NBA

Suns win clash of the top seeds, LeBron's Lakers come up short

By Sports Desk March 27, 2022

After some results fell their way, the new Eastern Conference one seed Philadelphia 76ers went head-to-head with the Western Conference one seed Phoenix Suns in a potential NBA Finals preview.

Unfortunately for the 76ers, their time on top was short-lived as the Suns' 114-104 home win sent the away side toppling down to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.

MVP favourite Joel Embiid was enormous for the 76ers, scoring 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting to go with 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, but it was not enough to beat a Phoenix team that has now won 61 games this season – one short of their franchise record of 62 set in 1992-93 and 2004-05.

For the Suns, Devin Booker was the star, scoring an efficient 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting (three-of-five from long range), while Chris Paul dished out 14 assists to go with his 19 points.

As a team, Phoenix shot over 51 per cent from the field, and 48 per cent from three-point range.

 

Boston takes the one seed – for now

As Philadelphia fell from the top spot, the Boston Celtics took the opportunity to assume the position atop the Eastern Conference musical chairs, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-112.

Boston's two centrepieces were both at the top of their game, with Jayson Tatum scoring 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting and dishing six assists, while Jaylen Brown had 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting with his 10 rebounds.

Boston, Philadelphia, the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks are all separated by just a half-game in a four-way race for the one seed and home-court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs.

 

Lakers lose again despite LeBron heroics

As has become a theme this season, a terrific LeBron James performance was not enough to carry the Los Angeles Lakers to victory, going down 116-108 to the New Orleans Pelicans.

James had 39 points on 14-of-27 shooting, including seven-of-13 from long range, to go with nine rebounds and five assists in the loss.

In his first game back from a 10-match absence due to injury, Brandon Ingram was the man for the Pelicans, scoring 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists, while rookie sensation Herb Jones claimed six steals.

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    Al Horford says the Boston Celtics are "not where we need to be yet" despite beating the New York Knicks to claim an eighth-straight win.

    The Celtics won 116-102 on Saturday to mark a season-best winning streak, while they are also eight games clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.

    Jaylen Brown finished with 30 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 22 and Jayson Tatum had 19, while Horford chipped in with 10 points from the bench, as Boston sealed their fourth win of the season over the Knicks.

    But in spite of their fine form, Horford says the Celtics must demand more from themselves.

    "It's just the way kind of the season has gone," he said.

    "We've kind of held our own, continued to work through things. Obviously, the [Philadelphia 76ers] have injuries, different teams have different stuff going on, so that all goes into account.

    "But I can just speak to we're continuing to play good basketball. We're really trying to play the right way. I feel like [Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla] is really challenging us to continue to get better. This is the stretch of the season where we can really take it to another level, and that's what we're trying to do.

    "I feel like we're not where we need to be yet, and that's a good thing."

    Mazzulla added: "The guys understand how to positively impact each other.

    "They understand how going into something at one point in the game is going to open it up for someone else later in the game. And we have different combinations, and the guys trust those combinations, and it puts us in a better position to win.

    "At the end of the day, it's about winning, and the guys are understanding that. They understand how they affect each other."

    Brown, however, pointed to the postseason as when the level of performance will truly count for the Celtics.

    He said: "When it comes down to the playoffs, none of that stuff really matters.

    "I feel like it's going to be about matchups, it's going to be about playing hard. Obviously, home court matters, so that is key, but when you get into the thick of it, you;'ve got to win basketball games. Regardless of what your seed is.

    "If anything, it puts more pressure on you. But I think we're an experienced team. We've been in these situations before and I think we're ready."

  • NBA: Celtics defeat Knicks for 8th straight win NBA: Celtics defeat Knicks for 8th straight win

    Jaylen Brown had 30 points and eight assists and Kristaps Porzingis added 22 points to lead the Boston Celtics to their eighth straight win, 116-102 over the New York Knicks on Saturday.

    Jayson Tatum scored 19 points and Derrick White contributed 13 for the league-leading Celtics, winners of 10 of 11.

    Jalen Brunson scored 34 points and Josh Hart was next with 16 for the Knicks, who were swept in the four-game season series by Boston.

    Porzingis ignited a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer and Brown closed it with a layup to give the Celtics an 88-71 lead with 3:53 left in the third quarter.

    New York got the deficit down to 99-90 with 9:17 to play, but the Celtics took advantage of three turnovers and six missed shots to go on a 10-0 run for a 19-point cushion.

     

    Banchero’s last-second 3-point play lifts Magic

    Paolo Benchero converted a 3-point play with 0.8 seconds remaining to snap a tie and give the Orlando Magic a 112-109 win over the Detroit Pistons.

    Banchero made an 18-foot jumper and the ensuing free throw for the winning points before Cade Cunningham hit the rim on a 70-plus-foot shot at the buzzer.

    Banchero finished with 15 points as each Orlando starter scored in double digits in the Magic’s third straight win.

    Cunnigham led NBA-worst Detroit with 26 points.

     

    Timberwolves pull away from reeling Nets

    Anthony Edwards scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and the Minnesota Timberwolves assumed sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 101-86 victory over the reeling Brooklyn Nets.

    Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and nine rebounds as Minnesota bounced back from Friday’s loss to Milwaukee with its fifth win in six games.

    Cam Thomas scored 18 points for Brooklyn, which fell to 0-2 under interim coach Kevin Ollie and dropped to 1-7 in its past eight games.

  • Warriors win after 'incredible' Kerr contract extension Warriors win after 'incredible' Kerr contract extension

    Draymond Green welcomed the news that Steve Kerr has agreed a contract extension with the Golden State Warriors, calling the development "incredible".

    Golden State defeated the Charlotte Hornets 97-84 at home on Friday after reports had emerged that Kerr has agreed to a two-year, $35 million contract extension that will make him the highest-paid coach in NBA history.

    The new deal, which is not yet formally signed, will reportedly pay Kerr, who has guided the Warriors to four NBA championships, $17.5 million a year.

    His current deal was set to expire at the end of this season but Warriors forward Green was not worried about the prospect of Kerr leaving, as he was always confident an agreement would be struck.

    "No [I was not worried], because I know [owner] Joe [Lacob] is going to do the right thing," Green said, per ESPN.

    "He has done nothing but build that trust with us that he is going to do the right thing and take care of those who take care of this organization."

    San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is reported to make more annually than Kerr, but he also serves as the team’s president.

    Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra signed an eight-year extension that pays him approximately $15m a season.

    Kerr, 58, is in his 10th season as coach of the Warriors and holds a career regular season record of 501-264 and is 99-41 in the playoffs. 

    He won his 500th game last week to become the fifth-fastest coach to do so in history.

    "I think it's incredible," added Green. "I wouldn't want to finish my time here with any other coach. 

    "What he has meant to this franchise and the winning ways that he brought here – you can't replace that. He got what he deserved."

    Kerr will also coach Team USA in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. He said he felt "really good" about the team's future but could not comment on the deal until it was officially signed and announced.

    The victory means Golden State (29-26) has now won 10 of its last 12 games in the NBA, while Charlotte (14-42) had a four-game winning streak snapped.

    Stephen Curry had 15 points and five assists in a game that saw him take on his younger brother Seth, with their father Dell on commentary to make it a special night for the family.

    The Warriors' Curry (23,160 points) moved past Elgin Baylor (23,149) into 33rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

    Hornets forward Miles Bridges had 19 points and 11 rebounds but was involved in a scuffle that saw Lester Quinones and Grant Williams ejected in garbage time. 

    An argument had ensued after Quinones drove to the basket and attempted a layup with 10.9 seconds remaining, with Bridges called for goaltending.

    "I don’t really understand why people get so mad at somebody scoring at the end of the game," added Green.

    "It’s like this dumb, unofficial, unwritten rule. If you all were winning by 13 points would you get mad if he laid a ball up? I doubt it. So it's kind of like a sore loser type thing."

    The Warriors will next host the Denver Nuggets in a big Sunday game.

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