NBA

LeBron not enough as Suns sizzle against Lakers, Beal sets Wizards record

By Sports Desk March 03, 2021

LeBron James' performance was not enough as defending NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers lost 114-104 at home to the Phoenix Suns.

James posted a game-high 38 points, but the Lakers still went down to the Suns, who ended the team's run of back-to-back wins on Tuesday.

The Lakers had won 10 of their last 12 games against Phoenix – including sweeping the season series 3-0 last term – but a season-high 21 points from Dario Saric off the bench gave the Suns a rare victory.

Aside from Dennis Schroder (17 points), Talen Horton-Tucker (16 points) and Markieff Morris (12 points), James did not have much support as the Lakers continue to play without injured star Anthony Davis.

With the result, Phoenix extended their winning streak to three games.

 

Beal makes franchise history, Jokic dominates

Bradley Beal became the fastest player to reach 1,000 points in a season in Washington Wizards history – his 31st game of the campaign, surpassing the 33-game record held by Gilbert Arenas (2006-07) and Bernard King (1990-91). Wizards star Beal had 23 points in Washington's 125-111 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis' Ja Morant went off for 35 points and 10 rebounds.

Nikola Jokic produced another masterclass to inspire the Denver Nuggets' 128-97 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks. Jokic put up 37 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his ninth triple-double of the season and 50th of his career – the third-fastest player to the half-century mark in NBA history. A 27-point performance from two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was not enough to prevent the Bucks from having their five-game winning streak snapped.

Paul George stepped up in the absence of injured team-mate Kawhi Leonard with a game-high 32 points, but the Los Angeles Clippers still lost 117-112 to the Boston Celtics.

Double-doubles from Trae Young (18 points and 10 assists) and Clint Capela (10 point and 17 rebounds) gave the Atlanta Hawks a 94-80 victory over the Miami Heat in Nate McMillan's debut as interim head coach following Lloyd Pierce's exit.

 

Heat fizzle out

It was a forgettable outing for the Heat in Miami. Their six-game winning streak ended abruptly on the back of a woeful shooting display. Miami shot just 37 per cent from the field, while they were only 27.3 per cent from three-point range. Tyler Herro was three-of-12 shooting as he converted just three of seven attempts from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron says no!

There was no way past James as he denied Phoenix's Deandre Ayton at the rim in the second quarter on Tuesday.

 

Tuesday's results

Memphis Grizzlies 125-111 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 117-112 Los Angeles Clippers
San Antonio Spurs 119-93 New York Knicks
Atlanta Hawks 94-80 Miami Heat
Denver Nuggets 128-97 Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns 114-104 Los Angeles Lakers
Detroit Pistons-Toronto Raptors (postponed)

 

Jazz at 76ers

The NBA-leading Utah Jazz (27-8) will travel to face Eastern Conference pacesetters the Philadelphia 76ers (23-12) in a blockbuster showdown on Wednesday. Both teams are coming off losses.

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    The Seattle Sounders will be "flying" if they can beat Los Angeles FC on Saturday.

    That was the message from coach Brian Schmetzer, who is relishing a huge occasion at Lumen Field, where the Sounders have been outstanding.

    Seattle are on a five-game winning run in MLS, with four of those matches coming at home. They have lost in Seattle only once this year, back in April.

    After a slow start, there are now only five teams above them in the Western Conference, but one of those are LAFC.

    It was a defeat in Los Angeles that set in motion the Sounders' five-game winless run to start the campaign, while their 2023 season ended with a defeat to LAFC at Lumen Field.

    Seattle should not be short of motivation then, and Schmetzer is now shying away from the significance of this game.

    "Saturday is such a big game against LAFC," Schmetzer said. "Everyone needs to come out and show up.

    "This is a massive game for us. We've only lost twice in 18 games. That's pretty darn good if you ask me.

    "We come out with a result on Saturday, and we're flying."

    A win would close the gap between sixth-placed Seattle and second-placed LAFC to just four points, with this weekend's visitors wobbling in recent weeks against elite opposition.

    The performance in the midweek draw with Real Salt Lake was merely "a little better" than in the prior humbling 5-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew, according to coach Steve Cherundolo.

    "No, I was not happy with the performance [against RSL]," he said.

    LAFC had won nine of their previous 10 ahead of the Columbus game.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Seattle Sounders – Albert Rusnak

    Rusnak assisted Jon Bell's first Seattle goal in the midweek win over St Louis City, continuing his fine form. That was his sixth consecutive home match in which he had registered a goal contribution.

    Obafemi Martins is the only Sounders player with a longer such streak in a single regular season, with a seven-game run in 2014.

    Los Angeles FC – Mateusz Bogusz

    Olivier Giroud officially became an LAFC player this week, but Bogusz has contributed handily while the team have waited for the World Cup winner to arrive.

    Bogusz has contributed to goals in each of his past five away matches, the longest active streak in MLS. Only Carlos Vela has had goal contributions in more consecutive road games in the regular season for LAFC (six matches in 2018).

    MATCH PREDICTION: LAFC WIN

    Across MLS and the US Open Cup, the Sounders have won six games in a row, their longest winning run since a streak of the same length ended in MLS Cup glory in 2019.

    But LAFC are the Sounders' bogey side right now. They have won three in a row against Seattle and are unbeaten in seven in this fixture.

    The Rave Green have not beaten LAFC since May 2021, and Saturday's visitors will hope to provide another reality check.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Seattle Sounders – 32.1%
    Los Angeles FC – 42.5%
    Draw – 25.4%

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    The Los Angeles Clippers agreed to send Westbrook to the Utah Jazz on Thursday, as part of a sign-and-trade deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

    The Jazz are expected to reach a contract buyout agreement with Westbrook, opening the door for him to join the Denver Nuggets.

    Denver will be the sixth team Westbrook has played for in the last seven seasons.

    To complete the trade, Utah will also receive a swap of second-round draft picks and cash from Los Angeles, while shipping guard Kris Dunn to the Clippers.

    The 35-year-old Westbrook was named the NBA MVP in 2016-17, averaging a career-high 31.6 points, along with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.

    In 2023-24 for the Clippers, he averaged career lows of 11.1 points and 4.5 assists with 5 boards. He came off the bench in 57 of the 68 games he played, shooting 27.3 per cent from 3-point range - the second-lowest mark among the 226 players with at least 150 attempts from beyond the arc.

    The Nuggets still believe he can provide depth off the bench and help them make another run at a title after being eliminated in the Western Conference semi-finals in May.

    The Clippers were ousted by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, with Westbrook averaging 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the six play-off games.

    In 1,162 games in a 16-year career, Westbrook has averages of 21.7 points, 8.1 assists and 7.1 rebounds. His 199 career triple-doubles are the most in NBA history.

    Dunn has career averages of 7.9 points, 4.2 assists and 3.3 boards since being drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016.

    In starting 32 of 66 games for the Jazz last season, the 30-year-old Dunn averaged 5.4 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds.

  • Mavs confident Irving will be fit for start of NBA season after hand surgery Mavs confident Irving will be fit for start of NBA season after hand surgery

    Kyrie Irving has undergone surgery on a broken hand, but is expected to be fit for the start of next season.

    Irving was part of the Dallas Mavericks team that reached the NBA Finals, only to go down to the dominant Boston Celtics.

    The 32-year-old sustained his injury while training earlier in July, and has now gone through surgery to fix the issue.

    Posting on X, Irving wrote: "Tribe, Thank you for all the messages and prayers. God truly knew that I needed to take a break from basketball after the long season and give myself some time to heal.

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    While the Mavs did not confirm a timetable for Irving's return, it has been reported he is anticipated to return to action in around two and a half months.

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    Irving averaged 25.6 points per game in the regular season across 2023-24.

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