NBA

Giannis stars for streaking Bucks and Harris lifts short-handed 76ers as LeBron injury adds to Lakers' woes

By Sports Desk March 20, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo inspired the in-form Milwaukee Bucks to a 120-113 win over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA.

Antetokounmpo posted a double-double of 26 points and a joint career-high 15 assists to lead the Bucks to their sixth successive victory on Saturday.

Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo also had eight rebounds as the Bucks overturned a 14-point first-half deficit – Milwaukee celebrating their 11th win in 12 games.

Khris Middleton added 23 points, while Donte DiVincenzo contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds in Milwaukee.

Lonnie Walker scored a career-high 31 points for the Spurs, who also had 22 points and 13 assists from DeMar DeRozan.

No Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Seth Curry? No problems for the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers, who eased past the Sacramento Kings 129-105.

Tobias Harris picked up the slack in the absence of the injured star trio, putting up 29 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and two steals as he fell just short of his first career triple-double.

Harris shot nine of 13 for 23 points in the first half. It was a season high for any half and the fifth time he has scored at least 23 points in a half in his career.

Shake Milton finished with 28 points for the 76ers, who improved to 19-4 at home this season – the most wins in the NBA.

 

Hawks soar

The Atlanta Hawks extended their winning streak to eight games after upstaging defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 99-94. It is the first time the Hawks have won eight straight games since the 2014-15 season, when they celebrated 19 in a row. John Collins (27 points and 16 rebounds) and Trae Young (14 points and 11 assists) had double-doubles for the Hawks.

Paul George fuelled the Los Angeles Clippers to a crushing 125-98 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. George posted 21 points and 10 assists at home to the Hornets.

 

Lakers lose LeBron

LeBron James will be sidelined for an indefinite period after suffering a high ankle sprain in the loss to the Hawks. James exited in the second quarter after Solomon Hill collided with his right ankle at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 36-year-old fell to the court and screamed before rolling around in agony.

It was a forgettable game for Terry Rozier and the Hornets. Rozier was two-of-10 from the field – he only made two of nine three-point attempts – for eight points against the Clippers. Charlotte only shot at 38.8 per cent throughout the game.

 

George and Kawhi combine

Star Clippers duo George and Kawhi Leonard led the way at home to the Hornets, teaming up for a dunk in the second half.

 

Saturday's results

Atlanta Hawks 99-94 Los Angeles Lakers
Philadelphia 76ers 129-105 Sacramento Kings
Memphis Grizzlies 111-103 Golden State Warriors
Milwaukee Bucks 120-113 San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers 125-98 Charlotte Hornets

 

Lakers at Suns

With James and Anthony Davis sidelined, the Lakers (28-14) will limp into Sunday's clash against Western Conference rivals the Phoenix Suns (27-13). The Lakers are third in the conference, behind the second-placed Suns.

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    Xavi believes Barcelona's 3-1 win over Villarreal will give his players a morale boost despite acknowledging their performance did not warrant all three points.

    The former Barca midfielder oversaw a 1-0 win over Espanyol last weekend after taking over the reins from Ronald Koeman, but it looked like he would be denied another victory on Saturday when Samuel Chukwueze cancelled out Frenkie de Jong's opener.

    Memphis Depay came to Barca's rescue, though, with a vital goal in the 88th minute, before Philippe Coutinho added a third from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

    Not only was it Barca's first away win in LaLiga this season, it was also the first time they have won back-to-back games in the competition this term.

    The win over Espanyol was followed by a 0-0 draw with Benfica in the Champions League in midweek, and Xavi says the victory at La Ceramica was comfortably the worst his side has played across his first three games in charge.

    "It was very even, Villarreal is a great team," he told a media conference. "Of the three games that I have played, it is the one that we have dominated the least and the one that we least deserved to win.

    "Today could have ended up as a draw and instead we are leaving with a victory. That is tremendous and gives us a lot of morale.

    "It is a spectacular victory that gives us a lot of morale to continue growing. This victory gives us life.

    "That game was the minimum required. Belief, attitude, respect for the badge, and hard work; they are the foundations of a team. Today was a victory of team spirit. When we do not play well, we also have to win. We are Barca."

     

    Both sides had cause to be frustrated with the officials during a chaotic opening 10 minutes. 

    Villarreal midfielder Dani Parejo was fortunate to escape a red card for a shocking early challenge on Sergio Busquets, while Gerard Pique went unpunished for a blatant handball in the penalty area soon after. 

    Xavi refused to criticise the officials, though, adding: "In the end, I will not talk about the referees. It is a very difficult job and I will not put myself into it.

    "In the end, it is the referee who decides. One day he can help you and another day harm you. It is difficult to be a referee."

    Jordi Alba was replaced by Oscar Mingueza in the 71st minute after sustaining an injury, with Xavi revealing the full-back fought through the pain barrier to continue. 

    "At half-time it looked like he could not continue, but he has made a brutal effort to carry on," the Barca boss said. "He is an example; he is one of the captains, and he is pushing us forward. Jordi has made an effort until he couldn't take any more."

  • Premier League data dive: Liverpool thump Southampton, Arsenal cruise past sorry Newcastle Premier League data dive: Liverpool thump Southampton, Arsenal cruise past sorry Newcastle

    Liverpool were in typically ruthless form on Saturday as they brushed aside Southampton 4-0 at Anfield.

    The result meant Jurgen Klopp's men became just the second English top-flight team to score two or more goals in 17 consecutive games in all competitions, after Sunderland in 1927.

    Elsewhere, rock-bottom Newcastle United's winless start to the Premier League season continued as they were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

    Steven Gerrard secured his second consecutive win since taking over as Aston Villa boss, with his side sealing a 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace.

    Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium, as did Norwich City and Wolves at Carrow Road.

    Here, Stats Perform looks through the pick of Saturday's Opta facts…


    Liverpool 4-0 Southampton:Jota at the double for rampant Reds

    Liverpool have now scored 39 goals in their 13 Premier League games this season – their highest total at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

    Diogo Jota got them on the way with their earliest goal in the Premier League (one minute and 37 seconds) since Naby Keita netted against Huddersfield Town in April 2019 (15 seconds).

    Another from Jota and a strike from Thiago Alcantara put Liverpool 3-0 up at the break, before Virgil van Dijk rounded off the scoring early in the second half.

    Netherlands international Van Dijk's goal was created by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who earned his 40th Premier League assist. Only Wayne Rooney (22 years and 200 days) and Cesc Fabregas (21y 188d) have reached such an assists total in the competition at a younger age than the Liverpool right-back (23y 51d).

    Salah reached 150 Premier League goal involvements by setting up Jota's second, reaching that total (108 goals, 42 assists) in just 171 games. Only Alan Shearer (148 games) and Thierry Henry (163) have got there in fewer games.

    Southampton, meanwhile, have lost more away games (14) and conceded more away goals (47) than any other side in the Premier League side this calendar year.


     

    Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: Gunners cruise against Howe's beleaguered men

    The Gunners continued their fine home form under Mikel Arteta with a routine win against Eddie Howe's struggling side.

    Since Arteta's first home game in charge in December 2019, only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have won more points at home in the Premier League than Arsenal (67).

    Bukayo Saka got them on their way before Gabriel Martinelli added a second just 93 seconds after coming on as a substitute. It was just Martinelli's second Premier League goal at the Emirates Stadium and his first since January 2020 against Sheffield United.

    The Magpies, meanwhile, became the sixth different team to fail to win any of their opening 13 games to a Premier League season, with four of the previous five sides suffering relegation (only Derby County in 2000-01 survived).

    Crystal Palace 1-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's winning start continues

    This victory meant former Rangers boss Gerrard became only the second manager to win his first two Premier League games in charge of Villa, after John Gregory in February-March 1998.

    Matt Targett scored the opener for Villa with his first Premier League goal in his last 75 appearances in the competition, the full-back having not netted since getting a late winner against Brighton in October 2019.

    John McGinn then added a second, the Scotland international already equalling his best goal tally for a full Premier League season (three in both 2020-21 and 2019-20).

    Marc Guehi pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was too late to prevent the Eagles suffering a first defeat in their last eight Premier League games (W2 D5), since a 3-0 away loss to Liverpool in September.

    Norwich City 0-0 Wolves: Smith maintains unbeaten start

    Dean Smith followed up a win in his first game in charge of the Canaries last weekend with a hard-fought point at home.

    Norwich have now taken seven points from their last three Premier League games (W2 D1), more than they had in their previous 25 in the competition (W1 D3 L21).

    The Canaries have also kept two clean sheets in their last four Premier League home games – as many as in their previous 26 at Carrow Road in the competition.

    It is perhaps no surprise they could not find a way past Wolves, with only Chelsea (five) and Liverpool (four) keeping more away clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Bruno Lage's men (three).

  • Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona: Depay and Coutinho strike late to maintain Xavi's winning start Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona: Depay and Coutinho strike late to maintain Xavi's winning start

    Xavi made it back-to-back LaLiga wins following his appointment as Barcelona head coach as late goals from Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho secured a 3-1 win over Villarreal.

    The former Barca midfielder oversaw a 1-0 win over Espanyol last weekend after taking over the reins from Ronald Koeman, but it looked like he would be denied another three points at Estadio de la Ceramica when Samuel Chukwueze cancelled out Frenkie de Jong's opener.

    Depay had other ideas, though, stroking home with two minutes remaining to spark jubilant celebrations from Xavi on the Barca bench, before Coutinho added a third from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

    The result puts seventh-placed Barca seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand, while Villarreal stay 12th.

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