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LeBron James ready for ‘challenge’ of preparing for playoffs after return to Lakers’ lineup

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LeBron James ready for 'challenge' of preparing for playoffs after return to Lakers' lineup

LeBron James’ return from a high ankle sprain Friday night did not magically turn the Lakers back into destroyers.

The defending NBA champs blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Kings at home 110-106. James had an opportunity to give LA the lead with 2.7 seconds remaining but missed a 3-point shot. He finished with 16 points in 32 minutes.

MORE: LeBron pretends to cry after heckler calls him ‘big baby’

The loss dropped the fifth-place Lakers (36-27) to just one game ahead of the seventh-place Trail Blazers (35-28) in the Western Conference. The seventh- through 10th-place teams in each conference will compete in a play-in tournament prior to the start of the NBA playoffs.

James’ postgame focus wasn’t on the standings but rather on the Lakers gaining cohesion over the next 16 days, when they’ll play nine times to complete a compressed 72-game regular-season schedule.

“How much can we make out of these nine games? I’m not sure,” he told reporters postgame. “I know as far as our chemistry, we continue to build that. We continue to log minutes out on the floor, continue to build some things, obviously.

“It’s just a different season, not only for us but for a lot of teams. But we look forward to the challenge. It is what it is, this is the season and we’ve got to make the most of it.”    

James was back on the floor after missing 20 games with the sprain. He told reporters his ankle felt “tight” at times but also said he came out of the game “unscathed.”

The game also marked the first time since Feb. 14 that James and Anthony Davis started together. Davis went out that night with tendinosis in his right achilles. He returned to the lineup April 22.

Davis and James will use the remaining games to get on the same page with their teammates.   

“Guys are still trying to get back to playing with myself and LeBron. We have nine games left to get it going,” Davis said, per The Associated Press. “We don’t want to be in a play-in situation. Even though we don’t want to lose, we want to gain momentum. We are confident in ourselves and once the playoffs start it is a different story.”

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Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook’s NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

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Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook's NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

Russell Westbrook made history Monday night, notching his 182nd career triple-double — and moving past Oscar Robertson for the all-time NBA record.

Robertson’s record lasted 47 years, from 1974 through Monday night when a fourth-quarter rebound in front of a reduced-capacity crowd in Atlanta gave Westbrook sole possession of the record. It took him 12 years to surpass Robertson’s record after he achieved his first triple-double (17 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) in 2009 as a rookie with the Thunder.

MORE: Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

Monday’s triple-double was Westbrook’s 36th of the year. That insane output is helping him average, for the fourth time in his career, a triple-double over the course of the season. The previous such campaigns came in 2016-17 through 2018-19.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds in the Wizards’ 125-124 loss to the Hawks; the loss dropped Washington to 32-37 on the season, but the team still ranks 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards’ playoff hopes pale in comparison to the history Westbrook made, however.

He even made sure to get the game ball from officials so he could be certain to commemorate the historic achievement.

Here are some of the best reactions to Westbrook’s history-making feat:

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Kenny Mayne’s ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

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Kenny Mayne's ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, one of the most recognizable talents in sports broadcasting, is leaving the network, he announced on Monday.

The 27-year ESPN anchor broke the news on Twitter, describing his exit from the worldwide leader in sports as a “salary cap casualty.” Naturally, he could only include some of the dry humor that helped him become a beloved presence in the studio and on millions of sports fans’ TVs.

MORE: ESPN anchors get emotional over laid-off co-workers: ‘We are all hurting’

The longtime “SportsCenter” host’s final day will be on May 24, bringing to an end a 27-year stint at ESPN that began in 1994. His absence will undoubtedly be noted among fans who appreciated his humor and presence in ESPN’s studios — but his Monday announcement is as good a reason as any to remember the incredible cover letter that first landed him the gig in 1994.

Mayne sent a short and sweet cover letter to ESPN’s John Walsh in 1994, offering him three checkboxes in the former’s bid to land a job with ESPN:

Unsurprisingly, Mayne made Walsh smile. Walsh wouldn’t be the last person to smile at Mayne’s humor and creativity.

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Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

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Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

The Celtics will have to fight for a playoff spot without one of their most important players.

Boston announced Monday night that All-Star forward Jaylen Brown has suffered a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist and will miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. He is expected to undergo surgery later this week.

MORE: Will LeBron James return vs. Knicks?

The Celtics offered no specific timetable for Brown’s return to the court, but as The Athletic’s Jared Weiss noted, Boston guard Romeo Langford suffered the same injury last year and took about six months to recover. If Brown stays roughly on that timeline, he should be available to rejoin the lineup for the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Brown dealt with injury and COVID-19 issues throughout the season, but the 24-year-old still managed to earn his first All-Star selection with some of the best individual numbers of his career. He averaged a career-high 24.7 points per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

Without Brown available, Boston will rely heavily on Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker to produce offensively. The Celtics will also need more from trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier, who most recently scored 30 points in a loss to the Heat on Sunday — his highest scoring output since joining the team.

Even if other players step up in Brown’s absence, the Celtics, currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference standings, are unlikely to make a deep run in the 2021 NBA playoffs. They would face an uphill battle in a potential first-round series against the 76ers, Nets or Bucks, the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference.

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