LeBron James, Lakers ring in 2020 after strong start to season

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — To welcome in the next decade, the Lakers shed their purple and gold for a night, opting for black-tie suits instead.They were all over each other’s social media feeds, dancing and smoking cigars on Monday night as LeBron James celebrated his 35th birthday.Because the Lakers play the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, New Year’s Eve celebrations are expected to be significantly toned down. James said he only decided three days before the big night that he would have a party at all, which his wife Savannah helped assemble on the short turnaround. It wasn’t just a birthday, but a turning of the page on the year as well.“I was able to kill two birds with one stone, get my teammates there, coaching staff, my family, my friends, people that’s been around for quite a while and we had a heck of a time,” he said. “So it was another opportunity for us to bond, which we did. And if it brings us closer, then fantastic. That’s what it’s all about for me, bringing us closer to family as possible.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Lakers warmed to the challenge of their tough schedule last month, playing a host of teams bound for the playoffs. The concern, Vogel acknowledged, is that over a third of the way in against less-than-stellar competition, complacency can sneak in.“It’s a different sort of stretch right now,” he said. “I think we begin to enter the dog days of the NBA season, which is like now until All-Star break where it gets a little monotonous and there’s a little bit of a grind and hopefully we can get through that stretch. And then once All-Star break hits, you’re in the home stretch after that.”One of the factors the Lakers feel is in their favor is chemistry. Multiple players have cited the 1-through-15 chemistry on the roster as a strength, and James’ birthday party was the latest event where the Lakers have largely shown up off the court as a group.James pointed to his youth league days as a model: When he was a young player, he and his teammates would go to parks or malls and play video games together.“Not only did it influence the way I play on the court, having an effect on how I play today, it also had an influence of how I grew up with my friends, too, and having that brotherhood,” he said. “If you know anything about my childhood, the guys that I grew up playing ball are still around, they’re still like my best friends.”The same concept is important to his NBA teams, James said, which is among the reasons everyone was invited. The feeling of the Lakers is that off-court chemistry will help form on-court bonds that can help them in competitive games.It also leads to some nice post-party texts.“The best thing about it is that my teammates said how much of a time they had,” he said. “My family and my friends had a heck of a time. Got a lot of messages this morning saying how much fun it was, how much love was in the air. So that’s what makes it cool for me. The people around me had a good time.”center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe Lakers ended 2019 pretty tight-knit, with a strong body of work behind them. Leading the Western Conference standings and finishing a challenging December slate at 9-5, some of their hardest work is behind them even though the bulk of the schedule remains.The year wrapped on an upbeat note with wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks. After that second victory, Coach Frank Vogel had a chance to look at the footage of his team holding the No. 1 offense in the NBA to just 95 points – to his surprise, he saw some opportunities where his defense (104.8 defensive rating, No. 7 in the NBA) could be even better.That’s the Lakers’ 2019 resolution: They’re still looking for the perfect performance.“It’s just reason for optimism that we still have a long way to go and a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “It’s exciting what we can be.”A big part of that has been success against the teams they are supposed to beat: The Lakers are 17-0 against teams under .500 this season. They’ll have an opportunity to extend that perfection with upcoming home games against Phoenix, New Orleans, Detroit and New York.last_img read more

Japan shakes off slow start, grounds Thailand to top Pool F

first_img787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano 2 nabbed in Bicol drug stings Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ ROS roster shakeup ‘hard to accept at first,’ admits Belga Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite MOST READ Vilma Santos, Luis Manzano warn public of fake account posing as her Sarina Koga waxed hot for Japan and put up a game-high 26 points while Risa Shinnabe and Mai Okumura added 16 and 12 points, respectively.It was a tale of offense and defense for the two teams as Japan owned the attacking department with a 66-55 advantage in scoring spikes.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’Thailand, though, had Japan’s number in the defensive end scoring 17 blocks while the Japanese managed to score on just eight.The Thais awarded 18 free points to Japan, but none bigger than their last two that happened in the final sequence of the match that awarded Japan the victory. Photo from asianvolleyball.netBIÑAN, Laguna—Japan shrugged off a first set setback to trip Thailand in four sets, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 26-24, in the qualification stage of the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship Monday at Alonte Sports Arena.The Japanese are now atop Pool F with a 3-0 record while Thailand is at close second with a 2-1 mark.ADVERTISEMENT 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcanocenter_img View comments LATEST STORIES Moksri Chatchu-on led Thailand with 20 points while Kongyot Ajcharaporn added 19.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend Albay to send off disaster response team to Batangas Teen gunned down in Masbatelast_img read more