there is a taste of what [is to come]. Once we get settled in and he gets settled in, there are a lot of things that we can do with him.

    "There's a lot of potential there. It was good to see him do that. But I think there's a really, really high ceiling that he can reach. We'll just continue on, continue to practice.

    "And no, he couldn't go back in the game. So don't go there. The medical people said that was it.

    "We've got to be smart about it. I'm pretty sure Sean [Payton, New Orleans Saints coach] wouldn't take Drew Brees out in that situation. But we've got to be smart about it.

    "We have to look long term and not one game, short term, and put him out there extended minutes. We were not going to do that in any situation.

    "I think he made his point and he will continue to get better. But we can't sacrifice his whole future for one short-term thing."

    Team-mate Holiday is certainly excited about what is to come, appearing alongside Williamson at a post-game news conference and interrupting one question to explain there is no return to "normal" when it comes to the teenager.

    "This is going to be normal for him," Holiday said. "The way he plays, this is something he could do every day.

    "We're here to help him and obviously for him to contribute to us and help us out, too. But with him being back, he's waited a long time for this and he's really excited to play - speaking for Zion."

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