NBA Wrap January 24th
IMAGE: Yahoo! Sports
DURANT, IRVING HELP NETS PASS THE HEAT
Coming of successive defeats the Brooklyn Nets made their free throws and in the process got back in the win column.
Superstar Kevin Durant after missing one game to manage his Achilles scored 31 points, while Kyrie Irving had 28 points, 7 assists including two made free throws to seal the result as the Nets beat the Miami Heat 128-124.
Miami’s All-Star Bam Adebayo did his part to propel the Heat over the line finishing with a career-high 41 points and dished out 9 assists.
Nets Coach Steve Nash preached for his team to rebound as a collective unit after their 50-29 battering on the boards to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which they answered dominating on the boards 47-30.
Brooklyn would storm out of the gates fulled by brilliant outside shooting from dead eye three point specialist Joe Harris to build a 36-25 lead at the end of one.
Miami though would fight back, late in the opening half using a 14-6 run to trail by 10 capped off by a well-executed play which Adebayo who normally doesn’t take many threes nail a 25-footer at the buzzer.
The Nets though, regained their composure in the third with the poise of Durant and Irving kept the team in front by 14 going into the final quarter.
Miami would find a response, rattling off 13 consecutive points to shave the Nets lead to a solitary point 96-95. From there it was all a matter of execution.
Brooklyn made the vital plays with the game up for grabs. After Dragic shot through a short jumper to bring Miami back within one again, Irving answered with a triple and on the Nets’ next possession Durant made his patterned pull-up from an Irving assist to keep the Heat at bay.
The two teams meet up again in two days time.
UNSTOPPABLE EMBIID LEADS 76ERS PAST PISTONS
Joel Embiid has been an unstoppable for the East-leading 76ers and he put that on show again.
Embiid scored 33 points and 14 rebounds, including two clutch free throws down the stretch as the Philadelphia 76ers held off a spirited Detroit Pistons 114-110.
Aussie star Ben Simmons had an impressive game posting 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists for the 76ers who’ve won three straight and improve to a League best 9-1 at home.
Despite holding the League’s worst record, the Pistons were competitive right throughout the game with veteran sharpshooter Wayne Ellington top-scoring with 17 for Detroit who got 55 points from its bench.
The team’s leading scorer, Jerami Grant was nullified considerably held to only 11 points on 3 of 19 from the floor.
After Detroit found a basket late on Grant’s triple to make it 110-108, Philadelphia responded with Simmons making both foul shots, then Embiid made his foul shots to deliver the outcome.
Both teams play each other again in 48 hours.
JOKIC, MURRAY PULL NUGGETS OVER THE SUNS IN DOUBLE OVERTIME
Just 24 hours previous, the Denver Nuggets prevailed in a hard fought overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns.
This time, the Nuggets needed double overtime to come way with a mini-series sweep.
Superstar Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 22 rebounds and All-Star Jamal Murray scored 26, including a buzzer-beating triple to force overtime as the Nuggets beat the Suns 120-112.
Veteran Star Chris Paul led Phoenix with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists, and the fearless Jae Crowder in the starting lineup for Devin Booker who was out with a left hamstring strain also scored 21.
The first half saw both teams play at an identical pace, with Phoenix taking a 61-58 lead into halftime.
However, the second half was the complete opposite, with the sides locking down defensively as baskets became harder to come by with the Suns leading 77-73 heading into the fourth.
The final stanza would go down the final possession after Paul made his pull-up jump to put Phoenix up 98-95. Enter Jamal Murray. The All-Star with the ball in his hands looked to create over De’Andre Ayton but was well defended, however, he lent off-balance just enough to get his shot to fall as the game went into the extra period.
Replaying the same pattern in regulation, when Jokic made two free throws to put Denver up three. Phoenix out of the timeout were discombobulated when Frank Kaminsky had no one to free to pass the ball to. Then out came Crowder from the wing who from Kaminsky’s excellent pass swished through the game-tying triple to force double overtime.
By the second extra period, the experience and poise of Denver would shine through with Jokic taking command and Murray’s back up Point Guard Monte Morris scoring five successive points as the Nuggets move two games above .500 for the first time this season.
In other results around the Association:
Second-year player Naz Reid scored 20 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves won its first game in a fortnight beating the free-falling New Orleans Pelicans 120-110.
Reid was one of six Timberwolves to reach double-figures in an evenly team-balanced scoring effort.
New Orleans slide pushes them only a game ahead of Minnesota for the West’s worst-record having dropped eight of nine.
Last Season’s Most Improved player, Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 30 points and Eric Bledsoe scored 28, the most for him in a Pelicans guernsey.
Donovan Mitchell posted 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists as the Utah Jazz blew apart the Golden State Warriors 127-108 for its eighth consecutive victory.
Superstar Steph Curry scored 24 points for Golden State in the process moving into second spot on the NBA’s All-Time for three pointers made (2561) surpassing Indiana Pacers’ great Reggie Miller (2560).
Utah continues its six-game home stand with a battle against Julius Randle and the New York Knicks. Golden State heads home for a mini home-series against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Anthony Davis delivered an exceptional performance in his hometown of Chicago scoring a season-high 37 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Chicago Bulls 101-90.
Superstar LeBron James scored 17 points, to go with 11 rebounds and 6 assists as the purple and gold stretch its best unbeaten start on the road in franchise history to nine.
Chicago star Zach LaVine top-scored with 21 but shot only 9 of 23 as the Bulls were restricted to only 33 first half points.
The Lakers next head to Cleveland for a matchup with LeBron’s old team, the third of a seven game Eastern trip. Chicago faces traditional foes the Boston Celtics.
Veteran guard Eric Gordon had one of his best outings as a Rocket putting up 33 points as Houston breezed by Texan rivals the Dallas Mavericks 133-108.
Former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins arguably delivered his best performance in three seasons looking his old dominating self with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 5 assists.
Dallas superstar Luka Doncic had 26 points and 8 rebounds who were without Kristaps Porzingis as he sat a back-to-back to rest his knee.
Next for Houston are the Washington Wizards who haven’t played in more than a week after six players tested positive for COVID-19. For Dallas the inform Denver Nuggets came to town who have won 8 of 11.
By Juri Bilcich