NBA

NBA: Cavaliers’ Strus hits from half court at buzzer to stun Mavericks

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Max Strus connected on a 59-foot heave at the buzzer, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to a wild 121-119 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Strus made five 3-pointers in the final 3:42 of the game and capped a back-and-forth ending, giving the Cavs their 20th win in their last 24 games.

Dallas’ PJ Washington made a contested layup with 2.6 seconds remaining to put the Mavs up 119-118.

Without any timeouts to advance the ball, Strus inbounded to Evan Mobley, who quickly returned the ball. Strus took one dribble before launching from behind the half-court line and swishing the game-winning bucket.

Strus finished with 21 points. Donovan Mitchell also made seven 3’s and led the way for the Cavs with 31 points.

With the win, Cleveland (38-19) remained alone in second place in the Eastern Conference.

The Mavericks, who lead by 10 with under four minutes remaining, squandered a signature performance from Luka Dončić, who finished with 45 points, nine rebounds and 14 assists.

 

Celtics extend season-best winning streak

Jaylen Brown scored 31 points, Jayson Tatum flirted with a triple-double and the Boston Celtics weathered a rare cold shooting night, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 117-99 for their ninth straight win.

The Celtics, who lead the NBA in both 3-point makes and attempts this season, shot just 5 of 22 from beyond the arc, both season lows.

Boston compensated for their cold shooting by attacking the rim and shooting 34 of 37 from the free throw line. Tatum – who finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists – was 10 of 11 from the line, while Kristaps Porzingis made all 12 of his free throws.

The Celtics (46-12) improved to 25-0 at home against Eastern Conference opponents.

Tyrese Maxey was the high-point man for Philadelphia with 32, but the rest of the 76ers’ starters combined for just 22 points.

 

SGA powers Thunder to 6th straight win

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued to make his case for league MVP, Jalen Williams scored an efficient 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Houston Rockets 112-95 to win their sixth straight game.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 31 points and has scored at least 30 in every game during the Thunder’s winning streak.

The win kept Oklahoma City (41-17) in a tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the Western Conference.

Alperen Sengun had a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who are just 6-14 in their last 20 games.

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    Jamal Murray tallied 22 points and 10 assists, Aaron Gordon added 12 and 11 rebounds and Michael Porter Jr. contributed 19 points and eight boards as the Nuggets won their ninth straight against the Lakers.

    Anthony Davis matched Jokic with 32 points and 14 rebounds and LeBron James scored 27 points, but D’Angelo Russell was held to 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting – including 1 of 9 from 3-point range – and Rui Hachimura managed just seven points in 31 minutes.

    Los Angeles hasn’t beaten Denver since Dec. 16, 2022, and will try again Monday in Denver, where the Nuggets are 34-8 this season.

    Denver’s lead was down to 103-96 with five minutes left but Porter Jr. hit a 3 and Jokic dunked off a turnover by James to push the lead to 12.

      

    Knicks’ reserves step up in win

    Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart each scored 22 points and the New York Knicks got a huge lift from their bench for a 111-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

    Deuce McBride outscored the 76ers by himself with 13 points in the second quarter and finished with 21 on 7-of-12 shooting, including 5 of 7 from long range. Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 points and Mitchell Robinson came off the bench to add eight points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

    Joel Embiid had 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points for the 76ers, who will try to even the series in Game 2 on Monday.

    Embiid was listed as questionable to play and went down with 2:49 left in the first half with an apparent injury to his surgically repaired knee. He walked to the locker room area and missed the rest of the first half but returned to start the second.

    Hart made a pair of huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the second extending the Knicks’ lead to 107-100 with one minute remaining.

     

    Edwards powers Timberwolves past Suns

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    Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points, Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 18 and Rudy Gobert tallied 14 points, 16 rebounds and stellar defence to help Minnesota to its first home win in the playoffs in 20 years.

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    "When they're locked in at their highest level competitively, we feel like we can beat anybody. With Jimmy out, I had to.

    "We felt like DeRozan is a guy who can totally take over a game in a one-game deal. If our most inspiring player has to make an impact, it would be against their best scorer."

    Butler is unlikely to feature at all against the Celtics, either, though Spoelstra has not yet paid mind to how he will look to keep the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown under wraps.

    "I haven't even thought about that," Spoelstra said.

    "This was for this kind of deal, to set the tone for the game, to help alleviate any stress or pressure from anyone else in the locker room, Bam had to be that, which he was."

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    After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the week, New Orleans clinched the Western Conference's No.8 seed on Friday by overcoming the Sacramento Kings 105-98.

    Brandon Ingram scored 24 points while Jonas Valanciunas added 19 with 12 rebounds.

    Victory also saw the Pelicans, who were without Zion Williamson due to a hamstring injury, beat the Kings for the sixth time this campaign, and they will now face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs.

    "We deserve it," Pelicans forward Nance Jr. said.

    "That's how we felt coming into this game, and that's how we felt going into the last game. You don't win 49 games by accident; that doesn't happen.

    "You don't just slip and do that in a historic conference. We're a really good team, and we deserve to be here. We showed that tonight, and we're proud to be going to Oklahoma."

    Ingram, meanwhile, was on top form having recently returned from injury.

    "It's been one my healthiest seasons, and I was out for three weeks just watching and just trying to stay disciplined," Ingram said.

    "It's hard just trying to stay disciplined, trying to stay locked in knowing I wanted to be out on the floor. I was losing some of my conditioning a little bit and just trying to stay ready.

    "That was three weeks that passed, and I was just coming in and trying to play 30 minutes after all that and be locked in. I was, of course, hard on myself because I didn't think it mattered that I just came off the knee injury. Those first two games didn't go how I wanted to go, but I just wanted to give it all tonight and trust my teammates, trust my stuff, and we ended up winning.

    "I thought I could control the game. I thought I controlled the game the first quarter, the second quarter. And I knew that it was about time for us to go on a run."

    Of the Pelicans' playoff hopes, he added: "This was the goal at the beginning of the year.

    "Throughout it, we had some injuries. We had different things happen. But we had another opportunity today, and we came in and everybody contributed."

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