NBA Wrap February 8th
BEHIND FOX SURGING KINGS EDGE CLIPPERS
De’Aaron Fox is going through one of the best runs in his five-year career, and it is translating to a Kings recent resurgence.
Fox finished with 36 points and 7 assists, while his backcourt partner Buddy Hield scored 22 as the Sacramento Kings won for the seventh time in eight games to move back over .500 for the first time since starting 3-1 beating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-110.
The Clippers had two opportunities to level scores in the final 30 seconds but could not deliver on both occasions with Lou Williams barely hitting the rim and Nicolas Batum’s corner three well contested by a closing Tyrese Haliburton.
Williams, the NBA’s three time Sixth-Man of the Year led the Clippers with 23 points and Kawhi Leonard was defended well all night by Harrison Barnes had 20, but only on 9 of 21 from the field.
Fox was the go to with the game up for grabs. Having already scored 24 by the end of three quarters, the speedy Point Guard went into fifth gear scoring 12 in the final five minutes, including two threes and making an excellent feed by drawing in Batum before handing it to a wide-open Richaun Holmes for the one foot dunk.
Sacramento has won three of the last five meetings between the Pacific Division rivals.
The Kings head home to Golden One Centre for an intriguing battle with the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers. The Clippers travel for a short two-game trip starting with the third- worst record in the League: the Minnesota Timberwolves.
BALANCED SUNS HOLD FIRM TO UP CELTICS
Building a major lead of 17 late in the third, the Phoenix Suns were in cruise control only for the Celtics to whittle away at the deficit.
Enter Devin Booker who calmly iced the result.
Booker scored 18 points and gave out 11 assists, making the sealing long step back jumper as the Phoenix Suns won its fifth game in six beating the Boston Celtics 100-91.
Mikal Bridges building on his solid campaign to date, led Phoenix with 19 points and 9 rebounds and was one of five Suns to score in double-figures.
Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston finishing with 23 points to go with 7 assists, however he only shot 8 of 22 overall from the floor.
An evenly fought out first half, the Suns took all the momentum when Booker after securing the defensive rebound went down the other end to sink through the triple with only a second left to give Phoenix a 52-49 lead at intermission.
Booker’s late jumper, provided the springboard for the Suns capitalising on the momentum wave producing a 27-7 run to lead 76-59 on E’Twaun Moore’s floater with 2:09 left in the third as Celtics frustrations grew with Kemba Walker receiving a technical foul.
Boston would respond stringing nine successive points as Rookie Payton Pritchard gave the green team an ignition scoring five points to trail 76-68 at the end of three.
Pritchard was not done there, having been given crucial minutes in crunch time, the former University of Oregon star came up trumps swishing a deep three from Tatum to get the Celtics within three with 1:04 left.
But, Boston’s rally ended there. On the Suns next possession, Booker with the ball in his hands was left in an isolation matchup with the 6 foot Walker on him. The All-Star seized up the smaller Walker with a couple of dribbles, then catching him slightly off-balance went to the step back falling through net to ease the Suns nerves.
In other results around the Association:
The Utah Jazz won for the fourteenth time in fifteen matches behind Donovan Mitchell’s 27 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assist performance, while Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 as it beat the Indiana Pacers 103-95.
All-Star Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 20 points and 9 rebounds, losing its third straight game falling to an even .500 for the first time this season.
Tyler Herro executed on a late-game three as the Miami Heat edged past the New York Knicks 109-103.
Bam Adebayo led Miami with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler finished with a near triple-double: 17 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists for the Heat’s second consecutive victory.
Julius Randle leading the Knicks in scoring, rebounding and assists finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists, while Reggie Bullock had 21 with all his points coming from beyond the arc.
In his second-game back from an ankle injury, Terry Rozier scored 26 points, while 2017 All-Star Gordon Hayward had 25 and the Charlotte Hornets routed the Washington Wizards 119-97.
Bradley Beal, the League leading scorer this season bounced back from a season-low seven against Miami scoring a team-high 31 for Washington.
By Juri Bilcich