NBA

Curry ignites crucial Warriors comeback, Mitchell drops 44 in Cavaliers loss

By Sports Desk March 29, 2023

The Golden State Warriors played an inspired second half to recover from a 20-point deficit and defeat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 120-109 on Tuesday.

As usual, the Warriors were led by reigning NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry with a game-high 39 points on 14-of-25 shooting, hitting eight-of-15 three-point attempts while adding eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

It was a rough start for Golden State as they found themselves trailing 63-43 late in the second quarter, but some early shenanigans between Draymond Green and the entire Pelicans team seemed to spur some life into the Warriors defense after the break.

In typical Warriors fashion, they exploded in the third quarter in front of their home fans, putting together a 39-26 period to cut the lead to four going into the last.

They ratcheted up the defense even further down the stretch, holding the visitors to just 20 points while piling on 35 of their own as Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole all drained deep triples to blow the roof off Chase Center.

Despite the loss, it was another strong showing from Pelicans centrepiece Brandon Ingram. After his first career triple-double on Thursday and a career-high 13 assists on Saturday, Ingram again looked every bit of an All-NBA initiator with a team-high 26 points (nine-of-22), eight rebounds and seven assists.

A loss for the Warriors would have seen them drop to 39-38 and potentially swap spots with the eighth-seeded Pelicans, but they instead improved to 40-37 and leapfrogged the sixth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves (39-37) in the process.

Mitchell's 44 not enough for Cleveland

Donovan Mitchell dropped 44 points on the road but it was not enough as the Cleveland Cavaliers fell 120-118 to the Atlanta Hawks.

Mitchell shot 15-of-33 with five rebounds and five assists, while Darius Garland added 27 points (10-of-22) and Evan Mobley chipped in 20 points (10-of-13), 15 rebounds, four assists and four blocks – but the Hawks had all the answers.

Atlanta had seven players score double figures, led by Dejounte Murray's 29 (11-of-22). Trae Young ran the show with 10 assists on an off-shooting night (four-of-15 for 16 points), and the Hawks' bench delivered in a big way.

Backup center Onyeka Okongwu had a wildly efficient 20 minutes with 21 points (five-of-five from the field and 11-of-12 free throws), nine rebounds and three blocks, and trade deadline acquisition Saddiq Bey had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Hornets win a shootout in Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma City Thunder received 30-point efforts from Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Isaiah Joe – but still lost 137-134 to the surprisingly in-form Charlotte Hornets.

Giddey had one of the best statistical games of his career with 31 points (14-of-22), 10 rebounds and nine assists; rookie Williams had 31 points (11-of-16), four assists and four steals; and Joe hit six-of-11 threes and 11-of-18 overall for his 33 points.

But P.J. Washington was not going to let the Hornets lose, scoring a career-high 43 points on 16-of-24 shooting as he added six rebounds and five assists in an eye-opening performance from the well-rounded six-foot-seven 24-year-old.

It was a standout showing off the bench for the spectacularly bouncy 22-year-old second-year center Kai Jones, collecting the first double-double of his career with 12 points (five-of-five) and 14 rebounds in 22 minutes.

The loss for the Thunder means they slipped to 37-39, still inside the play-in tournament placings, but now tied with the 11th-ranked Dallas Mavericks.

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

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    "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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    Top-seeded Boston seized the initiative in their first-round series against Miami at TD Garden, with Tatum adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists to his 23 points, leading six Celtics in double figures.

    Tatum's fine performance came despite some rough treatment from the Heat, taking one huge hit from Caleb Martin while going up for a rebound in the last minute of the fourth quarter.

    Martin immediately went to help Tatum up but was pushed by Boston's Jaylen Brown, with both players awarded technicals. The Miami forward later said the incident was accidental, as he received a slight nudge from Jrue Holiday before crashing into Tatum.

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    "It's playoff basketball, and it's a physical game against a physical team. ***'s going to happen," Tatum said. "It's probably not the last time I'm going to get hit like that in this series.

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    Elsewhere on Sunday, Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard scored 35 first-half points – a franchise playoff record – as they claimed a 109-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their own first-round series.

    Lillard didn't score after halftime, but his lightning start ensured the Bucks were untroubled despite the absence of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed out with a calf strain. 

    Milwaukee built a commanding 69-42 lead by the interval and never saw their advantage drop to single digits as Khris Middleton tacked on 23 points – 15 of them in the second half.

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