NBA

Sixers lean on Embiid and Harden in Mavs win, Westbrook triple propels Lakers

By Sports Desk March 18, 2022

Joel Embiid and James Harden scored a combined 56 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-101 on Friday.

Going 11-for-20 from the floor, Embiid scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half, including a fadeaway three on the buzzer to give the Sixers a 58-53 lead at the interval.

Luka Doncic put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists but was held to 25 per cent from the floor and 20 per cent from the perimeter, in a poor shooting night.

At 43-26, the Sixers are now three games behind the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference leaders, while the Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference at 43-27.

Westbrook lifts Lakers to overtime win in Toronto

Russell Westbrook's three-pointer at the end of regulation propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a 128-123 road win over the Toronto Raptors in overtime.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, the much-maligned Westbrook forced a turnover off a Raptors inbound before draining a contested triple from the wing, to tie the game at 116-116.

Both sides remain firmly placed in play-in calculations, though, with the Lakers ninth in the Western Conference at 30-40, while the Raptors are seventh in the East on 39-31.

Short-handed Hawks snap Memphis win streak

Without their two scoring leaders, the Atlanta Hawks secured an important win at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, emerging 120-105 victors.

In John Collins and Trae Young's absence, Bogdan Bogdanovic came up big with a season-high 30 points, while Delon Wright and Clint Capela also added 18 each.

Despite 29 points from Ja Morant on 11-for-23 shooting, the Grizzlies had a four-game win streak snapped, but still hold the NBA's second best record at 48-23.

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    The face of the Memphis Grizzlies will be staying put for the foreseeable future after Ja Morant agreed to a five-year max rookie extension that will pay him at least $193million over five years. 

    The extension is the largest deal in franchise history and has the potential to reach up to $231m if Morant makes one of the league’s three All-NBA teams. The deal surpasses the five-year, $153 million contract Mike Conley signed with Memphis in 2016. 

    "Memphis is my home," Morant tweeted six minutes after midnight.  

    Morant took home the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and finished seventh in MVP voting after averaging 27.4 points and 6.7 assists per game this season. He earned his first All-Star appearance and was named second-team All-NBA after helping Memphis to a 56-26 record, matching the 2012-13 team for the most wins in franchise history. 

    He averaged 21.5 points, 10.5 assists and 8.7 rebounds as the Grizzlies defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in six games in the first round of the playoffs. He also scored a combined 115 points over the first three games in the next round against the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors, but missed the final three games with a bone bruise in his right knee.  

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    The move is just the latest in a wave of realignment among college football powers, moving away from the strictly regional model that had organized the sport for more than a century.  

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    USC athletic director Mike Bohn called the conference "the best home for USC" in a statement on Thursday night. 

    "Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports," he said. "We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference." 

    UCLA chancellor Gene D. Block and AD Martin Jarmond also released a combined statement Thursday, announcing the move.  

    "Each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is the best move for UCLA at this time," they said. "For us, this move offers greater certainty in rapidly changing times and ensures that we remain a leader in college athletics for generations to come."  

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    The Pac-12 loses two charter members while negotiating a new media rights deal and leaving the conference scrambling to keep up in the realignment arms race.  

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    "While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news coming out of UCLA and USC today, we have a long and storied history in athletics, academics and leadership in supporting student-athletes that we're confident will continue to thrive and grow into the future," the Pac-12 said in a statement. 

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