NBA

Brown and Tatum combine as Celtics down Pelicans, Morant extends Grizzlies win streak

By Sports Desk January 12, 2023

Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 41 points and Jayson Tatum added 31 as the Boston Celtics claimed their fourth successive win with a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Brown recorded his first double-double in a half in his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while he added another 18 points in the third quarter.

The Celtics guard shot 15-of-21 from the field with three-of-six from three-point range along with 12 rebounds for the game.

Tatum went 10-of-22 from the field with 10 rebounds and four assists, with Malcolm Brogdon adding 20 points off the bench.

The game marked the seventh time this season that Brown and Tatum have scored at least 30 points each, which is joint for the most before February by two players from the same team in the last 40 seasons.

The other duos to have managed that are Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in 2018-19 and Denver's Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe in 1983-84.

The result improves the Celtics to 30-12 overall and 17-5 at the TD Garden, while the Pelicans lose ground on the top two in the west, falling to 25-17.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 points for the Pels, marking the first time in his career he had 20-plus points in a first half in consecutive games.

Jokic falls short of triple-double as Nuggets triumph

Nikola Jokic fell one assist short of a 12th triple-double of the season as the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets claimed their fourth straight win, 126-97 over the Phoenix Suns.

The reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Jokic finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, including a brilliant first-quarter look-away fling to Aaron Gordon.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, although he picked up an ankle complaint, while Bones Hyland contributed 21 for the Nuggets, who have claimed 11 wins in a row at home, along with winning 14 of their past 17.

Grizzlies secure eighth straight win

Ja Morant led the way as the Memphis Grizzlies secured an eighth consecutive victory to keep pressure on the Nuggets at the top of the west with a 135-129 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Morant scored 21 points in the first half, finishing the game with 38 along with five rebounds and four assists.

The Grizzlies guard also produced a big dunk over Jakob Poeltl in the third quarter, while his put-back with 24.1 seconds left in the fourth sealed the victory.

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    Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in Sunday's final to land a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 grand slams.

    The 35-year-old resisted a fightback from Tsitsipas by saving a set point in the second set on his way to a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) victory at Rod Laver Arena as he made it 10 wins from 10 Melbourne finals.

    Djokovic, who was blocked from defending his crown last year after being deported from the country over his COVID-19 vaccination status, dropped just one set across his seven matches and has now won 28 matches in a row in his favourite tournament.

    The Serbian consequently reclaims the world number one spot, as well as equalling Nadal for the most singles slams won by a male player.

    Tsitsipas was aiming to become the 27th male singles champion in the opening major of the year, but he was under relentless pressure right from the off and a double fault in the fourth game handed his opponent the first break of serve.

    Djokovic, backed by a crowd that occasionally became too vociferous amid warnings from the umpire, served out the opening set with relative ease and continued to trouble Tsitsipas with some strong serving in the second set.

    World number four Tsitsipas slowly grew in confidence and, after a string of unforced errors from Djokovic – who exchanged some strong words with coach Goran Ivanisevic – he forced set point.

    But an excellent forehand winner from Djokovic prevented Tsitsipas from levelling up the match, and the Serbian went on to edge the tie-break in what was a big moment in the contest.

    He had the occasional blip, with Tsitsipas earning his first break of serve in the opening game of the third set, but Djokovic responded instantly with another backhand winner to level up.

    There was little to separate the two in the next 10 games as another set went the distance, and once again it was Djokovic who held his nerve in an entertaining tie-break to wrap up the victory in a time of two hours and 56 minutes.

  • 'The best player on Earth can't get a call' – Lakers fume after game-defining missed foul 'The best player on Earth can't get a call' – Lakers fume after game-defining missed foul

    The Los Angeles Lakers are furious after an obvious foul on LeBron James' potential game-winner was missed, with the Boston Celtics going on to secure a 125-121 victory in overtime.

    Playing in Boston, James was spectacular with a game-high 41 points on 15-of-30 shooting, adding nine rebounds and eight assists, but the game was tied at 105-105 after Jaylen Brown's and-one with four seconds remaining.

    The four-time MVP and four-time NBA Finals MVP would be the player entrusted with the last shot for the Lakers, and after driving left and getting all the way to the rim, James was smacked on his shooting arm by Jayson Tatum with under one second on the clock.

    But the foul went un-whistled, with James, All-NBA team-mate Anthony Davis and the entire Lakers bench erupting in fury as the game was sent to overtime.

    Los Angeles guard Patrick Beverley was issued a technical foul after bringing over a camera to the referee in an effort to show crew chief Eric Lewis the clearly botched call, and the Celtics went on to score 20 in the extra period, led by Brown with 11 of his 37 total points.

    Speaking after the loss, Davis made it clear he felt cheated by the referees.

    "It was bull**** at the end of the day," he said. "It’s unacceptable, and I guarantee nothing will happen to the ref. We got cheated tonight, honestly. 

    "[Beverley] got all ball on Brown, [but they] called a foul. LeBron, they smack across his arm. Unacceptable, to be honest. The refs were bad – they were bad tonight."

    James echoed those sentiments, saying this is not the first time this season he has felt disrespected by officials.

    "You saw my reaction… it’s challenging," he said. "I don’t get it. 

    "I'm attacking the paint just as much as any other guy in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it."

    He added: "You guys seen some of the games we lost this year, with late-game missed calls. I don’t understand what we're doing. 

    "I watch basketball every single day. I watch these games every single game, and I don’t see it happen to nobody else. It's just weird."

    Head coach Darvin Ham joined the chorus of discontent.

    "The best player on Earth can’t get a call – it’s amazing," he said. "You have to call a cat a cat, you can’t look at something and try to pretend it’s not what it is. 

    "He’s a guy that tries hard to play the right way. Doesn’t flop, plays downhill, plays a strong, physical brand of basketball. 

    "Just because he doesn’t flop or doesn’t flail and he’s not screaming when he’s shooting the ball like I see a ton of other players doing, he gets penalised for it.

    "As much as you try not to put it on officiating, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. I don't want to see another Last 2 Minute report – they can save that. It doesn't do no one any good."

    In an Instagram story, where he included a still photo of the foul, Lakers guard Dennis Schroder also voiced his frustration.

    He wrote: "The refs gotta start getting fined for their mistakes! They also giving technical fouls to people who are reacting to their mistakes.

    "The replay center should also use replay to get these calls right, especially on an important play like the OBVIOUS foul on LeBron at the end of the game.

    "This needs to stop… to lose 3-5 games this season off of referees' mistakes is really hard."

    In an uncommon occurrence, crew chief Lewis confirmed the botched call immediately after the game finished.

    "There was contact," he said. "At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play."

    The loss has the Lakers fall to 23-27, sitting 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference.

  • Celtics beat the Lakers in overtime despite 41 points from LeBron, Clippers win fifth in a row Celtics beat the Lakers in overtime despite 41 points from LeBron, Clippers win fifth in a row

    LeBron James' 41 points were not enough to prevent his Los Angeles Lakers from going down 125-121 in a controversial overtime loss on the road against the Boston Celtics.

    In the latest edition of the league's most decorated rivalry, James was a man on a mission, finishing 15-of-30 from the field, six-of-12 from deep and five-of-six from the free throw line as the only Lakers player to score more than 16.

    He added nine rebounds and eight assists, and he should have been awarded potential game-winning free throws after he was clearly hit on the arm while driving for a layup with under a second remaining in regulation.

    But the Celtics got the call in Boston, and it would be Jaylen Brown stepping up in the extra period to deliver a win for the home fans.

    Brown scored 11 of his team-high 37 points in overtime, finishing 13-of-23 from the field with nine rebounds, picking up the slack for team-mate and MVP candidate Jayson Tatum.

    Tatum had a respectable stat line of 30 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals, but he shot a dismal eight-of-25 from the field, while Sixth Man of the Year contender Malcolm Brodgon chipped in a game-changing 25 points (eight-of-15), six rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench.

    For the Lakers, it was Anthony Davis' second game back after five-and-a-half weeks on the sideline dealing with a foot injury, and he came off the bench again for 16 points (six-of-15), 10 rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes.

    The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Celtics, and improved their league-leading record to 36-15. 

    The Lakers fell to 23-27, and although they sit 13th in the Western Conference, they are only three games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves in the sixth seed.

    Clippers extend winning streak to five

    The Los Angeles Clippers are enjoying their longest winning streak of the season after making it five in a row with Saturday's 120-113 victory against the Atlanta Hawks.

    The Clippers were led by their resurgent two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting while adding eight rebounds and four assists.

    There were fears Leonard's prime had been stolen from him by injuries after scoring a total of 50 points in his first five games of this campaign, but over his past 10 fixtures he sits eighth overall in points per game at 29.3.

    Over that span he is shooting 55.6 per cent from the field, 47.2 per cent from deep and 92.5 per cent from the free throw line while adding 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game, improving the Clippers' record to 28-24.

    Kyrie stays red-hot in New York showdown

    Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving posted his sixth consecutive game with at least 30 points and six assists to defeat the New York Knicks 122-115 at home.

    Irving, who was named an All-Star starter mid-week, scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-27 shooting with nine assists, six rebounds and two steals.

    Over his past six games, his 36.3 points per game is eclipsed only by Portland Trail Blazers icon Damian Lillard (38.3), while Irving's 7.8 assists would also be a new career-high as he shoulders a massive workload in the absence of injured superstar Kevin Durant.

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