NBA

Harden returns with 44-point haul in Nets' victory, Lakers win without LeBron

By Sports Desk March 27, 2021

James Harden returned from neck soreness with a 44-point haul to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 113-111 win over the Detroit Pistons in the NBA on Friday.

As well as his personal Nets high 44 points, which included four three-pointers, Harden had 14 rebounds and eight assists.

Harden set up Blake Griffin for an alley-oop as the new recruit contributed 17 points against his former side.

Detroit had an 11-0 final-quarter stretch, led by back-to-back three-pointers from Frank Jackson, to ensure a tense finale.

But Cory Joseph missed a point-blank look to send the game to overtime on the buzzer, enabling Brooklyn to improve to 31-15.

The Los Angeles Lakers snapped their losing run without LeBron James, with a 100-86 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Montrezl Harrell starred off the bench with a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds as they steadied to 29-17 record.

Zion puts up career-best haul in defeat

Former number one draft pick Zion Williamson put in a huge display with a career-high 39 points, going 16-of-19 from the field, 10 rebounds and five assists, but it was not enough as the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Denver Nuggets 113-108.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic underlined his MVP credentials with 37 points, six rebounds and nine assists. He scored 22 of his 37 in the second half.

The Milwaukee Bucks were toppled by the Boston Celtics 122-114, with forward Jayson Tatum scoring 34 points and guard Marcus Smart adding 23. Tatum had an injury scare but played on.

Reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was quiet by his standards with only 16 points, while he had eight rebounds and five assists. The Celtics stay in the playoffs hunt with a 22-23 record, while the Bucks slip to 29-15 in third in the East.

Donovan Mitchell had 35 points along with five rebounds and six assists as the top-of-the-table Utah Jazz defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 117-114 to secure their fourth straight win.

The Portland Trail Blazers edged the Orlando Magic 112-105 without Damian Lillard, with CJ McCollum starring with 22 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Chris Paul got the edge over Kyle Lowry as the Phoenix Suns won 104-100 at the Toronto Raptors. Paul had 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Heat slide to sixth straight loss

The Miami Heat may have got busy on NBA trade deadline with the addition of Victor Oladipo but he did not play as they lost their sixth straight, going down 110-105 to the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Timberwolves' 22-0 hot streak

The Minnesota Timberwolves' 22-0 run to secure their 107-101 win over the struggling Houston Rockets was the first 22-0 (or better) game-ending run since the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1998-99 season.

 

Friday's results

Brooklyn Nets 113-111 Detroit Pistons
Boston Celtics 122-114 Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns 104-100 Toronto Raptors
Denver Nuggets 113-108 New Orleans Pelicans
Minnesota Timberwolves 107-101 Houston Rockets
Portland Trail Blazers 112-105 Orlando Magic
Charlotte Hornets 110-105 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 109-94 Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz 117-114 Memphis Grizzlies
Atlanta Hawks 124-108 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 100-86 Cleveland Cavaliers

 

76ers at Clippers

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia 76ers (32-13) visit the Los Angeles Clippers (30-16), who are third in the West, on Saturday.

Related items

  • Salah and Mane not Liverpool's only weapons – Lijnders Salah and Mane not Liverpool's only weapons – Lijnders

    Liverpool are proving that they are not just reliant on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, according to assistant manager Pep Lijnders.

    Jurgen Klopp's side are having to do without two of their star attackers, with Salah and Mane on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt and Senegal respectively.

    Naby Keita is also featuring at the tournament, with the midfielder a talisman for Guinea, who like Senegal have progressed from Group B. Salah's Egypt will guarantee their qualification from Group D with a win over Sudan on Wednesday.

    The tournament runs until February 6. Senegal were runners-up in 2019 while Egypt are the most successful team in AFCON history with seven titles, and both are fancied to go far this time around in Cameroon.

    Liverpool have been without the trio since just after a draw with Chelsea on January 2, and though they subsequently beat Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, the absence of Mane and the Premier League's leading scorer Salah was particularly felt in a 0-0 draw with 10-man Arsenal at Anfield in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on January 13.

    The Gunners had Granit Xhaka sent off midway through the first half yet Liverpool mustered only one effort on target, with that shot coming in stoppage time, after Takumi Minamino had spurned a glorious chance.

    The Reds bounced back with a routine 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday, with Liverpool having 27 shots (13 on target) and controlling 68 percent of the possession.

    Liverpool had 3.1 expected goals against Brentford, the joint-fourth highest total for them in a league game this season, while they have only managed more shots in one top-flight fixture (against Leeds United in September), with their shots-on-target total the most in a single match.

    Asked ahead of the second leg against Arsenal how pleased he was with Liverpool's reaction to being without such key players, Lijnders told a news conference: "We did it before. One of the most memorable games [the 4-0 Champions League win over Barcelona in 2019] was without a few of them [Salah and Roberto Firmino].

    "When we have our squad, we knew that we needed to have different weapons, create goals from everywhere, dribbles from everywhere, attacks from everywhere, not just based on counter-attacks or the speed of these two boys.

    "They are our front line but what I like is we don't just have one weapon, we have so many different ways to attack. How we are evolving as a team, developing with our positional game, it's important and we really like it."

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped up on Sunday, scoring Liverpool's second and playing three key passes, second only to Fabinho (four), though the midfielder will not be available against his former club on Thursday due to an ankle injury sustained against Brentford.

    "I spoke with him and he feels okay, it's not that bad," Lijnders explained. "He's hoping that he will make the weekend. Tomorrow will be way too soon. We will assess that day by day."

    While Liverpool beat Brentford, Arsenal were not in action on Sunday, with the Premier League having granted the Gunners' request to postpone the north London derby clash with Tottenham due to a COVID-19 case within the squad, though injuries and players away at AFCON were also cited as a reason.

    "We had our own experience with this, it's really difficult to judge from the outside," said Lijnders, who had to take charge of the Chelsea clash this month when Klopp was self-isolating due to COVID-19.

    "We saw that with our situation. I fully respect the submissions because I trust 100 percent the medical department of each Premier League club. I think this is the most important, the trust in these decisions."

  • Haaland ultimatum is 'total b***s***', claims Watzke Haaland ultimatum is 'total b***s***', claims Watzke

    Hans-Joachim Watzke has slammed the suggestion that Borussia Dortmund have issued Erling Haaland an ultimatum over his future as "total b***s***".

    Haaland, who joined Dortmund in January 2020 from Austrian club Salzburg, is one of the most sought-after talents in European football.

    Since the Norway forward made his Dortmund debut just over two years ago, he has netted 79 goals in all competitions.

    He marked his two-year anniversary with a goal on Tuesday, though Dortmund nevertheless suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to St Pauli in the DFB-Pokal.

    It means that, for the first time since 2006-07, neither Dortmund nor Bayern Munich will contend in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, while none of the winners from across the previous 26 years are left in this season's competition.

    That defeat followed on from an emphatic Bundesliga win over Freiburg on Friday, though it was after that match that Haaland commented on his future.

    The 21-year-old claimed Dortmund had been pressuring to make a decision on his next move, and that he would soon make a call on whether he will look to leave the club at the end of the season. 

    However, Dortmund chief executive Watzke, who did over the weekend acknowledge they had stressed the importance of Haaland making a decision soon to the striker, has insisted the club have not made any ultimatum.

    "Some in the media write that BVB would give him an ultimatum, which is total bullshit," he told ARD.

    "Dortmund didn't put the gun on his chest."

     

    Asked if Dortmund had been unsettled by Haaland's comments, Watzke added: "Erling was obviously a bit bothered by it, but we can't influence that. We told him that too."

    Since his Dortmund bow, only Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more goals than Haaland across all competitions, of players in Europe's top five leagues.

    Haaland averages a goal every 80 minutes, while his tally has come from an expected goals (xG) of 63, suggesting his finishing has been way above the standard that would be expected given the quality of chances that have been created for him.

    As for big chances – which Opta define as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – Haaland has been presented with 110 and converted 65 of them.

    That equals a conversion rate of 59.1 per cent, which is better than eight of the top 10 goalscorers across Europe's top five leagues in that time, with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, who has netted 32 of his 49 big chances (65.3 per cent) having a better conversion rate.

  • Australian Open: Osaka eases through to set up Anisimova clash Australian Open: Osaka eases through to set up Anisimova clash

    Naomi Osaka will face Amanda Anisimova in round three of the Australian Open after easing past Madison Brengle on Wednesday.

    The two-time champion in Melbourne won 6-0 6-4 to set up a meeting with the 20-year-old American, who earlier upset Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

    Despite a second-set wobble on serve that gave Brengle hope of a comeback, Osaka looked in comfortable control of the contest and has now dropped just one set in her five matches in 2022.

    Brengle was a 6-2 6-2 winner in the only previous meeting in Rock Hill way back in 2013, when Osaka had just turned 16 and had barely any Tour experience. Against the Osaka of 2022, a four-time major champion, she had few answers.

    Osaka tore through Brengle's defence in the opening set, wrapping it up in 20 minutes while dropping just three points on serve.

    Brengle was credited with just one winner in her chaotic first-round match with Dayana Yastremska, who retired trailing 6-1 0-6 0-5. It was not until the second game of the second set that Brengle matched that tally, but it was worth the wait: a brutal inside-out backhand across court, celebrated with gusto, as she began to make inroads on the Osaka serve.

    Osaka dug deep, saving three break points before holding for 2-1 and then another with a timely ace in her next service game. Her play was becoming erratic, though, and after saving a further three break points at 3-3, a wild overhead handed Brengle the breakthrough.

    Yet if the 31-year-old thought then that the match was just getting started, it was suddenly over. Osaka broke back immediately with a backhand volley at the net and did not lose another point from there, clinching the contest when Brengle's passing shot dropped wide.

    DATA SLAM: Osaka into overdrive

    Brengle quadrupled her winner count from her first-round match, but the world number 54 was simply outgunned by Osaka when it came to rallies.

    The Japanese star fired in 37 winners to 32 unforced errors, turning on the power just when it seemed like the contest was balancing out.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Brengle – 4/14
    Osaka – 37/32

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Brengle – 0/1
    Osaka – 8/1

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Brengle – 1/10
    Osaka – 5/7

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