NBA

Clippers rout short-handed Lakers, Nets and 76ers both lose

By Sports Desk April 04, 2021

The Los Angeles Clippers made light work of their short-handed neighbours, crushing defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 104-86.

Kawhi Leonard (19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) fell just short of a triple-double as the Clippers snapped a two-game skid in the NBA on Sunday.

Marcus Morris posted 22 points and Paul George added 16 for the Clippers, who claimed bragging rights in Los Angeles, where superstar Lakers duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis remain sidelined.

Former Clippers star Montrezl Harrell led the Lakers with 19 points – Frank Vogel's team have dropped six of nine games.

 

Vucevic and LaVine sink Nets, Valanciunas' Grizzlies roar against 76ers

The Chicago Bulls ended a six-game losing streak after upstaging the Brooklyn Nets 115-107. Recruit Nikola Vucevic (22 points and 13 rebounds) and Zach LaVine (25 points) fuelled the Bulls, while Tomas Satoransky registered a season-high 19 points and 11 assists. The Nets – playing without James Harden and Kevin Durant – were led by Kyrie Irving's double-double of 24 points and 15 assists.

Jonas Valanciunas guided the Memphis Grizzlies to a surprise 116-100 win at the Philadelphia 76ers. Valanciunas had 16 points and 12 rebounds in a career-high tying 10th consecutive double-double – his longest streak ever within a single season. Memphis' 45 points in the third quarter marked the most in a single period in a road game in franchise history. Tobias Harris put up 21 points in the absence of star 76ers team-mate Joel Embiid, who was rested after returning from a 10-game injury lay-off on Saturday.

It was a milestone result for Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan, who moved up to 20th on the all-time coaching wins (673) list after his team topped the Golden State Warriors 117-111. Double-doubles from Clint Capela (24 points and 18 rebounds) and Danilo Gallinari (25 points and 10 rebounds) inspired the Hawks. The Warriors lost despite Stephen Curry's game-high 37 points, and double-doubles from Kelly Oubre Jr. (20 points and 11 rebounds) and Draymond Green (11 points and 11 assists).

 

Simmons and Curry headline Philly woes

It was a frustrating game for the 76ers, who were 41.6 per cent from the field and 23.5 from three-point territory. Ben Simmons endured a forgettable outing, the All-Star finishing two-of-six shooting for seven points in 26 minutes. Seth Curry was one-of-six shooting, while he made just one of five attempts from three-point range for three points. Fellow starters Danny Green (six points on two-of-seven shooting) and Mike Scott (nine points on three-of-10 shooting) all struggled.

P.J. Washington made one of six shots from the field – nailing just one of his three efforts from beyond the arc – as he finished with three points in the Charlotte Hornets' 116-86 defeat away to the Boston Celtics.

The Houston Rockets went down 122-115 to the New Orleans Pelicans, with Avery Bradley ending the game two-for-nine shooting and five points in 26 minutes.

A championship winner with the Lakers, Rajon Rondo made his Clippers debut. But the veteran did not have the greatest game. Rondo made one of three field goals and committed four turnovers in 13 minutes.

 

The Joker does it all

Nikola Jokic showcased his MVP credentials and playmaking abilities with another impressive performance. He recorded 17 points and 16 assists to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 119-109 win over the lowly Orlando Magic.

 

Sunday's results

Chicago Bulls 115-107 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 104-86 Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics 116-86 Charlotte Hornets
Memphis Grizzlies 116-100 Philadelphia 76ers
Atlanta Hawks 117-111 Golden State Warriors
New Orleans Pelicans 122-115 Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets 119-109 Orlando Magic

 

Knicks at Nets

It will be another rivalry clash on Monday with bragging rights on the line between the New York Knicks (25-25) and the Nets (34-16). The Nets could welcome back both Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Related items

  • 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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