NBA

Tatum's Celtics improve league-leading record to 20-5, Harden struggles in 76ers return

By Sports Desk December 06, 2022

The Boston Celtics kept their terrific season rolling on Monday when they utilised a dominant third quarter to defeat the Toronto Raptors 116-110 away from home.

Boston were led by Jayson Tatum, who finished with 31 points on 11-of-24 shooting, hitting five of his 10 three-point attempts while adding 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in his 39 minutes. He helped his side outscore the Raptors 35-18 in the third period, turning around a six-point deficit at halftime.

The 24-year-old is enjoying the best season of his career, averaging a career-high 30.7 points per game while shooting a career-best 48.1 per cent from the field, all while attempting a career-high 9.3 three-pointers per game.

Tatum was supported well by running-mate Jaylen Brown, who chipped in 22 points (nine-of-22 shooting), eight rebounds and eight assists, while reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart posted 18 points (seven-of-14) and seven assists.

While the Celtics were the best defensive team in the league this past season when they went to the NBA Finals, this campaign it has been all about their offense.

Scoring 120 points per 100 possessions, they are two-and-a-half points clear of the second-ranked Phoenix Suns (117.5), and they are getting it done by shooting a league-best 40.2 per cent from the three-point line.

Their win against the Raptors was their 21st game with at least 110 points, helping them to a league-best record of 20-5, while no other team has more than 17 wins.

Harden's rough return to Houston

Playing against his former team, James Harden returned for the Philadelphia 76ers after five weeks on the sidelines, but had a rough outing in a 132-123 double-overtime loss to the Houston Rockets.

Harden, who won the 2017-18 league MVP while playing for the Rockets, scored 21 points, dished seven assists, snagged four rebounds and plucked two steals, but he shot a dismal four-of-19 from the field.

His step-back three-pointer tied the game at 108-108 with 90 seconds remaining in regulation, ultimately forcing overtime, before back-to-back MVP runner-up Joel Embiid fouled out in the first extra period, leaving the 76ers short-handed for the second overtime.

Last year's second overall draft pick Jalen Green was strong for the Rockets, scoring 27 points on nine-of-20 shooting with seven assists, while this year's third overall pick Jabari Smith Jr added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander carries the Thunder

Arguably the breakout star of the season so far, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the best player on the floor yet again in a 121-114 win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.

The 24-year-old is currently third in the NBA in scoring at 31.1 points per game, and that figure got a bump after he put up 35 points against the Hawks, hitting 10-of-22 from the field and all 15 of his free throws.

Of the four other players averaging at least 30 points per game this season (Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum) none are attempting fewer than Gilgeous-Alexanders 3.0 three-pointers per game, and none are shooting better than his 92.4 per cent from the free throw line.

Related items

  • NBA referees apologise after 'gut-wrenching' mistake on James call in controversial Lakers loss NBA referees apologise after 'gut-wrenching' mistake on James call in controversial Lakers loss

    The NBA referees' official Twitter account apologised for a "gut-wrenching" mistake after a decisive last-minute officiating error cost the Los Angeles Lakers against the Boston Celtics.

    With the score tied at 105-105, LeBron James was smacked on his shooting arm at the rim by Jayson Tatum as the Lakers star went for glory with under five seconds remaining on the clock.

    The four-time MVP and four-time NBA Finals MVP would fall short with his attempted drive before the Celtics snatched a 125-121 triumph in overtime.

    James, Anthony Davis and the entire Lakers bench erupted at the last-gasp call, with Patrick Beverley issued a technical foul after bringing over a camera to referee Eric Lewis to review the decision.

    Davis said Los Angeles were "cheated", while James expressed confusion at the clear error and the NBA referees took to social media to apologise on Sunday.

    "Like everyone else, referees make mistakes. We made one at the end of last night's game and that is gut-wrenching for us," the official account wrote.

    "This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be."

    The apology may prove little consolation for James, whose 41 points on Saturday in Boston proved in vain.

    Defeat saw the Lakers fall to 23-27, sitting 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference ahead of four road games in the coming week.

    Los Angeles will look to bounce back at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday without James and Davis after the Lakers confirmed the pair would be absent on the first night of their back-to-back.

  • James and Davis out for Lakers at Nets as LeBron nears Kareem record James and Davis out for Lakers at Nets as LeBron nears Kareem record

    LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

    James is dealing with left ankle soreness, while Davis has a right foot stress injury, the team confirmed the day before the game.

    Both men played in Saturday's overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, in which James scored 41 points.

    For James, his absence in Brooklyn may well mean a historic NBA moment comes in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles.

    The four-time MVP now has 38,271 career regular season points, putting him just 116 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record.

    Averaging 30.2 points per game this season, James would only require four more games to pass Abdul-Jabbar at his current rate of scoring.

    The Lakers have four games in this coming week – all on the road.

    After that, the Lakers return to Staples Center on February 7 to play the Oklahoma City Thunder in a game in which James will likely be targeting the record.

  • Storm to face Horizon in Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League final after thrilling victory over Waves Storm to face Horizon in Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League final after thrilling victory over Waves

    Despite a game-high 58 points by Cameron Burhannon, Waves suffered a tough 115-113 loss to Storm on Friday to advance to Sunday’s final of the Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League where they are set to face defending champions Horizon.

    Brandon Armstrong scored 32 for Storm in a most-compelling encounter.

    Horizon, meanwhile, battered the winless Rivers 112-87 in the second semi-final.

    Rivers will play Waves in a play-off for third.

    Played in front of a vociferous group of spectators, the Storm/Waves game featured end-to-end action and almost constant lead changes in what many described as the game of the tournament.

    Waves enjoyed the largest lead, six points, over Storm at the end of the third quarter, an advantage that was quickly erased by the second minute of the of the final quarter.

    “I must commend my team. They played their hearts out,” said Storm’s head coach O’Neil Brown.

    “We played this team twice since this season, this is the third game and I told my guys going into this match if one team beat you three times it means they are better then you.

    “The last game when I watched over and over again we saw that when we play with two ‘bigs’, it kind of give us problems guarding the perimeter ‘cause the Waves like to shoot threes so we decided at the end of the game that we were going to go small and force them to go small and it worked out for us."

    Brown said he was confident of his team’s chances against the defending champion in the final.

     “I feel great and this going into the finals. We are confident that we can pull it off. This lifts the guys’ morale and we can't wait for Sunday to come," Brown said.

    Losing coach Rohan Robinson was naturally despondent.

    “Well, it’s simple. You could see the team prepared for us.  You play a team twice and you beat them, you can do so much and no more,” he said.

    “If you prepare yourself you will come out the victor. I told them if we cannot get a chance to prepare ourselves and we not playing together when things are tough we not going get through."

    The second match of the night between Horizon and Rivers went as expected with Horizon winning by 25 points as Bobby Gray scored 23 points in tandem with Rasheed Maynard and Asaad Wood, who each scored 19 points.

    They led at the end of every quarter and were ahead by as many as 35 points in the third quarter.

    Rivers outscored Horizon 27-17 in the fourth quarter but it provided little consolation.

    Rivers’ Anthony Ottley scored 24 with support from Ricky Shuford 17 and Tre Brewer 16.

     "It was a pretty good game. We have played them about four times. We weren't surprised that we were able to pull out another victory tonight, not really a strong opponent but nevertheless, we were able to pull a victory and I am proud of the team tonight" said Horizon’s coach Cleon Morgan.

    River’s coach Tesfa Milligen is hopeful his team can win third place on Sunday.

    “Unfortunately, another rough night. We still have one more game left which is for third place so hopefully we can put it together and play a full 48 minutes of competitive team basketball and come out with a W," he said.

    The third place -off and final will tip off on Sunday, January 29. The first match begins at 6:00 pm and the final set for at 8:00 pm.  The day's activity will actually start at 2:00 pm with several exhibition matches featuring high school girls and boys teams.

     

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.