NBA

Curry scores 46 points as Warriors stave off Grizzlies, LeBron stars as Lakers skid extends

By Sports Desk December 24, 2021

Stephen Curry scored 46 points including eight three-pointers as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 113-104 on Thursday.

Curry fell four points shy of his season-high 50-point haul but dominated throughout for the Warriors, shooting eight-of-14 from beyond the arc with four rebounds and four assists. The two-time MVP brought up his third return of 45 points or more this season.

Gary Payton II played a key role in the starting rotation with 22 points with four triples including a clutch three-pointer in the fourth quarter.

Curry's haul marked a return to form as Golden State improved to 26-6, remain one-half game behind the Phoenix Suns (26-5) for the best record in the NBA ahead of their Christmas Day match-up.

 

LeBron, Kemba and Jokic heroics fall short

LeBron James scored 36 points with nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks but it was not enough to prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from going down 138-110 to the San Antonio Spurs. The result leaves the Lakers with a record below .500 at 16-17 after four straight defeats.

Kemba Walker produced a vintage display with a season-high 44 points with nine rebounds and eight assists as the New York Knicks went down 124-117 to the Washington Wizards.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic's heroics were also in vain as the Denver Nuggets lost 115-107 to the Charlotte Hornets despite the Serbian's 29 points, 21 rebounds and five assists.

Devin Booker (30 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) and Deandre Ayton (19 points, 12 rebounds) led the way as the Suns stayed top and claimed their fifth straight win in a 113-101 triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder, while Khris Middleton (26 points, five rebounds, seven assists) and Jrue Holiday (24 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) delivered again in Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Dallas Mavericks 102-95.

 

Embiid loses his radar

Joel Embiid shot six-of-17 from the field as the Philadelphia 76ers lost 98-96 to the depleted Atlanta Hawks. Embiid finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

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  • Adebayo the 'inspiration' for Heat, says Spoelstra Adebayo the 'inspiration' for Heat, says Spoelstra

    Erik Spoelstra singled out Bam Adebayo for an "inspiring" performance after the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls to clinch the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    The Heat went all the way to the NBA Finals last season, ultimately losing to the Denver Nuggets, after securing the No.8 seed.

    And they will be seeded eighth once again for their playoff campaign, which they will kick-off against the Boston Celtics, who the Heat defeated in the Conference finals last season.

    Jimmy Butler could not feature against the Bulls on Friday due to injury, but Adebayo stepped up with 13 points while also marking Bulls star DeMar De Rozan.

    "What we needed, what we felt like, was inspiration," Spoelstra told ESPN.

    "And Bam was our most inspiring player, especially with Jimmy being out. The two of them are our most inspiring players. And they've always been.

    "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."

    Looking ahead to the Celtics series, Adebayo said: "It's going to be a dogfight. It's going to be a battle. It's going to be in the mud.

    "It's not going to be pretty basketball. That's usually how it is when we play that team."

  • 'We deserve it' – Pelicans know their worth after clinching playoff berth 'We deserve it' – Pelicans know their worth after clinching playoff berth

    The New Orleans Pelicans are wholly deserving of their place in the playoffs, so says Larry Nance Jr.

    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."

  • Heat beat Bulls to set up rematch with Celtics; Pelicans hold off Kings Heat beat Bulls to set up rematch with Celtics; Pelicans hold off Kings

    Tyler Herro fell an assist shy of a triple-double and scored 24 points as the Miami Heat rolled to a 112-91 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday to secure the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    Jaime Jaques Jr. added 21 points, Kevin Love had 16 and Bam Adebayo 13 for Miami, which advanced to face the league-leading Boston Celtics in a rematch of the last two East finals.

    They were the No. 8 seed last season also and survived the play-in before going all the way to the NBA Finals.

    The Heat were without star forward Jimmy Butler and won’t have him available for the Boston series, either.

    Even without Butler, Miami took control with a 19-0 run in the first quarter, and a 14-0 surge midway through the second half. Herro finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Heat eliminated the Bulls in the last East play-in game for the second straight season.

    DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points and Nikola Vucevic had 16, 14 boards and five assists but the Bulls were unable to become the fifth team in the last 35 years to make the playoffs after not spending a single day all season over the .500 mark.

    The Heat were held to 13 points in the second quarter but still took a 47-37 lead into the break because the Bulls went 8 for 39 from the field after opening 4 for 5. Chicago missed 14 of 15 shots in one stretch.

    Chicago got as close as 70-60 in the third quarter before Miami essentially iced the game with the 14-0 run.

    Pelicans continue mastery of Kings

    Brandon Ingram scored 24 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 19 with 12 rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans secured the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 105-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

    Trey Murphy III had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists as six players scored in double figures for the Pelicans, who won all six meetings this season against the Kings and now move on to face top-seeded Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs.

    The Pelicans are the first team to 6-0 in a season (without a playoff series) against an opponent since Denver against Minnesota in 1994-95.

    New Orleans played without leading scorer Zion Williamson (left hamstring), who will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

    De’Aaron Fox poured in 35 points and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists but the Kings shot just 40.9 percent (36 of 88) from the field and misfired on 30 of 41 (26.8 percent) from 3-point range.

    Sacramento got just 12 points from its bench compared to 34 for New Orleans.

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