NBA

LeBron back to face Pacers as Lakers boosted by Schroder return

By Sports Desk May 15, 2021

LeBron James is to return to action on Saturday for the Los Angeles Lakers, while Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder are also set to play against the Indiana Pacers.

James has missed the previous six games for the defending NBA champions due to a high ankle sprain.

However, head coach Frank Vogel confirmed to the media that the four-time MVP will be involved against the Pacers in the Lakers' penultimate game in the regular season.

A win over Indiana, as well as in Sunday’s clash with the New Orleans Pelicans, and Los Angeles can rise to sixth in the Western Conference, provided the Portland Trail Blazers lose to the Denver Nuggets.

If they finish as the seventh seed, though, then they will have to go through the play-in tournament to have a chance of defending their title.

James initially missed 20 games earlier in the campaign with the injury to his right ankle that he suffered against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20.

He briefly made a comeback earlier this month, only to be sidelined again after feeling pain in his second outing back.

In the 2020-21 season, James has averaged 25 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.8 assists.

Davis sat out Wednesday's win over the Houston Rockets due to a groin issue but is available again, while Schroder has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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    De'Anthony Melton and the Memphis Grizzlies could not hide their delight after embarrassing the Oklahoma City Thunder by 73 points to set an NBA record.

    The merciless Grizzlies broke the record for the largest margin of victory in league history thanks to Thursday's devastating 152-79 triumph.

    Oklahoma City were without star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Rookie of the Year contender Josh Giddey away to the Grizzlies in Memphis.

    The Grizzlies, who were without a star of their own in Ja Morant, took full advantage as they eclipsed the 1991 Cleveland Cavaliers (68 points) for the largest winning margin.

    "Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd,'' said Melton, who put up 19 points for the Grizzlies.

    "And we did it one through 15. Everybody contributed, everybody played hard and we all got to get in the game. So, it's always a blessing.

    "We knew with [Morant] going down what we had to do. We had to step up.''

    According to Stats Perform, 152 is the most points in NBA history by a team missing a player who was leading the team in total points and assists entering the game following Morant's absence.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. picked up the slack with Morant sidelined, pouring in 27 points for the Grizzlies – who shot 62.5 per cent from the field.

    Melton, Santi Aldama (18), John Konchar (17), Dillon Brooks (11), Jarrett Culver (11), Xavier Tillman (11), Brandon Clarke (11) and Tyus Jones (10) all had double-digit points for the Grizzlies.

    Memphis, who have beaten the Thunder in four straight games for their best winning streak against the franchise since 2013-16, were also 52.8 per cent from three-point range as Jackson made six of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.

    "Franchise records are obviously great. Obviously proud of our guys that they don't think about that,'' Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said.

    "We're just motivated by what are our standards every single night. Tonight was on pretty full display both offensively and defensively.''

    Lu Dort was the pick of the Thunder players with 15 points on three-of-eight shooting in 25 minutes – Oklahoma City are now amid an eight-game losing streak.

    The Thunder (6-16) – in the process of a rebuild – were just 32.9 per cent from the floor in a forgettable display.

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    Leading scorer Booker sat out for the first time this season after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's win over the Golden State Warriors, however, the Suns were still too good for the Pistons.

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    Grizzlies in historic humbling

    The Memphis Grizzlies broke the record for the largest victory in NBA history after humiliating the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder 152-79. Memphis surpassed the 1991 Cleveland Cavaliers (68 points) for the largest winning margin thanks to their 73-point demolition. The Grizzlies were without star Ja Morant. According to Stats Perform, 152 is the most points in NBA history by a team missing a player who was leading the team in total points and assists entering the game.

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    Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer remains hopeful the calf issue that kept Giannis Antetokounmpo out of Thursday's 97-93 loss to the Toronto Raptors is only a "short-term" issue.

    Antetokounmpo was a surprise late withdrawal for the Bucks due to right calf soreness and the reigning NBA champions tasted defeat in his absence.

    Milwaukee's eight-game winning streak was snapped by the Raptors, who were fuelled by Fred VanVleet's 29 points.

    Following the warm-ups, the Bucks opted to bench NBA Finals MVP Antetokounmpo, with Pat Connaughton starting in his place.

    "Hopefully it's something very short term," Budenholzer told reporters after the defeat. "A day or two and hopefully he'll be ready to go.

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    Budenholzer added: "I think it's important but we're hopeful it's short term."

    Antetokounmpo had scored 40 points with 12 rebounds and nine assists in Wednesday's 127-125 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

    Greek superstar Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.6 points – only behind Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry entering Thursday's play, 11.8 rebounds and a career-high 6.0 assists per game this season.

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