NBA

NBA record looms for Wizards' Westbrook, Mavs take down slumping Nets and Clippers top Lakers

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

Russell Westbrook took another giant step towards an NBA record after teaming up with Bradley Beal to help the Washington Wizards push the Toronto Raptors to the verge of elimination from a spot the NBA play-in tournament with a 131-129 win in overtime. 

Westbrook posted 13 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists for his 180th career triple-double, leaving him one shy of equalling Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson's all-time record on Thursday.

Former MVP Westbrook because the first player with three consecutive 17-plus assist games since Steve Nash in 2007.

Wizards star Beal scored half of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as Washington outlasted Toronto.

Raul Neto added a career-high 25 points and Robin Lopez had a season-best 24 for the Wizards (31-36), who hold a four-game lead over the Raptors (27-40) for the final play-in spot with five games remaining for both teams. 

Pascal Siakam matched his career best with 44 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists but missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer in overtime that would have won it for Toronto. 

Siakam joined Kawhi Leonard and Vince Carter as the only players with a 40-point, 10-rebound and five-assist game in franchise history.

Fred VanVleet sent the game to OT by hitting a shot from beyond the arc with 1.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 and Gary Trent Jr. contributed 25 for Toronto.

 

Mavs withstand big night from Kyrie

Luka Doncic finished with 24 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 of his own as the Dallas Mavericks downed the slumping Brooklyn Nets 113-109, despite 45 points from Kyrie Irving. 

The Indiana Pacers inched closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament with a 133-126 win over the Atlanta Hawks as Caris LeVert led the way with 31 points and Domantas Sabonis added 30 on 12-for-14 shooting from the field. Trae Young's double-double of 30 points and 10 assists was not enough for the Hawks. 

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors rolled to a 118-87 victory at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-46). Curry scored 34 points. The two-time MVP has now scored at least 30 points 18 times in his last 20 games (35th time this season).

Paul George had 24 points as the Los Angeles Clippers (45-22) beat cross-town rivals and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 118-94. 

 

LaMelo off target against Bulls

A day after his primary competitor for NBA Rookie of the Year, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropped 42 points, LaMelo Ball made only one of 10 shots from the field and scored just four points in the Charlotte Hornets' 120-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Ball had reached double digits in his previous three games after returning from a wrist injury. 

 

Caldwell-Pope strong to the hoop

Lakers fans did not have much to celebrate in Thursday's blowout loss to the Clippers, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did provide one highlight with this slam in Ivica Zubac's face.

 

Thursday's results

Chicago Bulls 120-99 Charlotte Hornets
Dallas Mavericks 113-109 Brooklyn Nets
Washington Wizards 131-129 Toronto Raptors (OT)
Detroit Pistons 111-97 Memphis Grizzlies 
Indiana Pacers 133-126 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 118-97 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 118-94 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pelicans at 76ers

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans (30-36) are just outside the cut for the play-in tournament and will face imposing opposition on Friday as they attempt to gain ground in the form of the Philadelphia 76ers (45-21), winners of six in a row. 

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  • Solskjaer expecting more from Man Utd after Young Boys defeat Solskjaer expecting more from Man Utd after Young Boys defeat

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appreciates the expectations on his Manchester United side are high as they return to Premier League action against West Ham.

    United are unbeaten in 28 away top-flight games – the longest run in English league history – conceding just 19 goals in the process.

    They have also won their last two meetings with Sunday's opponents as they go in search of a third consecutive win against West Ham for the first time since 2014.

    However, following a surprise 2-1 Champions League loss to Young Boys on Tuesday, Solskjaer acknowledged his side need to respond on Sunday.

    "They’re focused of course, a little bit disappointed but not too downbeat. We know it's a setback and we have to do better, and we've got five games to get the 10 to 12 points we need," Solskjaer told reporters.

    "[It's] not the start we wanted but we're a good team that can bounce back again and the group is very good."

    Asked whether the media's reaction post-match surprised him, Solskjaer responded: "No, it doesn't surprise me. I've got my job and we do our job, you tend to in the media get judged by behaviours and outcomes rather than intentions.

    "It's black and white. But we go into the game with good intentions, we make changes with good intentions, go into a tackle and make a pass with good intentions.

    "The outcome always decides which headline we'll see and very, very rarely is the game fantastic or really, really bad, it just hovers about good or not good enough.

    "We know the expectations are high and we expect more of ourselves as well, the performance wasn't up to our standard."

    Questions piled on regarding Solskjaer's capabilities following the surrender of a one-goal lead against Young Boys, with the removal of Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo being key issues for some.

    But Solskjaer evaded questions over his management style or philosophy, instead insisting the desire of the United team could prove the difference between winning and losing this term.

    "I don't sit here and claim and talk... football is a simple game and it's about making good decisions and being in a team," he continued.

    "Sometimes we look too much into all the intricacies – it's passion, it's desire, who wants to win the ball? Which one of the strikers has the desire to get on the end of crosses?

    "You can talk about all sorts, it looks nice on paper. But when you go out on that pitch, it's who wants to win, that’s one of the big things. You want winners and I think I'm getting there with my team, team players."

    The United head coach is also hoping to have Edinson Cavani back from injury soon, with the Uruguay striker's only involvement for the Red Devils this season coming in a 37-minute cameo against Wolves at the end of August.

    Since then, he has struggled with fitness issues, but Solskjaer is confident the former Paris Saint-Germain star can be involved again from next week.

    "Edinson [Cavani] hopefully will start training with us after the weekend, maybe Monday, so maybe involved on Wednesday," he added.

    "He had a fantastic season last season, the impact he made when he got his fitness… He struggled with niggly injuries early on.

    "We feel that to get the best out of him this season we need to get him 100 per cent fit and not rush him. We’ve got a strong squad that will cope with having to let players heal and not risk any further injuries.

    "I see Edinson having a massive impact, he's that type of personality and player. He can't wait to play and he's working really hard to get back on the pitch."

  • Arteta: Arsenal see light at end of the tunnel Arteta: Arsenal see light at end of the tunnel

    Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal's response to their poor start and warned there must be no let-up as they travel to Burnley on Saturday.

    Arsenal avoided an unwanted club record of four defeats in their first four Premier League games thanks to a 1-0 win over Norwich City last weekend, scoring their first top-flight goal of the season.

    Arteta's side now look ahead to Burnley, who they are unbeaten against in their last nine away league games, their last defeat at Turf Moor coming in 1973.

    The Gunners manager is full of confidence following the learning curve that he has experienced at the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

    "The boys were happy because we experienced a reaction of the fans towards the team and winning the first match, getting out of the blocks in the Premier League, it was a big part of our next moment," Arteta told a news conference.

    "Now we have to put a run together and we know how much we need the results and the performances will lead to that.

    "The way that everybody around me responded is the way that I responded and that's why it has been fine. It's tough because you want to see something different.

    "But what you want is not always what happens. Things happen for a reason and maybe what is happening had to happen and it is going to be really good for the club. Now we have to believe.

     

    "I can really see the light. I'm telling you I'm very positive most of the time. I've seen the light and I can see bright lights. There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light."

    Arsenal also opted to utilise new goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale against Norwich after signing him from Sheffield United in the transfer window, leaving Bernd Leno on the bench.

    Indeed, Ramsdale has kept a clean sheet in both of his appearances so far in all competitions and he could become the first Arsenal goalkeeper since Wojciech Szczesny in 2010 to record a trio of shutouts in his first three starts.

    Leno's demotion to the bench in recent weeks has led to reports that the Germany goalkeeper is unsettled, but Arteta assured that the competition is healthy.

    "Aaron [Ramsdale] has come here to try to make us better and I decided to play him on the day, that's all," Arteta said.

    "It is the same in every position. We want them to make each other better. We are competing against our opponents, we are not competing against each other here.

    "We are trying to raise the level of the team and the level of the club.

    "Bernd [Leno] should be disappointed, and he should support his team-mates as they all have with him. That's exactly what he's done."

  • Saha recognised 'animal' 'Ronaldo's special talent from a young age Saha recognised 'animal' 'Ronaldo's special talent from a young age

    Cristiano Ronaldo was destined to be one of the best footballers in the world from the outset, according to former Manchester United team-mate Louis Saha.

    The pair crossed paths during Saha's four-year stint at Old Trafford between 2004 and 2008, just as Ronaldo burst onto the scene following his arrival from Sporting CP.

    The Portugal captain would go on to score 118 times in 292 appearances for United before sensationally returning for a second spell last month.

    Ronaldo hit the ground running with a brace against Newcastle United – the only team he has a Premier League hat-trick against – in his first game back at the club last weekend and was also on target in a 2-1 Champions League defeat at Young Boys on Tuesday.

    Saha said he recognised Ronaldo was a special talent soon after he first joined United.

    "I saw it straight away," Saha told Stats Perform. "When you realise that the guy at this young age can do what he was able to do after a few games you realise that the guy is just an animal of work as well outside of the field.

    "He is always obsessed about his game and how to improve straightaway.

    "Maybe after a few months, he was already very confident in claiming that he was the best or he would be the best player in the world.

    "So all those things were a big sign that the guy has something special in terms of skill, but [also] in terms of mentality and confidence.  All this make me fairly quickly believe that he had massive potential to be a top star.

    "I'm not surprised from the moment he left United, I'm not surprised that he keeps doing it at this level because when you have the talent and you manage then to work harder than anyone who is a bit laborious, that's a fantastic combo."

    However, it has not all been straightforward since Ronaldo's return, with 10-man United surprise losers to Young Boys on a landmark 177th Champions League appearance for the forward as he equalled Iker Casillas' record.

    Ronaldo scored against his 36th different club in the competition on Tuesday, with 12 years and 132 days the biggest gap between Champions League goals for the same club in the competition's history.

    But as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side failed to defend their one-goal lead, Ronaldo could be seen animatedly issuing instructions alongside his manager and Saha is interested to see how their new relationship will work.

    "I think I will say that it could be strange for Ole in some way, more than for Cristiano because I think we have seen it all when he moved to [Real] Madrid and then to Juventus and improved as a superstar," he continued.

    "So now to actually manage a player like that you played with, it must be a bit strange but at the same time, he's a very smart lad and at the same time, Cristiano is here to win.

    "There is no conflict there. It's just about how to actually get the result they both want.

    "I think he has the luxury to get to, let's say, the finished product in his hand. It's brilliant as a manager to be in that position and to [have] one of the best players in the world.

    "So I don't think that is it any difficulty for him, just the players around will need to adapt. They need to play a certain way to optimise Cristiano Ronaldo, [he] is not 25 anymore. You have to play to a certain strategy."

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