NBA

LeBron drives Lakers to bounce-back win, Harden lifts Nets in Irving's absence

By Sports Desk February 17, 2021

LeBron James' double-double fired the Los Angeles Lakers back to winning ways, while James Harden stepped up to rally the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets past the high-flying Phoenix Suns.

James put up 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the reigning NBA champions leaned on their defense in the 112-104 victory over the last-placed Minnesota Timberwolves.

Without the injured Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder played the supporting role for James, posting 24 points, while the Lakers battled to claim eight steals and seven blocks in a closely fought contest.

After taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter at Target Center, the road side pulled away in the closing stages to improve to 22-7 in second place in the Western Conference.

Harden pulled out the stops with a double-double to lead the Nets to a sensational 128-124 comeback win against the Suns, despite playing without Irving after the star guard felt tightness in his lower back.

Nets coach Steve Nash revealed Irving received treatment at half-time of Brooklyn's win against the Sacramento Kings on Monday but expects the six-time All-Star to only be sidelined in the short term.

The Nets surged, scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to turn around a 24-point deficit, with Harden (38 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) backed up by Joe Harris (22 points) as they halted the Suns' six-game winning streak.

Jokic burns Celtics but Nuggets fall short, Zion on target for Pelicans

Nikola Jokic lit up the Boston Celtics, scoring 43 points, but the Denver Nuggets could still not make triple-digits as their three-game winning stretch was ended in a 112-99 loss.

Zion Williamson shot an efficient 31 points, sinking 13 of his 16 field-goal efforts and going four-of-four from the free-throw line, as the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a three-match losing run with a 144-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard’s 31-point, 10-assist double-double led the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 115-104 win, while centre Enes Kanter pulled down 21 rebounds.

 

Bazley struggles to take his chances

The Thunder never recovered against the Blazers after falling 34-21 behind in the first quarter and forward Darius Bazley was one player that could not find his range.

Bazley shot four from 16 from the field for 14 points during his 36 minutes on court, only dropping one his seven efforts from three-point range.

 

Giannis powers up but the Raps edge the Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved unplayable at times, scoring 34 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 124-113 loss against the Toronto Raptors, as he ghosted past three defenders for one of his buckets.

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 112-99 Denver Nuggets
Portland Trail Blazers 115-104 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Los Angeles Lakers 112-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 144-113 Memphis Grizzlies 
Toronto Raptors 124-113 Milwaukee Bucks 
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Phoenix Suns

 

Jazz at Clippers

There has been no stopping the Utah Jazz, who have won eight straight and 19 of their past 20 games to establish a lead in the Western Conference, but a tough challenge awaits when they go on the road to face the third-placed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

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  • Randle to be evaluated after exiting Knicks win with ankle sprain Randle to be evaluated after exiting Knicks win with ankle sprain

    Julius Randle will undergo evaluation on Thursday after exiting the New York Knicks' 101-92 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday with a left ankle sprain.

    Randle was hurt after his left leg landed on Heat center Bam Adebayo's left foot as he pulled down a rebound with 2:40 remaining in the second quarter.

    The Knicks forward was helped up and initially stayed in the game but was visibly incapable of playing on and ruled out at half-time.

    "It'll be evaluated tomorrow," Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. "It's a sprain, that's about the extent of it. We'll see where he is tomorrow."

    Thibodeau was unable to clarify the extent of the injury when asked if trainers thought it was a high ankle sprain.

    Randle will be a key part of the Knicks' upcoming playoffs campaign, averaging 25.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists this season. The All-Star produced a career-best 57 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week.

    The Knicks are in the five seed slot in the Eastern Conference with a 44-33 record, with the playoffs due to starton April 15.

    "It's all part of it, injuries happen," Thibodeau said. "When you have a guy who's averaging 24/10/4, we're not going to replace him with one player.

    "What we can do is work hard as a unit to come together and work to replace him."

    Randle is a two-time All-Star, who won the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2021.

  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver hopeful new CBA can get done before Friday deadline NBA commissioner Adam Silver hopeful new CBA can get done before Friday deadline

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver is hopeful a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and players can be approved before Friday's deadline.

    If not, he said the league's plan would then be to opt out of the current CBA.

    The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are negotiating ahead of a deadline set for midnight on Friday that would allow either side to opt out of the current CBA on June 30.

    The current CBA expires at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.

    "I certainly can foresee one getting done and I hope we do get one done," Silver said on Wednesday during his news conference at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the league's Board of Governors.

    The sides have already extended the deadline on two previous occasions – once in December and another time in February – and Silver said the league won't extend it again if there is no deal by Friday night.

    "If we don't have a deal by this Friday night and nothing else were to happen, yes, it would be our intention to opt out of the current deal," Silver said.

    The two sides have been negotiating a new CBA for more than a year with spending limits and player health being specific issues, and Silver said progress has been made.

    "I think both sides understand that this is a window of opportunity that we should try not to miss," Silver said. "Because, if we don't have the deal done this Friday, the next real deadline is June 30, but that's the very end of the season.

    "The whole idea behind these early deadlines (is) to try to avoid going right up to the line."

    While Silver said the league would exercise the opt-out option if a deal isn't reached by Friday, NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said the players don't intend to opt out.

    "The March 31 deadline is an important benchmark, and we are doing everything in our power to reach an agreement with the league," Tremaglio said in a statement.

    "If we don't have a deal and the league decides to opt out, it will be disappointing considering all the work both sides have put into the negotiations, and the fair nature of our requests. As far as our fans are concerned, it will be business as usual. Games will continue uninterrupted."

    Although there is a midnight Friday deadline, Silver said if progress is being made and the two sides are close, it is possible the deadline could be pushed back a few days.

    "I could imagine if it came midnight Friday night, and we were having a productive discussion and somebody said, ‘We could use a few more days,' we would agree to a few more days," Silver said. "But that's more of a hypothetical."

  • Kerr credits Green with willing Warriors to victory as Curry lauds unmatched 'competitive spirit' Kerr credits Green with willing Warriors to victory as Curry lauds unmatched 'competitive spirit'

    Steve Kerr credited Draymond Green with "willing" the Golden State Warriors to victory in their comeback win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Green scored eight points and provided 13 assists, four turnovers and two steals to help complete a 120-109 turnaround triumph for the reigning NBA champions at Chase Center.

    Golden State were trailing by 17 points after a lacklustre first half, but Green sparked the team into life, earning the credit from his coach.

    "Draymond willed us to victory tonight," said Kerr. "Just the intensity, the frustration early with the way we were playing.

    "Mad at the world, yelling at everybody – their bench, our bench – and frankly, we deserved it."

    Green's first spark came late in the second quarter when he picked up his 17th technical foul for a shove on Brandon Ingram.

    The pair exchanged words, amongst some shoving, and were issued Ts.

    He will be fined $5,000 if the technical foul does not get rescinded over the next 24 hours - which Green thinks it will be - but if it does not, the Warriors forward believes it was worth it.

    "It was perfect," said Green. "Perfectly executed. We looked dead those first 18 minutes. We had to find some energy somewhere.

    "It wasn't just going to come, especially after losing the game like we did last game [99-96 to Minnesota Timberwolves].

    "That can carry over. I felt like it did. I knew we had to do something and do it fast before the game got out of hand."

    Green almost picked up another technical foul 20 seconds later after colliding with Herbert Jones but following more shoving and a video review, no Ts were assessed.

    "I've got to play with the same intensity I try to play with each and every time I step on the court," added Green.

    "I can't worry about that. For me, if I'm going to change my intensity level, then why be out there?"

    Following Green's clash with Jones, Stephen Curry got involved in the scrum yelling at Pelicans players and giving some shoves.

    "He knows that guys are backing him up," said Curry. "I'm sure [Green] wouldn't go out on an island like that if he didn't have that confidence.

    "There are times when I've got to keep him in check and bring him back in when it's turning in the wrong direction in the sense of staying focused on just winning."

    The Warriors outscored the Pelicans 74-46 in the second half, shooting 70 per cent to help complete their second-biggest comeback of the season.

    Curry scored or assisted half of the points Golden State won after half-time.

    Green said: "When I turned it up a notch, [Curry] turned it up another two notches.

    "We all hopped in line and followed him, and he was locked in. No one was stopping him."

    The Warriors are now sixth in the Western Conference, holding just a half-game advantage over the Timberwolves in seventh with five rounds left of the regular season.

    "It feels like we've been in a playoff vibe for a couple of weeks now," said Curry.

    "The only difference is you're playing a different team every night. But it's the same kind of adrenaline rush that we're getting. Every game does matter.

    "We have a competitive spirit that's unmatched. And it's been that way for a decade."

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