No player in NBA history has spent more minutes on the court than LeBron James, but the latest record means nothing to the Los Angeles Lakers star.

That is because it came in what was James' heaviest career defeat – a 138-94 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

In his 21-year NBA career, James' previous worst loss came by 42 points in a 136-94 reverse to the Indiana Pacers in February 2019.

As Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the Sixers' rout, James accumulated another 30 minutes on the court.

That took his career total, across both regular season and postseason games, to 66,319 minutes in his career, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 66,297 minutes.

But the record was of little solace to the 38-year-old, who told reporters: "That doesn't mean much to me."

Asked about what the Lakers need to do to ensure heavy defeats do not become a common occurrence, James said: "What needs to change in order for that not to happen again? Um, a lot.

"I don't know how a team [should respond]. I can only speak for myself, and I don't like it."

James' teammate Anthony Davis said: "Feel like we just weren't together. A lot of quick shots, one-pass shots, no-pass shots.

"They started making a lot of shots. And when their lead kind of opened up a little bit – 15, 20, 25 – I think we all tried to be the hero to make the team come back instead of just sticking with it.

"We've got to look at it, embrace it, own it. Guys don't take it personally for whatever's said in the film, and then move on from it."

It was a bad day for both Los Angeles teams, with the Clippers also losing. 

They went down 104-113 to a Denver Nuggets team that was shorn of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.

Former Laker Russell Westbrook became embroiled in a debate with a fan.

"I mean, it's unfortunate," Westbrook said.

"Fans think they can say whatever they want. I'm not going to say [what was said] now because it's not appropriate, but I'm just protecting myself.

"It's just unfortunate fans think they can get away with saying anything and, personally, I won't allow it. I've [taken] a lot of people saying anything and getting away with it, but I won't stand for it."

Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a 138-94 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, giving LeBron James the most lopsided loss of his 21-year NBA career.

Tyrese Maxey complemented Embiid's sixth career triple-double with 31 points and eight assists, and the 76ers dominated from the 3-point line to also record their largest margin of victory in 290 all-time regular-season meetings with the Lakers.

James' previous worst loss came by 42 points, a 136-94 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 5, 2019, in his first season with the Lakers. The NBA's all-time leading scorer finished with 18 points and five assists but failed to register a rebound.

Philadelphia finished 22 of 46 from 3-point range compared to 7 of 28 for Los Angeles, which trailed by double digits since late in the first quarter and were outscored by a whopping 40-14 margin in the fourth despite the 76ers resting Embiid and fellow starters Tobias Harris and De'Anthony Melton the entire period.

Anthony Davis ended with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who have dropped two of three since a 6-1 stretch from Nov. 10-21.

Nuggets handle Clippers despite Jokic resting

DeAndre Jordan filled in well for a resting Nikola Jokić as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 113-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Jordan posted 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists starting in place of Jokic, who was held out with Denver playing for the second consecutive night. Reggie Jackson had 13 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nuggets back from an 11-point deficit to start the period.

Jackson, who spent parts of four seasons with the Clippers before being traded away in February, added 13 assists. Jordan played his first 10 NBA seasons with Los Angeles from 2008-18.

The Nuggets trailed 88-77 after three quarters before outscoring the Clippers by a 36-16 margin in the fourth. They went ahead for good when Jackson capped a 15-2 run to start the period with a short floater that gave Denver a 92-90 lead with under 7 1/2 minutes left.

Los Angeles, which had won four of five following a 3-7 start, went just 4 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter and got just six points on 2-of-13 shooting from star Paul George.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 31 points and eight rebounds, while Ivica Zubac recorded 23 points and 14 boards. 

Wizards halt nine-game losing streak, extend Pistons' skid to 14

Kyle Kuzma compiled 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Washington Wizards to a 126-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of the NBA's two worst teams.

Washington, which entered the game with an identical 2-14 record to Detroit, halted a nine-game losing streak. The Pistons have now lost 14 consecutive games, tied for the longest skid in franchise history within a single season.

The Wizards led by just one early in the third quarter before Kuzma took over, as the veteran forward scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting for the period to help extend Washington's advantage to 94-83 entering the fourth.

Washington maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way while shooting 50.6 per cent from the field for the game. Deni Avdija and Danilo Gallinari each contributed 16 points to the victory.

Cade Cunningham led Detroit with 26 points and seven assists, while Jalen Duren finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.



LeBron James says he "will never forget" his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers after his 22 points helped the Los Angeles Lakers to defeat his former team on Saturday.

James has not always enjoyed an easy relationship with Cavaliers fans, acrimoniously leaving in 2010 after Cleveland drafted him back in 2003, controversially leaving for the Miami Heat.

Having won two NBA championship with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and won over the Cavaliers fans by helping them to a first ever title before departing again in 2018.

James went on to win a fourth NBA Championship with the Lakers, and he scored 22 points as his team went into Cleveland and took a 121-115 victory on Saturday.

The four-time MVP received a warm reception from the home crowd, and after the game he reflected on his "special" time with the Cavaliers, who play close to James' hometown of Akron, Ohio.

"It's just special," James said. "It's very special to be a kid from Akron.

"I grew up 30 miles south of here and to be able to be drafted here and spend my first seven years here and do some special things that the franchise had never seen.

"When I was drafted, I said I wanted to light this place up like Vegas. So I feel like I did a decent job of doing that when I was here for my 11 years.

"Stepping back on this floor is always a pretty cool feeling, looking up there and pretty much being a part of all of the banners in this arena. The one that sits in the middle was that [20]16 championship, so that's pretty cool.

"[I] spent 11 years here and being able to come back after my Miami stint and win a championship here for this franchise, for this city, I think it was a 52-year [title] drought or something like that in the city of Cleveland for any sports team, I think that was just something that I will never forget no matter how old I get. I'll always remember that moment."

Darvin Ham celebrated a "great step in the right direction" for the Los Angeles Lakers as they secured their place in the quarterfinals of the NBA's in-season tournament.

Anthony Davis had a double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds, while LeBron James contributed 17 points to tick over 39,000 for his career, in Tuesday's 131-99 win over the Utah Jazz.

That victory moved the Lakers to 4-0 for the in-season tournament, as they sealed their progression from the group having defeated the Jazz, the Phoenix Suns, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers are now guaranteed a home quarterfinal on either December 4 or 5.

"A great, great step in the right direction in us not only securing anything for the in-season tournament but just us coming together and constantly trying to get better at being together and playing the right way," said coach Ham.

There is plenty on the line in the latter stages of the tournament. Each player who makes it to the semi-final stage is guaranteed $100,000. The players on the team that finishes runner-up will get $200,000 each, while the winning team will be entitled to $500,000 per player.

"It's not a run-of-the-mill regular-season game," Ham added.

"They're well aware. That purse is pretty attractive. Guys like money. Not like it, they love it. That incentive right there, it's huge."

For Davis, a home tie is the biggest bonus first and foremost.

"Being home and able to sleep in our beds, not having to travel, that's always good when you play well at home," he said.

"Kind of a rocky start on the road so this helps us out, having our fans behind us. But it feels good. One step closer to winning the cup."

The Indiana Pacers also booked their place in the last eight, with Tyrese Haliburton scoring 37 points and providing 16 assists in a 157-152 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

"It is exciting," Haliburton said of advancing to the quarterfinals. "We are the first team to clinch, and we are ready to go.

"We have a few more games before the quarterfinals, so we want to take care of what is in front of us first, but we want to win the championship, of course. It would be awesome."

LeBron James knows it is him "vs Father Time" as he looks to prolong his illustrious career at the highest level.

James had 37 points as the Los Angeles Lakers edged out the Houston Rockets 105-104 on Sunday.

The veteran sunk the winning 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and move the Lakers to 8-6 for the season.

While James knows he is entering the last stretch of his incredible career, the 38-year-old wanted to offer up a reminder of his quality.

"Sometimes you need to remind folks," James said after the game.

"Just trying to push the limit. See how far I can take this thing. I don't know. I mean, it's me vs Father Time."

James, though, stressed he is feeling sharper than in recent seasons, saying he is over a long-standing foot injury.

"I have been able to be on the court a lot more during off days this year because of past injuries the last couple years with my foot or whatever the case may be," James told ESPN.

"So to be able to hone in on everything that I need to do instead of having to get off my foot, unless we're playing games has allowed me to stay in rhythm.

"I got my bounce back, my spring back, my quick twitch back and things of that nature."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham added of James: "He was outstanding. The LeBron we've all come to know and love over these 21 years."

James is averaging 26.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game this season.

LeBron James is questionable for the Los Angeles Lakers' home game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday after suffering a left calf contusion, the team have announced.

James sustained the injury during the first quarter of Friday's 122-119 in-season tournament road win over the Phoenix Suns, taking a blow from Kevin Durant's knee as he drove to the basket.

The NBA's all-time leading points scorer received treatment on the bench, but composed himself to finish with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as Los Angeles ended a three-game losing run.

However, James was seen limping after the win, which brought the curtain down on the Lakers' four-game road stretch, and he subsequently told reporters his shin was sore.

 "It never loosened up," James said of his shin after Friday's game. 

"[It] pretty much locked up right then and there. So I tried to keep my composure, make sure I was okay and try to keep it stretched out and as loose as possible and play the game and be effective.

"[It's] pretty sore right now. Obviously because the adrenaline is calming down and I've iced it, now it's pretty sore."

James was listed as questionable on the Lakers' injury report ahead of Portland's visit to Arena, while Anthony Davis and Jaxson Hayes were deemed as probable.

Injuries have hampered Los Angeles during an underwhelming start to the season, with Friday's victory lifting them to 4-5 after a run of three successive road losses against the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Houston Rockets.

LeBron James blamed injuries for the lack of cohesion which has characterised the Los Angeles Lakers' inconsistent start to the NBA season after Wednesday's blowout loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers fell to 3-5 for the season, and 0-3 on their current four-game road stretch, at Toyota Center as the Rockets claimed their fourth successive victory, triumphing 128-94.

James managed 18 points, six rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes on court, being rested for the entire fourth quarter with the game already out of reach for the visitors.

Los Angeles has been hamstrung by fitness concerns all season, with Anthony Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaxson Hayes, Gabe Vincent and Jalen Hood-Schifino all sitting out Wednesday's loss.

Those selection issues have made it difficult for the NBA's all-time leading points scorer to assess the Lakers' up-and-down start to 2023-24.

"I don't have an assessment," James said after the game. "I mean, we can't build cohesion if we don't have our unit.

"It's that simple. It's just, we're very depleted on the injury side."

Los Angeles are reportedly hopeful Davis will return for Friday's game against the Phoenix Suns, which will bring the curtain down on the Lakers' difficult road stretch as well as serving as their first group-play game of the new in-season tournament.

Head coach Darvin Ham acknowledged the Lakers are going through a tough period, though he also said the team can't afford to feel sorry for themselves. 

"We're juggling different circumstances, guys being in and out of the lineup," Ham said. "But at the end of the day, no one is going to feel sorry for you, especially when you're a Los Angeles Laker."

Point guard D'Angelo Russell added: "I think we just need to relax and figure out the root of where we're going to start trending in the right direction.

"I think getting healthy is one. Two, just playing for one another. I think that's the start, having that mentality where we're going to play for each other and make things easier for each other."

LeBron James believes he would have become one of the all-time NBA greats regardless of his spell with the Miami Heat.

James spent four years with the Heat between 2010 and 2014.

During that time, he became a two-time NBA champion, two-time league MVP and two-time Finals MVP.

The 38-year-old credits his time in Miami with introducing him to a new culture, but he feels he would have been the same player regardless.

"I think I would still be at this level no matter if I would've came here or not," James told ESPN ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Heat on Monday.

"Let's not get it twisted. The four years I was here, it was amazing. I loved everything about it. Loved this franchise, this franchise is top tier, it's one of the best franchises in the world.

"But as far as my career, my career was going to be my career as far as individually, because I know how much I put into the game and I know how much I strived to be as great as I can be. [But] as far as what I was able to learn here was second to none, that's for sure.

"I came here for one reason and one reason only, and that was to win championships. That was my only goal. That was the only reason I teamed up with [Dwyane] Wade and [Chris] Bosh.

"Because I felt like I couldn't do it in Cleveland. So I had an opportunity to be a free agent so I did what I thought was best, not only for my career but for me at that point in time."

So, what did James learn in south Florida?

"It was a culture change for me," James said. "People talk about 'Heat Culture'. It was a culture change, period.

"I was changing everything about my life for the first time in my life. To be able to be here and be able to learn and be alongside D-Wade, UD [Udonis Haslem] and Spo [Erik Spoelstra], those guys who had won it already, it definitely was great to be a part of, for sure."

James scored a game-high 30 points on Monday against the Heat, but he could not guide the Lakers to victory, with Bam Adebayo's triple-double and Jimmy Butler's 28 helping Miami win 108-107.

LeBron James urged the Los Angeles Lakers to improve as his injury-hit side were blasted away by the Orlando Magic, who were inspired by Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

The Lakers' seven-game winning streak against the Magic came to an abrupt end as Los Angeles were outclassed in a 120-101 road defeat on Saturday.

Wagner led the Orlando charge with 26 points, one more than the impressive Banchero, while rookie Anthony Black scored 10 on his first Magic start.

Hosts Orlando were without injured guards Markelle Fultz (knee) and Gary Harris (groin), yet it was Los Angeles' James who bemoaned fitness issues hampering his team.

"That's definitely been our trend – offensive rebounds and points off turnovers," said James, who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

"We'll do a good job of getting a stop and then an offensive rebound allows them to score.

"It definitely helps when you have bigger bodies. We have three of our bigger bodies out right now with injuries.

"It would help, but that's definitely one of the ways we have to look at to get better."

Anthony Davis was a rare bright spark, managing 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for the Lakers, who were without five injured players for the road game.

Los Angeles played without Rui Hachimura (concussion protocol), Taurean Prince (knee), Gabe Vincent (knee), Jalen Hood-Schifino (knee) and Jarred Vanderbilt (knee).

However, injuries were no excuse for Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham.

"They're down bodies, we're down bodies and so the game basically comes down to mental approach," added Ham. "Their energy, their effort, they outworked us."

Just five days after a 106-103 reverse in Los Angeles, Banchero suggested the victory shows his Magic side can compete with any side in NBA.

"We don't look at any other team and think we can't match up," said last season's NBA Rookie of the Year Banchero, who went on to laud the performance of Black.

"Plus-32 for my dawg right here. Plus-32 is nuts. He just stepped up right away."

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley echoed Banchero's sentiment on Black, adding: "He wasn't afraid. He embraces moments, and he's willing to make the easy play, the easy pass and the right decision."

LeBron James and D'Angelo Russell feel the Los Angeles Lakers are "figuring it out" after they battled to a win over the Orlando Magic.

The Lakers improved to 2-2 with a 106-103 home win over the Magic on Monday, a night after they had suffered a gruelling overtime defeat on the road against the Sacramento Kings.

Coach Darvin Ham had considered resting James for the second half of their back-to-back, but he played for another 33 minutes despite ankle soreness, contributing 19 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.

Anthony Davis impressed again with 26 points and 19 rebounds, while Russell scored 12 of his 28 points in the final 12 minutes to see off a determined Magic (1-2) team.

"What you guys see is a team figuring it out," Russell, who also had eight assists, said after the game, per ESPN. 

"This isn’t the product that it will be in a month or two from now. 

"Every game matters. Every clutch situation matters. Every practice matters. So we are figuring it out."

LeBron was similarly optimistic after the Lakers moved to 2-0 at home, with a big game against city rivals the Clippers – who are bringing in James Harden – up next.

"We’re going to continue to get better," said the 38-year-old. "I think we’re still a little trying to figure it out, which is OK. 

"We’re four games in. We’re going to get a lot better throughout the season, but so far we like some of the things we see."

Davis was impressed to see the Lakers pull out the win even with tired legs after their loss to the Kings.

"It just shows a resiliency that we have as a team, but also knowing that if we get in those situations, we know what to do," Davis said. 

"Guys are not rushing shots or making bad plays. Just doing what we need to do for our teammates."

Gary Harris Jr. scored 17 points and hit all five of his 3-point attempts for the Magic, who will have the chance to gain revenge when these two teams play each other again in Orlando on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the NBA, Kings guard De'Aaron Fox – who impressed with 37 points against the Lakers – has been ruled out of Wednesday night's game at the Golden State Warriors with an ankle sprain.

And Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo was forced to miss his team’s 122-114 defeat at the Milwaukee Bucks due to a bruised hip.

The Milwaukee Bucks will be "tough to stop" in the Eastern Conference race this season after pairing star point guard Damian Lillard with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

That's according to former Buck Michael Carter-Williams, who believes the Boston Celtics may emerge as Milwaukee's closest rivals after picking up Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis.

After 11 years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard joined the Bucks in a huge three-team trade in the offseason.

He made an immediate impact as Milwaukee began their 2023-24 campaign with a 118-117 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

Lillard finished with a record-breaking 39 points on his Bucks debut, surpassing Terry Cummings' 34 points on his first outing for the team back in 1984, while Antetokounmpo added 23 points and 13 rebounds.

With those two stars linking up, free agent Carter-Williams – who represented Milwaukee between 2015 and 2016 – expects his former team to enjoy an exciting season.

"They're both amazing players. The things that they do on the court are tough to stop," Carter-Williams – who will play in the G League in Mexico City as he awaits an NBA offer – told Stats Perform.

"You put those two together, it's a tough combination, and they're immediately one of the best combos in the league. 

"It's going to be interesting to see what they can do and like I said, they're both huge talents so they're going to be tough to stop."

Carter-Williams was surprised to see Lillard land in Milwaukee, but he says the team had to do everything possible to secure him in the huge trade. 

"I was shocked," he said. "I didn't see that coming, I thought it was going to be Miami or Toronto, or there was one other team in the mix.

"I didn't see him going into Milwaukee, but the trade made sense. Obviously, it's tough to give up Drew [Timme] but when you're getting a guy like Damian, I think anybody besides Giannis is liable to get traded."

After Antetokounmpo was taken by the Bucks as the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, Carter-Williams had the chance to play alongside him during his formative years. 

Reflecting on his time as a team-mate of Antetokounmpo, Carter-Williams said: "It was great, especially seeing him play early on in his career and watching his development.

"Every day, you could see him slowly getting better and better and just to watch his work ethic… he's an unbelievable person. 

"He's a better person than he is a basketball player and I think that's what makes him unique. 

"Watching him play has been great, as a friend, as a fan, as a team-mate, it's been awesome to see."

Milwaukee's offseason moves have seen them touted to improve on 2022-23, when they topped the East but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

Boston also went down to Miami in the playoffs after finishing second in the East, and they have subsequently strengthened by adding former Bucks guard Holiday and Porzingis from the Washington Wizards.

Carter-Williams expect last season's top two to battle for supremacy in the Eastern Conference again, saying: "I like the Bucks and the Celtics in the East. 

"The Celtics getting Porzingis and Jrue are two huge pickups for them. I like them coming out of the East, in the West, we'll see how things shake up. 

"I think if Anthony Davis and LeBron [James] can be healthy, I think they [the Los Angeles Lakers] are a tough team, they have built a nice little roster over there.

"Then there's Denver, who you can't count out, they got [Nikola] Jokic and they just won it so I think those two are at the top in the West."

The Celtics moved to 2-0 for the season by beating Miami 119-111 on Friday, with Holiday and Porzingis finishing with 17 points apiece. 

LeBron James said it was an "easy" decision to play beyond a planned limit to his gametime after helping the Los Angeles Lakers to Thursday's come-from-behind victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers had planned to limit James' time on court to around 30 minutes per game in the early stages of the season, with the NBA's all-time leading scorer having missed a total of 111 games since joining the team in 2018, most of them through injury. 

James played just 29 minutes – well below his 2022-23 average of 35.5 per game – as the Lakers began the new season with a 119-107 defeat against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.

Head coach Darvin Ham suggested that would become the norm, but with the Lakers trailing the Suns by 12 points going into the fourth quarter, he was forced to rethink that plan.

Following a conversation with Ham, the four-time NBA champion played the entire fourth quarter and led the Lakers to a 100-95 victory, ensuring they avoided a 0-2 start to 2023-24.

James ended the game with 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 35 minutes, and he had no hesitation in staying out there to get Los Angeles back in the contest. 

"He [Ham] asked me if I could go the [whole] quarter, and I looked at the time and the score and what was going on in the game, and it was an easy answer for myself," James said after the win.

"I know how much work I've put in to be able to play quarters or whatever the case may be.

"I understand that we definitely have a system in place, but tonight called for me to go outside the box."

The Lakers outscored Kevin Durant's Suns 28-11 in the fourth, with James racking up 10 points alone, vindicating Ham's decision to leave the 38-year-old on the floor.

"We were dragging our feet there for the better part of the first half, and things weren't clicking," Ham said. "He [James] has that spirit, that intensity to put the team on his shoulders. 

"I had timeouts to play with, so I went to him, I said, 'How we feeling? What do we want to do?' 

"He answered my question and you guys saw the results. So we used a couple of our timeouts to get him some breathers."

James' team-mate Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 30 points after going scoreless through the second half against Denver last time out. 

That performance led to Davis receiving fierce criticism from some quarters, but James made it clear that Los Angeles were not affected by the noise surrounding the eight-time All-Star.

"We don't give a s*** about criticism of AD," James said. "We don't care. Nothing bothers us. AD doesn't care. I don't know if guys have figured that out. 

"AD does not care. He's not on social media, so he doesn't see none of it. He rarely talks, unless it's to us, so we don't give a s*** about it, and he definitely doesn't. 

"He just goes out and does his job, and we're happy to have AD."

LeBron James may have lost some explosiveness due to his injury struggles, but Andre Drummond believes the NBA's all-time leading scorer is as good as ever and can excel again this season.

James and the Los Angeles Lakers began their 2023-24 campaign with a defeat on Tuesday, with the Denver Nuggets opening their first-ever NBA title defence with a 119-107 win.

The four-time NBA MVP scored a team-high 21 points while shooting 10-of-16, also adding five assists and eight rebounds, but his limited time on court was the major talking point after the game.

James played just 29 minutes in Los Angeles' 2023-24 opener, with the team looking to manage his workload over the coming weeks after he missed 27 games with a foot injury last season.

With James into his 21st season in the league, Drummond – who played alongside the 38-year-old during a brief spell with the Lakers in 2021 – says his game may have changed, but not necessarily for the worse.

Asked what fans should expect from James this season, Drummond told Stats Perform: "Well, if he's anything like he's been the past couple of years, I guess the same thing.

"He's still averaging 25 points, still playing 30-plus minutes, and it looks like he hasn't slowed down. Well, I feel like he's lost a step, but he's still him, he's still him at the end of the day. 

"He's still the same player, he's still able to be aggressive and get to the basket. 

"Is he dunking over people all the time as he used to? No. But is he playing smarter now? Yeah, I think he's still just as good.

"LeBron James has been special for the NBA from the first day he came in, the amount of things that he's done for the community, not only just for basketball, but for his community and for every city he's been in… you have to respect the guy that does that."

Reflecting on his time as a team-mate of LeBron's, Drummond said the opportunity to see how the four-time NBA Champion prepared for games was invaluable.

"He's somebody I got a chance to play alongside, so to have that opportunity to see his greatness up close is something I didn't take for granted," Drummond said.

"It puts a lot in perspective, because when you see this guy do the things he does in games, you're like, 'I wonder what he does when he's not playing'. 

"I always talk about preparation with guys and his preparation, what he does and how he takes care of his body, how hard he works each and every day, really shows why he's one of the best players to step on this court.

"I just have a lot of respect for him. It was an honour for me to be alongside him and see him be him. I wish we got more time together, but it was definitely excellent playing alongside him.

"I asked him what he does with his body because I'm in year 12 now, and obviously your body starts to break down, you start feeling it more when you get hurt, it lasts a little bit longer. 

"I've been blessed to not be hurt severely. I've had bumps and bruises but nothing crazy. 

"I definitely asked him what he does when he's not playing, how he takes care of his body and some of the things he does to keep himself engaged when he's not on the court."

James is the oldest player in the NBA. The Lakers star will now have his eye on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record for the highest scoring average managed by the league's oldest player in any season (23.4 points in 1985-86, when Abdul-Jabbar turned 39).

While 30-year-old center Drummond clearly respects James' longevity, he will only continue his own career for as long as he feels able to make a valuable contribution.

"Playing as long as I have now is a blessing," Drummond added.

"I feel like I'm going to play as long as I can, until I just feel like I don't need to anymore, or I'm not as serviceable. 

"I don't want to be someone that isn't playing, I have a family that I would rather hang out with than sit on the bench. I'll play until I'm not playing any more, or I'm not being played any more."

LeBron James understands the Los Angeles Lakers' plan to manage his time on court in the coming weeks, with head coach Darvin Ham hoping it gets the best out of the four-time NBA MVP.

James played just 29 minutes as the Lakers opened their 2023-24 campaign with a 119-107 defeat to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, with Nikola Jokic recording his 106th career triple-double for the reigning NBA champions.

Four-time NBA champion James added five assists to his team-high 21 points, but he saw his gametime limited despite the Lakers remaining competitive until late on, cutting Denver's lead to three points in the fourth quarter.

The 38-year-old averaged 35.5 minutes per game last season, his second-highest figure in five years with the Lakers, though that appeared to take its toll as he missed 27 games with a right foot injury.

James has missed a total of 111 games since joining the Lakers in 2018, most of them due to injury. While the NBA's all-time leading scorer always wants to be involved, he understands the benefits of managing his workload.

"Listen, I always want to be on the floor, especially when you've got an opportunity to win a game or you feel like you can make an impact," James said after Tuesday's defeat.

"But this is the system in place, and I'm going to follow it."

Asked whether he was surprised by his limited time on court, James clarified: "No, I'm not surprised. I talked to the coach and we had a game plan going into Game 1. I'm not surprised or upset."

With James approaching his 39th birthday and the likes of Anthony Davis, D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura providing the Lakers with depth, coach Ham says fans should expect more of the game.

"It's easy with him to get caught up in the emotion of the game, and you tend to forget you want to play these long stretches," Ham said of James.

"But in order for him to be as effective as possible, we have to be mindful of the minute output and how long his stretches are.

"It's going to be a day-by-day process, gauging how he's feeling, getting communication from him, our training staff, our medical staff."

Despite the defeat, James was satisfied with aspects of his own performance and does not believe he needs to adjust his game to the new role.

"Besides the fact that we didn't win, I think my performance and what I did individually in the time that I was out there… I think I was productive," James said.

"I mean, I was a plus-7 for the game. No turnovers. I like the no turnovers more than anything."

The Lakers are back in action on Thursday, with the Phoenix Suns visiting Arena.

The NBA champion Denver Nuggets picked up right where they left off, opening their 2023-24 season with a dominant 119-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Just as he did in Denver’s Finals series victory against the Miami Heat, Nikola Jokic was at his brilliant best for the home team, orchestrating the Nuggets’ performance behind a 29-point triple-double.

Denver exploded out of the gates to open a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter, before LeBron James helped the Lakers claw their way back to within 10 by half-time.

However, the Lakers struggled to compete with James off the floor, Denver ultimately coasting to a 12-point win.

Jokic added 13 rebounds and 11 assists to his game-high points total, while James top-scored for Los Angeles with 21, despite only playing 29 minutes.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant was successful in his first trip back to Golden State since leaving the team in 2019, helping the Phoenix Suns defeat the Warriors 108-104.

Both teams traded massive momentum swings and substantial leads throughout the game before the Warriors nabbed a slight advantage as the clock ticked into the final five minutes.

But Devin Booker was able to reclaim the lead for Phoenix with a go-ahead layup and later sunk a crucial three to get the Suns over the line.

He finished with 32 points, while Durant contributed 18.

Steph Curry top-scored for Golden State with 27, while former Sun Chris Paul finished with 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists in his Warriors debut.

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