NBA

Lakers head coach Ham hails 'phenomenal' James after reaching 38,000 career NBA points

By Sports Desk January 16, 2023

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham labelled LeBron James as "phenomenal" after scoring his 38,000th NBA career point, while the four-time MVP refused to discuss the milestone after another loss.

The Lakers slumped to a 19-24 record with Sunday's 113-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers where Russell Westbrook failed to get a clear shot or pass away on the final play.

Earlier, James made history in the first quarter by bringing up his 38,000th career point, joining only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with that milestone.

James is on track to usurp Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA record of 38,387 points next month, although he would not be drawn on that after the game.

Instead, Ham offered praise for James, who finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

"I thought Bron was phenomenal," Ham told reporters. "Really playing downhill. Playing the right way, running off the ball.

"Really finding guys as well. I thought he was really, really good."

James' performance was his 525th career 30-point game, while he is averaging 35.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists across the past six games.

The 38-year-old was not in a reflective mood after the game, ignoring the 38,000-point milestone for concern about a disappointing loss.

"We got a stop, gave ourselves a chance to win the game and we didn't," James said about the final play.

"It's just frustrating, getting in those positions and not being able to come away with the victory."

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    Novak Djokovic described his latest Australian Open triumph as "probably the biggest victory of my life" as he put last year's adversity behind him to win the title for a 10th time.

    The Serbian defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday to draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 grand slam crowns – a joint-record for male players.

    Djokovic dropped just one set across his seven matches in a dominant display down under, coming a year on from being deported from the country ahead of the 2022 edition.

    He was denied the opportunity to defend his title following a row over his COVID-19 vaccination status, which also saw him banned from entering the country until 2025.

    However, he had his visa ban overturned in November and made up for lost time, with his straight-sets win against Tsitsipas also seeing him regain the world number one spot.

    Djokovic broke down in tears after sealing victory in a little under three hours and then gave an emotional speech in his on-court interview.

    "This has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have ever played in my life considering the circumstances, not playing last year, coming back this year," he said.

    "I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable to be in Melbourne and to be in Australia. 

    "There is a reason why I have played my best tennis throughout my career in this arena. I try to pinch myself and really live through these moments. 

    "It's a long journey. Only the team and the family knows what we have been through in the last four or five weeks.

    "I would say this is probably the biggest victory of my life, considering those circumstances. Thank you so much – and hopefully see you next year."

     

    Djokovic landed his first Australian Open title 15 years ago and has now won 28 matches in a row at his favourite tournament.

    At 35 years, he is the third-oldest male in the Open Era to win the Australian Open singles title after Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer, another of his long-time rivals.

    Tsitsipas labelled his opponent as the greatest of all time after the match, and Djokovic also had some kind words to share as he backed the Greek to challenge in more majors.

    "Thanks so much for being so kind and respectful," Djokovic said. "On the court we are fierce competitors, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't respect each other.

    "I congratulate you on an amazing tournament. Tough luck tonight. This will not be your last grand slam final, you have a lot of time. 

    "You are one of the most professional players I know on the tour, and one of the most interesting."

    Djokovic, whose 93 ATP titles is the fourth most of any male in the Open Era, added: "I'd like to finish off by commenting something on Greece and Serbia. 

    "We are two relatively small countries that don't really have a tennis tradition. We didn't really have players to look up to.

    "I think the message for any young tennis player around the world watching this now, dreaming to be where we are now, dream big. Anything is possible. 

    "Don't let anyone take away the dream. It doesn't matter where you're coming from. I think the more disadvantaged a childhood you have, the stronger you become.

    "We are the proof of that. Don't let anybody take that dream away from you. Water it like you would water the flowers. 

    "Even if you can only find one person in the world that supports you, dream big and you can make it."

  • Storm to face Horizon in Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League final after thrilling victory over Waves Storm to face Horizon in Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League final after thrilling victory over Waves

    Despite a game-high 58 points by Cameron Burhannon, Waves suffered a tough 115-113 loss to Storm on Friday to advance to Sunday’s final of the Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League where they are set to face defending champions Horizon.

    Brandon Armstrong scored 32 for Storm in a most-compelling encounter.

    Horizon, meanwhile, battered the winless Rivers 112-87 in the second semi-final.

    Rivers will play Waves in a play-off for third.

    Played in front of a vociferous group of spectators, the Storm/Waves game featured end-to-end action and almost constant lead changes in what many described as the game of the tournament.

    Waves enjoyed the largest lead, six points, over Storm at the end of the third quarter, an advantage that was quickly erased by the second minute of the of the final quarter.

    “I must commend my team. They played their hearts out,” said Storm’s head coach O’Neil Brown.

    “We played this team twice since this season, this is the third game and I told my guys going into this match if one team beat you three times it means they are better then you.

    “The last game when I watched over and over again we saw that when we play with two ‘bigs’, it kind of give us problems guarding the perimeter ‘cause the Waves like to shoot threes so we decided at the end of the game that we were going to go small and force them to go small and it worked out for us."

    Brown said he was confident of his team’s chances against the defending champion in the final.

     “I feel great and this going into the finals. We are confident that we can pull it off. This lifts the guys’ morale and we can't wait for Sunday to come," Brown said.

    Losing coach Rohan Robinson was naturally despondent.

    “Well, it’s simple. You could see the team prepared for us.  You play a team twice and you beat them, you can do so much and no more,” he said.

    “If you prepare yourself you will come out the victor. I told them if we cannot get a chance to prepare ourselves and we not playing together when things are tough we not going get through."

    The second match of the night between Horizon and Rivers went as expected with Horizon winning by 25 points as Bobby Gray scored 23 points in tandem with Rasheed Maynard and Asaad Wood, who each scored 19 points.

    They led at the end of every quarter and were ahead by as many as 35 points in the third quarter.

    Rivers outscored Horizon 27-17 in the fourth quarter but it provided little consolation.

    Rivers’ Anthony Ottley scored 24 with support from Ricky Shuford 17 and Tre Brewer 16.

     "It was a pretty good game. We have played them about four times. We weren't surprised that we were able to pull out another victory tonight, not really a strong opponent but nevertheless, we were able to pull a victory and I am proud of the team tonight" said Horizon’s coach Cleon Morgan.

    River’s coach Tesfa Milligen is hopeful his team can win third place on Sunday.

    “Unfortunately, another rough night. We still have one more game left which is for third place so hopefully we can put it together and play a full 48 minutes of competitive team basketball and come out with a W," he said.

    The third place -off and final will tip off on Sunday, January 29. The first match begins at 6:00 pm and the final set for at 8:00 pm.  The day's activity will actually start at 2:00 pm with several exhibition matches featuring high school girls and boys teams.

     

  • Australian Open: Dominant Djokovic lands 22nd grand slam title to draw back level with Nadal Australian Open: Dominant Djokovic lands 22nd grand slam title to draw back level with Nadal

    Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in Sunday's final to land a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 grand slams.

    The 35-year-old resisted a fightback from Tsitsipas by saving a set point in the second set on his way to a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) victory at Rod Laver Arena as he made it 10 wins from 10 Melbourne finals.

    Djokovic, who was blocked from defending his crown last year after being deported from the country over his COVID-19 vaccination status, dropped just one set across his seven matches and has now won 28 matches in a row in his favourite tournament.

    The Serbian consequently reclaims the world number one spot, as well as equalling Nadal for the most singles slams won by a male player.

     

    Tsitsipas was aiming to become the 27th male singles champion in the opening major of the year, but he was under relentless pressure right from the off and a double fault in the fourth game handed his opponent the first break of serve.

    Djokovic, backed by a crowd that occasionally became too vociferous amid warnings from the umpire, served out the opening set with relative ease and continued to trouble Tsitsipas with some strong serving in the second set.

    World number four Tsitsipas slowly grew in confidence and, after a string of unforced errors from Djokovic – who exchanged some strong words with coach Goran Ivanisevic – he forced set point.

    But an excellent forehand winner from Djokovic prevented Tsitsipas from levelling up the match, and the Serbian went on to edge the tie-break in what was a big moment in the contest.

    He had the occasional blip, with Tsitsipas earning his first break of serve in the opening game of the third set, but Djokovic responded instantly with another backhand winner to level up.

    There was little to separate the two in the next 10 games as another set went the distance, and once again it was Djokovic who held his nerve in an entertaining tie-break to wrap up the victory in a time of two hours and 56 minutes.

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