NBA

Lakers, Bucks ease into 3-1 series leads as Heat advance

By Sports Desk August 24, 2020

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks cruised into 3-1 series leads in the NBA playoffs on Monday.

The Lakers made it three straight wins over the Portland Trail Blazers with a 135-115 victory, taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference first-round series.

LeBron James produced a huge performance with a double-double of 30 points and 10 assists for the Lakers.

Anthony Davis posted 18 points before exiting due to back spasms, while Kyle Kuzma contributed 18 off the bench.

While Jusuf Nurkic had a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds, the Trail Blazers lost star Damian Lillard (11 points) to a knee injury.

The Bucks grabbed a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Orlando Magic thanks to a 121-106 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo unsurprisingly led Milwaukee with a double-double of 31 points and 15 rebounds, plus eight assists.

Khris Middleton struggled from the field, going seven-of-19, but still finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Dynamic Dragic sees Miami through, Thunder draw level

Goran Dragic had a team-high 23 points as the Miami Heat completed a 4-0 series sweep of the Indiana Pacers courtesy of a 99-87 win.

Miami were also led by Bam Adebayo, who finished with 14 points, 19 rebounds and six assists.

The Western Conference first-round series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets is locked at 2-2. Dennis Schroder had 30 points off the bench as the Thunder won Game 4 117-114.

Thunder forward Shai Gilgeous-Alexander managed a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Rockets were beaten despite a fine performance by James Harden, who had 32 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.

 

Bad Brogdon

Indiana are out of the playoffs and Malcolm Brogdon struggled for the Pacers, going five-of-16 from the field in Game 4. The guard finished with 13 points in 40 minutes.

 

LeBron from range

James hit a three-pointer from just over half-court in the Lakers' win.

Monday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 121-106 Orlando Magic
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-114 Houston Rockets
Miami Heat 99-87 Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Lakers 135-115 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Mavericks face Clippers

Luka Doncic inspired the Dallas Mavericks to draw level in their series with the Los Angeles Clippers. The crucial Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series is on Tuesday.

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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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