NBA Wrap January 19th
DURANT, HARDEN HELP NETS STOP BUCKS IN AN EPIC
If today’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks is an indication of an potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup then it would be riveting.
One thing’s for sure, both teams delivered as if it were a Game 7 Conference Final.
James Harden scored 34 points and handed out 12 assists, and his running partner Kevin Durant as always unstoppable posting 30 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists as Brooklyn defeated Milwaukee 125-123.
Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was a matchup headache landing 34 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, including two gravity rim-rattling jams, and All-Star Khris Middleton posted 25.
As expected with both sides’ offensive firepower was on full display finding consistent triples and drives to the hoop and on top some creative passing.
By the second half, the game was going to go the distance with each field goal immediately responded.
In a wild final quarter with a minute remaining, Jrue Holiday got to the rim with two Nets on him missing the layup, but there to clean up the miss was Antetokounmpo who with brute power stuffed in the put-back jam to give Milwaukee back the lead.
On the next Nets’ possession Joe Harris fired sweet from deep of Harden’s excellent court vision pass, then Middleton would come back for Milwaukee using a Giannis’ screen to get open for a 14 foot jumper.
Harden then off his own missed three pointer, leapt high for the offensive board, before kicking it back out to a wide-open Durant who swished the ball through for a triple.
With only three seconds left and trailing by two, Middleton would receive the inbounds pass, but with defensive superglue Bruce Brown on him, the All-Star took an extremely difficult contested three hitting the back rim as the Brooklyn won arguably the best game of the season.
KNICKS GRIND OUT MAGIC
New York – Orlando might not have been the most entertaining spectacle to watch, but at the end of 48 minutes the Knicks landed extra defensive stops when it mattered most.
The Knicks extended its mini winning streak to two with a hard-fought 91-84 win over the scuffling Magic who dropped its sixth straight game.
Battering Power Forward Julius Randle put up 21 points and 17 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the campaign, while R.J Barrett scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds.
A day after blanketing Boston to 75 points, the swarming Knicks defence disrupted the Magic’ offensive schemes as the team was held to 54 points at the end of three.
Orlando All-Star Nikola Vucevic displayed his all-round consistent game finishing with 24 points and 14 rebounds while high-flyer Aaron Gordon narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 18 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists.
The losses for Orlando have been an all too familiar tale with offence a major problem being restricted to an average of 97.2 points, on top without one of its offensive threats Evan Fournier.
New York’s grind out defence took a 66-54 lead into the fourth. Then Orlando began to generate steady offence led by Vucevic who scored 7 points in a 19-7 run capped off by Gordon’s three to tie the scores at 73 with 5:50 left.
Terrence Ross, Orlando’s second unit spark plug heaved in a wild three pointer with the shot clock winding down as the Magic led 81-80.
Randle, whom the Knicks have leaned for critical moments, spun by Khem Birch, for the left-handed layup to give the Knicks back the lead although Orlando was adamant it should’ve been an offensive foul.
On their next possession, Gordon threw a risky pass back to Vucevic chopped off in mid-air by Barrett who streaked the other way with Birch on his hip pocket for a tough basket to give the Knicks a two possession lead.
In other results around the Association:
Point Guard Ja Morant went for 17 points and 10 assists as the streaking Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Phoenix Suns 108-104.
The athletic Brandon Clarke who is filling in with aplomb for Jaron Jackson Jr also had 17 for the young Grizzlies who’ve conjured six consecutive wins after a 2-6 start.
Former 2018 top overall pick De’Andre Ayton was a battering ram on the glass for Phoenix finishing with 16 rebounds to go with his 18 points, while the ever-improving Mikal Bridges had 17.
Memphis will seek to keep its winning streak intact with two games next against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers. Phoenix completes a mini two-game trip against the floundering Houston Rockets.
Aussie Paddy Mills was blazing from distance nailing five triples for 21 points and the San Antonio Spurs cruised by the Portland Trailblazers in the fourth quarter to win 125-104.
Mills was part of a Spurs team-effort with the bench going for 59 points while All-Stars DeMar DeRozan 20 points, 11 assists and LaMarcus Aldridge 22 points and veteran Rudy Gay 21 points were a handful.
With their individual 20 point efforts, they became the first four Spurs teammates since Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, George Hill and DeJuan Blair on February 3rd 2010 to achieve the feat.
Mills also achieved a milestone, eclipsing Ginobili for most made three pointers off the bench for one team with 930.
Portland superstar Damian Lillard tried his heart to led the Blazers with 35 points and 6 assists, but his efforts weren’t enough as the team were without C.J McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic due to injuries.
Dazzling Point Guard Trae Young had 20 points and 13 assists as the Atlanta Hawks extended Minnesota’s porous season in a 108-97 victory.
Atlanta got all-round contributions from Clint Capela with 23 points, 15 rebounds, while promising second-year pro De’Andre Hunter scored 25.
All-Star De’Angelo Russell led the Timberwolves with 31 points and 7 assists as the team has plummeted to the West’s bottom seed having lost 9 of 10.
The Toronto Raptors are slowly clicking back into gear using a dominant second half to roll away from the Dallas Mavericks 116-93.
Chris Boucher who arguably was been the team’s rapid improver had 21 points, and veteran Kyle Lowry scored a team-high 23 points and 7 assists.
Kristaps Porzingis was a positive for the Mavericks with 23 points and 9 assists, in what was a frustrating outing for the team that saw Coach Rick Carlisle ejected in the first half.
Centre Bam Adebayo posted 28 points and 11 rebounds while Goran Dragic had 22 points as the Miami Heat reversed the tables on the Detroit Pistons to win 113-107.
The victory offsets a second half barrage from the Pistons two days ago when they won by 20.
Jerami Grant who at this stage would be the League’s Most Improved Player finished with 27 points becoming the third Piston since Jerry Stackhouse (twice 2000/2001) and Derrick Rose (2019/2020) to have 12 successive games of 20 points or more.
Miami next goes up against the Toronto Raptors, whilst Detroit travels to face Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks – second meeting between the teams.
Zach LaVine was deadly finishing with 33 points as the Chicago Bulls have won two games on the trot in a 125-120 victory over the Houston Rockets.
The dunk specialist’s offensive clinic helped thwart the performances of Victor Oladipo in his first game as a Rocket with 32 points and 9 assists, while team-leading scorer Christian Wood had 30 points and pulled down 9 rebounds.
Chicago next travels to face the young Charlotte Hornets. For Houston they head back home briefly for a matchup with the Phoenix Suns.
Steph Curry posted 26 points and handed out 7 assists, as the Golden State Warriors erased a 14 point fourth term deficit to edge past the Los Angeles Lakers 115-113.
In his first season in Tinseltown, electric Point Guard Dennis Schroder led the Lakers with 25 points, whilst superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis were kept quiet combining for only 36 points.
LeBron though had the opportunity to win it for the Lakers, only for his top of the key triple to sail long not quite repeating similar game-winners in the 2009 ECF and 2018 1st Round Playoffs.
Golden State travels home to face an inform San Antonio Spurs. Next for the Lakers it’s begins a seven game Eastern swing starting with the Milwaukee Bucks.
By Juri Bilcich
IMAGE : Nets Daily