NBA

Embiid makes MVP statement with 52 points against the Celtics, Warriors move up the standings

By Sports Desk April 05, 2023

Philadelphia 76ers center and MVP hopeful Joel Embiid put together arguably his best game of the season on Tuesday to deliver a 103-101 home win against the Boston Celtics.

Embiid put up 52 points – over half of his team's total and the third-most in his career – while shooting a remarkable 20-of-25 from the field. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, dished six assists and blocked two shots in his 39 minutes.

The 29-year-old, who has finished as the runner-up in the past two MVP votes, had never scored more than 50 points in a game prior to this season, but he has done so three times this campaign, highlighted by a 59-point, 11-rebound, eight-assist, seven-block showing against the Utah Jazz in November.

Against the Celtics, Embiid was supported in style by James Harden as the 76ers' second star chipped in 20 points (seven-of-17 shooting) and 10 assists with no turnovers. It was only his second game this season without a turnover.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were left short-handed as All-Star Jaylen Brown was ruled out in the hours leading up to tip-off, and Jayson Tatum was disappointing in his highly anticipated showdown against Embiid, delivering just 19 points on seven-of-20 shooting with six rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Tatum had a plus/minus of minus 13 in his 38 minutes, meaning Boston were plus 11 in the 10 minutes he was on the bench.

LeBron lifts the Lakers in overtime

The Los Angeles Lakers have now won seven of their past eight fixtures after a 135-133 overtime victory on the road against the Utah Jazz.

It was a mediocre offensive showing from the red-hot Anthony Davis as he shot just seven-of-16 from the field and seven-of-12 from the free throw line for his 21 points, but he added 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.

Instead it was LeBron James coming through for the Lakers, producing his best game since the All-Star break with 37 points (14-of-27 shooting), six assists and five rebounds. Austin Reaves stepped up in D'Angelo Russell's absence, contributing 28 points (eight-of-13) and six assists in an equal team-high 42 minutes.

The win improved the Lakers' record to 41-38, leaving them tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the sixth-best record in the West – with the Lakers and Clippers to face off on Wednesday.

Warriors stay out of the play-in

The Golden State Warriors were at risk of being leapfrogged by the Lakers and falling into the play-in tournament placings, before coming from behind to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 136-125.

It was the Thunder leading 106-102 heading into the fourth quarter, but with Klay Thompson missing through injury, Jordan Poole stepped up as the Warriors' hero.

Poole scored 18 points in the fourth quarter while the Thunder scored 19 as a team, with the fourth-year guard finishing with 30 points (eight-of-19 shooting). 

Stephen Curry was just as good, dropping a game-high 34 points (11-of-25), while Most Improved Player candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 points (11-of-17) and seven assists for the Thunder.

The win means the Warriors have jumped the Clippers into the fifth seed with just two games remaining, while the Thunder's loss keeps the Dallas Mavericks alive, with just a half-game separating the 10th and 11th seeds.

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    Jaime Jaques Jr. added 21 points, Kevin Love had 16 and Bam Adebayo 13 for Miami, which advanced to face the league-leading Boston Celtics in a rematch of the last two East finals.

    They were the No. 8 seed last season also and survived the play-in before going all the way to the NBA Finals.

    The Heat were without star forward Jimmy Butler and won’t have him available for the Boston series, either.

    Even without Butler, Miami took control with a 19-0 run in the first quarter, and a 14-0 surge midway through the second half. Herro finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Heat eliminated the Bulls in the last East play-in game for the second straight season.

    DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points and Nikola Vucevic had 16, 14 boards and five assists but the Bulls were unable to become the fifth team in the last 35 years to make the playoffs after not spending a single day all season over the .500 mark.

    The Heat were held to 13 points in the second quarter but still took a 47-37 lead into the break because the Bulls went 8 for 39 from the field after opening 4 for 5. Chicago missed 14 of 15 shots in one stretch.

    Chicago got as close as 70-60 in the third quarter before Miami essentially iced the game with the 14-0 run.

     

    Pelicans continue mastery of Kings

    Brandon Ingram scored 24 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 19 with 12 rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans secured the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 105-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

    Trey Murphy III had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists as six players scored in double figures for the Pelicans, who won all six meetings this season against the Kings and now move on to face top-seeded Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs.

    The Pelicans are the first team to 6-0 in a season (without a playoff series) against an opponent since Denver against Minnesota in 1994-95.

    New Orleans played without leading scorer Zion Williamson (left hamstring), who will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

    De’Aaron Fox poured in 35 points and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists but the Kings shot just 40.9 percent (36 of 88) from the field and misfired on 30 of 41 (26.8 percent) from 3-point range.

    Sacramento got just 12 points from its bench compared to 34 for New Orleans.

  • 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr

    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes there is a "lot of value" in the team keeping their core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, as the latter of the trio prepares to hit free agency.

    The Warriors' season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as they were dumped out of the Play-In Tournament by the Sacramento Kings, falling to a 118-94 defeat to their upstate rivals. 

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    "It's rarely a storybook," Kerr said. "Even the '96 or '98 Bulls, the team was broken up and we won the championship in our last year but there was a documentary about what a disaster the whole thing was. It's impossible for this stuff to end perfectly.

    "I do think there is a lot of value to having our three guys being Warriors for life. I think there's a lot of value in ending with dignity.

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    Much of the Warriors' season was overshadowed by discussions regarding Green's ill-discipline, with the forward being ejected four times in 2023-24.

    Green also missed 16 games after receiving an indefinite suspension for striking Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December, an incident that Kerr described as "unforgivable".

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    "He's doing everything, our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play," Frank said. 

    "Progress has been made, but the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

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    "Some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you've got to surrender to the things you can't."

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