NBA Wrap January 18th
CLARKSON INFLUENTIAL AS JAZZ TOP NUGGETS
Last postseason, the Utah Jazz were on the wrong end of an epic seven game first round series against the Denver Nuggets. This time around, Utah would extract some payback although it may only be a regular season game.
Sixth man candidate Jordan Clarkson was scorching finishing with a team-high 23 points and the Jazz beat the Nuggets 109-105 for it’s fifth successive victory.
All-Star Donovan Mitchell had a rough night from the field going 7 of 20, missing all seven attempts from threes to finish with 18 points, although he made two critical buckets in the final five minutes.
Their efforts helped off set what was their opposition’s thorns in the playoffs: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray who again were spectacular.
Jokic posted 35 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists for his eighth double-double this season, while Murray had 30 points, 24 of those coming in the first half, with seven in a 13-3 Nuggets run to trim a five point deficit into a five point lead at intermission.
After three quarters, Denver took a sole possession lead only for Utah to snatch back the momentum stretching the margin to eight before the Nuggets halted the run on two successive Monte Morris identical short jumpers prompting a Jazz timeout.
Inside two minutes and facing a three possession differential, Denver would again comeback courtesy of a Jokic mid-range jumper of Morris’s feed before the margin was sliced to one when a wide-open Gary Harris nailed a corner three from another Morris assist.
But, Mitchell who has shone right from his Rookie Year in 2018, responded with a 14-footer, before Utah got a defensive stop.
Utah’s defensive plug, Royce O’Neale would be fouled straightaway after Nuggets’s Coach Michael Malone failed to reverse the call on P.J Dozier’s foul, and would make both foul shots.
Murray would nail a three from Jokic’s pass, but Utah made sure the Nuggets wouldn’t get the opportunity to force Overtime when it executed perfectly of a timeout feeding the ball to a wide-open Rudy Gobert who strode in for the dunk.
WILLIAMSON, INGRAM HELP PELICANS PAST KINGS
One game after being blown away in the final quarter against the Champions Los Angeles Lakers, the New Orleans Pelicans were in a tight contest against the Sacramento Kings.
This time they would execute when it mattered most.
Zion Williamson had 31 points, 6 rebounds and last season’s Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram posted 22 points as the Pelicans put end to a five game skid in a 128-123 victory over the Kings.
The duo’s efforts were needed as New Orleans withstood a career-high night from De’Aaron who scored 43 points and handed out 13 assists.
Marvin Bagley III backed his 20 point outing in the Kings’ 38 point battering at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers posting 26 points and 11 rebounds as the team have dropped five of six.
The Pelicans rode the momentum of first quarter as it built a 51-32 lead before the Kings closed out the opening half only trailing by nine.
The intermission break did more good for New Orleans then Sacramento, as the Pelicans widened their lead to 16 (90-74) with 5:34 left in the third when Nickeil Alexander-Walker nailed a three, however the Kings went on a 20-7 run to end the term capped off by Harrison Barnes’ triple.
The final stanza saw both sides for the first time all game deliver consistent stops on defence, setting up a frantic final minute.
After Centre Richaun Holmes made a driving layup to cut the Pelicans’ margin to three, New Orleans acquisition Steven Adams secured a vital offensive rebound after having his shot blocked by Buddy Hield, before Barnes fouled him.
Adams who is under a 60% foul shooter in his career, made both free throws to keep the Kings’ at arms length and grab an important Pelicans victory.
In other results around the Association:
The New York Knicks ended a five game losing streak by emphatically defeating the Boston Celtics 105-75.
Julius Randle lead the Knickerbockers with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists, while R.J. Barrett had 19 points and 11 rebounds, in New York’s most dominant performance under Tom Thibodeau.
Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown top-scored with 25 points, but the green team were ice cold shooting a lowly 29.8% from the field and 15.2% from deep.
Lauri Markkanen put up 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls ended a four-game losing streak defeating the Dallas Mavericks 117-101.
While Markkanen was on song, the Bulls bench did the damage going for 61 points, with experienced veteran Garrett Temple leading the way with 21.
Star Luka Doncic was outstanding in defeat posting 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists for the Mavericks, passing Michael Jordan for 16th all-time on the triple-double list now with 29 equal with Grant Hill.
All-Star Paul George led from the front with 20 points, as too Marcus Morris Sr as the Los Angeles Clippers inflicted the Indiana Pacers its worst loss of the season 129-96.
The Clippers broke the game wide open using a 35-14 third quarter as the Pacers offence stalled under LA’s duress defence.
Doug McDermott who’s been integral off the bench came into the starting lineup for the first time this season and had a team-high 23 points, while the hard-working Domantas Sabonis posted 19 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists.
By Juri Bilcich
IMAGE: Yahoo Sport.