Patrick Beverley described guarding LeBron James as "no challenge" after the Los Angeles Clippers' loss to the Lakers on Sunday.

James' 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds helped the Lakers beat the Clippers 112-103 at the Staples Center.

But asked about guarding the four-time NBA MVP, Beverley quickly shut down questions.

"No challenge," the Clippers guard told a news conference.

"No challenge," he said again to a follow-up question before a third was answered with: "Not hard at all."

Anthony Davis (30 points) and Avery Bradley (24) were also key contributors for the Lakers (49-13), while Paul George (31) and Kawhi Leonard (27) led the Clippers (43-20).

Beverley gave the Lakers credit for their victory while calling on his team to bounce back.

"We've got to give them a lot of credit. They came and won a basketball game, they took it personal, you've got to give them a lot of credit," he said.

"This is one game of course, but I live in LA man, it's hard, it's hard to deal with this loss.

"But we have to wash it down in the shower and keep getting better and we will."

LeBron James heralded a "big weekend" for the Los Angeles Lakers as they followed up a defeat of Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks with their first win over the Los Angeles Clippers this season.

The Lakers and the Clippers are the top two seeds in the West as things stand, boasting an array of talents after Anthony Davis joined James last year, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George went to their rivals.

Although James' Lakers lead the conference, they had been beaten by the Clippers in the sides' prior two meetings.

That run came to an end on Sunday, however, when the four-time MVP came up with 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a 112-103 road win. Davis finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, as George (31 points) and Leonard (27 points) could not keep the Clippers in the game.

Coming less than 48 hours after the Lakers had beaten the Bucks, James recognised the significance of his team sending a message to their fellow title contenders.

"It was hard fought, two teams that are getting up for the playoff," he told ESPN. "We're still trying to get better. Both teams are trying to get better.

"We won it with our defense, and we won it with our offense at times, as well.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the Milwaukee Bucks' next two games with a minor knee sprain.

The reigning NBA MVP sustained a left leg injury during the Bucks' defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, the team confirmed. 

An MRI revealed a minor joint capsule sprain of the left knee, ruling him out of the Bucks' road games with the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets.

Antetokounmpo's status for Thursday's home game with the Boston Celtics will be updated later in the coming week.

The Greek is again the favourite for the MVP award and is averaging 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks.

Milwaukee possess the best record in the NBA at 53-10 and are 8.5 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors in the race for the number one seed in the East.

New interim head coach Jacque Vaughn has vowed to "truly listen" to the Brooklyn Nets' key players as he looks to work differently to former boss Kenny Atkinson.

Vaughn was named coach until the end of the season on Saturday, stepping up from his role as assistant to Atkinson, who departed after three and a half years.

General manager Sean Marks suggested "another voice" was needed in a locker room that includes high-profile 2019 signings Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Vaughn was reluctant to go into detail on the issues but explained his attentive new approach.

"Overall we met as a group," Vaughn said. "Sean addressed the group and I had a chance to quickly address the group.

"And then my point was to meet with each individual, spend time with them, hear their thoughts, basically listen. I've been able to do that throughout the course of the morning."

Irving has played just 20 games this season due to injuries, while Durant is yet to return from an Achilles rupture suffered with the Golden State Warriors in last year's NBA Finals.

Vaughn would not comment on the suggestion the team's veteran players had been unimpressed by Atkinson, but he spoke of a "great conversation" with Irving.

"I don't want to speak for those guys," he said, quoted in the New York Post. "What I will say is I initiated the offer of what can we do differently. I'm not sure if that was expressed to Kenny from other guys.

"What I will say is that, in today's game, you have to be able to continually reinforce your philosophy and continue to communicate with guys.

"I've always tried to put myself in a position that any player can come to me as an assistant coach. Whether that was talking about on-the-court stuff or off-the-court stuff, guys need that.

"I think it's a skill to be someone who can listen. It's a tough skill to truly listen, and I've tried to do that through my career."

Top-tier football in Italy will go ahead behind closed doors amid the coronavirus outbreak, but Serie A basketball was suspended in the wake of a major lockdown announced by prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

A government decree issued on Sunday has quarantined 16 million people in central and northern areas of Italy, including the hard-hit Lombardy region.

Schools and nightclubs are being closed, with the death toll in Italy having passed 230 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

The new impositions, which mean anyone leaving the specified regions will require special permission, are due to run until at least April 3.

The spread of the illness means all Serie A football games will be played behind closed doors, also until April 3.

Damiano Tommasi, president of the Italian Footballers' Association, has called for all football in Italy to be suspended.

And basketball officials did not hesitate to call off their fixtures scheduled for Sunday.

The Lega Basket Serie A said in a statement: "Following the new decree issued by the government containing urgent measures to contain the contagion and the consequent closure measure in Lombardy and in 14 provinces, Lega Basket, in agreement with the Italian Basketball Federation and having also heard from all interested parties, has decided to suspend all matches of the seventh round of return fixtures scheduled for Sunday 8 March."

The Houston Rockets' losing streak continued in the NBA, while the Golden State Warriors claimed a win on Saturday.

The Rockets slumped to a third straight loss with a 108-99 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.

James Harden had a triple-double of 30 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, but added 10 turnovers as Russell Westbrook missed the clash.

All five of the Hornets' starters managed double-digits in points, led by Terry Rozier's 24.

Even with Stephen Curry missing due to the flu, the Warriors upset the Philadelphia 76ers 118-114.

Damion Lee's 24 points helped the Warriors to just their 15th win of the season.

 

Wonderful Valanciunas, Love leads Cavs

Jonas Valanciunas' double-double of 27 points and 17 rebounds saw the Memphis Grizzlies past the Atlanta Hawks 118-101.

Kevin Love's 27 points helped the Cleveland Cavaliers upset the Denver Nuggets 104-102.

The Utah Jazz were too good for the Detroit Pistons 111-105 thanks to a 32-point haul from Bojan Bogdanovic.

Rockets struggle

With Westbrook sidelined, Houston needed a greater contribution from their starters. But three of them – Danuel House Jr., P.J. Tucker and Ben McLemore – went a combined three-of-12 from the field.

 

Morant magic

Ja Morant (24 points) helped the Grizzlies to their win.

Saturday's results

Charlotte Hornets 108-99 Houston Rockets
Utah Jazz 111-105 Detroit Pistons
Cleveland Cavaliers 104-102 Denver Nuggets
Memphis Grizzlies 118-101 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 118-114 Philadelphia 76ers
Sacramento Kings 123-111 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Lakers at Clippers

The Staples Center will host another blockbuster on Sunday. After beating the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers (48-13) face the Clippers (43-19).

Stephen Curry will miss the Golden State Warriors' clash against the Philadelphia 76ers due to the flu, with the team saying the star was showing no signs of the coronavirus.

Curry made his return from a hand injury on Thursday, but the guard is sidelined again.

The Warriors confirmed on Saturday that the two-time MVP was battling the flu and not showing signs of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,500 people worldwide.

"This morning Stephen Curry was diagnosed with influenza A by a positive viral testing," Warriors team physician Dr Robert Nied said in a statement on Saturday.

"We have identified his probable source contact who is not part of basketball operations.

"He has no specific risk for COVID-19. He has the seasonal flu. We have begun treatment for Stephen and instituted our team protocol for influenza exposure."

Head coach Kenny Atkinson has left the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced on Saturday.

Atkinson was appointed in 2016 in his first role as a senior coach and leaves the Nets with a 118-190 record.

Brooklyn lost in the first round of the playoffs last year, having failed to make the postseason in the prior two seasons, and subsequently brought in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Durant is yet to feature due to an Achilles rupture, however, and injuries have restricted Irving to just 20 games, with the Nets 28-34 and seventh in the Eastern Conference.

The team revealed Atkinson's departure had been "mutually agreed", with Jacque Vaughn stepping up as coach for the remainder of the season.

General manager Sean Marks said in a statement: "After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team.

"This was an extremely difficult decision, however the organisation believes it is one that is necessary at this time.

"Kenny was instrumental in developing our players and building the identity and culture we have become known for over these past four seasons.

"The foundation he helped put into place here is one that we will continue to build on in the coming seasons."

Vaughn had been Atkinson's assistant, having previously had a 12-year NBA playing career - including two seasons with the Nets - and then coached the Orlando Magic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted the Milwaukee Bucks "didn't play smart" against the Los Angeles Lakers - but believes his team will learn lessons from Friday's defeat.

LeBron James scored 37 points, had eight rebounds and provided eight assists as the Lakers won the battle between the top seeds in each conference, prevailing 113-103 at Staples Center.

However, the home team were aided by shooting 38 free-throw attempts in the contest, hitting 31 of them, much to Antetokounmpo's frustration.

"We definitely didn't play smart," Antetokounmpo, who led his team with 32 points in a losing cause, told the media after the game. 

"We obviously tried our best. We fight – we fight in every game. We try to stay in every game that we play.

"But they shot 31 free throws. We put them on the line so easily. You take that away and it's 70-odd points. You give them 12 free throws, 14 free throws, and now you have a ball game.

"We've got to do better, obviously. We will learn a lot from this game, go back and watch the tape and get better. Now we've got to move onto the next one."

As well as a potential NBA Finals preview, the game in Los Angeles pitted two of the leading candidates for this season's MVP award against each other.

The home crowd made clear who they believe should get the individual honour, chanting 'MVP! MVP!' for James after he pulled off a spinning dunk in the closing seconds.

Antetokounmpo, however, remains the overwhelming favourite to be crowned for a second successive season.

"It's always good playing against one of the best players in the league," he said. "When you bring the ball down, whenever you go against him, you can feel greatness.

"I've said in the past, that's where I want to be. As I said, he's one of the best players in the game, really smart. He's going to come at you – you've got to be ready to go, ready to fight against him. He's going to get his shots up, get his team-mates the ball."

Khris Middleton endured a tough outing for Milwaukee, finishing with 12 points on a 5-for-19 shooting night, but was backed by Antetokounmpo to keep on letting it go.

"Khris has got to keep shooting," he said of his team-mate. "It doesn't matter if you're having an off night, you're one of the best players in the team.

"A rough night cannot stop you from being who you are. Even if you go 0 for 20, he has to keep shooting."

LeBron James has no intention of playing if NBA games are staged behind closed doors due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the league had sent memos to teams advising them to prepare for the possibility of games taking place without fans.

That measure has already been implemented in Italy, where a government decree this week stated that all sporting events are to be played behind closed doors until April 3.

The outbreak originated in China but has now spread across most of the world and there have been over 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, where 17 people have died.

It has played havoc with the sporting calendar in many countries and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain saw their trip to Strasbourg postponed this weekend, yet one of the NBA's biggest names is not interested in the possibility of playing in empty arenas.

"We play games without the fans? Nah, it's impossible," the Los Angeles Lakers star told reporters.

"I ain't playing. If I ain't got the fans in the crowd, that's who I play for. I play for my team-mates, the fans, that's what it's all about.

"If I show up to an arena and there ain't no fans in there, I ain't playing. They can do what they want to do.

"I ain't ever played the game without no fans, ever, since I started playing ball.

"I don't give a damn, this isn't Europe. They can do what they want to do."

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker also hopes it does not come to that for the NBA.

"That would be terrible," he said, as quoted by ESPN.

"That would be boring. They might as well cancel the whole game before that. That would suck.

"But at the end of the day, it is getting serious. I don't know. It would be very weird, though, for sure."

However, James' Lakers team-mate Alex Caruso admitted he would understand if preventative measures were put in place.

"It's a nice privilege to be able to play basketball, but I would like to be able to live many, many years past this," Caruso said.

"If it is a legit thing that needs to be done, do whatever you have to do. People watch on TV way more anyway."

LeBron James upstaged Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Los Angeles Lakers secured their playoff berth with victory over the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

James led the Lakers to a 113-103 victory at home to Antetokounmpo and the visiting Bucks in Los Angeles on Friday.

Lakers superstar James won his battle with reigning MVP Antetokounmpo, posting 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Western Conference leaders.

Anthony Davis added 30 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 48-13 following the blockbuster showdown.

Antetokounmpo's 32 points and 11 rebounds were not enough as the high-flying Bucks fell to 53-10 for the season.

 

Baynes makes history

Aron Baynes had a game to remember. The Australian tallied a career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and made nine three-pointers as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-117. He joined James Harden as the only players in NBA history with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and eight or more three-pointers in a game.

Kristaps Porzingis recorded his fifth straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds after putting up 26 and 11 in the Dallas Mavericks' 121-96 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Duncan Robinson made history in the Miami Heat's 110-104 loss away to the New Orleans Pelicans. Robinson finished with 24 points following eight three-pointers. It took Robinson's three-point tally to 233 this season – a single-season record by an undrafted player.

Bradley Beal's 35-point performance extended his streak of 25-plus points to 21 consecutive games. It tied LeBron James for the second-longest run by an Eastern Conference player since the 2000-01 season. The Washington Wizards won 118-112 against the Atlanta Hawks.

 

Bradley struggles

Usually a handy contributor for the Lakers, Avery Bradley failed to make much of an impact despite his team's victory over the Bucks. The point guard played 31 minutes and failed to make any of his shots from the field (0 of five) or three-point range (0 of three). His two points came from the free-throw line.

The Chicago Bulls went down 108-102 to the Indiana Pacers and Lauri Markkanen headlined his team's woes. The 22-year-old had just three points, going one of 10 from the field and missing all five of his shots from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron slams it down!

James was an immovable force for the Lakers against the Bucks, who were unable to prevent this dunk.

 

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 118-112 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 139-120 San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-103 New York Knicks
Utah Jazz 99-94 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 108-102 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 132-118 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 110-104 Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks 121-96 Memphis Grizzlies
Phoenix Suns 127-117 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Warriors

The Philadelphia 76ers (38-25) will be eyeing back-to-back road wins when they travel to the Golden State Warriors (14-49) on Saturday.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he only wants a fit and healthy Kevin Durant for the United States at the Olympic Games.

Durant swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, but the 31-year-old superstar is yet to play this season as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury.

He tore his Achilles tendon against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals in June, but his business partner Rich Kleiman said playing at Tokyo 2020 was "definitely a possibility".

However, USA coach Popovich insisted he does not want two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Durant to rush his comeback just for the Olympics.

"My feeling on that is that I would want Kevin to be absolutely ready to go, working out, playing five-on-five, that his organisation and he both feel like it's time to play," Popovich said.

"I wouldn't want to be any part of him being 60 per cent or 70 per cent and just starting to get in shape because of the Olympics. The Olympics are important, it's huge, but he's got a career to take care of here with the Nets.

"I would rather have him do that if he's not totally ready to play this summer."

The men's basketball at the Olympics gets underway on July 25 in Tokyo.

USA head to Japan as defending champions, having won gold at the past three Olympics.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James became the third player in NBA history to score 34,000 points.

James reached the milestone in Friday's blockbuster showdown with Giannis Antetokounmpo's league-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

The three-time champion and four-time MVP was already third on the NBA's all-time list for scoring after leapfrogging Kobe Bryant in January before the Lakers legend tragically died in a helicopter crash.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) still owns the record, ahead of Karl Malone (36,928) and the 35-year-old James.

Entering the Lakers' clash against the Bucks, James had been averaging 25.4 points, 10.7 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game this season.

The Los Angeles Lakers have confirmed the signing of free agent Dion Waiters.

Waiters was announced as a Laker on Friday, having reportedly agreed a contract on the NBA minimum until the end of the season.

The eight-year guard had been without a team since early February after the Miami Heat traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies and he was subsequently waived.

This season Waiters made just three appearances for the Heat, who handed him three separate suspensions in relation to his conduct.

He also struggled with foot and ankle injuries after signing a four-year, $52million contract with Miami in 2017.

The fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Waiters has averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his professional career.

The Los Angeles Clippers were also said to be closing in on a new addition on Friday, with ESPN reporting that Joakim Noah will join on an initial 10-day contract next week.

Stephen Curry's comeback on Thursday night was a welcome sight for LeBron James, who told the Golden State Warriors guard "the game missed you".

Curry had been out since October with a broken hand but he played 27 minutes against the Toronto Raptors at Chase Center, draining three three-pointers in a 23-point display.

The Warriors, whose season has been ruined by the injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson, lost 121-113 but head coach Steve Kerr said his team were "through the woods" now their two-time MVP was fit again.

Golden State's NBA-worst 14-49 record means they are not a factor in the Western Conference, with the Los Angeles Lakers leading the way ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets.

Yet Lakers star James was still pleased to see Curry back on the hardwood.

"Happy to see @StephenCurry30 back out there again!" James wrote on Twitter.

"Nothing like being in your sanctuary! The game missed you."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.