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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  • Joel Embiid 'ready to go' for play-ins – Nurse Joel Embiid 'ready to go' for play-ins – Nurse

    Joel Embiid will be "ready to go" for the Philadelphia 76ers when they host the Miami Heat, coach Nick Nurse has confirmed.

    The reigning MVP sat out the Sixers' 107-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Sunday's regular-season finale at Wells Fargo Center.

    Embiid returned from a two-month lay-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder two weeks ago, but his status has been questionable for every game since. 

    And after missing the Nets game, concerns were raised with regards to his status ahead of Wednesday's 7-8 play-in contest with the Heat.

    However, Nurse allayed any fears regarding the fitness of Embiid, who practised with the rest of his team-mates on Saturday.

    "He did everything at practice yesterday," Nurse said after the Nets win. "But we decided out of caution to hold him out. He'll be ready to go."

    Despite winning their final eight games, the Sixers finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and are set to contest their first play-in contest.

    As a result of other results over the weekend, the Heat now stand between Philadelphia and a place in the playoffs.

    "Obviously, we've had some great battles with them, and we always expect that facing them," Nurse said.

    "The mindset is we're playing well and do everything we can, like we've been doing for the last month.

    "We're digging in and playing our guys and doing whatever we have to do to win. We've got a good mindset, and we'll take that into Wednesday."

  • Allen reportedly agrees to 4-year, $70million extension with Suns Allen reportedly agrees to 4-year, $70million extension with Suns

    When Grayson Allen takes the court for the Phoenix Suns in their first play-off game this weekend, he'll be playing with a new contract.

    Allen and the Suns agreed to a four-year, $70million extension on Monday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    The six-year veteran is coming off his best NBA season, averaging career highs of 13.5 points per game, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.92 steals while starting 74 of 75 contests.

    He also shot a league-leading 46.1 per cent from 3-point range and averaged a career-best 2.7 made 3-pointers per game.

    He had seven games this season with at least eight made 3-pointers, and only the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry had more such games with eight.

     

    The 21st overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, Allen joined the Suns last off-season as part of the three-team trade that saw Damian Lillard go to the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Prior to being acquired by Phoenix, Allen spent one season with the Jazz, two with the Memphis Grizzlies and two in Milwaukee.

    He averaged 9.7 points per game in his first five seasons before becoming an important part of Phoenix's offence in 2023-24.

    In the 30 games Allen scored at least 14 points, the Suns went 22-8, compared to going 27-25 when he scored 13 or fewer.

    Phoenix won 10 of its last 14 games to end the season 49-33, and finish in sixth place in the Western Conference.

    The Suns will face the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in a first-round play-off series, beginning on Saturday.

  • 'No doubt' Davis will face the Pelicans 'No doubt' Davis will face the Pelicans

    The Los Angeles Lakers will have Anthony Davis to call on when they face the New Orleans Pelicans in their upcoming play-in game.

    After finishing eighth in the Western Conference, the Lakers will go up against the No.7 seed Pelicans on Tuesday.

    While the loser will drop into a game against either the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors, the winner will go up against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

    The Lakers defeated the Pelicans 124-108 in their final regular-season game on Sunday, with an instant rematch now on the cards.

    And Davis, who had to be treated for back spasms after the game, insisted he will be fit to feature.

    "No doubt that I'm going to play," said Davis, who finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds.

    LeBron James is heading into the playoffs in fine form.

    He registered his fifth triple-double of the season, finishing with 28 points, a season-high 17 assists and 11 rebounds.

    "I just read the game and I was just finding my teammates and I just tried to put the ball on time and on target for either jump shots or guys at the rim," James said.

    "I just tried to be very efficient with my play."

    James marked Zion Williamson on Sunday, with the 23-year-old limited to 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

    However, James was full of praise for his opponent, adding: "He's a beast.

    "I mean, it's almost impossible to stop him so I just tried to keep a body on him and just tried to keep it tough on him. He's a great player, man."

    Looking towards Tuesday's matchup, James said: "Tuesday's game is going to be extremely hard, extremely difficult, extremely physical.

    "I've always known that, when you play a playoff series, and I look at this like a two-game playoff series, if you win that first game, a team has multiple days to kind of sit on that feeling, or sit with that taste in their mouth of defeat.

    "So they're going to be extremely ready for us and we have to come in with the same sense of urgency that we had the previous game."

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