NBA Wrap February 16th
IMAGE: Liberty Ballers
SIMMONS CAREER-NIGHT NOT ENOUGH AS JAZZ KEEP ROLLING
Right from the outset Ben Simmons constantly attacked the rim with sheer will and it delivered instantaneous results.
The Aussie superstar finished with a career-high 42 points, the most points scored by an Australian in the NBA, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Utah Jazz won 134-123 in the battle of the two best records in their respective Conferences.
Jordan Clarkson, now a clear favourite for this season’s Sixth Man Award went off for 40 points, hitting a franchise tying eight threes.
Donovan Mitchell contributed 24 points, while Aussie Joe Ingles had 20 for Utah now winners of 19 of its last 20 matches, only the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018/2019 have gone through the same span.
Philadelphia superstar Joel Embiid didn’t play after dealing again lower back tightness which has caused him to miss six games.
Tobias Harris, in conversation to make the All-Star team for the first time in his career posted 36 points and 10 rebounds.
Having trailed by double-digits late in the first, the Jazz built an ascendency behind the incredible shooting of Clarkson who left the 76ers Coach Doc Rivers and the coaching staff scratching their heads on how to contain him as it built its largest lead of 16 with 10 minutes left.
Simmons who began the game trucking his way by Utah’s interior defence anchored by defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, helped string a 76ers fight back making four straight baskets helping orchestrate a 15-3 run capped off by his pass for a Harris triple.
Utah turned back to its bona-fide shooting of Clarkson who ensured Philadelphia’s rally would get no closer scoring the next six Jazz points. Then it would be Royce O’Neale’s turn. Not normally known for his scoring, the defensive stopper made three straight triples to slam the door shut as Utah now move two games clear of the Lakers on top of the Western Conference.
LAVINE AND BULLS TOP PACERS IN OVERTIME
Having missed a crucial free throw which ultimately led to overtime, Zach LaVine made sure he sealed the game with a pair of foul shots.
LaVine had a team-high 30 points and the Chicago Bulls pulled away in the overtime period to beat the reeling Indiana Pacers 120-112.
Second-year pro out of North Carolina, Coby White finished with 19 points and 8 assists for the Bulls who improve 7-6 away from the United Centre and only find themselves half a game back of the Toronto Raptors for the East’s number 8 seed.
Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon scored 23 including the game-tying shot off the glass in regulation.
Both teams buckled down in the opening half as the triples failed to fall with Chicago missing 9 of its first 14, although Indiana were worse missing 11 of its first 13 as the Bulls took a 49-44 lead into intermission.
Offensive rebounds have hurt Indiana this season, and it be a catalyst for Chicago when Patrick Williams secured his own miss to find LaVine for a three to make the margin nine.
With second chance points hurting them, the Pacers strung together its own run scoring 20 of the next 26 points, with Justin Holiday and Brogdon doing the damage as the Bulls offence stalled.
After a much needed timeout to settle things over, the Bulls regrouped putting a 15-3 run to close the third capped off by Tomas Satoransky hitting a triple with 1.6 seconds on the clock.
Indiana though kept pace, cutting into the Bulls’ advantage reclaiming the lead 93-92 on Sabonis’s free throws for the first time since the 4:14 mark of the second term. LaVine was back to take over scoring nine points – including a tough layup on the shot-blocker Turner, then on a switch made a difficult step back three with Sabonis’s hand right in his face to put Chicago in front by two.
Indiana turned to the reliable Brogdon, and he made it count. The 2017 Rookie of the Year found himself cut off on the left baseline, before turning back to the middle where he drove to his right letting go a tough bank shot to tie the game forcing Overtime.
The extra frame belonged to the team from the Windy City with Garrett Temple sealing the game with a jumper.
In other results around the Association:
Kyrie Irving could not miss from deep hitting 9 of 11 on his way to a 40 point game, while James Harden posted 29 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists and the Brooklyn Nets hit a franchise record 27 threes in a 136-125 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
League’s leading-scorer Bradley Beal scored 37 points as the Washington Wizards won a second straight game defeating the Houston Rockets 131-119.
John Wall in his return to DC where he spent his first 10 seasons had a team-high 29 points and 11 assists for the Rockets who have lost six straight.
Julius Randle was one point shy of a career-high finishing with 44 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists as the New York Knicks won its third game on the trot beating the Atlanta Hawks 123-112.
Steph Curry deadly three point shooting was back on full show knocking down seven in a 36 point performance for the Golden State Warriors who disposed of the staggering Cleveland Cavaliers 129-98.
Marcus Morris scored a season-high 32 points, 26 of which came in the first half as the Los Angeles Clippers won a second straight game without superstars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and defensive pest Patrick Beverley beating the Miami Heat 125-118.
By Juri Bilcich