NBA

LeBron's Lakers end losing start to season, Warriors maintain perfect record behind Curry

By Sports Desk October 24, 2021

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed their first win of the season after outlasting Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies 121-118 in the NBA on Sunday.

LeBron James and the Lakers had lost back-to-back games to open the 2021-22 campaign but finally had something to celebrate at home to the Grizzlies.

Anthony Davis posted 22 points and eight rebounds, while team-mate James finished with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Lakers (1-2).

But it was Lakers veteran Carmelo Anthony who led the way with 28 points (on 10-of-15 shooting) from the bench.

Anthony passed Moses Malone for ninth place on the all-time NBA leading scorers list.

Morant excelled with 40 points and 10 assists, but it was not enough for the Grizzlies (2-1), who lost for the first time.

 

 

Curry brothers star as Steph makes history

Stephen Curry was at it again to lead the Golden State Warriors to their first 3-0 start to a season since 2015 after a 119-107 victory against the Sacramento Kings. The two-time MVP put up 27 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals to fuel the unbeaten Warriors. With his fifth assist, Curry became the first player in franchise history to dish out 5,000 career assists.

The Philadelphia 76ers topped the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder 115-103. Seth Curry maintained his red-hot form, going seven-of-10 from three-point range for a team-high 28 points. Curry was six of seven from beyond the arc for 23 points in the opening quarter – a new career-high for a single period. He is the fourth 76ers player with at least 20 points in a quarter since 2010, joining Joel Embiid (four times), Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams. Embiid had 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists against the Thunder.

Jalen Green enjoyed a breakout game, despite the Houston Rockets going down 107-97 to the Boston Celtics. Green became the first rookie in Rockets history with 30-plus points and eight three-pointers in a game after finishing with 30 points – including eight threes, four rebounds and three assists.

The Charlotte Hornets are off to their first 3-0 start to the season thanks to a 111-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets behind Miles Bridges' 32 points. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 38 points in Brooklyn.

 

Harden struggles from the floor in Nets loss

James Harden was far from his best against Hornets, going just six-of-16 shooting from the field for 15 points in 33 minutes, while he also finished with eight turnovers.

Evan Fournier was three-of-11 shooting from the field – making just two of seven three-pointers – as the New York Knicks were stunned 110-104 by the Orlando Magic.

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  • Nets hire former Kings assistant Fernandez as coach Nets hire former Kings assistant Fernandez as coach

    The Brooklyn Nets have a new man in charge, hiring Jordi Fernandez as the 24th coach in franchise history on Monday.

    Fernandez spent the last two seasons as the associate head coach of the Sacramento Kings, helping lead them to the Pacific Division title and the third seed in the Western Conference a year ago for the franchise's first play-off berth since 2006.

    The Kings finished ninth in the West this season, and went 94-70 in Fernandez's two seasons on the Sacramento staff.

    The Nets ended up going 32-50 this season to miss the play-offs for the first time since 2018. They fired Jacque Vaughn at the All-Star break, and Kevin Ollie finished out the season as the interim coach.

     

    A native of Badalona, Spain, Fernandez also coaches Canada's men's national team. He helped Canada to a bronze medal in last year's FIBA Basketball World Cup with a win over Team USA in the third-place game.

    "We're thrilled to announce Jordi Fernández as Brooklyn's new head coach," said Nets general manager Sean Marks in a statement. "As we progressed through an extensive search over the past six weeks, it became increasingly clear that Jordi is the best coach to lead our team forward. Jordi brings a diverse set of experiences and basketball knowledge gained over the course of a coaching career that has taken him around the world. Each step of the way, Jordi has consistently demonstrated the ability to implement strong processes and creative systems designed to optimise each team's specific roster."

    Prior to his stop in Sacramento, Fernandez was an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets for six seasons, during which the team made the play-offs four times.

    In addition to coaching Canada's team, Fernandez has other experience coaching on the global stage, serving as the lead assistant for the Nigerian national team at the 2020 Olympics. He also worked on the staff for the Spanish national team at EuroBasket 2017 and the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships.

    "My family and I are thrilled to join such an incredible organisation and become part of the vibrant Brooklyn community," Fernandez said. "I am eager to get to work with this talented group of players and collectively drive our team forward. Together, we will be fully committed to building something special for Nets fans and the borough to be proud of for years to come."

  • Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms

    Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal for showing resilience during a difficult period and described his players as a "joy to work with" ahead of a crucial week in the Premier League title race. 

    All three title contenders – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City – are in action twice this week, with the Gunners taking on Chelsea and Tottenham in two huge London derbies.

    They returned to the top of the table with Saturday's 2-0 win over injury-hit Wolves, but with City possessing a game in hand, the destination of the trophy remains out of their hands. 

    Following a difficult few days in which Arsenal surrendered control of the title race and exited the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Arteta was delighted with their response at Molineux. 

    "If you look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played, their effort is unquestionable and the results are something else," Arteta said.

    "It's a joy to work with them, and it makes us realise we want to be involved in the big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League with the level that it requires."

    Chelsea's ambitions, meanwhile, are limited to securing qualification for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League, with their hopes of silverware being dashed on Saturday. 

    They were guilty of spurning several golden opportunities in their 1-0 defeat to City at Wembley Stadium, with their wait for a first trophy under the Todd Boehly regime being extended.

    Mauricio Pochettino, though, is choosing to take the positives from that game as the Blues bid to draw level with Newcastle United and Manchester United in the table on Tuesday.  

    "Now we need to take the positive things from the game," Pochettino said. "This group of players needs these types of moments and games.

    "Now is the time to finish the season in the best way and then see how we can do better next season."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Arsenal – Leandro Trossard

    Trossard scored in October's reverse fixture as Arsenal fought back from 2-0 down to clinch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, and he has provided an invaluable source of goals from the left wing in recent games, with Gabriel Jesus struggling.

    The former Brighton and Hove Albion man is enjoying his most prolific Premier League campaign, with nine goals, and only Bukayo Saka (14) has netted more for the Gunners this term.

    Chelsea – Nicolas Jackson

    Jackson missed several clear-cut chances as Chelsea failed to make the breakthrough against City at Wembley on Saturday, and he is perhaps running out of chances to show he can be the Blues' long-term solution in that number nine role.

    Jackson's 10 Premier League goals this season have come from a total of 13.98 expected goals (xG), giving him an underperformance of -3.98. Only Dominic Calvert Lewin (-5.98) and Darwin Nunez (-4.1) have underperformed their underlying numbers by a greater margin.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

    Arsenal have only lost one of their last eight Premier League games against Chelsea (five wins, two draws), going unbeaten through their last four against them. That is their longest such streak versus the Blues since they went 19 matches against them without defeat between 1995 and 2005.

    Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (four wins, four draws) and have scored multiple goals in each of their last six. However, that run could come to a halt at the Emirates, with Arsenal possessing a strong record in the biggest games this term.

    City and Liverpool have already left north London defeated this season, and Arsenal have not lost back-to-back home Premier League games since April 2022. Chelsea should be competitive, but the Gunners cannot afford to miss this chance to pull clear of their rivals. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Arsenal 51%

    Chelsea 22.5%

    Draw 26.5%

  • 'It's playoff basketball' – Tatum unfazed by physical nature of Celtics-Heat battle 'It's playoff basketball' – Tatum unfazed by physical nature of Celtics-Heat battle

    Jayson Tatum showed he was unfazed by the Miami Heat's physicality as he logged his first career playoff triple-double in the Boston Celtics' 114-94 Game 1 victory on Sunday.

    Top-seeded Boston seized the initiative in their first-round series against Miami at TD Garden, with Tatum adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists to his 23 points, leading six Celtics in double figures.

    Tatum's fine performance came despite some rough treatment from the Heat, taking one huge hit from Caleb Martin while going up for a rebound in the last minute of the fourth quarter.

    Martin immediately went to help Tatum up but was pushed by Boston's Jaylen Brown, with both players awarded technicals. The Miami forward later said the incident was accidental, as he received a slight nudge from Jrue Holiday before crashing into Tatum.

    The five-star All-Star was soon back to his feet, though, and he later said getting hit was just part of the game. 

    "It's playoff basketball, and it's a physical game against a physical team. ***'s going to happen," Tatum said. "It's probably not the last time I'm going to get hit like that in this series.

    The Celtics led by as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter, with a late run from the Heat only ever bringing them as close as 14. 

    Tatum hailed Boston for staying focused throughout, adding: "It's supposed to be tough. In the playoffs no game is easy. 

    "There are no guaranteed wins regardless of the score, or how much time is left. We just had to respond and we did that."

    Miami struggled in the absence of Jimmy Butler, and coach Erik Spoelstra accepted they were second-best, saying: "Boston controlled this game from the tip. 

    "They won the big muscle areas. They definitely won the 3-point line and the majority of the areas in between."

    Elsewhere on Sunday, Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard scored 35 first-half points – a franchise playoff record – as they claimed a 109-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their own first-round series.

    Lillard didn't score after halftime, but his lightning start ensured the Bucks were untroubled despite the absence of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed out with a calf strain. 

    Milwaukee built a commanding 69-42 lead by the interval and never saw their advantage drop to single digits as Khris Middleton tacked on 23 points – 15 of them in the second half.

    Looking ahead to Tuesday's second game, which will also be held at the home of the third-seeded Bucks, Lillard said: "In the playoffs, it's about setting the tone.

    "We're going to see this team a lot of times, and you want to establish yourself, especially on your home floor. That was my mentality, to come out and try and set the tone in that way."

    Remarking on Lillard's incredible first-half performance, Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said: "He carried us. He was unbelievable."

    Over the course of four quarters, Lillard was upstaged by Indiana's Pascal Siakam, who finished with 36 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes on the court.

    Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle, however, was unable to look beyond their miserable start to the game.

    "The first half was embarrassing," Carlisle said. "We have no excuses. We've simply got to come out better. It was ugly, and we all own it."

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