NBA

MVP Jokic leads Nuggets to OT win with another triple-double, Giannis struggles

By Sports Desk December 09, 2021

Nikola Jokic showed why he is the reigning NBA MVP after leading the Denver Nuggets to a 120-114 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jokic posted back-to-back triple-doubles as the Nuggets outlasted the Pelicans in NBA action on Wednesday.

After putting up a triple-double on Monday, Jokic was at it again midweek with a season-high 39 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Jokic scored 11 of his points in OT to help the Nuggets take down the Pelicans – the Serb star posting his ninth career 30-point triple-double, the most in NBA history by a center not named Wilt Chamberlain.

Overall, it is Jokic's 61st career triple-double, one behind Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden, who ranks seventh all-time.

 

Red-hot Rockets win again

The Houston Rockets capitalised on Kevin Durant's absence in a 114-104 win over the shorthanded and Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets. Durant was rested and the Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games. According to Stats Perform, the Rockets are the first NBA/NBA/NHL team to have a losing streak of 15-plus games and then a winning streak of at least seven games later that same season (at any point) since the Louisville Colonels in 1895.

Joel Embiid was the source of inspiration again for the Philadelphia 76ers, who prevailed 110-106 against the Charlotte Hornets. Embiid had 32 points to lead the 76ers. It is the ninth time in Embiid's career he has tallied at least 75 points and 20 rebounds in a two-game span. The only other 76ers to do so at least nine times are Hall of Famers Chamberlain and Charles Barkley.

The NBA-leading Golden State Warriors were too good for Western Conference rivals the Portland Trail Blazers 104-94.

 

Giannis struggles as champs fall

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks lost 113-104 at the Miami Heat after superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with just 15 points on four-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes.

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  • Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion

    Roberto Martinez is daring to dream as Portugal prepare to open their Euro 2024 campaign, where ageing star Cristiano Ronaldo has been selected "on merit".

    Portugal are the favourites to top Group F in Germany, opening their tournament against Czechia on Tuesday before facing Turkiye and Georgia.

    Martinez's side were the only team to win 100 per cent of their games in the qualifying campaign (10/10), while they also scored more goals than any other team (36).

    The former Belgium manager has major-tournament pedigree, too, guiding the Red Devils to third place at the 2018 World Cup and quarter-finals at Euro 2020.

    Going further on this occasion remains at the forefront of the Spaniard's mind.

    "We must believe, we need to dream big," the Portugal head coach said at Monday's pre-match press conference.

    "If we don't dream big, then it will be tough. But we also owe it to everyone to play well.

    "Tomorrow will be the right time to show that we're ready, that we can meet all the expectations. 

    "I brought seven shirts, not three. But now we need to put it all out there on the pitch for these first three matches."

    Portugal have the likes of Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos to call upon in attack, though a familiar face remains in Ronaldo.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner holds the record for most games (25), most goals (14), joint-most assists on record (six – since 1972) and most editions with at least one goal (five) at the Euros.

    Indeed, since 1972, Ronaldo has scored/assisted twice as many goals as any other player at this tournament: 20 in total (14 goals, six assists). Michel Platini is second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

    Ronaldo is also the European player with the most appearances at major tournaments, World Cup and Euros combined (47), therefore his inclusion is hardly a surprise.

     

    "Cristiano is in the national team on merit," Martinez added. "Nobody gets into the national team just by having a name.

    "Cristiano scored 51 goals in 50 games [for Al-Nassr last season].

    "For us he is a goalscorer, someone who can make that final move, someone who can really stretch defenders, really open spaces.

    "Obviously, over the years Cristiano has changed his way of playing slightly, but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up."

    Ruben Dias says Ronaldo's influence spans further than his influence on the pitch, however.

    "I would say he represents inspiration, he represents that everything is possible, he represents that you can dream and you can achieve it," the Manchester City defender said.

    "It's obviously a pleasure to have him with us in this moment of his career. He represents to us that he really wants to win again and he's our captain and obviously we follow him to the end."

  • Tadic tips 'hungry' Bellingham to win the Ballon d'Or Tadic tips 'hungry' Bellingham to win the Ballon d'Or

    Jude Bellingham "has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or", Serbia skipper Dusan Tadic insisted after his side fell victim to England's star midfielder.

    Bellingham was the hero with his first-half header ensuring Gareth Southgate's side got off to a winning start at Euro 2024, as they edged out the Eagles 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen.

    The Real Madrid midfielder built on the momentum from his memorable debut season with Los Blancos, for whom he scored 23 goals and helped win LaLiga and the Champions League.

    The second player after Michael Owen to score at the World Cup and European Championship before turning 21, he is also the first to do so for the Three Lions while playing his club football outside of England.

    And Tadic, who appeared as a second-half substitute in Serbia's first match at the European Championship as a unified nation, paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

    When asked whether he thought Bellingham was the difference in the Group C contest, the Eagles skipper told reporters: "Yes, definitely. I think he is a great player and a great personality. I think he has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or.

    "I think everything that he did was great today, he showed personality, he took England to the next level. He was always asking for the ball and I think he had a great game.

    "What I think is most important for such a young player is that he always takes responsibility. That is amazing to see, and you can see he is very hungry."

  • Tadic tips 'hungry' Bellingham to 'win next Ballon d'Or' Tadic tips 'hungry' Bellingham to 'win next Ballon d'Or'

    Jude Bellingham "has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or", Serbia skipper Dusan Tadic insisted after his side fell victim to England's star midfielder.

    Bellingham was the hero with his first-half header ensuring Gareth Southgate's side got off to a winning start at Euro 2024, as they edged out the Eagles 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen.

    The Real Madrid midfielder built on the momentum from his memorable debut season with Los Blancos, for whom he scored 23 goals and helped win LaLiga and the Champions League.

    The second player after Michael Owen to score at the World Cup and European Championship before turning 21, he is also the first to do so for the Three Lions while playing his club football outside of England.

    And Tadic, who appeared as a second-half substitute in Serbia's first match at the European Championship as a unified nation, paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

    When asked whether he thought Bellingham was the difference in the Group C contest, the Eagles skipper told reporters: "Yes, definitely. I think he is a great player and a great personality. I think he has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or.

    "I think everything that he did was great today, he showed personality, he took England to the next level. He was always asking for the ball and I think he had a great game.

    "What I think is most important for such a young player is that he always takes responsibility. That is amazing to see, and you can see he is very hungry."

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