NBA

NBA: Brunson, Knicks extend Bucks' skid

By Sports Desk April 07, 2024

Jalen Brunson scored 43 points and helped spark a big second-half rally that catapulted the New York Knicks to a 122-109 win over the spiralling Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

Both Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo recorded 20 second-half points as the Knicks overcame a 61-50 half-time deficit to hand the Central Division-leading Bucks a season-high fourth straight loss.

Milwaukee has now dropped six of its last seven after winning 11 of its first 15 games after the All-Star break, and its lead over the Knicks and Orlando Magic in the race for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed is now down to one game. 

The Bucks did get superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo back from a one-game absence, but forward Khris Middleton did not return after taking an inadvertent elbow to the mouth from DiVincenzo, who finished with 26 points, in the second quarter.

Antetokounmpo, who missed Milwaukee's loss to the non-contending Toronto Raptors on Friday with a sore hamstring, amassed 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Damian Lillard finished with 23 points for the Bucks, but went just 4 of 11 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range.

Antetokounmpo had 18 first-half points and Lillard 14 as Milwaukee took a double-digit lead into the break, but the Knicks reversed momentum with a red-hot third quarter.

New York shot 73.7 per cent for the period and turned a 10-point deficit into a 70-67 advantage midway through the quarter by embarking on a 14-1 run. 

The Knicks stretched their margin further with a 10-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter that staked them to a 99-87 lead with under nine minutes left.

Milwaukee was able to trim the margin to six points later on but shot just 35 per cent in the fourth quarter, and DiVincenzo helped keep the Bucks at bay by making four 3-pointers in the final period.

 

Maxey scores career-high 52, 76ers outlast Spurs in double-overtime

Tyrese Maxey gave the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers a needed lift by pouring in a career-high 52 points and leading his team to a hard-earned 133-126 double-overtime win over Victor Wembanyama's San Antonio Spurs.

With Philadelphia resting reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid in the second of a back-to-back and forward Tobias Harris remaining out of the lineup, Maxey notched his third 50-point outing of the season while adding seven assists to will the Sixers to a fifth consecutive win.

Maxey's biggest shot of the night came with time winding down in regulation, when he cut to the basket and took a pass from Nicolas Batum before converting a layup that tied the game at 111-111 with 0.9 seconds on the clock.

The 76ers forced a second overtime with a similar play, as Ricky Council IV found a cutting KJ Martin for a layup with 24.4 seconds to go in the first OT to knot the score at 121-121.

Philadelphia ultimately prevailed by scoring the final 10 points of the second overtime, with Batum delivering the biggest blow with a 3-pointer that put the Sixers up 131-126 with 1:24 left. 

The Spurs were held scoreless after Malaki Branham's 3-pointer broke a 123-123 tie with 3:32 remaining in the second OT, and turned the ball over three times in the final 2:10.

Wembanyama had nine turnovers on the night to offset an otherwise dominant performance from the rookie sensation, who tallied 33 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks. 

Branham ended with 22 points, while Kelly Oubre Jr. recorded 26 points on 12-of-22 shooting along with eight rebounds for Philadelphia.

 

Pelicans down Suns to draw even in West standings

CJ McCollum scored 31 points and Zion Willilamson had 29 to lift the New Orleans Pelicans to a critical 113-105 win over the Phoenix Suns that further clouded the Western Conference's play-off picture.

Williamson added 10 rebounds, seven assists and a career-high five blocks to help New Orleans halt a four-game losing streak and move into a tie with the Suns for sixth place in the West. The top six teams in each conference automatically advance to the quarterfinal round of the postseason, while the seventh through 10th-place finishers will be slotted in the play-in tournament.

Phoenix, which had a three-game winning streak snapped despite 33 points from Bradley Beal, does hold the tie-breaker on New Orleans by winning two of the teams' three meetings this season. Both teams have four games remaining in the regular season. 

The Pelicans never trailed after taking a 97-96 lead on Williamson's layup with 7:19 remaining, though they were unable to pull away until the final stages.

Beal's jumper with 4:02 left to play brought the Suns within 103-101, but Phoenix then went scoreless for nearly two minutes as New Orleans scored the next four points. 

McCollum found WIlliamson for a crucial layup with 29.1 seconds left that gave the Pelicans a 111-105 edge. After Phoenix's Devin Booker misfired on a 3-point try on the ensuing possession, New Orleans' Herb Jones sealed the outcome by making two free throws.

The Pelicans trailed by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, but McCollum tallied 11 points in the second and New Orleans outscored the Suns by a 37-24 margin for the period to go into half-time up 56-50.

New Orleans stretched its lead to 93-83 on Jose Alvarado's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but Beal scored the game's next 10 points to pull Phoenix even.

Booker finished with 25 points but went 0 for 6 from 3-point range. Beal ended 7 of 8 from beyond the arc. 

 

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