NBA

Giannis' monster double-double and late layup lifts streaking Bucks, Doncic follows in Magic's footsteps

By Sports Desk December 02, 2021

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 127-125 thanks to superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo's monster double-double and late driving layup with 2.0 seconds remaining lifted the in-form Bucks (14-8) to their eighth consecutive victory midweek.

Milwaukee's Antetokounmpo had 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a near triple-double performance at home to the Hornets.

The Bucks withstood LaMelo Ball, who posted 36 points, nine assists and five rebounds on the road for the Hornets (13-11).

 

Doncic flexes his muscles

Luka Doncic fuelled the Dallas Mavericks' 139-107 victory at the New Orleans Pelicans. He put up 28 points and 14 assists in just 27 minutes. According to Stats Perform, Doncic is the first player to reach those numbers while playing 27 minutes or less since Hall of Famer Magic Johnson in 1987.

Jae'Sean Tate's career-high 32 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks helped the Houston Rockets rally past the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-110. The Rockets are the first team in NBA history with four straight wins immediately after a 15-game losing streak, per Stats Perform. As for Tate, he joined Hakeem Olajuwon as the only Rockets players to record 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, five-plus assists and five-plus blocks in a game.

 

Embiid struggles as Philly's offensive woes continue

In the absence of wantaway All-Star Ben Simmons, the Philadelphia 76ers continue to endure a topsy-turvy campaign following their 88-87 defeat to the Boston Celtics. MVP runner-up Joel Embiid had a double-double of 13 points and 18 rebounds, but he was just three-of-17 shooting. Tobias Harris was four-of-11 shooting – missing all four of his three-point attempts – for only eight points.

Duncan Robinson had a game to forget as the shorthanded Miami Heat went down 111-85 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Robinson went scoreless in 20 minutes on 0-of-seven shooting from the floor, having failed to make any of his six efforts from beyond the arc.

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  • Ten Hag defends Weghorst impact: 'He is making others play better' Ten Hag defends Weghorst impact: 'He is making others play better'

    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.

    James' game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting with three steals were not enough to prevent the Lakers from losing 133-130 to the visiting Thunder.

    But it was job done on an individual level as he strengthened his case as being the greatest basketball player of all time – a debate that will rumble on for some time.

    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).

    Golden State Warriors guard Curry and Brooklyn Nets forward Durant also congratulated James on his remarkable achievement.

    "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."

  • Devin Booker's return delivers a Suns win on Cam Thomas' history-making night Devin Booker's return delivers a Suns win on Cam Thomas' history-making night

    Devin Booker's return after a month and a half layoff inspired the Phoenix Suns to a 116-112 win over the Brooklyn Nets despite Cam Thomas putting up over 40 points for a third straight game.

    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.

    But Booker was back into the swings of things against the Nets, scoring 19 points on six-of-15 shooting while adding six assists in 26 minutes to help the Suns to another win.

    Booker was delighted to be back, telling reporters after the game: "That's all I want right there, man.

    "Just competition, being back out there with the band, feeling that energy, feeling that presence. The team has it rolling right now, so just inserting myself in a way that wasn't disruptive and try to keep the flow that they have."

    Suns coach Monty Williams feels Booker's desperation to win is the key to the positive effect he has on his team-mates, saying: "Devin's attitude is always he just wants to eat. Kill and eat. That's how he operates. And he's a winner. And he wants to do everything he can to win the game.

    "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."

    Booker's winning return to the court was nearly derailed by another spectacular effort from Thomas, who at 21-years-old became the youngest player to ever score 40 points in three consecutive games.

    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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