Stephen Curry scored 31 points with 11 rebounds in his annual homecoming that ended in an overtime defeat for the Golden State Warriors, losing 120-113 to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

Golden State had led by four points in the final minute of regulation, before P.J. Washington hit a jumper, followed by a Dennis Smith Jr layup to tie the game.

Curry missed a tough three-point attempt to win the game at the end of regulation time, and airballed another shot in overtime. The Warriors point guard finished with three-of-13 from beyond the arc, making 10-of-22 from the field.

The Hornets, who were without LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, were rampant in overtime, with Washington finishing the game with 31 points and Jalen McDaniels draining a crucial triple. Gordon Hayward made a strong contribution with 23 points and four assists.

Golden State shot at 29.5 per cent from three-point range, with Klay Thompson battling on one-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc in his 11 points.

Jordan Poole made four-of-11 attempts in his 24 points off the bench for the Warriors, who are 0-2 on the road this season and 3-3 overall.

Clutch Embiid lifts 76ers to back-to-back wins

Joel Embiid scored 25 points but none were better than his tiebreaking three-point shot as the Philadelphia 76ers made it back-to-back wins with a 114-109 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Embiid drained his wide-open three-point shot to put the 76ers up 112-109 with 18.1 seconds remaining in the game as Philadelphia improved to 3-4 after their 1-4 start to the season.

The 76ers center had seven rebounds and four assists, while James Harden contributed 15 points on two-of-13 field shooting with 11 assists, while Tyrese Maxey scored 14 points after posting a career-high 44 on Friday.

Nets woes worsen with Pacers shock

The Brooklyn Nets' defensive woes continued as they fell to a fourth straight loss, going down 125-116 to the Indiana Pacers for whom rookie Bennedict Mathurin scored a career-high 32 points.

The Nets conceded another big score, averaging 124.5 points against during their four-game losing skid, with Kevin Durant contributing 26 points with five rebounds and four blocks.

Kyrie Irving, who has come under fire for appearing to show support to an antisemitic film this week, responded on the court with 35 points including five triples with six assists.

Paolo Banchero showed exactly why the Orlando Magic took him with the first overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, nearly posting his first career triple-double as his side defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-93 on Friday.

With last year's fifth overall pick Jalen Suggs and starting point guard Cole Anthony both missing through injuries, Orlando opted to not start a traditional point guard and instead let their new star run the show.

He looked right at home as the focal point of the Magic's offense, scoring 21 points on eight-of-14 shooting while adding 12 rebounds and seven assists to deliver their first win of the season.

Even more impressive was the fact that almost all of that production came in the first three quarters, as Orlando built an 82-53 lead heading into the fourth and Banchero sat out the final nine minutes.

Through six career games, Banchero is averaging 24 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, and is yet to score less than 20 points in a contest.

Lakers lose again despite James' best efforts

LeBron James' 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals were not enough to bring an end to the Los Angeles Lakers' winless start to the season, falling to 0-5 after a 111-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

James shot 10-of-24 from the field and one-of-six from deep, and in his first game off the bench since his rookie season, Russell Westbrook was plagued by similar issues.

Westbrook shot six-of-17 for his 18 points, while also missing half of his 10 free throws and committing five turnovers.

For the Wolves, Anthony Edwards led the scoring with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while Rudy Gobert was seven-of-11 for 22 points and 21 rebounds to lift their record to 4-2.

Antetokounmpo mounts case for third MVP

With two MVP trophies already in his display case, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo made it clear why he is one of the favourites yet again this season with a powerhouse performance in a 119-108 win against the New York Knicks.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in made field goals (11), made free throws (seven), points (30), rebounds (14) and assists (nine) in a true virtuoso showing. He was supported well, with six teammates making their way into double figures, including 12 points and 12 rebounds off the bench from Bobby Portis.

With the win, the Bucks are now 4-0, and the only remaining unbeaten team.

LeVert and Mitchell drop 41 each in overtime Cavaliers win

Caris LeVert and Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers went head-to-head with star Boston Celtics duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and emerged 132-123 winners in overtime.

While Brown and Tatum had 32 each at a combined 22-of-41 from the field (54 per cent), the Cavs pairing played even better, scoring 41 each off a combined 27-of-47 (57 per cent).

Second-year phenom Evan Mobley also had a big hand in the win, chipping in 19 points (seven-of-12 shooting) with 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

The Los Angeles County district attorney has confirmed Charlotte Hornets free agent Miles Bridges will face three felony domestic violence charges.

Bridges was arrested last month by the Los Angeles Police Department after being accused of assaulting his girlfriend in front of their two children. He has been charged on one felony county of injuring a child's parent and two felony counts of child abuse.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said: "Domestic violence creates physical, mental and emotional trauma that has a lasting impact on survivors.

"Children who witness family violence are especially vulnerable and the impact on them is immeasurable.

"Mr. Bridges will be held accountable for his actions and our Bureau of Victim Services will support the survivors through this difficult process."

The Hornets forward, who was released on $130,000 bond, is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old was the leading scorer for the Hornets last season and is set to become a restricted free agent on Thursday. Bridges averaged career highs of 20.4 points and 7.0 rebounds last season.

Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges was arrested in Los Angeles on the eve of NBA free agency.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman confirmed to Stats Perform that Bridges had been arrested on felony domestic violence charges.

The 24-year-old was the leading scorer for the Hornets last season and is set to become a restricted free agent on Thursday. He could command a max contract.

A team statement from the Hornets read: "The Charlotte Hornets are aware of the situation involving Miles Bridges.

"We are in the process of gathering additional information. We will have no further comment at this time."

Bridges averaged career highs of 20.4 points and 7.0 rebounds last season, and the Hornets extended a qualifying offer to the player on Tuesday, allowing the team to match any offer sheet presented by a rival.

A first-round pick in 2018, Bridges had previously expressed his desire to remain with the Hornets but has since removed a reference to the team in his social media bio.

The Who famously sang "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" – and the Charlotte Hornets are taking that to heart. 

In one of the more surprising coaching hirings in recent memory, the Hornets are bringing back Steve Clifford for a second stint as head coach of the team.  

Clifford was Charlotte’s bench boss for five seasons and guided the team to two playoff appearances before he was fired following the 2017-18 season, and then hired a few weeks later by the Orlando Magic. He compiled a 196-214 record with the Hornets and is 292-345 in eight seasons as an NBA coach.

His best season in Charlotte came in 2015-16 when the Hornets went 48-34 and lost in seven games to the Miami Heat in the first round the playoffs. 

The Hornets initially offered the job to Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, but he later told the team he was backing out due to family reasons. 

"I think [Atkinsons] would have been a good pick, but if he’s not comfortable here I would rather find out now then a year from now," Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday night at the NBA Draft.  

This time, Clifford inherits a team that is more talented than any of his previous Charlotte squads with All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges.  

The Hornets finished last season with the league’s eighth-ranked offense, but were weak defensively, and allowed 132 points in a 29-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in elimination game last season. Outgoing head coach James Borrego was also criticised for failing to play young, emerging talent, instead opting to give minutes to established veterans who lacked upside.

Defense has been the organisation’s priority in seeking a new leader, and Clifford has long been considered one of the NBA’s top defensive coaches. The Hornets finished sixth, 10th, ninth, 17th and 17th in defensive rating during his five seasons. They were 22nd this past season under Borrego, who was fired in April.  

 

Kenny Atkinson is no longer accepting the head coaching job with the Charlotte Hornets, choosing instead to remain an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, ESPN reported on Saturday.

It had been reported earlier in June that Atkinson and the Hornets had agreed in principle to a four-year contract, but the deal was never signed.

After further talks with Charlotte, Atkinson opted to stay with the new NBA champions, becoming Steve Kerr's top assistant after Mike Brown left to become the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Atkinson compiled a 118-190 record leading the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-20 before he took assistant jobs in consecutive years with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Warriors.

The Hornets fired James Borrego in April following a 43-win season with two years remaining on his contract. He went 138-163 during his four seasons as head coach, and Charlotte were routed in the play-in tournament in each of the last two.

Atkinson was chosen to replace Borrego after a seven-week search. The other candidates from that process were longtime NBA coach Mike D'Antoni and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, ESPN reported.

Former Brooklyn Nets head coach and current Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson will be hired as the next head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, with ESPN reporting that he will receive a four-year contract. 

Aktinson's head coaching experience with the Brooklyn Nets spanned from 2016-20. He compiled a 118-190 record during his time with the rebuilding Nets, but helped guide the team from 20 wins in his initial season to a 42-40 record in 2018-19 and a playoff berth. 

He was chosen to replace outgoing head coach James Borrego after a seven-week search during which the Hornets interviewed veteran coach Mike D’Antoni, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, and assistant coaches Sean Sweeney of Dallas, Charles Lee of Milwaukee and David Vanterpool of Brooklyn. They also interviewed Darvin Ham, who was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers.  

Borrego was fired on April 22 following a 43-win season with two years remaining on his contract. He went 138-163 during his four seasons at the helm of the Hornets and they were routed in the play-in tournament for the second straight season. 

Atkinson has a reputation as a talent developer and helped turn Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie into key players for the Nets, as well as elevating D'Angelo Russell to his lone All-Star appearance in 2019.  

The Hornets have key pieces in place with guard LaMelo Ball and much-improved forward Miles Bridges, as well as veteran Gordon Hayward, but they have a glaring need at center, which could be addressed in a number of creative ways with the NBA Draft and free agency approaching.  

Atkinson is the second Golden State assistant to accept a new job during the Warriors' playoff this season after fellow assistant Mike Brown accepted the role of head coach of the Sacramento Kings, though both are remaining with the Warriors through the end of the NBA Finals. 

James Borrego will be dismissed as coach of the Charlotte Hornets, according to reports.

The 44-year-old took up the role in 2018 and reached the play-in tournament in each of the last two seasons in Charlotte.

However, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets will relieve Borrego of his duties after failing to reach this year's NBA playoffs.

Despite winning 11 of their last 15 games in the regular season to earn a spot in the play-in tournament, they fell at the first hurdle as they were beaten 132-103 by the Atlanta Hawks. 

Borrego finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 43-39, and an overall record of 138-163 in his time with the Hornets.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for flipping off Boston Celtics fans twice during Sunday's Game 1.

Irving, who was with the Celtics from 2017 and 2019, scored 39 points as the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-114 to the Celtics after Jayson Tatum's buzzer-beating game-winner.

The NBA announced the sanction on Tuesday in a release, where president of league operations Byron Spruell said Irving was fined for "making obscene gestures on the playing court and directing profane language toward the spectator stands."

The 30-year-old was open after Sunday's defeat about his response to the Boston fans.

"When people start yelling 'p---y' or 'b----' and 'f--- you' and all this stuff, there's only but so much you take as a competitor," Irving said.

"We're the ones expected to be docile and be humble, take a humble approach, f--- that, it's the playoffs. This is what it is."

Miles Bridges has been fined $50,000 for aggressively throwing his mouthguard into the crowd, hitting a teenage girl.

The incident took place when Bridges was ejected from the Charlotte Hornets' play-in game loss against the Atlanta Hawks after receiving two quick technical fouls in the fourth quarter.

While being escorted back to the locker room, Bridges appeared to react to a fan taunting him over the barricade, turning and throwing his mouthguard in that direction, but it missed and hit a 16-year-old girl.

He apologised for his actions when speaking with post-game media, calling it "unacceptable" and asked to be put in touch with the teenage girl to make amends.

The $50,000 fine matches the largest league-issued fine this season, equalling the figure Markieff Morris was slugged with after his flagrant foul on Nikola Jokic sparked a mini-skirmish.

Other big fines this season include $40,000 for Jusuf Nurkic for grabbing a fan's cell phone and throwing it into the stands, and $35,000 for Malik Beasley for striking Portland Trail Blazer Drew Eubanks.

Miles Bridges has apologised for throwing his mouthguard aggressively into the crowd, accidentally hitting a 16-year-old girl.

The incident occurred after Bridges was ejected from the Charlotte Hornets' 132-103 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in tournament.

After disagreeing with a referee's decision, he was assessed a technical foul, and then a second one for arguing and "aggressively approaching the official with a closed fist."

As he was being ushered down the tunnel to the locker room, Bridges appeared to react to a fan taunting him over the barricade, leading to him throwing his mouthguard. The mouthguard missed the man and hit a 16-year-old girl.

Speaking to post-game media, Bridges expressed remorse for his outburst, but mainly about the fact that he missed his intended target.

"I was aiming for the guy that was screaming at me and it hit a little girl," he said. "So that's definitely unacceptable on my part and I take full responsibility. 

"That's out of character for me... I don't act like that or ever flash out like that. 

"So that was definitely wrong, a lot of emotions and hopefully I can get in contact with the young girl and sincerely apologise to her and do something nice for her, but that's definitely on me.

"I was upset about a call – a couple of calls really – I let my temper get the best of me. It was definitely the wrong thing to do.''

Despite Trae Young shooting three-for-13 from the field in the first half of the Atlanta Hawks' win against the Charlotte Hornets, head coach Nate McMillan loved what he saw from his superstar point guard.

With the 132-103 blowout win, the Hawks earned a chance to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference eighth seed on Friday.

Young's shot was not falling early, but his team still put up 60 points in the first half as De'Andre Hunter, Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari shouldered more of an offensive load.

Speaking to post-game media, McMillan said he was proud of the way Young navigated his early struggles before going on to finish with 24 points and 11 assists.

"I thought [Young] did a really solid job of getting off the ball when [the Pelicans] put two on him, and he got his teammates involved," he said.

"I thought later in the game they went away from that, and he was able to get loose and get some looks at the basket.

"But a real solid job by Trae running the team, managing those guys on the offensive end of the floor, and really getting us organized and attacking."

McMillan admitted his assistant coaches were imploring him to pull the Hawks stars late in the fourth quarter, with a big lead and the win almost assured, and looked forward to the matchup against the Cavs.

"The coaches were yelling at me, screaming at me to get the [starters] out, so that we could get them a rest in," he said. "But it's time to play – it's game time – and we should be ready when we go to Cleveland.

"We don't know if [Jarrett Allen] will be back on Friday – but the size-factor – they do a good job of taking advantage of their size, and their ability to pound you in the paint with post-ups, rebounding and a lot of length.

"[Darius] Garland is an All-Star, playing great basketball for them, so they're a really good team. We'll have our work cut out for us on Friday."

The Atlanta Hawks avoided elimination from the NBA Play-In Tournament on Wednesday, comfortably defeating the Charlotte Hornets 132-103, despite a poor shooting night from Trae Young.

The Hawks shot 52.1 per cent collectively even with Trae Young's eight-of-24 from the floor, with all five starters scoring in double-digits along with Bogdan Bogdanovic from the bench, who added 13 points.

Young started slow with three-of-13, matching LaMelo Ball for the first half, but was able to find his teammates early, particularly getting easy buckets for Clint Capela out of high pick-and-roll action.

Finishing with 31 assists for the night, the Hawks moved the ball fluidly in comparison to the Hornets, who could not generate clean looks on the way to 37.8 per cent shooting from the floor and 22 assists collectively.

Ball and Terry Rozier shot a combined 15-of-47, while the former went four-of-14 from three-point range despite eight assists and five rebounds.

Atlanta will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the winner earning a Playoff matchup against the Eastern Conference's first seed, the Miami Heat.

McCollum leads Pelicans past Spurs

C.J. McCollum was the star of the show as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 to earn a chance at the Western Conference eighth seed.

McCollum was on fire early, particularly in the second quarter, where he went a perfect six-for-six from the field to score 19 points in the period, on his way to final figures of 32 points (12-of-23 shooting), seven assists and six rebounds.

He was supported in style by Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, who combined for 49 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists, while rookie defensive sensation Herb Jones had two steals and two blocks.

Jones also did a great job on Spurs All-Star Dejounte Murray, holding him to five-of-19 shooting for his 16 points.

With the win, the Pelicans will play the Los Angeles Clippers in a game where the victor will earn a seven-game series against the Phoenix Suns in round one of the Playoffs.

 

Whatever you think about the sporting merit of the introduction of the Play-In tournament to last year's NBA season, there is no doubt it made things more interesting for the neutral.

The Golden State Warriors were surprisingly eliminated after defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Indiana Pacers were denied a playoff place by the Washington Wizards in 2021.

The format has returned for this season, and again, it promises to add all sorts of further intrigue to the playoff picture.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the mini tournament will take place from April 12-16. The teams that finished seventh and eighth play one another to determine the seventh playoff seed from their respective conference, while the loser of that game gets a chance to secure the eighth seed when they host the winner of a game between the ninth and 10th seeds.

Therefore, the teams that finish seventh or eighth only need to win one game to advance to the playoffs, while those in ninth and 10th must win two.

Whoever clinches the seventh seed in the east will face the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, while the eighth seed will take on the Miami Heat. In the west, the seventh seed will go up against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the eighth seed will be paired with the Phoenix Suns.

With the regular season over after Sunday's final games, Stats Perform takes a look at the eight teams with one last chance to secure their place in the 2022 NBA playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Tuesday, April 12 – Brooklyn Nets (7th) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (8th) 

It has felt like a season of distractions in Brooklyn this season, be it James Harden's struggles, Kevin Durant's fitness or Kyrie Irving's vaccination status, and now the debut of Ben Simmons, which it seems may come in the playoffs, if they make it that is.

The Nets will be favourites, having won 12 of their last 17 and with Durant and Irving both in excellent form. KD is averaging 29.9 points per game (PPG), while Irving sits at 27.4.

The Cavaliers do not arrive in great form, losing eight of their last 11 games. Though they were victorious in their last outing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, the Bucks rested their starters, and Jrue Holiday only started to earn a foul and trigger a financial clause in his contract.

Darius Garland will be key if Cleveland are to stand a chance at Barclays Center, with the 22-year-old averaging 21.7 PPG.

Brooklyn have won three of their four meetings this season, including a 118-107 win at Barclays on Friday.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 13 – Atlanta Hawks (9th) vs Charlotte Hornets (10th)

All eyes will be on Trae Young as the 23-year-old looks to drag the Hawks into the playoffs, though it will take two big performances, even by his high standards.

Young averages 28.4 PPG this season, the joint-fifth highest in the league along with Luka Doncic, as well as 9.7 assists per game.

Atlanta have won seven of their last nine, including a 130-114 success at the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

For Charlotte, they will look to trio Miles Bridges, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier for inspiration, and have had a good end to the season themselves, winning 11 of their last 15.

They also beat the Hawks last month 116-106 in Charlotte, though each team has won two apiece of their four meetings through the campaign.

Western Conference:

Tuesday, April 12 – Minnesota Timberwolves (7th) vs Los Angeles Clippers (8th)

Despite the Timberwolves going into this one with home advantage, you would have to make the Clippers the favourites based on form and previous meetings.

Minnesota have lost six of their last 10, while the visitors arrive having won five of their last six.

The form of Karl-Anthony Towns, who is averaging 24.6 PPG this season, will be key for the hosts, as will that of Anthony Edwards, who scored a career-high 49 points in the recent win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Unsurprisingly, the Clippers have been a different prospect since the return of Paul George at the end of March, having lost eight of their previous 10 games before the 31-year-old came back, and winning six of seven since, albeit George only played in five of those games.

The Clippers have won three of their four meetings in the regular season, but the Timberwolves did win their last encounter in January. It should be noted that the team from Los Angeles won both games in Minnesota, though.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 13 – New Orleans Pelicans (9th) vs San Antonio Spurs (10th)

No team shows just how much the introduction of the Play-In tournament keeps seasons alive for a longer period than the Pelicans, who somehow have a shot at the postseason despite a disastrous start to their campaign.

Having lost 12 of their first 13 games, they are just two wins away from booking their place in the playoffs, and come into this one having won five of their last eight. 

Coach Willie Green will need CJ McCollum in top form, with the 30-year-old impressing since arriving from Portland earlier in the season, averaging 24.3 PPG since becoming a Pelican.

San Antonio recently won seven of eight games, but a slight wobble from the Spurs in the last few, losing their last three, may have thrown them off course at precisely the wrong time.

Like the Clippers, the Spurs could still be favourites despite being the away side, as they have won three of the four meetings between the two teams this season, including the most recent one in late March (107-103 in New Orleans).

The Miami Heat are now just one win away from securing the Eastern Conference's top seed after they smashed the Charlotte Hornets 144-114 on Tuesday.

Having tied their franchise record for three-pointers in a game on three separate occasions this season, the Heat broke that record against the Hornets, connecting on 23 of 42 total attempts.

Tyler Herro contributed eight of those buckets beyond the arc from 14 attempts and in doing so, also tied the single-game franchise record for points off the bench with 35, previously held by Dwyane Wade.

On any other night, it would have been a satisfactory performance from the Hornets, but Heat were automatic, with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo only combining for 49 of the team's points with Kyle Lowry out.

The 49-30 Boston Celtics momentarily remain within touching distance, having played a game less than the 52-28 Heat.

Meanwhile, the Hornets have already wrapped up the Eastern Conference's last play-in spot.

Raptors secure playoffs in East

Pascal Siakam put up 31 points and 13 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 118-108.

This victory, coupled with the Cleveland Cavaliers' loss to the Orlando Magic, ensured the Raps will finish no lower than sixth in the East. They also rose to fifth after the Chicago Bulls lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Five other Raptors finished on double digit points as Scottie Barnes and Chris Boucher scored 19 and 18 points respectively, Gary Trent Jr. had 14, Fred VanVleet 12 and Precious Achiuwa 11.

Lakers knocked out of West's play-in race

The Los Angeles Lakers have been eliminated from Western Conference play-in calculations, losing 121-110 to the Phoenix Suns, whose 63rd win this season made for a new franchise record.

The desperate Lakers needed a win to stay in touching distance with the New Orleans Pelicans but had a mountain to climb against the Suns, who had won all three games head-to-head this season.

Devin Booker showed characteristic smoothness and composure, putting up 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting as well as four of five three-pointers when his team broke the game open.

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