NBA, news 2019: Lakers lose to Suns, LeBron, Ben Simmons, Utah Jazz | Warriors def 76ers
LeBron James hasn’t had too many nights to forget in his illustrious career but this particular one in Phoenix, Arizona might well be one of them.
Not only did James have his own Shaqtin’ a fool moment when he sent an attempted inbounds pass into the backboard, the Lakers went down to the hapless Suns 119-109 at Talking Stick Arena.
The kicker? No LeBron James-led NBA side has ever lost to a team as bad as the now 14-51 Suns this late in the season.
Ranked by winning percentage through at least 25 games in a season, the Suns are now the worst team James has ever fallen to in a game he suited up for, eclipsing the 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers and the January 2009 Washington Wizards, who both had win percentages of .194 — the Suns sat at an awful .190.
The Suns, had also just come off a 17-game losing streak, which they broke midweek with a 124-121 win over Miami.
Adding to James’ own personal chagrin would have been the joy of Phoenix centre Deandre Ayton, who guarded James through the match and made things awkward for the Lakers star.
“That was a fun game,” Ayton said. “I’m going to sleep well tonight.”
The Suns’ defence on James, led by Ayton, helped.
The four-time league MVP was frustrated at times with Phoenix’s defence and his team’s inability to hang with the NBA’s worst team.
The @Lakers lost to the damn @Suns tonight. You’ve got to be kidding me. And now….sources tell me @KingJames got on the first bus out of the arena — which might be the first time he’s ever done that in his career. What a disaster. But I’m holding on. Season ends w/ loss Monday.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) March 3, 2019
But, as he has so many times, James tried to lead the Lakers back. With Los Angeles trailing by 14 with 6:06 left, James scored on a three-point play, hit a 3-pointer and kicked out to Brandon Ingram for a corner 3 on the break. He followed with a dunk off a baseline drive to get the Lakers within three.
Los Angeles got no closer, losing a game it couldn’t afford to while fighting for a playoff spot.
“We needed this game for obvious reasons,” James who had 27 points, 16 assists and 9 rebounds said.
“It is just unfortunate with the opportunities we’ve had that we haven’t been able to seize the opportunity.”
Devin Booker added 25 points for the Suns in the surprise victory.
SIMMONS STUFFS STATS SHEET BUT 76ERS FALL TO WARRIORS
Stephen Curry shook off foul trouble to score 28 points and spark Golden State to a 120-117 NBA win over Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers.
In the absence of Joel Embiid Simmons against starred and had his second straight triple-double and 22nd of his two-year career with 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.
But his deeds weren’t enough to deny the Warriors, with Kevin Durant also scoring 34 points and DeMarcus Cousins 25 as fellow Aussie Jonah Bolden started at centre for the 6ers.
The Aussie duo were red hot, particularly in the first half as Philadelphia took a 67-55 lead into the main break but the Warriors came out hungry and keen to avoid a third straight loss.
Curry as usual was the catalyst for the Warriors and was praised by his teammates post-match.
“It’s interesting, because I think he’s still underrated,” teammate Andre Iguodala said of Curry.
“I still think he doesn’t really get the respect he deserves.”
Each team played without a star as Embiid missed his fifth straight game, while Golden State’s Klay Thompson sat out with a sore right knee.
The Sixers had one last shot to at least tie the game but Tobias Harris lost the ball out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left.
It was the final fumble in a series of miscues, including Simmons missing the rim on an intentional miss at the free-throw line.
“I think there is a little bit of confusion because we have a whole new team and we’re trying to get guys in places,” the young Australian said.
Despite the loss Simmons showed he’s one of the good guys pre-game as he helped one young fan make her dream come true.
The 10-year-old 76ers fan named Ada got her ‘wish’ when she met the Aussie superstar pre-game and he dunked for her during the warm-up, all the while wearing yellow kicks, her favourite colour.
JAZZED UP: MITCHELL UPSTAGES GREEK FREAK
The Utah Jazz failed to score in the first 4 minutes of game time but it mattered not as Donovan Mitchell scored a career high 46 points as the Jazz ran out 115-111 winners over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Mitchell caught fire and won out in his own personal battle with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 43 points of his own on a wild night in Salt Lake City.
Down 17 in the 4th quarter Mitchell turned to his Jazz teammates and said: “We’ve got nothing to lose now. Let’s go!”
“You take certain risks that maybe you don’t take when you are up 17. But we made the right plays and we got stops,” said Mitchell, who added that it was probably his best regular-season game of his NBA career.
Mitchell scored 17 in the final 8:10, including a 28-foot jumper with 43.7 seconds left to put Utah up 111-105. Mitchell could have made the game a bit less suspenseful, but missed two free throws with a three-point lead with 12.7 seconds left. He came back and made two foul shots with 8.6 seconds remaining. “My teammates were saying, ‘We need you for these two free throws. Forget about what happened,”’ Mitchell said.
“When you have your teammates backing you like that, you feel confident.”
Antetokounmpo, who had been brilliant all night and had 43 points and 14 rebounds in 32 minutes, also missed three free throws in the final 10 seconds.
“Down the stretch they were making shots and we just couldn’t get a stop,” Antetokounmpo said. “That was playoff basketball.”
On a night during which Rudy Gobert was ineffective, Derrick Favors had 23 points and tied a career best with 18 rebounds.
“He was the real MVP of the game,” Mitchell said.
Joe Ingles had 14 points and eight assists for the Jazz, who won their fourth straight.
Originally published as ‘What a disaster’: LeBron’s ugly history