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