NBA

Davis stars as LeBron's Lakers roll on, Kawhi reaches NBA milestone

By Sports Desk January 10, 2021

Anthony Davis led the way as defending NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers continued their fine form with a 120-102 win over James Harden's Houston Rockets.

Davis, who sat out on Friday due to a groin strain, returned to score 27 points in Sunday's victory against the Rockets in Houston.

LeBron James posted 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds as the Lakers won for the sixth time in seven games.

"[Tonight] was just A.D. being A.D. and just having him back in the line-up gives us a whole other dynamic both offensively and defensively," James said after the Lakers led by as many as 27 points.

Former MVP Harden finished with 20 points, while Rockets team-mate Christian Wood had 23 of his own.

It was a feisty game in Houston, where the Lakers' Markieff Morris and Rockets big man DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected in the opening half, while there were also five technical fouls and two flagrant fouls.

Kawhi Leonard reached a milestone after the Los Angeles Clippers held on to beat the Chicago Bulls 130-127.

Clippers star Leonard put up a season-high 35 points, including seven three-pointers, four assists and three steals to reach 10,000 career points.

Paul George contributed 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers, who snapped a run of back-to-back losses.

The Bulls were led by Zach LaVine's season-high 45 points away to the Clippers in Los Angeles.

 

Durant stars on return

Back on the court following a three-game absence, Kevin Durant scored 36 points and collected 11 rebounds, but the slumping Brooklyn Nets still lost 129-116 at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander inspired the Thunder with 31 points.

Julius Randle's double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds was not enough to lift the New York Knicks, who went down 114-89 to the Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic (22 points and 10 rebounds) propelled the Nuggets with a double-double of his own.

 

Curry struggles

While the Golden State Warriors trumped the struggling Toronto Raptors 106-105, Stephen Curry was uncharacteristically poor. Curry was just two-of-16 from the field, while he made only one of his 10 three-point attempts for 11 points in 38 minutes.

 

LeBron, the sniper!

James produced a moment of magic to unleash Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a stunning left-handed pass from deep.

Sunday's results

Utah Jazz 96-86 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Clippers 130-127 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 129-116 Brooklyn Nets
Denver Nuggets 114-89 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 120-102 Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves 96-88 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 106-105 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat-Boston Celtics (postponed)

 

76ers at Hawks

The high-flying Philadelphia 76ers (7-3) visit the Atlanta Hawks (4-5) on Monday. Doc Rivers and the 76ers are set to welcome back All-Star Joel Embiid, but Ben Simmons is expected to miss out after a depleted Philadelphia side – ravaged by coronavirus and injuries – lost to the Nuggets.

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    The Los Angeles Clippers remain "optimistic" about their chances in 2021-22 despite Kawhi Leonard's injury after the NBA franchise unveiled the team's new arena.

    Leonard signed a four-year contract extension with the Clippers in the offseason, but the two-time champion is expected to miss much of the 2021-22 campaign as he recovers from a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee.

    It is a blow for the Clippers on the back of their first trip to the Western Conference Final last season, but owner Steve Ballmer is not prepared to take a backward step in Leonard's absence.

    "Every year I want to win," Ballmer told ESPN. "Some people will talk about 'We're taking a step back' or 'We got an injured year.' No.

    "Our fans can count on the fact that we are going to try to win as many ballgames as we can every year. Now, we took a little setback.

    "We got to get Kawhi healthy. And when he's back, we're back at full strength."

    Leonard suffered a serious knee injury during the 2020-21 playoffs, going down in the Western Conference Finals. Without him, the Clippers went on to lose the series 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns.

    A five-time All-Star, Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.

    The Clippers went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the regular season last term, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.

    In the playoffs, the Clippers have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference Finals respectively in the past two seasons.

    "It was painful," Ballmer said. "Painful for Kawhi, painful for our team, painful for me and, most importantly, painful for our fans. But yeah, we gave it a go. We gave it a good go. We managed to push past Utah, even without Kawhi.

    "I was proud of our guys. We were within a whisker or two of taking care of business in the Western Conference Finals, even without Kawhi. We'll see when we get him back, but we basically have most of the same team back for next year. ... I remain optimistic."

    Ballmer was speaking as the Clippers introduced their future home – Intuit Dome – which is scheduled to open ahead of the 2024-25 season as they move away from Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Lakers and NHL franchise the Los Angeles Kings also play.

    "I've never been in a place where you had two teams in a town," Ballmer said. "I grew up in Detroit. Everybody's a Pistons fan. And I think for enough years the Clippers were bad enough, everybody could just ignore the Clippers.

    "We're good now, and we're going to be good year in and year out. We're going to build our own building, more of our own identity, more of our own personality. And I think some of the fans on the other side, if you will, it's like, 'What? You dare to question our supremacy?' No, we do.

    "There's 30 teams in the league. There's 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A. And we got our fans. We use our expression, 'LA Our Way.' And we're building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys feel a little threatened -- the other guys' fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal -- but if they feel a little threatened, that's OK. It means we're doing good."

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    Abdul-Jabbar sits atop the throne for most points in the NBA with 38,387 following a Hall of Fame career that featured six championships, six MVP awards and 19 All-Star selections among other honours during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers.

    James (35,367) is third on the all-time list entering his 19th season, behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Abdul-Jabbar – the four-time champion and four-time MVP still needs 3,020 points to break the record.

    Abdul-Jabbar, who spent 14 years with the Lakers from 1975 to 1989 before returning as an assistant coach between 2005 and 2011, was asked about James' pursuit of history.

    "I'm excited to see it happen," Abdul-Jabbar, 74, told Marc Stein in his substack newsletter. "I don't see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements.

    "If one person can do something that's never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It's a source of hope and inspiration.

    "Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less.

    "We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on."

    James and the Lakers were unable to defend their NBA title in 2020-21 as they crashed out in the first round of the playoffs.

    The 36-year-old James averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game last season.

    James' field-goal (51.3) and three-point (36.5) percentages were his best since 2017-18.

  • Nuggets' Gordon lands four-year, $92m contract extension Nuggets' Gordon lands four-year, $92m contract extension

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    Gordon's agent Calvin Andrews confirmed the lucrative new deal to the Undefeated on Tuesday.

    The contract reportedly includes a player option for the fourth year in 2025-26, with the Nuggets already locking up MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to new contracts.

    Gordon arrived in Denver in March after being dealt to the Nuggets from the struggling Orlando Magic.

    The 25-year-old forward averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists overall last season, spread across 25 games with the Nuggets and 25 for the Magic.

    Gordon's 46.3 field-goal percentage was his best since the 2015-16 campaign.

    In the playoffs, Gordon averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds as the Nuggets were eventually swept by the Phoenix Suns in the second round.

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