NBA

Nets' Harden enters NBA history books with triple-double, Lillard leads Blazers

By Sports Desk January 17, 2021

James Harden made NBA history on his Brooklyn Nets debut after dazzling with a triple-double in the 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic.

Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Magic on Saturday.

Former MVP Harden – who swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The eight-time All-Star also became the seventh player in NBA history with a triple-double in their team debut, joining Russell Westbrook, Elfrid Payton, Lewis Lloyd, John Shumate, Nate Thurmond and Oscar Robertson.

Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

 

Lillard inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard had a game-high 36 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-106. Double-doubles from Trae Young (26 points and 11 assists) and Clint Capela (25 points and 15 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Hawks.

Shake Milton put up 28 points off the bench in the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers' narrow 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons fell just short of a triple-double after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected 18 rebounds as the shorthanded Rockets went down 103-91 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Derrick Rose was efficient in the Detroit Pistons' 120-100 upset of the Miami Heat. He was eight-of-12 shooting from the field, while making three of his five three-point attempts for 23 points in 21 minutes.

 

Covington struggles

While the Trail Blazers won, Robert Covington failed to get going shooting-wise after collecting 10 rebounds. He was one-of-13 from the field and just one-of-seven from beyond the arc for three points in 28 minutes.

A championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, veteran Rajon Rondo was scoreless for the Hawks. Rondo missed all three of his field-goal attempts in nine minutes of action.

 

Morant returns in style

Ja Morant sprained his ankle on December 28 but the Grizzlies star made his comeback following an eight-game absence. Morant had 17 points, including this alley-oop.

 

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 103-91 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 122-115 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 116-113 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 120-100 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-106 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Pacers at Clippers

The Indiana Pacers (8-4) will visit the in-form Los Angeles Clippers (9-4) – who have won three straight games – on Sunday.

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    Alaba had been out of action since being substituted at half-time during Madrid's 4-3 semi-final first-leg defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, with Nacho starting instead when Carlo Ancelotti's men sealed a 6-5 aggregate victory with a stunning comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this month.

    The Austria defender's selection in Paris was the only change to the Madrid side that started that second leg, with attacking duo Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema again leading the line.

    Those two have assisted one another a combined 18 times in all competitions this season, the most of any pairing in Europe's top five leagues.

    Vinicius' inclusion made him just the fifth player to start a Champions League final for Madrid aged 21 or younger, after Raul (1998), Iker Casillas (2000), Nicolas Anelka (2000) and Raphael Varane (2014).

    However, Benzema is at the opposite end of his career. He and Alaba were joined by Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to make Madrid the first team to start a final with four players who had previously made 100 or more Champions League appearances.

    Benzema had been one of three centurions (also Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos) in Madrid's 2018 final win over Liverpool, in which Gareth Bale's brace as a substitute proved the difference in a 3-1 triumph.

    Bale was named on the bench again for this rematch ahead of his imminent departure as a free agent, while fellow winger Eden Hazard was also among the substitutes.

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    Madrid headed into the game aiming to win their 14th European Cup or Champions League title, with their 13 prior wins already a record. Ancelotti was bidding to become the first man to win four Champions Leagues.

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    "There have been great players who have passed from Milan," he added. "But it is a source of pride to have contributed to the construction of this Scudetto, eleven years later with experienced players like [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, it is fantastic. 

    "We had a great season, we were rewarded for all our efforts and yes, we are entering the history of Milan. We are still a long way from the big names in Milan, but it's nice to be associated with all these great players."

    Referring to the side's incredible celebrations, Giroud added: "I think you really realise the impact it has had in Milan and Italy on the open bus, seeing these hundreds of thousands of Milanese fans who have been waiting for a while. 

    "We are all very proud to bring Milan back to the top. It was a tough fight to the end, and you realise you are joining a very big club when you see all this passion around you and the class that reigns in this historic club. 

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    "The Milanese dressing room has a strong French accent, so to speak, with all the French," he said. "There are also other players who speak French, like Franck Kessie, Ismael Bennacer, [Fode] Ballo-Toure. There are other French players, like [Tiemoue] Bakayoko. 

    "We speak French, so it is true that there really is this slightly French team, as there was at Arsenal at the time. We are fortunate to have spent most of the season with four Frenchmen in this team and it is a pride."

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