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."

The Toronto Raptors were like "walking zombies" as their 15-game winning streak came to an end against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, according to Kyle Lowry.

Reigning NBA champions the Raptors' 101-91 loss at Barclays Center was their first defeat since January 12, having been on a run that has seen them surge up to second in the Eastern Conference with a 40-15 record.

Toronto scored just 40 points in the first half and trailed by 12 at the break, failing to reduce the deficit to single figures across the rest of the game.

Lowry had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, with the team's field goal percentage of 38 their lowest since before the streak started.

"They played well, we didn't play too well. They stuck with their coverages, their game plan, their schemes," said Lowry.

"We were walking zombies. We didn't play well tonight, simple as that. We missed shots, we weren't aggressive. And give them credit, they played their butts off and they beat us. It's only one game."

Head coach Nick Nurse was proud of how his team have performed this season after Kawhi Leonard left in free agency.

He hopes they can launch another deep run in the playoffs when Marc Gasol and Normal Powell return from injuries.

"I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are now, I think we're extremely pleased to get to this point," said Nurse. "The good news is I think we'll get Gasol back after the break, Norman Powell is pretty close as well.

"I think our team really battled with a couple of key guys missing. I think we've had a healthy team for two games this season, so we've done a nice job of plugging in and picking up. In the big scheme of things, you look at the overall and where you're sitting, you've got to be pleased with that."

The Raptors head into the All-Star break six and a half games back from the Milwaukee Bucks (46-8) at the top of the East.

Asked if the Bucks are catchable, Nurse said: "I don't know if they are or not and I don't think we've got them in our sights. We want to try to finish as high as we can.

"We've got some growth to do and we need to do it for sure if we want to make a run at [the championship] again."

Damian Lillard has been ruled out of the NBA All-Star Game after suffering a groin injury in the Portland Trail Blazers' defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 29-year-old was due to be part of Team LeBron, yet the five-time All-Star will instead take a watching brief on Sunday night - insisting he will be at the game in Chicago, but as a spectator.

Lillard announced his unavailability after scoring 20 points for Portland in their 111-104 setback against the Grizzlies.

He said: "That's something you look forward to, those festivities and having fun. But my health is first, and I knew right away. I'll still be there and be a part of it, but I'm not going to play."

His injury occurred in the fourth quarter, in an awkward landing.

"When it happened, I just felt it," said Lillard.

"I knew I pulled it, it made no sense to be out there for the last few minutes of the game and risk trying to play through it and making it worse.

"But I walked off the court just fine even though it was like, a little bit painful. I came in and it was strong when they were making me go against resistance and stuff like that.

"It was strong, wasn't like, weak and I couldn't do stuff. That was all I needed to know."

Lillard said he hoped his place would go to a worthy substitute, naming the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker as a possible candidate.

He is set for an MRI scan on Thursday to determine the seriousness of the injury, which also rules him out of the three-point contest in the All-Star break.

It remains to be seen whether he is available for the Blazers' next outing, a February 21 home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Toronto Raptors and their 15-game winning streak was snapped by the Brooklyn Nets, while the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks lost without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Toronto carried a franchise-record run into Wednesday's contest but the defending champions went down 101-91 at the Nets midweek.

It was the Raptors' first defeat since falling to the San Antonio Spurs on January 12.

Kyle Lowry's triple-double of 12 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds were not enough for the Raptors, while Serge Ibaka top scored with 28 points on the road.

Caris LeVert led the Nets by scoring 20 points and Jarrett Allen contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bucks, meanwhile, were beaten by the Indiana Pacers 118-111 in the absence of star Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo missed his second successive game following the birth of his son and the Pacers took advantage, snapping a season-worst six-game losing streak.

Malcolm Brogdon posted 17 points and matched a career-high with 13 assists for the Pacers in Indianapolis, where T.J. Warren stole the show with 35 points.

Donte DiVincenzo was the pick of the Milwaukee players after scoring 19 points off the bench.

 

LeBron lifts Lakers, Doncic dazzles

LeBron James and Anthony Davis put on a show. James posted a triple-double (32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds) and Davis registered 33 points and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 120-116 in overtime. They became the first Lakers team-mates with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in the same game since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2008.

Luka Doncic was at it again, putting up 33 points and 12 rebounds to help the Dallas Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 130-111.

The streaking Utah Jazz defeated the Miami Heat 116-101 thanks to Donovan Mitchell's 26 points and a Rudy Gobert double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds.

 

Carmelo and Osman struggle

Carmelo Anthony has shown he is far from a spent force after being picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers in November. However, the 10-time All-Star had a rough night in the 111-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. While collecting 15 rebounds, Anthony was just one of 15 from the floor for five points in 36 minutes. The veteran also missed all four of his three-point attempts.

The Cleveland Cavaliers topped fellow strugglers the Atlanta Hawks 127-105, but Cedi Osman had a game to forget. Osman made just one of 10 shots from the field, while he was one of seven from beyond the arc for three points.

 

LeBron almost breaks the rim!

James has provided countless highlights over the course of his illustrious career and the three-time NBA champion produced another, this time a ferocious dunk.

 

Wednesday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 127-105 Atlanta Hawks
Orlando Magic 116-112 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Washington Wizards 114-96 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 118-111 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn Nets 101-91 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 111-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Charlotte Hornets 115-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 130-111 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz 116-101 Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns 112-106 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 120-116 Denver Nuggets (OT)

 

Clippers at Celtics

The two final games before the All-Star Weekend take place on Thursday. The Los Angeles Clippers (37-17) travel to the Boston Celtics (37-16), with both teams coming off losses. The Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are also in action.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo missed his second consecutive game following the birth of his son.

Antetokounmpo sat out Monday's 123-111 win over the Sacramento Kings and the reigning NBA MVP was again absent for Wednesday's clash against the Indiana Pacers.

The NBA-leading Bucks (46-7) are eyeing their 15th victory in 16 games prior to the All-Star break in Chicago.

Antetokounmpo will captain Team Giannis against a roster selected by LeBron James in the All-Star Game this weekend.

The 25-year-old 'Greek Freak' is averaging 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season.

James Harden believes his partnership with Russell Westbrook can be "pretty scary" after they became only the second team-mates this season to score at least 35 points each in the same game.

The two combined for 78 points as the Rockets recorded a 116-105 home win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday that ended their opponents' run of seven straight victories.

Harden scored 42, including seven three-pointers, with Westbrook adding 36 as they followed Los Angeles Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to become the second NBA team-mates to achieve the feat in 2019-20.

Leonard and George did it in a December game against the Minnesota Timberwolves but this was the first time it had happened in Rockets team history, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Harden and Westbrook's exploits helped the Rockets bounce back from two consecutive defeats to move to 34-20, good for fifth in the Western Conference.

"It's pretty scary," Harden said, per ESPN, of his and Westbrook's potential.

Westbrook is relishing having an open floor to attack due to Harden and Houston's other three-point threats. The Rockets are playing with a small-ball lineup having traded center Clint Capela.

He added: "It's tough to guard, especially when I'm attacking and making plays and being able to do what I need to do to be effective.

"We made a big change, and we've got to get adjusted to that with Clint gone. So we're just kind of getting acclimated to that. I think we've got it moving in the right direction.

"We can be pretty successful. We've just got to find ways to continue to be effective, efficient and make the right plays."

Westbrook also had 10 rebounds and five assists, while Harden had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Coach Mike D'Antoni is keen to utilise the strengths of his two All-Stars.

"For Russell, [the spacing created by small lineups] is really advantageous, and it will be for James, too," said D'Antoni.

"It makes them really hard to guard and it's helping both of them. It opens up the floor. Both of them are great drivers and great finishers and it should trickle down to everybody else, too."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew he had been up against elite competition, adding: "Harden was great and Westbrook was great. Those guys are two of the best in the world and they showed it again."

Zion Williamson conceded he had surprised himself with a magnificent 31-point performance in the New Orleans Pelicans' win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Pelicans made it three straight wins as they claimed a 138-117 victory that saw the rookie sensation add nine rebounds and five assists in just 28 minutes on the court.

Williamson missed Saturday's win over the Indiana Pacers with a sprained ankle but marked his return in style on Tuesday.

In only his ninth career game, having missed more than 13 weeks after meniscus surgery earlier in the season, the 19-year-old went over 30 points for the first time.

He has now scored 20 or more points seven times, with Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal the only NBA players to have achieved that inside their first 10 games.

After his impressive outing, Williamson expressed surprise over his rapid progress.

"I expect to make an impact but I don't expect to do nothing like this," a thrilled Williamson said, per ESPN.

"I just kind of look to come in, just kind of fit in, just not try to mess up, but my team-mates and coaches are always pushing me.

"I do hold myself to high expectations, but I think it's just finding the line between reality and dreams. If my team-mates find me, they find me. If not, just got to make another play, get the rebound and just play defense."

Asked about the process of finding the right spots on the court and improving his decision making, Williamson added: "I think it is kind of happening.

"People are trying to find their own way. I feel like my game is so unique I'll be able to adjust to it on the fly. 

"At the end of the day, I'm 19. I have a lot of room for growing. I will mess up. I'm not perfect – I'm just going to learn from them."

Team-mate Lonzo Ball believes there is still so much more to come from Williamson.

"I mean, he's only going to get better," said the former Los Angeles Lakers point guard.

"He's 19 and came in midseason. I feel like he's still not in the shape he can be in. It's kind of scary thinking about what he can do in the future, but we'll take 31 points every night."

New Orleans improved to 23-31 and sit 11th in the Western Conference.

Much of the focus at the All-Star Game will be on the headline event and the Slam Dunk Contest, but the Rising Stars Challenge also offers great intrigue.

Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic and Trae Young will all be involved as Team USA take on Team World.

With the early success that quartet have enjoyed in their fledgling careers, the Rising Stars Challenge should serve as further compelling evidence the future of the NBA is in good hands.

Here we guide you through what to watch for when the league's brightest talents do battle.

 

ZION & JA TEAM UP

Williamson and Morant appear poised to contest a fascinating rivalry over the course of their careers, but on Friday they will be on the same side.

Number one overall pick Williamson, sidelined for much of the year with a knee injury, and Rookie of the Year favourite Morant went head-to-head two weeks ago and offered a glimpse into the future as Zion's New Orleans Pelicans beat the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Rising Stars Challenge will provide a window into how the pair's talents complement each other, which could potentially be crucial for future USA Olympic coaches.

With Morant set for a prestigious honour and Williamson having recorded two double-doubles in eight games, Team World will have a hard time slowing them down.

 

DONCIC DOUBLES UP

Likely to finish high in the MVP voting, Doncic will - along with Young - double up at All-Star weekend.

The Dallas Mavericks guard will contest the All-Star Game as well as the Rising Stars Challenge, having been picked as a starter for Team LeBron.

With the odds in favour of Team USA winning the Rising Stars Challenge, Doncic's best chance of success in Chicago should be in the headline event.


UNDER-THE-RADAR STARS

While Williamson, Morant and Doncic will claim most of the attention among the rising stars, there are several less heralded players with the chance to snatch some of the limelight.

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Canadian Brandon Clarke will face off having played an instrumental role in the Grizzlies' rise to playoff contention.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be crucial to Team World's hopes, his development unhindered by a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder.

Eric Paschall's opportunities to shine on a national stage have been limited thanks to the demise of the Golden State Warriors this season, but the forward will have the chance to prove he is the Dubs' latest second-round gem.

 

YOUNG TRIBUTE TO KOBE

Proceedings at the United Center are set to be dominated by tributes to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash last month.

In the wake of their tragic passing, an emotional Young - having been mentored by Bryant - scored 45 points in the Atlanta Hawks' win over the Washington Wizards.

With two games on his agenda, Young will have ample opportunity to honour his idol by delivering on the court in his first appearance at the weekend as an All-Star.

Paul George claimed the Los Angeles Clippers fell victim to some "home-court cooking" after Tuesday's defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers.

A Ben Simmons triple-double inspired the 76ers to a 110-103 victory at Wells Fargo Center, where George endured a rough evening.

The six-time NBA All-Star was just three of 15 from the field and one of four from three-point range for 11 points in 35 minutes.

But he felt the Clippers were up against it in more ways than one, with the visiting side penalised for eight more personal fouls than the Sixers.

"I thought we played well, we lost by seven," he said. "There was some home-court cooking tonight, to say the least.

"I mean, it was 19 to 11. You all figure out what those numbers are. It was 19 to 11."

George believes both teams have the quality to make it to the Finals, with the 76ers fifth in the Eastern Conference and the Clippers third in the Western.

"You got two good teams, two teams that are playing for something obviously, and it's a feel-out," he said.

"They could be a team that gets hot and make it to the Finals and we could be a team that gets hot and makes it to the Finals. Definitely going to be two teams that are feeling each other out."

A Ben Simmons triple-double inspired the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-103 victory at home to Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA.

Simmons posted his second successive triple-double, finishing with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the 76ers in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

It was his sixth triple-double of the season and 30th of his career as the 76ers – who already boast the NBA's best home record at 25-2 – won their third straight to improve to 34-21 for the campaign.

Josh Richardson scored 17 of his 21 points in the final quarter, while Joel Embiid contributed 26 points at Wells Fargo Center.

Clippers superstar Leonard had 30 points for the visitors, who fell to 37-17 in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets snapped the Boston Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

James Harden registered 42 points and Russell Westbrook had 36 points to go with 10 rebounds as the Rockets trumped the Celtics 116-105 in Houston.

Gordon Hayward top scored with 20 points for the Celtics against the Rockets, who ended a run of back-to-back losses.

 

Zion stars as Pelicans soar

Zion Williamson produced another dominant performance. The star rookie had a season-high 31 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Portland Trail Blazers 138-117.

Zach LaVine put up 41 points but the Chicago Bulls still lost 126-114 at the Washington Wizards, who were led by Bradley Beal's 30.

The San Antonio Spurs snapped a five-game skid by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-106 thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge's 25 points and 14 rebounds.

 

George struggles in Philadelphia

Paul George never got going against the 76ers. The Clippers star was just three of 15 from the field and one of four from three-point range for 11 points in 35 minutes. He did have 12 rebounds for a double-double, but it was far from George's usual best.

After back-to-back games of 30 or more points off the bench, Furkan Korkmaz was drafted into Philadelphia's starting five at the expense of Al Horford. However, Korkmaz had a game to forget. In 23 minutes, he was scoreless – 0 of five from the field, while he missed all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.

 

Simmons… somehow

The Australian All-Star put on a show in Philadelphia. This incredible piece of improvisation sent the 76ers on their way.

 

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 110-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards 126-114 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 138-117 Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs 114-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 116-105 Boston Celtics

 

Raptors at Nets

Riding a franchise-record winning streak, NBA champions the Toronto Raptors (40-14) will look to make it 16 straight victories when they visit the Brooklyn Nets (24-28) on Wednesday. The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are also in action.

Joel Embiid expressed his love for the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans after being booed, shushing supporters and posting a cryptic social media post.

Amid criticism of NBA championship hopefuls the 76ers, Embiid was the target of boos in Sunday's 118-111 win over the Chicago Bulls in Philadelphia, where the All-Star responded by shushing the crowd following a three-pointer.

On Monday, Embiid sparked doubts over his future when he posted a photo of himself shushing 76ers fans, with the caption: "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain".

That drew a response from former 76ers team-mate and Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, who said: "I know a place where villains are welcome".

Embiid replied, "Damn right my brother."

Shortly afterwards, Embiid then wrote: "Made for this… If I can take it then you can too. PHILA TOUGH!!! #AllLove".

Embiid addressed the backlash on Tuesday after helping the 76ers past the Los Angeles Clippers 110-103 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"They've been going at me, I went back at them," a smiling Embiid told reporters post-game. "We're all human beings, if I can take it, then everybody else can take it too.

"We move on, we learn from it, we move on. I've got to do a better job, they've got to do a better job. I understand where they come from, but then again, if you dish it, you've got to be able to take it back."

Drafted by the 76ers with the third pick in 2014, Embiid added: "It's all love. I love my city. I've been here for a long time now, we have a special relationship, and I’m happy to be here. I can't wait for the future, especially this year. I think we can accomplish something great."

"Tonight, I could've shushed them again, but it was all about having fun again. Just getting back to my myself, like I said last game, I'm back to doing whatever I want and say," continued Embiid, who posted 26 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers.

"That's how I used to be and I was dominating that way. This year, I made a decision to change and I guess it hasn't worked out so it comes with the good and bad. If it helps us win, then I'm going to be that guy."

Struggling NBA franchise the New York Knicks are worth $4.6billion, according to Forbes.

The Knicks have endured a tough time on the court, without a playoff appearance since 2012-13 as they continue to languish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

New York have already sacked their head coach David Fizdale and replaced president Steve Mills this season.

However, the Knicks are the NBA's priciest team, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, per the magazine's calculations.

The average NBA team are now worth at slightly more than $2.1b.

 

NBA Team Values 2020:

New York Knicks ($4.6b)
Los Angeles Lakers ($4.4b)
Golden State Warriors ($4.3b)
Chicago Bulls ($3.2b)
Boston Celtics ($3.1b)
Los Angeles Clippers ($2.6b)
Brooklyn Nets ($2.5b)
Houston Rockets ($2.475b)
Dallas Mavericks ($2.4b)
Toronto Raptors ($2.1b)
Philadelphia 76ers ($2b)
Miami Heat ($1.95b)
Portland Trail Blazers ($1.85b)
San Antonio Spurs ($1.8b)
Sacramento Kings ($1.775b)
Washington Wizards ($1.75b)
Phoenix Suns ($1.625b)
Denver Nuggets ($1.6b)
Milwaukee Bucks ($1.58b)
Oklahoma City Thunder ($1.575b)
Utah Jazz ($1.55b)
Indiana Pacers ($1.525b)
Atlanta Hawks ($1.52b)
Cleveland Cavaliers ($1.51b)
Charlotte Hornets ($1.5b)
Detroit Pistons ($1.45b)
Orlando Magic ($1.43b)
Minnesota Timberwolves ($1.375b)
New Orleans Pelicans ($1.35b)
Memphis Grizzlies ($1.3b)

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic said he is ready to return from an ankle sprain against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

Doncic has missed the past seven games with an ankle injury that has proved troublesome this NBA season.

However, reigning Rookie of the Year and All-Star Doncic is set to make his comeback midweek.

"I'm ready," Doncic, who also hurt his ankle in December, told reporters. "I'm just excited to be back out there and play basketball."

Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists in his second NBA season.

The Mavericks are seventh in the Western Conference with a 32-22 record.

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."

Zion Williamson says he is following advice from the New Orleans Pelicans and focusing on his "longevity" as injuries continue to impact his rookie season in the NBA.

The number one overall pick was missing when the Pelicans triumphed over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday after spraining his left ankle in the team's previous road win against the Chicago Bulls.

Williamson missed over 13 weeks earlier in the season after meniscus surgery, but is impressing when he is on the court, with averages of 19.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.

"They just told me longevity, the bigger picture, more long term," the 19-year-old said, per ESPN, of the late decision for him to miss the Pacers game, which was made after the shootaround.

"They've been doing this for a long time and I'm just learning. I'm just following their guidance."

Williamson has scored 20 or more points in four straight games, the only rookie to achieve that in the 2019-20 campaign.

After practising on Monday, he has declared himself "ready to go" for the Pelicans' Tuesday home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

All-Star Brandon Ingram also sat out against the Pacers and is questionable to play the Blazers, but Williamson is impressed with the Pelicans' roster depth.

He added: "We're a great team even without me or Brandon.

"Did y'all see that shot Jrue Holiday hit [against the Pacers]? That step-back. Man, I know he was texting his brothers in the group messages after that one. 

"But we played great. They were real disciplined that game. They executed when we needed and hit big shots to give us the win."

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