NBA Wrap February 6th
IMAGE: Bleacher Report
TATUM’S BIG NIGHT GUIDES CELTICS PAST CLIPPERS
Without Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum knew he had to shoulder extra responsibility offensively, which he took head on.
The All-Star scored 34 points including 12 in the third as the Boston Celtics halted a mini two-game skid without Brown because of an ankle making six foul shots in crunch time to top one of the League’s best teams: the LA Clippers 119-115.
Kemba Walker steadily working himself back to his All-Star caliber had 24 points including a clutch step back with 32.1 seconds left in regulation to re-take the lead for Boston.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
Trailing for the first two and a half quarters and without Brown, Boston rode the third quarter surge to lead by nine with 10:06 on Robert Williams III jumper until the Clippers came back using a 15-6 run with Marcus Morris Sr landing the game-tying three with 5:29 left.
Leonard printed his mark making two short jumpers to give the Clippers back the lead before Carsen Edwards made three free throws and Tatum drew contact from Serge Ibaka to deliver a pair of free throws as the green team went ahead by five.
LA would not be thwarted and three-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams came up trumps with five successive points to re-take the lead with 46.1 seconds to go.
Then it was Walker’s turn. After getting the ball back from a Leonard turnover he was matched up on an excellent perimeter defender in Batum, he got a screen from Tristan Thompson giving himself space with a couple of dribbles on the switch before shooting over the shot-blocker Serge Ibaka to put the Celtics ahead for good.
The Clippers would be without one of its superstars Paul George due to a sore foot, but his absence did not deter the team as it bolted out of the gates behind the play of Kawhi Leonard scoring 13 in the first half and Luke Kennard with 12 taking a 62-51 lead into intermission.
Boston steadily began to tighten up defensively with Grant Williams assigned the task of stopping the 2-time Finals MVP Leonard as he knocked down two threes, including the one to give the Celtics its first lead of the match.
His efforts on Leonard although the 4-time All-Star scored eight in the period helped turn the tide in Boston’s favour taking a 89-82 lead heading into the fourth.
PELICANS PULL IT OUT OVER PACERS
Last month the New Orleans Pelicans were on the end of a Malcolm Brogdon game winning floater.
This contest almost saw the Pacers pip the Pelicans right near the end, until Lonzo Ball made an excellent play on the defensive end.
All-Star Brandon Ingram led New Orleans with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, while Ball posted 20 and 9 rebounds including the game-winning defensive stop on Myles Turner as the Pelicans sneaked past the Indiana Pacers 114-113.
Justin Holiday led Indiana with 22 points including seven triples while Jeremy Lamb scored 17 with its two top-scorers Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis both being well nullified.
After a well contested first half, New Orleans banked the momentum with Ingram making an excellent ball fake on Holiday taking the ball to the hoop before flushing it home as the Pelicans rode a 57-48 lead into intermission.
Ingram’s emphatic two-handed jam spurred on further consolidation as he picked his spots with comfort with Ball finding his range from deep and Steven Adams bullying his way by Turner and Sabonis as the Pelicans took the game’s largest lead at 81-63 with 2:33 left in the third.
Indiana facing a sizeable deficit, would steady behind the strong production of its second unit led by Goga Bitadze and Aaron Holiday which was finished off by Doug McDermott in transition firing home a three to give the Pacers the lead all part of a 39-20 run.
McDermott was not done there punching home Indiana’s nine three of the term to tie proceedings at 110 until Adams tipped in Williamson’s miss and Ingram pulled up for a long two to make it a four point Pelicans lead with 42.6 seconds left.
Turner found a response for Indiana with a tough triple over the out-stretched arm of Adams to slice the lead to one. Next possession, this season’s leading shot-blocker had the chance to put Indiana ahead with a few seconds remaining.
Receiving the feed from TJ McConnell at the top, he drove towards the rim in hopes of a layup, only for Ball to make an excellent close out defensively raising his arms up high not to initiate contact as Turner’s shot fell short.
In other results around the Association:
All-Star Nikola Vucevic had a career-high scoring 43 points, grabbing 19 rebounds as the Orlando Magic made seven free throws in the final minute to defeat the Chicago Bulls 123-119.
Giannis Antetokounmpo could again not be stopped delivering 33 points and 12 assists as the Milwaukee Bucks began its six-game road trip pulling away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth to win 123-105.
Bojan Bogdanovic continued his recent hot-form with a team-high 31 points, while Donovan had 30 and the Utah Jazz broke a franchise record for most threes for the second time this season with 26 on route to beating the Charlotte Hornets 138-121.
LaMelo Ball had a career-high 34 points and 8 assists for Charlotte.
Pascal Siakam shook off woeful early shooting finishing with 33 points and 11 rebounds, while Kyle Lowry had 30 as the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 123-117.
Kendrick Nunn scored 25, while All-Star Bam Adebayo posted 21 and the Miami Heat routed the Washington Wizards 122-95 holding League’s leading-scorer Bradley Beal to just seven points.
Malik Beasley scored 24 for Minnesota including six treys and D’Angelo Russell finished with 21 including the late game-winning three as the Timberwolves ended a nine road losing streak edging the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-103.
Devin Booker posted 23 points, while veteran Point Guard Chris Paul had 20 and 9 assists as the Phoenix Suns were hardly challenged in their 109-92 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
By Juri Bilcich