NBA

LeBron returns as Lakers lose to Bulls, Doncic faces ban as Mavericks suffer fourth straight loss

By Sports Desk March 26, 2023

LeBron James returned from a month-long absence with a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds but the Los Angeles Lakers' three-game winning streak was halted by a 118-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

James had missed 13 games, having not played since February 26 due to what he called a torn tendon in his foot, and started on the bench for the second time in his 20-year NBA career, entering the game midway through the first quarter.

But the four-time NBA MVP's return could not inspire the Lakers past the Bulls at Crypto.com Arena, with Zach LaVine scoring a game-high 32 points for the road team. The Lakers went 8-5 during James' absence.

The Bulls led 91-78 at three-quarter time and kept the Lakers at arm's length throughout the final period, with James only managing five points in the final quarter.

James shot six-of-11 from the field, missing both of his three-point attempts, with three assists along and five turnovers.

Lakers' power forward Anthony Davis scored 15 points with nine rebounds and five assists, while Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan had 17 points with 10 assists.

James was on the wrong end of a taunt from ex-Laker Patrick Beverley, who slapped the floor with the "too small" gesture, after making a two-point attempt with 1:12 left.

The loss drops the Lakers below .500 with a 37-38 record to sit ninth in the Western Conference, while the Bulls have won seven of their past nine games to shoot into playoff contention in the East, placed 10th with a 36-38 record.

Doncic faces ban as Mavs lose again

Luka Doncic dropped 40 points with 14 rebounds but the Dallas Mavericks' playoff hopes suffered another blow with their fourth successive defeat, going down 110-104 to the lowly Charlotte Hornets.

To make matters worse for Dallas, Doncic faces a one-game ban after he received his 16th technical foul of the season after using a profanity directed at an official following a correct no-call.

Doncic will miss Dallas' game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday if the decision is not rescinded, which seems unlikely.

Kyrie Irving only managed 18 points on five-of-15 shooting for the Mavs, who are 11th in the Western Conference with a 36-39 record, having lost seven of their past nine games.

Morant leads Grizzlies to sixth straight win

Ja Morant started for the first time since returning from suspension and scored 27 points to help the streaking Memphis Grizzlies beat the Atlanta Hawks 123-119 for their sixth straight win.

Morant scored a team-high 27 points on nine-of-17 shooting, with Desmond Bane adding 25 points, including three triples, and Jaren Jackson Jr built on his Defensive Player of the Year case as he racked up five blocks and three steals to go with 15 points and eight rebounds.

After being ejected on Saturday, Hawks guard Trae Young had 28 points on seven-of-14 shooting with 10 assists.

Memphis' sixth straight win, and second in a row on the road, improved their record to 47-27 to sit second in the West.

Related items

  • 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr

    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes there is a "lot of value" in the team keeping their core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, as the latter of the trio prepares to hit free agency.

    The Warriors' season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as they were dumped out of the Play-In Tournament by the Sacramento Kings, falling to a 118-94 defeat to their upstate rivals. 

    It is the third time in the last five seasons that Golden State – who have won four NBA championships under Kerr – have missed out on a playoff berth. 

    That has led to questions being asked about the team's future, and they have a decision to make over Thompson as the 34-year-old prepares to become an unrestricted free agent.

    While the Warriors have outlined their desire to keep Thompson, he has been linked with the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks and says his priority is playing for a championship contender. 

    Speaking at his exit interview on Thursday, Kerr spoke of the difficulties of breaking up great teams and said he was keen to continue working with the Warriors' 'big three'. 

    "It's rarely a storybook," Kerr said. "Even the '96 or '98 Bulls, the team was broken up and we won the championship in our last year but there was a documentary about what a disaster the whole thing was. It's impossible for this stuff to end perfectly.

    "I do think there is a lot of value to having our three guys being Warriors for life. I think there's a lot of value in ending with dignity.

    "For those three, I really want to see all of them finish their careers here, but also finish out their careers with a sense of pride and dignity in what they're doing."

    Much of the Warriors' season was overshadowed by discussions regarding Green's ill-discipline, with the forward being ejected four times in 2023-24.

    Green also missed 16 games after receiving an indefinite suspension for striking Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December, an incident that Kerr described as "unforgivable".

    However, Kerr still believes Green is worth the trouble, saying: "Yet I forgave him. He's one of the most competitive, one of the smartest players I've ever been around. 

    "Yet he makes these decisions that hurt the team, that aren't smart. So how do you reconcile all that? It's really difficult. 

    "The number one thing I would say is, if we decided he wasn't worth it then we would have moved off of him years ago. 

    "But he's worth it and he's worth it not only because of the banners that are hanging out there but because he really is a wonderful human being."

  • Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation

    Kawhi Leonard is questionable for Game 1 of the Los Angeles Clippers' playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks as he continues to be troubled by inflammation in his right knee.

    Leonard has undergone surgeries to repair damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his right knee in the last few years, having torn his ACL during a second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz in 2021.

    The six-time All-Star has not featured for the Clippers – who clinched the Western Conference's fifth seed – since the end of March, missing their last eight games of the regular season. 

    Speaking ahead of Thursday's practice session, the Clippers' president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard had work to do to make Sunday's matchup at Crypto.com Arena.

    "He's doing everything, our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play," Frank said. 

    "Progress has been made, but the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

    "There is no gamesmanship here and we're very sensitive of the fact that questions are going to be asked and want to be as transparent as possible. It's okay to say what the truth is. It's unpredictable. 

    "We're hoping it's trending in the right direction. It's a very accurate statement. When it gets to a point where he's able to play, then that's when he'll be back on the court."

    The two-time NBA champion averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds through 68 regular-season appearances in 2023-24, the former figure falling just short of his 23.8 points per game last term.

    Despite Leonard's importance to the Clippers' chances of defeating Luka Doncic and company, Frank says no risks will be taken with his fitness. 

    "In terms of where we're heading, is it possible he could play? Sure, it's possible. It's Thursday. With each day we'll know more and more," Frank said. 

    "Obviously if he's not healthy to play at a certain moment then he won't be out there. When Kawhi is healthy, he plays. 

    "Some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you've got to surrender to the things you can't."

  • Wolves v Arsenal: ‘What we still have to play for is beautiful’ – Arteta Wolves v Arsenal: ‘What we still have to play for is beautiful’ – Arteta

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta set out to remind his team that they still have something “beautiful” to play for despite their Champions League exit.

    The Gunners slipped out of UEFA’s flagship club competition in midweek when they went down 1-0 to Bayern Munich, losing 3-2 on aggregate.

    That defeat followed on from a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa last Sunday – a reverse that significantly dented Arsenal’s title hopes, with the Gunners now two points behind Manchester City who, after this weekend, will have a game in hand.

    Arsenal face Wolves on Saturday and, with City in FA Cup action, a win would see them move back to the top of the table, at least temporarily, so Arteta offered a reminder that all is not lost.

    “I can guarantee you we are fully focused on Wolves and everybody's lifted,” he said following the loss in Munich.

    “What we still have to play is beautiful and I said before, it's time to be next to our players and in this moment, not when you win 10 in a row and a draw, that's easy to prize our players and to be behind them and to say really nice things. The moment is now to be next to them.”

    On Friday, in his pre-match press conference, Arteta added: “As an experience, [the Champions League was] the best one.

    “I am now fully focused on the times ahead of us. We are now behind Manchester City and will give it a good go. The context is clear. If we win we are top of the league.”

    Wolves sit 11th, though they could do with snapping a four-game winless streak in order to get their European hopes back on track.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Wolves – Matheus Cunha

    Cunha has been involved in nine goals in his last nine Premier League games, scoring six and assisting three. His 11 goals overall this season is the fourth most by a Wolves player in a single Premier League campaign after Raul Jimenez (17 in 2019-20, 13 in 2018-19) and Steven Fletcher (12 in 2011-12).

    Arsenal – Bukayo Saka

    Saka has been involved in eight goals in his last seven Premier League away games, scoring seven and assisting one. His 13 away goal involvements overall this term (eight goals, five assists) is the most by an Arsenal player in a single Premier League campaign since Alexis Sanchez’s 20 in 2016-17.

    MATCH PREDICTION: ARSENAL WIN

    Arsenal lost a Premier League game for the first time in 2024 against Villa last time out. Since the start of last season, only twice have the Gunners suffered consecutive league defeats, doing so in May 2023 (v Brighton and Nottingham Forest) and December this season (v West Ham and Fulham).

    Wolves are winless in their last four Premier League games (D2 L2), though they have won their last two at Molineux against sides starting the day in the top two of the table, beating Man City 2-1 in September and Spurs by the same score in November.

    Arsenal have scored in their last 32 meetings with Wolves in all competitions.

    Wolves have now lost each of their last five against the Gunners, failing to score in both home defeats in that run.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Wolves – 21.5%

    Arsenal – 51.2%

    Draw – 27.3%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.