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LeBron responds to recent chatter about his game, workload

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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.

 

LeBron James dominates as the Lakers drop the Spurs in Los Angeles.

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: 

 

NBA TV discusses Bleacher Report’s recent story about LeBron James.

“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.”

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NBA

About Last Night: Legendary Lakers

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Triple-doubles are rare enough. Even rarer is the air in which two teammates accomplish the feat on the same night.

That’s what happened in Charlotte on Saturday, where LeBron James (24 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) and Lonzo Ball (16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) each logged a triple-double in L.A.’s 128-100 rout over the Hornets.

The Laker duo becomes just the eighth set of teammates in NBA history to earn triple-doubles in the same game. Jason Kidd and Vince Carter were the most recent teammates to accomplish the feat, having done so on April 7, 2007. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson did it for the Lakers in 1982.

The complete list – 

Lakers vs. Hornets, Dec. 2018: LeBron James (24 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists), Lonzo Ball (16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). 

Nets vs. Wizards, April 2007: Vince Carter (46 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists), Jason Kidd (10 points, 16 rebounds, 18 assists).

Clippers vs. Bulls, Jan. 1989: Michael Jordan (41 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists), Scottie Pippen (15 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists))

Celtics vs. 76ers, March 1987: Larry Bird 17 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists), Robert Parrish (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).

Lakers vs. Pistons, Dec. 1982: Magic Johnson (26 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks).

SuperSonics vs. Rockets, March 1969: Lenny Wilkens (36 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists), Art Harris (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).

Pistons vs. Knicks. March 1964: Ray Scott (23 points, 20 rebounds, 11 assists), Donnie Butcher (19 points, 15 rebounds, 15 assists).

Royals vs. Warriors, Jan. 1962: Oscar Robertson (28 points, 14 rebounds, 16 assists), Bucky Buckhorn (19 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists)

 

Harden heating up

 

James Harden posted yet another triple-double on Saturday.

Speaking of triple-doubles, James Harden had himself one in Houston’s 105-97 win over Memphis. The reigning Kia MVP finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, marking the seventh time in his career he had logged triple-doubles in back-to-back games.

Houston’s all-time record when Harden rings up all those double figures: 31-7.

 

Rising Suns

Devin Booker is back and maybe, just maybe, better times are ahead for the woebegone Phoenix Suns. The fourth-year guard led Phoenix to a 107-99 win over Minnesota, amassing 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

The victory gave Phoenix its first consecutive wins of the season — and their first such streak since Dec. 29, 2017.

Oh yeah, and it looks like they’ll be trading Trevor Ariza after all.

 

Get yourself a friend like…

Kyle Kuzma, who made sure LeBron didn’t resume play without addressing a flaw in his otherwise flawless beard.

 

Bulls Finnish strong

No Zach LaVine. Down 21 on the road. Normally those two factors would have made a Bulls loss a foregone conclusion.

Not this time. Lauri Markkanen spearheaded Chicago’s second-half comeback in which he and Kris Dunn (29 second-half points combined) nearly outscored the entire Spurs team (31) after halftime. In the end, it was the Bulls who wound up as unlikely victors at the Alamo.

Markkanen finished with 23 points, his second 20-point performance in nine days — with the Bulls winning both of those games.

 

A cappella only, please

Sorry, Lance, but no air guitars allowed while celebrating.

 

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Grizzlies GM Wallace dubs failed trade ‘unfathomable’

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Chris Wallace has been in the NBA since 1986. He’s seen and done a lot as a front office executive.

On Saturday, the Grizzlies’ general manager told reporters he hadn’t seen anything quite like the three-team trade between Memphis, Phoenix and Washington that ultimately fell through.

“What happened last night was unfathomable. I’ve never experienced this before,” Wallace told reporters.

The Grizzlies, Suns and Wizards had a deal in place that would have sent swingman Trevor Ariza to Washington, Kelly Oubre to Memphis and Austin Rivers to Phoenix. When reports differed as to whether the Suns were acquiring Dillon or MarShon Brooks from Memphis, however, the deal fell apart. Phoenix insisted on Dillon Brooks, while Memphis maintained it had intended to deal MarShon Brooks all along.

Neither team was willing to yield on its stated preference, leaving Phoenix and Washington to agree on a two-team trade the following day. Both Brooks, meanwhile, remain with the Grizzlies.

“That forced me to do something I’ve never done in 30-plus years working in this league with seven teams, is to drag two players out of a locker room and tell them they’ve been traded and then eventually have to come back and tell them, ‘Oh, no, you haven’t been traded,'” Wallace said.

“We ask a lot of these guys and we try to communicate with them at all times,” Wallace added. “We do not want them to know about trades from another party; we want to be the ones that tell them. We were forced to come in at that time and say something. That put us in a very difficult situation.”

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James, Ball earn triple-doubles in same game

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The meshing of LeBron James with the young Lakers now includes a significant milestone.

James and second-year guard Lonzo Ball each finished with a triple-double during the Lakers’ 128-100 rout at Charlotte on Saturday. The four-time Kia MVP finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists before sitting out the fourth quarter. Ball amassed 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists before exiting with 6:54 remaining.

The Laker duo becomes just the eighth set of teammates in NBA history to earn triple-doubles in the same game. Jason Kidd and Vince Carter are the most recent teammates to accomplish the feat, having done so on April 7, 2007. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson did it for the Lakers in 1982.

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