NBA

Nets' Harden enters NBA history books with triple-double, Lillard leads Blazers

By Sports Desk January 17, 2021

James Harden made NBA history on his Brooklyn Nets debut after dazzling with a triple-double in the 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic.

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 Magic on Saturday.

Former MVP Harden – who swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The eight-time All-Star also became the seventh player in NBA history with a triple-double in their team debut, joining Russell Westbrook, Elfrid Payton, Lewis Lloyd, John Shumate, Nate Thurmond and Oscar Robertson.

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.

 

Lillard inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard had a game-high 36 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-106. Double-doubles from Trae Young (26 points and 11 assists) and Clint Capela (25 points and 15 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Hawks.

Shake Milton put up 28 points off the bench in the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers' narrow 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons fell just short of a triple-double after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected 18 rebounds as the shorthanded Rockets went down 103-91 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Derrick Rose was efficient in the Detroit Pistons' 120-100 upset of the Miami Heat. He was eight-of-12 shooting from the field, while making three of his five three-point attempts for 23 points in 21 minutes.

 

Covington struggles

While the Trail Blazers won, Robert Covington failed to get going shooting-wise after collecting 10 rebounds. He was one-of-13 from the field and just one-of-seven from beyond the arc for three points in 28 minutes.

A championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, veteran Rajon Rondo was scoreless for the Hawks. Rondo missed all three of his field-goal attempts in nine minutes of action.

 

Morant returns in style

Ja Morant sprained his ankle on December 28 but the Grizzlies star made his comeback following an eight-game absence. Morant had 17 points, including this alley-oop.

 

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 103-91 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 122-115 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 116-113 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 120-100 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-106 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Pacers at Clippers

The Indiana Pacers (8-4) will visit the in-form Los Angeles Clippers (9-4) – who have won three straight games – on Sunday.

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  • Doncic rejects Bird comparisons after Mavs end Nets streak Doncic rejects Bird comparisons after Mavs end Nets streak

    Luka Doncic rejected comparisons to Larry Bird after leading the Dallas Mavericks to victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

    Doncic tallied 27 points as the Mavericks beat a Nets team missing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant 115-98, ending Brooklyn's eight-game winning streak in the process.

    The win improved the Mavericks' record to 16-16, but the race for the playoffs still sees ninth-seeded Dallas on the outside looking in.

    Doncic is averaging over 28 points for the second successive season and will need to continue scoring at that rate if the Mavericks are to reach the postseason.

    His head coach Rick Carlisle is among those to have compared Doncic to Bird, the legendary three-time MVP for the Boston Celtics.

    Speaking to ESPN, Doncic said of those comparisons: "You can't compare me to Larry Bird. The things he's done, [I've got], way ways to go, more games to go, a long time so you can't compare me to Larry Bird.

    "I just want to keep hooping, having fun out there playing basketball."

    The Slovenian is set to play in his second All-Star game next week, surpassing his expectations after being drafted in 2018 following three seasons with Real Madrid.

    "Three years ago I was just hoping to get drafted, I didn't even know," Doncic added.

    "On Sunday I can be on my second All-Star. It's just a dream come true, it's just unbelievable."

  • Nash frustrated as short-handed Nets have streak snapped Nash frustrated as short-handed Nets have streak snapped

    Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash was left frustrated after injuries contributed to the end of the team's eight-game winning streak in the NBA.

    The short-handed Nets had their streak snapped following Saturday's 115-98 defeat against the Dallas Mavericks.

    Kyrie Irving (shoulder) joined fellow star Kevin Durant (hamstring) – who missed his seventh successive game – on the sidelines and former MVP James Harden was unable to lift the Nets in the duo's absence.

    Harden posted 29 points for the Nets in Brooklyn, where he only managed four following half-time.

    Afterwards, first-year coach Nash said: "I think everyone's frustrated that we just had a little, just shorter obviously options tonight.

    "You're missing two All-Star starters, but even beyond that, Jeff [Green] went out, Tyler [Johnson] couldn't play. It just stretched everything and put us in territory where a lot of guys hadn't had a lot of minutes together.

    "So, frustrating, but that's the nature of this season. I've said that time and time again. We're gonna have all sorts of nights where we're gonna mix and match, play different things, and tonight I think we weren't quite good enough, but Dallas played well and one or two too many factors that went against us."

    "We usually take James out first, not first, but we take him out early so we can get him back in with the second unit," Nash added. "Obviously tonight we couldn't do that. We were just standing a little it and like I said, a bunch of guys who hadn't played a lot, hadn't played a lot together, and Dallas played well. It's a good team.

    "We weren't maybe quite up to it tonight and needed to make more shots, turn the all over less, and it wasn't to be."

    On playing short-handed against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, Harden told reporters: "We fought in that first half. We were down double-digits, fought and cut it to four points at half-time.

    "That second half, we just didn't have any legs on our entire team after losing a couple players. It was legs. Every time we made a run, they countered it and made a run. Credit to them. They played pretty well tonight. We just didn't have it.

    "Throughout the course of a year, there's going to be games like that. We just chalk it up, prepare and get ready for San Antonio."

    The Nets (22-13) are second in the Eastern Conference, half a game adrift of leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (22-12).

  • Mavs snap Nets' eight-game winning streak, Embiid scores 42 but 76ers lose in OT Mavs snap Nets' eight-game winning streak, Embiid scores 42 but 76ers lose in OT

    The Brooklyn Nets' eight-game winning streak ground to a halt at the hands of Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, who triumphed 115-98 in the NBA.

    Nets star Kyrie Irving (right shoulder recovery) joined former MVP Kevin Durant (hamstring) on the sidelines for Saturday's clash.

    Their absence proved too much for James Harden to carry, with the MVP candidate finishing the game on the bench in his casuals as the Mavericks won comfortably.

    Harden scored 29 points, with seven rebounds and six assists for Brooklyn, who were jumped by the Mavs in a 38-26 opening quarter.

    Despite the Nets closing to within four points at half-time, the Mavericks were never headed, led by Doncic – the All-Star posting 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

    Doncic won special praise from Harden post-game, who said: "He never lets anyone speed him up, and he gets what he wants. We all know he has a very, very bright future. The Mavs got a special one."

    The result leaves the Nets 22-13 in the Eastern Conference, while the Mavericks remain in playoffs contention with a 16-16 record in the west.

     

    Sixers suffer rare home defeat, no stopping Jazz

    Joel Embiid erupted for 42 points and 13 rebounds, but the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers were upstaged by the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-109 in overtime. It was just Philadelphia's third home defeat of the season in 17 games.

    NBA leaders the Utah Jazz returned to winning ways with a 124-109 victory against the Orlando Magic. Donovan Mitchell fuelled the Jazz (27-7) with 31 points, including 25 in the second half, while Rudy Gobert contributed a double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic had a game-high 34 points for the Magic in Orlando.

    It was a memorable outing for Bradley Beal and head coach Scott Brooks in the Washington Wizards' 128-112 success at home to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. Beal put up 34 points – his 20th performance of 30-plus points in 29 games played this season. Per NBA history, only Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Harden have managed that many 30-plus performances in the first 30 games of a season. Scott, meanwhile, celebrated his 500th win as a head coach. Wizards star Russell Westbrook (19 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists) finished with a triple-double.

    Nikola Jokic (19 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists) had his eighth triple-double of the season as the Denver Nuggets crushed the Oklahoma City Thunder 126-96.

     

    Curry crumbles

    It was a forgettable game for Philadelphia's Seth Curry, who finished with four points in 39 minutes. Curry was just one-of-13 from the field, making one of seven from beyond the arc.

     

    Ben… from beyond the arc

    It is not often Ben Simmons attempts a three-pointer, let alone make one. But the 76ers All-Star hit his fourth career three on Saturday. Simmons finished with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, while he was 100 per cent from three-point range.

     

    Saturday's results

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