NBA

NBA preseason to get underway on December 11

By Sports Desk November 28, 2020

The NBA's preseason will start on December 11 ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, the league announced.

There will be a total of 49 games during the preseason, which will conclude on December 19.

Each NBA team will play a minimum of two and a maximum of four games – at least one at home and one away – with the 72-game regular season set to tip off on December 22.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are eyeing back-to-back titles heading into the new season.

The Lakers ended their 10-year wait for a championship after topping the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals inside the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lakers' success tied the longest postseason drought in NBA history that a team ended by winning the title, matching the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers.

James also became the first player in NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL history to win the Finals MVP award for three different teams, having also been crowned Most Valuable Player with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Heat, as he celebrated a fourth championship.

Anthony Davis and James became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to each have 500-plus points and 200-plus rebounds in the same postseason.

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    New Orleans selected Williamson with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft but a meniscus tear in preseason and a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic meant he played just 24 games in his rookie campaign.

    The Duke product is up to 36 games – still less than half the standard season – but former power forward Malone, a two-time MVP who had All-NBA First Team honours on 11 occasions, thinks he need to improve his physique if he is to maximise his abilities.

    Williamson is listed at six foot, seven inches and 284 pounds, with Malone pointing to Glen 'Big Baby' Davis as an example of someone who did not live up to their billing due to their size – Davis was 6ft 9in and played at 289 pounds.

    "I love Zion Williamson. Zion needs to get into shape. If he doesn't get in shape, we might not ever know his full potential," Malone said on The Players' Tribune's Knuckleheads podcast.

    "There's a young man that played at LSU, 'Big Baby' Davis. Big Baby made a comment about eight months ago, he did an ESPN show … he came on that show and he said, 'Look guys, I'm about to get into trouble now with what I'm about to say. I know everybody loves Zion and I love him too. But Zion has the same body type that I had.'

    "He was talking about himself. And he said if he doesn't get into shape, we'll never know his full potential. And he did get heat from that."

    Williamson had 32 points with five rebounds and three assists as the Pelicans suffered a 118-102 defeat to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, New Orleans losing for the sixth time in seven games to slip to 5-8 for the season.

    This season the 20-year-old is averaging 23.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 32.6 minutes per game. That ranks him 44th in minutes per game, with his usage percentage of 29.1 enough for 39th in the league.

    However, he leads in the league in contested three-points shots per game at 5.9.

    Malone added: "I'm still waiting on him to play the whole damn season… and he needs to be averaging 40 minutes per game. Look here, you're a 21, 22-year-old kid. Your a** shouldn't get tired."

  • Man United out to equal record set by treble-winning side in Fulham trip Man United out to equal record set by treble-winning side in Fulham trip

    Manchester United's 0-0 draw away to Liverpool on Sunday left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "disappointed", the Norwegian adamant they did enough to end the Reds' remarkable long-standing unbeaten home run.

    But there were two silver linings; firstly, United remained top of the Premier League, and secondly, the point preserved their own exceptional streak without a defeat.

    It ensured United's run without a loss away from home in the Premier League would surpass a full year, having last suffered a domestic defeat on the road at Anfield on January 19, 2020.

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    The last United team to go 17 away games unbeaten in the Premier League was Alex Ferguson's famous treble-winning side in 1998-99.

    United's run started on December 5 and lasted until the following September, therefore playing a major role in the Red Devils securing the Premier League title ahead of Arsenal, pipping Arsene Wenger's men to the crown by a point.

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    But even if they ultimately fall at the final hurdle at Craven Cottage, they are safe in the knowledge that no other post-Ferguson United side registers in the top seven for the club's all-time top-flight unbeaten away runs.

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    RESILIENT REDS

    A key factor in United's impressive run has been the character and resilience shown by them.

    They have rescued 18 points from losing positions on the road in 2020-21, which is already a record for a single Premier League season, bettering the 17 accumulating by Aston Villa (1993-94) and Newcastle United (2001-02). The previous best posted by United was 16 in 2002-03.

    Certainly the pick of United's away comebacks this season was the 3-2 win at Southampton on November 29, as they fell 2-0 down before Edinson Cavani inspired a brilliant turnaround with two goals and an assist off the bench.

    A WAYS TO GO

    As laudable as United's current away form is, they are still some way off matching the Premier League's all-time record, however.

    Arsenal's 'Invincibles' hold that honour, having gone 27 matches unbeaten away from home in the top flight.

    That stretched from April 2003 to September 2004, spanning well over a full season as they comfortably beat the 23-game record they themselves set between August 2001 and September 2002.

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  • Nuggets star Jokic with another double-double, Jazz win sixth straight Nuggets star Jokic with another double-double, Jazz win sixth straight

    Nikola Jokic enhanced his MVP credentials with another double-double in the NBA as the Denver Nuggets eased past the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-101.

    Two-time All-Star Jokic led the Nuggets with a game-high 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in just three quarters on Tuesday.

    Jokic – averaging a triple-double in 2020-21 – has posted a double-double in every game he has played for the Nuggets this season, a league-high 14.

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    Luguentz Dort had 20 points on eight-of-11 shooting for the visiting Thunder in Denver.

    The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, stayed hot with a 118-102 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Jazz to their sixth successive win.

    Rudy Gobert (13 points and 18 rebounds) and Jordan Clarkson (18 points) also made contributions for the in-form Jazz.

    Zion Williamson's game-high 32 points were not enough for the Pelicans, who have dropped six of their past seven games.

     

    Nets at Cavaliers

    James Harden, Kevin Durant and the star-studded Brooklyn Nets (9-6) will look to stay hot when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (6-7) on Wednesday.

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