NBA

Brunson guides the Knicks to sixth win from past seven, Nuggets survive without Jokic

By Sports Desk January 14, 2023

The New York Knicks have now won six of their past seven games after Jalen Brunson excelled in a 112-108 victory against the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Brunson, who is averaging career-highs in points (21.9) and assists (6.4) since signing with the Knicks in the offseason, was once again his side's best player.

He scored a team-high 34 points on 12-of-24 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists, continuing the red-hot form that has seen him average 33.2 points, 5.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds on 52 per cent shooting since the new year began.

Another player in scintillating form since the start of January is Knicks forward Julius Randle, and he is now averaging 24.8 points and 14.4 rebounds this month after putting up 23 points (eight-of-19 shooting) and 16 rebounds.

The Knicks overcame a terrific performance from Wizards wing Kyle Kuzma, who scored a season-high 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting with seven rebounds and seven assists.

New York are now 24-19, and sit sixth in the Eastern Conference.

No Jokic, no problem for the Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets showed they can survive without reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic as they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 115-103.

It was just the third contest Jokic has missed out of 41 total opportunities, but while on the sidelines nursing a wrist injury he watched Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr pick up the slack.

Murray scored a team-high 24 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists, while Porter had 22 points (nine-of-17) with four rebounds and three assists.

The highlight of the game came courtesy of Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who dunked on the head of Zeke Nnaji on his way to 24 points (10-of-21) and nine rebounds.

Hawks bigs deliver the win

Despite having two All-Stars in their backcourt, the Atlanta Hawks frontcourt came to the rescue in a 113-111 triumph over the Indiana Pacers.

Third-year center Onyeka Okongwu was tremendous with 18 points (nine-of-12 shooting), a career-high 20 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals. 

His interior partner, John Collins, was less impactful for the first three quarters, and while he only finished with seven points, he scored the game-winning tip-in with less than a second remaining on the clock.

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    Bam Adebayo compiled 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Miami Heat overcame the absence of several key players to record a 121-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday and extend their winning streak to four games.

    Miami moved a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic for first place in the Southeast Division despite missing two of its stars in Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, as well as starting point guard Terry Rozier. Herro and Rozier sat out due to injuries, while Butler was serving a one-game suspension for his role in an on-court altercation in the Heat's win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

    Rookie Jaime Jaquez helped fill the void by producing 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and the Heat also got key contributions from reserves Kevin Love and Haywood Highsmith.

    Love poured in 19 points in just 15 minutes, while Highsmith scored 15 first-half points to help Miami take a 65-62 lead into the break.

    Jaquez then put up 13 points during a dominant third quarter in which the Heat outscored Sacramento by a 36-19 margin. Miami took the lead for good with a 10-2 run that snapped a 71-71 tie, then later scored the final 10 points of the period to build a commanding 101-81 advantage entering the fourth.

    The Kings had a three-game winning streak snapped despite Domantas Sabonis registering his league-leading 21st triple-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

    Keegan Murray led Sacramento, which was coming off a 16-point road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, with 28 points. De'Aaron Fox finished with 27 in the loss.

     

    Barnes' triple-double powers Raptors past Pacers

    Scottie Barnes recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 130-122 win over the weary Indiana Pacers.

    Toronto also received big efforts from RJ Barrett and rookie Gradey Dick en route to its season-high third consecutive win. Barrett delivered 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while Dick had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and finished 7 of 9 from the field while making all four of his 3-point attempts.

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    The Pacers got an off night from leading scorer Tyrese Haliburton, however, as the All-Star guard misfired on nine of 11 shot attempts while being held to nine points.

    Indiana did manage to battle back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit, however, to tie the game at 102-102 with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

    The Raptors then regained control with a 13-2 run, which Dick started and finished with 3-pointers, to take a 115-104 lead with 6:21 remaining.

    Indiana closed the gap to four points entering the final three minutes, but a jumper by Toronto's Gary Trent Jr. followed by a Barrett 3-pointer helped end any comeback hopes.

     

    Hart's late basket lifts Knicks over Pistons

    Josh Hart scored the go-ahead layup with 2.8 seconds left as the New York Knicks held off a determined upset bid from the Detroit Pistons and came away with a controversial 113-111 victory.

    The Pistons fought back from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to take a 111-110 lead on former Knick Quentin Grimes' layup with 37.3 seconds remaining. New York's Jalen Brunson misfired on a 3-point try on the ensuing possession, but Detroit's Ausar Thompson had the ball stolen away after colliding with the Knicks' Donte DiVincenzo to set up Hart's basket off a feed from Brunson.

    Hart missed the free throw for a potential three-point play, but the Knicks collared the rebound and Hart was fouled again with 1.3 seconds left. He made 1 of 2 from the line to prevent a potentially damaging home loss to a Detroit team with an NBA-worst 8-49 record.

    Game officials acknowledged afterward that a loose-ball foul should have been called on DiVincenzo during the collision that preceded Hart's basket.

    Brunson finished with 35 points and 12 assists and Hart had 23 points and eight rebounds as the playoff-hopeful Knicks won for the second time in three outings following a four-game losing streak. DiVincenzo contributed 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

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    LeBron James and Darvin Ham were left frustrated with the officiating after the Los Angeles Lakers went down to the Phoenix Suns.

    The Lakers lost 123-113 in Arizona on Sunday, with Los Angeles awarded just eight free throws in contrast to Phoenix's tally of 19.

    It was a season-low for the Lakers, who averaged 24.7 free throws per game heading into the game.

    Of those eight free throws, none came in the second half, and James was left exasperated.

    "A lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like, 'That's all the Lakers do is get to the free throw line,'" James said.

    "It's like this narrative out there that that's all we do is get to the free throw line. I mean, we have attackers. That's what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we're not shooting 40 to 50 3s a game. We're not that team. We don't have the luxury of being that team. So, working it into the paint, that's what we're really good at.

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    "I'm not one to use referees as an excuse," he said.

    "But it's becoming increasingly tough because of the inconsistency. I'm seeing our guys get the same contact on them as we're supposedly committing. And the whistle is not being blown."

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    He added: "We live on getting to the line. We attack the basket.

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    While the Suns are sixth in the Western Conference after the win, the Lakers are in ninth, with a 31-28 record.

    In other news on Sunday, the NBA banned five players – including Jimmy Butler – for their involvement in an on-court spat in Friday's meeting between the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Butler, Nikola Jovic and Naji Marshall were each suspended for one game without pay, while Jose Alvarado and Thomas Bryant were slapped with three-game bans.

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