Edwards outduels Doncic in Timberwolves win, Giannis carries the Bucks with 42 points

By Sports Desk December 19, 2022

Anthony Edwards continued to show what he can do as a true top option in the Minnesota Timberwolves' 116-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

With Karl-Anthony Towns still out, Rudy Gobert was also ruled out in the hours leading up to tip-off, leaving the home Timberwolves as the underdogs against a full-strength Mavericks outfit.

But after one of the best games of his career against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday – when Edwards had 37 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds – the former number one overall draft pick showed it was no fluke.

Playing against arguably the league's top one-man-show in Dallas' Luka Doncic, Edwards produced an all-round performance with 27 points (seven-of-21 shooting), 13 rebounds and nine assists, helping his side build a 20-point buffer heading into the last quarter.

After only exceeding six assists in two of his first 23 games this season, Edwards has now registered at least seven in five of his past eight outings.

He was supported strongly against the Mavericks by Naz Reid, with the sweet-shooting center taking full advantage of his team's absences and his expanded role. He had 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting with 13 rebounds, after a 28-point, nine-rebound performance on Friday.

Doncic was kept quiet in his 28 minutes, hitting just five-of-17 from the field for 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

The win is the Timberwolves' third in a row, pulling their record above .500 at 16-15 after starting the season 2-6.

Giannis, Lopez dominate the Pelicans' interior

Giannis Antetokoumpo put up his third-highest point total of the season as he dropped 42 in the Milwaukee Bucks' 128-119 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Both teams entered the contest in the top-three of their respective conferences, but it was the 2021 NBA Champions coming out on top, with Antetokounmpo shooting 12-of-17 from the field and 17-of-22 from the free throw line while adding 10 rebounds.

Brook Lopez was similarly impressive, also shooting 12-of-17 from the field for 30 points, although his league-leading figure in blocks per game (2.8) took a small dip after only blocking one shot against the Pelicans.

Young carries the Hawks' offense

Trae Young had his fifth game of the season with at least 30 points and 10 assists in a close 126-125 victory to snap a six-game Orlando Magic winning streak.

Young finished with 37 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while also dishing 13 assists. None of his teammates scored more than rookie A.J. Griffin's 19 off the bench.

It was comfortably the best game of the season for former number one draft pick Markelle Fultz, scoring 24 points with nine assists and six rebounds as the Magic's starting point guard.

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    Jean-Philippe Mateta stole the show with a hat-trick as Crystal Palace ended the Premier League season unbeaten in seven straight games after a 5-0 hammering of Aston Villa at Selhurst Park.

    Palace manager Oliver Glasner replaced Roy Hodgson in February and has made an immediate impression on the Eagles, with promising signs awaiting his first full season in England next term.

    Mateta has been one of many Palace players to enjoy an upturn in form since Glasner's arrival, with the in-form striker's deadly first-half double paving the way for an impressive victory on Sunday.

    Frenchman Mateta completed his hat-trick with a well-taken finish in the second half, in between a pair of eye-catching Eberechi Eze goals, as Palace's dominant triumph saw them finish 10th in the table.

    This final-day defeat will not dampen the mood too much for Unai Emery's fourth-placed Villa, who head into next season with UEFA Champions League football awaiting.

    Selhurst Park erupted after just nine minutes when Michael Olise slipped a delicate pass into the area for Mateta, who blasted a left-footed effort past the helpless Robin Olsen.

    Villa responded with a barrage on Palace's goal, but Dean Henderson denied a well-struck Moussa Diaby volley before Marc Guehi cleared Ollie Watkins' looping header on the line.

    Glasner's Eagles struck another decisive blow six minutes before the interval as Daniel Munoz swept a low cross for Mateta to slam into the top-left corner from close range.

    Olsen stopped Olise from making it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, with his low curling attempt pushed away by the Villa goalkeeper, who replaced Emiliano Martinez for this final-day meeting.

    Yet Olsen had no chance after 54 minutes as Eze danced inside from the left and powered into the bottom-left corner, before the Palace midfielder teed up Mateta to complete his treble with a well-taken finish from the right of goal nine minutes later.

    Palace's in-form striker thought he had another to add to his tally moments later but a VAR review ruled the Frenchman offside after racing onto a long pass in behind.

    Mateta responded to that VAR decision by setting up Eze to drive another brilliant attempt into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area after 69 minutes and complete a dominant victory.

    Palace excitement builds with Glasner

    Prior to this game, Palace had won five of their last six Premier League games (D1), as many as they had in their previous 27 (D8 L14). 

    The Eagles smashed Manchester United 4-0 and Wolves 3-1 in their last two games before this victory made it three Premier League wins in a row, while Palace scored 3+ goals in each triumph for the first time in their top-flight history.

    Austrian Glasner's next challenge will be to keep up the improvements going into next season, with Palace – boasting quality in the likes of Eze, Mateta and Olise – capable of competing in the top half of the table.

    Amazing Emery inspires Villa revival

    Villa were only promoted back to the Premier League five years ago, after their Championship play-off final victory over Derby County, but will be preparing for Champions League football next term.

    That remarkable rise to compete with Europe's elite can largely be apportioned to Emery, who was appointed in October 2022 after Steven Gerrard was dismissed with Villa struggling at the bottom half of the league table.

    The Spaniard, a record four-time winner of the Europa League, has 35 wins in 63 games of his Premier League managerial career with Villa – a record he will hope to continue improving next season.

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    Premier League Player of the Season Foden capped his outstanding campaign with two great goals when it mattered most, firing home from range in the second minute then adding another 16 minutes later.

    Mohammed Kudus gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope in the title race when he halved the arrears with a remarkable overhead kick, but Rodri restored the champions' two-goal cushion after 59 minutes.

    Pep Guardiola could relax from there and City were unfortunate not to add to their lead, finishing two points clear at the summit as Arsenal fought back to beat Everton 2-1.

    West Ham, meanwhile, were already guaranteed to finish ninth and end their final campaign under David Moyes with 52 points, eight adrift of Manchester United in eighth.  

    Mikel Arteta would have been praying for a solid start from West Ham, but City were ahead within 78 seconds as Foden's delicate touch took him away from James Ward-Prowse 25 yards out, allowing him to blast his shot into the top-left corner.

    City laid siege to Alphonse Areola's goal from there, Jeremy Doku drawing two reflex saves from the visiting goalkeeper before Rodri prodded wide from a promising position. 

    With West Ham chasing shadows, City went 2-0 up when Foden swept across goal and in after fine work from Doku on the left wing. 

    Erling Haaland somehow failed to convert from close range before West Ham suddenly grew in stature, and Kudus introduced some jeopardy with an incredible overhead kick with 42 minutes gone. 

    Haaland missed another glaring chance just before half-time, then Kevin De Bruyne and Foden fired wide as the crowd grew increasingly nervous after the interval.

    However, Rodri settled City's nerves just before the hour mark, side-footing beyond the dive of Areola after being teed up by Bernardo Silva on the edge of the area.

    Haaland went close on two more occasions as City looked to kill the game once and for all, before Tomas Soucek had a goal disallowed for an obvious handball at the other end following a VAR review. 

    That was the last tense moment City had to endure as they celebrated yet another title, finishing the campaign with nine straight wins to edge out the Gunners. 

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    Foden's stunning opener was his sixth goal from outside the area in the Premier League this season, three more than any other player in the competition and the most ever netted by a City player in a single campaign.

    His second, a cultured finish into the far corner from Doku's cutback, was his 19th in the Premier League in 2023-24. Raheem Sterling in 2019-20 (20) is the only English player to ever better that tally for City in a single season.

    While it was Rodri's goal that allowed City to breathe after a tense period either side of half-time, it was fitting that Foden played a starring role on the decisive day.

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    Taking advantage of some slack set-piece defending, Kudus flicked the ball into the air, held off Josko Gvardiol and gave Stefan Ortega no chance with a brilliant, improvised finish.

    He ends his first Premier League campaign with eight goals, a tally only bettered by Jarrod Bowen (16) among his Irons team-mates.

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    Prabhsimran Singh helped Punjab set a target of 215, but Hyderabad chased that down with relative ease to go second, a position they will finish in should Rajasthan Royals lose to the table-topping Kolkata Knight Riders later on Sunday.

    After the Sunrisers won the toss and put Punjab in to bat, Prabhsimran top scored with 71 runs from 45 deliveries, while Atharva Taide (46 off 27) and Rilee Roussouw (49 from 24) also impressed as the Kings, already out of playoff contention, finished on 214/5.

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    Abdul Samad and Sanvir Singh finished the job as the Sunrisers reached their target with five balls to spare, and they can now look ahead to their playoff campaign.

    Data debrief: Abhishek wastes no time

    The Sunrisers overcame Head's second IPL golden duck thanks to a brilliant innings from Abhishek, who reached his half-century in just 21 balls and finished with a strike rate of 235.71.

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