NBA

Lakers, Bucks draw level with comfortable wins

By Sports Desk August 20, 2020

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks drew level in their respective NBA playoff series on Thursday.

Coming off surprise Game 1 losses, the Lakers and Bucks responded against the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic respectively.

The Lakers drew level at 1-1 in their Western Conference first-round meeting with the Trail Blazers courtesy of a 111-88 win.

Anthony Davis posted a double-double of 31 points and 11 rebounds as the Lakers won their first playoff game since 2012.

While Davis went 13-of-21 from the field, LeBron James was below his best, but still managed 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Red-hot Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard had 18 points, but the guard was one-of-seven from three-point range.

In the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are back to 1-1 against Orlando after a 111-96 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo lifted Milwaukee with 28 points and 20 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had 20 points.

Harden guides Rockets as Robinson shines for Heat

James Harden had 21 points and nine assists as the Houston Rockets took a 2-0 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder courtesy of a 111-98 win.

Danuel House Jr. contributed 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Rockets.

Duncan Robinson was in impressive form as the Miami Heat went 2-0 up against the Indiana Pacers thanks to a 109-100 win. Robinson was seven-of-eight from three-point range for 24 points in 25 minutes.

Heat star Goran Dragic posted 20 points.

 

Miserable Melo

Carmelo Anthony struggled badly for Portland. He was one-of-six for just two points in 26 minutes.

 

Davis delights

Davis showed his class during the Lakers' series-levelling win.

Thursday's results

Miami Heat 109-100 Indiana Pacers
Houston Rockets 111-98 Oklahoma City Thunder
Milwaukee Bucks 111-96 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Lakers 111-88 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Clippers face Mavericks

With their Western Conference first-round series locked at 1-1, the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks do battle in Game 3 on Friday.

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    Tyronn Lue believes star duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will remain with the Los Angeles Clippers for a "long time" if championships are won as the new head coach embraces pressure of success.

    Lue will lead the Clippers in 2020-21 after replacing Doc Rivers following the team's stunning Western Conference semi-final exit in the NBA playoffs.

    The Clippers were one of the favourites to claim their maiden title following the arrivals of Leonard and George but squandered a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets at Walt Disney World Resort amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    After going all-in to build a super team to outshine LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers – who reigned supreme in the Orlando bubble – pressure will again be on the Clippers to deliver a championship as time runs out.

    "Any time you have a chance to win a championship, it's pressure," Lue told ESPN's 'The Jump' in an interview to be aired Thursday.

    "And, I think Kawhi, PG are here to stay for a long time. We just gotta make it a great environment and we have to win."

    Lue fronted the media for the first time since being appointed, stepping up to fill Rivers' void having served as an assistant for the Clippers in 2019-20.

    The 43-year-old Lue guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship in 2016 – a team headline by James.

    There were high hopes for the Clippers, boasting two-time champion Leonard, six-time All-Star George, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams but team chemistry and leadership derailed the Los Angeles franchise last term.

    The 2019-20 campaign was the ninth consecutive season the Clippers finished with a winning record (49-23) but failed to reach the Conference finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history, per Stats Perform.

    "I think when you talk about chemistry and continuity, it is not off the court, the guys not liking each other," Lue told reporters on Wednesday.

    "When you talk about chemistry, it is more so [George] came in and he had shoulder surgery, so he was out, he missed the whole training camp and was out the first 11 games of the season. Kawhi came in and couldn't participate in the whole training camp, and then we lost Pat Beverley, in and out of the lin-up a few times."

    One of the Clippers' biggest strengths is their bench, averaging over 50 points per game in each of the past two seasons – the only times any team have done that in the past 35 years.

    But in the playoffs this past season, the Clippers relied much more heavily on their starters as their bench averaged only 36.5 points per game in the postseason.

    With the Clippers built to win now, their ageing roster also presents a problem. They are one of the oldest teams in the league, fourth and only behind the Houston Rockets (30 years, 179 days), Milwaukee Bucks (29 years, 321 days) and Lakers (29 years, 201 days) with an average of 28 years and 153 days.

    "Leadership is different," Lue said. "You can talk about our two players, Kawhi and PG, they lead by example ... And you are not going to have the best players be the natural leaders at all times. It doesn't happen like that. I think a lot of leadership has to come from me, has to come from Kawhi, PG, Lou and Pat Beverley. It's going to be collective.

    "I got to show them different ways of leadership and they got to show me different ways of leadership. I don't know everything. They don't know everything ... The biggest thing about leadership is just communication."

  • Van Gundy agrees deal to coach Zion Williamson & Pelicans Van Gundy agrees deal to coach Zion Williamson & Pelicans

    Stan Van Gundy will get the chance to coach Zion Williamson after agreeing to take charge of the New Orleans Pelicans.

    He will take over from Alvin Gentry, who was fired as head coach after the Pelicans failed to reach the playoffs, finishing a season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic 30-42 and 13th in the Western Conference.

    Van Gundy's previous coaching stint with the Detroit Pistons came to an end in 2018. He has also had spells with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, leading the latter to the NBA Finals in 2008-09.

    "I'm excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team," Van Gundy said in a tweet confirming his arrival. 

    "It will be an honour to work with our players and to work for [owner] Mrs. Benson and [executive vice-president of basketball operations] David Griffin, [general manager] Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans.

    "I can't wait to talk to our players and get the process started."

    Key to that process being successful will be getting the best out of Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

    Williamson saw the start of his rookie season delayed by a torn meniscus suffered in preseason, though he was still able to demonstrate his tremendous potential when he did take the court.

    He became the first teenager in NBA history with 10 successive 20-point games, but Williamson's impact after the resumption of the season in the Orlando bubble was limited by a minutes restriction placed on him by Gentry.

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  • Lue can drive Clippers to 'new heights' as head coach Lue can drive Clippers to 'new heights' as head coach

    The Los Angeles Clippers believe they have appointed "one of the great minds" in the NBA after Tyronn Lue was confirmed as the team's new head coach. 

    Lue served as an assistant for the Clippers in the previous season but steps up to the top job following the departure of Doc Rivers. 

    The former first-round pick was previously head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, compiling a 128-83 record during his time in charge and leading the franchise to their first NBA title in 2016. 

    Now he takes charge of a team who fell short of expectations in 2019-20, letting slip a 3-1 lead inside the Florida bubble to be knocked out by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals. 

    Rivers parted ways after failing to get the most out of a roster that included Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, though he has since been appointed head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. 

    As for the Clippers, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank is confident Lue's personality and previous experiences can lift the team to "new heights". 

    "Ty has been where we want to go. He is a championship head coach with an extraordinary feel for the game and the people who play it," Frank said. 

    "He's one of the great minds in our league, and he's able to impart his vision to others, because he connects with everybody he meets. We conducted a thorough search and spoke with fantastic candidates. We found that the best choice for our team was already in our building. 

    "As head coach, Ty will put a unique imprint on the organisation, and drive us to new heights." 

    Lue, who steered the Cavs to the NBA Finals for three straight years, will hope to steal the Los Angeles spotlight away from the newly crowned Lakers, but believes all the components for success are in place. 

    "The pieces we need are in place – committed ownership, smart management and elite talent, on and off the court, in the NBA's best market," Lue said.  

    "We have work to do to become champions, but we have the motivation, the tools, and the support to get there. I'm excited to get started." 

    Lue becomes the Clippers' 26th head coach. Terms of his deal were not released, as per team policy.

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