NBA

Giannis dominates Lakers in 47-point display and Suns soar to 10th straight win

By Sports Desk November 18, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 47 points as the NBA champions took down the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.

Antetokounmpo dominated the Lakers, making 18 of his 23 field goals, while collecting nine rebounds and three assists for the Bucks (7-8) on Wednesday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

 

All-Star Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton made his return after eight games out due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

The Lakers (8-8), again without superstar LeBron James, were led by double-doubles from Talen Horton-Tucker (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (19 points and 15 assists).

 

Suns stay hot

The Phoenix Suns celebrated their 10th straight victory after outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 105-98. Devin Booker (24 points) and Deandre Ayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the Suns, who are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 2010. Chris Paul had 14 assists without a turnover – his 46th career game with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers, tying Muggsy Bogues for most by any player since 1985.

Damian Lillard's 22 points and 10 assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers upstage the Chicago Bulls 112-107. Zach LaVine (30 points), DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Alex Caruso (12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) starred but the Bulls still lost on the road.

The Miami Heat defeated the New Orleans Pelicans behind Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list for threes made with 1,687, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99.

 

Knicks continue to struggle for form

After returning to the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks have made a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign amid plenty of hype. They were sensationally upstaged by the lowly Orlando Magic 104-98 – their fourth defeat in six games.

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    Erik ten Hag is not concerned by Wout Weghorst's lack of goals since joining Manchester United on loan as he believes the striker is helping to get more out of other players.

    Weghorst has started all six of United's matches since arriving from Burnley last month but has scored only once, in the 3-0 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg win at Nottingham Forest.

    The 30-year-old has also yet to assist a goal in his 439 minutes on the field and was substituted off shortly before the hour mark in Saturday's 2-1 league win over Crystal Palace.

    However, United have scored 13 goals across the six games Weghorst has played in, winning four of those, and he has received the backing of manager Ten Hag.

    "He is the one who makes players around him play better," Ten Hag said ahead of Thursday's Premier League meeting with Leeds United.

    "As a team we have to work better to anticipate his movements because his movements are good, and quite a lot of times he was close [to scoring]. 

    "He had many good actions and already a lot of good contributions to our results. He will score, but in the meantime he will do the other stuff, and do it good."

    Weghorst has an expected goals (xG) value of 1.66 since making his debut against Crystal Palace on January 18, which is the fourth most of any United player across that time.

    By comparison, United team-mate Marcus Rashford has scored three goals from an xG of 1.98 in that period.

    "It is not just about scoring as an individual but scoring from the team," Ten Hag added. "The team has to win. He is doing a very good job at this moment in several aspects."

    Weghorst is set to start against Leeds – the first of two league meetings between the sides in the space of four days – as Anthony Martial is once again ruled out with a hip injury.

    Martial has not played a full 90 minutes for United in the Premier League since January 2021 against Sheffield United and has started only six games in the competition this term.

    Ten Hag has been impressed by what he has seen from Martial, though, and insists the France international is working hard to return to full fitness.

    "He is not always available, but also I see the other side when he is available," Ten Hag said. 

    "He was never 100 per cent this season but he had a big impact every time he is available, even when he is at 80, 85, 90 per cent.

    "I think Anthony Martial is the player who has spent the most hours at Carrington this season, to return to recover, to get back, it is really so a pity for him that he is disappointed.

    "He's not always available and we want him to be always available as that will improve our game and because routines can't become routines when you're not always available."

    United are unbeaten in their past 17 home league games against Leeds, stretching back to a 1-0 loss in February 1981.

  • 'We will never see another LeBron' – Magic Johnson and Joe Biden lead 'King James' tributes 'We will never see another LeBron' – Magic Johnson and Joe Biden lead 'King James' tributes

    United States president Joe Biden has praised LeBron James for "inspiring the nation" after surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time regular season NBA scoring record.

    Los Angeles Lakers forward James entered Tuesday's game with the Oklahoma City Thunder needing 36 points to break Abdul-Jabbar's record, which had stood for 39 years.

    The four-time MVP moved past Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 career points to go outright number one with a 14-foot fadeaway jumper late in the third quarter at Crypto.com Arena.

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    A number of sports stars and wider global figures have paid tribute to James, who now has 38,390 career points to go with the four NBA titles won with three different teams.

    "LeBron, congratulations. With your whole heart and soul you broke a hell of a record. You elevated the game," US president Biden said in a video message. 

    "More than that, like Kareem, Bill Russell and others who came before you, you challenged and inspired the nation to be better, do better and live up to our full promise."

    James rose with both arms in celebration after making history and posed for photos with 75-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, who was in attendance in Los Angeles.

    Fellow Lakers great Magic Johnson said: "I never thought that Kareem's scoring record would be broken by anybody. 

    "It means more to myself and to our fans because you're wearing that purple and gold and broke it as a Laker. 

    "This historic moment is so special because we will never see another LeBron James."

    James has 7,314 points across five seasons with the Lakers, having previously scored 23,119 in 859 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 7,919 in 294 for the Miami Heat.

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver added: "It's a towering achievement that speaks to his sustained excellence over 20 seasons in the league. 

    "And quite amazingly, LeBron continues to play at an elite level and his basketball history is still being written."

    James is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, which is the seventh-best record in the division, narrowly ahead of Kevin Durant (29.7) and Stephen Curry (29.4).

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    "Your sustained level of play for 20 years, reaching this pinnacle of scoring in basketball, it is unbelievable," Curry said. 

    "Way down the road, when we're reflecting back on our careers, we'll be able to be at that level knowing what it was like to battle at the highest level."

    Durant added: "It's even funny to just even say that, coming from where you have come from, how hard you grinded for this long. 

    "It's been an inspiration since day one. Much love and keep setting the bar high."

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    Tuesday's game was Booker's first since suffering a groin injury in a defeat to the Denver Nuggets in late December, with the Suns enduring a mixed time in his 21-game absence, including a run of six consecutive losses.

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    "I thought the guys got a great deal of energy from him tonight just being on the floor. Everybody's excited that he's back."

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    The guard racked up a career-high 44 points against the Washington Wizards on Saturday and then another career-best 47 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, before his 43-point effort in the defeat to Booker's Suns.

    While he was frustrated two of those games ended in defeats, Thomas is enjoying the historic form he finds himself in, stating: "It's real surreal. I'm just glad to have my name in the history books, being this young.

    "Obviously, I'd rather have the win because it sounds better when you have these 40-point games with the two [games] that we lost.

    "But it's just good to have my name in history, I'm just going to embrace it. Just be proud of all the hard work you put in."

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