NBA

Giannis dominates in Bucks win over Pacers, 76ers miss top spot chance again

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a remarkable individual performance to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference top two hunt with a 142-133 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.

Antetokounmpo scored 40 points, with 15 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks closed in on the second-placed Brooklyn Nets (46-24), improving their record to 45-25.

Milwaukee shot at 57 per cent on the night, boosted by the Greek forward whose 40 points came from 18 shots. Antetokounmpo shot 14-from-18 from the field, going at 77.8 per cent.

Antetokounmpo's display was the first since Charles Barkley in 1988 where a player had at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and shot at higher than 75 per cent.

At the top of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers missed the chance to claim first seeding again, going down 106-94 to the surging Miami Heat.

The 76ers trailed by 19 at the half with Joel Embiid returning from illness, while Jimmy Butler had 16 points by the main break.

Butler finished with 21 points including four-from-four beyond the arc as the Heat claimed their sixth win from their past seven.

 

Blazers blow buzzer beater, Knicks still in top four hunt

The Portland Trail Blazers left the door open for the Los Angeles Lakers to usurp them in the playoffs race after going down on the buzzer 118-117 to the Phoenix Suns.

C.J. McCollum, who had 27 points, had a shot to win the game on the buzzer but missed, meaning the Blazers move to 41-30, marginally ahead of the Lakers on 40-30 and seventh in the West. Damian Lillard had 41 points for Portland.

The New York Knicks kept up their push for a top four spot in the East with a 102-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs, who qualify for the play-in tournament after the Sacramento Kings lost.

Julius Randle had 25 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for the Knicks, while R.J. Barrett scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half.

MVP favourite Nikola Jokic faced off against Rookie of the Year candidate Anthony Edwards as the Denver Nuggets won 114-103 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jokic dominated with 31 points and 14 rebounds, while Edwards had 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Atlanta Hawks made it 10 consecutive home wins with a 116-93 victory over the Orlando Magic led by Clint Capela with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

 

Kings' long wait extends

The Sacramento Kings' 116-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies means they are mathematically out of post-season calculations, which means they long wait for playoffs basketball extends. The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006.

 

Clippers on-song beyond the arc

The Los Angeles Clippers scored an outstanding 21 three-pointers as a team in their 113-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets. They went at 46.7 per cent from range with Reggie Jackson draining five after coming off the bench.

 

Thursday's results

Los Angeles Clippers 113-90 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 142-133 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 106-94 Philadelphia 76ers
New York Knicks 102-98 San Antonio Spurs
Atlanta Hawks 116-93 Orlando Magic
Chicago Bulls 114-102 Toronto Raptors
Denver Nuggets 114-103 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 116-110 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 118-117 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Magic at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers, after back-to-back losses, will look to seal top seeding in the Eastern Conference when they host the lowly Orlando Magic.

Related items

  • Knicks remove struggling Kemba Walker from rotation Knicks remove struggling Kemba Walker from rotation

    The New York Knicks have removed struggling star Kemba Walker from the rotation, head coach Tom Thibodeau announced on Monday.

    Walker joined the Knicks on a two-year, $20million contract at the start of the season after being bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder following a trade from the Boston Celtics.

    The four-time All-Star, who struggled to reach his lofty heights with the Celtics, has been averaging career lows in points (11.7), assists (3.1), rebounds (2.6), field-goal attempts per game (9.8) and minutes per game (24.5).

    Not only has Walker been removed from the starting line-up, but the 31-year-old guard is also not part of the rotation heading into Tuesday's clash with crosstown rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

    "It's a tough decision to make, but you always have to do what you think is best for the team," Thibodeau told reporters, with the Knicks turning to Alec Burks.

    "I view Kemba as a starter, and so it'd be tough to play three small guards together. I gave it consideration, and I've got great respect for who Kemba is as a person and all he's accomplished in this league.

    "But I have to do what I think is best for the team."

    The Knicks have struggled for form since ending their playoff drought last season, 11-9 in 2021-22 – three games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Nets and one ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers in 11th position.

  • Curry, Paul lock horns again as Warriors and Suns meet in historic matchup Curry, Paul lock horns again as Warriors and Suns meet in historic matchup

    It is very early in the season to describe any game as being akin to a playoff matchup but Tuesday's meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns has an extremely compelling case for receiving such a label.

    The Warriors have been the class of the NBA to this point, their record of 18-2 the best in the league.

    However, their title credentials will be sternly tested in Phoenix, where they will face a 17-3 Suns team looking excellently placed to go one better in 2021-22 after losing in the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks last season.

    The matchup between the two Pacific Division rivals will mark the first time in NBA history that two teams with a winning percentage of 85 or higher after a minimum of 20 games have faced each other.

    In that sense, it is big as stages get in late November in the NBA, and the Warriors boast a player born to dominate such arenas in Stephen Curry.

    Curry is enjoying another remarkable year, compiling a superb MVP resume after finishing third in the voting last term.

    He is tied for the league lead in points per game (28.6) with former team-mate Kevin Durant, while his season-long plus-minus of 283 is comfortably the best in the NBA. Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a distant second on 197.

    Curry's 105 made three-pointers are 20 more than nearest challenger Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings, seven of those coming on Sunday in another spectacular showing to propel the Warriors past the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

    He will be the lead protagonist in what is likely to be a fascinating encounter between two excellent backcourts. With Klay Thompson still yet to return after two seasons lost to injury, Curry has received magnificent support from the emerging Jordan Poole, who has averaged 19.8 points per game this month and is one of five Warriors in the top 10 in plus-minus for November, illustrating the depth at their disposal.

    Three Suns also reside in the top 10 of that list, including their two guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

    Eleven-time All-Star Paul continues to defy Father Time and is again the Suns' chief creative force after helping them come within two wins of an NBA title.

    Meanwhile, shooting guard Booker is hitting a career-high 41 per cent of his three-point attempts, perhaps setting things up for an absorbing back and forth between him and the man most regard as the greatest shooter of all time.

    PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

    Golden State Warriors - Draymond Green

    With the vast majority of the attention on the enduring brilliance of MVP favourite Curry, it would be easy to overlook the contribution of Green, who has served as chief facilitator for the Warriors' talisman.

    Green has 106 assists to his name in the month of November. No other non-point guard has registered more.

    Shooting a career-high 55.5 per cent from the field this season, Green is once again proving he can be a critical part of a potential championship team, and the Warriors will need him at his best on both ends of the floor to maximise their hopes of seeing off Phoenix.

    Phoenix Suns - Chris Paul

    From his time with the Clippers, through his prominent role in engrossing playoff battles between the Houston Rockets and the Warriors to his increasingly impressive spell with the Suns, matchups that see Paul go against Curry have long since been must-watch affairs.

    The 'point God' has consistently been overshadowed by the shooting magic of Curry but, among your more conventional point guards, there is still arguably nobody better.

    Paul leads the league with 10.1 assists per game this season, justifying the Suns' decision to bring him back on a lucrative contract after their Finals agony of the previous campaign.

    He must ensure the Suns' offense outshines Curry and the Warriors this time around if Phoenix is to send an early message by knocking off Golden State.

    KEY BATTLE - Can Warriors beat Ayton on the boards?

    The Warriors have been among the best rebounding teams in the NBA this season.

    Golden State have registered 47.1 rebounds per game, good for fifth in the league.

    Meanwhile, the Suns rank 15th in the same category with 45.7, but do possess one of the top rebounders in the league in Deandre Ayton.

    The Suns center is averaging 11.4 boards per game, the sixth-most in the NBA.

    If the Warriors are to have the advantage on the glass in this one, they will need to find a way to mitigate Ayton's impact.

    HEAD-TO-HEAD

    The Warriors prevailed 122-116 in the last meeting between the two teams, however, Golden State have won only one of their last four games against the Suns in Phoenix.

  • Warriors' Curry fired up by non-call in win over Clippers: I let my emotions go Warriors' Curry fired up by non-call in win over Clippers: I let my emotions go

    Angry and frustrated, Stephen Curry said a non-call fuelled him in the Golden State Warriors' comprehensive victory at the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

    Curry posted a game-high 33 points to guide the NBA-leading Warriors (18-2) to a 105-90 win over the Clippers – Golden State's eighth in a row.

    The two-time MVP scored 13 points in a final quarter, which saw Curry lose his cool after not receiving a foul call at Staples Center.

    Curry thought he had been fouled by Clippers small forward Terance Mann, leaving the Warriors superstar outraged.

    "I thought I got fouled, so I let my emotions go," Curry said afterwards. "And definitely fired me up, fired our team up -- you have to be able to direct that energy into just putting the ball in the basket, obviously, after that.

    "So that's where I feel like we do it well, where you don't let it become a distraction for the rest of the game, and it obviously helped open up the game."

     

    Curry is averaging 28.6 points, a career-high 5.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists (his best since 2014-15) per game in 2021-22, while shooting 46.6 per cent from the floor and 42.3 from beyond the arc.

    Warriors head coach Steve Kerr: "It was as upset as I've seen Steph in a long time. And it was as upset as I've been in a long time, too. It's kind of a miracle that I didn't get a technical, but it seemed to get him going.

    "Whatever it takes, I guess ... he clearly got fouled. Steph is a guy who, he's just so competitive, and when he knows he got fouled -- especially in a play like that in transition where it's right out in the open, easy to see, and he doesn't get the call, every once in a while he's going to snap.

    "He doesn't do it often, but when he knows he's right, the competitor in him comes out and he'll kind of lose his mind a little bit, but it often spurs him, like it did in this instance."

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