NBA

Curry rested as Warriors go down to Raptors, depleted Nets upset by Magic

By Sports Desk December 19, 2021

Fred VanVleet starred as the Toronto Raptors won 119-100 over the Golden State Warriors who rested star guard Stephen Curry on Saturday.

VanVleet finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists as the Raptors blew the Warriors away in the first half, leading 63-42.

Curry (rest), Draymond Green (right hip), Andre Iguodala (right knee), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) and Andrew Wiggins (left knee) were all absent for Golden State and returned to California to avoid potential COVID-19 exposure and quarantine in Canada.

The Raptors made their absence count, shooting 45 of 90 from the field, becoming the first side the Warriors have allowed this season to shoot at 50 percent or better.

The Warriors' sixth defeat of the season leaves them second in the Western Conference with a 24-6 record.

 

Wizards end Jazz run

Bradley Beal scored a season-high 37 points and had seven assists and five rebounds as the Washington Wizards ended the Utah Jazz's eight-game winning streak 109-103. Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points for the Jazz, while Rudy Gobert had 19 rebounds with 11 points.

Cedi Osman came off the bench to top score for the Cleveland Cavaliers with 23 points as they won 119-90 over the Milwaukee Bucks, who were missing Giannis Antetokounmpo due to COVID protocols.

Luke Kennard's (27 points, seven rebounds) heroics could not lift the Los Angeles Clippers to victory, going down 104-103 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were led by rookie Josh Giddey (eight points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists).

 

Weakened Nets lose to struggling Magic

The depleted Brooklyn Nets, missing star trio Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden due to COVID protocols, were beaten 100-93 by the lowly Orlando Magic for their sixth win of the season. The loss was the Nets' ninth.

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    Jimmy Butler will not require an MRI scan after leaving Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals with knee inflammation, said Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who praised Bam Adebayo for "stabilising" the team in his absence in a 109-103 win over the Boston Celtics.

    Butler played 19 minutes in the first half but did not emerge from the locker room for the second at TD Garden.

    Yet the Heat were still able to claim a 2-1 lead in the series, a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA Bubble, thanks predominantly to Adebayo.

    Adebayo went 15 for 22 from the field as he scored 31 points and added 10 rebounds.

    He also had six assists and four steals. The Heat's 19 steals marked a franchise postseason record and the most for any team in a playoff game since 2015.

    Having produced 32 and 27-point games against the Celtics in the bubble, Adebayo's three-highest scoring playoff performances have now all come versus Boston.

    "He did his version of what Jimmy does in terms of 'do what's necessary for the game,'" Spoelstra told a media conference of Adebayo, who finished plus-17 in the plus-minus.

    "He was extremely assertive, it happened in a lot of moments that were fully in the context of how we want to play. He was just way more assertive on the catch and those moments in between. 

    "It wasn't just the scoring, that's what everybody is going to recognise but he did so many things in terms of getting us organised, facilitating, playing point guard for us at times, running offense in the post through him and then defending as he always does one through five against a team that presents a lot of challenges.

    "He's a winning player. He really is the heart and soul of our group, you can count on him all the time, he doesn't get caught up in all the noise, he's just out there competing, playing winning basketball, doing it on both ends and doing what is necessary.

    "When Jimmy was out in the second half he just stabilised us. It got a little bit gnarly out there and when it did we were able to get the ball to Bam and just get something coherent."

  • Heat hold out without Butler in Boston to take Game 3 Heat hold out without Butler in Boston to take Game 3

    The Miami Heat warded off a gritty fightback from the Boston Celtics to win 109-103 on Saturday, reclaiming home-court advantage and taking out Game 3 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    The Celtics were down by 26 points in the first half and clawed their way back to make it a one-possession game down the stretch, but clutch baskets from Max Strus and Bam Adebayo were able to halt momentum.

    Erik Spoelstra's side eventually saw the game out from the free-throw line.

    With Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro off injured in the second half, Adebayo finished with 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals in a big performance.

    Jaylen Brown led the late charge for the Celtics, scoring a game-high 40 points off 14-of-20 shooting from the floor, but turnovers were critical as the team failed to take care of the ball.

    Brown was responsible for seven of his own while Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart combined for 10 with the Celtics committing 23 turnovers.

    Boston shot 37.5 per cent from three-point range but following a 39-14 first quarter, were facing an uphill battle.

    The Heat scored 33 points off those turnovers in contrast to Boston's nine points, with double-digit margins for points in the paint (48-34) and bench points (26-16).

    Butler came up with eight points and three rebounds as well as two assists and steals, but knee inflammation saw him miss the second half. 

    Kyle Lowry's return to the floor was pivotal for the Heat, however, finishing with 11 points, six assists and four steals.

  • Mavericks 'died by the 3' in Game 2 loss to Warriors, says Kidd Mavericks 'died by the 3' in Game 2 loss to Warriors, says Kidd

    Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was left frustrated by his side's shot selection as they went 2-0 down to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

    Despite a strong lead after the second quarter thanks to a best-in-show Luka Doncic, who posted 42, the visitors were pegged back for a second consecutive loss at Chase Center.

    The Mavs blew several chances to keep daylight between themselves and their hosts in the third quarter, but an over-reliance on attempts to bags 3s left them to suffer.

    "When you go 2-for-13 and you rely on the 3, you can die by the 3," Kidd said. "And we died in the third quarter by shooting that many 3s and coming up with only two.

    "If you make [3s], that's great, but you just have to understand, if you miss four in a row, you can't take the fifth.

    "You've got to make it. That just puts too much stress on yourself and on your team because, if you're not getting stops on the other end, it turns into a blowout."

    The Mavs face a tough road back into contention, but will take consolation from the fact a 2-0 deficit is far from insurmountable, having been knocked out by the Clippers last season with a similar advantage after two games.

    They also boast Doncic, one of the best form players in the NBA right now, and the Slovenian admitted his side could have put more in.

    "We weren't attacking the paint that much," he added. "But we got to attack the paint more, like they did. They attacked the paint a lot.

    "They have two of the best shooters in the world, and they still attack the paint. So I think we've got to rely less on the 3."

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