NBA

LeBron Lakers' take down Giannis & Bucks to clinch playoff spot, Baynes makes history

By Sports Desk March 07, 2020

LeBron James upstaged Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Los Angeles Lakers secured their playoff berth with victory over the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

James led the Lakers to a 113-103 victory at home to Antetokounmpo and the visiting Bucks in Los Angeles on Friday.

Lakers superstar James won his battle with reigning MVP Antetokounmpo, posting 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Western Conference leaders.

Anthony Davis added 30 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 48-13 following the blockbuster showdown.

Antetokounmpo's 32 points and 11 rebounds were not enough as the high-flying Bucks fell to 53-10 for the season.

 

Baynes makes history

Aron Baynes had a game to remember. The Australian tallied a career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and made nine three-pointers as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-117. He joined James Harden as the only players in NBA history with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and eight or more three-pointers in a game.

Kristaps Porzingis recorded his fifth straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds after putting up 26 and 11 in the Dallas Mavericks' 121-96 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Duncan Robinson made history in the Miami Heat's 110-104 loss away to the New Orleans Pelicans. Robinson finished with 24 points following eight three-pointers. It took Robinson's three-point tally to 233 this season – a single-season record by an undrafted player.

Bradley Beal's 35-point performance extended his streak of 25-plus points to 21 consecutive games. It tied LeBron James for the second-longest run by an Eastern Conference player since the 2000-01 season. The Washington Wizards won 118-112 against the Atlanta Hawks.

 

Bradley struggles

Usually a handy contributor for the Lakers, Avery Bradley failed to make much of an impact despite his team's victory over the Bucks. The point guard played 31 minutes and failed to make any of his shots from the field (0 of five) or three-point range (0 of three). His two points came from the free-throw line.

The Chicago Bulls went down 108-102 to the Indiana Pacers and Lauri Markkanen headlined his team's woes. The 22-year-old had just three points, going one of 10 from the field and missing all five of his shots from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron slams it down!

James was an immovable force for the Lakers against the Bucks, who were unable to prevent this dunk.

 

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 118-112 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 139-120 San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-103 New York Knicks
Utah Jazz 99-94 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 108-102 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 132-118 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 110-104 Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks 121-96 Memphis Grizzlies
Phoenix Suns 127-117 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Warriors

The Philadelphia 76ers (38-25) will be eyeing back-to-back road wins when they travel to the Golden State Warriors (14-49) on Saturday.

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    Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden revelled in his record-setting debut, while head coach Steve Nash heaped praise on the former NBA MVP.

    Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Orlando Magic 122-115 on Saturday.

    Eight-time All-Star Harden swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday, and his first game in a Brooklyn jersey resulted in 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

    Afterwards, Harden said: "It felt really good [to get the win]. The guys got after it.

    "Individually, I've got to stop turning the basketball over, but that comes with chemistry, that comes with practice, that comes with watching film.

    "So, first game I'm glad to get a win and we've just got to keep going."

    On the record, Harden was asked what it meant, and he told YES: "Nothing, I'm just happy we came away with the win. Those stats don't mean anything."

    "When you're paying with really, really good players, it's pretty easy," Harden said. "For me, I just gotta learn reads, learn where guys like the ball, just learn our personnel individually so once I get that, the turnovers will cut down, I can be more efficient."

    Disgruntled in Houston as he eyed an exit from the Rockets, Harden arrived in Brooklyn out of form, but the sharpshooter showed what the Nets are getting in a super team that also consists of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

    Harden was eight-of-18 from the field and three-of-10 shooting from three-point range in 40 minutes, while he also had nine turnovers.

    First-year coach Nash, who now leads a genuine championship contender, hailed Harden post-game.

    "I can't say I'm surprised," Nash said. "We had a pretty big simple size of him doing that [for] however many years in he's been in the league. But it's still not easy. He's still not in his best condition yet, he's joined a new group.

    "Basically no practice time, and figured it out on the fly. He had a bunch of turnovers just because he's new to the team and the group and you’re thrown out there in an NBA where the other team is an excellent coached-basketball team....But all the things he did on the floor were incredible for his first game."

    Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

    Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

    "James, he played the same way he always played, to be honest," Durant said. "He played the same way he was playing in Houston, being a pass-first guard, trying to get guys good looks. He played the same way.

    "Coach put him at the point, I think that's his natural position, is point and combo guard. For him to get 14 assists, 12 rebounds for us at the point guard was key."

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    Harden landed in Brooklyn on Thursday to join fellow All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving following a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets.

    Former MVP Harden did not disappoint on debut for the Nets on Saturday after becoming the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team.

    Harden – an eight-time All-Star – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals for championship contenders the Nets.

    Durant, who has reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

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    The Lakers moved to 11-3 on the season with a 112-95 home win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

    James had 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in 31 minutes on court for the NBA champions, with Anthony Davis adding 17 points against his former team.

    Four three-pointers from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope helped him to 16 points, the same total as Montrezl Harrell as the Lakers stormed back from an early 15-point deficit.

    "We just settled in," James said, per ESPN, as the Lakers returned to Staples Center after three games on the road.
     
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    The Lakers went 15-for-37 from deep as they continue to impress with their three-point shooting, which was third-best in the league coming into the game.

    While James was 2-for-6 against the Pelicans, he is currently on pace for the second-best three-point shooting rate (38.2 per cent) of his long career.

    Lakers coach Frank Vogel said this week he would probably rate James as the best shooter on the team, a status Davis would give to Caldwell-Pope.

    "I mean, we got a lot of great shooters on the team, man," James said when asked for his verdict on the debate.

    "KCP [Caldwell-Pope], a great shooter. Wes Matthews, great shooter. Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] can shoot the heck out of the ball. Dennis the Menace [Dennis Schroder] can shoot the ball. 

    "AD [Davis] can shoot the ball. So we got a lot of great knock-down shooters.

    "Obviously, if someone says, 'Bet,' then obviously you guys know, I'm going to take myself. That's just the competitive nature in me and the work ethic that I put into my shot. 

    "But I feel real good with my shot right now, both from the free throw line and also from the three-point line, and I want to continue that."

    The Pelicans slumped to 4-7 despite 21 points from Zion Williamson and 20 from Brandon Ingram. 

    Next up for James and the Lakers is a home game against the 6-6 Golden State Warriors on Monday.

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