NBA

Giannis' Bucks silence Thunder with devastating defeat, Zion makes history

By Sports Desk February 29, 2020

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks humbled the Oklahoma City Thunder 133-86.

The Bucks showed no mercy as they handed the Thunder their worst loss of the season – a 47-point defeat in Milwaukee on Friday.

Bucks star and reigning MVP Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points and 13 rebounds at home to the streaking Thunder.

The Thunder had won five straight games, but Oklahoma City were no match for the devastating Bucks – who made a season-high 21 three-pointers as they improved to 51-8.

Chris Paul posted 18 points for the Thunder (37-23), while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11) was the only other player in double-digits.

Paul George recorded 24 points and Kawhi Leonard added 19 as the Los Angeles Clippers eased past Western Conference rivals the Denver Nuggets 132-103.

It was the Clippers' 40th win of the season as Doc Rivers' team reigned supreme at Staples Center.

 

Williamson stays hot

Zion Williamson became the first player in NBA history to record 20-plus points in 10 straight games before the age of 20. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie finished with 24 points in the 116-104 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Luka Doncic celebrated his 21st birthday on Friday and the Dallas Mavericks star put up 23 points and 10 assists. However, Doncic – playing with an aching thumb – did not have a memorable birthday as the Mavs lost 126-118 at the Miami Heat.

A first career triple-double from Aaron Gordon (17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists) inspired the Orlando Magic to a 136-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Terrence Ross had a season-high 33 points.

It was another big performance from Bradley Beal. The Washington Wizards guard had 42 points and 10 assists in his team's 129-119 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

Derrick Rose's 31 points helped the Detroit Pistons snap a seven-game skid by topping the Phoenix Suns 113-111.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points and collected a career-high 25 rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies' 104-101 defeat against the Sacramento Kings.

 

McCaw goes scoreless

Patrick McCaw is a three-time NBA champion – twice with the Golden State Warriors and once with the Toronto Raptors – but he did not look like one on Friday. The 24-year-old did not score a point in Toronto's shock 99-96 loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets. He was 0 of six from the field, while he missed both of his three-point attempts in 20 minutes.

Dallas' Dorian Finney-Smith also struggled. Finney-Smith played 27 minutes, going 0 of four from the field and the same from beyond the arc for just three points as a starter.

 

Spider man!

Donovan Mitchell hammered home the slam against the Wizards. He ended the game with 30 points.

 

Friday's results

Orlando Magic 136-125 Minnesota Timberwolves
Atlanta Hawks 141-118 Brooklyn Nets
Charlotte Hornets 99-96 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat 126-118 Dallas Mavericks
Sacramento Kings 104-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Milwaukee Bucks 133-86 Oklahoma City Thunder
New Orleans Pelicans 116-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons 113-111 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 129-119 Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets XX-XX Los Angeles Clippers

 

Rockets at Celtics

James Harden and the Houston Rockets (38-20) travel to the Boston Celtics on Saturday, riding a five-game winning streak. The Celtics (41-17) have won back-to-back games.

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    "I am honoured to take on the role as head coach of the Indiana Pacers," said Bjorkgren. "This is something I have prepared for during my career. I want to thank Kevin, Chad [Buchanan], Kelly [Krauskopf], Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh, and Herb and Steve Simon for this opportunity.

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    Boston's dynamic trio

    Kemba Walker's arrival in Boston helped create a formidable trio alongside Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

    After spending his entire NBA career at the Charlotte Hornets, four-time All-Star Walker opted for a new challenge via free agency by committing to a four-year, $141million contract with the Celtics.

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    The only other trio to do so were the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in 2017-18.

     

    Tatum joins elite list

    It was a coming of age for Tatum, much to the delight of the Celtics and all those connected with the team.

    Tatum cemented himself as one of the best players in the league by averaging 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game – up on his 2018-19 averages of 15.7ppg, 6.0rpg and 2.1 apg.

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    Lakers superstar LeBron James (in 2014-15 and 2019-20) and Boston's Larry Bird (in 1983-84 and 1986-87) are the only other players to reach the feat.

     

    Lack of depth

    For all of Boston's good work and impressive starting five, their lack of depth was exposed in the playoffs.

    The Celtics relied on their starters more than any other team in the postseason at 83.3 per cent with 1,549 of their 1,859 points scored by the starting five, ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (83.1 per cent), Indiana Pacers (82.6 per cent), Houston Rockets (77.3 per cent) and Portland Trail Blazers (76.5 per cent).

    As for the portion of minutes played by starters in the postseason, the Celtics (75.0 per cent) again topped the list ahead of the Pacers (72.2 per cent), 76ers (72.0 per cent), Utah Jazz (71.8 per cent) and Rockets (70.9 per cent).

    The Celtics had fewer than 25 bench points in each of their last 15 playoff games this year, one of the longest streaks in a single postseason in the past 35 years, only behind the Detroit Pistons (19 in 2005) and Pacers (17 in 2013).

    The problem of a thin bench was likely exacerbated by the number of close games the Celtics played in, since teams usually need their best players on the floor for longer periods of time in tight encounters.

    Boston had eight playoff games decided by five points or less, tied for second most in a single postseason in franchise history.

    Also, this was the second consecutive year the Celtics had some issues with turnovers in the playoffs. After going plus-1.4 for turnovers in the regular season, Boston were then minus-1.4 in the postseason.

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