NBA

Perfect response shuts down heckler

A HECKLER let Portland Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard know he’d started slowly in the match against the Orlando Magic.

He answered with two franchise scoring records and was met by silence from the Orlando crowd.

A man kept telling the three-time All-Star that he was “not that good” in the first half so he piled on a franchise record 34 points in the final 24 minutes to help the Trail Blazers to a 128-114 win over the Magic.

Lillard finished with 41 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

“He just kept hollering my name,” Lillard said. “‘Ah, he don’t want to play tonight. He ain’t that good.’ It wasn’t so much what he was saying; the whole first half he just wouldn’t shut up. I got tired of it, that was that.

“I told him at the end of the second quarter, I said, ‘We gonna see.’ He kept on talking and we saw.”

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard set a new franchise record in the second half.Source:AP

In a post-match interview on the court, Lillard made it clear the heckler got to him but he wanted to repond in the right way.

“They had a guy behind they bench that kept running his mouth,” he said.

“He just kept running his mouth, running his mouth and I told him, I said ‘You gonna get them in trouble. I’m here for this.’ He kept on talking and then in the second half, I didn’t hear a word from him. So, that’s that.

“Typically I would have ignored him but he was saying some crazy stuff so I addressed it how I should — I did it on the court.”

The other tally also set the other franchise record, moving equal with NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler for the most 40-point games in Trail Blazers history.

Lillard averages 28.7 points, 7.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds in four games this year.

CJ McCollum had 22 for the Trail Blazers and Jusuf Nurkic added 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Lillard was just two from eight in the first half, then hit 11 of 15 shots in the final two quarters, going five of eight from three-point territory.

“It’s not really about filling up the stat sheet,” Lillard said. “There are opportunities to do it but I think it is more about impacting the game. Even when I am not making shots, I focus on how can I still impact the game.”

with AP

LEBRON STARS IN FRONT OF LAKERS ROYALTY

When Kobe Bryant took a courtside seat in the first quarter, Staples Center buzzed with excitement for the mere sight of the most popular athlete in this building’s history.

The crowd even started a “Kobe! Kobe!” chant in the fourth quarter — and it was immediately drowned out by cheers when LeBron James hit a three-pointer.

With the symbol of the Los Angeles Lakers’ past watching in approval, James and the Lakers’ young core proved that their present and future is pretty tantalising, too.

James had 28 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds while leading a late rally for his first home victory with the Lakers, 128-111 over the previously unbeaten Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

LeBron James was instrumental in the LA Lakers’ second win of the season.Source:AP

LeBron and Kobe didn’t get a chance to talk, but the long-time friendly rivals likely both left happy with the Lakers’ new direction after James’ first triple-double for LA.

“Of course I noticed him sitting right on the baseline over there,” James said. “One of the all-time Laker greats. What he’s done for this franchise in his 20-plus years here speaks wonders for me.

“To be able to compete against him all those years, and for me to be able to share a jersey, the same jersey as him at this point, is pretty special.”

With Bryant in attendance for the first time since LeBron’s arrival in LA, Kyle Kuzma scored 22 points and JaVale McGee added 21 to complement James’ 74th career triple-double.

But the result was even more impressive: The Lakers trailed by eight points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter before Lance Stephenson, who finished with 12 points, started a 15-2 rally with back-to-back 3-pointers.

“The first couple of games, when we fell behind, we stayed behind,” James said. “Tonight when we fell behind, we learned from our mistakes, and that’s one of the most important things in life.”

— AP

DOMINANT DRUMMOND DESTROYS CAVS

Andre Drummond powered for 26 points and 22 rebounds as Detroit remain unbeaten with a 110-103 NBA victory over the winless Cleveland Cavaliers.

Drummond notched his 22nd career 20-20 game on Thursday, and second this season.

Blake Griffin, who scored a career-high 50 points in an overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, also supplied 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Reggie Jackson contributed 16 points, and Ish Smith chipped in 10 for Detroit.

The Pistons overwhelmed visitors Cleveland on the boards, 48-30, to overcome 20 turnovers.

Andre Drummond is having a tremendous start to the season.Source:AFP

It’s Detroit’s best start in a decade but coach Dwane Casey said the Pistons also have a long way to go.

“It’s good for our team, good for our morale, but we know that there’s bigger mountains to climb down the road,” said Casey, who was hired to coach the Pistons this past off-season. “We’ve just got to continue to work and improve and get better in certain areas.”

Cleveland, which was without injured star Kevin Love, fell to 0-5 for the first time since 2003-04, when LeBron James was a rookie.

Kyle Korver led Cleveland with 21 points.

“As competitors we want to win, but I thought there was some good out there tonight,” Korver said. “I thought we were playing with more energy, we passed the ball earlier in the shot clock, kept things going in motion, scrapped on defence, but it’s hard to win in the NBA.”

The Pistons have won their four games by a combined 13 points, and they haven’t played too tough a schedule. Three of the victories were against the Nets, Bulls and Cavaliers.

“We can’t get too excited,” Drummond said. “It’s still early in the season, and we have a lot of games to go. So we’ve got to take them win by win and game by game and just keep getting better.”

Reuters and AP

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