NBA

NBA regular season concludes as 76ers, Raptors and Clippers win

By Sports Desk August 14, 2020

The Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers were all victorious as the NBA's regular season concluded in Orlando on Friday.

Philadelphia's final game before their Eastern Conference first-round playoff blockbuster against the Boston Celtics on Monday saw the 76ers top the Houston Rockets 134-96.

Joel Embiid (14 points) overcame a wrist problem and played for the 76ers at Walt Disney World resort, where Tobias Harris (18), Al Horford (10), Alec Burks (16), Shake Milton (11), Mike Scott (10), Raul Neto (14) and Furkan Korkmaz (12) all had double-digit points.

The Rockets, who are set to meet the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference on Tuesday, were led by James Harden's 27 points and 10 assists.

Defending champions the Raptors, meanwhile, defeated the Denver Nuggets 117-109 behind Stanley Johnson's season-high 23 points.

Johnson scored 19 points in the second half, while Paul Watson put up a career-high 22 points for the in-form Raptors – who have won four games in a row and seven of their eight regular-season matchups in Florida.

The Raptors – second in the east – begin their playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, while the Western Conference's Nuggets open against the Utah Jazz.

 

Mann impresses for Clippers

With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams rested, rookie Terance Mann stepped up as the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Thunder 107-103 in overtime. Mann had 25 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double, including the go-ahead three-pointer with less than three minutes remaining in OT. Amir Coffey contributed 21 points.

Hamidou Diallo's double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds led the playoff-bound Thunder.

 

Robinson scoreless as Pacers cool Heat

Ahead of their upcoming first-round clash in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat lost 109-92 to the Indiana Pacers and Duncan Robinson struggled. Robinson was zero of three from the field, while he missed all three shots beyond the arc to go scoreless in 13 minutes. Trying to stay fit before the playoff matchup as both teams rested stars, the Heat lost Derrick Jones Jr. to a neck strain following a scary collision.

 

Harden with the behind-the-back pass

The 2018 MVP produced this assist for Rockets team-mate Jeff Green.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 117-109 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 109-92 Miami Heat
Los Angeles Clippers 107-103 Oklahoma City Thunder (OT)
Philadelphia 76ers 134-96 Houston Rockets

 

Grizzlies face Trail Blazers

The Western Conference play-in clash will see the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers go head-to-head on Saturday. A win for the Trail Blazers will secure a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. Memphis have to go 2-0 in the play-in tournament.

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    LeBron James may be on the Los Angeles Lakers roster but Anthony Davis is the best player in the world, according to team-mate Markieff Morris.

    Davis marked his debut in the NBA Finals with a sensational performance in the 116-98 blowout of the Miami Heat in Orlando on Wednesday, putting up 34 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

    Superstar James was similarly important for the Lakers with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in the Game 1 contest but Morris said Davis' contributions at both end of the court mark him out from the rest.

    "It's easy for AD," Morris said in quotes reported by ESPN. "Like I've been saying since I got on this team, honestly, if you ask me...we got LeBron but I think he [Davis] is the best player in the world.

    "He [does] it on both ends, he's doing it consistently every night, he gives you what you ask for every night."

    Only Allen Iverson (48), Kevin Durant (36) and Michael Jordan (36) have managed to score more points on an NBA Finals bow than Davis since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, while Shaquille O'Neal with 43 and George Mikan with 42 are the only players to score more in their first Lakers Finals game.

    "It's a great honour to be in that category with those guys," said Davis.

    "I mean, they have done so much for the game, Hall of Famers, and for me to come out and perform that way and be mentioned with those guys, obviously that's a great honour, but I also want to be mentioned in categories with champions, so that's the next step."

  • NBA Finals: Butler says 'I have to be ready to go' as Heat count loss of injuries NBA Finals: Butler says 'I have to be ready to go' as Heat count loss of injuries

    Jimmy Butler said "I got to be ready to go" after the Miami Heat's disappointment over a Game 1 blowout to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals was exacerbated by injury woes.

    Veteran guard Goran Dragic sustained a reported plantar tear in his left foot and is a doubt for the remainder of the series, while Bam Adebayo left the game with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter clutching his shoulder.

    All-Star Butler also turned his left ankle towards the end of the first half of the humbling 116-98 loss in Orlando but insisted he will be good to go for Game 2 on Friday.

    "[I'm] a little bit sore. I'll be okay with some treatment. I'll get ready to go again," he said.

    "I think I got to be ready to go. So, we'll see how it feels tomorrow, but I'm going to be fine."

    Dragic's injury occurred in the second quarter when attempting to drive Rajon Rondo and initially tried to carry on before heading for treatment and not returning.

    Head coach Erik Spoelstra did not have an update after the game and Butler said the Heat will rally around their team-mate but must be prepared to move forward in the series without him.

    "[We'll] just let him know that I and we are here for him. We know how much he wants to win, how much he wants to go to war and battle with us," Butler added.

    "Obviously we love him for that and we want him out there with us. But whatever the doctor tells him to do, that's what he's got to do.

    "I understand that he wants to go out there and compete and obviously we want him out there with us. But he's got to take care of himself first.

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    "We got to try to cover up what he gives us and make up for it. We're capable of it. We have to be capable of it. Moving forward with or without Goran we better hurry up and tie it up 1-1."

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    "I just take what the game gives me for the most part. I still have a lot of belief in all of my team-mates, I will continually play that way. But maybe so, maybe try to score a little bit more," Butler said.

    "We just got to be tougher. We got to put up more of a fight. I don't think we did that. And then it doesn't help whenever we don't make shots.

    "It's been that way all year long, whenever we start to miss a couple shots, we don't do what we're supposed to do on the other end.

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    The Lakers humbled the Heat 116-98 in the opening game of the showpiece showdown at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday.

    James' Lakers led by as much as 32 points after trailing by 13 early in Orlando, Florida, where the Heat were no match for the Western Conference top seeds midweek.

    Anthony Davis posted a game-high 34 points, while James – making his 10th Finals appearance – had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

    Despite outclassing the Heat as the Lakers eye their first championship since 2010, James told reporters: "We have so much more work to do.

    "The job is not done. We are not satisfied with winning one game. It's that simple."

    "I don't think at the beginning we were physical enough," said three-time NBA champion James, who recorded his 31st career double-double in the Finals to move outright fourth in league history, after the Lakers went on a 75-30 run.

    "You have to get a feel for how hard Miami play and I think they smacked us in the mouth. We had a sense of that, so we knew how hard we had to play to make it a game.

    "From that moment when it was 23-10, we started to play to our capabilities. We started flying around, getting defensive stops, sharing the ball a lot better offensively and got into a really good groove."

    Davis produced a huge performance in his first Finals appearance following a blockbuster trade from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of the season.

    He became the first Lakers player to post 30-plus points in the Finals since Kobe Bryant's 38 in Game 5 of the 2010 Finals.

    Davis and James also became the first Lakers duo to each record 25-plus points in the same Finals game since Bryant (33) and Shaquille O'Neal (29) in Game 2 of the 2004 Finals.

    "I expect it out of him. I didn't give him any advice. We have been preparing for this moment all season, he has been preparing all season," James said.

    "I'm happy to be on the same floor and same uniform as him. Once again, he was a force in every facet of the game, both offensively and defensively."

    The NBA Finals are taking place behind closed doors without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic, but James said: "It felt great, I've been preparing for this moment for quite a while.

    "Fans or no fans, the inner challenge for myself and the way I prepare myself, it felt amazing to be playing the Finals once again."

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