NBA

LeBron says inspirational display in win over Bucks not fuelled by MVP snub

By Sports Desk January 22, 2021

LeBron James said he was not fuelled by his MVP snub as he scored a season-high 34 points in a Los Angeles Lakers victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks.

James also provided eight assists and claimed six rebounds in a 113-106 win for the NBA Western Conference leaders on Thursday.

Antetokounmpo, the NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year winner last season, finished with a 25-point haul but could not prevent the Bucks - third in the Eastern Conference - from slipping to 9-6.

Superstar James dismissed a suggestion he may have been out to prove a point after missing out on the MVP award last year, as the Lakers extended their franchise away record to eight consecutive wins on the road to start the season.

He told reporters: "I think you know me. I think all of you guys know me. It's never been about individual.

"It's all about the team success and that's all that matters. I can care less about that. I just try to play well and help our team win versus any opponent and that’s what it’s all about."

Lakers star Anthony Davis declared "I suck right now" after he scored 18 points, took nine rebounds, laid on six assists and came up with two blocks.

Yet James says his fellow All-Star is being too hard on himself.

"He's continuing to grow every single game. Every single film session, we kind of break those things down - what he sees on the floor," James said.

"Tonight was another example of him just seeing the other side of the floor and putting the ball on time, on target and guys knocking it down."

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    The Boston Celtics were indebted to Jrue Holiday after they moved one win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Saturday's victory against the Indiana Pacers.

    Holiday converted a three-point play with 38 seconds remaining, then made a game-saving steal as the Celtics overcame an 18-point deficit to beat the Pacers 114-111 for a 3-0 Eastern Conference finals lead.

    Indiana's Andrew Nembhard seemed set to claw the Pacers back into Game 3 late on, yet Holiday stepped across for a "trademark steal" to guide his side over the line.

    "That's a trademark steal that he always gets with the inside hand," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of Holiday.

    "He gets that a lot usually when a guy is coming down the sideline, but he got it in transition. He made a big-time play."

    As Nembhard looked to cut inside the court, Holiday suggested he always knew what was coming.

    "He's a right-hand driver," the Celtics hero said after the game, "and he'd been very, very aggressive all night."

    Nembhard managed 32 points and nine assists but even that brilliance was not enough to outsmart one of NBA's best defensive players.

    "I was trying to get a shot up," said Nembhard. "He got in front of me. I lost the ball, slipped. Turnover."

    Jayson Tatum impressed for Boston with 36 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and no turnovers in 44 minutes, yet he put all the focus on the match-winning Holiday.

    "I mean, can't speak highly enough about Jrue," said Tatum. "The ultimate teammate competitor, obviously a champion, wasn't at shootaround today, he was sick.

    "Dealing with chills and stuff like that. And we've all been there, how tough that is, to fight through it, and for him to come out there and lay it all on the line for us, make the game-winning play essentially, especially on the defensive end.

    "Jrue is just a big-time player, and he made a tremendous play."

    The Celtics can clinch their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons with a win in Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.

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    The Celtics can clinch their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons with a win in Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.

    Jayson Tatum matched his playoff career high with 36 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown added 24 points and Al Horford had 23 points with seven 3-pointers to help Boston win its sixth straight playoff game and improve to 5-0 on the road.

    Andrew Nembhard scored a career-high 32 points, but Holiday, who was questionable before the game due to an illness, stole the ball from him with 3.3 seconds remaining and Indiana down 112-111.

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    T.J. McConnell had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam added 22 points apiece for the Pacers, who played without All-NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton (left hamstring).

    His presence was sorely missed as the Celtics closed the game on a 13-2 run to send Indiana to its first loss in seven postseason home games.

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    The Indiana Pacers reportedly won't have star Tyrese Haliburton for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

    Haliburton exited in the third quarter of Thursday's 126-110 loss at Boston due to a left hamstring injury, and won't be able to play in the first game in Indianapolis, according to Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

    Thursday's defeat dropped the Pacers to 0-2 in the series.

    Haliburton experienced pain in the same hamstring earlier this season, missing 10 games in January.

    The two-time All-Star had 25 points, 10 assists and made six 3-pointers in 40 minutes in the series opener before playing only 28 minutes in Game 2. He had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting and eight assists before departing.

    With Haliburton out, the Pacers will likely again rely on Pascal Siakam for offence and need Andrew Nembhard and T.J. McConnell to step up.

     

     

     

     

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