NBA

Wall shines on Rockets debut, 76ers' fine start continues

By Sports Desk January 01, 2021

John Wall impressed on his Houston Rockets debut, while the Philadelphia 76ers' fine start to the NBA season continued.

In his first regular-season appearance since December 2018, Wall helped the Rockets to their first win of the season with a 122-119 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

Wall posted 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds on his Rockets debut after being traded from the Washington Wizards at the start of December.

James Harden again starred, finishing with 33 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

The 76ers improved to 4-1 and handed Orlando their first loss of the season, beating the Magic 116-92.

Joel Embiid was seven-of-11 from the field for 21 points, while he also pulled down nine rebounds.

 

Westbrook's Wizards fall again as Booker shines

Russell Westbrook posted another triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but the Washington Wizards dropped to 0-5 after a 133-130 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to open a season with four triple-doubles in their first four games.

Thomas Bryant had 28 points for the Wizards after going 10-of-11 from the field.

Devin Booker's game-high 25 points helped the Phoenix Suns past the Utah Jazz 106-95. The Suns are 4-1.

Domantas Sabonis had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds in the Indiana Pacers' 119-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sabonis has posted at least a double-double in all five of his games this season.

 

Terrible Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder shot at just 37.5 per cent from the field in a 113-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Harden, Wall power Rockets

Harden and Wall finished with 55 points and 17 assists between them against the Kings.

Thursday's results

Indiana Pacers 119-99 Cleveland Cavaliers
Chicago Bulls 133-130 Washington Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers 116-92 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 122-119 Sacramento Kings
Toronto Raptors 100-83 New York Knicks
New Orleans Pelicans 113-80 Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns 106-95 Utah Jazz

 

Lakers at Spurs

The Los Angeles Lakers (3-2) and San Antonio Spurs (2-2) will meet again on Friday. LeBron James powered the Lakers to a win over San Antonio on Wednesday.

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    Coach Doc Rivers is braced for the possibility there could be more tough nights to come for Embiid after he struggled in an 88-87 defeat to the Boston Celtics.

    MVP runner-up Embiid had a double-double of 13 points and 18 rebounds, but he was just three-of-17 shooting.

    His points tally was his lowest in a game this season, and Embiid's average of 22.0 points is way down on last term, when he averaged 28.5 over 51 games.

    He has plenty of time to get that figure up, but Embiid is working his way back from a nine-game coronavirus lay-off, and despite scoring 42 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in his comeback game, he has followed 16 against the Orlando Magic with another disappointing performance.

    "I would never use it as an excuse, but obviously I think it's going to take me a while to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff," said Embiid.

    "But every single day I've got to keep working hard, and keep getting better. I can't be playing the way I've played in these last two games, especially when it comes to shot-making.

    "If teams are going to double me and I'm not going to get easy baskets, I have to create for myself and my team-mates, and I've got to make those shots."

    The Sixers (11-11) head to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and then travel to tackle the Charlotte Hornets in two games early next week.

    Rivers can see Embiid is not quite himself on the court, but the coach sees no other way through the situation that continuing to play and support his Cameroonian star.

    "We've got to get Joel going – number one," Rivers said. "We get him going, the whole team gets going. That's the number one thing.

    "But that's two games in a row I thought the offense was lacklustre. Execution is really bad right now. But, again, I'm not concerned by it. We're going to get through it. It's just that we're dropping games while we're getting through it."

    The Sixers shot just 8-of-31 from three-point range and were 33-for-89 overall, Seth Curry leading scorers with 17 points.

    Rivers appreciates Embiid is lacking rhythm, but the coach cannot put a finger on quite why it is the case.

    "Everybody with COVID, I just don't know those answers," Rivers said. "Some guys come back quickly and play pretty well, a lot of guys have played the one great game when they're back and then they've gone into a little fog.

    "You could tell he's definitely struggling getting going. We've just got to keep playing him and let him play through it."

  • Cy Young winner Ray ready to bring World Series to Mariners Cy Young winner Ray ready to bring World Series to Mariners

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    "To be a part of it and bring it back right here, I just wanted to be here."

    Ray enjoyed a stellar campaign for the Blue Jays, who narrowly missed out on the MLB playoffs despite a 91-win season.

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    "Luckily, I replaced [Gianluca] Mancini. Otherwise, he may have been booked too.

    "I will finish with one observation. I want to say something that probably goes against my interests: if I were Nicolo Zaniolo, I would start thinking that perhaps playing in Serie A means things will be stacked against me."

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    "Credit to Sinisa [Mihajlovic] and Bologna, they played a great game. But credit to my players too. They gave it their all against everything and everyone," said Mourinho.

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