NBA

Irving returns as Nets snap three-game skid against Pacers, Jokic triple-double as Nuggets lose

By Sports Desk January 06, 2022

Kyrie Irving scored 22 points upon his return to the Brooklyn Nets side for the first time this season as they came from behind to beat the Indiana Pacers 129-121 and snap a three-game skid on Wednesday.

Irving had been ruled out of the entire regular season by the Nets due to his vaccination status but the franchise changed their stance a fortnight ago, permitting him to play road games.

The 29-year-old point guard played 32 minutes, making nine-of-17 from the field along with three rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Irving's return reunited the 'big three' alongside Kevin Durant (39 points, eight rebounds and seven assists) and James Harden (18 points, five rebounds and six assists).

The Pacers had led 73-60 at half-time with a biggest lead of 19 points before Brooklyn rallied with an 8-0 run to end the third quarter, before Patty Mills put them ahead with a fourth-quarter three-pointer.

Domantas Sabonis recorded a triple-double for the Pacers with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Popovich brings up 2,000th in style

Gregg Popovich coached the San Antonio Spurs for the 2,000th time, recording his 1,325th win in charge as they beat the Boston Celtics 97-95 with Jaylen Brown's lay-up buzzer beater rimming out. Brown scored 30 points with six rebounds, while Dejounte Murray had 22 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists for the Spurs.

Bojan Bogdanovic (36 points, 13 rebounds and four assists) won the battle of the Balkan stars against Nikola Jokic as the Utah Jazz edged the Denver Nuggets 115-109. The reigning MVP was exceptional for the Nugs with 26 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists.

Joel Embiid scored 31 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 116-106, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was absent with a non-COVID-related illness as the Milwaukee Bucks lost 117-111 to the Toronto Raptors with Pascal Siakam netting 33 points.

 

Curry goes cold for Warriors

Stephen Curry had an ordinary shooting night, going five-of-24 from the field and one-of-nine from beyond the arc as the Golden State Warriors lost 99-82 to the Dallas Mavericks. Curry finished with 14 points with nine rebounds while Mavs All-Star Luka Doncic had 26 points with seven rebounds and eight assists.

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  • Antetokounmpo plans to celebrate with '50 cheeseburgers' after latest 50-point showing Antetokounmpo plans to celebrate with '50 cheeseburgers' after latest 50-point showing

    Giannis Antetokounmpo joked he will celebrate with "50 cheeseburgers" after his latest 50-point showing in the Milwaukee Bucks' 106-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The two-time MVP scored 20 of his 54 points in the fourth quarter of Thursday's contest as the Bucks recovered from a 21-point deficit to win for a sixth game in a row.

    He has now reached the 50-point mark three times in his last 11 games, having hit a career-high 55 against the Washington Wizards and 50 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Antetokounmpo was filmed ordering 50 chicken nuggets when the Bucks landed their first title in 50 years in 2021, and he now plans on doing something similar.

    "I think I'm going to go to Culver's tomorrow," he said. "I'll go get 50 cheeseburgers and try to eat as many as I can. The rest, I'll have my son eat them or I give them to my dog."

     

    Antetokounmpo also had 18 rebounds against the Clippers as he continued his remarkable form since returning from injury last month.

    The 28-year-old has helped the Bucks to a 6-0 record in that period, averaging 40.2 points per game, 14.7 rebounds per game and four assists per game.

    He is the first NBA player to average 40/12/4 while going undefeated over a six-game span since Wilt Chamberlain did so in January 1964.

    And Antetokounmpo has also joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Bucks' history to have at least three 50-point games in a single season.

    "It's a great compliment to be up there with Kareem," Antetokounmpo said. "I never thought I was going to score 50 in the NBA when I got drafted. It's an insane, crazy journey."

    Antetokounmpo has now averaged 32.3 points per game across 41 appearances this season, a tally bettered only by Luka Doncic (33.4) and Joel Embiid (33.5).

    "He's relentless," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after his side's comeback win over the Clippers. 

    "He's going to put himself in position to help us win. Whatever it takes for us to win, he's going to do it. He's fearless and relentless. That's what you saw going down the stretch."

  • Lakers do not discuss LeBron's record chase, claims Ham Lakers do not discuss LeBron's record chase, claims Ham

    The Los Angeles Lakers "hardly ever discuss" LeBron James' hunt for the NBA points record, according to coach Darvin Ham.

    James scored 26 points, added seven rebounds and provided seven assists as the Lakers fought back to beat the Pacers 112-111 on Thursday.

    That haul moved James onto 38,325 points across his illustrious career, 62 short of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record.

    It means James is likely to break the record against the Oklahoma City Thunder next week.

    Ham, however, says the Lakers do not treat it as too big of a deal.

    "I think it's an amazing feat," Lakers coach Darvin Ham told reporters.

    "When it happens, kudos to Bron for all his longevity and not just longevity, but longevity at the top of the list at an elite level.

    "But our day-to-day, we hardly ever discuss it unless we're asked about it. For us, it's just, how can we get our team in the best position to make a run?"

    James, though, did not look to downplay the importance of the record.

    "I think it's one of the greatest records in sports, in general. It's like the home run record in baseball," he said.

    "It's one of those records that you don't ever see or think will be broken.

    "You see guys like Hank Aaron, who had [baseball's home run record] for so long. You see guys like Sammy [Sosa] and Mark McGwire and you start climbing it and it's like, 'Oh, this could really happen.'

    "It's a fun thing as a sports person. It was fun watching those guys chasing it."

    Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 31 points and 14 rebounds, and it was his 11-foot shot with 35 seconds left put Los Angeles ahead, before he made a crucial block from Tyrese Haliburton.

    Davis missed out on selection for the All-Star Game, though that was of little concern.

    "I'm here to win, to try to compete for championships, not to get into All-Star Games," Davis said.

    "My wife is ecstatic. She already texted me, 'So, where we going [during All-Star break]?'"

  • Mavericks superstar Doncic exits game after suffering heel contusion Mavericks superstar Doncic exits game after suffering heel contusion

    The Dallas Mavericks will be anxiously awaiting more information on Luka Doncic's heel injury after he was forced to exit Thursday's home win against the New Orleans Pelicans in the third quarter.

    Doncic had 27 points in the first half as the Mavericks blew the doors off early, jumping ahead by 31 points halfway through the second period.

    The 23-year-old, who has been selected for his fourth All-Star Game this season, scored four more points before taking an awkward fall when going up for a dunk.

    He exited the game and did not return, and from that point on the Pelicans outscored the Mavericks 50-27, but Dallas were able to hold on for the 111-106 victory after a controversial referee mistake robbed New Orleans of a chance to shoot for the tie in the final seconds.

    The Mavericks officially labelled Doncic's injury as a right heel contusion, and while head coach Jason Kidd did not sound too concerned about it being a long-term issue, he said they are not sure about the extent of the injury.

    "We'll see how he feels tomorrow, and I'll have a better update to give you," he said.

    Any missed games would be an issue for the 28-25 Mavericks, who rose up to fourth place in the Western Conference with the win, but sit only three games ahead of the 13th-placed Oklahoma City Thunder in a tightly bunched race.

    Dallas are winless in the six games Doncic has missed this campaign, and third-year guard Josh Green explained what their issues are without him.

    "It's Luka," he said. "It's different [without him].

    "It took our team a while to get used to it [against the Pelicans] – we're used to having Luka bring the ball up at a slow pace, and they realised it too.

    "They were trying to make us play like we still had Luka by doubling Spencer [Dinwiddie] and trying to make it a slower game, when the guys we had on the court were not made for a slow game.

    "It's a game of pace when Luka is not out there, and we need to realise that… it's about bringing a faster pace and not just playing how we're used to."

    For the Pelicans, it was their 10th loss in a row as they desperately await the return of All-Star starter Zion Williamson from his hamstring injury.

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