NBA

LaVine leads Bulls rally to eliminate Raptors, youthful OKC bring down Pelicans

By Sports Desk April 12, 2023

Zach LaVine scored 30 second-half points as the Chicago Bulls rallied from a 19-point deficit to eliminate the Toronto Raptors 109-105 in Wednesday's play-in tournament game.

The Bulls' victory sees them advance to the final play-in game against the Miami Heat on Friday, with the winner to take the eight seed and a playoffs first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Chicago became the first 10th-place team to win a play-in game, but they did it the hard way, trailing by 16 with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

LaVine starred as they stormed home with a 37-24 fourth quarter, after the Bulls guard added 17 points in the third to cut the margin to nine points at the final change.

LaVine finished with a game-high 39 points on 12-of-22 shooting with six rebounds and three assists, while DeMar DeRozan added 23 points with seven rebounds and two blocks.

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam scored points with nine rebounds and six assists, with Fred VanVleet adding 26 points with seven three-pointers along with 12 rebounds and eight assists. VanVleet's 26 points included a half-time buzzer-beater from half court.

The Raptors were not helped by 50 per cent free-throw shooting, having to endure persistent and timed screams from DeRozan's daughter Diar upon each attempt throughout the game.

After trailing for most of the game, the Bulls went ahead on Patrick Beverley's three-pointer with 5:07 remaining.

Toronto's free-throw woes haunted them when Siakam spurned the chance to square the game up with 12.0 seconds left after Alex Caruso's foul when he missed two of three attempts.

Siakam had made it a one-point game with a driving dunk with 19.1 seconds remaining before the composed LaVine drained two free-throws.

Giddey and SGA lift OKC past Pels

A youthful Oklahoma City Thunder line-up showed maturity to progress past the New Orleans Pelicans 123-118 led by Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who rebounded after a quiet first half.

OKC advanced to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Friday's play-in tournament game with the winner to take on the Denver Nuggets, while the Pelicans' season is over.

Gilgeous-Alexander only had seven first-half points but finished with a game-high 32 on 11-of-22 shooting, making eight-of-eight free-throws including a series down the stretch.

Australian guard Giddey had a near triple-double with 31 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Lu Dort added 27 points with four three-pointers.

Brandon Ingram top scored with 30 points, including a three-pointer to make it 119-118 with 4.1 seconds remaining, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

Herb Jones threw an out-of-bounds pass for CJ McCollum when the Pels were set for a three-point attempt to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left, allowing OKC to insure the win from the free-throw line.

OKC became the second 10th-place team to win a play-in game, following on from the Bulls achieving that earlier on Wednesday.

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    Deft scoring guard Malik Monk agreed to remain with the Kings on a four-year, $78million contract, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Thursday night.

    The last year of the deal reportedly carries a player option.

    Monk set career highs last season by averaging 15.4 points and 5.1 assists while finishing second in Sixth Man of the Year award voting.

    Monk, a seven-year veteran out of Kentucky, was due to be an unrestricted free agent on June 30.

    Monk had been linked to several teams searching for an infusion of perimeter scoring in free agency, including the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic, but those clubs will now need to look elsewhere.

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    While the Kings have yet to win a play-off series since 2004, Sacramento have strung together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2004-06. In 2023, the club ended a 16-year post-season drought and forced the defending champion Golden State Warriors to a Game 7 in their first-round play-off series loss.

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    Monk, a seven-year veteran out of Kentucky, was due to be an unrestricted free agent on June 30.

    Monk had been linked to several teams searching for an infusion of perimeter scoring in free agency, including the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic, but those clubs will now need to look elsewhere.

    Monk has averaged 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 458 career NBA games.

    While the Kings have yet to win a play-off series since 2004, Sacramento have strung together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2004-06. In 2023, the club ended a 16-year post-season drought and forced the defending champion Golden State Warriors to a Game 7 in their first-round play-off series loss.

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    ESPN was the first to report the trade, which cannot become official until July 6.

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    He is also viewed as an important role player for a potential championship contender after helping the Los Angeles Lakers win the 2019-20 title.

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    He was investigated for having an improper relationship with an underage girl, but the NBA and police were "unable to corroborate any criminal activity."

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