While Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal did the heavy lifting for the Wizards, a bevy of role players stepped up down the stretch to secure the win, including rookie forward Deni Avdija, who notched a pair of big 3-pointers down the stretch.
The No. 9 overall pick in this year’s draft also took on the duty of guarding Lakers superstar LeBron James — no small task. But Avdija stepped up when he was on defensive duty against the 17-time All-Star, helping his Washington squad to a fifth straight win.
Avdija explained his mentality going up against James after the game.
“I’m not afraid of anybody, so I’m just gonna take the challenge every time,” he told reporters in his postgame interview. “For me, the player I’m guarding, I take seriously [as an] equal. Just stepped up, took the challenge, and played my defense. I guess he had a hard time, so that’s good.”
LeBron James Heated About ‘Narrative’
To no surprise, James still managed to have a big night against the Wizards, scoring 31 points to go with 9 rebounds and 13 assists. However, he played 43 minutes — the fourth time he’s done so this month.
With Davis sidelined and the Lakers focused on a repeat, there is a growing sentiment that James should take some time off. James, who hasn’t missed a gmae this season, cleary has other ideas.
“I think this whole narrative of ‘LeBron needs more rest’ or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it’s become a lot bigger than what it actually is,” James told reporters. “I’ve never talked about it, I don’t talk about it, I don’t believe in it. We all need more rest, s—. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I’m here to work, I’m here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates.
“And if I’m hurt or if I’m not feeling well then we can look at it then, but I have nothing but honest people [advising me], but I’m also honest with myself as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything.”
LeBron James, Anthony Davis are NBA All-Stars
James and Davis were both named All-Stars this season. James was previously announced as an All-Star starter — and captain — while Davis’ eighth selection was announced with the rest of the reserves on Tuesday.
James’ 17th All-Star selection is third-most in NBA history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) and Kobe Bryant (18). James is the leading scorer in All-Star Game history (385 points) and extends his record for consecutive All-Star starts to 17.
Davis is unlikely to play in the game due to injury. He’s averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game this season.