NBA

Durant and Nets locked in amid pursuit of top seed as Nash awaits Harden return

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant said he and his team-mates are focused in pursuit of the Eastern Conference top seed as head coach Steve Nash awaits the return of former MVP James Harden.

Durant posted 42 points and 10 rebounds while matching a career high with seven three-pointers, but the star-studded Nets still lost on Sunday, upstaged 117-114 by Eastern Conference rivals the Milwaukee Bucks, who were fuelled by Giannis Antetokounmpo's 49 points.

The Nets – eyeing their maiden NBA championship – dropped down to second in the east, behind the Philadelphia 76ers but the two title contenders are set to continue going head-to-head for the number one seed ahead of the playoffs.

After falling short against two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in Milwaukee, two-time champion Durant – who scored 42 points in back-to-back games – told reporters: "Every day you wake up, it should be about your craft. I think that's how everybody approaches this thing.

"We try to take it a day at a time, a possession at a time. We can't control what's going to happen at the end of the season or what other teams are going to do.

"I think we've just got to take advantage of each one and that's what we're doing. Guys are locked in. We're talking the game when we're at practice, on the bus, we talk about it on the plane.

"So I think that helps as well. We're staying locked in mentally too when we do it."

The Nets were once again without superstar Harden, who remains sidelined due to a hamstring injury.

Harden has not played since leaving the matchup against the New York Knicks on April 5, missing 16 of the Nets' last 17 games.

This season, Harden – who arrived in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets in January – is averaging 25.2 points, 10.9 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game.

The Nets and Bucks will clash again on Tuesday, and coach Nash said: "I'm not so much worried about what they know. For us, we have the luxury of talent. We have great players. We don't have the luxury of time. That's OK. We understand that and we'll work around that.

"James will give us a totally different dimension, but we don't sit here and say, 'well, wait 'til James gets back'. We try to solve the puzzle now. James will give us obviously something great to build on, but we can look at all the things that we did wrong today and there were a lot of things where I thought we just weren't sharp tonight. We clean some of those things up, I think we give ourselves a better chance."

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  • Giannis toning down flex celebrations to save energy Giannis toning down flex celebrations to save energy

    The sight of Giannis Antetokounmpo flexing his muscles has become all too familiar for the Milwaukee Bucks' opponents but the two-time NBA MVP has toned down his celebrations.

    Antetokounmpo produced yet another outstanding performance for the Bucks on Thursday in a 142-133 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

    The Greek forward scored 40 points, with 15 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks closed in on the second-placed Brooklyn Nets (46-24), improving their record to 45-25.

    He became the first player to finish with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and shoot at higher than 75 per cent since the great Charles Barkley back in November 1988.

    Antetokounmpo revealed he has had to cut back on tensing his muscles after slam dunks in order to save his energy.

    When asked about turning into "superhero" after a dunk, he said: "I just feel so much adrenaline, I've got to let it out.

    "But what I've felt is after I scream or flex, then I'm tired! I flex for two or three seconds, then I'm running down the court thinking damn, I shouldn't have done that. This year after a dunk I usually just walk back. I'm trying to save as much energy as I can."

    Next up for the Bucks is the visit of the Miami Heat on Saturday but Antetokounmpo is not studying the schedule.

    "I don't know who we play next. After the game I have to ask the guys 'what do we play next?' Miami at home, okay great, then I get ready for it." he added.

    "I don't like to think we have Miami, Chicago and all that. I just take it day by day."

  • Giannis dominates with 40 in Bucks win over Pacers, 76ers miss top spot chance again Giannis dominates with 40 in Bucks win over Pacers, 76ers miss top spot chance again

    Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a remarkable individual performance to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference top two hunt with a 142-133 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.

    Antetokounmpo scored 40 points, with 15 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks closed in on the second-placed Brooklyn Nets (46-24), improving their record to 45-25.

    Milwaukee shot at 57 per cent on the night, boosted by the Greek forward who shot 14-from-18 from the field, going at 77.8 per cent.

    Antetokounmpo's display was the first since Charles Barkley in 1988 where a player had at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and shot at higher than 75 per cent.

    At the top of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers missed the chance to claim first seeding again, going down 106-94 to the surging Miami Heat.

    The 76ers trailed by 19 at the half with Joel Embiid returning from illness, while Jimmy Butler had 16 points by the main break.

    Butler finished with 21 points including four-from-four beyond the arc as the Heat claimed their sixth win from their past seven.

     

    Blazers blow buzzer beater, Knicks still in top four hunt

    The Portland Trail Blazers left the door open for the Los Angeles Lakers to usurp them in the playoffs race after going down on the buzzer 118-117 to the Phoenix Suns.

    C.J. McCollum, who had 27 points, had a shot to win the game on the buzzer but missed, meaning the Blazers move to 41-30, marginally ahead of the Lakers on 40-30 and seventh in the West. Damian Lillard had 41 points for Portland.

    The New York Knicks kept up their push for a top four spot in the East with a 102-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs, who qualify for the play-in tournament after the Sacramento Kings lost.

    Julius Randle had 25 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for the Knicks, while R.J. Barrett scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half.

    MVP favourite Nikola Jokic faced off against Rookie of the Year candidate Anthony Edwards as the Denver Nuggets won 114-103 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Jokic dominated with 31 points and 14 rebounds, while Edwards had 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

    The Atlanta Hawks made it 10 consecutive home wins with a 116-93 victory over the Orlando Magic led by Clint Capela with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

     

    Kings' long wait extends

    The Sacramento Kings' 116-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies means they are mathematically out of post-season calculations, which also means they long wait for playoffs basketball extends. The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006.

     

    Clippers on-song beyond the arc

    The Los Angeles Clippers scored an outstanding 21 three-pointers as a team in their 113-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets. They went at 46.7 per cent from range with Reggie Jackson draining five after coming off the bench.

     

    Thursday's results

    Los Angeles Clippers 113-90 Charlotte Hornets
    Milwaukee Bucks 142-133 Indiana Pacers
    Miami Heat 106-94 Philadelphia 76ers
    New York Knicks 102-98 San Antonio Spurs
    Atlanta Hawks 116-93 Orlando Magic
    Chicago Bulls 114-102 Toronto Raptors
    Denver Nuggets 114-103 Minnesota Timberwolves
    Memphis Grizzlies 116-110 Sacramento Kings
    Phoenix Suns 118-117 Portland Trail Blazers

     

    Magic at 76ers

    The Philadelphia 76ers, after back-to-back losses, will look to seal top seeding in the Eastern Conference when they host the lowly Orlando Magic.

  • Giannis dominates in Bucks win over Pacers, 76ers miss top spot chance again Giannis dominates in Bucks win over Pacers, 76ers miss top spot chance again

    Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a remarkable individual performance to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference top two hunt with a 142-133 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.

    Antetokounmpo scored 40 points, with 15 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks closed in on the second-placed Brooklyn Nets (46-24), improving their record to 45-25.

    Milwaukee shot at 57 per cent on the night, boosted by the Greek forward whose 40 points came from 18 shots. Antetokounmpo shot 14-from-18 from the field, going at 77.8 per cent.

    Antetokounmpo's display was the first since Charles Barkley in 1988 where a player had at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and shot at higher than 75 per cent.

    At the top of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers missed the chance to claim first seeding again, going down 106-94 to the surging Miami Heat.

    The 76ers trailed by 19 at the half with Joel Embiid returning from illness, while Jimmy Butler had 16 points by the main break.

    Butler finished with 21 points including four-from-four beyond the arc as the Heat claimed their sixth win from their past seven.

     

    Blazers blow buzzer beater, Knicks still in top four hunt

    The Portland Trail Blazers left the door open for the Los Angeles Lakers to usurp them in the playoffs race after going down on the buzzer 118-117 to the Phoenix Suns.

    C.J. McCollum, who had 27 points, had a shot to win the game on the buzzer but missed, meaning the Blazers move to 41-30, marginally ahead of the Lakers on 40-30 and seventh in the West. Damian Lillard had 41 points for Portland.

    The New York Knicks kept up their push for a top four spot in the East with a 102-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs, who qualify for the play-in tournament after the Sacramento Kings lost.

    Julius Randle had 25 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for the Knicks, while R.J. Barrett scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half.

    MVP favourite Nikola Jokic faced off against Rookie of the Year candidate Anthony Edwards as the Denver Nuggets won 114-103 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Jokic dominated with 31 points and 14 rebounds, while Edwards had 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

    The Atlanta Hawks made it 10 consecutive home wins with a 116-93 victory over the Orlando Magic led by Clint Capela with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

     

    Kings' long wait extends

    The Sacramento Kings' 116-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies means they are mathematically out of post-season calculations, which means they long wait for playoffs basketball extends. The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006.

     

    Clippers on-song beyond the arc

    The Los Angeles Clippers scored an outstanding 21 three-pointers as a team in their 113-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets. They went at 46.7 per cent from range with Reggie Jackson draining five after coming off the bench.

     

    Thursday's results

    Los Angeles Clippers 113-90 Charlotte Hornets
    Milwaukee Bucks 142-133 Indiana Pacers
    Miami Heat 106-94 Philadelphia 76ers
    New York Knicks 102-98 San Antonio Spurs
    Atlanta Hawks 116-93 Orlando Magic
    Chicago Bulls 114-102 Toronto Raptors
    Denver Nuggets 114-103 Minnesota Timberwolves
    Memphis Grizzlies 116-110 Sacramento Kings
    Phoenix Suns 118-117 Portland Trail Blazers

     

    Magic at 76ers

    The Philadelphia 76ers, after back-to-back losses, will look to seal top seeding in the Eastern Conference when they host the lowly Orlando Magic.

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