NBA

Celtics blow out Suns in statement win, Giannis dominant again as Bucks down Kings

By Sports Desk December 08, 2022

The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

Giannis powers Bucks to another win

Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

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    The Cavaliers decided to dismiss Bickerstaff from his position on Thursday, according to a statement made by the team.

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    In 2023-24, Bickerstaff helped direct Cleveland to a 48-34 record and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference play-offs.

    The Cavs then beat the Orlando Magic in the first round for the franchise's first play-off series win since the team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals. It also marked Cleveland's first trip to the conference semi-finals without LeBron James on the roster since 1992-93.

    The Cavs' season ended in the conference semis, where they lost to the NBA-best Boston Celtics in five games.

    Bickerstaff's team, however, was significantly undermanned with five-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell missing the final two games against the Celtics with a left calf strain and fellow All-Star Jarrett Allen missing the last eight play-off games due to a right rib contusion.

    "J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human-being," Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman said in a statement. "Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership. The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. We owe a ton of gratitude for everything J.B. has contributed to the Cavaliers and his engagement in the Cleveland community. We wish J.B., his wife Nikki and their three children the best in their future endeavours."

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    Chris Finch lamented the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lack of composure in their Western Conference finals Game 1 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks.

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