The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of a decided surge, having won four straight games after last night’s 121-113 victory against the San Antonio Spurs. As the Lakers collected their seventh win in their last 10 games, the storyline was the same: LeBron James did the heavy lifting and set the tone in victory.
He finished with a game-high 42 points (on 15-for-24 shooting) to go with five rebounds, six assists and two steals. Over that 10-game stretch, James is averaging 29.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and shooting 53.7 percent. Still, James has heard some comments over the past week from Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson — and some comments from Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant — on how he should play his game.
After last night’s win, though, James was asked if his performance was fueled at all by the talk surrounding him of late.
“No, for what? I’m past the [taking things] personal stage,” James said after the game. “I can do whatever. I can have a huge workload, I can have a not so huge workload. … It doesn’t matter for me. What’s most important is seeing my teammates make huge shots in the fourth quarter. … That’s what’s most important to me. I can care less about the narrative about me. It doesn’t matter. I’m a staple in this game.”
In a story published by Bleacher Report on Wednesday, both Durant and now-Lakers teammate Tyson Chandler both were quoted about why some star players might perhaps be hesitant to play alongside James. Per Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, Chandler said:
“If you’ve got LeBron, you’ve got to make it all about LeBron. You’ve got to be able to [coexist] with that and fit with that. Who are you, where are you in your career, and how do you fit in? It’s a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice for winning.”
Chandler made the comments to Bleacher Report a few days before he was waived by the Phoenix Suns and then signed with the Lakers.
As for Durant, he said. “It depends on what kind of player you are. If you’re Kyle Korver, then it makes sense. Because Kyle Korver in Atlanta was the bulk of the offense, and he’s not a No. 1 option at all, not even close. So his talents benefit more from a guy who can pass and penetrate and get him open.
“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi [Leonard], trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”
Chandler said he spoke to James about his comments to Bleacher Report, which he felt were taken out of context.
“What I said was, when you have a great player like LeBron, I said I’ve only played with one other player like that, and like Dirk, you have to make it about them because of how talented they are and where they can lead you,” Chandler told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “And of course all of that wasn’t put in. It was just, ‘When you have a player like LeBron you got to make it about LeBron,’ or something like that. However it read. But that wasn’t the full statement.
“And I just think I don’t like when negative articles come out like that, even if it’s not about my teammate, but about my teammate, somebody who carries teams the way he does, I just think we’re nitpicking. We’re trying to find something negative about something that’s great instead of just leaving it alone.”
As for Durant’s comments, James said he wanted to instead see what the reigning Finals MVP said in full.
“I would love to see the whole transcript of what was asked of him, the context it was asked of him, why it was asked and the whole thing,” James said. “So I’m not gonna comment on it because I don’t know the whole thing. That would be stupid on my part. I’m a veteran.”
About Last Night: Commemorating MLK
The NBA’s annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day took center stage on Monday, with generational connections brought to the fore and players coming together to share personal memories and meaningful moments across the league.
Doncic second teenager to record triple-double
With 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Mavs’ 116-106 loss in Milwaukee, Luka Doncic became the second-youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. Donic, who turns 20 next month, joins Markelle Fultz as the only teenagers to accomplish the feat.
Fultz was 10 days younger when he collected 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on the final day of the the 2017-18 season, also against the Bucks.
Youngest NBA Players To Record Triple-Doubles
• Markelle Fultz, 76ers — 19 years, 317 days
• Luka Doncic, Mavericks — 19 years, 327 days
• Lonzo Ball, Lakers — 20 years, 15 days
• LeBron James, Cavs — 20 years, 20 days
• Dennis Smith Jr., Mavs –20 years, 34 days
• Lamar Odom, Clippers — 20 years, 65 days
• John Wall, Wizards –20 years, 65 days
• Magic Johnson, Lakers — 20 years, 75 days
Donic was in no mood to celebrate after the game. “I played bad for sure,” he said. “I didn’t feel good. I am happy for my triple-double, but I would prefer a win for sure and I didn’t play good at all. I missed some shots that I shouldn’t miss.”
Doncic is leading all rookies in scoring (20.0) points per game, is third in rebounds (6.7) and second in assists at 5.1.
Report: Rockets trade Carmelo Anthony to Bulls
The Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations to the Chicago Bulls, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash to the Chicago Bulls, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019
Anthony reportedly will be waived by the Bulls and become a free agent if he clears waivers.
Anthony won’t play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers. https://t.co/Oo2IA0nsJP
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019
Anthony and the Rockets agreed to part ways in mid-November after the team’s slow start to the season. The 10-time All-Star played just 10 games for Houston after signing a one-year, $2.4 million deal during the offseason.
The Rockets reportedly will sign Kenneth Faried with the open roster spot.
Anthony was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks last July before the Hawks released him to clear the way for him to sign with the Rockets.
Houston thought he could be the piece it needed to finally get past Golden State and win its first championship since back-to-back titles in 1994-95. Instead the Rockets limped out to a 6-7 start and the emergence of undrafted rookie Gary Clark made it appear that Anthony would have to take a reduced role.
In the end the Rockets decided it would be better to move on than to force Anthony to do that.
“We just had to see how things worked out,” D’Antoni said at the time. “And the way we play probably wasn’t conducive to his game and he was trying to make the necessary sacrifices and it wasn’t fair to him as a Hall of Fame player to play in a way that wasn’t good for him, wasn’t good for us. It just wasn’t a fit.”
The 34-year-old Anthony has had a tough time over the last two seasons. He averaged a career-low 16.2 points in 78 starts in a tumultuous season for the Thunder last season before coming to Houston — and accepting a reserve role for the first time in his 16-year career.
Eight of Anthony’s 10 appearances for the Rockets came off the bench after he had started all 1,054 games he’d played in his first 15 NBA seasons.
D’Antoni said he feels for Anthony that things ended this way and made it clear that it wasn’t a matter of Anthony not having the right attitude in Houston.
“In the summer we tried to hit a home run and it didn’t work out,” D’Antoni said. “He tried everything he could. He was great while he was here. It just didn’t work out for whatever reason. I just thank him for his professionalism. It was good. He tried everything he could to make it work and it just didn’t work out.”
The third overall pick in the 2003 draft has averaged 24 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists in a career that also included stints with the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks.
Anthony sat out Houston’s last three games with what the team called an illness. His last appearance for Houston came in a blowout loss to Oklahoma City on Nov. 8 when he had two points and five rebounds.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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