NBA

LeBron drives Lakers to bounce-back win, Harden lifts Nets in Irving's absence

By Sports Desk February 17, 2021

LeBron James' double-double fired the Los Angeles Lakers back to winning ways, while James Harden stepped up to rally the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets past the high-flying Phoenix Suns.

James put up 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the reigning NBA champions leaned on their defense in the 112-104 victory over the last-placed Minnesota Timberwolves.

Without the injured Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder played the supporting role for James, posting 24 points, while the Lakers battled to claim eight steals and seven blocks in a closely fought contest.

After taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter at Target Center, the road side pulled away in the closing stages to improve to 22-7 in second place in the Western Conference.

Harden pulled out the stops with a double-double to lead the Nets to a sensational 128-124 comeback win against the Suns, despite playing without Irving after the star guard felt tightness in his lower back.

Nets coach Steve Nash revealed Irving received treatment at half-time of Brooklyn's win against the Sacramento Kings on Monday but expects the six-time All-Star to only be sidelined in the short term.

The Nets surged, scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to turn around a 24-point deficit, with Harden (38 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) backed up by Joe Harris (22 points) as they halted the Suns' six-game winning streak.

Jokic burns Celtics but Nuggets fall short, Zion on target for Pelicans

Nikola Jokic lit up the Boston Celtics, scoring 43 points, but the Denver Nuggets could still not make triple-digits as their three-game winning stretch was ended in a 112-99 loss.

Zion Williamson shot an efficient 31 points, sinking 13 of his 16 field-goal efforts and going four-of-four from the free-throw line, as the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a three-match losing run with a 144-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard’s 31-point, 10-assist double-double led the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 115-104 win, while centre Enes Kanter pulled down 21 rebounds.

 

Bazley struggles to take his chances

The Thunder never recovered against the Blazers after falling 34-21 behind in the first quarter and forward Darius Bazley was one player that could not find his range.

Bazley shot four from 16 from the field for 14 points during his 36 minutes on court, only dropping one his seven efforts from three-point range.

 

Giannis powers up but the Raps edge the Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved unplayable at times, scoring 34 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 124-113 loss against the Toronto Raptors, as he ghosted past three defenders for one of his buckets.

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 112-99 Denver Nuggets
Portland Trail Blazers 115-104 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Los Angeles Lakers 112-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 144-113 Memphis Grizzlies 
Toronto Raptors 124-113 Milwaukee Bucks 
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Phoenix Suns

 

Jazz at Clippers

There has been no stopping the Utah Jazz, who have won eight straight and 19 of their past 20 games to establish a lead in the Western Conference, but a tough challenge awaits when they go on the road to face the third-placed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

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    Chris Paul is embracing the prospect of the Phoenix Suns matching their franchise record streak of 17 consecutive wins ahead of Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

    The Suns veteran, who reiterated that the ultimate goal is an elusive NBA title, had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists as Phoenix beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-107 on Saturday.

    The win over the Nets moved the Suns' winning run to 16 games, within one victory of their franchise best, set in 2006-07.

    "It would be nice," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously everybody knows the ultimate goal is to win a championship but if you don't enjoy the small victories throughout the regular season then what the hell are you doing?

    "More than anything, we are having fun... We are going to keep taking it one game at a time and enjoy the moments because it's all about the journey."

    The Suns, who were beaten in last season's NBA Finals by the Milwaukee Bucks, have a 17-3 record this season, only bettered by Tuesday's opponents Golden State (17-2).

    "We know how good that team is over there," Paul added. "They have identity. They're led by Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green] and now they've got Iggy [Andre Igoudala]. That's a tough team anytime you play against them."

    Devin Booker top scored for the Suns with 30 points against the Nets, including four three-pointers along with four assists.

    On the potential franchise-equalling game, he added: "I am looking forward to it. "Obviously [it is] not a make it or break it game. Not a playoff game. But we know it will be a high-energy game.

    "Two best records in the NBA. It is going to be a high intensity fun game."

  • Harden still 'trying to figure it all out' after frustrating Nets defeat Harden still 'trying to figure it all out' after frustrating Nets defeat

    James Harden admits he is still trying to figure out how to play his best basketball for the Brooklyn Nets after an ordinary display in the 113-107 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

    Harden registered his fourth triple-double of the season, but he had seven turnovers and shot poorly, going none-for-six from three-point range for his 12 points under close guarding from Mikal Bridges.

    The 2018 MVP also shot four-for-16 from the field, finishing with 13 rebounds and 14 assists, as his up-and-down season continues.

    Harden is averaging 20.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game this season, with his offensive output the most alarming decline on his 25.0 career average.

    The 32-year-old averaged 24.6 points for the Nets following his January move from the Houston Rockets, with injuries impacting his continuity after the switch and into this season as well as developing cohesion with his new side.

    "Honestly I’m trying to figure all that out right now," Harden said at the post-game news conference. “I’m trying to figure it out.

    "Trying to figure out when to score, when to be a playmaker when to run offense, when to do a little bit of everything.

    "Just trying to figure it out it’s been a little difficult especially since you know, well whatever, but it’s been a little difficult but I’m just trying to figure it out."

    Nets head coach Steve Nash admitted it was a "tough night" for Harden, who was jeered by some fans at the Barclays Center upon his seventh turnover.

    "It was a tough night for him," Nash said during the news conference. "Some turnover issues. He didn’t get a lot of good looks.

    "That's part of our growth too, trying to figure out ways for him to be effective, even if he's not getting to the rim."

  • Suns down Nets to extend winning streak to 16 games, Embiid returns with 42 in 76ers' 2OT loss Suns down Nets to extend winning streak to 16 games, Embiid returns with 42 in 76ers' 2OT loss

    The Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to 16 games on Saturday with a 113-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who gave up 20 turnovers for the game.

    The Nets coughed up 15 turnovers in the first half alone as the Suns claimed an early lead and were never headed, led by Devin Booker (30 points and four assists) and Chris Paul (22 points, eight rebounds and five assists).

    James Harden managed a triple-double but it was far from his best game with seven turnovers while only scoring 12 points, going zero-of-four from beyond the arc. Harden also had 13 rebounds and 14 assists.

    Kevin Durant top scored for the Nets with 39 points along with nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals but also had five turnovers.

    The Suns can equal their franchise record winning streak when they face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Phoenix's 17-3 mark for the season is their best record through 20 games since 2004-05.

     

    Embiid returns with a bang

    Joel Embiid scored 42 points and had 14 rebounds on his return after nine games out due to COVID-19 protocols but could not lift the sliding Philadelphia 76ers to victory, going down 121-120 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in double over-time. Embiid had a shot to win the game but was blocked by Anthony Edwards on the buzzer.

    Luka Doncic scored 33 points with 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks were beaten 120-114 by the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal hitting 26 points. The Wizards improve to 13-7.

    Houston Rockets center Christian Wood had a huge game with 33 points and 16 rebounds as his side defeated the Charlotte Hornets 146-143 in over-time.

     

    Randle loses his handle

    Julius Randle only managed eight points, shooting three-of-14 from the field as the New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 99-90.

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