NBA Wrap January 12th
MCCOLLUM CLUTCH AS BLAZERS SNEAK BY RAPTORS
C.J McCollum had his shot going all night for Portland, and it came as no surprise when he had the ball in his hands and answered the call.
McCollum hit a step-back jumper over Fred VanVleet and the Portland Trailblazers won its third straight scraping by the Toronto Raptors 112-111.
He finished the game with a game-high 30 points, for his second 30 point outing this season, while star backcourt partner Damian Lillard had a solid outing with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
For the majority of the game Toronto controlled the tempo leading by as many as 17 before Portland began to tighten up its defence but still trailed by 10 going into the last quarter.
That’s when the Blazers got consistent stops and fuelled by veteran Carmelo Anthony playing a Sixth Man Role this season and McCollum who delivered critical baskets setting up a frantic finish.
After McCollum had given Portland the lead with 9.9 seconds left, Pascal Siakam who had missed a potential game-winner against Golden State would have another chance to make amends.
Posting up on an excellent defender in Robert Covington, Siakam found enough space to land a 3-foot jump hook only for the ball to hit the rim, but he got his own miss and in one last grasp tried the tip-in but failed to fall as the Blazers completed a stirring comeback.
Siakam finished the contest with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the first ever triple-double of his career.
The Raptors fall to 2-8, its worst 10 game beginning to a season since 2013/2014, meanwhile Portland has won three consecutive games.
BARNES, FOX HELP KINGS STOP MINI TWO GAME SKID
Sacramento were desperately in need of a win after losing five of its past seven, Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox would make sure the Kings were back on the winners list.
Barnes posted 30 points, 8 rebounds and the speedy Fox had 21 points and 9 assists as the Sacramento defeated the Indiana Pacers 127-122.
Indiana were led by Domantas Sabonis who recorded 28 points and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season, while 2017 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon had 24 points and 9 assists.
The game throughout was evenly contested, with the Kings leading by a game-high 12 and taking a two possession lead into the final stanza.
Both teams found would another gear, making vital plays until Buddy Hield nailed a momentum changing corner triple of a broken play with 1:09 left to give the Kings a four point lead.
On the Kings’s next possession after Victor Oladipo missed a 27 foot pull-up shot, De’Aaron Fox landed the nail in the coffin with a thunderous dunk over Brogdon bringing his teammates up of the bench in raptures to slam shut the result.
ANTETOKOUNMPO RETURNS AS BUCKS PULL PAST MAGIC
Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a one-game absence with back spasms and the Milwaukee Bucks powered away from the Orlando Magic 121-99.
Antetokounmpo finished the game with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, All-Star Khris Middleton 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Bobby Portis also scored 20 off the bench.
In what was the teams first meeting since the Bucks eliminated the Magic in five in last season’s first round playoff series, Orlando would stay close with Milwaukee after trailing 73-62, used a 24-9 run to trim the deficit to four.
However, that’s when the experience and class of the Bucks came to fall as Middleton scored 7 points in 57 seconds as it powered away to leap into second spot in the East after Philadelphia’s third consecutive loss.
GRIZZLIES DEFEAT CAVALIERS BEHIND BROOKS’ 21
Shooting guard Dillon Brooks posted 21 points, including the game-sealing three and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-91.
The Grizzlies had even contributions with Brandon Clarke 15 points, 4 rebounds Jonas Valanciunas 12 points, 7 rebounds and Tyus Jones 13 points, 7 assists as it won its second straight game.
Cleveland’s rebounding monster Andre Drummond posted 19 points and 14 rebounds for his 11th double-double this season and is one ahead of Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis.
Drummond’s productive outing wasn’t enough for Cleveland as it again found baskets in regularity difficult to come by, held to under 100 points for an eighth straight game.
Next for Memphis is a two-game trip to twice face the Minnesota Timberwolves. Cleveland remains home to go up against the Utah Jazz.
In other results around the association:
Gordon Hayward scored 34 points and Devonte Graham put up 19 points and 7 assists as the Charlotte Hornets held the New York to its lowest point total this season in a 109-88 win.
Kevin Knox II led the Knicks who have dropped three straight with 19 points off he bench, however its main barometers Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett were restricted a combined 7 of 27 from the floor.
Star guard Bradley Beal had 34 points in his return from a one-game absence due to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols and the Washington Wizards swept by the Phoenix Suns 128-107.
Davis Bertans went off with six triples to finish with 18 points, while Raul Neto filling in for Russell Westbrook who is out for a week with a left quadriceps injury scored 16.
Devin Booker posted 33 points to lead the Suns but the team shot a lowly 4 of 27 from beyond the arc.
Atlanta Point Guard Trae Young had 26 points, 8 assists as the Hawks sent the Philadelphia
76ers to its third successive defeat 112-94.
Philadelphia were without starters: Aussie Ben Simmons (knee soreness), Tobias Harris (League Health and Safety Protocols) and key reserve Shake Milton (League Health and Safety Protocols).
Joel Embiid returned from a one-game absence to post 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Earlier today, the Dallas Mavericks – New Orleans Pelicans game was postponed after four Mavericks faced exposure to the Coronavirus.
By Juri Bilcich
IMAGE: Yahoo Sports.