NBA

Lakers fall short of escaping play-in tournament as Jazz clinch NBA's best record and Curry wins scoring title

By Sports Desk May 17, 2021

NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-98 but they did not avoid the play-in tournament.

LeBron James – who appeared to tweak his ankle – posted 25 points for the streaking Lakers, who claimed their fifth consecutive victory, however they did not end the regular season high enough in the Western Conference to bypass the NBA's new play-in format involving the seventh through 10th seeds in pursuit of the playoffs.

The Lakers needed help from the Denver Nuggets but the latter lost 132-116 to the Portland Trail Blazers, leaving the Los Angeles franchise seventh in the west and set to face Stephen Curry's eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors for a playoff berth.

Andre Drummond had a double-double for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis finished with 14 points for the Lakers, who will have to win one of up to two play-in games to clinch a regular playoff position.

Portland locked up the sixth seed and their eighth straight playoff berth, meaning they will go head-to-head with the third-seeded Nuggets in the opening round.

The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, clinched the NBA's best record (50-20) for the first time in their history.

Jordan Clarkson finished with 33 points and All-Star Rudy Gobert contributed 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, who eased past the Sacramento Kings 121-99.

The Jazz edged the Phoenix Suns (51-21), who pipped the San Antonio Spurs 123-121, for top spot in the NBA – the first time they have finished with sole possession of the league's best record.

 

Curry crowned scoring champ

Curry earned his second scoring title after posting 46 points in the Warriors' 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry pipped Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal to the award, having finished the regular season with a 32.0 points per game average. Two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion Curry became the first player 33 years or older to lead the league in scoring since Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in 1997-98 (35 years at end of season and averaged 28.7ppg). The 33-year-old also joined Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.

James Harden was absent due to injury management, but the Brooklyn Nets still secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 123-109 win at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant put up 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. Irving added 17 points as he joined an elite list of shooters. Irving finished the regular season with a 50.6 field-goal percentage, 40.2 three-point percentage and 92.2 free-throw percentage – becoming the ninth member of the 50/40/90 club. He also joined Larry Bird, Curry and Durant as the only players to average at least 25 points per game during a 50/40/90 season.

The New York Knicks secured fourth position in the east via a 96-92 win over the Boston Celtics. The Knicks – back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13 – will have home-court advantage for their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, who routed the Houston Rockets 124-95.

The Wizards' season appeared dead and buried following an horrendous start, having acquired Russell Westbrook to team up with Beal. But the Wizards will face the Celtics as the eighth seed in the play-in tournament thanks to their 115-110 victory against the Charlotte Hornets. Westbrook recorded 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, while Beal had 20 of his 25 points after half-time.

Tyrese Maxey flexed his muscles as Eastern Conference top seed the Philadelphia 76ers rested their stars in a 128-117 victory over the Orlando Magic. In the absence of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Danny Green, rookie Maxey had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He became the only rookie this season with multiple 30/5/5 games – LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edward only had one such game.

Precious Achiuwa's career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds helped the shorthanded Miami Heat rout the Detroit Pistons 120-107. Tyler Herro (16 points and 11 assists) and Gabe Vincent also had double-doubles as the sixth-seeded Heat prepare to face third seed the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round in the east.

 

Houston's woeful season comes to an end

After a blockbuster trade sent wantaway superstar Harden to the Nets in January, the rebuilding Rockets crumbled. A crushing loss to the Hawks left the Rockets with a 17-55 win-loss record – their worst campaign since going 14-68 in 1982-83.

 

Sit back and enjoy!

The Nets produced a stunning piece of offense against the Cavaliers in the second quarter. After dispossessing Cleveland, Blake Griffin played a behind-the-back pass to Irving, who passed the ball ahead to Mike James. James tossed the ball off the backboard for Durant to slam down.

 

Sunday's results

New York Knicks 96-92 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 125-113 Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards 115-110 Charlotte Hornets
Phoenix Suns 123-121 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 113-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Atlanta Hawks 124-95 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 123-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 128-117 Orlando Magic
Miami Heat 120-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 118-112 Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves 136-121 Dallas Mavericks
Los Angeles Lakers 110-98 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers 132-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 121-99 Sacramento Kings

 

Play-in tournament

After a day off, the Eastern Conference play-in tournament gets underway on Tuesday. The Wizards will meet the Celtics in a seventh vs eighth battle, while the ninth-seeded Hornets face the 10th-seeded Pacers for a spot in the playoffs.

Related items

  • Doncic and Irving have proved they work together – Kidd Doncic and Irving have proved they work together – Kidd

    Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have proved any doubters wrong after leading the Dallas Mavericks to a seventh straight win.

    That is the opinion of coach Jason Kidd, whose Dallas team overcame the Phoenix Suns 123-113 on Thursday.

    Doncic had 41 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists, while Irving finished with 29 points.

    Dallas have been without at least one of Doncic or Irving in 27 games this season due to injuries, but the duo have now started in the last seven games.

    "I think it answers the questions that those two co-exist quite well," Kidd said.

    "I think it just shows again, our health, our energy, everything's positive right now. I think the guys are having fun. You can see that energy on the floor.

    "They want to win, and you can see that energy on the floor. Those guys are cheering for one another.

    "There's going to be mistakes, there's going to be missed shots, but it's on to the next play.

    "You can see that. We were on a roll and then we go on [the All-Star] break. Sometimes you can come out flat, but I thought the guys did a great job tonight."

    Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 points, though Phoenix were unable to keep Doncic or Irving down.

    "You just have to know that, especially after he makes one, that the next one is coming up," Booker said of Irving.

    "He's a great player and hard to guard. We definitely could have limited some of those transition looks."

    The Suns have lost two of their last four games, and are now one place below the Mavericks in the Western Conference.

    "We didn't start the third quarter with enough attentiveness," Suns coach Frank Vogel said.

    "We did get a little too stagnant offensively. We had some breakdowns with what we were supposed to do. That led to some tough possessions."

  • NBA: Jokic notches triple-double with perfect shooting in Nuggets' win NBA: Jokic notches triple-double with perfect shooting in Nuggets' win

    Nikola Jokic registered his 16th triple-double of the season and was 10-for-10 from the floor in the Denver Nuggets’ 130-110 win over the reeling Washington Wizards on Thursday.

    Jokic had 21 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists to become the third player in NBA history to record at least one triple-double against every opponent in the league. He had 10 points, 14 boards and nine assists in the first half alone.

    LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are the only other players with a triple-double against every opponent.

    Michael Porter had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Jamal Murray added 18 points and eight assists as the Nuggets returned from the All-Star break and snapped a season high-tying three-game skid.

    Kyle Kuzma tallied 31 points and 13 rebounds, but Washington dropped its ninth straight to match a season high.

    The Wizards shot 38.8 percent from the field and fell to 1-34 against opponents with winning records.

     

    Doncic powers streaking Mavericks

    Luka Dončić scored 41 points and fell a rebound shy of a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns, 123-133, for their seventh straight win.

    Doncic handed out 11 assists and grabbed nine boards while shooting 14 of 27 from the field and 6 of 11 from long range. He just missed his 11th triple-double of the season.

    Kyrie Irving scored 13 of his 29 points in the first quarter and restored a double-digit lead for Dallas early in the fourth with a nifty behind-the-back dribble and spin move for a layup.

    Devin Booker scored 35 points and Kevin Durant had 23 but was 9 of 22 from the floor and 2 of 8 on 3-pointers. Phoenix lost for the second time in seven games.

     

    Celtics extend winning streak to seven

    Derrick White scored 28 points and Jayson Tatum added 25 to lead the Boston Celtics to their season-high seventh consecutive win, 129-112 over the Chicago Bulls.

    Jaylen Brown had 21 points and White and Tatum each made five of Boston’s 23 3-pointers as the Celtics padded their lead atop the NBA’s overall standings.

    Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who have lost all three meetings against the Celtics this season.

  • LeBron James to sit out Warriors clash due to ankle problem LeBron James to sit out Warriors clash due to ankle problem

    LeBron James has been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' road game against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday as he continues to nurse an ankle problem.

    James has been suffering from peroneal tendinopathy in his left ankle, and the issue caused him to miss the Lakers' 138-122 road win over the Utah Jazz before the All-Star break.

    The NBA's all-time leading scorer did feature in Sunday's All-Star Game, but he was limited to just 14 minutes on the court as the Western Conference All-Stars lost 211-186 to their Eastern Conference counterparts.

    James said before Sunday's game that he would use the break to undergo treatment on his ankle, also suggesting his status for Thursday's trip to Chase Center was uncertain.

    On Wednesday, the Lakers announced he had officially been downgraded to out, causing him to miss his eighth game of the season.

    James had 36 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists as the Lakers beat the Warriors in a double overtime classic last month, and the 39-year-old is averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game this season.

    Prior to the trade deadline earlier this month, the Warriors reportedly enquired about James' availability, only to be knocked back by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

    James said last week that he wishes to finish his glittering career in Los Angeles, though he is yet to decide whether to take up his $51.4million player option for 2024-25.

    Thursday's matchup could prove crucial to the playoff hopes of both teams, with the Lakers emerging from the mid-season hiatus at 30-26 and the Warriors having a 27-26 record. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.