NBA

Warriors hold on to square series despite wild finish against Kings, Celtics and Knicks pull clear

By Sports Desk April 23, 2023

The Golden State Warriors almost blew a five-point lead in the final minute as Harrison Barnes missed a buzzer-beater as the reigning champions levelled their first round series with the Sacramento Kings after a 126-125 Game 4 win on Sunday.

The Warriors led 126-121 heading into the final 60 seconds but gifted the Kings an avenue back in after Stephen Curry called for a timeout when they had none left at Chase Center.

Malik Monk scored the subsequent free-throw before De'Aaron Fox's three-pointer cut the margin to one point.

Curry then missed a pullup shot with 14 seconds left but the Kings could not capitalise with the final possession after a timeout, when a double-teamed Fox found Barnes open before his attempt rimmed out.

Reigning NBA Finals MVP Curry finished with 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting with five-of-11 from beyond the arc, along with five rebounds and four assists.

Klay Thompson had 26 points with four three-pointers and Jordan Poole added 22 points, while Draymond Green returned from a one-game ban off the bench with a strong display, holding the Kings to five-of-15 as primary defender.

Clutch Player of the Year Fox did everything but hit the final shot, scoring 38 points on 14-of-31 shooting with four three-pointers.

Keegan Murray added 23 points with five-of-seven three-point shooting and Domantas Sabonis was down on his usual output with 14 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

The Warriors squared the series up at 2-2 ahead of Game 5 in Sacramento on Wednesday. Golden State are 35-8 at home across the regular and postseason but are 11-32 on the road.

Tatum and Brown led Celtics triumph

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 31 points each as the Boston Celtics pulled 3-1 clear in their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks with a 129-121 road win.

The Celtics led nearly the entire game, holding off a 68-point Hawks' second half, with Tatum and Brown combining for Boston's final 16 points to round out the win.

Tatum's 31 points came on eight-of-20 shooting from the field including four-of-13 three-pointers, with seven rebounds and three blocks. Brown scored 12-of-22 from the field with three triples.

Trae Young had a strong game for Atlanta with 35 points and 15 assists, while De'Andre Hunter added 27 points and Dejounte Murray scored 23 with nine rebounds.

Knicks pull clear, Timberwolves avoid sweep in OT

The New York Knicks took a 3-1 lead in their first round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers after Jalen Brunson scored 29 points at a loud Madison Square Garden to lead them to a 102-93 win.

Donovan Mitchell had a poor game, managing only 11 points on five-of-18 shooting, with Darius Garland stepping up for 23 points and 10 assists.

But the Knicks were too strong, with R.J. Barrett supporting Brunson with 26 points, while Josh Hart had 19 points and seven rebounds. Brunson shot five three-pointers, while Julius Randle sat out the fourth quarter, scoring on seven points fo the game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves staved off elimination and avoided a first-ever franchise sweep with a 114-108 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets, with Anthony Edwards delivering a clutch three-pointer to cap his 34 points. Denver center Nikola Jokic scored 43 points with 11 rebounds.

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    Joe Mazzulla warned the Boston Celtics that the confidence garnered from taking a 2-0 series lead against the Indiana Pacers is not enough to secure progress.

    The Celtics won 126-110 on Thursday to move two games ahead in their Eastern Conference finals series against the Pacers.

    Indiana were also dealt a blow when star player Tyrese Haliburton suffered a hamstring injury, which the Pacers will wait agonisingly on.

    Yet with the Pacers having overturned a deficit to overcome the New York Knicks in the last round, Celtics coach Mazzulla knows the job is nowhere near done.

    "The only thing we should be thinking about is, they were down 2-0 a series Tago and brought it to Game 7," Mazzulla said.

    "They do a great job protecting their home court. They're undefeated at home. It's going to take a lot more than confidence to get the job done.

    "We have to focus on the details and the execution and the mindset, the things that go into playing against a team like this at home.

    "I know they're going to respond so it's up to us to do the same."

    Jaylen Brown starred again for the Celtics, finishing with 40 points on the day he missed out on an All-NBA selection.

    "We're two games from the Finals," he said when asked about that snub. "So, honestly, I don't have the time to give a f***."

    Indiana, meanwhile, face the prospect of having to fight back against the NBA's best team without their key player.

    "He does so many things for our team," T.J McConnell said of Haliburton.

    "I think everyone has to move the ball more, get in the paint more. The ball movement has to be at another level. He gets 10 assists in his sleep, so it's hard for another person on our team to replicate that. It's a group effort when he goes down."

    Pacers coach Rick Carlisle added: "We'll know more [on Friday] and then probably more Saturday."

  • Bickerstaff departs Cavs after four years in charge Bickerstaff departs Cavs after four years in charge

    J.B. Bickerstaff has been dismissed by the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in charge of the Eastern Conference side.

    Bickerstaff guided the Cavs to the playoffs in successive seasons, including their first Eastern Conference semifinals appearance since 2018 this term. There, they were beaten by the top seeds in the Boston Celtics.

    The 45-year-old posted a regular season record of 170-159, with the youthful Cleveland winning at least 44 times in each of their last three campaigns.

    Koby Altman, the Cavaliers' President of Basketball Operations, paid tribute to the outgoing coach as he revealed the franchise were seeking a change in direction.

    "J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human being," Altman said.

    "Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership.

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  • NBA: Brown scores 40 to give Celtics 2-0 lead in East finals NBA: Brown scores 40 to give Celtics 2-0 lead in East finals

    Jaylen Brown scored 10 of his career playoff high 40 points during a first-half surge and the Boston Celtics pulled away for a 126-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night.

    After his 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left in regulation forced overtime in Game 1, Brown helped Boston turn a five-point deficit in the first quarter into a 15-point second-quarter lead.

    The Celtics led 42-27 after that 20-0 run and never relinquished the lead.

    Indiana missed nine straight shots and committed four turnovers during the drought that lasted more than six minutes. Brown had 10 points during the run and had 24 by halftime.

    Jayson Tatum and Derrick White each scored 23 points and Jrue Holiday had 15 with 10 assists for the top-seeded Celtics, who lost Game 2 in both of their previous series this postseason.

    The series shifts to Indiana for Game 3 on Saturday night.

    Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton had 10 points and eight assists before leaving in the third quarter with a sore left leg.

    Pascal Siakam led Indiana with 28 points and Andrew Nembhard added 16.

    The Pacers got as close as 68-66 on Siakam’s 3 with 7:55 left in the third quarter, but Derrick White and Tatum dunked and White made a 3 a minute later to give the Celtics a 75-68 advantage.

    Brown’s 3 with 4:32 to go in the third extended the lead to 80-71 and Indiana would get no closer.

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