NBA Wrap January 31st
IMAGE: Blog a Bull
CLUTCH LILLARD HITS BUZZER-BEATER TO BEAT BULLS
Damian Lillard in his nine years in the NBA has made a living from nailing game-winners from pressure situations.
Add another play to his collection of game-winners to deliver Portland the win.
Lillard finished with a blistering 44 points and 9 assists as the Portland Trailblazers eclipsed the Chicago Bulls 123-122 to end a mini two-game losing streak.
Lauri Markaanen who has bounced back this season led Chicago with 31 points, while the team’s leading-scorer Zach LaVine had 26 who have dropped three straight.
A minute earlier, it seemed the possibilities of a Blazers win were slim when Chicago grasped the momentum from midway through the third after trailing by 18, to take a five point lead late in regulation when LaVine bombed away from deep over Portland’s best perimeter defender Robert Covington.
Down five with 11.5 seconds left, Portland turned to its superstar Damian Lillard to channel his inner Reggie Miller when he sunk eight points in 8.9 seconds against the New York Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Lillard began that challenge by sinking a long 37-footer over Coby White to trim the deficit to two. Then Portland on Chicago’s next possession, sent a hard double-team on LaVine in the corner forcing a jump ball between him and Gary Trent Jr.
With a crucial jump ball to win for either side, Trent Jr out-jumped the 2-time Slam Dunk Contest Champion to get the ball to Covington who fumbled the pass to Lillard, who with Markaanen on him created space to his right for the game-winning step back three as the red light went off.
LAKERS PREVAIL OVER CELTICS IN A WILD FINISH
For the majority of the Celtics-Lakers contest the game was evenly contested down to the wire.
It all came down to one play, and that would go in favour of the purple and gold.
Kemba Walker missed a jumper and Daniel Theis missed a game-winning tip-in as the Los Angeles Lakers edged past the Boston Celtics 96-95 at TD Garden.
Anthony Davis returning after missing its loss to Detroit with a bruised right quad posted 27 points and 14 rebounds, while LeBron James had 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists who have won four of six on its seven-game Eastern trip which concludes against the Atlanta Hawks.
Rising superstar Jayson Tatum was influential for Boston finishing with 30 points and 9 rebounds, while his other star teammate Jaylen Brown scored 28 for the Green team who since January 18 have lost five of seven.
Both teams played with poise as the Lakers took a 28-24 lead at the end of one, with Davis stamping his authority finishing the first 12 minutes with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Lakers took initiative of the second, building its largest lead of 10 (41-31) on a Montrezl Harrell short hook shot with 7:04 left in the first half. Then Boston fuelled by offensive class of Tatum and Brown took over combining for 14 points going on a 21-8 run to end the half only trailing by three.
The contest went into its thrilling stages in the last period. After the Lakers built a seven point cushion when Dennis Schroder converted a three-point to make it 96-89 with 1:40 left, Boston weren’t spent yet.
When Kemba Walker made a pair of free throws to slice L.A’s lead to five, Tatum delivered a tough mid-range fadeaway jumper over Davis to cut the deficit to three. Then the Celtics got the ball back in the All-Star’s hands and he came up trumps landing a tough floater to cut the margin to one.
That was as close the Celtics would get agonisingly falling short.
In other results around the Association:
Jimmy Butler after missing 10 games due to the League’s Health and Safety Protocols made a swift return finishing with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists as the Miami Heat snuck by the Sacramento Kings 105-104.
Speedy Point Guard De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento with 30 points and 6 assists.
Number three pick LaMelo Ball scored a career-high 27 points and handed out 9 assists and the Charlotte Hornets beat the recently staggering Milwaukee Bucks 126-114.
Giannis Antetokounmpo put in another mammoth game for Milwaukee finishing with 34 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists.
Christian Wood had 27 points and 9 rebounds and the Houston Rockets used a 48-point second quarter to pull past the New Orleans Pelicans 126-112 for its fifth consecutive victory.
De’Anthony Melton scored a team-high 20 points, while Ja Morant had 19 points and 11 assists as the rolling Memphis Grizzlies won its sixth straight game defeating the San Antonio Spurs 129-112.
The presence of Chris Paul who had 29 points and 12 assists guided the Phoenix Suns past the reeling Dallas Mavericks 111-105 despite Luka Doncic having 29 along with 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
Steph Curry was cooking scoring 28 points along with 7 assists and six threes as the Golden State Warriors hammered the Detroit Pistons 118-91.
By Juri Bilcich