Basketball

LeBron James’ triple-double helps sink Phoenix Suns

He has 31 points as Lakers hold on to defeat Suns 117-107 for third straight win

LeBron James had a triple double with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers built up a big first-half lead, then held on to beat the struggling Phoenix Suns 117-107 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Lakers, who own the NBA's second-best record behind the Milwaukee Bucks, had to hold on after leading by 36 points at one stage.

With their reserves struggling to maintain the big lead, James and Anthony Davis had to return to the game and guide the offence after the Suns got to within seven points.

"We have to do a better job of holding big leads," said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. "We had a dominant performance in the first half. I was proud of how we came out.

"We didn't play well enough in the third and fourth quarters, but you learn lessons when you win."

The Lakers and other NBA host teams held a moment of silence to pay tribute to former league commissioner David Stern, who died following a brain haemorrhage.

James said Stern leaves a superb legacy behind.

"We lost a great visionary," said James in the Lakers' locker room after the game.

"His vision was to make this game global. I don't know how many people believed in that with him or thought it could be done.

"This game is now watched in 200 or 250 countries all over the world. Look at the collective group of players we got, Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Dirk (Nowitzki), Manu (Ginobili) and now Luka (Doncic).

"You have to give him so much credit. My prayers and condolences go to his family."

James posted his eighth triple-double of the season and Davis scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Lakers won their third consecutive game.

Kyle Kuzma added 19 points and Avery Bradley finished with 18 for them.

Devin Booker finished with 32 points and Kelly Oubre had 26 for the hapless Suns, who lost their ninth game in their last 11.

The Suns have won just 13 games all year and are 14 games back of the Lakers.

In New York, Julius Randle scored 22 points and Mitchell Robinson made franchise history by shooting a perfect 11-of-11 from the field as the New York Knicks won their third straight by routing the Portland Trail Blazers 117-93.

The hosts' win spoiled the return to New York of former Knick Carmelo Anthony, who scored a season-high 26 points.

Robinson finished with 22 points while tying the Knicks' record for the most field-goals without a miss. Bernard King (January 1984) and Johnny Newman (January 1988) were also 11-of-11 from the field.

The Knicks, who haven't won three straight since November 2018, seized control in the fourth quarter as they outscored Portland 34-16.

Randle, who also had 13 rebounds, posted a double-double while Marcus Morris (18 points), Bobby Portis (17) and Reggie Bullock (11) also scored in double figures.

Anthony was playing at Madison Square Garden for just the second time since he was traded by the Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in September 2017.

His tally of 26 points was his highest since the 28 for the Houston Rockets against the Brooklyn Nets in November 2018. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS: Washington 101 Orlando 122, Milwaukee 106 Minnesota 104.

David Stern built NBA into a multi-billion dollar industry

David Stern had basketball as a passion and law as a profession, one he figured he could return to if a job at the NBA didn't work out. He never did.

Instead he went to Europe, Asia and around the world, bringing with him a league that was previously an afterthought in the United States and turning it into a global powerhouse.

Stern, who spent 30 years as the NBA's longest-serving commissioner and one of the best in sports, died yesterday morning (Singapore time). He was 77.

"Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today," Hall of Famer Michael Jordan said. "He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before."

Stern suffered a brain haemorrhage on Dec 12 and underwent emergency surgery. The league said he died with his wife, Dianne, and their family at his bedside.

"The entire basketball community is heartbroken," the National Basketball Players Association said. "David Stern earned and deserved inclusion in our land of giants."

Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before he became its fourth commissioner on Feb 1, 1984.

By the time he left his position in 2014 - he wouldn't say or let league staffers say "retire", because he never stopped working - a league that fought for a foothold before him had grown to a more than US$5 billion (S$6.74b) a year industry and made NBA basketball perhaps the world's most popular sport after soccer. - AP

Nick Kyrgios-inspired fundraisers to help fire victims

Australia's tennis chief announced a series of fundraisers for victims of raging bushfires yesterday, after an appeal from bad boy Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios, often a controversial figure, called for an exhibition tournament before the Australian Open Grand Slam, after blazes that have claimed 18 lives and forced mass evacuations.

"C'mon @TennisAustralia surely we can do a pre @AustralianOpen exho to raise funds for those affected by the fires?" tweeted the 24-year-old, who was handed a 16-week suspended ban in September after a series of outbursts.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley responded by saying fundraisers would be held during tournaments, including the Australian Open and the ATP Cup team event, telling fans to "stay tuned" for details.

Kyrgios, in Brisbane for the inaugural ATP Cup team competition, said the tennis world now had the chance to do "something special".

"I'm sure something will happen. I'm sure all of us will be involved in some way," he said. - AFP

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