NBA Wrap January 26th
IMAGE: Spectrum News
DURANT, HARDEN STEER NETS AWAY FROM THE HEAT
In a game where offence was hard to generate, Brooklyn used defence as a calling card to get the desired result.
Kevin Durant posted 20 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists while James Harden too had 20 with 8 assists and the Nets pulled away late from the Miami Heat to conclude its mini-series victors 98-85.
Miami All-Star Bam Adebayo coming off a career-high 41, delivered 26 points and 10 rebounds including a buzzer-beating three of the window to finish the third term.
Only two days previous the sides combined for 252 points, but the teams shut each down defensively as both couldn’t get their radar going from distance, with the Heat starting 4 of 21 from three and the Nets 1 of 16.
Miami took a 45-41 lead at intermission.
Harden who has settled into playing the facilitator’s role since the mega trade nearly a fortnight ago, took over. Up one, Harden on an island put through his patterned step back triple, then the 2018 MVP drove in for a layup to stretch the margin to six. In all, the offensive juggernaut Harden stuck together 10 points in a span of 3:31 in a 17-5 Nets run to close out the contest.
What made the victory most impressive was the fact Brooklyn held Miami to only 14 fourth quarter points on 4 of 20 from the floor where defensively question marks have been raised.
Brooklyn improves to 9-4 at Barclays Centre with the team to embark on a three-game trip starting with the Atlanta Hawks. Miami heads back to South Beach for a six game home stand beginning with Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
KING JAMES AND THE LAKERS RESIST CAVALIERS
In his 18th Season, there is no slow down with LeBron James on both sides of the court.
LeBron finished with a season-high 46 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 threes in his return back home to Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the dogged Cavaliers 115-108.
The 4-time Champion was unstoppable starting the game with 17 first quarters as the purple and gold took a 34-23 at the end of the first quarter.
Cleveland though wouldn’t go away as they matched it with their more superior opposition going on a 12-4 run to begin the third to take its first lead since the opening term when rebounding monster Andre Drummond stuffed home an alley oop dunk from Collin Sexton.
At the end of three, Cleveland led 89-87.
But LeBron still had petrol tickets in the tank, and for an eternity in an illustrious career took over with the game on the line.
Reminiscent of that 45 point performance when he was at Miami in the 2012 Game 6 Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, LeBron would score 21 of his 46 in the decisive last quarter as the Lakers remain unbeaten on the road.
Andre Drummond posted 25 points and 17 rebounds, by halftime he already had a double-double, while Cedi Osman scored 20 for Cleveland who were coming off a 38 point hiding to the Boston Celtics.
PORTER JR SHINES FOR THE ROLLING NUGGETS
Only three games back after being sidelined for three weeks due to the League’s Health and Safety Protocols, Michael Porter Jr has hardly missed a step.
The offensively gifted third-year pro out of Missouri equaled his season-high of 30 and the Denver Nuggets made all the right plays down the stretch to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 117-113.
Denver would be without All-Star Jamal Murray with 4:51 left in the third after he was issued a flagrant two for hitting Tim Hardaway Jr in the groin.
Murray finished the game with 16 points in 25 minutes.
Denver built a sizeable double-digit lead in the opening half behind the hot-shooting of Porter Jr, JaMychal Green and Murray to head to intermission up 70-58.
But Denver began to get sloppy with the ball committing a number of careless turnovers and combined with several empty buckets, Dallas closed the gap to seven when Murray who had been expressing his frustrations with a few non-calls earlier was ejected.
His departure saw the Mavericks generate a 23-12 run to finish the third up 94-92.
That’s when Denver regained its composure and made the critical plays led by Porter Jr who had 11 of his 30 points in the fourth capped off with a corner triple from an excellent pass from Gary Harris.
Dallas superstar Luka Doncic was spectacular finishing the game with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists for the Mavericks who now have lost five of seven.
Denver’s win was its fourth straight and ninth in their last twelve after starting the season with only one win from its first five games.
In other results around the Association:
Delon Wright scored a season-high 28 points to go with 9 assists, while Jerami Grant posted 25 and the Detroit Pistons hit 17 threes in a 119-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Detroit would lead right from the tip in what was a even team performance although the only blemish would be Josh Jackson who was tossed for getting into an altercation with Aussie star Ben Simmons.
Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 25 points and Tyrese Maxey with 17 who were without star bigman Joel Embiid who sat out with back spasms.
All-Star Nikola Vucevic posted his 13th double-double this season finishing with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists and the Orlando Magic bounced back to defeat the Charlotte Hornets 117-108.
Cole Anthony in his tenth start since Markelle Fultz’s season-ending ACL on January 7th had 21 points.
Gordon Hayward who scored 39 a day ago including the game-winner between the teams had 24 as too Terry Rozier for Charlotte who have lost four of five.
Point Guard Malcolm Brogdon had 36 points and 9 assists and the Indiana Pacers used a 17-5 run in the last 4:39 of the contest to pull ahead of the Toronto Raptors 129-114.
Jeremy Lamb scored 22 of the bench in his fourth game back since tearing his ACL against the same opponent on February 24th last year.
Toronto were led by Fred VanVleet with 25 points, 6 assists while Norman Powell scored 24 who regained All-Star Kyle Lowry from an infected right toe after missing the two teams last contest.
Jayson Tatum made his return after missing five games due to the League’ Health and Safety Protocols scoring 24 points and the Boston Celtics handled the Chicago Bulls 119-103.
His All-Star teammate Jaylen Brown who is having a career-best campaign had a team-high 26 for Boston who have won two straight after dropping three straight including a 30 point pasting from the New York Knicks.
Chicago star Zach LaVine put up 30 points nailing six triples as the Bulls have dropped its last two after wins against Dallas, Houston, and Charlotte.
Superstar Steph Curry scored 36 points and sunk seven threes and the Golden State Warriors breezed by the listless Minnesota Timberwolves 130-108.
Andrew Wiggins playing against his old side where he spent his first five and a half seasons with finished with 23.
Malik Beasley top-scored for Minnesota with 30 who were without All-Star Point Guard D’Angelo Russell with a quad injury suffered against the Atlanta Hawks.
Superstar Damian Lillard had 26 points and 10 assists and the Portland Trailblazers withstood a late Oklahoma City Thunder surge to win its second game in a row 125-122.
Lillard’s backup Point Guard Anfernee Simons also scored 26, while Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr each with 22 in the starting lineup for defensive stopper Robert Covington (concussion) and C.J McCollum (left foot).
OKC young star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for his eighth 20 point game this season.
By Juri Bilcich