Two of the NBA's marquee players will face each other Saturday night when Jayson Tatum and the slumping Boston Celtics play LeBron James and the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
On Thursday, Tatum and James were announced as starters for this year's NBA All-Star Game, which will be played Feb. 19 inSalt Lake City. James is averaging 29.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7-0 assists per game. Tatum is averaging 31.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest.
Saturday night's game will be the second meeting between the teams this season. Tatum scored a game-high 44 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists when the Celtics went to Los Angeles and beat the Lakers 122-118 in overtime on Dec. 13. Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 37 points and 12 rebounds. James finished with 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
The Celtics are coming off Thursday night's 120-117 overtime loss to the visiting New York Knicks. That extended Boston's losing streak to three games.
The Celtics trailed by one when Boston's Jaylen Brown went to the free-throw line with 7.6 seconds remaining in overtime, but he missed both shots. Brown made each of his five free-throw attempts in the game up to that point.
"Just gotta be better, to be honest," Brown said. "(It) was just a rough game, and I'm a better basketball player than I played (Thursday). Those two missed free throws kind of embodied the whole game. Didn't really get going. Didn't give my team enough energy to win. And that's what happens when you don't come out and give your best. I'll be better."
"Everybody needs a pick-me-up," Tatum added. "But we've got the utmost confidence in (Brown). I can't bet on NBA games, but I would bet everything I got (that) if he was in that situation again, he would knock them both down. So, just short-term memory, move on, and get ready for Saturday."
Boston played without starting point guard Marcus Smart, who missed his third straight game with a right ankle sprain. He's listed as day-to-day.
The Lakers got a boost when Davis returned to the court and scored 21 points in 26 minutes during Wednesday's 113-104 victory over San Antonio. Davis, who missed nearly six weeks with an injured right foot, also had 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
It was the first time Davis has come off the bench in a game since 2013.
"I was kind of just testing the water," Davis said. "Even though I've been playing pick-up and things, you can control that pace. In real games you can't.
"Foot is fine. Ankle is fine. Body feels good."
Rui Hachimura, who was acquired in a trade with the Washington Wizards earlier this week, also made his debut for the Lakers on Wednesday. He scored 12 points in 22 minutes.
The Lakers sent guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks to Washington for Hachimura, who was the No. 9 selection in the 2019 NBA draft.
"(Hachimura) can really, really help us on both ends of the floor," Davis said. "Obviously, him getting acclimated with the team is going to take time, but (Wednesday) it looked like he was able to fit in really well."
--Field Level Media