NBA

Splash Brothers catch fire as Warriors extinguish the Heat, Bane train keeps rolling in Grizzlies win

By Sports Desk October 28, 2022

The Golden State Warriors' offense, led by the Splash Brothers, was at its destructive best in Thursday night's 123-110 victory over the Miami Heat.

In a strong four-quarter performance, the Warriors scored between 29 and 32 points in all four periods, led by iconic backcourt duo Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Curry was the game's top-scorer with 33 points on 13-of-22 shooting, hitting seven of his 14 three-point attempts. 

Thompson also got up 14 three-point attempts as the Warriors – who play at the fastest pace in the league at 111.7 possessions per game – were determined to let it fly from deep.

The second Splash Brother hit five of his 14 attempts, while going one-of-five from two-point range for 19 points of his own. They were supported strongly by Andrew Wiggins, who grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to go with his 18 points (five-of-10 shooting).

For the Heat, Jimmy Butler was terrific on both ends, leading his team with 27 points on an incredibly efficient eight-of-13 from the field (four-of-seven from deep, made all seven free throws), while adding eight assists, six rebounds and six steals.

The win means the defending champions are 3-2 through their first five games, while Miami fell to 2-4.

The Baniac delivers again

Memphis Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane is in a rich vein of form, and he led the way with 31 points in a 125-110 win against the Sacramento Kings.

It is the second consecutive game Bane has top-scored for the Grizzlies in a win, after dropping 38 to tie with teammate Ja Morant and set a new franchise record for points by a duo (76) in their victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Against the Kings, Bane stayed red-hot as he made 11-of-18 field goal attempts, including six-of-eight from long range in a true sharpshooter's performance.

One of the best shooters in the entire NBA, Bane now boasts a career three-point percentage of 43.3 per cent on 5.6 attempts per game.

Thunder collect another win over the Clippers

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers for the second time in the past three days with a 118-110 triumph.

Los Angeles were missing stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George when they rolled into Oklahoma City for a two-game road trip, and were still without Leonard as George returned to the lineup.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24 points on 10-of-23 shooting) and Luguentz Dort (21 points on nine-of-15) carried the offensive load for the Thunder, while George was much less effective for the Clippers.

George could only muster 10 points on four-of-12 shooting, while center Ivica Zubac grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds with his 12 points. After starting their season with two wins, the Clippers have now lost their past three.

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    Damian Lillard's red-hot scoring form continued on Monday as he posted his eighth 40-point game of the season.

    Lillard was the star of the show in the Portland Trail Blazers' 129-125 home win against the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 42 points on 10-of-21 shooting after finishing a perfect 17-of-17 from the free throw line. Only Joel Embiid (nine), Giannis Antetokounmpo (10) and Luka Doncic (11) have scored 40 more often this season.

    He outdueled Dejounte Murray of the Hawks, who was terrific in his own right, collecting a career-high 40 points (13-of-26 shooting), eight rebounds and seven assists.

    Having already claimed the record as the Trail Blazers' all-time leading scorer earlier this season, Lillard is showing no signs of slowing down, and is on pace for arguably the best statistical season of his career.

    He is averaging a career-high 30.4 points per game, while also tying his career-best field goal percentage of 46.3. Lillard has never averaged more than the 4.1 three-pointers he is making each game, while he is also on track for his fourth season with at least seven assists per game, and his fourth season shooting at least 90 per cent from the line.

    He started the season in fine fashion as he posted back-to-back 41 point games in the opening week, but after his scoring average dipped to 22.3 in November, Lillard has hit a rich vein of form since the beginning of the new year.

    The six-time All-NBA selection is averaging 34.5 points per game in January – trailing only Philadelphia 76ers powerhouse Embiid with 34.9 – and nobody in the league is averaging better than Lillard's 38.8 points across their past 10 contests.

    Portland are 19-19 in the 38 games their star point guard has suited up for this season, and are 5-7 without him, but that does not accurately portray how valuable Lillard is for his franchise.

    Lillard's overall plus/minus this season of plus 129 is the best figure on the team, while Josh Hart (plus 110) is the only other player with a mark better than Jusuf Nurkic's plus 52.

    His impact on the Trail Blazers' offense is massive, as the team boasts an offensive rating of 118.7 while he is on the floor, but it drops to 112.4 when he is on the bench or not available. For reference, that 118.7 mark is higher than the league-leading Denver Nuggets (117.4), while 112.4 would tie them with the 23rd-ranked Los Angeles Clippers.

    Lillard will likely not receive any MVP consideration unless the Blazers make a late push into the Western Conference's top-six, but since the calendar flipped over to 2023 there has arguably not been a better player in the sport.

  • Doncic explodes for 53 points in Mavericks victory, Curry dominates in Oklahoma City Doncic explodes for 53 points in Mavericks victory, Curry dominates in Oklahoma City

    Luka Doncic produced yet another spectacular performance on Monday as he carried the Dallas Mavericks with 53 points in a 111-105 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

    The 23-year-old Slovenian returned to the lineup after missing the Mavericks' loss against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, and he looked on track for a big one from the jump.

    Doncic scored 24 of Dallas' 30 points in the first quarter, but the team found themselves trailing at half-time as the rest of the Mavericks struggled on the offensive end.

    By the end of the third frame, Dallas trailed by one as Doncic had 45 points and none of his team-mates had more than eight, but the Mavericks were able to hold the Pistons to 21 points in the final period to pull out the narrow victory.

    Doncic shot 17-of-24 from the field for his 53 points – the second-most he has ever scored in an NBA game – while adding eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. He had 41 points more than his closest team-mate, Spencer Dinwiddie with 12.

    It was the fifth time in his career Doncic has reached 50 points, and the fourth since December 23, after posting games of 50, 51 and 60 points in the last nine days of 2022.

    With the win, the Mavericks improved their record to 27-25, sitting sixth in the Western Conference, while the Pistons are dead last in the East at 13-39.

    Curry brings the thunder to OKC

    Stephen Curry was at his best in the Golden State Warriors' 128-120 road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading both teams in points and assists.

    The reigning NBA Finals MVP finished with 38 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while also dishing 12 assists and snatching eight rebounds in a masterful display.

    He was supported well by 'Splash Brother' Klay Thompson, who chipped in 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, as the duo combined to hit 14-of-28 from three-point range.

    They locked horns with the Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who maintained the fifth-best scoring average in the league (30.9 per game) by scoring 31 on 10-of-24 shooting with seven assists and three blocks.

    Banchero shines in Fultz's return to Philly

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    In his first road game against the Philadelphia 76ers since being traded from the franchise in 2019, Fultz finished with 12 points and 10 assists, helping to ignite a 77-47 second-half demolition on the way to a 119-109 upset win.

    The star for the Magic was their other top overall pick, as rookie Paolo Banchero scored a team-high 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

    Joel Embiid was terrific for the 76ers, dropping 30 points (11-of-20), 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, but his scoring average for the season dropped to 33.6. He still leads the league, but Doncic (33.4) is hot on his tail.

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    It continues a remarkable rise from obscurity for Mazzulla, who prior to the 2019-20 season had never coached in the NBA. He was recruited as an assistant for the Celtics after spending two years in his first head coaching role with division two college Fairmont State.

    Mazzula spent two of his first three seasons on the Celtics bench under former head coach and current president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, before retaining his role when Stevens was promoted and Ime Udoka was brought in as the new head coach.

    Udoka enjoyed a spectacular debut season as head coach, guiding the Celtics to the second seed in the East and taking them all the way through to the NBA Finals. But he was suspended indefinitely in the offseason after it was revealed he was involved in what was described as an "inappropriate, consensual relationship" with a staff member.

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    Mazzulla is the third rookie head coach in the past 24 seasons to earn All-Star Game coaching honours.

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