NBA

MVP Jokic leads Nuggets to OT win with another triple-double, Giannis struggles

By Sports Desk December 09, 2021

Nikola Jokic showed why he is the reigning NBA MVP after leading the Denver Nuggets to a 120-114 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jokic posted back-to-back triple-doubles as the Nuggets outlasted the Pelicans in NBA action on Wednesday.

After putting up a triple-double on Monday, Jokic was at it again midweek with a season-high 39 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Jokic scored 11 of his points in OT to help the Nuggets take down the Pelicans – the Serb star posting his ninth career 30-point triple-double, the most in NBA history by a center not named Wilt Chamberlain.

Overall, it is Jokic's 61st career triple-double, one behind Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden, who ranks seventh all-time.

 

Red-hot Rockets win again

The Houston Rockets capitalised on Kevin Durant's absence in a 114-104 win over the shorthanded and Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets. Durant was rested and the Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games. According to Stats Perform, the Rockets are the first NBA/NBA/NHL team to have a losing streak of 15-plus games and then a winning streak of at least seven games later that same season (at any point) since the Louisville Colonels in 1895.

Joel Embiid was the source of inspiration again for the Philadelphia 76ers, who prevailed 110-106 against the Charlotte Hornets. Embiid had 32 points to lead the 76ers. It is the ninth time in Embiid's career he has tallied at least 75 points and 20 rebounds in a two-game span. The only other 76ers to do so at least nine times are Hall of Famers Chamberlain and Charles Barkley.

The NBA-leading Golden State Warriors were too good for Western Conference rivals the Portland Trail Blazers 104-94.

 

Giannis struggles as champs fall

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks lost 113-104 at the Miami Heat after superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with just 15 points on four-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes.

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    Ash Barty was told how her backhand slice has been compared to that of Roger Federer, but the women's top seed at the Australian Open is not convinced.

    Barty produced a stellar display as she saw off Jessica Pegula in Tuesday's quarter-final, losing just two games over the entire duel as the American proved no match.

    Her victory sets up a semi-final clash with another American, Madison Keys, with Barty aiming to reach the final of her home grand slam for the first time.

    Barty was ruthless against Pegula, firing 17 winners to her opponent's seven, while she won five of the nine break points available to her.

    But it was her backhand slice – one of the most recognisable shots in the women's game today – that was particularly notable to four-time grand slam winner Jim Courier in commentary, who compared Barty in this respect to Federer.

    Not that Barty was having any of it.

    "That's very kind from Jim," Barty told reporters afterwards. "I think everyone's shots are unique.

    "I think obviously Roger has one of the most exceptional slice backhands in the game. Mine's a long way off that. Absolutely, no stretch of the imagination we are even on the same page at all.

    "But I love to use my slice, I love to get creative with it, to use it offensively and defensively. Over my career I've learnt it is a weapon for me.

    "I try and use it when I have to. Sometimes I try and use it when it's my choice and I can be really, really aggressive with it.

    "But being able to use it with variety and have different options has been a massive part of my game through this last couple of years of my career."

    When Barty faces Keys in the semi-final, she will have already matched her personal best at the Australian Open – she also reached the last four in 2020.

    But the combination of being world number one for over two years and having two grand slams under her belt is helping her maintain focus this time around.

    "[It's] a bit of both. I think the process hasn't changed, but obviously the familiarity of knowing what to expect or expect how my body feels and almost be able to deal with those emotions a little bit better has probably changed and grown as I've become more experienced," she continued.

    "But the processes for us haven't changed regardless of whether it's a first round of the tournament, latter stage of a grand slam, it doesn't actually matter the process before we walk out on court.

    "But it's exciting, and I think also being able to embrace the excitement of being in with a chance to play deep in your home slam, it's pretty cool. I think going out there and enjoying that and really embracing that experience helps for sure."

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  • Australian Open: Barty dominates Pegula to book semi-final berth Australian Open: Barty dominates Pegula to book semi-final berth

    Ash Barty was in clinical form to swat aside Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-0 in just 63 minutes and book her spot in the Australian Open semi-finals.

    The world number one is still to drop a set at her home slam in Melbourne and made easy work of her opponent as Barty continued her bid to become the first female Australian singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

    Barty won nine games in a row from 3-2 up in the first set to take complete command and she can now prepare for a semi-final showdown with another American in the form of Madison Keys.

    A nervy-looking Pegula was rushing her shots in the early exchanges and Barty broke in the first game when a forehand cross set up a break point chance that her opponent put into the net.

    Barty had chalked up 12 unforced errors by game four, but it was her aggressive tactics that had Pegula completely on the ropes and when a thumping forehand set up another break point in game seven, it was little surprise when it was converted.

    By this point Barty was in complete command and Pegula had no answer to the variety of shots her opponent rained down on her.

    The second set raced by in just 28 minutes, with Barty putting the finishing touch on a mightily impressive performance when Pegula put a return long on the second match point.

    "Jess is an incredible person and a brilliant girl. I love to test myself against her. She's had sensational couple of years, she's definitely a top-20 player, there's plenty more to come for sure," Barty said after the match.

    On reaching the semis in Melbourne for the second time after doing so in 2020, she added: "I've grown as a person, as a player, I'm a more complete tennis player.

    "Credit to my team, they do so much work behind the scenes to make me the best version of myself, I love playing out here. Hopefully I've got a little bit more left."

    DATA SLAM: Barty serves up a treat again

    Barty defeated both Pegula and Keys en route to winning her maiden slam title at the 2019 French Open and history could be repeating itself here with the world number one playing arguably the best tennis of her career.

    Behind her dominance is phenomenal success on serve. Barty is still yet to drop a set in Melbourne, and went 63 games without being broken before Amanda Anisimova did so in the previous round. Here, she lost just five points on first serve (22 of 27, 81 per cent) and gave up just a solitary break-point opportunity in the match.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Barty – 17/22
    Pegula – 7/26

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Barty – 6/2
    Pegula – 1/3

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Barty – 5/9
    Pegula – 0/1

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