NBA Wrap January 25th
IMAGE: Yahoo! Finance
HAYWARD THE MAN IN HORNETS WIN OVER MAGIC
The previous two seasons had been frustrating for Gordon Hayward not being able to play at a high level that saw him become an All-Star in 2017.
Now he’s back and delivering major production.
Hayward finished with 39 points, including the game-winning layup over shot-blocker Khem Birch and the Charlotte Hornets defeated the slumping Orlando Magic 107-104.
The standout performance was his second consecutive 30 point game and third this season and is averaging 25.7 points in the month of January on 52.4% shooting and 46.6% from three.
Miles Bridges coming off the bench this season as the Hornets’ sixth-man scored 18 points as the team halted a four-game losing streak winning its first road game since January 9th against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Orlando were led by its two veterans Nikola Vucevic who posted 22 points and 13 rebounds and Evan Fournier with 21 points and 6 assists for the Magic who’ve slumped losing eight of its last ten.
Orlando took hold of the contest by the end of the first half with a rare touch of brilliant outside shooting and went ahead 80-66 on Vucevic’s triple with 3:48 remaining in the third.
Charlotte though worked away at the differential led mainly by points in the paint, including layups and would take the lead on Devonte Graham’s triple to take a 91-90 lead capping of a 25-10 run.
But Orlando weren’t finished. Trailing by nine with 2:20 on Terry Rozier’s triple, the Magic instantly came back when Fournier found space and bombed home a three. Then Terrence Ross would level scores at 104 making a hotly-contested triple from the left hand corner.
That’s when Hayward came to the fold for Charlotte.
Guarded one-on-one by Fournier, he drove to his left and with Birch patrolling in the paint put up a high left-handed layup falling through the back of the window to hand the Hornets a fighting victory.
ANUNOBY’S 30 HELPS RESURGENT RAPTORS SNEAK BY PACERS
O.G Anunoby is normally known for his defence not his offence.
But with the team short-handed he delivered a clinical game and with it a Toronto win.
Anunoby scored a season-high 30 points as the streaking Raptors edged past the Indiana Pacers 107-102 for its fifth win in their last six games.
Toronto were without Champions Kyle Lowry (toe) and Pascal Siakam (knee), but their absences were seamlessly filled by Norman Powell who posted 20 points and 6 assists and Fred VanVleet who had 21.
This Season’s leading shot-blocker Myles Turner had a second consecutive standout effort posting 25 points for Indiana who only used eight players all game.
The battle between the two Eastern teams was an even affair through the opening half with the lead shifting several times, until Toronto used a 21-10 spurt in the last 6:36 of the half to go ahead 58-47 at halftime.
Toronto carried the momentum pulling its lead to 75-62 when Powell made a jumper leading to a Pacers timeout.
Indiana rallied in the last four minutes of the third with Jeremy Lamb scoring six points in that span as the Pacers went on a 13-2 run to trail by just a sole possession at the end of 36 minutes.
The final 12 minutes saw Toronto hold off several Indiana rallies, with VanVleet applying a monumental defensive stopper on Malcolm Brogdon forcing a shot-clock violation, then former first round pick Stanley Johnson applying the game-defining block to deny Domantas Sabonis’s dunk attempt.
In other results around the Association:
Kawhi Leonard put together a masterful performance finishing with 34 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers held of a late Oklahoma City Thunder surge to prevail 108-100.
The victory was the Clippers seventh straight as they share the League’s best record of 13-4 with co-tenants the LA Lakers.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 23 points and 7 assists, while veteran George Hill scored 22 as the team have dropped three straight.
Jaylen Brown was at his unstoppable best scoring 33 points in only 19 minutes and the Boston Celtics routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 141-103 in Beantown.
Brown became the first player since the shot clock era was introduced in 1954/1955 to score that many points in less than 20 minutes of playing time.
Dynamic Point Guard Kemba Walker in his fourth game back since undergoing off-season knee surgery delivered 21 points for Boston who have won the last nine meetings between the sides dating back to February 11, 2018.
Aussie star Paddy Mills was firing for San Antonio putting up 21 points, including four threes and the Spurs closed the game out on a 20-5 run to beat the Washington Wizards 121-101.
Mills was part of an even Spurs scoring attack with six other players scoring in double-figures as San Antonio haven’t lost to the Wizards at home since December 11, 1999.
2-time All-Star Bradley Beal led Washington with 31 points who were playing its first game in two weeks as the team underwent the League’s Health and Safety Protocols after six players tested positive for COVID-19.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had an all-round game posting 27 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks took care of business against the Atlanta Hawks 129-115.
Off-Season acquisition Bobby Portis scored 21 points for the Bucks who’ve found their stride winning seven of ten to trail 1.5 games of the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers.
Atlanta’s upcoming talents De’Andre Hunter and John Collins had major production scoring 33 and 30 points apiece who were playing without the dazzling Trae Young (back) and rebounding machine Clint Capela (hand).
Damian Lillard put up 39 points and 8 assists as the Portland Trailblazers starved off a furious New York Knicks rally to win 116-113.
Portland made all 10 of its free throws down the stretch in the final 30 seconds to register its sixth win in eight games after holding a commanding 25 point lead during the third quarter.
Immanuel Quickley, the rookie from Kentucky who’s had a bright start scored a career-high 26 points, while the consistent Julius Randle delivered 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists for New York who conclude its four-game Western swing against the red-hot Utah Jazz.
By Juri Bilcich