NBA

NBA: Pistons match single-season record with 26th straight loss

By Sports Desk December 24, 2023

The Detroit Pistons lost their 26th straight game Saturday, falling 126-115 to the Brooklyn Nets to match the NBA record for longest losing streak in a season.

The Pistons joined the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers to drop to 2-27 in their first season under Monty Williams.

These teams meet again Tuesday in Detroit, with the Pistons nearing the longest overall slide in league history. The 76ers dropped 28 in a row from late in the 2014-15 season through early 2015-16.

Mikal Bridges had 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Nets, who had seven players in double figures to snap their five-game skid.

Jaden Ivey scored 23 points and Cade Cunningham had 22 as Detroit remained winless since October 28.

Brooklyn put the game away with a 15-0 run in the third and fourth quarters to open a 21-point lead.

Streaking Bucks handle Knicks

Giannis Antetokoumpo tallied 28 points, seven assists and seven rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their seventh straight win, 130-111 over the New York Knicks in the opener of a two-game series.

Bobby Portis had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 20 points and Damain Lillard contributed 19 points, nine boards and seven assists to help the Bucks win their ninth game in a row against the Knicks.

The teams will meet again on Monday in front of a national TV audience.

Jalen Brunson poured in 36 points for New York after he had 45 points in a loss to Milwaukee on November 3.

The Bucks essentially put the game out of reach with an 11-0 run early in the fourth quarter, turning an 11-point lead into a 114-92 cushion on Portis’ 3-pointer with 6:29 remaining.

Doncic stars in Mavericks’ win as Wembanyama sits

Luka Doncic had 39 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to power the Dallas Mavericks to a 144-119 rout of the San Antonio Spurs, who were without rookie Victor Wembanyama.

Doncic recorded his seventh triple-double of the season and 63rd of his career in just three quarters. It was his 36th triple-double with at least 30 points, one shy of LeBron James for third on the career list.

Wembanyama did not play after the rookie stepped on a ball boy’s foot after taking a few steps following a shot before the game.

The Spurs lost their fourth straight and have dropped 22 of their last 23 games.

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  • Edwards urges Luton to 'reward' supporters on final day Edwards urges Luton to 'reward' supporters on final day

    Rob Edwards wants Luton Town’s players to "reward" the fans for their support throughout the season when they welcome Fulham on the final day.

    The 18th-place Hatters' survival hopes are still mathematically alive, but they require an ambitious 12-goal swing to leapfrog Nottingham Forest, who are away at already relegated Burnley, in 17th.

    Despite their immediate return to the Championship being all but confirmed, Luton have earned many admirers this season, scoring 50 goals along the way.

    In a 20-team Premier League season, only Blackpool (55, 2010-11), Middlesbrough (51, 1996-97) and Leicester City (51, 2022-23) have netted more times during a campaign in which they were relegated. 

    Edwards has urged his players to give the supporters plenty to cheer about and, regardless of the end result on Sunday, is optimistic about the club's future.

    "We want to reward them with a good performance and want to win the game," he said. "I think it will be really good atmosphere. 

    "Everything I have had from fans has been really positive. Everyone has been proud of players and club and what they have shown. We want to make it a really positive day with the performance as well.

    "We have given everything and given a really good account of ourselves. We have shown Luton to the world in a really good light.

    "I'm really proud of what we have done the past 18 months. The club is in a really healthy position. We have been saying since we arrived, this club is only going one way."

    With Fulham safe in 14th and looking forward to a third successive season back in the Premier League, Cottagers boss Marco Silva also paid tribute to the spirit shown by the Hatters during their maiden campaign.

    "It will be a really tough game for us," he said. “Even if they don't achieve [safety], they are going to fight to the maximum – and this reflects Rob and his staff.

    "For them to fight until the end to stay up, shows how much they have improved. Their fans are proud of their team and you can see it every time they play."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Luton Town - Alfie Doughty

    With 42, Doughty has created the most chances from set-plays in the Premier League this season.

    Meanwhile, only West Ham's James Ward-Prowse has registered more such assists (six) than the Luton full-back (five).

    Fulham - Andreas Pereira

    Pereira has created 84 chances in the Premier League this season, the most by a Fulham player in a single campaign (since 2003-04). 

    Meanwhile, his tally of seven assists is the highest by a Cottagers player in a single term since Simon Davies in 2007-08 (eight).

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Both sides are on winless streaks; Luton failing to win any of their last five matches, and Fulham without victory in four attempts.

    The Hatters have failed to win any of their last six league games against the Cottagers (drawn two, lost four), though both those draws have come in the two most recent meetings at Kenilworth Road. 

    Luton have only kept two clean sheets this season and conceded 81 goals – only letting more in during a top-flight campaign in 1982-83 (84).

    While Fulham have kept two successive away clean sheets – after 12 straight games without one – they have not registered three in a row since a run of four in late 2008.

    The Cottagers have not won their final league game in any of the last six seasons (drawing one, losing five), with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in 2016-17 representing their most recent such success.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Luton Town: 33.9%
    Fulham: 37.7%
    Draw: 28.4%

  • ​Houston Dynamo FC v FC Dallas: Estevez hopes to take advantage of 'great opportunity' ​Houston Dynamo FC v FC Dallas: Estevez hopes to take advantage of 'great opportunity'

    Nico Estevez considers FC Dallas' trip to Houston Dynamo FC a "great opportunity" for his side to lay down a real marker.

    Dallas defeated Austin FC 2-1 last time out and have now taken seven points from the last nine on offer on home soil.

    Away from home, however, they have taken just one point from a possible 15 this season, with Estevez now after points plus performances in his side's fourth Copa Tejas outing of the campaign.

    "I think the team is working well," he said. "They are energetic and we are improving both in results and the level of play.

    "We have to continue growing. This game is a great opportunity to do so away from home; to be able to achieve something more than just points and to be able to achieve something important that will help us.

    "We are going to have to do many things well to be able to win against a rival as important as Houston."

    The Dynamo went down 1-0 to Austin late on in midweek, placing them eighth in the Western Conference and six points better off than their next opponents, having played a game more.

    Houston have scored the fewest goals of any side in the West (11), which head coach Ben Olsen acknowledged is down to a lack of quality in front of goal.

    "It's decision making and quality in the moment," he said at his pre-match press conference. 

    "It's not for the lack of getting in dangerous areas on the field. Checking boxes, you don't need a 2.0 expected goals to win games."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Houston Dynamo - Amine Bassi

    The Dynamo had 17 shots against Austin without finding the net, six of which were on target - and three of those via Bassi alone.

    Bassi's 1.8 shots per game is bettered only by Ibrahim Aliyu (2.5) this season among Houston players, yet he has registered zero goals thus far. That is something that must be put right.

    FC Dallas - Petar Musa

    Musa played a part in both of Dallas' goals in their victory over Austin, as he scored the opener himself and then assisted Jesus Ferreira for what proved to be the decisive goal.

    The Croatia international has now contributed to five of Dallas' last seven MLS goals - three goals and two assists - meaning he is the man for Houston to stop.

    MATCH PREDICTION: HOUSTON WIN

    Houston's loss to Austin was their fourth defeat in their past seven league matches, compared to just two losses across their previous 17 outings dating back to last July.

    Dallas have won three of their past four games in all competitions, meanwhile, having won just three out of 17 prior to this upturn in form. 

    However, not since November 2020 have Dallas won three successive games across all competitions, while the home team in this fixture is unbeaten in the last 20 encounters between these sides - albeit 11 of those ending all square.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Houston - 42.2%
    Draw - 29.3%
    Dallas - 28.5%

  • Newcastle 'determined to finish on a high' at Brentford, Howe insists Newcastle 'determined to finish on a high' at Brentford, Howe insists

    Eddie Howe says Newcastle United are "determined to finish on a high" when they travel to Brentford on the final day.

    The Magpies, who are seventh in the Premier League, travel to the Gtech Community Stadium still in the hunt to secure European football for a second successive season.

    Howe's side trail sixth-place Chelsea by three points but, boasting a superior goal difference, can leapfrog the Blues if they beat Brentford and Mauricio Pochettino's men lose at home to Bournemouth.

    The Newcastle head coach knows their destiny is not in their hands, but urged his players to be ready to pounce.

    "It's a big last day for us, there's no denying that," he told reporters during his pre-match press conference. "We go into game knowing we have to do our part, which is win the game.

    "That is no mean feat, it's going to be a tough game, and then we're in the hands of other clubs.

    "The players are determined to finish on a high. We could have got more from the last two games and we didn't.

    "We have to do everything we can to do our part. What we don't want to do is for the other teams to make a mistake and we're not there to capitalise on it."

    Meanwhile 16th-place Brentford, who can climb to 15th by bettering Everton's result at title-chasing Arsenal, are set to finish in the bottom six - their lowest final position in the Premier League. 

    Although Thomas Frank admits his sights are set on achieving bigger and better with the Bees, the head coach insists it has been a fruitful campaign with the club's top-flight status assured for another year at least.

    "This season has been a good success," he said. "Every year you are in the Premier League is a success if you are a club of our stature. I just hate saying that because we want so much more.

    "We want to be an asset to the league, we want to dream big and we want to do something special. But I am an optimistic person, I am positive, and I believe so much in this club. 

    "The culture is good. There's a good atmosphere. We are pulling in the same direction, we are aligned."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brentford - Bryan Mbeumo

    Mbeumo has been directly involved in more goals than any other Brentford player in the Premier League this season with 15 (nine goals, six assists).

    That is despite the winger playing just 24 of the Bees' 37 matches during the campaign.

    Newcastle United - Anthony Gordon

    Gordon has had a hand in two goals (one goal, one assist) in Newcastle's last two away games, taking his overall tally of direct goal involvements for the season to 21 (11 goals, 10 assists).

    With Alexander Isak also boasting 21 involvements (20 goals, one assist), it marks the first time two Magpies players have reached that mark in a Premier League campaign since 1996-97, when Alan Shearer (25 goals, seven assists) and Les Ferdinand (16 goals, eight assists) achieved the feat.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEWCASTLE UNITED

    Newcastle have prevailed in each of the last four meetings between the sides, and are unbeaten in all five Premier League encounters.

    Brentford have only faced Crystal Palace (six) more in the competition without ever winning than against the Magpies (five).

    Newcastle have lost their final league game in just one of the last nine seasons (winning seven, drawing one), with that sole defeat coming against champions Liverpool in 2019-20.

    The Magpies are also unbeaten on each of the last six occasions they have finished a league season in London (winning five, drawing one).

    You must go back to a 3-2 reverse at Tottenham on the final day of the 1972-73 campaign for their last such defeat.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Brentford - 37%
    Newcastle United - 34.9%
    Draw - 28.1%

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