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."

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).

Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard headline Team LeBron, while Team Giannis includes Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam for the NBA All-Star Game.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo finalised their teams for the showcase event, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 16.

James used the number one pick to draft Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis to Team LeBron, while reigning MVP Antetokounmpo countered by selecting Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Team LeBron's starting five consists of James, Davis, Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard, Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic and Houston Rockets star James Harden.

Antetokounmpo, Embiid, Toronto Raptors star Siakam, Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker and the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young are the starters for Team Giannis.

Team LeBron reigned supreme last year – James' squad winning 178-164 over Team Giannis in Charlotte.

 

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Reserves: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)

Team Giannis

Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
Reserves: Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will return as NBA All-Star team captains after leading the vote for February's showpiece contest in Chicago.

Three newcomers – Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Pascal Siakam – will also take the floor for the 69th edition of the annual exhibition game.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James captained Team LeBron to victory over Team Giannis in 2019 and the pair will renew their rivalry at United Center on February 16.

James, an All-Star for the 16th year of his illustrious career, will have the chance to draft Dallas Mavericks sensation Doncic onto his team for the first time, the MVP contender a walk-up selection amid a brilliant sophomore season in the NBA.

All-Star regulars James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard round out the Western Conference starter pool.

Atlanta Hawks guard Young topped the count among Eastern Conference backcourt options to secure a start alongside the Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker.

The pair gained selection ahead of four-time All Star Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, who scored poorly in the fan portion of the vote.

Siakam's selection comes after averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game for the Toronto Raptors this season, while injury troubles failed to prevent Joel Embiid from sealing a frontcourt berth.

Fan ballots were weighted at 50 per cent, while current players and the media contributed 25 per cent of the starter vote.

Captains James and Antetokounmpo will select their teams from the eight other starters, while NBA head coaches will be responsible for choosing the 14 reserves that will be announced on January 30.

 

Eastern Conference starters:

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Western Conference starters:

James Harden (Houston Rockets), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

LeBron James offered no excuses for the Los Angeles Lakers' display in their heavy defeat to the Boston Celtics, labelling it a "good, old-fashioned butt whooping."

The Lakers went down 139-107 to the Celtics on Monday - only the seventh time in the history of the regular-season rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics in which the margin of victory has been 30 points or more.

It was also the largest win by one team over the other since the Lakers beat the Celtics by 35 points in March 1969 and James knows his side were not up to scratch.

"I mean, listen, it was just a good, old-fashioned butt whooping," James said, in quotes reported by ESPN.

"That's all. They beat us in all facets of the game: outside, interior, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds. So, it's the main ingredients in the loss.

"We haven't moved on yet. [Tuesday], we will. Still simmering right now, which it should. But it's a long NBA season. You don't want to have games like this, but if you do, you try to learn from the mistakes. Or you do learn from the mistakes, and you move on."

Monday's big win for the Celtics was also a huge moment for Kemba Walker, who finally ended his career-long losing streak against James - a run which had lasted 28 games.

Walker, who scored 20 points in the win, kept his cool when asked about snapping the unwanted streak.

"I'm happy I got one at least, before he goes," Walker told reporters. "Who knows how long he can play, because he's just incredible. But you know, it's only one. One and 28.

I know everybody is making a big deal of the record. I have the utmost respect for LeBron and he's one of the greatest players of all time. If there was any guy I couldn't beat, it'd be him.

"He's such a great player, done so much in this league, has been so far. It just feels good to win. I'm more excited about the way we played, the way we came out, especially with the struggles we've had in the last couple of weeks, that's what I'm more excited about."

Boston Celtics star Kemba Walker is listed as "probable" for Wednesday's NBA clash with the Brooklyn Nets.

Celtics guard Walker missed Monday's 103-102 win over the Sacramento Kings due to a neck sprain.

Walker was hospitalised following a scary collision against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Friday.

The three-time All-Star – with his head down – bumped into team-mate Semi Ojeleye during the second quarter of Boston's 96-92 loss.

Walker had been averaging 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game heading into the clash against the Nuggets.

Boston Celtics star Kemba Walker is "doubtful" for Monday's NBA game against the Sacramento Kings due to a neck sprain.

Celtics guard Walker was hospitalised following a scary collision against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Friday.

The three-time All-Star – with his head down – bumped into team-mate Semi Ojeleye during the second quarter of Boston's 96-92 loss.

After the Celtics provided an update on Walker earlier on Sunday, head coach Brad Stevens told reporters: "Obviously they went through a series of things with the Denver doctors, and a series of things when he got back yesterday with our doctors.

"So he is continuing to be monitored in case any of that stuff shows up.

"But he's been good, and he feels good. It's kind of a minor miracle based on what we saw the other day. But the strain is real, and he's got some soreness in his back and neck. That's it."

Walker, who did not practice on Sunday, had been averaging 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game heading into the clash against the Nuggets.

"It's always scary. And that's the reason he's doubtful [for Monday], to be honest," Stevens added. "I think he could probably play with the strain part, but we want to make sure [that] with the way he hit, and certainly because of the sensitivity to head injuries."

Kemba Walker has been discharged from hospital and will be assessed again on Saturday after suffering "concussion-like symptoms" in Boston Celtics' defeat to the Denver Nuggets.

The three-time All-Star point guard was wheeled off on a stretcher at the Pepsi Center following a collision with his team-mate Semi Ojeleye on Friday.

Walker was treated for more than eight minutes on court after ploughing into Ojeleye's midriff head first.

The 29-year-old underwent tests at Denver Hospital, but was allowed to rejoin his team-mates before they returned to Boston.

Walker will face further checks ahead of an NBA meeting with the Sacramento Kings at TD Garden on Monday.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after his side's 96-92 loss: "It's tough on both teams to see that.

"And it was good to get at least early reports of good news from our standpoint.

"But the head injury thing is super scary, and - so you're always thinking about it, and you still have to play the last 27 minutes, which is not a fun part of it, but I thought our guys and Denver competed really hard the rest of the game."

Boston Celtics star Kemba Walker was taken to hospital with "concussion-like symptoms" after a scary collision against the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

With his head down, Walker bumped into team-mate Semi Ojeleye during the second quarter at the Pepsi Center.

Amid fears the three-time All-Star had suffered a neck injury, the Celtics announced Walker was taken to hospital.

"Kemba Walker has been diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms. He is being transported to the hospital for further evaluation," the NBA team wrote on Twitter.

"Further updates will be provided as appropriate."

Walker had contributed three assists and a rebound in 12 minutes before his injury.

The 29-year-old had been averaging 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game heading into the clash against the Nuggets.

Kemba Walker has claimed his will to win is the reason for his streak of tallying up crucial points in fourth quarters this season.

Walker came back on from the bench to score a sublime three-pointer as the Boston Celtics made it 10 successive wins in NBA with a 105-100 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The three-time All Star netted 20 points in total on Friday, with five rebounds and five assists, while he has a 49.1 per cent shot accuracy in fourth quarters and 53.6 per cent of his three-pointers have come in the final stage of games.

"I just want to win so bad, I just will those shots in a lot of the time," Walker told reporters when asked about his fourth-quarter form.

"I just want to win and when it's winning time, my competitive nature just increases in those kinds of situations.

"I make 500 [three-pointers] the night before the game. I trust in my work. That's it. And the reason I do that is because if I am having an off night, I know it's an off night, I know it's not because I'm not working.

"My first halves haven't really been too great. I just try my best to just stay positive, and just continue to shoot.

"Fourth quarter, it's just winning time."

The Celtics lead the way in the Eastern Conference with a 10-1 record this season.

Kemba Walker says the Boston Celtics need other players to "step up" after Gordon Hayward suffered a broken hand on Saturday.

The in-form Hayward was hurt in a collision with LaMarcus Aldridge late in the first half of the Celtics' 135-115 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

After the game, Boston coach Brad Stevens revealed a decision on whether Hayward requires an operation will be made on Sunday, adding: "It sounds like, should he decide that, the surgery option might actually be a better timeline. So we'll see how that all plays out."

Walker acknowledged the injury represented a blow for the 7-1 Celtics, who lead the Eastern Conference, but urged other players to take the opportunities that will now come their way.

"We're definitely going to miss him, but you know, we just need guys to step up," said Walker.

"Now it's our opportunity for other guys until he comes back and we just have to hold the fort down."

No timeline has yet been placed on the recovery of Hayward, who missed the entire 2017-18 season after suffering a horrific ankle injury in the Celtics' season opener.

"It's tough, man," added Walker. "Obviously he's been through a lot with his old injury, and now this."

Hayward had made an impressive start to the season, averaging 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game prior to Saturday's contest.

Kemba Walker was "really emotional" after the reception he received on his return to Charlotte as the Boston Celtics extended their winning streak against the Hornets.

Playing in Charlotte for the first time since he left in the close season, Walker was given a warm reception from the crowd and was choked up when the team displayed a tribute video.

The three-time All-Star was below his best, scoring just 14 points, but the Celtics claimed a 108-87 victory to record their sixth straight win.

"It was special," Walker told reporters.

"Just to be back here, the amount of love I've been getting throughout this day, leading up to this day, the video just topped it off.

"It made me really emotional, I was trying to hold it in, but I couldn't, I knew I wasn't going to be able to.

"It was amazing, just a great feeling to know that they still have love for me even though I left. To be back and to get the reception I got was really cool."

Walker denied his below-par display had anything to do with the emotion of the night, adding: "I was just off, that's it. It's a part of the game.

"I just missed shots. I don't think the way I played had anything to do with the emotion or anything like that.

"My main focus was just to get a win and help in any way possible."

The 29-year-old revealed he did not catch up with Hornets owner Michael Jordan during his return, but said he remained close to the five-time MVP having spoken to him recently.

"MJ's always going to be a special guy in my life," Walker said.

"He's one of the reasons why I am who I am today. He gave me an opportunity to flourish as a basketball player, to grow as a man in this community.

"MJ's definitely going to have a special place in my heart, for sure."

Brooklyn faced adversity early against Houston on Friday night, but they rebounded to claim a 123-116 victory at Barclays Center.

The Nets fell into a hole early and trailed by as much as 15 in the first half before it found scoring from some surprising places.

Taurean Prince unexpectedly led the way offensively with a team-high 27 points for Brooklyn while Garrett Temple chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Brooklyn still called Kyrie Irving's number down the stretch and he sealed the game with a step-back dagger on a corner 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 points on the night.

James Harden continued his ridiculous run at the charity stripe, tallying 36 points and eight rebounds while sinking 14 free throws. But he struggled from deep and made only two of his 16 long-range shots.

Houston has made a name for itself by shooting a large number of threes, but shooting at a 25 percent clip against a Brooklyn team that converted 59.4 percent from downtown didn't help their chances.

The Rockets dropped to 3-2 in the western conference, while the Nets improved to 2-3 in season 2019-20.

Kemba makes himself at home in the Garden

Kemba Walker scored 33 points in the Celtics' 104-102 win over the Knicks at TD Garden.

Russell Westbrook totalled 27 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and four steals against Brooklyn.

Andre Drummond tallied 25 points and 24 rebounds as the Pistons fell to the Bulls 112-106.

Lopez and Garland wayward

Brook Lopez went 1-of-7 from the field and scored three points in the Bucks' 123-91 rout of the Magic.

Cleveland's Darius Garland missed all 10 of his shots and notched just two points in his team's 102-95 loss to the Pacers.

Tatum ices the game for the Celtics

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and nailed the decisive basket as the Celtics snuck past the Knicks.

 

 

76ers at Blazers

Philadelphia is undefeated but they face a talented Portland team without Joel Embiid who is serving a two-game suspension for a skirmish with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. How will the 76ers respond without their dominant post presence and defensive stud down low? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum certainly won't make things easy for the Eastern Conference powerhouse.

Kemba Walker acknowledged it was "about time" he came up with his game-winning late efforts for the Boston Celtics against the Toronto Raptors.

The Celtics' major free-agent acquisition struggled in the team's opening loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, before continuing to have problems against defending champions the Raptors.

Walker had just 12 points at the Sixers, shooting 4-of-18 from the floor, including 1-of-8 from three-point range. He was a disappointing 4-of-13 and 1-of-5 against Toronto heading into the fourth quarter.

But the 29-year-old came off the bench with just over nine minutes of the game remaining and provided a spark for Boston, scoring 11 of the next 13 points for his team.

The Celtics ran out 112-106 winners, with Walker contributing 22 points and six rebounds in all.

"I was so happy," Walker said, via ESPN. "Like, 'About time'. It was a struggle, even from the last game to tonight.

"I wanted to be myself and these guys just allowed me to.

"I can't say enough about the people around me. The coaching staff, most importantly my team-mates, just really keeping me confident. They kept talking to me throughout the game.

"They knew I wanted to play well and I wanted to make shots, but I was struggling.

"But I can't say enough about it. They kept me confident. I really just appreciate those guys for keeping me level-headed, keeping me confident and just allowing me to be myself." 

Coach Brad Stevens was impressed, adding: "He just looked like he had an extra gear and he probably wasn't thinking about it going in. He was just going to be Kemba Walker."

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