Given the controversial history between the multiple MVPs, this might shock the senses. But James and Curry first became allies as pros in the Atlanta All-Star game a week ago, and the two men found the kind of simple chemistry that goes against their rivalry.
After beating Team Durant 170-150, James celebrated his 4-0 record as captain with the power to choose his squad: « I always try to pick the right team. » Curry was his second choice.
They are better known opponents who compete against each other in the NBA Finals for four consecutive years and six previous All-Star games. Golden State coach Steve Kerry said the competition had another effect that made being All-Star teammates easy: it generated mutual respect.
« There is obviously a lot of respect for each other and I think the two would play incredibly well together, » said Kerr. « Their games are so different, but they’re both so smart. I think they recognize that, so there’s a lot of respect. »
Although he hadn’t spoken to James about the experience – which James wasn’t particularly keen on overall – Lakers trainer Frank Vogel said he saw the same joy between James and Curry as Kerr did.
« It seemed like they enjoyed lying on the floor in the same uniform for the first time the other day, » he said. « That was a nice thing for all of us who are enjoying the game, seeing the two of them play together and enjoying the game like they did in the All-Star game. »
The story of James and Curry actually begins with admiration: James was in Charlotte when Curry was playing for Davidson in college to watch him at the NCAA tournament. Now, 13 years later, Curry is stepping into the annals of history that James routinely leads.
The most recent achievement for Curry was to become the front runner in assists for the Golden State franchise, which he scored after scoring his second goal on Monday. Kerr said that part of Curry’s flair reflects the vision that comes from how the defenses move towards him.
« He’s always been a risk taker, so he’s throwing some left-handed over-the-top passes at weak-sided shooters, and those are difficult passes, » he said. “Nobody taught me how to make these passes. They realize that at this level, with the type of pressure relief that is placed on you, you have to do some different things than what most of us grew up with. »
The Lakers know for sure that they will be particularly understaffed for at least one more game.
Vogel cleared the schedule for reserve guard Alex Caruso, who is on the NBA’s concussion log after hitting his head against the court against the Pacers on Friday night. He could return against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday at the earliest.
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This is also the earliest time the Lakers have seen Marc Gasol or Kostas Antetokounmpo, both of whom will miss Tuesday’s game on the league’s COVID-19 logs. The timeline suggests that in the past seven days, both strikers have either returned a positive coronavirus test result or have been exposed to someone who did.
The Lakers first revealed on Sunday that Jared Dudley, an easily used 35-year-old striker, had suffered an MCL tear in his right knee, originally viewed as a bruise before the All-Star break against the Sacramento Kings . When he continued to feel uncomfortable, an MRI showed the crack. Vogel said Dudley is still evaluating his treatment options.
The silver lining of the injury is that the chemical factor that is Dudley’s most important contribution to the dawn of his career is not lost.
« Its effect is invaluable for our culture and our team, » said Vogel. “His leadership, his glue, bonding guys and teaching guys to get guys in the right place. He really was an invaluable member of our team. So we expect this to be the case. »
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