NBA

Irving stars again in contentious Nets win, struggling Pacers stun Lakers

By Sports Desk January 20, 2022

The Brooklyn Nets clinched a contentious one-point win over the Washington Wizards, with Kyrie Irving the star man for the visiting team.

Irving had 30 points, three rebounds and seven assists as the Nets triumphed 119-118 on Wednesday, with Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie missing late three-pointers in the closing seconds for the Wizards.

Kuzma was left infuriated, however, as he reflected on a moment earlier in the fourth quarter when it appeared a member of the Brooklyn bench purposefully deflected a pass that had been headed his way.

Nevertheless, Kuzma and his Washington team-mates must reflect on an opportunity missed as they were unable to build on their 117-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Wizards are now 23-22 for the season and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, five places behind the 28-16 Nets.

Brooklyn were without talisman Kevin Durant, but Irving – who can only play in road games due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – stepped up.

Irving scored 22 of his 30 points in the first half and has averaged 20.0 points per game since his return to the team.

Pacers stun LeBron's Lakers

LeBron James brought up his 10,000th career regular-season rebound but his 30-point haul was not enough as the Los Angeles Lakers slumped to a 111-104 home defeat to the struggling Indiana Pacers.

James' double-double could not stem the Pacers' tide in a fourth-quarter blitz as Indiana, 13th in the East, inflicted a fourth defeat on the Lakers in the space of five games and increased the pressure on Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel.

It is just the second win in 12 games for Indiana, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Caris LeVert had 30 points, while Domantas Sabonis hit a triple-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

It was a miserable night all-round for Los Angeles teams, with the Clippers slipping to a 130-128 overtime defeat in Denver.

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double of 49 points – the second-best tally of his career in a single game, after a 50-point showing against the Sacramento Kings last season – 14 rebounds and 10 assists, the last of which teed up Aaron Gordon for the winning three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining in OT.

Bucks down depleted Grizzlies, Embiid hits 50

Reigning NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks capitalised on the Memphis Grizzlies' lack of star power as they claimed a 126-114 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who took advantage of Memphis being without two of their leading scorers in Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane, though Ja Morant (33 points, 14 assists) gave his all for the Grizzlies.

Elsewhere, Joel Embiid scored 50 points in only 27 minutes in a 123-110 victory for Philadelphia over the Orlando Magic.

Embiid is now the third player in Sixers history to have multiple games with 50 points or more, while he reached 50 points and 10 rebounds quicker than any NBA player since 1955.

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    Nikola Jokic registered his 16th triple-double of the season and was 10-for-10 from the floor in the Denver Nuggets’ 130-110 win over the reeling Washington Wizards on Thursday.

    Jokic had 21 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists to become the third player in NBA history to record at least one triple-double against every opponent in the league. He had 10 points, 14 boards and nine assists in the first half alone.

    LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are the only other players with a triple-double against every opponent.

    Michael Porter had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Jamal Murray added 18 points and eight assists as the Nuggets returned from the All-Star break and snapped a season high-tying three-game skid.

    Kyle Kuzma tallied 31 points and 13 rebounds, but Washington dropped its ninth straight to match a season high.

    The Wizards shot 38.8 percent from the field and fell to 1-34 against opponents with winning records.

     

    Doncic powers streaking Mavericks

    Luka Dončić scored 41 points and fell a rebound shy of a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns, 123-133, for their seventh straight win.

    Doncic handed out 11 assists and grabbed nine boards while shooting 14 of 27 from the field and 6 of 11 from long range. He just missed his 11th triple-double of the season.

    Kyrie Irving scored 13 of his 29 points in the first quarter and restored a double-digit lead for Dallas early in the fourth with a nifty behind-the-back dribble and spin move for a layup.

    Devin Booker scored 35 points and Kevin Durant had 23 but was 9 of 22 from the floor and 2 of 8 on 3-pointers. Phoenix lost for the second time in seven games.

     

    Celtics extend winning streak to seven

    Derrick White scored 28 points and Jayson Tatum added 25 to lead the Boston Celtics to their season-high seventh consecutive win, 129-112 over the Chicago Bulls.

    Jaylen Brown had 21 points and White and Tatum each made five of Boston’s 23 3-pointers as the Celtics padded their lead atop the NBA’s overall standings.

    Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who have lost all three meetings against the Celtics this season.

  • LeBron James to sit out Warriors clash due to ankle problem LeBron James to sit out Warriors clash due to ankle problem

    LeBron James has been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' road game against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday as he continues to nurse an ankle problem.

    James has been suffering from peroneal tendinopathy in his left ankle, and the issue caused him to miss the Lakers' 138-122 road win over the Utah Jazz before the All-Star break.

    The NBA's all-time leading scorer did feature in Sunday's All-Star Game, but he was limited to just 14 minutes on the court as the Western Conference All-Stars lost 211-186 to their Eastern Conference counterparts.

    James said before Sunday's game that he would use the break to undergo treatment on his ankle, also suggesting his status for Thursday's trip to Chase Center was uncertain.

    On Wednesday, the Lakers announced he had officially been downgraded to out, causing him to miss his eighth game of the season.

    James had 36 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists as the Lakers beat the Warriors in a double overtime classic last month, and the 39-year-old is averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game this season.

    Prior to the trade deadline earlier this month, the Warriors reportedly enquired about James' availability, only to be knocked back by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

    James said last week that he wishes to finish his glittering career in Los Angeles, though he is yet to decide whether to take up his $51.4million player option for 2024-25.

    Thursday's matchup could prove crucial to the playoff hopes of both teams, with the Lakers emerging from the mid-season hiatus at 30-26 and the Warriors having a 27-26 record. 

  • Marks: Nets must improve 'level of compete' after Vaughn firing Marks: Nets must improve 'level of compete' after Vaughn firing

    Sean Marks says the Brooklyn Nets must improve their "level of compete" after head coach Jacque Vaughn was fired.

    Vaughn was dismissed on Monday after the Nets lost 136-86 to the Boston Celtics last week, leaving Brooklyn at 21-33 and 11th in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break.

    The Nets had made the postseason in the last five seasons, but a 6-18 run has left the team with it all to do if they are to keep their playoff streak going.

    Nets general manager Sean Marks pointed to a perceived lack of effort as one area that must be fixed by the new head coach.

    "It's about the level of compete," Marks told reporters. "We're not going to be the most talented team in the league. I'm not an idiot. I totally understand that.

    "But at the same time, this is a talented group of young men out there. And my expectations, and I think their expectations, should be to hold each other accountable to do the little things. The effort plays, the loose balls, the contested shots and so forth, diving on the floor.

    "These are things that should be expected when you're in a place that we're at right now, where we're clawing and grappling for every single thing we can. That's what I would hope to see over these next 28 games, and that's probably, to be quite frank, some things I haven't seen. The level of effort and the level of compete has not always been there."

    Many pointed to the Nets' 144-122 defeat against the Milwaukee Bucks as the reason for Vaughn's firing. The Nets were fined $100,000 for violating the NBA's player participation policy after choosing to both rest and sit a number of key players.

    However, Marks said the Bucks drubbing was not the reason for Vaughn's exit, commenting: "I don't think we lost the team that day.

    "I appreciate the fact that players want to play. They want to play night in and night out.

    "Again, I don't think there was one decision that ultimately affected the record or [making] this decision this day. I think a lot of things went into that."

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