NBA

Celtics spoil Turner's career night in overtime, Jokic delivers another masterclass

By Sports Desk February 24, 2023

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner had a career night, but his side ultimately went down 142-138 in an overtime shootout against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Playing in front of his home fans after recently signing a contract extension, Turner tied his career-high with 40 points while shooting a spectacular 13-of-15 from the field. He also hit a career-high eight three-pointers from 10 attempts.

Among all centers this season, Turner's 78 made threes trail only Milwaukee's Brook Lopez (104), Washington's Kristaps Porzingis (100), Chicago's Nikola Vucevic (98) and Boston's Al Horford (92).

His All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton was terrific in support, scoring 22 points (seven-of-14 shooting) with 14 assists, three steals and two blocks, but the Celtics duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown proved overwhelming down the stretch.

It was a rough shooting night for Tatum, finishing nine-of-25 from the field, but he worked his way to the free throw line to finish with 31 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block. Meanwhile, Brown – wearing a protective face mask in his first game returning from a facial fracture – had 30 points (11-of-24), 11 rebounds and three assists.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart chipped in 15 points and two steals, but he came through when it mattered, scoring seven of the Celtics' first eight points in the overtime period.

With the win, Boston remain alone atop the standings with a 43-17 record, while the Pacers sit 12th in the East at 26-35.

Jokic cruises to another big triple-double

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic was dominant in the Denver Nuggets' 115-109 road win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers came into the contest boasting one of the best home records in the NBA at 25-6, and they led at three-quarter time, but Jokic defied his unusual seven turnovers to produce another monster showing.

His 24 points on eight-of-13 shooting trailed only team-mate Michael Porter Jr (25) for the Nuggets' most, while Jokic also led both teams with 18 rebounds and 13 assists for his league-leading 22nd triple-double this season. The Nuggets are 22-0 in the games he has posted a triple-double.

Their win, combined with the Memphis Grizzlies' loss, leaves Denver (42-18) six games clear in the race for the Western Conference one seed.

Harden ignites late 76ers comeback

The Philadelphia 76ers overcame a rare poor shooting night from Joel Embiid to produce a fourth-quarter comeback, beating the Grizzlies 110-105 at home.

Embiid ended up with a gaudy stat line of 27 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and six blocks, but he shot just seven-of-25 from the field for his worst field goal percentage of the season.

The 76ers trailed by 12 with eight minutes remaining, but James Harden was in full control from that point, scoring nine of his game-high 31 points and dishing five of his seven assists, igniting a 31-14 run to close the show.

At 39-19, the 76ers own the fourth-best record in the league, and sit third in the East.

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  • Knicks, Nuggets, Cavs take 2-0 series leads Knicks, Nuggets, Cavs take 2-0 series leads

    Donte DiVincenzo's go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds left highlighted a furious late rally that propelled the New York Knicks to a crucial 104-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Monday's Game 2 of an Eastern Conference quarter-finals series. 

    Down 101-96 in the final minute, the second-seeded Knicks scored the game's final eight points to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Philadelphia for Thursday's Game 3.

    DiVincenzo finished with 19 points and Jalen Brunson had 24 along with eight rebounds and six assists for New York, which also got a big effort from center Isaiah Hartenstein to overcome a 10-point deficit late in the first half.

    Hartenstein scored all 14 of his points in the second half on 7-of-7 shooting while helping the Knicks contain 76ers' star Joel Embiid. The reigning NBA MVP managed 34 points and 10 rebounds, but made good on just 12 of 29 field goal attempts and missed a potential tying 3-point try at the buzzer.

    Tyrese Maxey ended just shy of a triple-double for seventh-seeded Philadelphia, as he compiled 35 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

    The Sixers trailed 90-82 early in the fourth quarter before outscoring New York 19-6 over a seven-minute stretch to pull ahead late. Maxey's jumper with 2:22 to go gave Philadelphia a 97-96 edge, and the All-Star buried a 3-pointer shortly afterward to extend the lead to four entering the final minute.

    Brunson gave New York some life with a 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 101-99, and after Maxey turned it over on the ensuing possession, DiVincenzo knocked down a 26-footer on a second-chance attempt to send the Knicks in front.

    Maxey then couldn't get a contested layup to fall with 6.6 seconds left, and New York's OG Anunoby was fouled after grabbing the rebound before making both free throws ahead of Embiid's game-ending miss. 

    Nuggets rally from 20 points down to stun Lakers in Game 2

    The Denver Nuggets also took a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference series with the Los Angeles Lakers after overcoming a 20-point second-half deficit to rally for a stunning 101-99 win.

    Jamal Murray capped Denver's improbable comeback by hitting a game-winning 15-foot jumper with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.

    Murray scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and Nikola Jokić had 15 points after half-time to also spark the defending NBA champions. Jokic ended the night with a 27-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

    Anthony Davis finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who appeared on the verge of sending the series back to Los Angeles all tied up after opening up a 68–48 lead two minutes into the third quarter.

    Second-seeded Denver trailed 74-55 near the midway point of the third before getting back in it with a 10-0 run. The Nuggets later went on a 10-1 spurt to pull within 83-81 on Murray's layup with 6:45 remaining.

    Murray was later fouled with 57.6 seconds left and made both free throws to forge a 97-97 tie. LeBron James answered with a layup on the ensuing possession to put Los Angeles back ahead, but Murray sunk a step-back jumper with 30 seconds remaining to even the score once again.

    James then misfired on a 3-point try and the Nuggets secured the rebound before getting the ball to Murray, who knocked down the game-winner right before the buzzer sounded with Davis contesting the shot.

    James had 26 points and 12 rebounds, while D'Angelo Russell netted 23 points for the Lakers while going 7 of 11 from 3-point range.

    Game 3 will take place Thursday night.

    Cavaliers shut down Magic again to take 2-0 series lead

    Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points and Jarrett Allen led another strong defensive effort for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who took a 2-0 lead in their first-round series against the Orlando Magic by recording a 96-86 win.

    After holding the Magic under 33 per cent shooting in Saturday's series opener, fourth-seeded Cleveland forced 17 turnovers and limited No. 5 seed Orlando to a 36.2 per cent rate from the field to move within two wins of advancing.

    Allen particularly made his presence felt by corralling 20 rebounds along with three blocks and two steals. The standout center also contributed 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

    Evan Mobley added 17 points and Darius Garland had 15 in a game the Cavaliers never trailed while taking control early by building a 30-18 lead after one quarter.

    Cleveland's margin grew as high as 17 points in the second quarter as the Magic continued to struggle to score, and Mitchell registered 19 of his points in the first half to help send the Cavs into the break owning a 58-44 advantage.

    Orlando never seriously threatened in the second half and will now attempt to reverse momentum when it returns home to host Game 3 on Thursday. 

    Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 21 points and Franz Wagner had 18 for Orlando, though all but one of those points came during the first half.

     

  • Nets hire former Kings assistant Fernandez as coach Nets hire former Kings assistant Fernandez as coach

    The Brooklyn Nets have a new man in charge, hiring Jordi Fernandez as the 24th coach in franchise history on Monday.

    Fernandez spent the last two seasons as the associate head coach of the Sacramento Kings, helping lead them to the Pacific Division title and the third seed in the Western Conference a year ago for the franchise's first play-off berth since 2006.

    The Kings finished ninth in the West this season, and went 94-70 in Fernandez's two seasons on the Sacramento staff.

    The Nets ended up going 32-50 this season to miss the play-offs for the first time since 2018. They fired Jacque Vaughn at the All-Star break, and Kevin Ollie finished out the season as the interim coach.

     

    A native of Badalona, Spain, Fernandez also coaches Canada's men's national team. He helped Canada to a bronze medal in last year's FIBA Basketball World Cup with a win over Team USA in the third-place game.

    "We're thrilled to announce Jordi Fernández as Brooklyn's new head coach," said Nets general manager Sean Marks in a statement. "As we progressed through an extensive search over the past six weeks, it became increasingly clear that Jordi is the best coach to lead our team forward. Jordi brings a diverse set of experiences and basketball knowledge gained over the course of a coaching career that has taken him around the world. Each step of the way, Jordi has consistently demonstrated the ability to implement strong processes and creative systems designed to optimise each team's specific roster."

    Prior to his stop in Sacramento, Fernandez was an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets for six seasons, during which the team made the play-offs four times.

    In addition to coaching Canada's team, Fernandez has other experience coaching on the global stage, serving as the lead assistant for the Nigerian national team at the 2020 Olympics. He also worked on the staff for the Spanish national team at EuroBasket 2017 and the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships.

    "My family and I are thrilled to join such an incredible organisation and become part of the vibrant Brooklyn community," Fernandez said. "I am eager to get to work with this talented group of players and collectively drive our team forward. Together, we will be fully committed to building something special for Nets fans and the borough to be proud of for years to come."

  • Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms

    Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal for showing resilience during a difficult period and described his players as a "joy to work with" ahead of a crucial week in the Premier League title race. 

    All three title contenders – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City – are in action twice this week, with the Gunners taking on Chelsea and Tottenham in two huge London derbies.

    They returned to the top of the table with Saturday's 2-0 win over injury-hit Wolves, but with City possessing a game in hand, the destination of the trophy remains out of their hands. 

    Following a difficult few days in which Arsenal surrendered control of the title race and exited the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Arteta was delighted with their response at Molineux. 

    "If you look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played, their effort is unquestionable and the results are something else," Arteta said.

    "It's a joy to work with them, and it makes us realise we want to be involved in the big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League with the level that it requires."

    Chelsea's ambitions, meanwhile, are limited to securing qualification for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League, with their hopes of silverware being dashed on Saturday. 

    They were guilty of spurning several golden opportunities in their 1-0 defeat to City at Wembley Stadium, with their wait for a first trophy under the Todd Boehly regime being extended.

    Mauricio Pochettino, though, is choosing to take the positives from that game as the Blues bid to draw level with Newcastle United and Manchester United in the table on Tuesday.  

    "Now we need to take the positive things from the game," Pochettino said. "This group of players needs these types of moments and games.

    "Now is the time to finish the season in the best way and then see how we can do better next season."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Arsenal – Leandro Trossard

    Trossard scored in October's reverse fixture as Arsenal fought back from 2-0 down to clinch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, and he has provided an invaluable source of goals from the left wing in recent games, with Gabriel Jesus struggling.

    The former Brighton and Hove Albion man is enjoying his most prolific Premier League campaign, with nine goals, and only Bukayo Saka (14) has netted more for the Gunners this term.

    Chelsea – Nicolas Jackson

    Jackson missed several clear-cut chances as Chelsea failed to make the breakthrough against City at Wembley on Saturday, and he is perhaps running out of chances to show he can be the Blues' long-term solution in that number nine role.

    Jackson's 10 Premier League goals this season have come from a total of 13.98 expected goals (xG), giving him an underperformance of -3.98. Only Dominic Calvert Lewin (-5.98) and Darwin Nunez (-4.1) have underperformed their underlying numbers by a greater margin.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

    Arsenal have only lost one of their last eight Premier League games against Chelsea (five wins, two draws), going unbeaten through their last four against them. That is their longest such streak versus the Blues since they went 19 matches against them without defeat between 1995 and 2005.

    Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (four wins, four draws) and have scored multiple goals in each of their last six. However, that run could come to a halt at the Emirates, with Arsenal possessing a strong record in the biggest games this term.

    City and Liverpool have already left north London defeated this season, and Arsenal have not lost back-to-back home Premier League games since April 2022. Chelsea should be competitive, but the Gunners cannot afford to miss this chance to pull clear of their rivals. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Arsenal 51%

    Chelsea 22.5%

    Draw 26.5%

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