NBA

Lakers claim series lead despite Morant's 45 on return, 76ers complete Nets sweep

By Sports Desk April 22, 2023

Anthony Davis bounced back while LeBron James scored 25 points as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed a 2-1 first-round series lead with a 111-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Ja Morant returned from a hand injury for the Grizzlies, scoring a game-high 45 points, including 22 in a row for his team in the fourth quarter at Crypto.com Arena.

But the damage was done early, as the Grizzlies shot three-of-25 in the first quarter as the Lakers raced to a 35-9 lead.

Dillon Brooks was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul early in the third quarter following a hit to James' midsection, following tension between the pair after the former's comments after Game 2.

James put that aside to score 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting with nine rebounds, while Davis scored a team-high 31 points with 17 rebounds and three blocks.

The Grizzlies scored the final 10 points of the second quarter to close to 53-37 at half-time but were not helped by Brooks' ejection with 11:43 left in the third.

The Lakers kept Memphis at arm's length for most of the game, although Morant's remarkable fourth-quarter scoring run offered hope, getting within 10 points after a three-pointer with 2:54 left.

Jaren Jackson Jr lost the battle against Davis, contributing 13 points with five rebounds while Desmond Bane was kept to 18 points on three-of-seven three-point shooting. Morant made six-of-10 three-pointers, with 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Heat upset Bucks but left with injury worries

The Miami Heat claimed a 2-1 series lead with a 121-99 victory over the Eastern Conference top seed Milwaukee Bucks who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a bruised lower back again.

But the excitement for the Heat was quelled by a worrying knee injury suffered late by Victor Oladipo, while Jimmy Butler battled a sore glute.

Butler top scored for Miami with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting in 28 minutes. Duncan Robinson, on his 29th birthday, added 20 points on five-of-six three-point shooting.

Milwaukee shot at 44.7 per cent from the field, giving up 18 turnovers. Khris Middleton top scored with 23 points and six assists but was guilty for five turnovers.

Nets swept again, Suns go 3-1 up

The Brooklyn Nets suffered a first-round series sweep for the second straight year after the Philadelphia 76ers triumphed 96-88 in Game 4 despite the absence of Joel Embiid.

Tobias Harris scored a game-high 25 points with 12 rebounds, while James Harden had 17 points on four-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds and 11 assists. Embiid was out due to sprained right knee.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie managed a team-high 20 points and Nic Claxton had 19 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks.

The Phoenix Suns took a 3-1 lead in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers with a 112-100 win headlined by Kevin Durant's 31 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Devin Booker's 30 points.

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    The Celtics went down 118-109 to the Knicks, as New York hunt down the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Boston have long since had their playoff berth secured, but have now lost their last two games.

    Porzingis, though, is taking the positives.

    "It stings to have this loss, but maybe we need this before heading into the postseason with a killer mentality," Porzingis said.

    "It's not who we are. This is not the team our fans love. That wasn't on display.

    "You best believe we'll show up when we have to. We know what the goal is and make no mistake about it."

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    "We got out-toughed the last two games and haven't played to our standard," Brown said.

    "The game has shifted and it's going to shift even more in the playoffs."

    Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 39 points, and New York are now just one game behind the Milwaukee Bucks in the race for the No.2 seed.

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    "Obviously, we know they're the top dog in the East. Whenever you play against them, it's always a good measuring stick to see where you're at.

    "We played pretty well, but we know what they’re capable of doing. We just had their number tonight."

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    "You best believe we'll show up when we have to. We know what the goal is and make no mistake about it."

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