NBA

Tatum scores 41 but LeBron lifts Lakers, Bucks become fastest team in history to clinch playoff spot

By Sports Desk February 24, 2020

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers came out on top 114-112 against Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the NBA on Sunday.

James nailed a fallaway jump shot with 30 seconds remaining as the Lakers prevailed, despite Tatum's 41 points at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"I had been setting him [Tatum] up all night with the back-down to the drop step to the baseline," James said. "I figured he would sit on it, thinking I would try it again, so I just went to my back-down, gave a little Dream Shake to the baseline and was able to open up the middle and get my fadeaway."

Lakers superstar James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Western Conference leaders, who extended their winning streak to five games as Celtics great Bill Russell watched from the sideline.

Anthony Davis posted 32 points and 13 rebounds, while the Celtics played without Kemba Walker (left knee soreness) for the second straight game.

The Milwaukee Bucks did not play on Sunday but the NBA leaders still made history thanks to the Chicago Bulls.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks became the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff spot after the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards.

The Bucks secured a postseason berth through 56 games on February 23, topping the Golden State Warriors' record – set on February 25 in 2017 after 58 appearances.

 

Zion stars in San Francisco

Zion Williamson flexed his muscles with 28 points and seven rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans soared past the lowly Golden State Warriors 115-101. Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 23 points in the final quarter.

A career-high 53 points from Bradley Beal were not enough for the Wizards, who went down 126-117 to the Bulls. Coby White's 33 points saw him join Michael Jordan as the only Bulls rookies with 30 or more points in successive games.

Double-doubles from Serge Ibaka (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Kyle Lowry (16 points, 11 assists) inspired defending champions the Toronto Raptors to a 127-81 demolition of the Indiana Pacers.

A 131-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs was memorable for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Oklahoma City's largest victory margin ever against the Spurs. Chris Paul (12 points, 10 assists), Steven Adams (21 points, 14 rebounds) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22 points, 13 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Thunder.

 

Spurs struggle

San Antonio had a night to forget away to the Thunder. The Spurs were just 36.9 per cent from the field, making just 38 of 103 shots. Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both struggled. Aldridge was three of 10 from the field and he missed all five three-point attempts for eight points. Meanwhile, DeRozan was four of 12 for 11 points.

 

Zion with the slam!

The 2019 number one pick and Pelicans rookie provided another highlight against the Warriors.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets 128-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors 127-81 Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls 126-117 Washington Wizards
Oklahoma City Thunder 131-103 San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans 115-101 Golden State Warriors
Portland Trail Blazers 107-104 Detroit Pistons

 

Hawks at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers (35-22) are expected to be without injured All-Star Ben Simmons for Monday's visit of the Atlanta Hawks (17-41). Simmons hurt his back in the loss away to the NBA-leading Bucks. Awful on the road, the 76ers – currently fifth in the Eastern Conference – boast the best home record in the league at 26-2.

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    It was April 5, 1984, and it could barely have happened in a more fitting way.

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted up 7ft 4in Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton and received a pass from Magic Johnson on the right wing.

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    Speaking on court after the game, NBA commissioner David Stern said: "Kareem, you are one of the greatest athletes ever to play our game."

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    When he was just 14 years old, Abdul-Jabbar was a protege of Chamberlain during the latter's time with the Philadelphia Warriors.

    When Abdul-Jabbar entered the league with the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall pick from the 1969 draft, his former mentor was in his twilight years with the Lakers.

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    "I would love to be more friendly with Kareem, but maybe he's in a different world than I am right now."

    Wilt at a loss

    Chamberlain had hoped to be in attendance when Abdul-Jabbar surpassed his points haul against the Jazz but claimed he had been detained in Los Angeles.

    Speaking to the Los Angeles Times the following day, he was baffled by the furore Abdul-Jabbar's landmark moment had caused.

    ''It's curious. It's really quite strange. If I had received half the fanfare that Kareem's getting at this time, I wouldn't know what to do with myself," said Chamberlain.

    "It doesn't make sense. And there are a few things that are bothering me about it. If this is so great, well, it's only one of about 90 [records] I held. I must be in a world by myself.''

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    Those records Chamberlain spoke of? Well, to name but a few, they include:

    - Averaging the most points per game in a season with 50.4 in 1961-62. He also holds the next three spots on the all-time list.

    - Being the only player to score 100 points in a single game.

    - Having the most career rebounds in the NBA (23,934) and the most in a single game (55).

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    It is therefore understandable that Abdul-Jabbar had his detractors when he set a new scoring record.

    They pointed to it taking him 15 seasons to reach a points total that Chamberlain managed in 14.

    Then there was the fact he had played 121 more games, although Chamberlain racked up over 2,000 more minutes.

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    However, there can be no doubting that after scoring that sky hook against the Jazz, Abdul-Jabbar cemented his place in NBA history.

    He went on to play 20 seasons in the league, which at the time was a record, take MVP honours on six occasions and win as many rings before retiring at the age of 42.

    By the time he called it quits, Abdul-Jabbar had scored 38,387 points in the NBA – averaging 24.6 per game across an illustrious career.

    Karl Malone sits second on the list with 36,928 points, with the closest active player LeBron James sitting 4,300 away from Abdul-Jabbar's historic mark.

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    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remains the record points scorer in the NBA, with LeBron James the man best-placed to snatch that accolade.

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    The first official international rugby league match took place on this day, featuring England playing an 'Other Nationalities' team at Wigan's Central Park.

    The fixture had been due to take place in Oldham in January but was called off due to a frozen playing surface.

    Historic reports point to a match in which the rugby was less noteworthy than the sense of occasion, with England beaten 9-3 by a team largely made up of Welsh players and attached to clubs from the northern England heartland of the sport.

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    2001 - Asian breakthrough in USA

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    The Dallas Mavericks center made his bow off the bench in a 108-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks, scoring six points in 8:07 on court. He later turned out for the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat before returning to his native China and starring for the Bayi Rockets.

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