Joel Embiid admitted his shooting was way off where it should be as the Philadelphia 76ers star warned his COVID-19 road to recovery could be a long one.

Coach Doc Rivers is braced for the possibility there could be more tough nights to come for Embiid after he struggled in an 88-87 defeat to the Boston Celtics.

MVP runner-up Embiid had a double-double of 13 points and 18 rebounds, but he was just three-of-17 shooting.

His points tally was his lowest in a game this season, and Embiid's average of 22.0 points is way down on last term, when he averaged 28.5 over 51 games.

He has plenty of time to get that figure up, but Embiid is working his way back from a nine-game coronavirus lay-off, and despite scoring 42 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in his comeback game, he has followed 16 against the Orlando Magic with another disappointing performance.

"I would never use it as an excuse, but obviously I think it's going to take me a while to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff," said Embiid.

"But every single day I've got to keep working hard, and keep getting better. I can't be playing the way I've played in these last two games, especially when it comes to shot-making.

"If teams are going to double me and I'm not going to get easy baskets, I have to create for myself and my team-mates, and I've got to make those shots."

The Sixers (11-11) head to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and then travel to tackle the Charlotte Hornets in two games early next week.

Rivers can see Embiid is not quite himself on the court, but the coach sees no other way through the situation that continuing to play and support his Cameroonian star.

"We've got to get Joel going – number one," Rivers said. "We get him going, the whole team gets going. That's the number one thing.

"But that's two games in a row I thought the offense was lacklustre. Execution is really bad right now. But, again, I'm not concerned by it. We're going to get through it. It's just that we're dropping games while we're getting through it."

The Sixers shot just 8-of-31 from three-point range and were 33-for-89 overall, Seth Curry leading scorers with 17 points.

Rivers appreciates Embiid is lacking rhythm, but the coach cannot put a finger on quite why it is the case.

"Everybody with COVID, I just don't know those answers," Rivers said. "Some guys come back quickly and play pretty well, a lot of guys have played the one great game when they're back and then they've gone into a little fog.

"You could tell he's definitely struggling getting going. We've just got to keep playing him and let him play through it."

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 127-125 thanks to superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo's monster double-double and late driving layup with 2.0 seconds remaining lifted the in-form Bucks (14-8) to their eighth consecutive victory midweek.

Milwaukee's Antetokounmpo had 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a near triple-double performance at home to the Hornets.

The Bucks withstood LaMelo Ball, who posted 36 points, nine assists and five rebounds on the road for the Hornets (13-11).

 

Doncic flexes his muscles

Luka Doncic fuelled the Dallas Mavericks' 139-107 victory at the New Orleans Pelicans. He put up 28 points and 14 assists in just 27 minutes. According to Stats Perform, Doncic is the first player to reach those numbers while playing 27 minutes or less since Hall of Famer Magic Johnson in 1987.

Jae'Sean Tate's career-high 32 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks helped the Houston Rockets rally past the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-110. The Rockets are the first team in NBA history with four straight wins immediately after a 15-game losing streak, per Stats Perform. As for Tate, he joined Hakeem Olajuwon as the only Rockets players to record 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, five-plus assists and five-plus blocks in a game.

 

Embiid struggles as Philly's offensive woes continue

In the absence of wantaway All-Star Ben Simmons, the Philadelphia 76ers continue to endure a topsy-turvy campaign following their 88-87 defeat to the Boston Celtics. MVP runner-up Joel Embiid had a double-double of 13 points and 18 rebounds, but he was just three-of-17 shooting. Tobias Harris was four-of-11 shooting – missing all four of his three-point attempts – for only eight points.

Duncan Robinson had a game to forget as the shorthanded Miami Heat went down 111-85 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Robinson went scoreless in 20 minutes on 0-of-seven shooting from the floor, having failed to make any of his six efforts from beyond the arc.

The Golden State Warriors continue to set the pace in the NBA after Stephen Curry fuelled the league-leading franchise to a 105-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Curry put up a game-high 33 points and the red-hot Warriors celebrated their eighth consecutive victory on Sunday.

The two-time MVP also had six assists, six steals and five rebounds as the Warriors improved to 18-2 this season.

Golden State had 19 steals in total at Staples Center, where Paul George (30 points) and the Clippers shot just 40 per cent from the field.

The Warriors have held their opponents to under 50 per cent shooting in all 20 games this season – Golden State have the best defensive rating and opponent field goal percentage in 2021-22.

 

 

Lakers win grudge match

The Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the lowly Detroit Pistons 110-106 as the two teams renewed hostilities for the first time since LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart were ejected following a melee. James had struck Stewart in the face – drawing blood, sparking wild scenes as the Pistons big man repeatedly charged at the Lakers superstar on November 21. On Sunday, James scored 33 points and tallied nine assists to help the Lakers. Anthony Davis (24 points and 10 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (25 points and nine rebounds) also contributed in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks eased past the Indiana Pacers 118-100 for their seventh successive victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a day out with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Tatum overshadows Celtics triumph

The Boston Celtics left Canada with a 109-97 win against the Toronto Raptors, but it was a miserable outing for All-Star Jayson Tatum. While he had 10 assists and seven rebounds, Tatum finished with just eight points on two-of-16 shooting in a team-high 38 minutes. He also recorded four turnovers.

The Phoenix Suns are closing in on a franchise record after celebrating a 15th successive win with a 118-97 victory against the New York Knicks in the NBA.

Last season's Finals runners-up, the Suns are two victories away from equalling their all-time consecutive win streak of 17 games thanks to Friday's triumph – Phoenix won 17 straight games in 2006-07.

Devin Booker fuelled the red-hot Suns with 32 points at Madison Square Garden, Chris Paul (14 points and 10 assists) and Deandre Ayton (14 points and 13 rebounds) contributed double-doubles on the road.

Reigning Western Conference champions the Suns boast a 16-3 record this season, a mark only bettered by rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2).

 

 

Warriors win again

The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games by topping the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while the two-time MVP surpassed Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Draymond Green put up 12 points and 12 assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost a wild game against the Sacramento Kings, outlasted 141-137 following triple overtime. Not even Russell Westbrook's triple-double (29 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) or LeBron James' 30 points and 11 assists could lift the Lakers in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Nikola Jokic-less Denver Nuggets 120-109 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 24 points and 13 rebounds. By topping the depleted Nuggets, the Bucks made it six straight victories.

 

Jazz stunned in Salt Lake City

The lowly New Orleans Pelicans shocked the Utah Jazz 98-97 courtesy of Devonte' Graham's go-ahead three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining on the road.

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the struggling Detroit Pistons 107-96, but it was a rough outing for star Paul George, who was just five-for-19 shooting in a 12-point display. Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham, meanwhile, finished with 10 points having made only three of his 13 shots from the field.

The moment itself was hardly unique, but Kevin Durant had a hard time grasping what it represented. 

With his first basket Wednesday, less than two minutes into the Brooklyn Nets' 123-104 victory over the Boston Celtics, Durant moved past his childhood idol Allen Iverson and into 25th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Durant watched as Iverson starred at Georgetown University before going on to a legendary NBA career. 

The Hall of Famer Iverson scored 24,368 points in his 14-year career, and Durant now sits at 24,388, which was a bit much for the Nets star to process as he spoke to reporters after the game. 

"It means the world," Durant said. "I dedicated my life to this game at an early age ... so I watched all these guys that I'm passing up [on the scoring list]. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be in the NBA like them, and make an impact in the league like them.

"So Iverson, he was the pantheon for me. One of those guys that I emulated every time I went outside and played with my friends. It's all surreal. I pictured I would be in the league, and had an idea ... but to do it is pretty special."

The 33-year-old Durant should be able to pass several more Hall of Famers on the list this season if he stays healthy. Next in line are Ray Allen (24,505) and another Georgetown icon, Patrick Ewing (24,815).

More immediately, Durant and the Nets just want to keep winning. 

They have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 14-5 ahead of a visit from the NBA's hottest team, the Phoenix Suns, on Saturday. 

While the Nets' only defeat in their last eight games came at home against the other Western Conference superpower, the Golden State Warriors, Durant said it is too early in the season to put too much stock in individual games. 

"We gauge who we are every day," Durant said. "We understand that these teams are coming in, and teams are playing well. But it is November. I mean, every team wants to round into shape in the middle of the season, as the playoffs are starting to come around.

"I'm not saying that we want to give away any games, but, win or lose, I don't really think this is going to tell us that much about where we're headed as a team, you know what I'm saying?

"But we obviously want to come out there and stick to our principles and keep getting better at that stuff. From the outside looking in, I understand the records and the narratives around games and stuff. But I don't think this can tell us too much about what may happen down the line."

It took a while, but big brother came out on top as Stephen and Seth Curry faced off Wednesday. 

Stephen's Golden State Warriors trailed by as many as 19 in the first half but rallied to cruise to a 116-96 victory over Seth's Philadelphia 76ers. 

Seth Curry led all scorers with 17 points before half-time as the 76ers (10-8) roared out of the gate, but they could not sustain it for the long haul. 

Golden State (15-2) opened the second half with a 14-2 run to take the lead and the teams went back and forth for a while before the Warriors iced the game with a 28-8 run in the fourth quarter. 

It was the second time this season the Warriors won a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 10. The rest of the NBA's teams only have three such games. 

Stephen Curry led the way with 25 points and added 10 assists, while Seth finished with 24 to lead the 76ers, but they took different routes to those similar point totals. 

Stephen made just one free throw but connected on six of 11 three-point attempts. Seth missed all five of his three-point tries but was eight-for-eight from the line. 

Golden State have won nine straight home games, all by at least 13 points. 

 

LeBron leads Lakers to OT win in return

LeBron James poured in a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in overtime as he returned from a one-game suspension to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Indiana Pacers 124-116. Russell Westbrook added 20 for the Lakers (10-10), who were playing without Anthony Davis as he was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers (8-12) with 28 points.

Down by 10 to the Chicago Bulls midway through the third quarter, it appeared the Houston Rockets were on their way to a 16th consecutive loss, but a 27-9 run to end the period put the Rockets on top and they never looked back on the way to a 118-113 triumph. Houston (2-16) made eight of their 11 three-point attempts in the decisive third quarter and 17 of 36 threes overall in the game. Danuel House Jr. led the Rockets with 18 points in 17 minutes off the bench, all in the second half. Zach LaVine had 28 for the Bulls (12-7). 

Devin Booker scored 24 of his game-high 35 points in the first half as the Phoenix Suns held off a late challenge to win their 14th game in a row, 120-115 over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chris Paul added 17 points and 12 assists for the Suns (15-3), while Jarrett Allen made nine of 10 shots from the field to lead Cleveland (9-10) with 25 points. 

Patty Mills had 23 points, Kevin Durant 21 and James Harden 20 as the Brooklyn Nets (14-5) opened up an early lead at the Boston Celtics (10-9) and kept rolling on the way to a 123-104 victory. 

 

Rare win for Pelicans over slumping Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost for the fourth time in five games on the heels of a five-game winning streak, getting blown out 127-102 by a New Orleans Pelicans team that entered the game with a 3-16 record. Washington (11-7) turned the ball over 19 times to 10 for New Orleans and made just seven of 31 three-point attempts (22.6) while also missing 13 of their 36 free-throw attempts. Brandon Ingram scored 26 for the Pelicans and Bradley Beal led Washington with 23. 

The Memphis Grizzlies scored the final seven points of the game for a stunning 119-118 road defeat of the Utah Jazz on Monday.

After Bojan Bogdanovic made a pair of three-pointers to give Utah a 108-112 lead with 1:28 to play, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. combined to make four free throws and Jackson hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 5.7 seconds to play as Memphis (9-8) pulled out the win.

Utah (11-6) missed their final four shots of the game and also turned the ball over twice in the final 20 seconds. 

Morant had 32 points to lead all scorers and added seven assists, while Desmond Bane scored 28 and Jackson finished with 26. 

Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 24 points and Rudy Gobert contributed 23 on nine-of-10 shooting while grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds and blocking five shots. 

 

Durant, Nets hold off Cavaliers

Kevin Durant had 27 points and nine rebounds while James Harden chipped in 14 points and 14 assists for the Brooklyn Nets in a 117-112 road victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting off the bench for Brooklyn (13-5) as Darius Garland led Cleveland (9-9) with 24 points and 11 assists as he made only nine of 27 shots from the field. 

Tyrese Maxey scored 24 and Andre Drummond collected 23 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers (10-8) pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 102-94 defeat of the Sacramento Kings (6-12) despite playing without Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry. De'Aaron Fox led the Kings with 23 in Alvin Gentry's first game as interim head coach. 

Jaylen Brown scored 19 points in 23 minutes as he returned to the Boston Celtics lineup after missing the previous eight games with a right hamstring strain. Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 30 as the Celtics (10-8) defeated Houston 108-90, sending the Rockets (1-16) to their 15th consecutive loss as they fell to 0-11 on the road. 

The Phoenix Suns held off a late charge by the San Antonio Spurs to prevail 115-111 for their 13th consecutive win. Devin Booker had 23 points to lead the Suns (14-3) while Deandre Ayton added 21 points and 14 rebounds. 

 

Bulls draw blanks from field

The Chicago Bulls entered Monday level with the Nets for the best record in the Eastern Conference but could not find their shooting touch in an ugly 109-77 home defeat against the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls (12-6) made 31 of 85 shots from the field (36.5 per cent), including just six of 28 (21.4 per cent) from three-point range. They scored 30 points in the second quarter but just 47 in the other three combined as Indiana (8-11) built an earl lead, then ran away with it in the second half. 

It took Jaylen Brown a while to get heated up Monday in his first game in two and a half weeks, but the Boston Celtics liked what they saw once he got going. 

Brown returned to the Boston lineup after missing eight games with a right hamstring strain and did his part as the Celtics pulled away from the woeful Houston Rockets in the second half for a 108-90 victory. 

Head coach Ime Udoka said before the game that Brown likely would be limited to 24 minutes, and he ended up playing 23, scoring 19 points on six-of-13 shooting from the field. 

The 25-year-old guard missed his first three shot attempts before sinking a jumper midway through the first quarter, but he did not show signs of his usual self until the second half. 

Midway through the third quarter, Brown embarked on a personal 10-0 run capped by a pair of three-pointers just 24 seconds apart to boost the Boston lead to 72-50. 

"He got warm, then got on that flurry in the third quarter," said Udoka. "To have him back in that third quarter to see what he did was a great sign."

Udoka said Brown "still doesn't feel normal, normal" so the team likely will take care to avoid rushing him back to his typical load of about 36 minutes per game. 

Any contribution figures to be a positive for the Celtics, who have now won three in a row for the first time this season as Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 30 points Monday.

All of the Celtics' big-picture plans include Brown as a key piece, though, so seeing him back on the court was a relief. 

"Once he was able to get a couple baskets, you could just see that he felt more comfortable with everything and he opened up," said team-mate Al Horford. "He's such a good player that he'll find his way."

Robert Williams III also returned to the Boston lineup after missing three games with a knee injury. The big man attempted just one shot from the field, and made it, but made his presence felt by racking up 15 rebounds. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo's monster performance helped the Milwaukee Bucks top the Orlando Magic 117-108 in the NBA on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo posted 32 points and collected 20 rebounds to fuel the NBA champions at home to the lowly Magic in Milwaukee.

The Finals MVP became the fifth player to reach 32 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks in a game over the past 40 season, following in the footsteps of DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Bobby Portis added a season-high 24 points along with 15 rebounds as the streaking Bucks (9-8) celebrated their third consecutive victory.

 

 

Lillard leads Blazers

Damian Lillard had a season-high 39 points as the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the Philadelphia 76ers 118-111. Portland improved to 8-1 at home to his season. The 76ers, who continue to be without MVP runner-up Joel Embiid (COVID protocol), were led by 28 points apiece from Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey.

All-Star pair Rudy Gobert (21 points and 14 rebounds) and Donovan Mitchell (26 points) inspired the Utah Jazz to a 123-105 victory away to the Sacramento Kings.

 

Lowry struggles from the floor

The Miami Heat's prized recruit, Kyle Lowry had an off night in the team's 103-100 loss at Eastern conference rivals the Washington Wizards. The NBA champion was just three-of-12 shooting – making one of only seven three-pointers in a seven-point display.

The Charlotte Hornets had their five-game winning streak snapped by the Atlanta Hawks, who prevailed 115-105. Charlotte tasted defeat, despite big performances from Miles Bridges (35 points and 10 rebounds) and LaMelo Ball (15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds).

LeBron James returned from injury but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from suffering their third straight defeat going down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

Jayson Tatum starred for the Celtics with 37 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Marcus Smart was excellent with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

James had 23 points, six rebounds and two assists on his return from an abdominal strain, while Anthony Davis top scored for the Lakers with 31 points.

The four-time MVP showed no signs of injury in the first quarter, helping the Lakers to a strong start, combining with Davis for 22 points, which was their second most in an opening period in the past two seasons.

The Lakers held the lead at half-time but the Celtics hit back in the third quarter with an 8-0 run, opening up an 11-point lead at the final change after a 33-21 period.

The defeat means the 2020 NBA champions have lost seven of their past 10 games and slip to an 8-9 record, while the Celtics improve to 8-8.

 

Suns' hot streak continues

Chris Paul had 18 points and 14 assists as the Phoenix Suns secured their 11th straight win, triumphing 112-104 over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic due to knee and ankle injuries.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points and 19 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks' 96-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Khris Middleton passed Ray Allen for most three-pointers made in franchise history (1,052), hitting three triples in his 16 points.

The Golden State Warriors won without Stephen Curry (bruised hip) and Draymond Green (bruised thigh), with Jordan Poole stepping up with 32 points including four three-pointers in a 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

James Harden shot seven of 25 from the field and had six turnovers but finished with 36 points,10 rebounds and eight assists in Kevin Durant's absence ot lead the Brooklyn Nets past the Orlando Magic 115-113.

Zach LaVine scored 36 points in the Chicago Bulls 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets who were missing Nikola Jokic, while LaMelo Ball starred with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 121-118 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

 

Pelicans clip wayward George 

Paul George shot eight of 26 from the field as the Los Angeles Clippers went down to the New Orleans Pelicans 94-81.

LeBron James says there is a sense of urgency that the Los Angeles Lakers need to play better now after slumping to their ninth defeat of the season on Friday.

James returned from an abdominal strain after eight games out but was unable to lift the Lakers who went down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

After 17 games in an 82-game season, the Lakers have an 8-9 record, having lost their past three games and seven of their past 10.

"We damn straight need to play better, no matter who's in the line-up," James said at a post-game news conference. "We have our system and we need to fast-track it and get better with it.

"It's never that we've got 65 games and we can figure it out. There's no level of panic but there should be some sense of urgency every time we hit the floor."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said offensively his side needs to "get committed to playing as a team" while he labelled their rebounding (51-33) against the Celtics as "atrocious".

Russell Westbrook was among a host of new players added during the offseason at the Lakers and James said it was taking time for the side to develop cohesion.

The four-time NBA MVP also said patience was required having only just returned, along with starting forward Talen Horton-Tucker.

"As we continue to log more minutes, I continue to see where we're great at and not so good at," James said. "Things that we can improve on.

"Like I said, it's my first game in two and a half weeks. I believe it's Talen third or fourth game back. We're trying to figure out rotations and who to play when."

The Lakers led by eight points at quarter time and held the most slender advantage at the main break, before a 33-21 third quarter.

Vogel added: "We did not have a good third. We were stuck in mud. [But] it's about the whole game more than the third quarter.

"Our group has got to strike the balance of how we're going to play offensively. That's going to take some time. We have to get committed to playing as a team offensively.

"When we do, like we saw in the first quarter, it looks beautiful. You see the potential of what we can be."

James added that recovery from his first game back would be key to his short-term future as he rebuilds following his abdominal strain. The 36-year-old forward finished with 23 points and six rebounds on his return.

"Physically I felt okay. I know I can trust my body and play," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel when I wake up. That's the tell-tale sign if I'm moving in the right direction with my injury."

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 47 points as the NBA champions took down the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.

Antetokounmpo dominated the Lakers, making 18 of his 23 field goals, while collecting nine rebounds and three assists for the Bucks (7-8) on Wednesday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

 

All-Star Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton made his return after eight games out due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

The Lakers (8-8), again without superstar LeBron James, were led by double-doubles from Talen Horton-Tucker (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (19 points and 15 assists).

 

Suns stay hot

The Phoenix Suns celebrated their 10th straight victory after outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 105-98. Devin Booker (24 points) and Deandre Ayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the Suns, who are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 2010. Chris Paul had 14 assists without a turnover – his 46th career game with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers, tying Muggsy Bogues for most by any player since 1985.

Damian Lillard's 22 points and 10 assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers upstage the Chicago Bulls 112-107. Zach LaVine (30 points), DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Alex Caruso (12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) starred but the Bulls still lost on the road.

The Miami Heat defeated the New Orleans Pelicans behind Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list for threes made with 1,687, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99.

 

Knicks continue to struggle for form

After returning to the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks have made a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign amid plenty of hype. They were sensationally upstaged by the lowly Orlando Magic 104-98 – their fourth defeat in six games.

DeMar DeRozan was at his brilliant best again as the Chicago Bulls routed the Los Angeles Lakers 121-103 in the NBA on Monday.

DeRozan is the face of the new-look Bulls and the four-time All-Star maintained his MVP-calibre start to the season with a game-high 38 points at Staples Center.

The 32-year-old, who joined the Bulls ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, had his fourth 35-plus point game of the month – tying a career high.

Chicago have won four of their past five games, having also trumped the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, on the back of Lonzo Ball's seven three-pointers in his 27-point display against former team the Lakers.

Zach LaVine added 26 points for the Bulls, who improved to 10-4 in the Eastern Conference after beating the Lakers for the first time since 2016, snapping an eight-game drought.

Without superstar LeBron James, Talen Horton-Tucker (28 points), Russell Westbrook (25 points) and Anthony Davis (20 points) led the stuttering Lakers (8-7).

 

 

Streaking Suns sizzle

Last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Phoenix Suns celebrated their ninth successive victory after outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-96. Devin Booker (29 points), Deandre Ayton (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (21 points) all starred on the road. Ayton is the only player this season to be averaging 15-plus points and 10-plus rebounds while shooting at least 60 per cent from the field.

Cade Cunningham joined Stephen Curry (twice), Trae Young and Jason Kidd as the only rookies in NBA history with 25 points, five three-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists in a game. The number one draft pick, however, was unable to prevent the lowly Detroit Pistons falling 129-107 to the Sacramento Kings.

 

Doncic limps off court

The Dallas Mavericks took down reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets 111-101, but it appeared to have come at a cost. Mavericks star Luka Doncic limped off the court after rolling his ankle in the final minute of the game. Doncic had posted 23 points and 11 assists to help fuel the Mavericks. Jokic's 35-point and 16-rebound double-double was not enough for Denver.

Coach J. B. Bickerstaff lauded Evan Mobley's "will to win" after the rookie "stepped up big" in the Cleveland Cavaliers' stunning comeback victory against the Boston Celtics.

The Cavaliers moved to 9-5 with their sixth win in seven games on Saturday, making this their best start to a season since 2016-17 – a year in which LeBron James led the team to the third of four straight NBA Finals visits.

This latest 91-89 triumph was particularly impressive as Cleveland trailed by 19 points when Mobley returned to the game late in the third quarter.

"We keep talking about chemistry and bonding and belief in one another, and that was on full display tonight," said Bickerstaff. "That's the only way you can explain it.

"There's no basketball reason we should have won that game, but there was a collective spirit that refused to allow us to lose that game. That's what we keep talking about brewing in that locker room.

"Don't get me wrong, some guys made critical plays and carried their weight, but it's the spirit of that basketball team, that has that fight in them, that won't give up."

Several of those critical plays belonged to third overall pick Mobley, who finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 40 minutes. Of those, 12 points, two blocks and a steal came in the fourth quarter as he played its entirety.

No player in the NBA scored more clutch points than Mobley's six on Saturday, albeit tied with the Celtics' Jayson Tatum – who the Cavs man was asked to stop.

 

"It's the will to win basketball games," Bickerstaff said of Mobley's best trait. "Literally the only thing that matters to him is: how do I help this team win?

"Not only was it the block, but it's the free throws, it's the baseline jumper, it's the post move to get to the finish. It was an array of different things.

"Then at the end of the game, we had him on Jayson Tatum. We put him on the other team's best player. Whatever it takes to win, he's willing to do it.

"He's not satisfied with these small victories or these small moments. He understands what he wants long-term, and he understands that in order to get there, you've got to do it every night.

"He didn't start out blazing, he was working his way through it in the first half. Then as the game got going, he found his way. And when it was clutch time, he stepped up big."

Mobley has quickly proven a threat from anywhere on the court in his short time in the NBA but is especially effective at the rim, making 70.1 per cent of his attempts.

In fact, 36.8 per cent of his successful field goal attempts have been dunks, with his 32 made dunks ranking joint-third in the NBA. Team-mate Jarrett Allen's 47 lead the way, while no team can rival the Cavaliers' combined 98.

Allen's latest dunk put Cleveland up with 35.9 seconds left against Boston, and Darius Garland said: "It's super fun, just bringing all the crowd into it, the arena gets pumped up. I like seeing it a lot."

Bickerstaff, whose team rank fourth in the league for points in the paint (672), added: "We want to put pressure on the rim, and however we can do that, we'll take it.

"Jarrett is an elite lob threat, and when you put that much pressure on the rim, defenses get concerned. Even if it's only two points, it's an emphatic two points, and defenses don't like that. Then they start to collapse and we've got wide open threes.

"We've got guys who we feel like can dominate the paint – that's our objective: offensively, we want to dominate the paint as much as we can."

The Cleveland Cavaliers scored just nine points in the first half and trailed much of the game before rallying to stun the Boston Celtics 91-89 on Saturday. 

Cleveland (9-5) trailed by as many as 19 with 3:05 left in the third quarter before roaring back with a 24-4 run to set up a frenzied finish that featured seven ties and five lead changes in the last seven minutes of the game. 

Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 22 points, including two critical free throws with 9.4 seconds left that provided the final margin. He had kept the home team in the game single-handedly earlier in the evening, making 10 of Cleveland's 12 first-half field goals. 

One night after dropping 38 points in a home win against the Milwaukee Bucks, Dennis Schroder had a game-high 28 for on Saturday, but he missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer. 

The Celtics (6-7) were foiled in their attempt to get over .500 for the first time this season but will have a chance to get back to even with a rematch Monday in Cleveland. 

The Cavaliers have won six of their last seven games. 

 

Clippers win seventh straight

After a 1-4 start to the season, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up their seventh straight win with a 129-102 defeat of the Minnesota Timberwolves (4-8). The Clippers (8-4) put the game away by half-time, building a 70-43 lead as Reggie Jackson scored 18 of his 21 points before the break. Paul George led all scorers with 23 and Anthony Edwards topped the Timberwolves with 21. 

The Washington Wizards (9-3) continued their hot start even without star Bradley Beal, rolling to a 104-92 victory over the Orlando Magic (3-10) behind 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists from Spencer Dinwiddie and 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists off the bench by Montrezl Harrell. Beal missed the game to mourn the death of his grandmother. 

The New Orleans Pelicans opened up a lead of as many as 22 points in the first half and held on for a 112-101 defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies (6-7). The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Pelicans (2-14) as they continue to play without Zion Williamson. 

 

Jazz continue to struggle

The Utah Jazz (8-5) lost for the fourth time in five games, falling 111-105 at home against the Miami Heat (8-5). The visitors built a 95-69 lead after three quarters and cruised the rest of the way as Tyler Herro led all scorers with 27 points. Utah made just 35 of 85 shots from the field (41.2 per cent), including 17 of 53 from three-point range (32.1 per cent).

Page 1 of 10
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.