Anthony Davis felt the Los Angeles Lakers "filled the void" left by LeBron James' absence in the 116-86 win over the Golden State Warriors.

James sat out Thursday's trip to San Francisco due to a sore groin, but All-Star team-mate Davis stepped up with 23 points and six rebounds.

"LeBron, when he's out, it's taking away a lot of things that we do," said Davis after helping his side to a seventh consecutive win.

"It's on all of us to make sure we try to fill those voids, and I think we did that.

"Usually when he's playing and he comes off the floor we kind of take a dip in all aspects of the game. We've got to play how we did tonight when he's playing and he's not on the floor.

"It's good for guys to get those reps. When he comes back we've just got to make sure we keep the same pace, same intensity even when he's not on the floor."

Defeated Warriors coach Steve Kerr conceded runs to the NBA Finals in each of the previous five seasons have taken their toll on his team.

Despite his absence, Kerr cited James as a remarkable example of how to cope with the rigours of going deep into the postseason year after year, although he can see the positives in missing out this time around.

"Watching LeBron, he looks refreshed, he looks recharged," said Kerr. "The idea of eight straight Finals in insane when you think about five here and what it's done and how our players have felt this past year and the injuries that have hit.

"I do believe that when all is said and done, by next year's training camp our guys should feel recharged and refreshed and ready to go.

"Hopefully that's the case. LeBron's also LeBron. He's built differently than most people."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James will sit out the game against the Golden State Warriors due to a sore groin.

A groin problem means James will not suit up to face the Warriors in the NBA on Thursday, the Lakers announced on Wednesday.

James posted a season-high 40 points in the Lakers' 118-109 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old, who endured an injury-ravaged debut season in Los Angeles, is averaging 25.5 points, 10.6 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Western Conference leaders in 2019-20.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis, meanwhile, is listed as probable against the Warriors with a sore left elbow.

LeBron James proved he is still the master after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, but he tipped the apprentice Zion Williamson "to get better and better".

It was the first career meeting between superstar James and exciting rookie Williamson, with the former dropping a season-high 40 points and adding eight rebounds as the Lakers triumphed 118-109 to make it six straight wins in the NBA.

Anthony Davis contributed 21 points despite only going 6-for-21 from the field, adding 14 rebounds and six blocks, while Alex Caruso was also influential for the Lakers.

Speaking after the game, James predicted Williamson – who landed 29 points for the Pelicans, second only to former Laker Brandon Ingram's 34 – will be a star for years to come.

"He's playing exceptional basketball," James said in quotes reported by ESPN. 

"I think his game is going to get better and better, just having that experience. I think today's game is the perfect fit for his game. 

"The high pace, the way they play, it fits his game. It works perfectly, and our game is so many possessions now, so much space, it's perfect for his game, so he's doing exceptionally well with that."

Davis, who moved to LA from New Orleans in July, echoed a similar message in his assessment of Williamson, saying: "He's a great player.

"He's got a quick first step. Very explosive. He's going to continue to get better and better as he goes on."

Williamson was injured for the Pelicans' first two encounters with the Lakers this season but has now scored 20-plus points in nine consecutive games.

The 19-year-old paid tribute to James' performance.

"It was a great experience," Williamson said. "He's an incredible player. 

"His resume speaks for himself. He handled business. He came out here and did what he had to do to help his team get the win."

James also put up eight assists and provided several highlight-reel dunks. Asked to explain why he had so much success, the veteran said: "I was just reading the defense. 

"They went under a lot of my pick-and-rolls; pretty much every team has done that this year, so I just try to make them pay. 

"I was able to get a couple of threes going and then I was being aggressive the rest of the [third] quarter."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said there is "never going to be a closure" over the death of Kobe Bryant.

Lakers great Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others, in California last month.

Thousands packed into Staples Center on Monday for an emotional memorial service – Bryant's wife Vanessa, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal delivering heartfelt speeches.

James reflected on the service and Bryant's death prior to Tuesday's NBA clash against the New Orleans Pelicans.

"It's never a closure. It's never going to be a closure," James said. "I mean, we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here.

"So, it's not a closure. But it was a celebration which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world."

James added: "Emotionally a wreck, like everyone else. Another challenging day for all of us. Like you've been hearing me talk about the last couple times you guys asked me about the whole situation, it's just been hard to kind of talk about it. Trying not to go back. It's just tough."

"One thing I can come out of it saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa is," James continued. "To stand up there the way she did, to give that speech the way she gave that speech. I commend her.

"My heart is with their family still. With his three daughters that are still here. With his wife. With his mom and dad and his sisters. It was just a very difficult day. Obviously a celebration but it was a difficult day for all of us. So, I appreciate it. If we could move onto tonight, that would be great."

Zion Williamson believes LeBron James does not get the respect he deserves despite the incredible standard he has maintained throughout his NBA career.

Williamson will face LeBron for the first time in his career on Tuesday when the New Orleans Pelicans take on James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Pelicans are 10th in the Western Conference standings with a 25-32 record, but still harbour hopes of claiming the eighth seed in the playoffs.

Should they achieve that goal, the Pelicans could face the Lakers, who hold the top seed in the West as it stands, in the first round of the postseason.

Williamson, though, is not viewing this week's encounter as a possible playoff preview.

"I'm not necessarily looking at it from that perspective," he told reporters after scoring 28 points in the Pelicans' 115-101 road win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.  

"I'm looking at from the perspective as, you know we need every win, we're trying to fight for that eight seed in the playoffs."

On four-time MVP James, he added: "I used to watch him all the time, especially when he was in Cleveland the first time, he was just an incredible player to watch, he always held his own.

"Sometimes I feel he doesn't get the respect he deserves but it's not for me to decide."

LeBron James lauded Anthony Davis again after the Los Angeles Lakers' latest win but insisted his team-mate is "on a nice list of great players I've played with" and his own approach over the coming months will not change as a result.

The Lakers, who reportedly intend to waive injured center DeMarcus Cousins and sign Markieff Morris, a free agent after his Detroit Pistons buyout, beat the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 on Friday.

James scored 32 points, while Davis had an outstanding 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for the 42-12 Western Conference leaders.

Four-time MVP James has carried the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers in the past, but Davis - deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, held by Rudy Gobert, according to his team-mate - is sharing the load.

That does not change the veteran's mentality in the closing months of the season, though, as he looks to do whatever is necessary for the team.

"I never really looked at it like that. It's always been a team game," James told reporters. "I've never looked at it like I need to put a whole franchise, a whole team on my back.

"I need to do my job. If I do my job then we put ourselves in a position to be successful, and I'm going to have to do that again this year.

"AD's on a nice list of great players I've played with. But nothing changes for me in my preparation, the way I go out and approach the game, nothing changes."

He added on Davis: "He does everything. He's able to protect the rim, he's able to guard on the post, he's able to switch out on guards, he's able to block shots, get steals. He does everything defensively for us.

"That's why he's Defensive Player of the Year. He does everything. There's not one thing he doesn't do well defensively."

Davis had to step out of the game for a spell due to a bruised calf but returned in style.

"I just felt like I was able to get back on the floor and play," he said. "The leg felt good enough for me to go out and give it a try.

"I was just trying to stay loose and stay warm so it won't tighten back up. I just want to be on the floor to help the guys."

LeBron James and Anthony Davis starred as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 in the NBA.

James posted 32 points and Davis scored 28 points and tallied 14 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a fourth consecutive victory on Friday.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers used a 32-19 second quarter to see off the Grizzlies at Staples Center.

Luka Doncic, meanwhile, produced another big performance as the Dallas Mavericks won 122-106 at the Orlando Magic.

All-Star Doncic finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavericks on the road.

Maxi Kleber added a career-high 26 points off the bench, while Kristaps Porzingis contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Magic were led by Nikola Vucevic's 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Evan Fournier's 28 points.

 

Celtics quartet star

Boston Celtics quartet Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Daniel Theis all scored 25 or more points in the team's 127-117 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The last time four starters scored 25-plus points in a game was in 2006.

Pascal Siakam put up 37 points and 12 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors topped the Phoenix Suns 118-101 for their 16th win in 17 games.

Chris Paul's 29 points and Steve Adam's double-double of 19 points and 17 rebounds led the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Denver Nuggets 113-101.

Zion Williamson recorded 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting as the New Orleans Pelicans trumped the Portland Trail Blazers 128-115.

 

Smith struggles in DC

The Washington Wizards lost 113-108 to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Ish Smith struggled. The Wizards guard played 30 minutes, shooting just two of 12 from the field and one of five from three-point range for five points.

 

Beal pulverises Drummond

Wizards star Bradley Beal dunked on Andre Drummond in merciless fashion.

 

Friday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 117-105 Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Pelicans 128-115 Portland Trail Blazers
Cleveland Cavaliers 113-108 Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks 122-106 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 118-101 Phoenix Suns
Oklahoma City Thunder 113-101 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 106-98 New York Knicks
Boston Celtics 127-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 113-104 Utah Jazz

 

76ers at Bucks

The Philadelphia 76ers will have to overcome their worrying road woes if they are to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Philadelphia – fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 35-21 record – are 9-19 away from home but have won four straight in the NBA.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will go head-to-head on April 9 after the NBA clash was rescheduled following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant last month.

City rivals the Lakers and Clippers were meant to meet on January 28, however, the showdown was postponed after NBA great Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

The Lakers and Clippers now have a new date for the Western Conference blockbuster at Staples Center in April.

As a result, three other games have been rescheduled to accommodate the Lakers-Clippers fixture.

The Clippers will play the Chicago Bulls on April 6 instead of April 8, the Lakers' clash with the Golden State Warriors has been brought forward from April 9 to April 7 and their game against the Bulls will take place on April 8.

LeBron James and the Lakers top the Western Conference with a 41-12 record, while Kawhi Leonard's Clippers (37-18) are third.

LeBron James called out MLB commissioner Rob Manfred over the handling of the sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros.

The Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams en route to winning the 2017 World Series, as well as for part of the 2018 campaign.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by the team in January after they were initially suspended for the entire 2020 season by the league, while the Boston Red Sox dismissed manager Alex Cora.

The fallout from the scandal continued on Tuesday after New York Yankees star Aaron Judge labelled the punishment "weak" and NBA icon James weighed in via social media.

James – a three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP – tweeted: "Listen I know I don't play baseball but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be f****** irate! I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do!

"Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this.

"Literally the ball is in your court [or should I say field] and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports! #JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay."

James' comments came after he announced his first children's book will be released in August.

The 35-year-old – who is also set to feature in the next 'Space Jam' movie – has teamed up with HarperCollins Publishers for the picture book titled 'I Promise'.

"Books have the ability to teach, inspire, and bring people together. That's why these books, and the opportunity to get children and parents reading together, mean so much to me," James said.

"Most importantly, we wanted to make sure these stories are ones that every single kid can see themselves in."

LeBron James felt Kobe Bryant's presence throughout his team's win over Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.

Team LeBron edged Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago in an entertaining clash as Bryant was honoured.

James said the presence of the Los Angeles Lakers great – who died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month – was felt.

"We wouldn't be All-Stars if we weren't competitors," he told a news conference.

"We all compete at the highest level, try to put our respective teams in a position to win every night so guys definitely just had that sense of pride, that sense of competitiveness throughout the season, throughout the All-Star Game, which we had tonight.

"But you could definitely feel Bean's presence just from the start, from every moment, from the fans chanting his name to seeing the numbers every time Giannis' team run on the floor you seen the 24.

"He was definitely here."

Kawhi Leonard claimed the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award after contributing 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Team LeBron.

Kawhi Leonard dedicated his NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award to the Los Angeles Lakers great on Sunday.

Leonard's 30 points helped Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago and the Clippers star was named MVP.

The award was renamed in honour of the Lakers great, who died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month.

Leonard thanked Bryant, telling NBA on TNT: "It means a lot to me.

"Words can't even explain, just making this the first Kobe Bryant MVP trophy. I want to thank Kobe for everything he done for me, all the long talks, the workouts, thank you.

"This one is for him."

Leonard added: "They did a great job with the format this year. They had us come out playing hard in the fourth quarter and competing for a total points score.

"That's pretty much how we got to competing out there."

Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 157-155 in the revamped NBA All-Star Game in Chicago on Sunday.

Unlike previous years, every quarter counted in the name of charity at the United Center, where the new format was unveiled for the showpiece event.

Each of the first three quarters started with the score at 0-0 and lasted the standard 12 minutes, with the game clock turned off for the final period and a final target score set.

The cumulative score of the first three quarters was 133-124 in favour of Team Giannis. The final target score was set by taking the leading team's cumulative score and adding 24 – the 24 representing Kobe Bryant's jersey number.

LeBron James and his team earned bragging rights in the 69th edition of the All-Star Game – hometown hero and Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis (20 points) making one of two free throws to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's side.

While Davis scored the winning point, Kawhi Leonard (30 points) received the All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award, renamed in honour of the five-time NBA champion.

Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month, was honoured prior to tip-off.

Magic Johnson led an eight-second moment of silence for Lakers legend Bryant and former commissioner David Stern as both All-Star teams came together to hold hands, before delivering a heartfelt speech.

Team LeBron made a fast start, outscoring Team Giannis 53-41 in the first period before the latter won the second period 51-30.

Neither team could be split in the third, though Team Giannis went into the fourth quarter leading Team LeBron – who rallied to win for the third successive year.

James and Chris Paul finished with 23 points each, while Ben Simmons (17) and James Harden (11) were also in double-digits for Team LeBron.

Team Giannis were led by Antetokounmpo (25 points, 11 rebounds), Joel Embiid (22 points, 10 rebounds), Kemba Walker (23 points) and Rudy Gobert (21 points, 11 rebounds).

LeBron James moved up to second on the all-time list for NBA All-Star Game appearances on Sunday.

James – leading Team LeBron against Team Giannis in Chicago – surpassed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant with his 16th appearance.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the All-Star record with 18.

Lakers superstar James also eclipsed Bryant for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list last month, a day before the five-time champion's tragic death.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Magic Johnson led tributes for Bryant, the Lakers great making a speech at the United Center as the lights went down.

"We'll never see another basketball player quite like Kobe," said Johnson, who led an eight-second moment of silence for Bryant – the number the 2008 MVP wore during the early stages of his illustrious career. "Scoring 81 points in one game. Scoring 60 points in his last game. And then winning five NBA championships.

"But what I'm really proud about when we think about Kobe Bryant, there's millions of people in Los Angeles that don't have a home. Kobe was fighting to get them homes and shelter every single day. He was passionate about that.

"He was also passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker. Young man won an Oscar. So we all are hurting. This is a tough time for the whole NBA family."

LeBron James insists the Los Angeles Lakers are not thinking about locking down the top seed in the Western Conference after taking a four-game lead over the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers claimed a 120-116 overtime victory against the Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Wednesday, with James putting up 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds to send his team into the All-Star break on the back of an important triumph.

While he would relish having home-court advantage in a first postseason with the Los Angeles franchise, the 16-time All-Star claims there has been no discussion about their potential seeding within the team.

"We don't talk about it. At the end of the day I think every Western Conference team that will make the playoffs can win on someone else's floor," said James.

"For us, we would love to play in front of our home fans as much as we can. We love being there with our Laker faithful.

"But at the end of the day, you go out and play each and every game like it's its own game. You can't worry about what could happen the following day. You can only live in the present."

He added: "We are where we need to be. We'll come back off the break and get ready for the final stretch of the regular season.

"You don't put too much into it. You understand you played some good basketball along the way, played some not good basketball. But you want to continue to get better and continue to trust the process.

"We look forward to when we get back, getting back on the floor and see how far we'll continue to grow."

The Lakers have not made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season and James thought the win over the Nuggets provided a taster of what is to come.

"Every opportunity we get to play in a close game against a tough opponent, it's a learning experience for all of us," he said.

"It prepares us for a postseason game where it's going to be back and forth, back and forth. I thought tonight was a playoff atmosphere, the teams being number one and number two in the Western Conference, jockeying for position."

LeBron James says there are multiple factors that will determine whether he ends up playing at the Olympic Games this year.

The Los Angeles Lakers star is one of 44 finalists for a place in the United States men's basketball team and he acknowledged his "name is in the hat".

By early June, that group will be cut down to a final 12 to play at the Olympics in Tokyo and, should he feature, James will join Carmelo Anthony as the second player to represent Team USA at four separate Games.

The 12-team basketball event will run from July 25 until August 9 and James is unsure over his participation at this stage of the NBA season.

But he was thrilled to see five Lakers players make the initial group, with Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee also included.

"Spectacular, it's amazing," said the 35-year-old. 

"We're very well represented with the Lake Show representing the red, white and blue. So it's a pretty cool thing."

On his participation, James added: "It's always predicated on: one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season – I hope to make a long playoff run.

"And then where my mind is and then where my family's head is. So it's a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat."

James was speaking after the Lakers cruised to a 125-100 home win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday, a fourth win from five games moving them to 40-12 for the season.

Davis had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo impressed from the bench with 23 points as Howard added 14 points and 15 rebounds.

James, meanwhile, narrowly missed a triple-double with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Lakers reached 40 wins before the All-Star break for the first time in nine years.

"It was a great game for our bench," said James.

"Rajon had great pace all night and he was taking all the looks he was getting. Dwight controlled the glass."

Suns coach Monty Williams added: "We dared Rondo to shoot from the perimeter and he made us pay."

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