NBA

Antetokounmpo's Bucks defend home court against the Cavaliers, Lakers win in LeBron's return

By Sports Desk November 26, 2022

Two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again the best player on the floor to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-102 victory against the breakout Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both teams entered the contest as a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, and despite a 29-point effort from offseason trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs had no answer for the Bucks' future Hall-of-Famer.

Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, hitting 10 of his 14 free throws while adding nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks. 

While usual running-mate Jrue Holiday was not at his sharpest, shooting four-of-13 for his nine points, it was veteran center Brook Lopez who turned out to be the Bucks' second star.

Lopez scored eight points without missing a field goal, hitting both of his three-point attempts, and he was a force defensively, blocking six shots for the second time this season, and it was the fifth time from his 17 games that he has blocked at least five shots.

His 2.6 blocks per game is a new career-high in his 15th season, and the second-best figure in the league, trailing only Myles Turner (2.8) of the Indiana Pacers. 

Along with Antetokounmpo, the pair are anchoring the best defense in the league, conceding 105.9 points per 100 possessions – almost two points per 100 possessions better than any other team.

With the win, the Bucks are now 13-5 and 10-2 at home, while the Cavaliers fall to 12-7, and remain the third seed.

Lakers make it four wins from five

The return of LeBron James has helped the Los Angeles Lakers win their fourth game from their past five outings, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 105-94.

After missing five games with an adductor injury, James was more than a little rusty as he committed nine turnovers for only the ninth time in his 1377-game career. However, he still chipped in 21 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists.

Enjoying his best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds to increase his career-high average to 12.6, and he blocked three shots.

Pacers keep on winning

The Indiana Pacers are meant to be in a rebuilding year, but after their 128-117 win against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday they now own the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Myles Turner continued his career-best season with an efficient 23 points on nine-of-11 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots, while pick-and-pop partner Tyrese Haliburton had 15 assists and four steals to go with his 21 points. Haliburton leads the league in assists at 10.9 per game, and is the only player averaging over 9.4.

Kevin Durant was not to blame for the Nets' loss, scoring a game-high 38 points (15-of-31) with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Ben Simmons scored 20 points on perfect eight-for-eight shooting.

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  • Comeback win proves Nets' mentality as Vaughn confirms Irving call Comeback win proves Nets' mentality as Vaughn confirms Irving call

    Jacque Vaughn believes the Brooklyn Nets proved what they want to be by fighting back to defeat the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

    Cam Thomas scored 44 points from the bench as the Nets overturned a 23-point deficit at Barclays Center.

    The Nets were without star players Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving, the latter missing with a calf issue having this week requested a trade.

    Irving was not in attendance, with Vaughn saying "we were all in agreement on him not being here", as the Nets coach hailed his team's mental fortitude.

    "We stacked the deck, I think, at mentally challenging them tonight," he told reporters. 

    "We didn't get off to the start that we wanted to, but we responded. We talked about it at half-time that it was more than the physical piece of this game that we were missing, it was the mental piece of this game.

    "Definitely a shift in our mentality. And we got rewarded for it.

    "It's proof, it's evidence of who we want to be as a team. We talked about what day of the week, what state we're in, how many guys are available.

    "It just doesn't matter. You have the ability and the choice to lock in and play and the group that we had did that."

    Thomas' points haul was a career-best tally for the 21-year-old, who has played 35 times this season but is yet to make a start.

    Edmond Sumner added 29 points but used his post-match press conference to laud his team-mate's match-winning efforts.

    "I'm watching him score after score. Cam's a guy that once he gets that type of rhythm, you've just got to let him go," Sumner said.

    "He can run off 10, 15, 20 straight. In the fourth quarter, he really picked it up and got it. Get it going, Cam. Go to work my guy. I love it."

    Saturday's game marked an 11th start of the season for Sumner, who can empathise with Thomas when it comes to a lack of opportunities.

    Sumner added: "People don't see what we really go through every day.

    "It's hard not playing games when you're busting your butt every day – it's hard. For you to always stay mentally happy, it's tough.

    "I know how hard he works, how talented he is. We stay ready every day, we compete against each other almost every day, so that was huge.

    "I love that everybody on this team was happy for him and then we let him go to work."

  • Curry injury a 'concern' as Warriors await MRI results Curry injury a 'concern' as Warriors await MRI results

    Stephen Curry's knee injury suffered during Saturday's win over the Dallas Mavericks is a "concern" for Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

    The reigning NBA champions had enough to close out the game, beating the Mavs 119-113 at Chase Center.

    But Curry – who recorded 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds – was forced off in the third quarter.

    Defending a drive, Curry was involved in a collision that instantly caused him obvious discomfort and prevented him from continuing.

    The Warriors confirmed X-ray results came back negative, but more examinations are required to understand the full nature of the injury.

    "Any time a guy's going to get an MRI there's a concern level, for sure," Kerr said. "So we'll just have to wait and see the results.

    "This has happened many, many times over the years. So, fingers crossed he's OK."

    Curry hurt the same knee only two days before against the Denver Nuggets, though Kerr was unsure if the two injuries had any form of relation.

    If Curry does require a spell on the sidelines, Kerr and the Warriors can at least study their game from his last prolonged absence earlier this season when a shoulder injury forced him to miss 11 games.

    "If he's out, then we move forward and we do have some games to look at, some game film to look at," Kerr added. "We'll be ready, regardless."

    Curry's exit coincided with a significant drop-off for the Warriors, who went from 20 points up to having just a five-point lead with a little over 90 seconds left.

    It is not the first time the Warriors have been unconvincing when trying to close a game out, with Draymond Green suggesting the players need to take more responsibility.

    "When we get down the stretch, we stop doing the things that work," he said. "When the game is going down the stretch, it's hard for Steve [Kerr] to get a call in every time.

    "You're under pressure, it's intense, you're in the game, you're not really focused on what's coming from the sidelines. We've got to do a better job closing down the stretch."

    This victory took the Warriors to 27-26 for the season, leaving them seventh in the Western Conference.

  • LeBron on potential Irving trade: That's a 'duh' question LeBron on potential Irving trade: That's a 'duh' question

    LeBron James said it was a "duh" question when asked if Kyrie Irving is a player the Los Angeles Lakers should move for before the trade deadline.

    Irving has requested a trade away from the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the deadline next week.

    The eight-time All-Star did not feature for the Nets on Saturday due to a calf issue, though his absence was not felt too keenly in a comeback win over the Washington Wizards.

    James scored 27 points to edge closer to breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record, yet it was not enough to help the Lakers avoid a 126-131 reverse to the New Orleans Pelicans.

    While the Lakers sit a lowly 13th in the Western Conference, with a 25-29 record for the season, they might still harbour hopes of a championship push should they get on a run and make the playoffs.

    In January, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said "there's no resource we'll hold onto" if an opportunity to win a championship was there, and a possible trade for Irving might just fall into that category.

    For James, it is a no-brainer, though he emphasised it is not his call.

    "That's a Rob question," James said when asked about the possibility of reuniting with Irving, whom he reached three NBA Finals with while at the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

    "You've got to see [Pelinka] when you all get back to L.A. I don't speak for our front office.

    "My mindset is whatever line-up or whatever group that we have is to make sure we prepare ourselves the best way we can to go out and win. 

    "Obviously, that's a – what's the word you use – 'Duh' question when you talk about a player that like that."

    One player who could be used as a makeweight in a potential trade is Russell Westbrook.

    The 2017 NBA MVP had 15 points, four assists and four rebounds from the bench on Saturday, though was not called upon by Darvin Ham in the final quarter.

    There is plenty of speculation over his future, but asked if he was feeling extra pressure, Westbrook replied: "I do not.

    "That's not up to me. I've known this was a business since I was 18, 19-years old, since I got into it.

    "My dad taught me that at that age, getting to this league is a business, and people make whatever decision they make, that's up to them.

    "I've been all in since day one. I'm very supportive of my team-mates. I compete every night. I'll make sure I'm ready and professional, like I always have been and always will be."

    James echoed the sentiment, adding: "It shouldn't be an issue. The trade deadline happens every single year.

    "You go out and focus, no matter what happens. You're still a professional."

    As for making history, James could break the points record on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    "I just want to win, you know. You play the game the right way and see what happens," he said.

    "I'm tired as hell, [but] I'll be ready to go on Tuesday."

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