NBA

NBA: Lakers earn key win over Timberwolves

By Sports Desk March 11, 2024

Anthony Davis filled the stat sheet with a dominant performance that propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to an important 120-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Davis recorded 27 points, 25 rebounds and a career-high seven steals to lead the way as the Lakers defeated a potential title contender for the second time in three days. Los Angeles was coming off a 123-122 triumph over the Eastern Conference power Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. The All-Star forward added five assists and three blocks.

The Lakers also received 29 points, eight rebounds and nine assists from LeBron James in the legendary superstar's return after he missed the Milwaukee game tending to a nagging ankle injury.

Los Angeles still sits in ninth place in the challenging Western Conference, but has gone 12-5 since Feb. 1.

The Timberwolves, meanwhile, lost ground in the race for the West's top spot after being dealt a second straight loss. Minnesota now trails first-place Oklahoma City by 1 1/2 games after the Thunder defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid, starting in place of an injured Rudy Gobert, led Minnesota with 25 points each.

The Timberwolves did hold a slim 92-91 lead after three quarters, but went just 5 of 17 from the field as James and Davis took over in the fourth.

Los Angeles' star duo sparked a pivotal 11-0 run that Davis finished with a three-point play that gave the Lakers a 107-94 advantage with under seven minutes to go, and they maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way as the Timberwolves continued to miss shots down the stretch.

 Lillard, Antetokounmpo lead way as Bucks top Clippers

Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 69 points as the All-Star duo got the Milwaukee Bucks back on track with a 124-117 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers.

Lillard scored 16 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and added 11 assists, while Antetokounmpo recorded 10 helpers along with 34 points to help lead Milwaukee to its first win on its current four-game road trip. The Bucks had won six straight before opening the trek with losses at Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Clippers played without two of their stars as both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were rested with the team playing for a second consecutive day. Norman Powell paced Los Angeles with 26 points off the bench and James Harden recorded 11 assists, though the 10-time All-Star finished with just 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Despite those obstacles, the Clippers owned a 98-96 lead with under 8 1/2 minutes left before Milwaukee seized momentum. Antetokounmpo scored on back-to-back possessions and Lillard followed with one of his seven 3-pointers for the game to give the Bucks a five-point edge with seven minutes to go.

The Clippers countered with two Ivica Zubac baskets to cut the lead down to one, but Lillard had nine points during a game-sealing 12-4 run shortly afterward that staked the Bucks to a 119-109 lead with 1:19 remaining.

Los Angeles had won four of five coming in, including a 112-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

 

76ers hold Knicks to 73 points in defensively dominated win

Defence reigned supreme in New York's Madison Square Garden on Sunday, as the Philadelphia 76ers held the home-town Knicks to the lowest points total by any team in an NBA game this season in an ugly 79-73 win.

Both teams shot under 39 per cent in a game in which neither could find any sustained offensive momentum, and no player finished with more than New York's Jalen Brunson's 19 points. Brunson got there on a 6-of-22 shooting performance, while Kelly Oubre Jr. was 6 of 19 while leading Philadelphia with 18 points.

There were plenty of rebounds, however, due to all the clanged shots. Oubre had 10 and Tobias Harris 12 for the 76ers, while the Knicks got 11 boards from Josh Hart and 10 from Isaiah Hartenstein.

Oubre did manage 12 points during a first half in which the 76ers carried a 37-31 lead into the break, with the 68 combined points the lowest at half-time in any NBA game since the Portland Trail Blazers held a 34-31 edge over the Detroit Pistons on March 30, 2019.

New York did battle back to tie the game at 47-47 on Brunson's layup with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter, but Buddy Hield hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 14-5 spurt that put the Sixers up by a 61-52 count with 1:29 left in the period.

That would be enough for Philadelphia to hold on, as the Knicks shot 25 per cent while mustering a mere 16 points in the fourth quarter.

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    The Lakers entered Friday's game – their penultimate outing of the regular season – on a two-game losing streak and jockeying for position with the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. 

    However, James put up 37 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Davis added 35 points as the injury-hit Grizzlies failed to hold on after going 118-117 up with one minute and six seconds left.

    James sank six points in the final minute to lift Los Angeles one game clear of Sacramento and Golden State, both of whom suffered defeats later on Friday.

    "Every game matters. Every seed matters. Wherever you fall, you can't play in the past," James said.

    "I can't say I would much rather be where we are today than be the number one seed. That would be a lie. Seeds matter, and wherever you fall, you take that challenge."

    The Lakers emerged from the Play-In Tournament to reach the Western Conference Finals last year before being dispatched by the eventual NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets.

    With coach Darvin Ham plotting a route through the postseason, he left James out on the court for 41 minutes on Friday, while Davis played 43 minutes on his return from a left eye injury which kept him out of Tuesday's loss to the Warriors. 

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    "Whatever we need, and however long we need to push guys, we've got to have it, and they understand that."

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    Thunder handle depleted Bucks

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

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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."

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