NBA

Short-handed Nets slump to 13th defeat from past 15, Suns continue streak without Paul

By Sports Desk February 25, 2022

The short-handed Brooklyn Nets slumped to their 13th defeat from their past 15 games as Jayson Tatum led the Boston Celtics to a 129-106 victory on Thursday.

Tatum scored 30 points including four three-pointers along with seven rebounds and four assists for the Celtics who have won 10 of their past 11 games.

The Celtics' hot form is in contrast to the Nets, who have slumped to a 31-29 record in the absence of the injured Kevin Durant, unavailable Kyrie Irving and unfit Ben Simmons.

Boston led from start to finish, opening up a 35-22 quarter-time lead, with good support from big men Robert Williams III (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Al Horford (11 points and 13 rebounds).

Seth Curry top scored for the Nets with 22 points but only made two-of-seven from beyond the arc, while Patty Mills struggled with one point from 28 minutes, shooting none-of-nine from the field.

 

Morant hurt in tight loss

Ja Morant airballed a game-tying three-point attempt in the dying seconds and had a third-quarter injury scare as the Memphis Grizzlies lost 119-114 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Morant finished with 20 points and eight rebounds but seemed to pick up a leg injury on a drive which impacted his final quarter. D'Angelo Russell scored 23 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter for the Timberwolves.

The ladder-leading Phoenix Suns had no issues without Chris Paul as they extended their winning streak to eight games with a 124-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Devin Booker scored 25 points with five rebounds, 12 assists and a career-high six steals.

Stephen Curry was benched late after 18 points and 14 assists as the Golden State Warriors won 132-95 over the Portland Trail Blazers, while Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in the Denver Nuggets' 128-110 triumph over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Trae wayward in Hawks loss

Trae Young struggled as the Atlanta Hawks went down 112-108 to the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks guard made three-of-17 from the field in his 14 points for the game. For the Bulls, who have won six in a row, in-form DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points while Zach LaVine returned from injury with 20 points.

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    The Boston Celtics return to the NBA Finals as a different team to that beaten by the Golden State Warriors two years ago, says their Eastern Conference finals hero Jaylen Brown.

    Brown won the Larry Bird Trophy as Eastern Conference finals MVP on Monday, having helped the top-seeded Celtics complete a 4-0 series sweep of the Indiana Pacers.

    In Game 4, Brown sank 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics recovered from a nine-point deficit with under nine minutes left for a 105-102 victory.

    The Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference finals six times in the last eight years but this is just the second time they have progressed to the NBA Finals in that run. They last did so in 2021-22, only to be beaten 4-2 by the Warriors.

    Brown believes they have become a better team for that experience, however.

    "We feel like we're a different team than we were last year and the year before that," Brown said. 

    "I know everybody wants to continue to pigeonhole us with what was happening in the past but we've had a different team every single year, different coaches, we've had like three coaches in the last five years. 

    "Still people want to make it seem like it's the same, it's the same, it's the same.

    "Time has gone by, experience has been gained and I think we are ready to put our best foot forward."

    Jayson Tatum supported Brown with 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists on Monday, while Jrue Holiday had 17 points and Derrick White tacked on 16.

    "It's special," Tatum said. "Even though we've been there before, most of us have, you don't take it for granted. We were excited.

    "It was a hell of a team we just played, they made us earn every single game and we're extremely grateful to move on to the Finals."

  • Celtics sweep Pacers to reach NBA Finals Celtics sweep Pacers to reach NBA Finals

    Derrick White's tie-breaking 3-pointer with 45 seconds left sent the Boston Celtics into the NBA Finals for the second time in three years with a 105-102 win over the Indiana Pacers in Monday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

    The top-seeded Celtics, who were ousted in seven games by the Miami Heat in last year's East finals, completed a sweep of this best-of-seven series by rallying from a nine-point deficit with under nine minutes left.

    Jaylen Brown led Boston's comeback by scoring 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and coming up with a key late block that preceded White's winning shot. The Celtics also received 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists from Jayson Tatum, as well as another strong performance from their backcourt duo of White and Jrue Holiday.

    Holiday totalled 17 points and nine rebounds while White had 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting along with a game-high five steals.

    The sixth-seeded Pacers were unable to extend the series while playing a second straight game without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who injured his hamstring in Thursday's Game 2.

    Andrew Nembhard led Indiana with 24 points and 10 assists, while Pascal Siakam posted 19 points and 10 rebounds.

    The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves, and will host Game 1 on Thursday, June 6. The Mavericks lead that series 3-0 and can advance at home in Tuesday's Game 4. 

    A tightly contested game saw neither side lead by more than eight points until the Pacers put forth a 5-0 run, capped by Nembhard's 3-point play with 8:57 left to play, to take a 94-85 advantage.

    Indiana led 98-90 with under six minutes to go before the Celtics began catching fire. After Brown hit two free throws and Tatum knocked down a 3-pointer, Holiday drove the lane and was fouled while getting a layup to go down following a made basket by Nembhard. Boston's veteran guard calmly hit the ensuing free throw to bring the Celtics within 100-98 with 3:54 left.

    It remained a two-point game until Brown knocked down a floater with 2:40 left to tie the score at 102-102. Shortly thereafter, the All-Star forward rejected Nembhard in the lane as Boston's Al Horford grabbed the rebound with the contest headed towards the final minute of play.

    Brown then found an open White in the right corner, and the valued guard drained a 23-footer to send the Celtics ahead.

    Indiana had one final chance to force overtime, but Nembhard's 3-point try missed the mark and the Pacers failed to get another shot off. 

     

     

     

  • Medvedev battles into French Open second round after Koepfer triumph Medvedev battles into French Open second round after Koepfer triumph

    Daniil Medvedev staved off a Dominik Koepfer fightback to record a battling victory in the French Open first round on Monday.

    The world number five raced out the blocks on Court Simonne-Mathieu and eventually triumphed 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-3 in Paris.

    Medvedev, a five-time major runner-up and 2021 US Open champion, broke Koepfer's first service game in the French capital with that a seeming sign of things to come.

    Though the 28-year-old dropped his serve in the first set, Medvedev had little trouble in responding with the score finely poised at 3-2 to claim first blood at Roland-Garros.

    The fifth seed has only ever gone as far as the quarter-finals, three years ago, at the French Open but showed his clinical best to snatch the second set after holding all six service games for a narrow triumph.

    World number 65 Koepfer battled back in the third but the resilient Medvedev responded by breaking his German opponent early in the fourth set, finally securing victory in just over three hours.

    Data Debrief: Medvedev gets better of Koepfer again

    Medvedev has won all four of his meetings with Koepfer, with his most recent such victory seeing him reach the second round at Roland-Garros for the third time in eight attempts.

    Since the start of the 2021 season, Medvedev is 27-1 against players ranked outside the top 50 at major events, with his only loss in that run coming against Seyboth Wild in the French Open first round last year.

    Koepfer, meanwhile, extends to 1-17 against top-10 players in his career, earning his only such victory against over Gael Monfils – then ranked ninth in the world – at the 2020 ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.

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