NBA

NBA record looms for Wizards' Westbrook, Mavs take down slumping Nets and Clippers top Lakers

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

Russell Westbrook took another giant step towards an NBA record after teaming up with Bradley Beal to help the Washington Wizards push the Toronto Raptors to the verge of elimination from a spot the NBA play-in tournament with a 131-129 win in overtime. 

Westbrook posted 13 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists for his 180th career triple-double, leaving him one shy of equalling Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson's all-time record on Thursday.

Former MVP Westbrook because the first player with three consecutive 17-plus assist games since Steve Nash in 2007.

Wizards star Beal scored half of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as Washington outlasted Toronto.

Raul Neto added a career-high 25 points and Robin Lopez had a season-best 24 for the Wizards (31-36), who hold a four-game lead over the Raptors (27-40) for the final play-in spot with five games remaining for both teams. 

Pascal Siakam matched his career best with 44 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists but missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer in overtime that would have won it for Toronto. 

Siakam joined Kawhi Leonard and Vince Carter as the only players with a 40-point, 10-rebound and five-assist game in franchise history.

Fred VanVleet sent the game to OT by hitting a shot from beyond the arc with 1.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 and Gary Trent Jr. contributed 25 for Toronto.

 

Mavs withstand big night from Kyrie

Luka Doncic finished with 24 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 of his own as the Dallas Mavericks downed the slumping Brooklyn Nets 113-109, despite 45 points from Kyrie Irving. 

The Indiana Pacers inched closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament with a 133-126 win over the Atlanta Hawks as Caris LeVert led the way with 31 points and Domantas Sabonis added 30 on 12-for-14 shooting from the field. Trae Young's double-double of 30 points and 10 assists was not enough for the Hawks. 

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors rolled to a 118-87 victory at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-46). Curry scored 34 points. The two-time MVP has now scored at least 30 points 18 times in his last 20 games (35th time this season).

Paul George had 24 points as the Los Angeles Clippers (45-22) beat cross-town rivals and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 118-94. 

 

LaMelo off target against Bulls

A day after his primary competitor for NBA Rookie of the Year, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropped 42 points, LaMelo Ball made only one of 10 shots from the field and scored just four points in the Charlotte Hornets' 120-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Ball had reached double digits in his previous three games after returning from a wrist injury. 

 

Caldwell-Pope strong to the hoop

Lakers fans did not have much to celebrate in Thursday's blowout loss to the Clippers, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did provide one highlight with this slam in Ivica Zubac's face.

 

Thursday's results

Chicago Bulls 120-99 Charlotte Hornets
Dallas Mavericks 113-109 Brooklyn Nets
Washington Wizards 131-129 Toronto Raptors (OT)
Detroit Pistons 111-97 Memphis Grizzlies 
Indiana Pacers 133-126 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 118-97 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 118-94 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pelicans at 76ers

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans (30-36) are just outside the cut for the play-in tournament and will face imposing opposition on Friday as they attempt to gain ground in the form of the Philadelphia 76ers (45-21), winners of six in a row. 

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  • Regragui proving Arab coaches are 'worthy' of top jobs like Barcelona Regragui proving Arab coaches are 'worthy' of top jobs like Barcelona

    Walid Regragui hopes Morocco's performance at the World Cup is showing why Arab coaches should get top jobs in Europe, which is "impossible" right now.

    Regragui was only appointed as Morocco head coach at the end of August.

    Since then, the Atlas Lions are unbeaten, conceding only an own goal against Canada and reaching the quarter-finals at Qatar 2022.

    Regragui's short stint has included an upset win over Belgium and a penalty shoot-out success against highly-fancied Spain in the last 16.

    Morocco are the first Arab team and fourth African side to make the last eight at a World Cup, prompting discussion of interest in Regragui's services.

    But the coach explained the battle he had faced just to get this job, let alone taking over at Manchester City or Barcelona.

    "This question is probably best asked to European clubs: why don't they hire Arab coaches? Maybe it's a cultural question, maybe it's a mentality aspect," he said.

    "Today I think it's impossible Manchester City or Barcelona bring an Arab coach. They don't think about it, as if we're not worthy, as if we're not capable.

    "But there's moments in history that make people change their mind. It's on us, the Arab and African people, to show we are ready."

    Having spent much of his coaching career with clubs in Morocco, Regragui added: "Ten years I am a coach, nobody looked at me. 'No, it is impossible, he does not have the experience. Let's look at somebody else'.

    "I'm in the quarter-final. Explain this miracle.

    "Experience doesn't matter. It's skills. It doesn't matter your background, where you're from; skills matter. If you're not worthy, you don't have the skills, you can leave."

    Perhaps Morocco's style of play could be an obstacle to Regragui's progress, with only Costa Rica (30.2 per cent) having a smaller average share of possession at the tournament than their 32.3 per cent.

    But Regragui made no apologies for Morocco's approach as they stifled Spain, who dominated 76.8 per cent of the play in the previous round but had only one shot on target in 120 minutes.

    Highlighting other examples of Spain – with the highest possession share at the finals (77.0 per cent) – bossing proceedings against elite sides, Regragui wondered if critics would rather Morocco had bravely lost.

    He asked: "Why do Morocco need to keep the ball? Why do African teams need to play very well and lose after and cry?"

    But now, against Portugal in Saturday's quarter-final, Regragui feels huge support for his side.

    "We want to show Africa deserves to be here, Morocco deserves to be here, football is global," he said.

    "We have a federation behind us, a whole people behind us, a whole continent behind us. We have the Arab world. That's a lot of people. That's what we're going to draw from."

  • Deschamps refutes idea France are overly reliant on Mbappe Deschamps refutes idea France are overly reliant on Mbappe

    France are not overly dependent on Kylian Mbappe, according to head coach Didier Deschamps.

    Mbappe has been in sparkling form at the Qatar World Cup and is the top scorer in the competition with five goals from four appearances.

    The 23-year-old's double in the last-16 win over Poland has taken his tally of World Cup goals to nine, as many as Lionel Messi and more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

    World champions France are unbeaten in the 13 games Mbappe has started in major competitions – outside of penalty shoot-outs – and will be hoping that record continues against England at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.

    Deschamps dismissed the idea France rely too heavily on the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has now scored 250 goals for club and country.

    "I'm sure England will have prepared to face Kylian as our previous opponents did, but he's in a position to make the difference," Deschamps said in a press conference.

    "Even in the last match, he didn't show his top form, but he was still decisive.

    "We have other players that can be dangerous as well, so that helps us not be over-dependent on Kylian.

    "But Kylian is Kylian, and he has that capacity to make the difference in any moment."

    A major talking point in the build-up to the game has been the match-up between Mbappe and England right-back Kyle Walker, who could play either in a back four or a back five in order to combat the France forward's threat.

    France captain Hugo Lloris played with Walker at Tottenham and said Mbappe is putting the talk to one side.

    "I think Kylian is preparing very well. Trying to ignore a lot of the talk about him, it's really not something he needs," he said.

    "He's very focused on his objectives, individually and collectively. He seems very happy, playing with a smile on his face and seems very focused on the match ahead of us.

    "That's how he's looked from the beginning of this tournament."

    While the focus will be on Mbappe at one end of the pitch, England captain Harry Kane – who won the Golden Boot at Russia 2018 – could be decisive at the other, having scored his first goal of the tournament in the Three Lions' 3-0 defeat of Senegal in the round of 16.

    "I only have positive things to say about Harry, he's very important for the team, club and for England as well," Lloris said of his Spurs team-mate.

    "A real leader, an example for his team-mates, and he's a top player. 

    "Harry's someone who is known all over the world – not sure I can add too much to what is known. Our focus will be on representing our countries."

  • Deschamps refutes suggestion France are overly reliant on Mbappe Deschamps refutes suggestion France are overly reliant on Mbappe

    France are not overly dependent on Kylian Mbappe, according to head coach Didier Deschamps.

    Mbappe has been in sparkling form at the Qatar World Cup and is the top scorer in the competition with five goals from four appearances.

    The 23-year-old's double in the last-16 win over Poland has taken his tally of World Cup goals to nine, as many as Lionel Messi and more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

    World champions France are unbeaten in the 13 games Mbappe has started in major competitions – outside of penalty shoot-outs – and will be hoping that record continues against England at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.

    Deschamps dismissed the idea France rely too heavily on the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has now scored 250 goals for club and country.

    "I'm sure England will have prepared to face Kylian as our previous opponents did, but he's in a position to make the difference," Deschamps said in a press conference.

    "Even in the last match, he didn't show his top form, but he was still decisive.

    "We have other players that can be dangerous as well, so that helps us not be over-dependent on Kylian.

    "But Kylian is Kylian, and he has that capacity to make the difference in any moment."

    A major talking point in the build-up to the game has been the match-up between Mbappe and England right-back Kyle Walker, who could play either in a back four or a back five in order to combat the France forward's threat.

    France captain Hugo Lloris played with Walker at Tottenham and said Mbappe is putting the talk to one side.

    "I think Kylian is preparing very well. Trying to ignore a lot of the talk about him, it's really not something he needs," he said.

    "He's very focused on his objectives, individually and collectively. He seems very happy, playing with a smile on his face and seems very focused on the match ahead of us.

    "That's how he's looked from the beginning of this tournament."

    While the focus will be on Mbappe at one end of the pitch, England captain Harry Kane – who won the Golden Boot at Russia 2018 – could be decisive at the other, having scored his first goal of the tournament in the Three Lions' 3-0 defeat of Senegal in the round of 16.

    "I only have positive things to say about Harry, he's very important for the team, club and for England as well," Lloris said of his Spurs team-mate.

    "A real leader, an example for his team-mates, and he's a top player. 

    "Harry's someone who is known all over the world – not sure I can add too much to what is known. Our focus will be on representing our countries."

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