NBA – LeBron tempers expectations ahead of first season with Lakers

UNTV News   •   September 25, 2018   •   2031

Sep 24, 2018; El Segundo, CA, USA; LeBron James answers a question during the Los Angeles Lakers media day at the UCLA Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Reuters) – Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said on Monday his new team has a long way to go before they can dethrone the reigning champion Golden State Warriors but added that he will be excited to get started when training camp kicks off this week.

Donning the iconic gold and purple Lakers jersey, the 33-year-old told reporters that just because he has been to eight consecutive NBA Finals does not mean his squad was destined to represent the Western Conference in the Finals this year.

“We’ve got a long way to go to catch Golden State,” he said of the Oakland-based Warriors, who have defeated the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in three of the last four NBA Finals, with the Cavs getting some revenge by winning the 2015-16 title.

“They can pick up right where they left off… we’re picking up from scratch,” the three-time NBA champion told a news conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo.

“We can only focus on what we can do to get better every day as a Lakers franchise and hopefully someday we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship as Golden State has done for the last few years.”

James will join a young core group of players that includes 20-year-old Lonzo Ball and 23-year-olds Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart as well as savvy veterans Javale McGee and Rajon Rondo, who like James signed with the Lakers in the offseason.

James’ left Cleveland in July after signing a four-year, $154 million which gives new life to the Lakers, a storied franchise that dominated for periods of the 1980s and 2000s but missed the playoffs in the last five seasons.

LEARNING CURVE
James, who is widely considered the best player of his generation, is expected to take on the role of a player-coach on the court, but also said he was eager to improve his own game.

“No matter where I am at in my career, I’m always at a point where I want to learn and get things from team mates and coaches,” he said.

“So I’m looking forward to seeing what we can all bring to the table and how we can all bounce ideas off one another to better our games.”

James bristled at the suggestion he may be spreading himself too thin with the many entertainment projects his SpringHill Entertainment production company is involved with and his starring role in the long-anticipated Space Jam movie.

“I’m a basketball player first. I play ball. That’s what I do, that’s what I live by,” he said.

“When I do it at the level I do it at everything else will take care of itself. As far as my businesses, those things were taking care of themselves way before I even came out here to be part of the Lakers franchise.”

The Lakers kick off their season on Oct. 18 with a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers before playing their first home game against the Houston Rockets at the Staples Center on Oct. 20.

Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ken Ferris

Magic topple Lakers again

UNTV News   •   November 26, 2018

FILE PHOTO: LeBron James (REUTERS / USA-Today)

Nikola Vucevic scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds Sunday as the visiting Orlando Magic upended the Los Angeles Lakers for the second time in eight days, earning a 108-104 victory.

The Lakers tied the game at 104 with 2:24 remaining on a pair of free throws by LeBron James, but Los Angeles missed four 3-point attempts down the stretch.

Terrence Ross made a cutting layup with 34 seconds remaining to give the Magic a 106-104 lead, and Aaron Gordon sealed the victory on a dunk with 10 seconds remaining.

Gordon finished with 17 points, while Ross had 16 as Orlando ended a two-game slide. The Magic now have four victories in their past six games.

James scored 24 points for the Lakers, who have seven victories in their last nine games, but both of those defeats came to the Magic.

After losing 130-117 at Orlando, the Lakers made a commitment to defense, holding their next three opponents to an average of 95 points per game. That defensive focus was evident early in the Sunday game as the Lakers held Orlando to 19 points in the first quarter.

The Magic, though, turned things around, starting with a 12-2 run with just under three minutes to play in the first half. Orlando held its first lead of the game at 51-49 with less than a minute to play in the second quarter before a James 3-pointer put the Lakers up 52-51 at the half.

The Magic’s surge continued in the third quarter as they opened on a 15-7 run, forcing the Lakers into eight consecutive missed shots during the stretch. Orlando held an 86-71 lead after three quarters, having limited the Lakers to 19 points in the period.

Vucevic’s 31-point performance came after he scored a season-high 36 points the first time the teams met. Two of his three games with at least 30 points this season have come against the Lakers.

D.J. Augustin scored 12 points and had nine assists for the Magic, while Jonathon Simmons added 10 points.

Kyle Kuzma scored 21 points for the Lakers, while Brandon Ingram added 17. Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball scored nine points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

—Field Level Media

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Lakers boast .500 record after win over Kings

UNTV News   •   November 12, 2018

The Lakers’ LeBron James speaks during a news conference on Monday in El Segundo, California. | USA TODAY / VIA REUTERS

The Los Angeles Lakers have a .500 record for the first time this season after a 101-86 win against the host Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

LeBron James scored 25 points for Los Angeles, which has won four of five and six of nine. The Lakers have another winnable game Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

Brandon Ingram had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma scored 11 apiece for the Lakers. Tyson Chandler had a team-high 12 rebounds off the bench in his second game since joining the Lakers.

De’Aaron Fox scored 21 points to lead Sacramento. Marvin Bagley III had 13 points off the bench and Willie Cauley-Stein had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, who had won six of eight coming in.

Kuzma made a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half to extend the lead to 53-44. Los Angeles missed its next seven shots, including three open 3-point attempts on one possession, which would have extended the lead back to double digits.

At the same time, the Kings went on a 7-0 run to get within 53-51 and they pulled as close as one point on two occasions before Lakers backup point guard Rajon Rondo capped a 10-0 run by hitting a wide-open 3-pointer for a 67-56 lead with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

The Lakers took a 76-65 lead into the fourth and Lance Stephenson sank a 3-pointer off a loose ball on the first possession, extending the lead back to 14. They soon went up by 20 on Josh Hart’s 3 with 8:01 left and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

The Lakers led by 16 midway through the second quarter before taking a 50-44 lead into the half.

James led the way with 15 points in the first half for the Lakers.

—Field Level Media

Chandler set to join Lakers after buyout

UNTV News   •   November 5, 2018

Oct 31, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (left) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler in the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

 

Los Angeles native Tyson Chandler is on the verge of signing a contract with the Lakers.

After a contract buyout freed Chandler from the final year of his contract with the Phoenix Suns, he targeted his hometown team.

“We love the fact that we’re going to get another veteran,” Lakers star LeBron James said Saturday night. “A guy who plays hard, a guy who’s very smart and another champion to add to the champions that we have in this system here today, and it adds depth in our frontcourt, which we have had trouble with at times.”

Chandler, 36, is in his 18th season, and was slated to make $13.6 million this season in the final campaign of a four-year contract with Phoenix.

The 7-foot-1 Chandler averaged 3.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in seven games for the Suns this season.

Chandler has career averages of 8.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 1,086 games with the Chicago Bulls (2001-06), New Orleans Hornets (2006-09), Charlotte Bobcats (2009-10), Dallas Mavericks (2010-11, 2014-15) New York Knicks (2011-14) and Suns (2015-18).

He was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season and played in the All-Star Game the following season.

—Field Level Media

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