NBA Wrap January 15th
RAPTORS PREVAIL BY A WHISKER OVER HORNETS
The early season has been difficult for the Toronto Raptors but badly needing a victory is the end result it got.
The Raptors held of a tense Hornets final two possessions when P.J Washington missed an open top of the key three to level the scores only for Devonte Graham to chase the ball down from the corner and desperately shoot only to hit the left sideboard to prevail 111-108.
On the previous possession Charlotte would get the ball back after P.J Washington’s block on Pascal Siakam was initially ruled off him before the referees overturned the call.
Toronto coming off two narrow losses to Golden State and Portland began a five-game home stand in hopes of working themselves back into the thick of the Eastern Conference.
Key reserve Chris Boucher who has been getting more minutes this season than his first three had a team-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth 20 point game this season.
For Charlotte, Point Guard Terry Rozier had 22 points, 5 assists and Washington had 20 who were without leading-scorer Gordon Hayward who strained his left hip in yesterday’s loss to Dallas.
Charlotte remains eighth in the Eastern Conference, but only half a game ahead of the New Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and last season’s runners-up Miami Heat.
ROCKETS START NEW ERA WIHOUT HARDEN WITH A WIN
After weeks of distractions on the James Harden’s situation, the Houston Rockets began a new era minus the 2018 MVP with a win over Southwest division rivals San Antonio Spurs 109-105.
Harden yesterday was traded to the Brooklyn Nets ending his eight seasons at H-Town where he blossomed into an eight-time All-Star, three-time scoring Champion and led Houston to two Western Conference Finals in 2015 and 2018.
Houston were playing short-handed with Point Guard John Wall (left knee soreness) and Eric Gordon (left leg tightness) both missing the game, whilst Victor Oladipo whom the Rockets received as part of the mega 4-team deal packaged around Harden is to join the team in the coming days.
Christian Wood who is continuing on his outstanding second half of last season with Detroit had 27 points and 15 rebounds and Sterling Brown inserted into the starting lineup had 23.
San Antonio were led by Keldon Johnson who had a career-high 29 eclipsing his 26 against the Los Angeles Lakers to begin 2021.
The Spurs took a 99-90 lead on LaMarcus Aldridge’s hook shot with 4:39 left, only for a Houston to use a 17-6 run to take the lead. It set up a chance for DeMar DeRozan, who on the previous possession missed a driving layup.
DeRozan would receive the inbounds pass, get to his favourite spot at the midrange only to be matched up by pesky defender P.J Tucker who forced him to take a difficult turnaround jumper with the ball rolling out of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
76ERS POWER PAST HEAT BEHIND MILTON’S SEASON HIGH
Shooting guard Shake Milton had a season-high 31 points and the Philadelphia 76ers powered away in the second quarter from the Miami Heat to win 125-108.
Philadelphia has won its last two both against the Heat after dropping three straight.
Aussie Ben Simmons with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists became the third quickest player (228 games) to reach 30 triples behind Oscar Robertson (75 games) and Magic Johnson (190 games).
Miami were playing severely shorthanded with All-Stars Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic all sidelined due the League’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Three point specialist Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 22 points, while Gabe Vincent had 21 points and 8 assists in his second start.
Philadelphia next take on the Memphis Grizzlies who are playing without Rookie of the Year Ja Morant with an left ankle sprain. Miami heads back to South Beach for two games straight against the ailing Detroit Pistons.
In other results around the Association:
Superstar Nikola Jokic filled up the stats sheet with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Denver Nuggets withstood the Golden State Warriors 114-104.
It was the Serbian’s fifth triple-double of the season, while Jamal Murray and Will Barton filling in for Michael Porter Jr each had 17.
Warriors superstar Steph Curry had a game-high 35 points including 5 threes taking his total number of threes this season to 50.
Number Two overall pick James Wiseman had 18 and former 2014 Number One pick Andrew Wiggins scored 16.
The Indiana Pacers led by Malcolm Brogdon’s 25 points, 7 assists and Domanatas Sabonis’ 23 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists helped pound the Portland Trailblazers 111-87.
It would mark the first time Indiana has won in Portland since November 28, 2007 ending
a 11 game losing streak at the Moda Centre.
Portland’s star backcourt Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum each had 22 but the Blazers were stone cold in the second and final quarters to register its lowest point total this season.
The loss was compounded by a fractured right wrist suffered by the Blazers’ anchor Jusuf Nurkic who is expected to be sidelined indefinitely.
By Juri Bilcich.
IMAGE: Taiwan News.