NBA

Warriors and Bulls suffer first losses, Embiid's double-double fuels 76ers

By Sports Desk October 29, 2021

The Golden State Warriors lost for the first time this NBA season, Stephen Curry and his team-mates outlasted 104-101 by the rallying Memphis Grizzlies after overtime.

Golden State were riding a 4-0 record – their sixth such start to a campaign in franchise history – but the Warriors came unstuck at home to the Grizzlies on Thursday.

Having forced overtime with a 25-19 fourth quarter, Ja Morant's Grizzlies outscored the Warriors 6-3 in OT to inflict a first loss of the season on Golden State.

Morant – leading the league with 30.4 points per game this season – fuelled the Grizzlies with 30 points on the road after overturning a 19-point deficit.

 

Curry, who did not score in the fourth quarter or OT, had a game-high 36 points as the Warriors ended the game with 22 turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls – enjoying their first 4-0 start to a season since 1996-97 – also lost for the first time in 2021-22, edged 104-103 by the New York Knicks.

 

Embiid leads the way, Jazz stay undefeated

Despite a sore right knee, last season's MVP runner-up Joel Embiid inspired the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-102 victory over the winless Detroit Pistons. Embiid had 30 points and 18 rebounds. The 76ers star put up 19 points and 12 boards in the opening half – the sixth time since the start of last season he has posted a point-rebound double-double in a half, tied for seventh in the NBA during that span.

The Utah Jazz – last season's Western Conference top seeds – are the lone unbeaten team in the league after routing the Houston Rockets 122-91. All-Star Rudy Gobert (16 points and 14 rebounds) recorded another double-double. According to Stats Perform, it is the first time ever the Jazz are the last remaining undefeated side in the NBA.

 

Slumping Spurs lose again

The San Antonio Spurs lost their fourth consecutive game, this time falling to rivals the Dallas Mavericks 104-99.

Kevin Huerter was one of the surprising stars of the Atlanta Hawks' run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but he struggled in the 122-111 loss at the Washington Wizards. He was scoreless in 14 minutes, having missed all four of his shots from the field.

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  • Morant follows All-Star selection with 30-point triple-double: 'It's hard to remember all the stuff he's doing' Morant follows All-Star selection with 30-point triple-double: 'It's hard to remember all the stuff he's doing'

    Ja Morant made Memphis Grizzlies history in his first game since being named an All-Star starter, but that came as no surprise to team-mate Jaren Jackson Jr.

    Morant – a first-time All-Star – was selected in the Western Conference lineup this week after an outstanding start to his third season in the NBA.

    The former second overall pick is averaging 25.9 points and broke new ground in recording his first triple-double of the year in Friday's 119-109 win over the Utah Jazz, who slipped further behind the third-placed Grizzlies with a fourth straight defeat.

    Morant had 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, making it the highest-scoring triple by a Memphis player. The previous record, held jointly by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, was 28 points.

    The 22-year-old's Grizzlies team-mates had celebrated his All-Star recognition before the game – and that continued after another outstanding display.

    "All-Star starter and his first time being an All-Star at the same time – that's probably a lot to think about," said Jackson.

    "I'm glad he was able to come out and perform today, because I imagine there's lots of things to think about, thinking about all the work you put in to get to this point.

    "It's really cool to see. We kind of figured, but you just don't know until it happens. I know he was super geeked about it.

    "I see more of the work he puts in than anybody else – just because I'm on the same team, I get to see him practice, I get to see a bunch of stuff – so that's money, man."

    Jackson, put forward as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate by Morant, had six blocks for a second consecutive game – Brook Lopez, in January 2020, was the last player to enjoy such a streak.

    But he was far more comfortable discussing Morant's latest achievement, adding: "I didn't know he did it, I'm just now looking at it. Thirty-point triple-double? That's tough.

    "He does it all the time, though. I guess we can celebrate it, I'll celebrate it internally and just be happy for him – that's my dog – but it's hard to remember all the stuff he's doing, because there's too many. My memory's not that good.

    "This is historic stuff right here. I'm glad everyone's just enjoying watching it for what it is, because this is special stuff."

    Neither the All-Star selection nor this latest piece of history distracted Morant from the task at hand, however.

    "It's the same job as before the announcement was made: go out and prove myself," Morant said. "Tonight was another one of those nights, just trying to win the game.

    "I think the win was more important, but I guess the triple-double was needed to get the win. All in all, it was a good night."

  • Vogel hails 'spectacular' Westbrook despite late miss Vogel hails 'spectacular' Westbrook despite late miss

    Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel had no issues with Russell Westbrook going for gold late on in Friday's defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.

    Without the injured LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers went down 117-114 to Charlotte, as they slipped to 24-26 for the season.

    It was a second successive defeat for the Lakers, who have won just three games out of their last 10, a slump that has put Vogel under pressure.

    In the absence of his fellow star players, Westbrook did his utmost to push Los Angeles over the line, scoring 35 points and adding four rebounds and five assists.

    Yet it was Westbrook who missed a crucial three-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining, the point guard having gone for glory with the Lakers trailing by two points, instead of trying to take the game to overtime.

    Westbrook's effort hit the rim, leaving P.J. Watson to go up the other end and add a further point for the Hornets with a free throw.

    Vogel defended his decision to take Westbrook off in the final stages of a defeat to the Indiana Pacers earlier this month, but after Friday's game, the Lakers coach was keen to stress his appreciation of the 33-year-old's performance.

    "The hottest guy in the gym has the ball in his hands ready to make a play," Vogel told reporters when asked for his thoughts on Westbrook's decision to go for the three points.

    "He was three for six from the three in the second half and went for the win. He knocks that down, we're talking about one hell of a win. 

    "It just didn’t go down for us. Russell was spectacular in that second half. He just really willed our team into an opportunity to steal one on the road.

    "I really appreciated Russell's performance tonight. I really want to credit [him]. He was very determined tonight."

    "I had just made two [three-pointers] just before that, so I will live and die with that one," said Westbrook, who has 945 points to his name this season at an average of 18.9 per game.

    Miles Bridges was tasked with marking Westbrook in the fourth, a tussle the Hornets' small forward – who had 26 points – enjoyed.

    "I know he didn’t want to go to overtime," Bridges explained. "I tried to get a good contest on him."

    Westbrook added: "I think [Miles] was trying to say I was too small or something, but that ain't the case and he knows better than that.

    "It was definitely on my mind and I was like, ok, that's going to be a good trigger for me. I was able to turn it up a little notch, especially during that time of the game."

    The Lakers are back in action on Sunday, against the Atlanta Hawks.

    The teams met earlier in January, before the Lakers' dismal run, with Los Angeles claiming a 134-118 home win.

    Los Angeles' points tally in that win was the most they had scored in a game against Atlanta since 1993 (135).

  • Depleted Lakers lose again, Paul and Booker star for red-hot Suns Depleted Lakers lose again, Paul and Booker star for red-hot Suns

    The absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were felt as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a second successive defeat.

    Davis registered 31 points, 12 rebounds in Thursday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but like James missed out through injury on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.

    That meant the onus was on Russell Westbrook to step up, and though he had 35 points, he ultimately missed a crucial, game-clinching three-pointer, having decided to go for the win rather than try for overtime.

    P.J. Washington secured the rebound after Westbrook's attempt hit the rim, and added further insult with a free throw with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to seal a 117-114 win for Charlotte.

    Since a four-game winning streak was snapped by the Memphis Grizzlies on January 9, Los Angeles has won just three of their nine games.

    The Hornets, meanwhile, gained revenge for their overtime loss to the Lakers back in November in the only previous meeting this season, ending a six-game losing streak against Los Angeles in the process.

    Suns in red-hot form

    It is now nine wins in a row for the Phoenix Suns, who lead the NBA with 39 victories in 2021-22 after overcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124.

    Devin Booker led the game with 29 points, while Chris Paul had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists and Cam Johnson's tally of 23 points included crucial back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

    The Suns' record of 39-9 is the best in franchise history at this stage of a season, and have now won the 30 games in which they have led after three quarters.

    While the Suns top the Western Conference, the Miami Heat continued their run at the top of the East by holding off a late push from the Los Angeles Clippers in a 121-114 success.

    Miami has now won 10 of their last 12 games and snapped a six-game losing streak against the Clippers, who fought back to within four points but fell short of another comeback after their record-setting efforts against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

    All-Star Morant sets franchise record

    Ja Morant proved why he has been named an All-Star starter as he delivered a triple-double of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119-109 win for the Grizzlies over the Utah Jazz.

    It was the highest-scoring triple-double in franchise history and the fourth overall for Morant, who has scored at least 30 points for five straight games as Memphis moved to 34-17.

    DeMar DeRozan's return to San Antonio ended in defeat for the Chicago Bulls, who went down 131-122 to the Spurs.

    Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double in the Denver Nuggets' victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points in an emphatic win for the Milwaukee Bucks over the New York Knicks.

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