NBA

Lakers humbled in Boston, Simmons and Lillard star in victories

By Sports Desk January 21, 2020

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their heaviest loss of the NBA season on Monday, while Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard inspired victories with stunning performances.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis featured from the start but the Lakers never got going in a heavy 139-107 defeat to the Boston Celtics.

Jayson Tatum registered a game-high 27 points to help Celtics team-mate Kemba Walker celebrate his first career win against superstar James at the 29th attempt.

Joel Embiid's absence through injury failed to hurt the Philadelphia 76ers as Simmons shone in a 117-111 road victory over the slumping Brooklyn Nets.

Simmons enjoyed one of the best games of his career, posting a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, plus five steals.

There was similar joy elsewhere for Damian Lillard, who erupted for a career-best 61 points – including 11 three-pointers – as the Portland Trail Blazers overcame the Golden State Warriors 129-124 in an overtime thriller.

 

Westbrook heroics not enough as OKC complete comeback

Russell Westbrook's 32 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds went unrewarded as the Houston Rockets squandered a big lead to lose 112-107 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets were overrun after taking a 16-point advantage into the fourth quarter, as Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari shared 53 points for OKC.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (28 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists) also recorded a triple-double, the reigning MVP reaching 10,000 career points as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Chicago Bulls 111-98.

The Miami Heat resumed their charge in the Eastern Conference, outlasting the Sacramento Kings 118-113 in overtime.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the Denver Nuggets bounced back to winning ways, topping the Timberwolves 107-100 thanks to double-doubles from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr.

 

Lowry misses out in Atlanta

The Toronto Raptors claimed a 122-117 win against the Atlanta Hawks but it was still a game to forget for five-time All Star Kyle Lowry, who went three-of-11 from the floor and missed each of his five three-point attempts.

 

Brown posterises LeBron!

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown had 20 points and a huge dunk on an NBA superstar at TD Garden.

Monday's results

San Antonio Spurs 120-118 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 129-124 Golden State Warriors (OT)
Utah Jazz 118-88 Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards 106-100 Detroit Pistons
Toronto Raptors 122-117 Atlanta Hawks
Philadelphia 76ers 117-111 Brooklyn Nets
Miami Heat 118-113 Sacramento Kings (OT)
Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 Houston Rockets
Orlando Magic 106-83 Charlotte Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans 126-116 Memphis Grizzlies
New York Knicks 106-86 Cleveland Cavaliers
Boston Celtics 139-107 Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Nuggets 107-100 Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Clippers at Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis could return from a knee injury when the Dallas Mavericks (27-15) entertain the Los Angeles Clippers (30-13) in Tuesday's only game.

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  • 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."

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    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."

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