NBA

Harden ties Nets record, Westbrook posts historic triple-double and Clippers top slumping Bucks

By Sports Desk March 29, 2021

Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden produced a dominant performance to fuel a 112-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Harden posted 38 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for a franchise record-tying 12th triple-double of the NBA season on Monday.

Kyrie Irving returned from a three-game absence to score 27 points for the Nets, who won for the 18th time in 21 games.

The Nets are only a half-game behind the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers.

Karl-Anthony Towns (31 points and 12 rebounds) and Anthony Edwards (23 points and 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles for the Timberwolves.

As for Russell Westbrook, the Washington Wizards star tallied his own triple-double to lead the team past the Indiana Pacers 132-124 in the absence of star team-mate Bradley Beal (hip).

Westbrook had 35 points, 14 rebounds and 21 assists, becoming the first player in NBA history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists in the same game.

Domantas Sabonis' 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists were not enough for the Pacers.

 

Clippers and Jazz roll on

The Los Angeles Clippers extended their winning streak to six games after defeating the slumping Milwaukee Bucks 129-105. Starters Kawhi Leonard (23 points), Marcus Morris Sr. (25 points), Luke Kennard (21 points) and Reggie Jackson (20 points) all had double-digit points for the Clippers as the Bucks lost their third straight game, despite 32 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The NBA-leading Utah Jazz are also in the midst of a six-game winning run after crushing the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-75. Utah have won 20 successive games at home.

Stephen Curry returned from a bruised tailbone to guide the Golden State Warriors to a 116-102 victory against the Chicago Bulls. Curry finished with 32 points as the Warriors snapped a four-game skid.

Jonas Valanciunas posted a season-high 30 points to go with 15 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies topped the lowly Houston Rockets 120-110.

 

Forgettable Fournier debut

A deadline-day acquisition from the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics recruit Evan Fournier struggled badly in a 115-109 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Fournier was scoreless on 0-for-10 shooting in 33 minutes, while he also missed all five three-point attempts. It was the most scoreless minutes by a Celtics player with 10-plus attempts since the three-point era (1980).

 

Draymond goes bang!

Curry is usually the Warriors player draining long-range threes, but team-mate Draymond Green nailed a half-court attempt against the Bulls.

 

Monday's results

Washington Wizards 132-124 Indiana Pacers
New Orleans Pelicans 115-109 Boston Celtics
Brooklyn Nets 112-107 Minnesota Timberwolves
Miami Heat 98-88 New York Knicks
Detroit Pistons 118-104 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 120-110 Houston Rockets
Dallas Mavericks 127-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Sacramento Kings 132-115 San Antonio Spurs
Utah Jazz 114-75 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Clippers 129-105 Milwaukee Bucks
Golden State Warriors 116-102 Chicago Bulls

 

76ers at Nuggets

The 76ers (32-14) will look to preserve their lead atop the east when they visit the Denver Nuggets (28-18) on Tuesday.

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  • Clippers star Leonard says hopes of return for this season influenced contract decision Clippers star Leonard says hopes of return for this season influenced contract decision

    Kawhi Leonard revealed Monday he is hoping to play for the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and those aspirations were a factor in signing a four-year deal to remain with his hometown team this off-season. 

    Leonard suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-finals against the Utah Jazz and had surgery July 13. 

    A typical ACL return timetable would suggest Leonard is set to miss the entire upcoming season, but the 30-year-old was not willing to accept that as a given. 

    That in turn led him to sign a four-year max extension worth more than $176million rather than take a one-year deal with a player option and opt out after this season to sign for five years. 

    "I wanted to play," Leonard said at the team's pre-season media day. "I mean, the best situation for me to me was to do it one and one and then opt out and sign a long-term five-year deal, but there's a lot of concerns that that brings up for [the media] and your job and it creates storylines that I'm going to leave the team.

    "One thing, I wanted to secure some money, and I wanted to be able to come back if I was able to this year. If I would have took the one and one, I probably would have not played [this season] just to be cautious and opted out and took a five-year.

    "I'm here. I'm here to be a Clipper. I'm not going to another team unless something drastic happens, but I'm here for the long run."

    Optimistic as he is about being able to play this season, Leonard declined to try and put a timetable on when that might occur. 

    He said his focus is day to day, working with the Clippers' medical staff on whatever he needs to do to get back on the court while helping the team however he can in the meantime. 

    "That's the challenge of it, just seeing how quickly I can get better and how much stronger I can get than what I was when I'm healthy," Leonard said. "That's where I pretty much turn my mindset to.

    "Now just watching games as a coach, being in the coaches' meetings and trying to make myself relevant as possible."

    The Clippers' head coach, Tyronn Lue, said the team will "let him take his time and continue to do his rehab" and adjust whenever Leonard is ready to return. 

    "I hope he comes back October 21st, but the reality is he's not going to be ready then," Lue said. "We don't want to force him or put any pressure on him. We want to make sure he's rehabbing, doing everything he can to get back as soon as possible, and if that's next season, that's next season.

    "We don't want to force him to come back too early. We want to make sure he's 100 per cent when he does come back."

  • Giannis, NBA champion Bucks 'not satisfied' as they prepare to defend title Giannis, NBA champion Bucks 'not satisfied' as they prepare to defend title

    After a 50-year gap between the franchise's first and second NBA titles, the Milwaukee Bucks plan on a much shorter wait for the third. 

    That was the overall message Monday as the champions reconvened for the team's pre-season media day. 

    Giannis Antetokounmpo led the charge for that mindset, looking forward rather than back at last season's triumph. 

    "I'm not satisfied. I'm not even close to being satisfied," the Greek star told reporters. 

     "As the leader of this team, that's the tone I'm going to set. We understand that teams are coming for us, but we're going to be ready." 

    While acknowledging that inevitable target on the team's back, Antetokounmpo sought to maintain the underdog mentality that drove the Bucks last season. 

    "We know we were the 2021 NBA champs, but right now we're just the Milwaukee Bucks again that nobody believes in us," he said. "And nobody believes that we can do it again."

    Their hopes of repeating will of course rest largely on Antetokounmpo's shoulders, and there were questions about his health Monday. 

    He and head coach Mike Budenholzer indicated they will take it easy on the NBA Finals MVP, who is still recovering from the knee injury he suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks. 

    "I think Giannis’ health and Giannis being at 100 or as close to 100 per cent for as much of the season is important to us," Budenholzer told reporters.

    "I think now is the time when you can err on the side [of caution]. We’re always on the side of caution but whatever the other side of that is and just get him strong and physically ready for an 82-game season and a playoff run.

    "But it’s the whole group. I think there’s a real awareness that we need to be very conscientious of just trying to do things that make sense given where we are and coming off the season that we had."

    Antetokounmpo is on board with that plan, emphasising that the playoffs were a time to play through pain, but the situation is different now. 

    "I'm good to go," Antetokounmpo said. "But if I feel like I'm in pain again or whatever the case might be, I have to listen to my body. When you feel pain, it’s your body telling you that it’s protecting you, that you can’t go anymore.

    "I've played through pain. I don't think now is the time to risk that. It's too early in the season."

  • Warriors potentially playing home games without Wiggins 'not ideal' says Curry Warriors potentially playing home games without Wiggins 'not ideal' says Curry

    The thought of playing more than half of their games without Andrew Wiggins is "not ideal" for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry said Monday. 

    The NBA announced Friday it had denied Wiggins' request for an exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements, and the forward's status was the prime topic of discussion at the team's pre-season media day. 

    Beginning October 13, San Francisco will require vaccinations for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events unless an exemption is granted for medical or religious reasons. 

    Wiggins had sought one on medical grounds, but the NBA's denial means he will not be eligible to play in home games at Chase Center. 

    Golden State star Curry, who has been an outspoken advocate of vaccinations, was asked whether he believes Wiggins' decision is acceptable as a member of a team. 

    "Acceptable is a strong word," he said. "It's not ideal. ... We hope we have a full team for the entire year and understand that, on all accounts and what the research says and things like that, that [the vaccines are] safe and we're all in the same boat.

    "So we hope he's available, and if not, we'll adjust accordingly. But we hope not."

    Wiggins deflected numerous questions about the topic during his session with reporters Monday, repeatedly saying he was going to keep his thoughts on the matter "private". 

    One reporter noted that Wiggins said last year he would get vaccinated if he had to in order to play and asked him if he felt like his back was against the wall in having to choose between his personal beliefs and being able to play. 

    "Back is definitely against the wall," he said. "But just going to keep fighting for what I believe, whether it's one thing or another, get the vaccination or not get the vaccination, who knows.

    "I'm just going to keep fighting for what I believe and what I believe is right. What's right to one person isn't right to the other." 

    While controversy swirls around Wiggins, the men at the top of the organisation expressed the hope that the situation would be resolved by the time the regular season begins on October 19.

    Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he has not reached the point of trying to figure out how to account for regular absences by unvaccinated players. 

    "I haven't spent any time thinking about that, nor will I. We'll just see how everything plays out. We're hopeful that it is all resolved in the next couple of weeks but we are going into camp [Tuesday] with a plan to have everybody out on the floor and ready to roll."

    General manager Bob Myers echoed that sentiment, saying he was not interested in discussing hypotheticals and is preparing to start the season with the full team available. 

    "I get why people have to wonder," he said. "But we're going to deal in reality now and that's what we're doing each day."

    Wiggins played 71 games last NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

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