NBA

Irving stars again in contentious Nets win, struggling Pacers stun Lakers

By Sports Desk January 20, 2022

The Brooklyn Nets clinched a contentious one-point win over the Washington Wizards, with Kyrie Irving the star man for the visiting team.

Irving had 30 points, three rebounds and seven assists as the Nets triumphed 119-118 on Wednesday, with Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie missing late three-pointers in the closing seconds for the Wizards.

Kuzma was left infuriated, however, as he reflected on a moment earlier in the fourth quarter when it appeared a member of the Brooklyn bench purposefully deflected a pass that had been headed his way.

Nevertheless, Kuzma and his Washington team-mates must reflect on an opportunity missed as they were unable to build on their 117-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Wizards are now 23-22 for the season and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, five places behind the 28-16 Nets.

Brooklyn were without talisman Kevin Durant, but Irving – who can only play in road games due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – stepped up.

Irving scored 22 of his 30 points in the first half and has averaged 20.0 points per game since his return to the team.

Pacers stun LeBron's Lakers

LeBron James brought up his 10,000th career regular-season rebound but his 30-point haul was not enough as the Los Angeles Lakers slumped to a 111-104 home defeat to the struggling Indiana Pacers.

James' double-double could not stem the Pacers' tide in a fourth-quarter blitz as Indiana, 13th in the East, inflicted a fourth defeat on the Lakers in the space of five games and increased the pressure on Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel.

It is just the second win in 12 games for Indiana, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Caris LeVert had 30 points, while Domantas Sabonis hit a triple-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

It was a miserable night all-round for Los Angeles teams, with the Clippers slipping to a 130-128 overtime defeat in Denver.

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double of 49 points – the second-best tally of his career in a single game, after a 50-point showing against the Sacramento Kings last season – 14 rebounds and 10 assists, the last of which teed up Aaron Gordon for the winning three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining in OT.

Bucks down depleted Grizzlies, Embiid hits 50

Reigning NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks capitalised on the Memphis Grizzlies' lack of star power as they claimed a 126-114 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who took advantage of Memphis being without two of their leading scorers in Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane, though Ja Morant (33 points, 14 assists) gave his all for the Grizzlies.

Elsewhere, Joel Embiid scored 50 points in only 27 minutes in a 123-110 victory for Philadelphia over the Orlando Magic.

Embiid is now the third player in Sixers history to have multiple games with 50 points or more, while he reached 50 points and 10 rebounds quicker than any NBA player since 1955.

Related items

  • Mbappe stays at PSG: Real Madrid reeling but still have options to net a superstar striker Mbappe stays at PSG: Real Madrid reeling but still have options to net a superstar striker

    Real Madrid will have been left shaken by Kylian Mbappe's decision to snub them in favour of a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

    It was common knowledge that Madrid wanted to bring in Mbappe and shape their team around the France striker for the next decade.

    The Spanish champions have been used to getting what they want, but this time they have failed to land their number one target, with PSG's financial muscle surely a major factor.

    Now Madrid president Florentino Perez must consider the club's next course of action. Do they rely on Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior next season, or has there been a back-up plan in case Mbappe reached this decision?

    Here, Stats Perform looks at players that Madrid could consider if they remain intent on bringing in a forward in the close season.

    Richarlison (Everton/Brazil)

    After five years spent fumbling around mid-table and the lower reaches of the Premier League with Watford and latterly Everton, Richarlison seems long overdue a move to a club where he might challenge for honours. The 25-year-old has previously been linked with Madrid and Barcelona, and more recently Manchester United, and he would bring a roving threat to any side he joins. Capable of playing wide or in the centre, or flitting between roles, Richarlison has reached double figures in Premier League goals in three of his four seasons with Everton, and in a World Cup year this could be the ideal time to move for the striker. Should he dazzle at Qatar 2022, that price tag could go skywards.

    Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil)

    PSG were desperate to retain Mbappe, but would they feel the same way about Neymar? Five years into his PSG career, Neymar is now 30 years old and this is the first season when he has managed more than 20 league appearances for the Parisians. Injuries have disrupted his stay at the Parc des Princes, and while he remains a wonderfully gifted player and a joy to watch at times, if PSG want to recoup a chunk of the huge outlay that brought him to Paris from Barcelona, now might be the time for that. It would be an impudent approach for Madrid to make, and Neymar's Barcelona history adds a further complication, given the rivalry, but the player himself may be tempted.

    Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)

    If Madrid have a statement signing in mind to ease the pain of missing Mbappe, then joining the race for Lewandowski and gazumping Barcelona would be one way of going about that. Lewandowski has told Bayern he wants to leave, and ideally before next season. Barcelona are certainly interested, but their financial problems are well known. Could Madrid be better placed to land the highest scorer from Europe's top five leagues this season? Lewandowski hit 50 goals in 46 games across all competitions for Bayern, with Madrid's Benzema second on the list and Mbappe third. Whether Madrid would want a player who turns 34 in August when they already have a 34-year-old frontman in Benzema is a moot point.

    Paulo Dybala (Juventus/Argentina)

    Mbappe would have arrived in Madrid on a free transfer, given his contract at PSG was coming to an end. If their priority is to pick up a forward without an initial transfer fee outlay, then Dybala becomes an option. Roma and a host of Premier League clubs have been linked with the Argentina international, whose Juventus contract is expiring. He has scored at least 15 goals in five of his seven seasons with Juve, and would bring a creative presence to Madrid, and bundles of trophy-winning experience.

    Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig/France)

    If Madrid cannot have Mbappe for now, then his and Benzema's France team-mate Nkunku looks like a strong alternative option. With 34 goals in 51 games for Leipzig this season (prior to Saturday's DFB-Pokal final), Nkunku has proven himself in Germany and in European competition, and the obvious next step is a move to a super-club. The 24-year-old PSG academy graduate pipped the likes of Lewandowski and Erling Haaland to be named the Bundesliga's player of the year, underlining his status as a growing force in the game.

    Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt)

    Would they want Salah, or would they prefer his team-mate Sadio Mane? Either way, a Madrid approach could be Liverpool's worst nightmare. Both Salah and Mane have contracts that run to the end of next season, and they have again been tearing it up this term for the quadruple-hunting Reds. They are hot property and are coming to the point where they are considering probably the last bumper contracts of their careers. Would they fit in at Madrid? Both have the flair and finishing class that suggest they would be ideal acquisitions, and Madrid will get a close-up look in the Champions League final.

  • Mbappe stays at PSG: The numbers behind his career in the capital so far Mbappe stays at PSG: The numbers behind his career in the capital so far

    Speculation over Kylian Mbappe's future is finally over as he will be staying at Paris Saint-Germain.

    The 23-year-old had widely been expected to join Real Madrid as a free agent, but it was confirmed on Saturday that the France forward has signed a new three-year contract with PSG.

    Mbappe joined the Ligue 1 champions from Monaco, initially on loan, in 2017 and has become the capital club's leading light, despite playing alongside Neymar and, as of the 2021-22 season, Lionel Messi.

    PSG were desperate to keep hold of the World Cup winner and have now got their wish.

    Here, Stats Perform breaks down the key numbers and records behind Mbappe's PSG career to date.

    The headline numbers

    217 - As he featured in PSG's starting XI against Metz, he has now made 217 appearances so far, more than any other player in the period since he joined the club. Of those appearances, 190 have been starts.

    168 - Before the Metz game, the forward had scored an incredible 168 goals for PSG, 72 more than Neymar, who was second on the list since Mbappe made his PSG bow.

    77 - Prior to the Metz game, he was also the leading assister since he joined PSG, creating 77 goals. 

    775 - As expected, he also topped the PSG squad for shots, having had 775, with 398 of those hitting the target. Magnifique.

    42 - No player had contributed to more goals across Europe's top five leagues this season heading into Saturday's match than Mbappe, who has been involved in 42.

    The records

    15 - This season, Mbappe became the first player to score at least 15 goals and provide at least 15 assists in a single Ligue 1 campaign since Eden Hazard did so for Lille in the 2011-12 campaign.

    100 - When he scored against Lyon in March 2021, Mbappe became the youngest player to rack up 100 goals in Ligue 1, at the age of 22 years and 91 days. He is also the youngest player to net a century of goals in the top five European Leagues in the 21st century.

    2 - Mbappe is already the second-highest Ligue 1 scorer since the turn of the century, having scored 132 times in the competition before Saturday's game. Only PSG great Edinson Cavani, with 138, has netted more.

    1 - He is hoping to become the first player to finish as the highest goalscorer and the leading assist provider in the same Ligue 1 season since Opta began collecting such data in 2008.

    8 - Ever consistent, Mbappe had scored at least one goal and delivered at least one assist in eight different Ligue 1 games this season, the highest tally of his career in the same top-flight campaign, prior to the final match of the 2021-22 campaign.

    3 - Mbappe is aiming to be the third player to finish as the highest goalscorer in four consecutive Ligue 1 seasons, after Carlos Bianchi (four in a row with Reims and PSG) and Jean-Pierre Papin (five in a row with Marseille). 

    50 - It is not just domestically that Mbappe has thrived. Since Opta collected such data, starting in the 2003-04 season, he is the fastest and youngest player to have reached 50 goal involvements in the Champions League, doing so in 51 matches, by the age of 22 years and 352 days.

    32 - As of kick-off against Metz, Mbappe was 32 goals shy of matching Cavani's club record of 200 for PSG.

  • Capitals fall to Mumbai to hand RCB final IPL play-off spot Capitals fall to Mumbai to hand RCB final IPL play-off spot

    Delhi Capitals missed out on the Indian Premier League play-offs after Tim David capitalised on a reprieve in a five-wicket win for Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

    The Capitals, requiring a victory at the Wankhede Stadium to make the last four, were limited to 159-7, with Jasprit Bumrah (3-25)  the pick of the bowlers.

    Rovman Powell (43) and Rishabh Pant (39) fell short of half-centuries, but Delhi's total looked competitive as the Indians made a slow start in response.

    Mumbai struggled to 27-1 at the end of the powerplay after Anrich Nortje dismissed captain Rohit Sharma, who managed only two off 13 deliveries.

    Ishan Kishan offered more attacking intent, scoring 48 off 35 balls before falling to Kuldeep Yadav (1-33) in the 12th over and Dewald Brevis (37) followed to Shardul Thakur soon after with 65 runs still required.

    Pant failed to review when David, on nought, edged behind and the Australian capitalised by blasting an 11-ball 34 before he was removed by Thakur (2-32) to leave Mumbai needing just 15 from 13 balls.

    Ramandeep Singh (13 not out) saw Rohit's side over the line with five deliveries to spare, which meant Royal Challengers Bangalore took the final play-off spot and will face Lucknow Super Giants in the eliminator on Wednesday.

    Brilliant Bumrah

    Bumrah has been somewhat off the pace for the struggling Mumbai in this year's competition, barring his excellent 5-10 against Kolkata Knight Riders.

    However, the India quick was in imperious form in the first innings of this game, removing Prithvi Shaw (24), Mitchell Marsh (nought) and Powell to take his tally to 15 in the 2022 IPL.

    Pant's reviews

    Pan dropped a simple chance when Brevis skied Kuldeep on 25. The skipper then ignored Thakur's advice and opted to not review when David edged behind.

    The Capitals captain followed that up by reviewing a Nortje delivery to Tilak Varma that pitched well outside leg stump, capping a miserable day for the India wicketkeeper.

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