Durant, Mills lead Nets comeback in New York, Trae Young stays hot

By Sports Desk April 06, 2022

The Brooklyn Nets came back from a 21-point deficit to storm home in the second half, defeating the New York Knicks 

The Nets' defense struggled early on, conceding 38 points in just the second quarter on the way to trailing 67-50 at half-time.

Knicks' R.J. Barrett was the best player in the first half, and went on to finish with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but after his side peaked at a 71-50 lead one minute into the third period, it was all downhill from there.

Brooklyn would hold New York to just 31 points in the entire second half, snatching the lead in the fourth quarter and riding a hot shooting performance from Patty Mills in his return to form.

Mills hit five-of-seven from long range off the bench, including a deep contested step-back with the shot clock winding down late in the fourth quarter, while superstar Kevin Durant was spectacular throughout.

Durant scored 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his 11 assists, while Barrett's shooting tailed off badly, finishing with figures of seven-of-27 from the field and two-of-11 from deep.

The win moves Brooklyn's record to 42-38, which is the same record as the Atlanta Hawks, but the Nets hold the tie-breaker and would finish in the eight seed if the season ended today.

 

Trae Young leads his Hawks in style

Atlanta has been arguably one of the league's most disappointing teams this year, but last season's Eastern Conference Finalists have found some form heading into the play-in tournament, beating the Washington Wizards 118-103 behind another spectacular showing from All-NBA point guard Trae Young.

Young, who in his past 10 games is averaging 29.7 points and 11.1 assists on shooting splits of 48/40/91, was again the best player on the floor against the Wizards, racking up an efficient 30 points (eight-of-17 shooting, 11-of-12 from the free throw line) to go with 11 assists.

Washington's Kristaps Porzingis also deserves a mention for his 26 points (eight-of-16 shooting) and 18 rebounds as the Wizards nearly broke even (minus three) in his 32 minutes played.

 

Celtics stifle struggling Bulls

The Boston Celtics have been the best defensive team in the NBA this season, and made life miserable for the Chicago Bulls for a 117-94 road win.

Both teams will make the playoffs, but while the Celtics have thrived in the second half of the season and look like a contender, the Bulls have stumbled, with no Chicago player scoring more than DeMar DeRozan's 16 points on six-of-16 shooting on Wednesday.

On a down night for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown picked up the scoring load, finishing with 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting to go with four assists and four steals.

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    The Miami Heat are desperate to silence their doubters and are using outside criticism as fuel in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Heat, having levelled it up at 1-1.

    That is according to forward Bam Adebayo, who had 21 points and was nine of 13 shooting in the Heat's 111-101 win at TD Garden on Wednesday.

    Miami buried their hosts under a mountain of 3-pointers in Game 2, setting a franchise record for a postseason game by shooting 23 of 43 (53.5 per cent) from the field.

    Speaking after the game, Adebayo said the way in which the Eastern Conference's eighth seeds have been written off by neutrals was spurring them on.

    "We've been doubted a lot through our playoff runs, people saying we couldn't do a lot of stuff that we eventually did," Adebayo said.

    "So for me and my team, why lose belief now? Our backs are against the wall. Everybody's against us. So just use that as fuel.

    "Our guys believe we can win. So, let's make it mano a mano… a cage fight. Let's hoop!"

    Caleb Martin joined Adebayo on 21 points with five 3s, being booed by the Boston crowd every time he touched the ball following his heavy collision with Jayson Tatum in Game 1.

    Jaime Jaquez Jr. contributed 14 points with three 3s, Nikola Jovic added a trio of 3s and Haywood Highsmith came off the bench to sink three 3s.

    Martin said Miami's new shoot-on-sight mentality was part of a plan drawn up by Erik Spoelstra, saying: "I think it was about realising that being passive hurts us. 

    "We'd just be playing into their gameplan. We're too good of a shooting team to hesitate from 3."

    Spoelstra himself said the Heat had taken the decision to be more proactive after being sunk by Boston's 3-point shooting in Game 1.

    "I understand the math of it," the Miami coach said. "We're not going to shoot 50 of them. That's not realistic."

  • NBA: Heat get even with Celtics; Thunder roll Pelicans for 2-0 lead NBA: Heat get even with Celtics; Thunder roll Pelicans for 2-0 lead

    Tyler Herro had 24 points and 14 assists and hit six of Miami’s franchise playoff-record 23 3-pointers as the Heat defeated the Boston Celtics, 111-101, to even their first-round series at a game apiece on Wednesday.

    Bam Adebayo had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Caleb Martin added 21 points with five 3s for the Heat, who shot 53.5 percent (23 of 43) from long range to break the franchise playoff record of 20 3s, set against Milwaukee in 2021.

    Jaime Jaquez Jr. contributed 14 points with three 3s, Nikola Jovic added a trio of 3s, nine rebounds and six assists and Haywood Highsmith came off the bench to hit three 3s.

    The series shifts to Miami for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday.

    Jaylen Brown scored 33 points and Jayson Tatum added 28 for the top-seeded Celtics, who cut Miami’s lead to 102-96 with three minutes left. But Martin hit a 3 and Herro made a driving layup to essentially seal the win.

    Tatum scored 14 points in the first quarter and showed no ill effects after he was undercut by Martin while going after a rebound in the final minute in Game 1.

     

    Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren power Thunder

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and Chet Holmgren added 26 to lead the hot-shooting Oklahoma City Thunder to a 124-92 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans and a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series.

    Jalen Williams had 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Thunder, who shot 59 percent (46 for 78) from the floor and made 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) from 3-point range.

    Game 3 will be Sunday in New Orleans.

    Jonas Valanciunas had 19 points and Herbert Jones and Brandon Ingram each added 18 as the Pelicans continued to struggle offensively without injured star Zion Williamson (strained left hamstring).

    New Orleans missed 19 of 26 from beyond the arc and made 33 field goals to 46 for Oklahoma City.

  • NBA acknowledges refereeing errors in 76ers chaotic loss to Knicks NBA acknowledges refereeing errors in 76ers chaotic loss to Knicks

    The NBA has acknowledged numerous refereeing errors after the Philadelphia 76ers were on the wrong end of late decisions in a chaotic defeat to the New York Knicks.

    Nick Nurse, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey all voiced 76ers frustration after the Knicks came back from 101-96 down to win 104-101 on Monday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final series.

    Philadelphia coach Nurse suggested his timeout calls were ignored on two separate occasions in the frantic finale, while Maxey and Embiid were left aggrieved with foul decisions during the same period.

    In its Last Two Minute Report, the league concurred with the 76ers claims after admitting Maxey was fouled in the build-up to Jalen Brunson's 3-pointer that cut Philadelphia's lead to just two.

    The same report also found that Maxey was illegally felled by Josh Hart, turning over for Donte DiVincenzo missing a decisive go-ahead 3-pointer before making the winning shot with 13 seconds remaining.

    "[Maxey] did his job," Embiid said after the game when asked about the turnover in the closing seconds. "That's on the league. That's on the NBA.

    "That's on the referees. I hate to put the game on them. But I am sure the two-minute report is going to come out and we are going to see what happened."

    Maxey blamed himself and refused to dwell on the matter after the 76ers fell 2-0 down in the best-of-seven series, while Nurse was also left disappointed on the sidelines by the officiating.

    Nurse claimed he twice attempted to call timeout, with the league's report acknowledging one of those should have been granted when 76ers point guard Kyle Lowry was inbounding the ball.

    "I guess I got to run out onto the floor or do something to make sure and get his attention, but I needed a timeout there to advance it," Nurse lamented after the game.

    The Last Two Minutes Report reviewed two other errors in officiating, having missed an Embiid foul on DiVincenzo before Brunson's 3-pointer and a defensive violation by Knicks forward OG Anunoby.

    Though the NBA acknowledged the mistakes, no replay will be granted – a decision the Knicks are all too familiar with.

    New York wanted a replay earlier this season after referee Jacyn Goble made an incorrect call for a foul on Houston Rockets guard Aaron Holiday, though that call was labelled as human error.

    Both teams will be hoping for less drama when Games 3 and 4 come on Thursday and Sunday in Philadelphia.

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