NBA

Nets eclipse Suns as Durant returns, Wizards enjoying best run since 2001

By Sports Desk April 25, 2021

Kevin Durant returned from injury and the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets beat the Phoenix Suns 128-119.

Durant made his comeback on Sunday following a three-game absence due to a thigh contusion, the former NBA MVP posting 33 points off the bench.

Nets superstar Durant was 12-for-21 shooting, including two-for-three from three-point range, while tallying six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 28 minutes.

Kyrie Irving had 34 points (10-of-19 shooting) and 12 assists as the star-studded Nets – still without James Harden (hamstring) – improved to 41-20.

Devin Booker's 36 points and a Deandre Ayton double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds were not enough for the high-flying Suns (42-18) in Brooklyn.

 

Wizards extend streak

The Washington Wizards claimed their eighth successive victory after topping the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-110. Bradley Beal scored 33 points, while Russell Westbrook added 14 points, 11 assists and five rebounds as the former MVP's triple-double run ended at four games. Washington are in the midst of their longest streak since December 2001, during Hall of Famer Michael Jordan's time with the franchise.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds, but the Milwaukee Bucks still lost 111-104 to the Atlanta Hawks. Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Hawks with 32 points, however, Lou Williams fuelled Atlanta down the stretch by scoring four three-pointers in the final seven minutes.

Double-doubles from Terry Rozier (21 points and 11 assists), P.J. Washington (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Cody Martin (13 points and 10 rebounds) inspired the Charlotte Hornets to a 125-104 victory at home to the Boston Celtics.

Stephen Curry's 37 points, seven rebounds and four assists helped the Golden State Warriors hold off the Sacramento Kings 117-113. Curry has scored at least 30 points for the 13th time in 14 games, his 30th 30-point display of the season.

 

Magic's season goes from bad to worse

Rookie Devin Cannady suffered a gruesome ankle injury as the short-handed and struggling Orlando Magic tasted a fifth consecutive defeat – beaten 131-112 by the Indiana Pacers. Cannady sustained an open fracture of his right ankle in the opening quarter after landing awkwardly.

Robert Covington was far from his best in the Portland Trail Blazers' 120-113 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. In 38 minutes, Covington missed all seven of his field goals, including 0-for-four from three-point range, as he finished with two points.

 

Curry goes deep

Another game, another long-range three. Curry nailed a three-point from just inside half court against the Kings in the opening quarter.

 

Sunday's results

Charlotte Hornets 125-104 Boston Celtics
Brooklyn Nets 128-119 Phoenix Suns
Memphis Grizzlies 120-113 Portland Trail Blazers
Washington Wizards 119-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks 111-104 Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana Pacers 131-112 Orlando Magic
Golden State Warriors 117-113 Sacramento Kings

 

Thunder at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers (39-21) – second in the east – will look to arrest a four-game slump when they host the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder (20-40) on Monday.

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    The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games as they beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 to move to 17-2 for the season.

    Curry led the way with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, surpassing Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

    The Warriors' impressive form has come despite the continued wait for the return of star shooter Thompson, who this week returned to full-team practice for the first time in more than two years.

    Thompson, a key part of the championship-winning sides in 2015, 2017 and 2018, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear during the Warriors' failed 'three-peat' attempt in 2019 and then injured his Achilles tendon during recovery.

    Thompson, who was serenaded by the crowd at Chase Center where he stayed on the bench for more than 20 minutes, is now going through perhaps the most difficult part of his journey back to the court, according to Curry.

    "I kind of predicted this would be the hardest part of his journey because he's got the basketball back in his hands every day, he's feeling like himself, he's playing pickup and he's around our practices and back with us in those type of situations, but he's still not on the court," Curry said.

    "The good thing is we're talking weeks instead of months now. I'm super proud of just the way he's approached this two-year window because unless he wants to write a book and [explain] every step, nobody will understand what he's been through away from the game so long. And it shows how much this game matters to him."

    Portland threatened a late comeback when they moved to within eight points in the final six minutes, but the Warriors are nothing if not resolute, two Curry three-pointers helping to safeguard their lead.

    "We know these type of nights where we play at home, do the defence, get the crowd into it. It's all about just trying to create an identity here. We've got to do our part throughout the season to win games," he said.

    "The defence is huge. We always pride ourselves on being a top-five defensive and we got to that level quickly. We've got to sustain it, obviously.

    "Integrating our new guys, the shooting we have, ball movement, there was no guarantee that was going to be a smooth process. I'm proud of everybody stepping up, understanding how we play and everybody enjoying themselves."

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    Phoenix made it 15 consecutive wins thanks to Friday's 118-97 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

    Paul's 14 points and 10 assists, and Booker's 32 points fuelled the Suns to within two wins of equalling their franchise record for consecutive victories – 17 in 2006-07.

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    "This ain't a playoff game tomorrow [Sunday]," Paul said post-game in New York, where the Suns improved to 16-3 – a record only bettered by Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2) this season.

    "It's good for us to go out there and compete, and we're probably gonna see different coverages and all that, but we're just trying to build, build.

    "It's not about winning a game in November."

    "We just wanted to get it going," said All-Star Booker. "It's no secret we have a streak going, and we're going to get every team's best shot.

    "The whole NBA knows about that, so we just tried to set the tone early. Come out, play team basketball ... we did our job tonight."

    Booker added: "We do one at a time. We know we have a tough opponent tomorrow that's been waiting on us, well-rested.

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    Sancho joined from Borussia Dortmund in a big-money move in the last transfer window, though the winger's arrival was somewhat overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Old Trafford.

    The 21-year-old has struggled for form since the transfer and was dropped by England after disappointing in his initial showings for United.

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    His Champions League strike was his first goal for the club, having failed to score before United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer parted ways with the Red Devils sat eighth in the league.

    But Yorke expressed his confusion as to why United signed Sancho when they have Greenwood, who stormed onto the scene in 2019-20 before he became only the second teenager to find the net in the opening three matches of a Premier League season this term.

    "I think people forget these are young men that come in with huge expectations," Yorke, who finished as United's top league goal scorer in 1998-99, told Stats Perform. 

    "He hasn't had the best of campaigns with England. We've seen that missed penalty, that can have a knock-on effect as well. All those little things, things that young players have to deal with. 

    "I am a fan; I just probably think it would have been a little bit too early for us to bring him in. 

    "I think we didn't need Sancho at the point in time with the emergence of Greenwood. I just think that was a position that we didn't really need to go for."

    United are reportedly edging closer to appointing Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis, with a permanent solution set to be found at the end of the season.

    The 63-year-old will no doubt know about Sancho, who is the only player from Europe's top five leagues to have scored 10 goals or more and had at least 15 assists across all competitions in each of the previous three seasons.

    Despite questioning whether his arrival was necessary, Yorke added how exciting Sancho's potential can be for United, who travel to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.

    "However, you still cannot underestimate the talent the boy does possess," he continued.

    "He's definitely one for the future. Again, we have an English product and we want to make sure that we continue to pick up the English players. 

    "But sometimes that can get a little bit overwhelming at times and people get ahead of themselves a little bit. But there’s no question in my mind that he's a very talented young man and will be a great asset to the football club going forward."

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