NBA

Nets stun LeBron's Lakers as Clippers and Rockets soar, Celtics clinch

By Sports Desk March 11, 2020

The Brooklyn Nets held on to beat LeBron James and the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers 104-102 in the NBA.

Spencer Dinwiddie (23 points) hit the tie-breaking jumper with 28.3 seconds remaining as the Nets upstaged the streaking Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The Lakers' four-game winning streak came to an end after Anthony Davis (26 points) missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

James had 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers (49-14), who were unable to close the gap on the slumping Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) for the league's best record.

The Los Angeles Clippers bounced back from Sunday's loss to the Lakers by routing the Golden State Warriors 131-107 away from home.

Kawhi Leonard posted 23 points before sitting out the entire fourth quarter, along with the rest of the Clippers' starters.

 

Tatum stars as Celtics secure playoff berth

Jayson Tatum put up 30 points for the Boston Celtics, who reached the postseason for the sixth consecutive year. Gordon Hayward added 27 points and 10 rebounds in the 114-111 triumph at the Indiana Pacers.

James Harden scored 37 points and Russell Westbrook finished with 27 as the Houston Rockets topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-111, snapping a four-game skid.

Luka Doncic registered 38 points, but it was not enough for the Dallas Mavericks, who lost 119-109 at the San Antonio Spurs.

The Washington Wizards benefited from another big Bradley Beal performance in their 122-115 victory over the New York Knicks. Beal had 40 points, surpassing 25-plus points for the 22nd time in 23 games.

All the Portland Trail Blazers' starters posted double-digit points in a 121-105 win against the Phoenix Suns – Damian Lillard (25), CJ McCollum (22), Trevor Ariza (22), Carmelo Anthony (21) and Hassan Whiteside (16, 14 rebounds).

 

Mulder headlines Warriors woes

With Stephen Curry sidelined by the flu, Mychal Mulder played guard and the 25-year-old struggled for the Warriors. Mulder was one-of-nine from the field and 0 of seven from three-point range for three points in 26 minutes.

Aron Baynes made history on Friday. The Australian joined Harden as the only players in NBA history with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and eight or more three-pointers in a game following his career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and nine three-pointers for the Suns. However, Baynes was just three-of-14 from the field and one-of-seven from beyond the arc for just seven points against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. He tallied two rebounds in 34 minutes.

 

Russell takes flight

Westbrook hit the runway and soared to the rim for the slam.

 

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 114-111 Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards 122-115 New York Knicks
Chicago Bulls 108-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets 117-111 Minnesota Timberwolves
Orlando Magic 120-115 Memphis Grizzlies
San Antonio Spurs 119-109 Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers 121-105 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Clippers 131-107 Golden State Warriors
Brooklyn Nets 104-102 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pistons at 76ers

After an embarrassing loss away to the lowly Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers (38-26) are back on home court against the Detroit Pistons (20-45) on Wednesday. The 76ers are 28-2 in Philadelphia, compared to 10-24 on the road.

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  • Pacers appoint Raptors assistant Bjorkgren as head coach Pacers appoint Raptors assistant Bjorkgren as head coach

    The Indiana Pacers have appointed Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach, the NBA franchise announced.

    Bjorkgren replaces Nate McMillan, who was sacked after the Pacers were swept in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

    The 45-year-old Bjorkgren served as Raptors assistant for the past two seasons, helping Toronto to their first NBA championship in 2018-19.

    "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.

    "I also want to thank Nick Nurse for giving me my first professional coaching job 14 years ago.

    "I'm looking forward to working with this great team to achieve our goal as NBA champions."

    Bjorkgren was also player development co-ordinator and assistant coach of the Phoenix Suns between 2015 and 2017, having served as a head coach in the NBA G League for four seasons – compiling a 126-74 record with the Bakersfield Jam (2014-15), Iowa Energy (2013-14), Santa Cruz Warriors (2012-13), and Dakota Wizards (2011-12).

    "We are very pleased and excited to have Nate as our new coach," said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard. "This was an extensive and thorough search, and when we reached the conclusion, we felt strongly Nate is the right coach for us at the right time.

    "He comes from a winning background, has experienced championship success, is innovative and his communication skills along with his positivity are tremendous. We all look forward to a long, successful partnership in helping the Pacers move forward."

  • Morey to step down as Rockets GM Morey to step down as Rockets GM

    Daryl Morey is to step down from his position as general manager of the Houston Rockets.

    After 14 years with the franchise, the Rockets confirmed that Morey's departure will be effective from November 1.

    He will continue to offer assistance to owner Tilman Fertitta in the search for a head coach to replace Mike D'Antoni, who left after Houston lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

    The Rockets will promote executive vice-president of basketball operations Rafael Stone to general manager, with Eli Witus working under him.

    "After returning from Orlando and reflecting on what has been an amazing 14 years with the Houston Rockets, and after discussing my thoughts with family and close friends, I've decided I'll be stepping away from the Rockets organisation effective November 1st," said Morey in a statement.

    "Tilman and I have had many conversations since I returned, and his unwavering support and counsel during our time together has been critical to our success.

    "It has been the most gratifying experience of my professional life to lead the Rockets basketball organisation, and I look forward to working with Tilman and the management team on the transition.

    "I am very confident that the future – for the Rockets, and for our incredible fans – is in great hands, and that the Rockets will continue to perform at the highest level."

    Fertitta added: "On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation, I would like to thank Daryl Morey for his hard work and dedication over the past 14 seasons. Daryl is a brilliant innovator who helped the Rockets become a perennial contender.

    "I have truly enjoyed working with Daryl and couldn't have asked for a better general manager to have at the start of my ownership. I wish him and his family all the best."

    Houston have reached the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons – the longest active streak in the NBA.

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  • Tatum and Boston's dynamic trio – Celtics season review in Stats Perform data Tatum and Boston's dynamic trio – Celtics season review in Stats Perform data

    The 2019-20 season saw the emergence of Jayson Tatum as a genuine star.

    Tatum – the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft – turned potential into performance as he capped a memorable campaign with All-Star honours for the first time in his career.

    An elite scorer, Tatum was at the forefront of everything good about the Celtics before and after the coronavirus pandemic.

    But, the Celtics still lost in the Conference finals for the third time in four years – beaten 4-2 by the Miami Heat at Walt Disney World Resort – after finishing third in the east with a 48-24 record.

    The Celtics are yet to reach the NBA Finals since 2009-10, while the historic franchise have not got their hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy since the Doc Rivers era in 2007-08.

    As the Celtics reflect after watching the Los Angeles Lakers equal their record for most championships (17), we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.

     

    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.

    As a result, Terry Rozier left the Celtics for the Hornets in a sign-and-trade last year.

    Since investing in Walker, the Celtics have put together a stellar trio, which became just the second group of three team-mates in NBA history to average 20-plus points and 2-plus three-pointers made per game apiece in a season (minimum 50 games played).

    Walker averaged 20.4 points and 3.2 three-pointers made per game during the regular season, to go with Tatum (23.4ppg and 2.9 3pm) and Brown (20.3ppg and 2.3 3pm).

    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.

    The 22-year-old also enjoyed a fine playoff campaign, becoming only the third player in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points, 10.0-plus rebounds and 5.0-plus assists per game in a single postseason with 15 or more games played.

    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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