NBA

Booker replaces injured Lillard in NBA All-Star Game

By Sports Desk February 13, 2020

Devin Booker has earned his first selection to the NBA All-Star Game after Damian Lillard was ruled out with a groin strain.

In-form Portland Trail Blazers star Lillard suffered the injury in his team's 111-104 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Lillard still tallied 20 points and 10 assists in 37 minutes, but his 2020 All-Star absence was soon confirmed.

Commissioner Adam Silver named Phoenix Suns guard Booker to the Western Conference's Team LeBron as Lillard's replacement for Sunday.

Booker, in his fifth season, is averaging 26.4 points, 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds this season.

The 23-year-old is also to take Lillard's place among eight NBA stars taking part in the Three-Point Contest, having won the event in record-breaking fashion in 2018.

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  • Celtics coach Stevens backing Boston to defy odds and reach NBA Finals Celtics coach Stevens backing Boston to defy odds and reach NBA Finals

    Brad Stevens has challenged the Boston Celtics to "get after it" as they bid to get back into their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat.

    Already up against a 3-1 deficit, it could be curtains for the Celtics' season on Friday when Game 5 comes around.

    A regular-season record of 48-24, to Miami's 44-29, had indicated the Celtics should be competitive, while Boston also came out on top in two of their three previous clashes with the Heat in 2019-20.

    Yet a 112-109 loss in Game 4 dealt a blow to hopes of reaching the championship series, with 20-year-old rookie Tyler Herro draining a career-high 37 points for Miami who are just a win away now from the NBA Finals.

    "It's hard to win a playoff game, right?" head coach Stevens said.

    "We're just looking at how can we play better on Friday night. That's the most important game of the season. We need to play our best game yet. That's it."

    Coming from 3-1 down to win a best-of-seven series is a daunting challenge, but Stevens is not looking at the prospect of having to win three straight games.

    The clear message from the coach is: one game at a time.

    "I don't know what the historical odds are," he said. "It doesn't really matter. The situation we're in, we've got to play well Friday. We don't have to win three games on Friday; we have to win one.

    "That's going to be our focus. That's going to be our attention. We'll get after it."

  • 'They said my wingspan was too short' - Herro having the last laugh as Heat close in on NBA Finals 'They said my wingspan was too short' - Herro having the last laugh as Heat close in on NBA Finals

    Tyler Herro saluted "big brother" Jimmy Butler after taking the Miami Heat to the brink of the NBA Finals, and took a swipe at his own doubters.

    The 20-year-old Herro led scoring for the Heat with a career-high 37 points in a 112-109 win over the Boston Celtics, securing a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

    Now the former Kentucky Wildcats prodigy, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, could cap a first season in the professional ranks with an appearance in the championship series.

    He had 37 points on 14-of-21 shooting, alongside six rebounds and three assists, but the modest Herro pointed to the influence of Butler as a telling factor in his rapid rise.

    "Jimmy, ever since I got here, he's been like a big brother to me and he's shined light on me. He's taught me a lot of things," Herro said.

    "He's just continuing to get on me, whether it's something I want to hear or not, he's going to tell me what I need to hear. I appreciate him for that. Without Jimmy, I probably wouldn't be doing this as a rookie.

    "We have a great group of guys in the locker room and everybody wants to win. I know my role. It's not to score 30, whatever I had tonight. It's not to do that every night.

    "Some nights it may require me to step up like tonight and make some shots. But I know in the fourth quarter, we're going to get the ball to Jimmy; we're going to get the ball to Goran [Dragic].

    "Those are our guys. We are going to run to them and they are going it make the most plays for us and they are going to win us games most of the time."

    Although Herro remains deferential to such senior figures, he gives himself plenty of credit too for making it at the highest level, having been told repeatedly he lacked what it would take.

    "I'm just going to bet on myself. I've been doing that my whole life," he said. "I went from a small town in Milwaukee to Kentucky, and nobody thought I would survive there and nobody thought I would survive here. At the end of the day, it's just betting on myself."

    Reflecting on his time in Kentucky, he explained: "I think someone said my wingspan was too short. They say everything, but whatever they say, it's whatever."

    Herro contested the suggestion he was the leading player in Wednesday night's game, pointing to the likes of Butler, Dragic and Bam Adebayo, and predicted "a dogfight" in Game 5 on Friday night.

    Butler, who had 24 points and nine rebounds, continues to be impressed by his young team-mate.

    "Not too many people get an opportunity to make it this far in the playoffs and to be in a game like this. But for him, it's another day at the office," Butler said.

    "I think it makes all of us smile. We're all so happy for him because he knows what he's capable of, and he just plays with so much confidence.

    "He's been doing it all year long. So to him, there's no pressure or anything. He's just going to keep playing basketball the right way."

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