The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to back-to-back losses in the NBA, while the Clippers got past the Miami Heat on Thursday.

The Lakers dropped two straight games for the first time this season, beaten 107-92 by the Detroit Pistons.

LeBron James posted a double-double of 22 points and 10 assists, to go with seven rebounds, but the Lakers were beaten.

A day after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis (quad).

Blake Griffin (23 points) and Mason Plumlee (17 points and 10 rebounds) led the Pistons (5-14) to their surprise win.

The Lakers (14-6) are third in the Western Conference, behind the Utah Jazz (14-4) and Clippers (14-5).

Still without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, the Clippers recorded a 109-105 win over the Heat.

They had six players in double-figures for points, with Serge Ibaka (10 points and 13 rebounds) finishing with a double-double.

The Clippers became the first team in the shot-clock era to win a game despite being outscored by 14-plus points in the first and fourth quarters, as per Stats Perform.

 

Awesome Oladipo leads Rockets, Curry's Warriors crushed

Victor Oladipo finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Houston Rockets' 104-101 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard (30 points, nine assists and four rebounds) led the way for Portland.

Stephen Curry posted 27 points, but the Golden State Warriors were well beaten by the Phoenix Suns 114-93.

 

Warriors' woes

Kelly Oubre Jr. (one-of-11) and Draymond Green (one-of-seven) struggled from the field for the Warriors, combining for just six points.

 

Wood with the dunk

Christian Wood continued his good form with 22 points, including a big dunk, and 12 rebounds for the Rockets.

Thursday's results

Houston Rockets 104-101 Portland Trail Blazers
Detroit Pistons 107-92 Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns 114-93 Golden State Warriors

 

Nets at Thunder

The Brooklyn Nets (12-8) are riding a three-game winning streak ahead of facing the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-9) on Friday. Nets stars Kevin Durant and James Harden are set to come up against their former team.

No player's journey to the NBA has ever been easy. Christian Wood's may just have been the hardest. 

An undrafted player that was waived several times, including by a team in China, Wood has remarkably ascended into the upper echelon of the league behind a stellar first season in Houston.  

The 6-foot-10 center is averaging 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds in 12 games, and while he hasn't made Rockets fans forget James Harden, he's certainly offered a ray of optimism in a difficult season.  

Through January 20, Wood had seven games this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Only Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Vucevic had more with eight apiece during that span. 

Wood and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid are the only players (minimum 10 games) currently among the league's top 25 in points, rebounds and blocks per game.  

All signs point to stardom for Wood, who is a leading contender for the Most Improved Player award and is even receiving consideration for the 2021 United States Olympic team. None of this could've been predicted early in Wood's career when he had trouble just holding onto a roster spot and was a G League regular.  

Undrafted in 2015 after two seasons at UNLV, Wood, 25, was given a chance by the Rockets but was never offered a contract. He made his NBA debut with the 76ers in 2015-16, averaging 3.6 points in 17 games but spent most of the season with Delaware in the G League. 

Wood appeared in 13 games for Charlotte in 2016-17 but was let go after that season and then played for the Mavericks' and Suns' summer league teams in 2017.  

With no NBA team willing to sign him, Wood accepted an offer from the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese league. He would never play for them and was waived after the Sturgeons signed another former NBA player, Mike Harris.  

Despite putting up impressive numbers in the G League for Philadelphia in 2017-18 and then Milwaukee the next season, Wood only played in 13 games for the Bucks and averaged 2.8 points.  

Signed as a free agent by New Orleans in March 2019, Wood finally began to offer glimpses of his potential. He averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in eight games, but the Pelicans decided to waive him on July 15, 2019. 

Picked up three days later by the Pistons, Wood beat out veteran guard Joe Johnson for the final spot on Detroit's 2019-20 roster. A solid reserve most of that season with averages of 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, Wood's career truly took off when he was inserted into the starting lineup in early February following the trade of center Andre Drummond to Cleveland.

In the final 13 games that season, Wood averaged 22.8 points on 56.8 per cent shooting and 9.9 rebounds. He even connected on 22 of 55 from three-point range, proving he can be an effective offensive player in a myriad of ways.

Though Detroit hoped to retain Wood, the Rockets offered a three-year, $41million contract and the teams worked out a sign-and-trade deal. That contract looks like a stroke of genius now for Houston since they have no choice but to undergo a transformation with the trade of Russell Westbrook followed by Harden's blockbuster move to Brooklyn.  

Wood is currently dealing with a sprained right ankle and has missed the past three games, but his first 12 have left quite an impression.  

Wood is just one of five players since 1985-86 to accumulate at least 280 points and 125 total rebounds in his first 12 games with a team. The others on that list are Shaquille O’Neal (Lakers, 1996), Zach Randolph (Clippers, 2008), Charles Barkley (Suns, 1992) and Moses Malone (Washington Bullets, 1986). 

Only Elvin Hayes (326 in 1968) and Harden (294 in 2012) have more points than Wood (282) in their first 12 games with the Rockets. That's a more productive start than Westbrook, Ralph Sampson, Tracy McGrady or even Hakeem Olajuwon had in their first few weeks with the franchise.  

Missing time in an abbreviated season won't help his case for Most Improved Player but Wood is one of only two qualified players (appeared in 70 per cent of team's games both seasons) to have raised his scoring average by at least 10 points from last season.  

Wood (+10.4) trails only Detroit’s Jerami Grant (+12.4) in scoring and leads in improvement in rebounds per game (+4.5) and ranks third in blocks (+0.88). 

Among undrafted players, Wood (23.5) leads the league in scoring by a wide margin over Toronto's Fred VanVleet (18.9) and in rebounding (10.8) over JaMychal Green (6.7) of the Nuggets. 

In matchups this season against Jokic, Vucevic and San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge – some of the game's best big men – Wood has averaged 24 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. 

A lack of maturity certainly contributed to Wood's difficulty in landing a regular NBA role early in his career, as did a lack of on-court focus at times. But those issues seem to be a thing of the past and Wood's future is very bright given his youth, athletic ability and skill set that seems tailor made for the modern NBA. 

Wood will have a difficult time becoming an All-Star in a stacked Western Conference but that his name is even being mentioned among the NBA's elite is rather incredible for a player that the mighty Sturgeons had no use for. 

John Wall was glad to get a rare win over Russell Westbrook – as well as coming out on top against his former team – after helping the Houston Rockets prevail against the Washington Wizards.

Wall had 24 points as the Rockets triumphed 107-88 despite the best efforts of his former back-court partner Bradley Beal, who finished with a game-high 33 for the short-handed Wizards.

For Wall, this was his first time going up against the franchise that drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. The point guard was traded prior to this season, swapping places with Westbrook.

Not for the first time in their careers, the pair exchanged words during Tuesday's contest, leading to both receiving technical fouls.

"Trash talking, that's what two competitive guys do," Wall explained in his post-game interview.

"Russ has been kicking my a** for years - I think this is only my third win against Russ since I've been in the league, so he's a hell of a talent.

"I know he's dealing with injuries the same as I was, we just keep trying to get better and lead our team.

"It's just competitive guys trash talking. This isn't the first time; we've trash talked before. We knew how good he could be."

As for Westbrook, he is looking forward to the opportunity of coming up against Houston again later in the season - Washington will have home advantage when the teams meet on February 15.

The nine-time NBA All-Star contributed 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the defeat at Toyota Center, his former home before the trade that sent him to the Wizards.

"Now listen, I don't start talking s***," Westbrook said. "I defend myself because I don't just allow people to say just anything, especially when I know the facts as it pertains to anybody on the court playing against [me].

"So, I think [they] just started talking s*** because they just started to win, started winning at that time. You know, it's cool, though. We play them again."

Wall, playing restricted minutes as he comes back after two injury plagued years, admits he is having fun with Houston, declaring he is just happy to be on a team where he feels wanted.

Victor Oladipo had 20 points while DeMarcus Cousins contributed 19 as well as 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who are starting afresh following the departure of disgruntled superstar James Harden.

"I haven't played in two years so this is fun," Wall said. "To be somewhere where you're wanted, that's the most important thing.

"I never want to be anywhere where I'm not wanted, and I feel like this organisation wanted me here and they've shown nothing but love and trust for me since day one."

Defeat was particularly tough on Beal, who now has 413 points for the struggling Wizards, who own a 3-10 record in the East. 

The shooting guard is the third player in NBA history to score at least 400 points during his first 12 games but have three or fewer wins. The others were both in 1959-60 - Elgin Baylor and Jack Twyman.

The Los Angeles Clippers' seven-game winning streak was ended, while the Utah Jazz's run continued on Tuesday.

Trae Young inspired the Atlanta Hawks to a 108-99 win over the Clippers, posting 38 points and five assists.

The Clippers (13-5) were without star pair Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who missed the game due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Reggie Jackson led the Clippers' scoring with 20 points, but it was Young who dominated.

Young also got plenty of support from De'Andre Hunter (22 points), Clint Capela (13 points and 18 rebounds) and John Collins (11 points and 11 rebounds).

Utah, meanwhile, made it nine straight wins by getting past the New York Knicks 108-94.

Rudy Gobert finished with a double-double of 18 points and 19 rebounds for the Jazz (13-4).

 

Wall shines for Rockets, Rivers hot for Knicks

John Wall had 24 points to guide the Houston Rockets past his former team, the Washington Wizards, 107-88.

Austin Rivers was 10-of-14 from the field, and five-of-seven from three-point range, for 25 points in 27 minutes off the bench for the Knicks.

 

Wizards' woes continue

The Wizards slumped to 3-10 after their loss to the Rockets.

The defeat came despite 33 points from Bradley Beal. Beal has 413 points in his 12 games this season, but the Wizards hold a 3-9 record in those encounters. He is the third player in NBA history to score 400-plus points over his first 12 games of a season but have three or fewer wins, joining Elgin Baylor and Jack Twyman in 1959-60, as per Stats Perform.

Young pays tribute to Kobe

Young held up a 24 sign with his hands after making a three-pointer for the Hawks, in a tribute to Kobe Bryant on the one-year anniversary of the NBA great's death.

Tuesday's results

Atlanta Hawks 108-99 Los Angeles Clippers
Houston Rockets 107-88 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 108-94 New York Knicks

 

Lakers at 76ers

The respective conference leaders meet in a blockbuster clash on Wednesday. The Philadelphia 76ers (12-6) host a Los Angeles Lakers (14-4) outfit that have won three straight games.

The Los Angeles Lakers eased to a win in the NBA on Saturday, while the Brooklyn Nets overcame the Miami Heat.

Anthony Davis posted 37 points in 28 minutes as the Lakers brushed past the Chicago Bulls 101-90 to improve to 9-0 on the road.

LeBron James had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in the comfortable win.

The Lakers (13-4) sit top of the Western Conference ahead of the red-hot Utah Jazz (12-4).

The Nets returned to winning ways after back-to-back losses, overcoming the Heat 128-124.

Kyrie Irving had 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, while Kevin Durant (31 points), Joe Harris (23 points) and James Harden (12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) were also key contributors.

Heat star Bam Adebayo was in impressive form with 41 points.

 

Jazz win eighth straight, Embiid and Jokic star again

The Jazz made it eight straight wins as Donovan Mitchell recorded 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 127-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Warriors star Stephen Curry (24 points) passed Reggie Miller to move into second place for most three-pointers made in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers improved to 12-5 as Joel Embiid had a double-double of 33 points and 14 rebounds in a 114-110 win against the Detroit Pistons.

Nikola Jokic's impressive season continued. The center had 29 points, 22 rebounds and six assists as the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 120-112 after overtime.

 

Grant struggles

Jerami Grant struggled from the field for the Pistons. He went three-of-19 for just 11 points in 35 minutes in the loss to the 76ers.

 

Curry passes Miller

Curry moved past Miller after making his 2,561st three-pointer in the NBA. Only Ray Allen (2,973) has made more.

Saturday's results

Minnesota Timberwolves 120-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Philadelphia 76ers 114-110 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Miami Heat
Houston Rockets 133-108 Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz 127-108 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 101-90 Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets 120-112 Phoenix Suns

 

Hawks at Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks (9-6) have dropped back-to-back games ahead of hosting the Atlanta Hawks (8-7) on Sunday.

Collin Sexton made history after helping the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in three days, 125-113 in the NBA on Friday.

After scoring 42 points in a double-overtime upset of the Nets on Wednesday, Cavaliers star Sexton was at it again with 25 points and nine assists against Brooklyn in Cleveland.

Sexton became the first player in Cavs history to post 20-plus points in each of his first 10 games of the season.

It was another tough outing for the star-studded Nets, who crashed to a second consecutive loss since Kyrie Irving returned following a seven-game absence.

In the absence of Kevin Durant (Achilles rehab), Irving had a game-high 38 points, while James Harden put up 19 points and 11 assists – his fourth double-double in four games since joining the Nets in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets.

Joel Embiid produced another MVP-calibre performance as the Philadelphia 76ers overcame Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics 122-110.

Embiid dominated with 38 points and 11 rebounds, after his 42-point double-double against the Celtics midweek. The three-time All-Star was 11-of-15 from the field, while he made both of his three-point attempts.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with a game-high 42 points in Philadelphia.

 

Young and Capela soar for Hawks, Kawhi fuels Clippers

Trae Young posted a season-high 43 points and Clint Capela recorded 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks to guide the Atlanta Hawks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-98. Capela became the third player in Hawks history with 10 blocks in a game, joining Dikembe Mutombo and Josh Smith.

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-106 for their sixth straight win behind Kawhi Leonard's 31 points in LA. Paul George added 29 points of his own for the in-form Clippers, who are tied with defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA's best record at 12-4.

Another game, another double-double for Nikola Jokic. The Denver Nuggets star tallied his 15th double-double (31 points and 10 rebounds) in 15 games this season to help secure a 130-126 OT victory at the Phoenix Suns.

Luka Doncic fell just short of a triple-double after posting 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the Dallas Mavericks' 122-117 win against the San Antonio Spurs.

Gordan Hayward finished with 34 points but the Charlotte Hornets still lost 123-110 at home to the Chicago Bulls.

 

Collin in Young's shadow

Hawks power forward John Collins has reportedly been unhappy with Young running the team's offense, but he did little to stake his own case. Collins was just two-of-eight shooting from the field for four points in 28 minutes. The rookie has been averaging 15.9 points per game this season.

The Miami Heat boast some great three-point shooters in Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, but last season's NBA Finals participants struggled from beyond the arc in their 101-81 rout at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. Miami were just 22.6 per cent from three-point range – three of 31.

 

Brogdon calls came

Trailing 118-117, Malcolm Brogdon nailed a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds remaining as the Indiana Pacers topped the Orlando Magic 120-118 in overtime.

 

Friday's results

Chicago Bulls 123-110 Charlotte Hornets
Houston Rockets 103-102 Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers 120-118 Orlando Magic (OT)
Cleveland Cavaliers 123-115 Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers 122-110 Boston Celtics
Toronto Raptors 101-81 Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks 116-98 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 122-117 San Antonio Spurs
Denver Nuggets 130-126 Phoenix Suns (OT)
Los Angeles Clippers 120-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Sacramento Kings 103-94 New York Knicks
Washington Wizards-Milwaukee Bucks (postponed)
Memphis Grizzlies-Portland Trail Blazers (postponed)

 

Heat at Nets

The Nets (9-8) will look to snap a run of back-to-back defeats when they host Eastern Conference rivals the Heat (6-8) on Saturday.

Joel Embiid produced another mammoth performance to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics 117-109 on Wednesday.

Embiid posted 42 points and 10 rebounds – going 12 of 19 from the floor in Philadelphia, where the three-time NBA All-Star scored 22 points in the first half.

Returning to action following knee soreness, Embiid topped 40 points for the second time in three games as he joined Bradley Beal as the only NBA players with multiple such performances.

There is only one other instance where a Sixers player had a 40 and 10 game on one or fewer turnovers since the three-point era – Embiid himself in 2019.

Luka Doncic recorded another triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Indiana Pacers 124-112 to snap a three-game losing streak.

Doncic put up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season – tied for the most alongside Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic – and 30th of his career.

The 22-year-old is the youngest player to reach 30 career triple-doubles, while he is the second-fastest in terms of games played (146), eclipsing Magic Johnson (190) but behind Oscar Robertson (75).

 

Irving stars on return but Sexton outshines Nets trio

After a seven-game absence due to personal reasons, Kyrie Irving had 37 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 147-135 double overtime loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 38 points and 12 rebounds, and fellow superstar James Harden finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. However, Collin Sexton's 42 points lifted the Cavaliers past Brooklyn's 'Big Three'.

Clint Capela had 27 points and a career-high 26 rebounds for the Atlanta Hawks, who outlasted the Detroit Pistons 123-115 in overtime. Trae Young scored 38 points and John Collins registered 31 points, while Detroit's Jerami Grant posted a career-high 32 points.

 

Lowry's shooting woes

While collecting 10 rebounds and tallying seven assists, Kyle Lowry was far from his best in the Toronto Raptors' 111-102 loss to the Miami Heat. Lowry was just two-of-12 from the field, while he made just one of 10 shots from three-point range for eight points in 36 minutes.

 

Anthony on the buzzer!

Cole Anthony did it all at the death. He grabbed the rebound and ran the length of the court before sinking the buzzer-beating shot to lift the Orlando Magic past the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-96.

Wednesday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 147-135 Brooklyn Nets (OT)
Dallas Mavericks 124-112 Indiana Pacers
Philadelphia 76ers 117-109 Boston Celtics
Atlanta Hawks 123-115 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Miami Heat 111-102 Toronto Raptors
Orlando Magic 97-96 Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns 109-103 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 121-99 San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers 115-96 Sacramento Kings
Washington Wizards-Charlotte Hornets (postponed)
Portland Trail Blazers-Memphis Grizzlies (postponed)

 

Lakers at Bucks

LeBron James and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (11-4) travel to face Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks (9-5) on Thursday. Both teams are coming off losses.

James Harden and Kevin Durant guided the Brooklyn Nets past the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Los Angeles Lakers' winning run was ended.

The Nets extended their winning streak to four with a 125-123 victory over the Bucks on Monday.

It was their second win in as many games since Harden joined in a trade from the Houston Rockets last week.

The eight-time All-Star had a double-double of 34 points and 12 assists, while Durant finished with 30 points against the Bucks.

Durant hit a clutch three-pointer with 36.8 seconds remaining to lift the Nets to 9-6.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

After five straight wins, the Lakers went down to the Golden State Warriors 115-113.

Warriors star Stephen Curry had 26 points, while Dennis Schroder top-scored for the Lakers with 25.

LeBron James (19 points) missed a three-pointer on the buzzer for the Lakers, who had Anthony Davis post a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds.

 

Awesome Adebayo, Oladipo makes Rockets debut

Bam Adebayo posted 28 points and 11 rebounds to guide the Miami Heat past the struggling Detroit Pistons 113-107.

Victor Oladipo arrived at the Rockets following Harden's exit, and he had 32 points and nine assists on debut, but it came in a 125-120 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan (20 points and 11 assists) led an even team effort in the San Antonio Spurs' 125-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. DeRozan (20), LaMarcus Aldridge (22), Patty Mills (21) and Rudy Gay (21) became the first group of four Spurs team-mates to each score 20-plus points in a game since 2010.

A double-double from Trae Young (20 points and 13 assists) helped the Atlanta Hawks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97.

 

Doncic below his best

Luka Doncic described himself as "selfish" despite a triple-double in a Dallas Mavericks loss to the Bulls on Sunday, and he was below his best a day later. He went four-of-11 from the field for just 15 points in 34 minutes in a 116-93 humbling at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

 

Clutch KD

Durant hit the crucial three-pointer to lift the Nets to their victory.

Monday's results

New York Knicks 91-84 Orlando Magic
Atlanta Hawks 108-97 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 125-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 125-123 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 116-93 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 113-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 125-120 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 115-113 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Thunder at Nuggets

Nikola Jokic (averaging 25 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists this season) and the Denver Nuggets (6-7) take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) in one of two games scheduled for Tuesday.

Rafael Stone insisted James Harden's comments after two losses to the Los Angeles Lakers did not impact the Houston Rockets' trade plans.

Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets days after saying he had done everything he could in Houston.

After back-to-back losses to the Lakers, the eight-time All-Star also said: "This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

But Stone said Harden's comments, which drew criticism from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, were irrelevant to the Rockets' plans.

"They did not affect me at all. In a trade there are multiple parties so I have no idea if it affected other teams," Stone told a news conference on Sunday.

"But I can guarantee you it did not affect us."

The Rockets acquired Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, sending former Nets guard Caris LeVert to Indiana.

As part of the Nets trade that involved the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston also brought in Rodions Kurucs and Dante Exum, plus four first-round picks, to go with four first-round pick swaps.

Stone is happy with the deal the Rockets ended up with as he lauded two-time All-Star Oladipo.

"I don't think it's appropriate to talk about the other deals," Stone said.

"I would say what is super exciting about this deal is it gives us flexibility and in the NBA, picks, especially high picks, are the best currency. Everybody likes them, everybody values them, so that was great organisationally, it gave us flexibility to do different types of deals as they come up this year, next year, whatever.

"We were able to get Victor Oladipo as part of it along with Rodi and Dante, but Victor is a guy we're really excited about. I think he's excited to be here and we think he's very talented so that was not insignificant from our perspective."

The Rockets hold a 4-7 record this season and are 14th in the Western Conference.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

  1. Windies men- Nothing to lose so much to gain!

It is no secret that as the West Indies get set to face Bangladesh on January 20, in their first One-Day International, the home side is the overwhelming favourite, especially because of their track record of winning at home. The Windies enter against a backdrop comprising of several senior players opting out, Hayden Walsh Jr getting Covid-19 mere days before the first ODI, eight players making their ODI debut and the captain, Jason Mohammed, who last played for the Windies in 2018. Despite all these factors, they walk into this series with nothing to lose and so much to gain.

It is easy to point out the lack of experience in the Windies team. Simply put, as I mentioned before, eight of the players suiting up will be making their debuts. In the ODI setup, Rovman Powell is the most experienced having played 34 matches with the skipper Jason Mohammed ranked second with 28. While this is enough to say the Windies team is inexperienced we must also note that Bangladesh also has three uncapped players - off-spinner Mahadi Hasan and pacers Shorful Islam and Hasan Mahmud.

Similarly, it is natural to feel uneasy that ODI skipper Jason Mohammed has been out of Windies cricket since 2018. However, we cannot forget that Mohammed previously captained the Windies in an ODI against England in 2017 and in three T20Is during their 2018 Pakistan tour.

It was during a similar situation when key players refused to play and CWI thrust Mohammed to the helm.

All things considered, it is not always a disadvantage to be the underdogs if the team is physically and mentally ready. In World-Cup-winning captain Clive Lloyd’s open letter to the team, he highlighted that he made his debut on short notice against India 1966. He got his call up just hours before the game and went on to score 82 and 78. 

And, in that is the bigger picture. A ticket to the World Cup awaits any player who seizes this moment. Wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva impressed on his Test debut in New Zealand where he scored an impressive half-century.

Batsman Kjorn Ottley is another player who could force his way into the first team. In 2019, he played for Barbados in the 50-over competition and scored 325 runs in the nine innings at an average of 54.16.  All-rounder Akeal Hosein will be eager to transfer his CPL form into this format of the game.

The 27-year-old was the leading wicket-taker in T&T’s 2020 first-class season with a total of 36 wickets at an average of 20.61. 

 

  1. Brooklyn Nets Success: One Word- Sacrifice.

News of James Harden leaving the Houston Rockets and joining the Brooklyn Nets did not sit very well with me as a Rockets supporter. It took me a few days to process his exit. However, as Harden’s biggest supporter and critic I understand the reason for the move. The three-time NBA scoring champion is desperate to win a Championship and he is not getting younger. However, if the Nets are to be successful it comes down to a key factor - sacrifice.

 The “Big Three” of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can only work well if they share the ball. Over the last 10 seasons, all three players have ranked in the top 10 in the highest usage rate in clutch time. Harden described it best while addressing the media. 

“When it comes to facilitating it depends on the flow of the game. Some nights I’ll be a facilitator. Some nights I might get it going and score the ball at a high clip. That is the beauty of being versatile and being able to do more than one thing. Same with Kevin and same with Kyrie. Every night is going to be different.”

 Each of the three players will be required to sacrifice whatever is going on behind the scenes of their lives if they are to win a championship. Irving was fined USD$50,000 for breaching the NBA Covid-19 protocols after a video surfaced on social media that showed him at a birthday party with no mask.

He also made an appearance at a Zoom fundraiser for a progressive political candidate half-hour before the tipoff of a Nets game.  He needs to show up mentally and physically.  Harden is out of shape and will have to avoid getting into Covid-19 trouble again. Additionally, it will be in the team’s best interest if KD stays injury free and avoids getting the virus again.

 In order for the Nets to get the best of the Harden trade all egos have to be put aside and the players need to allow rookie head coach Steve Nash and assistant coach Michael  D'Antoni to do their jobs without interference.

A positive to draw from this is Harden has worked well with D’Antoni at the Rockets and even cited his move had a lot to do with the influence of the assistant coach.

Kevin Durant, without a doubt, is a selfless player. He sacrificed his Achilles when he returned to the 2019 NBA finals too soon.  His value to the team goes without saying, however, a key element of the Nets success this season will be his acceptance of the leadership role. 

The Brooklyn Nets are championship contenders for 2021. The big question is then “Who is selfless enough to step back?” 

  

  1. Widespread vaccination and speedy rollout can ensure the Tokyo Olympics proceed.

Japanese government officials say they are committed to hosting the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo despite a recent rise in Covid-19 cases.  Reports indicate that the international Olympic Committee is working on ways to ensure that athletes are vaccinated so the event can proceed safely in July.

As of Friday, 15 January, Tokyo confirmed 2001 new infections. The number of new infections and the shortage of hospital beds are making it difficult to hospitalize coronavirus patients.  Deputy head of the Tokyo Medical Association Masataka Inakuchi has warned that the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients could rise to approximately 4600 in a week and 7000 in two weeks.

One can only hope that there will be widespread vaccination rollouts and speedy distribution in Tokyo so the Olympic Games can proceed without any further delay. 

 

 

James Harden made NBA history on his Brooklyn Nets debut after dazzling with a triple-double in the 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic.

Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Magic on Saturday.

Former MVP Harden – who swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The eight-time All-Star also became the seventh player in NBA history with a triple-double in their team debut, joining Russell Westbrook, Elfrid Payton, Lewis Lloyd, John Shumate, Nate Thurmond and Oscar Robertson.

Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

 

Lillard inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard had a game-high 36 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-106. Double-doubles from Trae Young (26 points and 11 assists) and Clint Capela (25 points and 15 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Hawks.

Shake Milton put up 28 points off the bench in the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers' narrow 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons fell just short of a triple-double after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected 18 rebounds as the shorthanded Rockets went down 103-91 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Derrick Rose was efficient in the Detroit Pistons' 120-100 upset of the Miami Heat. He was eight-of-12 shooting from the field, while making three of his five three-point attempts for 23 points in 21 minutes.

 

Covington struggles

While the Trail Blazers won, Robert Covington failed to get going shooting-wise after collecting 10 rebounds. He was one-of-13 from the field and just one-of-seven from beyond the arc for three points in 28 minutes.

A championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, veteran Rajon Rondo was scoreless for the Hawks. Rondo missed all three of his field-goal attempts in nine minutes of action.

 

Morant returns in style

Ja Morant sprained his ankle on December 28 but the Grizzlies star made his comeback following an eight-game absence. Morant had 17 points, including this alley-oop.

 

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 103-91 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 122-115 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 116-113 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 120-100 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-106 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Pacers at Clippers

The Indiana Pacers (8-4) will visit the in-form Los Angeles Clippers (9-4) – who have won three straight games – on Sunday.

Stephen Curry's 35 points were not enough for the Golden State Warriors, while the Houston Rockets started the post-James Harden era with a win.

Curry was 14-of-23 from the field and five-of-11 from three-point range, but the Warriors fell to the Denver Nuggets 114-104 on Thursday.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dominated with a triple-double of 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

Denver had seven players in double-digits for points as they improved to 6-6 – the same record the Warriors now hold.

After trading Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the Rockets recorded a 109-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Christian Wood had a double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who were without John Wall (knee).

 

Milton magical for Sixers, Boucher lifts Raptors

Shake Milton had 31 points off the bench in the Philadelphia 76ers' 125-108 win over the Miami Heat. He was 11-of-15 from the field and three-of-four from three-points range.

Ben Simmons notched a triple-double of 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the 76ers. Only Oscar Robertson (75 games) and Magic Johnson (190 games) have reached 30 career triple-doubles quicker than Simmons (228).

Chris Boucher had 25 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to help the Toronto Raptors beat the Charlotte Hornets 111-108.

A huge game from Domantas Sabonis (23 points and 15 rebounds) saw the Indiana Pacers past the Portland Trail Blazers 111-87.

After another four blocks and one steal, Pacers center Myles Turner reached 50 blocks and 18 steals through 12 games. He is the first player to have at least that many blocks and steals through his first 12 games of a season since David Robinson in 1992-93, as per Stats Perform.

 

Job done for 76ers despite Embiid struggles

Joel Embiid has enjoyed a superb start to the season, but the 76ers star struggled against Miami. He was three-of-eight from the field for just nine points in 23 minutes.

 

Bridges brilliance

Miles Bridges produced a huge dunk during the Hornets' loss to the Raptors. He finished with 12 points.

Thursday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors 111-108 Charlotte Hornets
Houston Rockets 109-105 San Antonio Spurs
Indiana Pacers 111-87 Portland Trail Blazers
Denver Nuggets 114-104 Golden State Warriors

 

Pelicans at Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers (10-3) are riding a four-game winning streak ahead of hosting the New Orleans Pelicans (4-6) on Friday. LeBron James is averaging 24.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game to begin the campaign.

James Harden has been thanked by the Houston Rockets after being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Three-time NBA scoring champion Harden has linked up with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, who have gone all in on a championship run by bringing in the 2018 MVP.

The Nets gave up Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Radions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to acquire Harden.

Allen and Prince were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who provided Houston with Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks. Brooklyn received a 2024 second-round pick from the Cavs to complete the deal.

The Rockets are expected to send LeVert and a 2023 second-round pick to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo.

Harden requested a trade prior to the start of the season and following a 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday he said: "It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

The Rockets granted their franchise player his wish on Thursday and owner Tilman Fertitta praised him for his achievements in Houston.

"On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation and the City of Houston, I'd like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform," said Fertitta in a statement.

"James has provided us with so many great memories as we've watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP.

"My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including generous charitable donations and multiple annual community events.

"We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories."

Harden is second on the Rockets' all-time scoring list with 18,365 points, only trailing Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) – a two-time NBA champion in Houston.

He averaged 29.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists during his time with the Rockets.

Harden led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2014-15 and 2017-18, losing to the Golden State Warriors on both occasions.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Widespread reports on Wednesday revealed Harden's eight-and-a-half-year stay in Houston was set to end, with the Nets agreeing a monster deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers had also been mooted as potential suitors, but Brooklyn's offer saw the Rockets receive Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027).

In a three-way move, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cleveland, who put in Dante Exum and a further first-round draft pick (2022 via Milwaukee) for Houston as well as a second-round draft pick (2024) for the Nets.

The Rockets are expected to swiftly move LeVert and a second-round pick on to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo, although that switch was not initially confirmed alongside the Harden deal on Thursday.

Harden had been keen on a move prior to the start of the 2020-21 season and has now got his wish, linking up with Kevin Durant - his former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate - and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league's best.

"James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

"While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing.

"Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team's success and have made an enormous impact on our organisation.

"It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future."

Although trade talks were said to be ongoing for some time, speculation ramped up in the hours after Houston's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

An out-of-sorts Harden put up just 16 points in 31 minutes in the 117-100 defeat and later stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can."

Those comments prompted a backlash from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both signed in the offseason as Houston once again rebuilt.

The Rockets failed to win a championship during Harden's time despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in both 2014-15 and 2017-18, with their star guard the league's MVP in the latter season.

Harden averaged 29.6 points per game in the regular season during his time with Houston, although that dropped slightly to 28.4 in the playoffs.

His return of 24.8 points through eight games this year was his worst average over a season for the Rockets.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

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