NBA

Giannis and the Bucks overpower the Kings, Klay stays hot in Warriors win

By Sports Desk March 14, 2023

Giannis Antetokounmpo refused to let his Milwaukee Bucks lose to the Sacramento Kings on Monday, dragging them back from an early deficit and carrying them to a 133-124 road win.

After missing the past three games while nursing a hand injury, Antetokounmpo started like a house on fire, scoring 15 points in the first quarter.

Despite his early heroics, the Kings led by five at quarter-time, and they jumped out to a 49-33 advantage after a 17-6 start to the second period.

From that point on, the Bucks responded with a 50-29 run, taking the lead as Antetokounmpo racked up a gaudy stat-line of 40 points, 10 rebounds and three assists by the end of the third quarter.

A wildly entertaining fourth period saw the teams combine for 80 points, with Khris Middleton scoring 14 of his 31 in what was his best game of the season.

The three-time All-Star's 31 points were a season-high, shooting nine-of-15 from the field and adding nine assists.

He was the perfect sidekick for Antetokounmpo, who ended up scoring 46 points on 19-of-28 shooting, with 12 rebounds and four assists. It was his sixth game this season with at least 45 points, while no other player has more than Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid's four.

The win is the Bucks' 20th from their past 22 outings, improving their league-leading record to 49-19, while the 40-27 Kings fell to third in the West, overtaken by the 41-26 Memphis Grizzlies.

Warriors ride Klay's 30-point half

Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson delivered another memorable performance as he shot his side to a 123-112 home victory against the Phoenix Suns.

Thompson had 18 points in the first quarter, and reached half-time with 33 on 12-of-18 shooting, hitting eight of his 12 three-point attempts.

He would score only five more points in the second half, as Jordan Poole picked up the slack down the stretch with 20 points (eight-of-16) and six assists off the bench.

Devin Booker was strong for the Suns with 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while Deandre Ayton piled up 27 points (13-of-19) and 12 rebounds in the losing effort.

The result pulls the Warriors (36-33) to within 1.5 games of the fourth-seeded Suns (37-31).

Edwards and 'Slow-Mo' put on a show

Anthony Edwards looked every bit of a franchise superstar as his Minnesota Timberwolves overcame a 41-point performance from Trae Young to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 136-115.

The former top overall draft pick shot 12-of-25 from the field for a team-high 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. He was supported in spectacular fashion by Kyle 'Slow-Mo' Anderson, with 14 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his second triple-double of the season.

Young was terrific for the Hawks, shooting 15-of-25 from the field and adding seven assists, but supporting pieces De'Andre Hunter and Dejounte Murray shot a combined 11-of-32.

Minnesota (35-34) are now just one game behind the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers (36-33).

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    The Philadelphia 76ers may be two games down in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-finals series but Joel Embiid thinks his struggling side will triumph.

    The second-seeded New York Knicks lead Philadelphia 2-0 after Monday's crucial 104-101 win after an impressive late comeback.

    Down 101-96 in the final minute, the Knicks scored the game's final eight points to further their lead in the series, which shifts to Philadelphia for Thursday's Game 3.

    Yet Embiid still insists the 76ers will progress in the East.

    "We're good," a confident Embiid declared. "We're going to win this series.

    "We are going to win this. We know what we have to fix. We did a better job today, so we are going to fix it.

    "We are the better team. We are going to keep fighting."

    A chaotic final 15 seconds proved decisive at Madison Square Garden as Donte DiVincenzo's go-ahead 3-pointer started a furious late rally that propelled the Knicks.

    Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse claimed the 76ers had been calling timeout as a frenzied finale played out.

    "Well, the first thing is obviously they score," Nurse said. "We take a look at getting it in quick. We don't get it in quick.

    "I call timeout. Referee looked right at me. Ignored me. Went into Tyrese [Maxey], I called timeout again. Then the melee started.

    "I guess I got to run out onto the floor or do something to make sure and get his attention, but I needed a timeout there to advance it.

    "Would've been good, but, couldn't get it."

    Embiid echoed his coach's sentiment, adding: "Everybody was trying to call a timeout on the floor, me included. Coach on the sideline. But they didn't give it to us.

    "But, forget about the timeout. There's a bunch of fouls. That's unacceptable."

    In stark contrast, the Knicks had a wholly different perspective on the ending.

    "We're down two, got to be as physical as we can be, try to get the steal," said Josh Hart. "And that's what we did."

  • 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."

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