NBA

76ers secure top seed in east, Mavericks avoid play-in tournament

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

The Philadelphia 76ers secured the top seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference after a crushing 122-97 victory over the Orlando Magic that saw their key players take an early seat on the bench. 

Seth Curry led the 76ers with 20 points in just 23 minutes of court time on Friday, while Joel Embiid had 13 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes and Ben Simmons added 13 points and nine assists in 26 minutes. 

Philadelphia (48-23) – Eastern Conference champions for the first time since 2000-01 – will open the playoffs against the number eight seed that emerges from next week's play-in tournament. 

Two teams will emerge from the Eastern Conference side, which will include the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards clinched their play-in spot with a 120-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers as Russell Westbrook recorded yet another triple-double following 21 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds. 

Westbrook's triple-double was his 37th in 63 appearances this season, and he had at least 15 assists for the seventh consecutive game. Only John Stockton and Isiah Thomas have had seven such games in a row, with Stockton doing it three times.

 

Mavericks avoid play-in with win over Raptors

Luka Doncic tallied 20 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds and Kristaps Porzingis added 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks (42-29) held off the Toronto Raptors for a 114-110 win that clinched a spot in the Western Conference's top six.

The Denver Nuggets beat the Detroit Pistons 104-91 to draw even with the Los Angeles Clippers, who fell 122-115 to the lowly Houston Rockets. Denver (47-24) got 20 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists from MVP candidate Nikola Jokic in the win, the Nuggets' third in a row. The Clippers' loss gave the idle Phoenix Suns (49-21) the Pacific Division title. 

The NBA-leading Utah Jazz won 109-93 at the Oklahoma City Thunder behind 22 points from Bojan Bogdanovic. Utah (51-20) can clinch the top seed in the west with a win against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday or a Suns loss against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday or Sunday. 

The Golden State Warriors downed the New Orleans Pelicans 125-122 behind Jordan Poole's 38 points for their fifth consecutive victory. The Memphis Grizzlies also won their fifth straight game, 107-106 over the Kings, while resting most of their key players. Golden State and Memphis share 38-33 records and will meet on Sunday with the number eight seed on the line as they head into the play-in tournament. 

 

Bulls miss out again

The Wizards' win ended the idle Chicago Bulls' hopes of making the play-in tournament, marking the fourth consecutive season the storied franchise will miss the playoffs. 

 

Hometown kid Harris posts career night

The Raptors played without their top seven scorers in Friday's loss to the Mavericks, but Dallas native Jalen Harris did his part in a losing effort with a career-high 31 points. 

 

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 120-105 Cleveland Cavaliers
Denver Nuggets 104-91 Detroit Pistons
Philadelphia 76ers 122-97 Orlando Magic
Utah Jazz 109-93 Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas Mavericks 114-110 Toronto Raptors
Houston Rockets 122-115 Los Angeles Clippers
Memphis Grizzlies 107-106 Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors 125-122 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Lakers at Pacers

The Los Angeles Lakers need a win to pull even with the Portland Trail Blazers for the sixth spot in the Western Conference, and the reigning champions are hoping to have LeBron James back in the line-up as they face the Pacers. 

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    LeBron James felt like he had a "superpower" after authoring the best fourth-quarter comeback of his career on Wednesday, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a stunning win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The Lakers found themselves 21 points down in the fourth quarter and heading for a third loss in four games, but the NBA's all-time leading scorer had other ideas.

    James finished with 34 points, single-handedly outscoring the Clippers 19-16 in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers roared back at Crypto.com Arena to improve to 32-28 for the season.

    The 39-year-old hit five of his season-best seven 3-pointers in the final frame, also finding Cam Reddish for the final dunk in a 116-112 success, with the Lakers having trailed 89-77.

    Asked about his mindset during that decisive period, James said: "It's just a zone, and you can't really describe it.

    "You wish you could stay in it forever, but obviously it checks out once the game ends. But during it, you don't feel anything. It's just like a superpower feeling. 

    "If I'm in a lineup, if I'm on the floor, I've got to make plays. Sometimes I've got to make even more plays. 

    "Tonight was one of those moments where I had to make even more plays in order for us to even get back into the game and then ultimately win the game."

    James also added six rebounds and eight assists, and was supported by Anthony Davis (20 points), D'Angelo Russell (18) and Rui Hachimura (17).

    Lakers coach Darvin Ham also compared James to a superhero in his post-game press conference, saying: "He had to take the cape, tuck it under his seat on the bench, I guess. 

    "It was time for him to whip it out. He definitely did that, put the cape on and just got aggressive and got into good rhythm."

    While crestfallen after the defeat, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged there was little his team could do to defend James in such form, saying: "I don't think that's ever happened in my career, to lose a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter.

    "But LeBron got hot. We talked about it before the game, you can't turn the ball over against this team because it's deadly."

  • 'I feel 40' – Birthday boy Doncic dispatches Raptors 'I feel 40' – Birthday boy Doncic dispatches Raptors

    Luka Doncic quipped he feels like he is 40 years old after he celebrated his 25th birthday in style.

    Doncic became the first player in NBA history to finish with a triple-double on their birthday as he led the Dallas Mavericks to a 136-125 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

    He finished with 30 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for his 11th triple-double of the season.

    Doncic has now had 39 30-point triple-doubles, which sees him surpass LeBron James in the all-time list for that feat.

    When asked if he considered his 25th birthday as a milestone, Doncic joked: "I feel like [I'm] 40, so no."

    Doncic was 11 for 23 from the field and missed 7 of 8 from 3-point range in his 67th career triple-double.

    "Just a normal game, triple-double," Jason Kidd said.

    "He was really good. I guess 25 means he's still going to be really good as he gets older here."

    Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and P.J. Washington Jr. added 23 points for Dallas, as they bounced back from back-to-back defeats.

    "Kyrie and Luka, they had such a poise in important moments to make the right plays," said Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic after his team saw a three-game winning streak snapped.

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  • NBA: James scores 19 of 34 in 4th quarter as Lakers rally to stun Clippers NBA: James scores 19 of 34 in 4th quarter as Lakers rally to stun Clippers

    LeBron James scored 19 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 21-point deficit in the final 12 minutes as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied for a 116-112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

    James hit five of his season-high seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and outscored the Clippers by himself (19-16). He either scored or assisted on 11 of the Lakers’ 13 baskets in the final period.

    The Clippers held a 98-77 lead in the opening minute of the final quarter, but James led a 29-8 run over the next 7:34. Anthony Davis’ free throws tied it at 106 with four minutes left, and Jamesd found Rui Hachimura for a go-ahead 3 moments later.

    Kawhi Leonard missed a 12-footer with five seconds to go and the Clippers down two before James threw a long pass to Cam Reddish for a dunk that punctuated a stunning win for the Lakers.

    Davis finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, D’Angelo Russell added 18 points and Hachimura had 17.

    Leonard scored 26 points and James Harden added 23 with nine assists for the Clippers, who have lost consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 21 and 23.

     

    Doncic has triple-double on birthday

    Luka Dončić celebrated his 25th birthday with 30 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for his 11th triple-double of the season in the Dallas Mavericks’ 136-125 win over the Toronto Raptors.

    Doncic was 11 for 23 from the field and missed 7 of 8 from 3-point range in his 67th career triple-double.

    He is the first player in NBA history to record a 30-point triple-double on his birthday.

    Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and P.J. Washington Jr. added 23 points for Dallas, which avoided a third straight loss.

    Scottie Barnes had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Immanuel Quickley scored a season-high 28 points as Toronto said goodbye to a season-best three-game winning streak.

    Doncic scored 11 points in the third quarter and added six assists to help the Mavs take a 106-92 lead into the fourth.

     

    Jokic extends triple-double streak in win

    Nikola Jokić notched his fourth straight triple-double in three quarters and Jamal Murray scored 32 points as the Denver Nuggets won their fourth in a row, 117-96 over the Sacramento Kings.

    Jokic had 14 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his 19th triple-double this season, two behind Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis for the league lead.

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 16 points and Aaron Gordon added 15 for Denver, which avoided a four-game season sweep to the Kings.

    Keegan Murray had 21 points and Chris Duarte contributed 18 off the bench as Sacramento had a three-game winning streak snapped.

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