NBA

Suns outclass Bucks as Doncic stars again for Dallas

By Sports Desk February 11, 2022

The Phoenix Suns outclassed defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday to win 131-107 and stretch their NBA-best record to 45-10.

In a rematch of last season's Finals, won by the Bucks, Phoenix pulled clear in the second half after a competitive opening two quarters in Arizona.

Deandre Ayton top-scored for the Suns with 27 points, finishing on 12-of-14 shooting from the field, while Chris Paul enjoyed a special game: his 17 points and 19 assists brought about his 500th career double-double, a tally only previously reached by three guards in the league's history.

"I'm grateful that I still get a chance to play," he said. "Not just play, but I feel like I play at a high level every night. It's cool."

It was a 15th win from 16 games for the Suns and reinforced their championship credentials against the team who came from 2-0 down to win last year's Finals series 4-2.

"They're the defending champs. We still hurt," said coach Monty Williams. "But from a confidence standpoint, for sure, it was a big game for us. I can admit it now."

The Golden State Warriors, second to the Suns in the West, fell to a second straight defeat for only the third time this season despite a double-double from Stephen Curry.

Julius Randle's 28 points and 16 rebounds, the latter an equal-high for the season, saw the New York Knicks win for the first time in four games in their West Coast trip, Klay Thompson's missed buzzer-beater meaning it finished 116-114.

The Miami Heat remain top of the Eastern Conference, their dominant second-half display seeing them to a 112-97 defeat of the New Orleans Pelicans. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 29 points for Miami, while Kyle Lowry got his first triple-double of the season.

Doncic hits 50 for first time

The latest star turn in the incredible early career of Luka Doncic helped the Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-105 in Texas.

The 22-year-old scored a career-best 51 points, 28 of which came in an astonishing first quarter in which he hit seven of his attempted nine three-pointers.

Marcus Morris Sr. top-scored for the Clippers with 21, while Reggie Jackson posted 18, but there was simply no way back from the damage dealt by Doncic.

"Tonight was just Luka," said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. "That little step-back three, I'll live with that. That's his shot, but if he misses a couple or few of those, then the game is different. But he made them, and that's why he's a great player."

Kuzma triple-double settles clash of busy traders

In a battle of teams at the heart of the trade deadline drama, the Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-112.

A first career triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for Kyle Kuzma proved pivotal for the Wizards, who added Kristaps Porzingis on a busy Thursday in the week they lost Bradley Beal for the rest of the season to a wrist injury.

The Nets, who sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster trade involving Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, slipped to a 10th loss on the spin despite Kyrie Irving's 31 points.

Elsewhere, Kevin Porter Jr. put up 30 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 139-120, while the Memphis Grizzlies took their winning streak to four, Ja Morant scoring 23 points in a 132-107 rout of the struggling Detroit Pistons.

 

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    Luka Doncic says Kyrie Irving was "born for the clutch situations" as the Dallas Mavericks produced another late show to deny the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    The Mavs, who overcame a late two-point deficit, prevailed 116-107 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals series, becoming the first NBA side in history to take a 3-0 series lead despite trailing in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter in each game.

    Dallas had the second-best clutch record (23-9) and best clutch offence (127.1 points per 100 possessions) during the regular season, and have continued that momentum into the playoffs.

    Indeed, they also came from behind late on in Game 6 of their conference semi-final series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Irving scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in Game 3, and now has 31 such points this series; the most by any player in this year's conference finals.

    "Unbelievable. That's why some people call him Mr Fourth Quarter, right?" Doncic said of his team-mate. "Just amazing. He's born for these situations. He's born for the clutch situations, so we just get the ball to him."

    "Down the stretch, that's where we make our money," Irving added. "I think we have that poise now, and we're just showcasing our skill sets out there that a lot of teams have to guard, the depth that we have. A lot of teams have to guard each one of us, and you got to pick your poison."

    Irving and Doncic scored 33 points apiece to become the first starting backcourt to each register at least 30 points in three playoff games over the past 50 seasons.

    "I feel like we're both born for this if you ask me, but it's just basketball. You've got to give the game what it needs at times," said Irving, who called for focus in his franchise's quest for a second NBA title.

    "It doesn't mean anything if we don't win a ring together. Right now, I want to show a lot of respect to the guys that have come before us and have actually done it. And our time will come."

  • NBA: Mavericks take 3-0 lead on Timberwolves NBA: Mavericks take 3-0 lead on Timberwolves

    Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving each scored 33 points to send the Dallas Mavericks a win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Sunday's 116-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. 

    WIth its star guard tandem leading the way, the fifth-seeded Mavericks dominated the game's final five minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dallas can eliminate the third-seeded Timberwolves and earn its first trip to the Finals since 2011 when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.

    No team in NBA history has come back to win a best-of-seven play-off series after losing the first three games.

    That's the challenge now facing Minnesota, which clung to a 104-102 lead with five minutes left before the Mavericks seized control for good with a 14-1 run.

    Anthony Edwards finished with 26 points for the Timberwolves, but just four of those came in the pivotal fourth quarter. Minnesota's other All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns, was held scoreless in the final period after recording 14 points over the first three quarters.

    Irving had 14 fourth-quarter points and six during the deciding spurt, which he began with a driving layup that tied the game at 104-104 with 4:35 left. P.J. Washington then sent Dallas ahead by knocking down a 3-pointer on its next possession, and the Mavericks held Minnesota without a field goal until Edwards scored the game's final points on a layup with 15.3 seconds left.

    Dallas built a lead as large as 12 points in the first half and went into the break with a 60-52 advantage behind Doncic's 15 points and 14 from Irving. The Mavericks were up by 10 near the midway stage of the third quarter before Minnesota reversed momentum with an 13-1 run.

    Edwards had eight straight points during the flurry, along with an assist on Naz Reid's layup that gave the Timberwolves a 79-77 edge with 3:54 left in the third. 

    Three-point shooting also played a part in Dallas' victory, as the Mavs finished 14 of 28 from beyond the arc. The Timberwolves were 9 of 30 from 3-point range, with Towns missing all eight of his attempts. 

     

  • Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka

    Andy Murray bowed out in the opening round of what is likely to be his final French Open appearance, following a straight-sets defeat by Stan Wawrinka.

    The Swiss ran out a commanding 6-4 6-4 6-2 victor in two hours and 19 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and could play Murray's compatriot Cameron Norrie in round two.

    Murray was facing Wawrinka for a third successive match at Roland Garros, having lost out to the latter in the 2020 first round and 2017 semi-finals.

    The 2015 champion stole an early advantage this time around, too, breaking in the opening game and subsequently holding to win the first set.

    A single break was also enough in the second set as Wawrinka doubled his lead.

    Murray has repeatedly said he is approaching the end of his career, revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    However, the 2016 runner-up's chances of extending what is potentially his French Open swansong were all but ended as Wawrinka broke twice in the third set for a 4-0 lead, before the 39-year-old rounded off a dominant win.

    Data Debrief

    Wawrinka (39) and Murray (37) locked horns in the second-oldest match-up at Roland Garros this century, behind the 2019 first-round showdown between Ivo Karlovic (40) and Feliciano Lopez (37).

    And the Swiss was not to be denied, as he became the oldest man to win a match at the French Open since compatriot Roger Federer three years ago.

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