NBA

'Incredible' Zion leads Pelicans past 76ers, Bucks beaten again without Giannis

By Sports Desk April 10, 2021

Zion Williamson underlined his status as the emerging star of the NBA with a dominant display in the New Orleans Pelicans' 101-94 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.

The 2019 number one draft pick had a career-best 15 rebounds along with 37 points and eight assists as the Pels turned to him in Lonzo Ball's absence.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said: "We decided we'd play him at the point all night. He had the ball in his hands all the time and the ability to make plays.

"Had we shot decently he would have finished with double figure assists too. He played the game the way you're supposed to play the game. He was incredible tonight."

Joel Embiid was kept quiet by Steven Adams, managing only 14 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers who are behind the Brooklyn Nets in the East with a 35-17 record.

The Los Angeles Clippers blew the Houston Rockets away with a 41-10 second quarter in a 126-109 victory with Kawhi Leonard top scoring with 31 points, along with five rebounds and eight assists.

The win improves the in-form Clippers' record to 36-18 having now won four in a row and 10 of their past 12.

Related items

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Mann 'not surprised' after lifting Clippers to ​first Conference Final NBA playoffs 2021: Mann 'not surprised' after lifting Clippers to ​first Conference Final

    Terance Mann says he is "not surprised" after helping the Los Angeles Clippers overturn a 25-point deficit to eliminate the Utah Jazz en route to reaching their first Western Conference Final.

    Second-year forward Mann, drafted number 46 overall in the 2019 NBA draft, posted a career-high 39 points with seven-from-10 three-pointers – five of those in the second half –  in Friday's remarkable 131-119 victory.

    He had never scored more than 25 points in an NBA game. According to Stats Perform, the last player to have 14-plus points more in a playoff game than his previous career high was Michael Jordan in his NBA-record 63-point game in 1986.

    The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard and trailed the Jazz by 25 points early in the third quarter, before going on a 75-40 run to set up a showdown with the second-seeded Phoenix Suns for the right to go to the NBA Finals.

    Mann averaged 7.0 points per game this season but proved the star of the show in the Clippers' famous win to earn the acclaim of his colleagues.

    "You saw a complete game from a second-year player," said Paul George, who had 28 points. 

    "Honestly, he single-handedly willed us back through that stretch where he just, you know, 3 after 3 to downhill attacks to defending. You know, he did it all."

    Mann made five of his seven threes over a 23:36 stretch, but the game-winning performance did not come as a surprise to the 24-year-old, who was given a standing ovation by the Staples Center crowd.

    "I just had to lock in and do what I had to do," he said. "They were leaving me open.

    "I trust my work. When you trust your work, you trust in yourself, you're not surprised when any of this happens."

    The Clippers had trailed 2-0 in the NBA playoff series but rallied to close out the second-round matchup 4-2 against the side with the best regular-season record in 2020-21.

    A first Conference Final in their 51-year franchise history now awaits and coach Tyronn Lue wants crosstown Los Angeles Lakers to get behind the Clippers when they face the Phoenix Suns, starting this Sunday.

    "Just seeing our fans and how they stayed to the end and how they were cheering, it just felt good," Lue said. "The team has been starving for success, and the fan base has been doing the same thing.

    "I know the Lakers are out and there's a lot of Lakers fans here. But once the Lakers are gone, if we're not playing them, you should be cheering for the Clippers because it's all in one city. I can feel the love, and I'm very happy and proud of our guys."

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Embiid praises response and ball movement after 76ers avoid elimination NBA playoffs 2021: Embiid praises response and ball movement after 76ers avoid elimination

    Joel Embiid said the Philadelphia 76ers' ball movement was the key to avoiding another late collapse and elimination from the NBA playoffs after the top seeds beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-99.

    The 76ers let slip double-digit leads late in both Game 4 and 5, but held their nerve in Game 6 on Friday to force a series decider in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, despite pressure from the Hawks and All-Star guard Trae Young – who finished with a game-high 34 points.

    MVP runner-up Embiid was important for Philadelphia down the stretch, with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while 76ers team-mates Tobias Harris and Seth Curry both scored 24 points.

    The 76ers rallied behind a 12-0 run early in the third quarter, eventually winning by five points to force a decider in Philadelphia on Sunday.

    "There was a bunch of stuff, we moved the ball a little better," Embiid told reporters in a media conference after the game when asked what was different in Game 6.

    "In Game 5 the rhythm was messed up because they kept fouling. In those situations when you lose your rhythm, it's on me to figure it out too… you're not getting possession offensively and you need to play defense, you don't get to share the ball, tonight we just moved the ball.

    "Whether it was Ben [Simmons] when he came back in with two minutes left, Tyrese [Maxey] at the point, Tobias, as a team everybody did their job."

    Two years ago, Philadelphia's Conference semi-final series against the Toronto Raptors went to a decider, eventually losing Game 7 by two points on the road in a significant moment in Embiid's career reminiscent of Sunday's upcoming game.

    "This time around it's at home," Embiid said. "That's why we worked so hard this year, to get that home court advantage."

    He added: "I know we blew that lead last home game, which we should never have done. Tonight we kept telling each other, 48 minutes, we've gotta be focused for 48 minutes. That's what we have to do."

    Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers was expressive post-game when he spoke to Embiid and later explained what he said to his star center.

    "I told him 'we'd win'. I said 'I told you'. I kept saying that," Rivers told the reporters via a post-game video conference.

    "These guys are young, they need to believe that. I don’t know if they did or didn't. I thought they did, you can tell in the way they played.

    "But we have another game. It was more about getting his head ready for the next game. That's what I talked about. I said 'I told you, but we're not done'. and we're not."

    Rivers earned his 98th career playoff victory, tying former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan for the sixth-most postseason wins in NBA history.

    Philadelphia's Rivers added he felt his side handled the early pressure from the Hawks and saw out the win strongly after their recent late fades.

    "They just hung in there," Rivers said. "You lose two leads, the lead the other night was such a tough loss.

    "For them to jump on us, honestly I anticipated that, I believed if we could weather the storm a lot of energy would be spent. From that point on, we controlled the game."

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Clippers reach first Conference Final after stunning top-seeded Jazz, 76ers force Game 7 NBA playoffs 2021: Clippers reach first Conference Final after stunning top-seeded Jazz, 76ers force Game 7

    The Los Angeles Clippers overturned a 25-point deficit to sensationally eliminate the Utah Jazz en route to their first Western Conference Final, stunning the top seeds 131-119 on Friday.

    Despite the absence of star Kawhi Leonard and a large third-quarter deficit against the Jazz, the Clipper produced a miraculous comeback to advance to a Conference Final for the first time in the franchise's 51-year history.

    The Clippers had trailed 2-0 in the NBA playoff series but rallied to close out the second-round matchup 4-2 against the side with the best regular-season record in 2020-21 as the Phoenix Suns await, starting on Sunday.

    Seeded fourth, the Clippers – who also rallied from 2-0 down against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, having squandered a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets' in last season's Western Conference semi-finals, were fuelled by Terance Mann.

    Terance Mann posted a career-high 39 points with seven-from-10 three-pointers, including five in the second half.

    Mann had never scored more than 25 points in an NBA game previously. According to Stats Perform, the last player to have 14-plus points in a playoff game than his previous career high was Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in his NBA-record 63-point game in 1986.

    Paul George was outstanding with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Reggie Jackson finished with 27 points and 10 assists to guide the Clippers.

    It was a disappointing end for the Jazz, who were excellent throughout the regular season and had started strongly in Game 6, leading 72-50 at half-time.

    Donovan Mitchell scored 39 points, with nine rebounds and nine assists for Utah as the Jazz became the first team in NBA history to win a postseason clash by double digits after trailing by 20-plus points at half-time, per Stats Perform.

    Earlier on Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers responded after letting big leads slip in Game 4 and 5 to force an Eastern Conference semi-final decider with a 104-99 win away to the Atlanta Hawks.

    Seth Curry, who made six of his nine three-point attempts, and Tobias Harris both scored 24 points for the top-seeded 76ers – who levelled the second-round series at 3-3, forcing a Game 7 in Philadelphia on Sunday.

    Atlanta had started strong to compound the pressure on the 76ers, but Philadelphia withstood the early storm, with a 12-0 run after half-time before holding their nerve in the last quarter.

    All-Star and MVP runner-up Joel Embiid finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while rookie Tyrese Maxey had an influential final quarter, scoring 16 points for the game, after Ben Simmons was benched plagued by his shooting woes.

    Hawks All-Star Trae Young had a game-high 34 points, shooting five-from-10 from three-point range, along with 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals.

     

    Bucks at Nets

    The gripping Eastern Conference semi-final series between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks will be decided at Barclays Center on Saturday. Hosts the Nets will be missing Kyrie Irving due to an ankle injury as James Harden battles for mobility after re-injuring his hamstring in Game 1.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.