James relishes play-in tie with in-form Warriors
LeBron James scored 25 points as Los Angeles Lakers easily beat the shorthanded hosts New Orleans Pelicans 110-98 yesterday morning (Singapore time), but it wasn’t enough to get the Lakers directly into the play-offs.
The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets 132-116 to earn the sixth seeding ahead of the Lakers, who finished seventh and will meet Stephen Curry’s eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors next in the play-in tournament.
“We just go to play to the best of our ability,” said James. “We got to play Laker basketball. We are playing the MVP of our league in Steph. We got to be ready for the opportunity and the pressure.”
James exited the game with six minutes left to rest his sore right ankle that had sidelined him for 26 games, but insisted that he will be fine.
Over in San Francisco, Curry earned his second NBA scoring title as the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 113-101.
Curry racked up 46 points to finish the regular season with a 32-point scoring average, claiming the award over Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, who amassed 31.3 points per game.
“I had a lot of good looks all night,” Curry said. “We were in sync. The guys set great screens for me.”
The 33-year-old, who won his first scoring title in 2016, has become the second NBA player to win a scoring title after turning 33, after Michael Jordan.
In the play-in tournament, the seventh and eighth seeds meet to decide who will secure the seventh play-off spot. The losers will meet the winners of the clash between the ninth and 10th seeds to decide who will clinch the final play-off ticket.
In the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets secured the second seed behind the Philadelphia 76ers with a 123-109 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving added 17 points on seven of 11 from the field to become the ninth player in NBA history to shoot at least 50 per cent from the field, 40 per cent from three-point range and 90 per cent from the free-throw line. – AFP, REUTERS