James Harden and Anthony Davis headline the reserves for next month's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets will captain their respective sides – Team LeBron and Team Durant – in the 70th All-Star contest on March 7.

Nets guard and former MVP Harden has been named an All-Star for the ninth consecutive year as he headlines the Eastern Conference reserves, which also includes Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum (both Boston Celtics), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Julius Randle (New York Knicks) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic).

Brown, LaVine and Randle have earned All-Star selection for the first time in their careers.

Lakers star Davis is the pick of the Western Conference reserves, alongside 11-time All-Star Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns.

Joining the pair as reserves from the west are Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers), Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert (both Utah Jazz), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) – who is a first-time All-Star.

The All-Star Game rosters will be determined through a March 4 draft, where James and Durant will select from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference.

The 10 All-Star Game starters were unveiled last week, with Durant, Kyrie Irving (Nets) two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards) and Joel Embiid (76ers) in the Eastern Conference starter pool.

James, Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) and Kawhi Leonard (Clippers) are in the Western Conference starter pool.

76ers head coach Doc Rivers will coach Team Durant, while Quin Snyder of the Jazz will coach Team LeBron.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash expects Kevin Durant to return from injury before the NBA All-Star break.

Nets star Durant sat Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings – his fifth in succession – due to a left hamstring strain.

The All-Star Game takes place on March 7 and former MVP Durant has been named captain of the Eastern Conference team.

Brooklyn have four games remaining prior to the league halting on March 5, and Nash told reporters before the Kings clash: "We're just trying to monitor and be cautious.

"We definitely have kind of slowed things down in that respect, not putting any pressure on him, not trying to rush him back in any capacity and just make sure that we give him the right amount of time to be more than healed, to be strong and conditioned to come back to the team."

Durant is averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for the star-studded Nets this season.

The star-studded Nets (20-12) have won six consecutive games to be within half a game of Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (20-11).

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban insisted trade rumours claiming the NBA franchise are shopping star Kristaps Porzingis are "not accurate".

The trade deadline is March 25 and speculation over Porzingis has intensified amid reports the Mavericks have gauged the Golden State Warriors' interest.

Dallas acquired Porzingis in a trade with the New York Knicks in 2019, pairing him with Luka Doncic but the Latvian big man has struggled for form and fitness.

Cuban, however, denied the reports regarding 2018 All-Star Porzingis – who was the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

"It's not accurate," Cuban told The Dallas Morning News. "We have not discussed him in a trade at all. Has not happened."

Prior to Tuesday's clash with the Boston Celtics, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added: "I know Mark's denied it. I'm denying it."

Porzingis is averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for the Mavericks (14-15) this season.

The 25-year-old returned from a knee injury in January, which he sustained in October.

"He's had to play his way into shape, and it just hasn't quite been the same," said Carlisle.

"It's not an excuse thing in my mind. These are just the true facts of what's happened."

Two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol has confirmed he is heading back to Barcelona, having earlier denied reports of a return to his former team.

Gasol started his career with Barca in the 1998-99 season before entering the NBA draft three years later, selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks.

A storied stay in the United States followed, notably taking in a six-year stretch with the Los Angeles Lakers.

But Gasol has not played in the NBA since March 2019 due to a foot injury and was waived by the Trail Blazers later that year without playing a single game in Portland.

The center, now 40, has continued to discuss a potential return to action, with the suggestion of a move back to the Lakers mooted when Marc Gasol, his brother, signed for the team this season.

However, the idea of turning out for the Blaugrana once again had also appealed to Barcelona-born Gasol.

Responding to the reported move last week, Gasol wrote on Twitter: "I remain focused on my recovery and I am not ready to get back to competing just yet."

But he added he would announce any future news on his social media account, and Gasol had an update on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy to announce that I'm coming home and that I'll soon join the ranks of Barca's basketball team," Gasol said.

"I want to put my skills and experience at the disposal of the club at a key point in the season, while at the same time making progress in my physical condition and getting into the rhythm of competition.

"I'm happy to return to the club where I began, and I'm excited about this new opportunity: I hope to contribute to the first team very soon. I want to thank Barca and its technical staff for making it possible to join them."

Barcelona announced he has joined until June 30, stating on their website: "FC Barcelona is delighted that Gasol has decided to sign and return to the place that has always been his home. The club is pleased and honoured that Pau will be wearing the blaugrana colours once again."

The upcoming Olympic Games would appear to be a motivating factor in a move that seemingly ends the six-time All-Star's NBA career.

Gasol, the Rookie of the Year winner in his debut season with the Memphis Grizzlies, played 1,226 regular season games in the NBA, averaging 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 0.5 steals.

His best scoring season brought 20.8 points per game in 2006-07, his final full campaign with the Grizzlies, although he was an increased threat on the boards later in his career, with 11.8 rebounds per game with the Chicago Bulls in 2014-15.

Between starring for Memphis and Chicago, Gasol joined Kobe Bryant on two title-winning teams in LA, although he first lost in the Finals shortly after joining the Lakers in 2008.

Gasol started all 46 playoff games across their successes in 2008-09 and 2009-10, having been named to the All-NBA Third Team in the regular season on each occasion.

The Lakers star then made the Second Team with 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game the following year.

Russell Westbrook believes the Washington Wizards sticking together prevented the team from coming apart after an awful start to the NBA season. 

The Wizards continued their revival as they earned a 127-124 overtime win against defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. 

They trailed by 17 points in the second half but rallied impressively, with Westbrook racking up 32 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. 

The Wizards have now won five straight games, having previously not even put together a run of four consecutive victories since February 2018. 

Wins against the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Lakers have turned the season around. 

The Wizards started 6-17 in Westbrook's first year since his trade from the Rockets, but they are now surging ahead of another huge test at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. 

"It has been tough, but we have been sticking together," Westbrook said, per ESPN, amid the team's best run in three years. 

"That's the main thing. If you get caught up with everything else going on, teams and players tend to come apart. 

"But we have been sticking together and communicating on how to become a better team, and it's been paying off for us."

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal also shone with 33 points, including six on three straight possessions during a pivotal spell in overtime. 

"It feels different, in a great way," he said. "It feels great, but at the same time, we still haven't done a damn thing. 

"We realise that, and we keep telling each other that. 

"We've still got bad habits we need to break, but we don't discount what we did." 

LeBron James had 31 points for the Lakers, who have now lost four of their last five, with Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder out injured. 

"It takes a whole team to collectively get wins, and right now we have two of our main rotation guys out," Kyle Kuzma said after registering 14 points in the loss. 

"Obviously there are no excuses. You don't want to lose to an under-.500 team like that, but this is the NBA and anybody can win. We just have to figure it out." 

LeBron James insisted he does not believe in rest after the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a frustrating loss to the Washington Wizards.

Defending NBA champions the Lakers have lost three games in a row and four of their last five after going down 127-124 in overtime on Monday.

James missed a free-throw with 10 seconds left in regulation time and did not connect with his last four three-point attempts in the fourth quarter and OT as the Lakers surrendered a 17-point lead.

The 36-year-old played for over 43 minutes. He has not missed a game this season and has clocked up over 200 minutes more than anyone on the Lakers roster, with star team-mate Anthony Davis out injured.

James still had 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in a productive outing, but acknowledged he had not been at his best.

The Lakers (22-10) have gone to OT four times in the last 17 days, losing this one as Bradley Beal (33) and Russell Westbrook (32) combined for 65 points.

"This whole narrative of 'LeBron needs more rest' or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it's become a lot bigger than what it actually is," James told reporters after the game, per ESPN. 

"I've never talked about it, I don't talk about it, I don't believe in it. 

"We all need more rest, s***. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I'm here to work, I'm here to punch my clock in and be available to my team-mates.

"And if I'm hurt or if I'm not feeling well then we can look at it then, but I have nothing but honest people around me [advising me].

"I'm also honest with myself as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my team-mates is more important than anything.

"Obviously I take full responsibility [for] missing that free throw. I got to make the free throw up there, it's an easy point for us. 

"We didn't lose the game there, but I take that responsibility for sure, and I got to be better."

James added about his workload: "I'm not pushing myself. I'm doing my job and I'm trying to do it at a high level, but that's been a narrative around the league.

"I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it's growing to a point where it's not even coming from me anymore. I've been hearing it for five, six, seven years now and I'm still going strong. 

"So, I don't need a handout, I'm not looking for a handout, my job is to go out when I'm available, when I'm healthy to go out and play and that's what it's all about."

"It's something I've done before," James added about the packed schedule and an upcoming All-Star game. "I can continue to do it, but I would much rather us be whole."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel called James "a workhorse" and said he would make decisions about the veteran on a game-by-game basis.

A game at Western Conference leaders the Utah Jazz is next on Wednesday.

Western Conference leaders, the Utah Jazz, bounced back from their first loss in 10 games by draining a franchise-record 28 threes while crushing the Charlotte Hornets 132-110.

Donovan Mitchell top scored with 23 points, while three players – Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang – came off the bench to post 20 points or more to send the Jazz to 25-6.

Ingles and Niang each shot seven from downtown, while Clarkson added five. 

Utah became the fastest team in NBA history to record 500 three-pointers in a season, setting the record at 31 games.

Chris Finch has been announced as the new Minnesota Timberwolves head coach.

The 51-year-old, who was serving as Nick Nurse's assistant at the Toronto Raptors, has more than 24 years of NBA and G League experience.

Minnesota dismissed Ryan Saunders on Sunday after a loss to the New York Knicks saw the Western Conference's bottom-placed team slip to a 7-24 record, following only one win in their past nine games.

With a reputation as one of the most innovative minds in the game, Finch has previously worked with stars including Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden, Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson and Kyle Lowry.

After making his name in Europe and the D-League, the Ohio native was given his NBA break as an assistant in 2011 by the Houston Rockets, where he served for five years, before moving on to an associate head coach role alongside Mike Malone with the Denver Nuggets.

After one season in Colorado in 2016-17, Finch spent three years as the New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach with Alvin Gentry, before reuniting with Nurse in Toronto. Nurse was Finch's assistant with the Great Britain national team between 2009 and 2012.

"Chris brings a wealth of basketball experience from his time in the NBA, G League and Internationally," said Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

"He is one of the most creative basketball minds in the NBA, has success maximising players, and I am excited to see him bring our team to the next level and beyond."

The races for the top seeds in each conference in the NBA are getting more interesting.

It was a fascinating seven days of action in the NBA, which saw the Brooklyn Nets surge even with Kevin Durant on the sidelines.

They are on a six-game win streak and trail the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers by only half a game.

However, the Sixers can be encouraged by the form of their top two stars, who each enjoyed extremely productive weeks.

The Los Angeles Lakers are on a two-game losing streak and are two and a half games back of the Utah Jazz in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.

They will be out to get back to their best this week, and an improvement in three-point shooting from the MVP frontrunner would be beneficial to them doing that.

Here we take a look at some of the best and worst performers across the past week, aided by Stats Perform data.

RUNNING HOT...

Ben Simmons

Simmons missed two games last week due to stomach flu but he was excellent in the pair of games in which he did feature for the Sixers.

He dropped 42 points in the loss to the Utah Jazz and, after a brief spell on the sidelines, was back with 28 in the defeat to the Toronto Raptors.

His points per game average for the week ballooned to 35, Simmons having entered the week putting up 14.13. Philadelphia will need more of the same the rest of the way if the Sixers are to clinch top spot in the East.

Jamal Murray

The Nuggets are in the thick of a crowded playoff race in the Western Conference, and their hopes of reaching the postseason will be boosted if Murray can maintain his form of the past week.

Having come into the week scoring 18.54 points per game, he averaged 35 last week, with that number inflated by a stunning 50-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which saw him shoot 84 per cent from the field and go eight of 10 from three-point range.

He went from putting up just over two triples per game to averaging five and, with a game against a Portland Trail Blazers team two and a half games ahead of them in the standings next up, Murray's success from deep will be pivotal.

Joel Embiid

Arguably the closest challenger to LeBron James for the league MVP award this season, Embiid was a monster on the boards for the Sixers this week.

His 50-point game in the win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday was also the first of two successive outings with 17 rebounds. 

Embiid's rebounds per game average jumped from 10.77 entering the week to 15 over the past seven days.

He will need to continue making that kind of all-round impact in scoring and rebounding if Embiid is to have any hope of denying LeBron the MVP.

GOING COLD...

Derrick Rose

Rose's second week as a New York Knick did not go to plan.

The 2011 MVP had come into the week registering 14.28 points per game, but that dropped to just 5.33 over the course of the last three games.

He endured a dismal week from the field, hitting just five of his 27 shots. Having gotten him out of a bad situation in Detroit, the Knicks will want a lot more from Rose in the coming weeks as they look to cement their grasp on a playoff spot.

Nikola Jokic

While Murray has been outstanding for the Nuggets, their MVP candidate had a down week in one key area of his game.

Denver lost three of their four games last week, and the Nuggets will look for improved play on the boards from Jokic as they target a reversal in fortunes. 

Jokic had been recording 11.5 rebounds per game but that dipped to 8.75 over his past four outings, failing to put up double-digit rebounds in back-to-back games against the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.

He was back in double figures in each of Denver's last two games, and Jokic will aim to carry that momentum into this week and a key matchup with Portland.

LeBron James

This season has seen LeBron hit threes at his highest rate since joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

He has converted on 36.2 per cent of his attempts from beyond the arc but he suffered a decline from deep last week.

Having entered the week hitting 2.57 threes a game, he averaged just one over the course of the Lakers' last three matchups.

James has not made more than one three in a game since the second meeting in a back-to-back with the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 10.

With LeBron, though, drop-offs are only ever temporary. The MVP frontrunner should resume normal service from three-point range sooner rather than later.

Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated his impressive combination with Khris Middleton after the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

The Bucks improved to 18-13 for the season with a 128-115 victory in front of a limited crowd at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo and Middleton combined for 70 points, 26 rebounds, 10 assists and 22 free throws made. It was the first time a pair of team-mates posted such collective numbers in a single game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for the Chicago Bulls on March 28, 1990.

"It felt good. We were making the right play, we were being aggressive, finding team-mates," said Antetokounmpo.

"We've done this for eight years. We can't do it every night, but there's always going to be some glimpses, there's always going to be some nights where we're both going to feel good, both going to make the right plays, and this night was one of those nights.

"It was good to go out there and lead our team to victory.

"He was being aggressive, getting to his spots, making the right play. We need that from Kris. You could tell from the beginning of the game that he felt good.

"I know when he's feeling good, and that's the time to get the hell out of the way. It's good to play with somebody you've played with for a long time. We've done this since day one. Hopefully we can win more games and keep this going."

Antetokounmpo led the scoring with 38 points, finding the target with 19 of 24 attempts from the free-throw line – an impressive run he does not now want to jinx.

"I don't want to talk about; I don't want to jinx it! I'll just keep working hard, keep trusting my technique. I got all the calls I deserved to get, so that's why I shot 24," he said.

"I feel good right now, I keep trusting my work and hopefully, next game, I can make some more."

The back-to-back MVP was also thrilled to perform in front of fans once again, adding: "It feels amazing. I don't know how many people were out there today, but it feels amazing.

"You could feel the crowd from beginning to end. When we feel the fans out there, I promise you, we're a different team. Hopefully, game by game, more fans can get out there to support us."

The high-flying Brooklyn Nets made it six straight wins in the NBA with a 112-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Brooklyn were missing star Kevin Durant (hamstring) once again, but James Harden (37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) and Kyrie Irving (28 points and eight assists) stepped up in his absence.

The Nets held a 10-point lead at the final break but roared on by billionaire owner Steve Ballmer in the front row, the Clippers pushed hard in the last.

With the Nets leading 110-108 with 10 seconds to play, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard (29 points and 13 rebounds) was called for a tough offensive foul on former MVP Harden, spurning their final chance at victory.

The Nets have beaten all five Pacific Division teams on the road over their last 5 games. According to Stats Perform, Brooklyn are the first NBA team to beat an entire division on the road in consecutive games since the Milwaukee Bucks did so against the Pacific Division over their last five games of the 1972-73 season.

Brooklyn wrapped up a 5-0 road trip – their longest undefeated single trip in franchise history.

The Nets improved to 20-12 in the Eastern Conference – a half-game adrift of leaders the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Clippers slipped to 22-10.

James Harden warned the Brooklyn Nets are still growing after taking down Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers as they extended their winning streak to six games in the NBA.

The star-studded Nets wrapped up a 5-0 road trip – their longest undefeated single trip in franchise history – with a 112-108 victory against the Clippers on Sunday.

Former MVP Harden (37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) and star team-mate Kyrie Irving (28 points) combined to inspire the Nets in the absence of Kevin Durant (hamstring).

The Nets have beaten all five Pacific Division teams on the road over their last 5 games. According to Stats Perform, Brooklyn are the first NBA team to beat an entire division on the road in consecutive games since the Milwaukee Bucks did so against the Pacific Division over their last five games of the 1972-73 season.

"The most I'm proud of is our mindset every game, every possession," said Harden, who joined the Nets from the Houston Rockets in a blockbuster trade in January.

"We don't take our opponent lightly at all, no matter who we're playing it's the same goal. It's the same mindset and that is to go out there and help each other defensively. Offensively, take your shots when you're open and when you're not, be unselfish. And it's contagious on both ends of the floor as you can see.

"So, we're still growing, but this is a really good road trip for us and now we get the opportunity to go back home and keep playing that same brand of basketball."

The in-form Nets (20-12) are now within half a game of Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (20-11).

"I think just staying resilient with everything that's going on, not just within our league but in the world," Irving said about the Nets' winning run. "Obviously, we know how much of a privilege and blessing it is to be able to play this game every day so we just want to wish all the families at home well during these times.

"We get two hours, two and a half hours, three hours of basketball just entertaining people, so we don't take that for granted. Besides the winning streak, that's great, I just feel like it's a bigger purpose out here, so we're just having fun and we get to compete against the best. So that's why I think our resilience is probably what I'm most grateful for."

"We're all individuals, but we can hold each other to a standard where we all meet," continued Irving. "I think we've been able to communicate that in a very unique way. Steve [Nash] holds us accountable because we need to be coached. I don't know everything, everyone else on the team [doesn't], so it takes a full collective effort for us to go against these great teams.

"That's what I feel. I think he's right. I agree with him on that sentiment, but like I said, it's just a standard we can hold each other to. We want to be coached hard."

Nets head coach Steve Nash added: "A non-negotiable step in any team's aspirations is to have that resolve and toughness and connectivity. I've been saying that since day one and we're starting to see more consistent efforts. I just get a sense that our guys are coming together a little more off the floor as well.

"They're finding a bit of a bond and a joy playing together and fighting for one another and that is, other than the toughness and application I talked about, the fact that those guys have come together a little bit more, look like they like each other and want to play for each other has been the most positive part of the last six games."

The Minnesota Timberwolves fired head coach Ryan Saunders, the struggling NBA franchise announced.

Minnesota dismissed Saunders following Sunday's 103-99 loss to the New York Knicks, which left the Timberwolves with a league-worst 7-24 record this season.

The Timberwolves are reportedly finalising a multi-year deal to hire Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch.

Minnesota hired former assistant Saunders in 2019, but the 34-year-old oversaw a 43-95 record as coach.

"We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organisation and wish him the best in the future," said president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

"These are difficult decisions to make, however this change is in the best interest of the organisation's short and long-term goals."

The Timberwolves have failed to reach the playoffs in the past two seasons, while Minnesota have only featured in the postseason once – a first-round defeat in 2017-18 – since Kevin Durant led the franchise to the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04.

 

 

Zion Williamson revelled in the New Orleans Pelicans' rallying win over the Boston Celtics after the team completed their largest comeback in franchise history.

The Pelicans looked down and out against the Celtics but overturned a 24-point deficit to stun the visitors 120-115 in overtime in the NBA on Sunday.

Boston led 79-55 in the middle of the third quarter before Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart (17 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and a steal) got to work in New Orleans.

Ingram – who posted 33 points – nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with 33.3 seconds remaining in OT, while former number one draft pick Williamson scored 24 of his 28 points following half-time.

"I think it was about the will to want to win," said Williamson, who also recorded 10 rebounds, four assists and a block for the Pelicans.

"We just wanted to win. We didn't want to get blown out in our gym. We fought. We played hard. It didn't look smooth at first, but we figured it out and came up with a W."

"It was a big win for us because we stayed true to who we were," Williamson continued. "We rallied back. Everybody – coaches, players, ballboys – everybody was just engaged and we needed all that energy, and we pulled through."

Ingram added: "I think we can take away that we're really, really good when we stay together."

The Pelicans (13-17) narrowly avoided losing for the sixth time in seven games, and head coach Stan Van Gundy praised his team.

"I think the real lesson of this game for us is we beat a really good team," Van Gundy said. "We were far from perfect.

"There were a lot of things we didn't do well. But we kept fighting. Nobody dropped their heads. We were resilient. We came away with a win."

LeBron James believes he needs to adjust in the absence of Anthony Davis because his Los Angeles Lakers team-mates are already doing "their part and more".

The Lakers have gone 2-1 since Davis sustained a calf injury in the defeat to the Denver Nuggets last weekend, going down 96-94 to the Miami Heat on Saturday after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

The reigning NBA champions sit third in the Western Conference but will be without Davis for the next four weeks.

James had 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists against the Heat, while a steal on an inbounds pass for Jimmy Butler gave Alex Caruso a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but the Lakers guard missed.

By scoring at least 15 points with a minimum of five rebounds and five assists for a 31st straight game, James broke the previous NBA record of 30 in succession that he set in 2018.

However, he insisted it is on him to adapt and help get the Lakers back on track ahead of a tough stretch without Davis, who leads the Lakers in rebounds, steals and blocks.

"I think that's what it all boils down to and right now is another challenge for me, to be able to adjust," James said.

"Not having AD for a long period of time is something that we haven't had over the last year and a half, and now it's time for me to adjust again and see ways I can be even more effective to help this team win ballgames, because that is the sport that we're in.

"We're in the winning business and I've always been a winner. So, it's time to click into that."

On his team-mates, he added: "They are doing their part. They're doing their part and more. Every time we're on the floor we're trying to protect each other and bring each other up on the floor every single night.

"It doesn't matter if you're making shots or not, we're gonna hold each other accountable. Everybody's picking up in AD's absence and obviously it hasn't been in wins the last two games but we're gonna continue working our habits and continue to be great for one another."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and called on his fellow role players at the Lakers to provide James with greater support.

"I feel like the last couple games that's been happening, putting a lot on Bron. We already know what we're going to get out of him. So, all the rest of us, we've got to continue to just play hard and just play basketball and not worry about anything else," said Caldwell-Pope.

"We try to help him out as much as possible and we want to do it as perfect as possible, as we can.

"We try to help him out, we try not to make too much mistakes when we're on the floor with him or even running a play with him, just to give him some help. We do ask Bron for a lot, he gives us a lot each and every game.

"It's up to us as far as like role players and 'next man up' mentality, we've got to be ready and locked in."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.