NBA

Suns shine to upstage Kawhi and Clippers, Giannis' Bucks feel the Heat

By Sports Desk October 27, 2019

The Los Angeles Clippers suffered their first defeat of the NBA season after losing 130-122 to the Phoenix Suns.

Kawhi Leonard had led the Clippers to back-to-back wins to start the campaign, however, they went down to the Suns on Saturday.

Devin Booker scored 30 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 as the Suns snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Clippers.

Leonard put up 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the visiting Clippers in Phoenix.

The Miami Heat spoiled the Milwaukee Bucks' home opener after prevailing 131-126 in overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's Bucks held a 21-point lead in the third quarter but still lost to the rallying Heat, who were led by Goran Dragic's 25 points off the bench.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists to go with eight turnovers before fouling out late in overtime.

 

Westbrook surpasses Magic

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook passed Magic Johnson for second place on the NBA's all-time triple-doubles list with his 139th. Westbrook had 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Trae Young might not have won Rookie of the Year last season, but he might be the NBA's MVP through two games (take that for what you will). The Atlanta Hawks guard scored 39 points while adding nine assists and seven rebounds in a 103-99 win over the Orlando Magic.

Kemba Walker scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 118-95 victory against the New York Knicks.

 

Osman underwhelms despite Cavs win

Cedi Osman's four-year extension with the Cavaliers netted Cleveland one point and one rebound in 28 minutes in a 110-99 win over the Indiana Pacers.

 

DeRozan dazzles

DeMar DeRozan produced a nice layup through traffic to seal the deal for the San Antonio Spurs with five seconds remaining in a 124-122 win over the Washington Wizards.

Saturday's results

Miami Heat 131-126 Milwaukee Bucks
Philadelphia 76ers 117-111 Detroit Pistons
Atlanta Hawks 103-99 Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics 118-95 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 126-123 New Orleans Pelicans
Toronto Raptors 108-84 Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers 110-99 Indiana Pacers
San Antonio Spurs 124-122 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 113-81 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 130-122 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Trail Blazers at Mavericks

The Kristaps Porzingis era is off to a great start in Dallas as the Mavericks are unbeaten through two games. But Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has come out strong, too, and he presents a very interesting backcourt matchup opposite Luka Doncic.

Related items

  • Morey to step down as Rockets GM Morey to step down as Rockets GM

    Daryl Morey is to step down from his position as general manager of the Houston Rockets.

    After 14 years with the franchise, the Rockets confirmed that Morey's departure will be effective from November 1.

    He will continue to offer assistance to owner Tilman Fertitta in the search for a head coach to replace Mike D'Antoni, who left after Houston lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

    The Rockets will promote executive vice-president of basketball operations Rafael Stone to general manager, with Eli Witus working under him.

    "After returning from Orlando and reflecting on what has been an amazing 14 years with the Houston Rockets, and after discussing my thoughts with family and close friends, I've decided I'll be stepping away from the Rockets organisation effective November 1st," said Morey in a statement.

    "Tilman and I have had many conversations since I returned, and his unwavering support and counsel during our time together has been critical to our success.

    "It has been the most gratifying experience of my professional life to lead the Rockets basketball organisation, and I look forward to working with Tilman and the management team on the transition.

    "I am very confident that the future – for the Rockets, and for our incredible fans – is in great hands, and that the Rockets will continue to perform at the highest level."

    Fertitta added: "On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation, I would like to thank Daryl Morey for his hard work and dedication over the past 14 seasons. Daryl is a brilliant innovator who helped the Rockets become a perennial contender.

    "I have truly enjoyed working with Daryl and couldn't have asked for a better general manager to have at the start of my ownership. I wish him and his family all the best."

    Houston have reached the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons – the longest active streak in the NBA.

    In 2017-18 their 65-17 record was the best in the league, but they were beaten in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals by the Golden State Warriors that season.

  • Tatum and Boston's dynamic trio – Celtics season review in Stats Perform data Tatum and Boston's dynamic trio – Celtics season review in Stats Perform data

    The 2019-20 season saw the emergence of Jayson Tatum as a genuine star.

    Tatum – the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft – turned potential into performance as he capped a memorable campaign with All-Star honours for the first time in his career.

    An elite scorer, Tatum was at the forefront of everything good about the Celtics before and after the coronavirus pandemic.

    But, the Celtics still lost in the Conference finals for the third time in four years – beaten 4-2 by the Miami Heat at Walt Disney World Resort – after finishing third in the east with a 48-24 record.

    The Celtics are yet to reach the NBA Finals since 2009-10, while the historic franchise have not got their hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy since the Doc Rivers era in 2007-08.

    As the Celtics reflect after watching the Los Angeles Lakers equal their record for most championships (17), we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.

     

    Boston's dynamic trio

    Kemba Walker's arrival in Boston helped create a formidable trio alongside Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

    After spending his entire NBA career at the Charlotte Hornets, four-time All-Star Walker opted for a new challenge via free agency by committing to a four-year, $141million contract with the Celtics.

    As a result, Terry Rozier left the Celtics for the Hornets in a sign-and-trade last year.

    Since investing in Walker, the Celtics have put together a stellar trio, which became just the second group of three team-mates in NBA history to average 20-plus points and 2-plus three-pointers made per game apiece in a season (minimum 50 games played).

    Walker averaged 20.4 points and 3.2 three-pointers made per game during the regular season, to go with Tatum (23.4ppg and 2.9 3pm) and Brown (20.3ppg and 2.3 3pm).

    The only other trio to do so were the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in 2017-18.

     

    Tatum joins elite list

    It was a coming of age for Tatum, much to the delight of the Celtics and all those connected with the team.

    Tatum cemented himself as one of the best players in the league by averaging 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game – up on his 2018-19 averages of 15.7ppg, 6.0rpg and 2.1 apg.

    The 22-year-old also enjoyed a fine playoff campaign, becoming only the third player in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points, 10.0-plus rebounds and 5.0-plus assists per game in a single postseason with 15 or more games played.

    Lakers superstar LeBron James (in 2014-15 and 2019-20) and Boston's Larry Bird (in 1983-84 and 1986-87) are the only other players to reach the feat.

     

    Lack of depth

    For all of Boston's good work and impressive starting five, their lack of depth was exposed in the playoffs.

    The Celtics relied on their starters more than any other team in the postseason at 83.3 per cent with 1,549 of their 1,859 points scored by the starting five, ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (83.1 per cent), Indiana Pacers (82.6 per cent), Houston Rockets (77.3 per cent) and Portland Trail Blazers (76.5 per cent).

    As for the portion of minutes played by starters in the postseason, the Celtics (75.0 per cent) again topped the list ahead of the Pacers (72.2 per cent), 76ers (72.0 per cent), Utah Jazz (71.8 per cent) and Rockets (70.9 per cent).

    The Celtics had fewer than 25 bench points in each of their last 15 playoff games this year, one of the longest streaks in a single postseason in the past 35 years, only behind the Detroit Pistons (19 in 2005) and Pacers (17 in 2013).

    The problem of a thin bench was likely exacerbated by the number of close games the Celtics played in, since teams usually need their best players on the floor for longer periods of time in tight encounters.

    Boston had eight playoff games decided by five points or less, tied for second most in a single postseason in franchise history.

    Also, this was the second consecutive year the Celtics had some issues with turnovers in the playoffs. After going plus-1.4 for turnovers in the regular season, Boston were then minus-1.4 in the postseason.

  • Jamal Murray's ceiling 'still extremely high' after Nuggets playoff heroics  - Joel Anthony Jamal Murray's ceiling 'still extremely high' after Nuggets playoff heroics - Joel Anthony

    Jamal Murray's playoff performances caught Joel Anthony by surprise, but the two-time NBA champion still thinks "the ceiling is still extremely high" for the Denver Nuggets star.

    The Nuggets showed great resilience to make it to the Western Conference Finals, where they were beaten 4-1 by eventual NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Murray played a pivotal role for Denver, averaging 26.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds in the playoffs as Michael Malone's team became the first in history to win two series in the same postseason after trailing 3-1.

    The fourth-year guard twice dropped 50 points on the Utah Jazz in the first round and scored 40 points in a Game 7 win against the Los Angeles Clippers in the semifinals.

    Anthony, who claimed his two rings alongside LeBron James with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, was thoroughly impressed by fellow Canadian Murray's playoff displays so early in his career.

    "We all had a pretty good idea that kid was going to be pretty good. I'm not even sure if this type of performance, we would have thought to see this early. But I'm absolutely loving what he has been able to do," Anthony told Stats Perform News.

    "I feel the ceiling is still extremely high. I love the fact that he has been able to have these moments and do it in the biggest stage, which is the playoffs. That is when you are really tested in the league, and I feel he is proving himself a lot.

    "I got to meet him a couple of times and as a person, he is a great kid, great individual, great human being. Definitely a pure spirit about the game. Just how he deals with people, he's definitely a special player.

    "Denver is fortunate to have a talent that like, but also a great person like that as well."

    Anthony believes Murray's impressive development is part of a wider trend that has seen Canadian basketball move onto an upward trajectory.

    "Canadian basketball as a whole, I love it, I absolutely love it. The talent that is coming out of this country is really impressive to me," said Anthony.

    "Obviously by the numbers you can see just the fact that we have the second-most NBA players of any country, obviously behind the US. That is a huge jump from when I first came in the league, we had two others ... three actually.

    "This is something that has actually been a process, and I have actually been able to see this whole process develop, as more and more kids were coming out. I just feel that Canadian basketball is just starting to hit a certain point in the curve, where they are really able to catch up.

    "I have been fortunate. I came in undrafted and really had to fight my way to get it. No one really knew about me, I was definitely an unknown. But you have guys coming in that are number one pick in the draft, top-five picks, lottery…

    "There is just a lot of talent and I am really happy for the direction that our country is going and it is going to be great to watch."

    Anthony hoped to play a part in helping the next generation after joining Canadian Elite Basketball League side the Hamilton Honey Badgers as a player consultant for the 2020 season.

    "Coming in my biggest thing was really to just be able to be able to give back to the younger guys. So to be able to help them in any way as they develop as players, trying to help them through these different experiences that they will be going through," said Anthony.

    "We have some older players that are a little bit more established, but we also have plenty of younger guys that were just starting to become pros and going through that process, so I really want to be able to help them, give them the type of advice that I would have wanted and that I actually got from different veterans that I had throughout my career.

    "I really enjoy that type of role and I was also able to do things on the court with them as well. When you are removed, I was able to actually be on there with them. So physically they are able to see different things, and to have me around was a benefit."

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