NBA

Harden erupts in Rockets' victory, Giannis bullies Knicks

By Sports Desk December 22, 2019

James Harden soared to fourth for 40-point games in NBA history on Saturday, while Giannis Antetokounmpo maintained top form in a big win for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Houston Rockets star Harden hit nine three-pointers and went 15-of-27 from the field to finish with 47 points in a 135-129 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (271), Michael Jordan (173) and Kobe Bryant (122) have had more 40-point games than Harden's 89, the 30-year-old having surpassed Elgin Baylor's 88.

Russell Westbrook contributed 30 points and 10 assists as the Rockets (20-9) extended their winning run to three games.

Two days after downing the Los Angeles Lakers, Antetokounmpo made light work of the New York Knicks in 123-103 victory for the Bucks (26-4) at Madison Square Garden.

The reigning MVP posted a triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in 26 minutes for the Eastern Conference leaders, while Kyle Korver chipped in with 17 points off the bench.

Embiid lifts 76ers out of slump

Joel Embiid's 21 points and 13 rebounds led the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-108 win against Washington Wizards, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Fuelled by Kawhi Leonard's 26 points, the Los Angeles Clippers strengthened their grip on second spot in the Western Conference with a 134-109 rout of the San Antonio Spurs.

Trae Young put up 47 points at Barclays Center but the Atlanta Hawks still lost 122-112 to the Brooklyn Nets, who were powered by Spencer Dinwiddie's 39 points and a double-double from DeAndre Jordan.

 

Batum blows cold

The Charlotte Hornets had just two starters, Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham, reach double figures for points in a 114-107 home defeat to the Utah Jazz. Nicolas Batum failed to offer much help as the former first-round pick attempted four field goals and a solitary three-point shot in 30 minutes on the floor.

 

Thanasis soars

Bucks star Giannis had to share the spotlight in the Big Apple as older brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo produced a huge tip-in dunk in the fourth quarter.

Saturday's results

Houston Rockets 139-125 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 113-106 Minnesota Timberwolves
Utah Jazz 114-107 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 122-112 Atlanta Hawks
Chicago Bulls 119-107 Detroit Pistons
Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Washington Wizards
Milwaukee Bucks 123-102 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 119-115 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 134-109 San Antonio Spurs

 

Nuggets at Lakers

After two successive losses and with LeBron James potentially missing due to a reported muscle problem, the Lakers (24-5) look vulnerable ahead of Sunday's game against the in-form Denver Nuggets (19-8) at Staples Center.

Related items

  • Zion Williamson motivated by playoff pursuit, not Rookie of the Year race Zion Williamson motivated by playoff pursuit, not Rookie of the Year race

    Zion Williamson insisted he is not worried about pipping Ja Morant to the Rookie of the Year award as his chief concern is helping the New Orleans Pelicans reach the playoffs.

    A knee injury delayed Williamson's much-anticipated debut in the NBA regular season by three months, during which time Morant assumed the role of the league's outstanding rookie.

    Morant, picked second, directly behind Williamson in the 2019 NBA Draft, has led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 28-26 record and the eighth seed in the Western Conference at the All-Star break.

    And it is a top-eight finish with the 11th-placed Pels that is motivating Williamson, who delivered back-to-back 30-point games prior to the interval to enhance his own Rookie of the Year case.

    "Honestly, it's not even up to me," Williamson told ESPN of the Rookie of the Year race.

    "I'm just playing and trying to get a playoff spot for my team.

    "If I win it, it's nice, but if not, it's fine. It just comes with the game.

    "I do want it but if I don't get it I'm not worried because I did miss half the season.

    "Ja's been playing incredible so he has earned it."

    Williamson's outstanding performances in high school and college meant he was the most hyped prospect to enter the league since LeBron James in 2003.

    Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin tried to temper expectations back in June when he said New Orleans were "Jrue Holiday's team" and Williamson must not be considered "the saviour of this franchise".

    Yet Williamson has quickly established himself as the centrepiece of New Orleans' team, a fact that has taken him aback too.

    "I think the thing that has surprised me the most is how much my team-mates look to me to try and make an impact," the 19-year-old added.

    "I'm a rookie and I thought they would let me feel the game out before they started giving me the ball but, no, they trust in me."

  • Warriors and Kerr never considered shutting down Curry for remainder of season Warriors and Kerr never considered shutting down Curry for remainder of season

    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the struggling franchise never considered shutting down superstar Stephen Curry for the rest of the season.

    Curry has been sidelined since October following surgery on a broken hand, but the two-time NBA MVP is nearing a return for the Warriors.

    The three-time champion is set to be welcomed back by a Warriors team who own the worst record in the league at 12-43 after last season's run to the NBA Finals.

    Golden State have been crippled by injuries to Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and others, while star Kevin Durant left via free agency.

    While some question the benefits of allowing Curry to return in 2019-20 as the Warriors struggle at the foot of the table, Kerr dismissed the suggestion that the six-time All-Star should not play again this season.

    "He's perfectly healthy," Kerr told reporters on Wednesday. "He's in the prime of his career. If the point is because he might get hurt, then what's the point of ever playing anything? People can get hurt any day.

    "I guess the argument would be, 'Well, we're not going to the playoffs.' So are we not trying to entertain our fans? We're selling tickets to all these people who love basketball, and Steph Curry is one of the most amazing, graceful, exciting basketball players on Earth. And if he were healthy and we didn't present him to our fans and say, 'Here you go. Here's your gift for staying with us for this whole season,' what would that say about us? That we don't care about our fans?

    "So to me it's never been a question. As soon as he's ready, he's coming back. Our fans deserve it. We need it as a team to springboard into next year, and it's the right thing to do."

    Kerr added: "Steph doesn't have to talk us into anything. We know he wants to play because he loves basketball, and we want him to play because we need him for the continuity to build that momentum for next year and then our fans are dying to see him.

    "He's playing. He's almost healthy, he's almost ready, so he's playing. No discussion. He doesn't need to convince me of anything. This is a totally different deal than Klay. Steph had surgery on his [hand], it's basically healed. He's right on the cusp [of returning]. Klay had an ACL [injury]. It's a totally different conversation. I think there's a big distinction there."

  • Beilein resigns as Cleveland Cavaliers coach Beilein resigns as Cleveland Cavaliers coach

    John Beilein has resigned as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after a short stint at the helm.

    Beilein joined the Cavaliers from college team Michigan on a multi-year contract in May, but stepped down on Wednesday.

    The 67-year-old – who oversaw an Eastern Conference-worst 14-40 record this season, only behind the Golden State Warriors (12-43) in the entire league – will be reassigned to a different role in Cleveland, where J.B. Bickerstaff will take over from Beilein.

    "Over these last nine months, I have given my all to this organisation, but after much reflection, I have decided that it is best that I step back and resign from my position as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and assist the organisation in a different capacity," said Beilein, who spent the previous 12 seasons as coach of Michigan.

    "I am very grateful to Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire Cavaliers organisation for the opportunity they have provided me.

    "This was a very difficult decision for me, but I want to be clear – this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time. I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected.

    "I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family's well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.

    "I also would not be doing this now, during the season, if J.B. Bickerstaff was not ready and capable to assume the head coaching role immediately and continue the rebuilding process that we have started.

    "For 45 years and more than 1,300 games, my journey as a basketball coach has been a dream come true. I have never been afraid of a challenge and have given each one my all – sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being. I want to thank my wife, Kathleen, for being by my side and I appreciate the outpouring of support from family, friends, and colleagues during this time. I look forward to being able to spend more time with my wife, kids and grandchildren over the coming months."

    Cavs general manager Koby Altman added: "John Beilein is one of the more accomplished basketball coaches in the history of our game and while it's unexpected, we understand and respect his decision to step down as head coach of the Cavaliers.

    "I was excited about the development of our young players, who have all shown growth and maturity under coach Beilein. We are thankful for the time he spent as head coach with the Cavaliers and are looking forward to his continued contribution.

    "The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking on important long-term decisions to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. I would like to thank the incredible fans of the Cavaliers for their support in both good and challenging times. Building a strong culture will continue to be the top priority here at the Cavaliers."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.