NBA

Giannis dominates with 40 in Bucks win over Pacers, 76ers miss top spot chance again

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a remarkable individual performance to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference top two hunt with a 142-133 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.

Antetokounmpo scored 40 points, with 15 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks closed in on the second-placed Brooklyn Nets (46-24), improving their record to 45-25.

Milwaukee shot at 57 per cent on the night, boosted by the Greek forward who shot 14-from-18 from the field, going at 77.8 per cent.

Antetokounmpo's display was the first since Charles Barkley in 1988 where a player had at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and shot at higher than 75 per cent.

At the top of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers missed the chance to claim first seeding again, going down 106-94 to the surging Miami Heat.

The 76ers trailed by 19 at the half with Joel Embiid returning from illness, while Jimmy Butler had 16 points by the main break.

Butler finished with 21 points including four-from-four beyond the arc as the Heat claimed their sixth win from their past seven.

 

Blazers blow buzzer beater, Knicks still in top four hunt

The Portland Trail Blazers left the door open for the Los Angeles Lakers to usurp them in the playoffs race after going down on the buzzer 118-117 to the Phoenix Suns.

C.J. McCollum, who had 27 points, had a shot to win the game on the buzzer but missed, meaning the Blazers move to 41-30, marginally ahead of the Lakers on 40-30 and seventh in the West. Damian Lillard had 41 points for Portland.

The New York Knicks kept up their push for a top four spot in the East with a 102-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs, who qualify for the play-in tournament after the Sacramento Kings lost.

Julius Randle had 25 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for the Knicks, while R.J. Barrett scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half.

MVP favourite Nikola Jokic faced off against Rookie of the Year candidate Anthony Edwards as the Denver Nuggets won 114-103 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jokic dominated with 31 points and 14 rebounds, while Edwards had 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Atlanta Hawks made it 10 consecutive home wins with a 116-93 victory over the Orlando Magic led by Clint Capela with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

 

Kings' long wait extends

The Sacramento Kings' 116-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies means they are mathematically out of post-season calculations, which also means they long wait for playoffs basketball extends. The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006.

 

Clippers on-song beyond the arc

The Los Angeles Clippers scored an outstanding 21 three-pointers as a team in their 113-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets. They went at 46.7 per cent from range with Reggie Jackson draining five after coming off the bench.

 

Thursday's results

Los Angeles Clippers 113-90 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 142-133 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 106-94 Philadelphia 76ers
New York Knicks 102-98 San Antonio Spurs
Atlanta Hawks 116-93 Orlando Magic
Chicago Bulls 114-102 Toronto Raptors
Denver Nuggets 114-103 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 116-110 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 118-117 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Magic at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers, after back-to-back losses, will look to seal top seeding in the Eastern Conference when they host the lowly Orlando Magic.

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    Monty Williams was still looking at the bigger picture after the Golden State Warriors ended the Phoenix Suns' long winning run at Chase Center on Friday.

    The 118-96 loss snapped the Suns' 18-game winning streak and saw the Warriors return to top spot in the Western Conference with a 19-3 record.

    Phoenix beat Golden State 104-96 on Tuesday, but were unable to pull off a repeat three days later, as they were left in second spot on 19-4.

    Suns head coach Williams insisted on looking at the bright side and praised his players for the focus they have shown since losing three of their first four games of the season. 

    "I'm too in it to reflect on it properly," Williams told reporters when asked about the streak ending. "I think every win is special. To me, it was the collective focus that we've had throughout this season, not just the streak. It's only been 23 games, right? So there's a lot of basketball to be played.

    "When we were 1-3 there was no panic, or 'what are we doing?' We just kinda hung in there and simplified some things and played good basketball.

    "We arguably played the best team in the league tonight, them or us. We're not quite sure who it is but it's good to be in that category.

    "Just the focus and the programme growing, that's what I'll remember."

    The Suns were down 51-48 at half-time, but could not build on a strong second quarter and fell away to eventually lose by 22 points, with Deandre Ayton top scoring for the visitors with 23.

    Williams said: "I thought they did a good job of speeding us up. We did that to them the other day. That's part of the chess match.

    "It was physical. I thought they won that battle tonight. It was just one of those tough games.

    "We learned a ton. Both teams about even in turnovers. It was just a slugfest."

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    James returned in Friday's 119-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers having cleared the league's COVID-19 protocols after additional testing confirmed he was not a positive case.

    The four-time MVP and NBA champion, however, was left frustrated by the process that cost him a game and caused him "big-time inconvenience", having recorded a positive test prior to Tuesday's game in Sacramento.

    "Pretty confused, frustrated, angry with not being able to do anything," James said at the post-game news conference.

    James, 36, explained his anger was that he had initially tested negative, before a positive test, which led to immediate isolation rather than a further test to confirm his status.

    "Usually when you have a positive test, they will test you right away to make sure," James said. "There was not a follow-up test after my positive test. It was straight into isolation and you've been put into protocol. That was the part that angered me.

    "I had to figure out a way to get back from Sacramento by myself, no security, no one. I had to put my kids in isolation for the time being. The people in my house into isolation. It was a big- time inconvenience. That was the anger part."

    James added that he always knew he was not COVID-19 positive, having no symptoms, further fuelling his frustration at the process.

    "I knew I was going to get cleared," he said. "I never felt sick at all. I know you can be asymptomatic but if what I had was a positive COVID test, then what are we doing? What are we talking about?

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    James, who returned with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against the Clippers, has played 11 games this season, averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

    The Lakers are 12-12 following Friday's loss.

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    Stephen Curry says the Golden State Warriors were motivated to correct their own mistakes after reversing Tuesday's defeat to the Phoenix Suns with a 118-96 win on Friday.

    Curry, who only managed 12 points in Tuesday's loss, top scored with 23 points for the Warriors, including six three-pointers.

    The result ended the Suns' 18-game winning streak and saw the Warriors return to top spot in the Western Conference with a 19-3 record.

    The Suns had humbled the Warriors 104-96 on Tuesday, despite Devin Booker going down injured in the second quarter, with Curry kept quiet but they found a way to bounce back.

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    "He's the best defender in the world," Kerr said at the post-game news conference. "He does everything for us defensively.

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    Kerr added that the Suns remained the team to the beat in the west, despite snapping their 18-game winning streak.

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    "We have huge respect for Phoenix and what they've accomplished. We know we're trying to catch them. We haven’t been in the playoffs for two years. We know they're the best team in the west until somebody knocks them off. It was good to see our team respond after losing to them."

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