NBA

Antetokounmpo scores an even 50 in Bucks blowout victory, Morant posts triple-double

By Sports Desk January 30, 2023

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was an unstoppable force on the offensive end as his Milwaukee Bucks collected a 135-110 home victory against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 50 points on 20-of-26 shooting, hitting three of his four attempts from downtown while adding 13 rebounds and four assists.

It was the sixth time in the Greek superstar's career that he had reached 50 points, and the second time this month after setting a new career-high with 55 points against the Washington Wizards on January 3. Antetokoumpo is averaging a career-high 31.7 points per game, placing him third in the league.

The contest got out of hand early as the Bucks jumped out to a 37-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, with Antetokounmpo scoring 16 of his side's first 21 points.

Fans were treated to a shootout in the third period as the two teams scored 44 points each, but the undermanned Pelicans did not have the firepower to keep up, with not a single player from the away team reaching 20 points.

With the victory, the Bucks improved their record to 33-17 – the fourth-best in the league – while the Pelicans dropped their eighth in a row to slip to 26-25, occupying the eighth seed in the West.

Grizzlies storm home in comeback win

Ja Morant posted his second consecutive triple-double to lift his Memphis Grizzlies to a stirring 112-100 comeback win at home against the Indiana Pacers.

Morant dished 15 assists in his second-highest tally of the season to go along with 27 points (nine-of-21 shooting), 10 rebounds and two steals.

The Grizzlies needed every bit of his heroics as they found themselves trailing by 16 early in the third quarter, before finishing the game on a 60-32 run as they won the third period 30-17 and the last 32-21.

Memphis are now 32-18, and the only Western Conference side within six games of the top-seeded Denver Nuggets (34-16).

Rozier ignites Hornets upset

The Charlotte Hornets have now won four of their past six after an upset 122-117 triumph against the visiting Miami Heat.

Terry Rozier was the star of the show, scoring a game-high 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds, while 24-year-old former lottery pick P.J. Washington showed promising signs on his way to 27 points (11-of-19), six rebounds and five assists.

Jimmy Butler was terrific for the Heat, shooting 11-of-14 from the field for his 28 points, seven rebounds and three steals, but it was Miami's defense that was the issue, allowing Charlotte to shoot 54 per cent overall.

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    D'Angelo Russell insisted the Los Angeles Lakers proved their quality by overcoming the Oklahoma City Thunder, in a win he labelled as "no fluke".

    Russell was the star of the show for the Lakers in their 116-104 triumph on Monday, sinking five 3-pointers in a 26-point haul.

    Anthony Davis backed Russell up with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while LeBron James added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

    The Lakers have now won 10 of their last 14 games, while the Thunder were knocked off of their perch at the Western Conference summit.

    "They're so well-coached that you can't relax," Russell said of facing the Thunder, who have now lost two of their last three games after going on a six-game winning streak.

    "That team has got everything you need to win and to be efficient at this level. You've got to be ready to play against those guys. It's no fluke [to beat them]."

    Austin Reaves, who shot four 3s, added: "Obviously, they're coming off a tough back-to-back.

    "But any time you can beat a team confidently going into the fourth of that calibre, it speaks to what you did offensively and defensively.

    "Anytime you beat a team like that that’s been playing really good basketball, it feels good and it gives you some momentum going forward."

    The Lakers managed to keep Shai Gilgeous-Alexander under wraps, limiting him to 20 points, ending a run of eight successive 30-point performances for the Thunder's talisman.

    "Our start was good offensively, but our overall sharpness just wasn't there," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault reflected.

    "Defensively, we turned them over a bunch of times, and that kept us in it. But certainly not our fastball tonight.

    "I just didn't think we were as sharp offensively as we needed to be. A team like that that’s got size and physicality, that's a requirement to hit shots against them, but we just didn't do that enough."

    The Thunder were replaced at the top of the West by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-114.

    Rudy Gobert recorded his 43rd double-double of the season, and the Timberwolves have now swept the Trail Blazers in their four meetings with Portland this term.

    "We absolutely had to have this one," said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch, whose team had lost their previous two games.

  • Bucks beating Clippers without Giannis 'shows who we're becoming', says Lillard Bucks beating Clippers without Giannis 'shows who we're becoming', says Lillard

    Damian Lillard cited the Milwaukee Bucks' performance without Giannis Antetokounmpo as proof of the team they are becoming.

    The Bucks won 113-106 on Monday, despite star man Antetokounmpo missing out due to left Achilles tendinitis.

    Despite trailing by 15 points in the second half, the Bucks rallied, with Lillard finishing with 41 points while Bobby Portis contributed 28 and 16 rebounds.

    Milwaukee have now won six straight games as they settle in under new coach Doc Rivers.

    "It just shows who we're becoming," Lillard said.

    "Nobody talked about who wasn't playing before the game. That just shows what's expected, the standard that we're starting to have, and who we're becoming as a team.

    "We just trusted each other. Defensively, we've trusted our communication. We've depended on the next guy to do his job, and the same offensively.

    "Because our team is seeing the results that we're getting from playing that way, even when it's not going our way at points in the game, we trust it. It's just coming back in our favour."

    Portis added: "Guys needed to step up in their roles.

    "I just feel like it was one of those times for me just to step up and be a little more aggressive than I probably was before."

    Antetokounmpo has only missed three games this season, though Rivers is unsure whether the two-time NBA MVP will be fit to feature against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

    "It's been on and off the last two or three games," Rivers said of Antetokounmpo. "This morning he actually looked good, we'll just figure it out from there."

    The Clippers, who will be without Russell Westbrook until April after he fractured his hand against the Washington Wizards last week, have now lost for the third time in five games, though they remain well-placed in the upper echelons of the Western Conference.

    "When they went to that zone, I think we got a little jump shot-happy rather than keep attacking the basket and getting into the paint," Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said of his team's failure to hold onto their lead.

    "I think we were in the bonus pretty early in the fourth quarter. They did a good job of going to the zone, and then we didn't handle it well."

  • NBA: Bucks best Clippers to extend run NBA: Bucks best Clippers to extend run

    Damian Lillard poured in 41 points and helped lead a fourth-quarter rally as the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence and remained unbeaten since the All-Star break with Monday's 113-106 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Despite Antetokounmpo sitting out with left Achilles tendinitis, the Bucks moved to 6-0 following the break behind Lillard and Bobby Portis, who scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter after Milwaukee trailed by as many as 15 in the third.

    Portis added a season-high 16 rebounds for Milwaukee, which took the lead for good with a 15-0 run that erased a 96-90 deficit with under 5 1/2 minutes left.

    Back-to-back 3-pointers from Lillard and Patrick Beverley began the spurt, which Portis capped with four consecutive points that gave Milwaukee a 105-96 advantage with under two minutes to go. 

    The Clippers, who shot just 35 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to Milwaukee's 61.9 per cent, never got closer than five points down the rest of the way.

    Los Angeles owned a 74-59 lead just past the midway point of the third quarter, but the Bucks scored the period's final five points and pulled to within 81-73 entering the fourth on Malik Beasley's triple in the final seconds.

    The Clippers, who were coming off Sunday's 89-88 road win over the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves, got 29 points each from Paul George and James Harden. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points, but was held to one in the fourth quarter while going 0 for 4 from the field.

    Lakers continue surge, knock Thunder out of first in West

    It was a better night for Los Angeles' other team, as the Lakers continued their recent strong play by knocking the Oklahoma City Thunder out of first place in the Western Conference with a 116-104 victory.

    D'Angelo Russell recorded 26 points and Anthony Davis had 24 along with 12 rebounds as the Lakers improved to 10-4 since Feb. 1. Los Angeles currently stands in ninth place in the West but is now just two games behind the sixth-place Phoenix Suns, with the top six teams guaranteed a first-round play-off series.

    The Thunder, who were coming off a 118-110 win over Phoenix on Sunday, shot just 39.4 per cent and fell a half-game behind Minnesota for the West's top spot after the Timberwolves registered a 119-114 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

    All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 20 points but finished 5 of 13 from the field.

    The Lakers seized control with a 12-0 run to build a 37-27 lead with seven minutes left in the second quarter, and went into the break owning a 52-43 advantage behind 10 points from Russell and Austin Reaves. 

    Davis then took over in the third quarter, as the All-Star forward netted 15 points in the period as Los Angeles stretched its lead to 89-72 entering the fourth. 

    The Lakers' margin grew to as much as 25 points in the final quarter before the Thunder scored the game's final 13 points with the outcome already determined.

    Bulls stun Kings with furious late comeback

    Coby White put up a career-high 37 points and helped ignite a big second-half comeback that carried the Chicago Bulls to a stunning 113-109 road win over the Sacramento Kings.

    Chicago trailed by 22 points late in the third quarter before outscoring the Kings by a 36-18 margin in the fourth to deal Sacramento a third loss in four games. DeMar DeRozan had 19 of his 33 points in the final period, while White tallied 24 of his points in the second half.

    After closing out the third quarter on a 10-2 run to cut their deficit to 91-77, the Bulls continued to chip away in the fourth. They outscored the Kings by an 18-5 count over the final 5 1/2 minutes and held Sacramento without a point over the last 2:20.

    White's layup off a Sacramento turnover tied the contest at 109-109 with 1:32 left, and after the Kings gave the ball away on their next possession as well, White again drove the lane and scored to put Chicago ahead with 47.6 seconds to go.

    The Bulls would miss their next two shots, but got a late offensive rebound before DeRozan was able to seal the victory with two free throws with 3.5 seconds left.

    De'Aaron Fox led the Kings with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a two-game absence, while Domantas Sabonis grabbed 21 rebounds to go along with 18 points before fouling out with 2:57 remaining.

     

     

     

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