NBA Wrap January 4th
TATUM CLUTCH AS CELTICS PREVAIL OVER THE PISTONS
Two nights after narrowly going down to Detroit 96-93, the Boston Celtics came through in the clutch with a 122-120 victory.
Celtics star Jayson Tatum proved he is one of the best one talents in the League hitting the go-ahead mid-range jumper over Blake Griffin with two seconds remaining to finish with 24 points on 10 of 18 shooting including 4 of 8 from distance.
His teammate Jayden Brown continues to play at a high level in the early going finishing with 31 points on a highly-efficient 13 of 16, sinking five triples.
He also hit a crucial triple on the wing off a Tatum assist to give the Celtics the lead with 34 seconds on the clock.
New Piston Jerami Grant continues to flourish finishing with a team-high 22 points, and is averaging a career-high 22.8 points having joined the team this season on a 3-year $60 million after playing with the Denver Nuggets last season.
Veteran Blake Griffin made his return from a two-game absence due to concussion protocols, but had a wayward outing finishing with only 13 points on 4 of 14 shooting.
The narrow defeat was compounded by the loss of Josh Jackson who a tweaked a right ankle going up for a layup and did not return.
The loss leaves the Pistons just a solitary win from its first six games, and they face a short turnaround before going up against two-time MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
JOKIC AND MURRAY LEAD THE NUGGETS TO VICTORY
Having begun the season with Championship aspirations, but coming of just one win from its first five, the Denver Nuggets buckled down on defuse in the fourth to pull away from the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-109.
It was led by the one-two punch of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with Jokic finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists: his fourth triple-double of the season, while Murray had a season-high 36 points.
Former Nugget Malik Beasley led the Timberwolves with 25 points, while second year pro out of Texas Tech Jarrett Culver had 20.
The teams will meet again in two days time this time in Denver.
WIZARDS EDGE NETS
The Washington Wizards have won its second game in a row eclipsing the Brooklyn Nets 123-122 at Barclays Centre.
All-Stars Bradley Beal and new Wizard Russell Westbrook led the way combining for 51 points, while improving young Centre Thomas Bryant had a monster outing finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds including the go-ahead dunk with 14 seconds left.
The Nets were led by its superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving who went for a combined 60 points, but both missed potential game-winners in the dying stages.
Up next for Washington is a date with the conquering Philadelphia 76ers, as for Brooklyn it continues a six-game home stand taking on the Utah Jazz.
LAKERS PUT THE CLAMPS ON THE GRIZZLIES
Champions the LA Lakers got back to playing the defence that saw the franchise claim its 17th title, shutting down the young Memphis Grizzlies in a 108-94 win at FedEx Forum.
Superstar LeBron James led the purple and gold with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists, while former Clipper Montrezl Harrell and savvy defender Wes Matthews had 16 and 14 points respectively off the bench.
The Grizzlies were led by former Spur Kyle Anderson who had 18 points, while veteran Jonas Valanciunas and Tyus Jones each had 14.
The sides face each other again in a couple of days back at FedEx Forum.
DAZZLING BOGDANVIC LEADS JAZZ OVER THE SPURS
After a slowish start to the season, sharp-shooter Bojan Bogdanovic put on an outstanding display of shooting.
Bogdanovic finished with a season-high 28 points including 6 of 7 from beyond the as the Utah Jazz won its second game in a row defeating the San Antonio Spurs 130-109.
The six-year pro got valuable support from Star Donovan Mitchell who had 22 points and instant offence off the bench: Jordan Clarkson who had 18 points in 23 minutes.
Having won its first two of a new-season, the Spurs have dropped four straight and are still without veteran LaMarcus Aldridge with a knee injury.
Youngster Keldon Johnson who Coach Gregg Popovich spoke glowingly of last game finished with 22 points.
DYNAMIC LAVINE GUIDES THE BULLS OVER THE LUKA-LESS MAVS
The hot-shooting of dynamic guard Zach LaVine has lifted the Chicago Bulls to a 118-108 win over the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks.
LaVine finished with 39 points, his second 30 point outing while second-year point guard Coby White had 23 points and 4 assists.
Doncic was a noticeable absentee due to a quadriceps contusion sustained during the second quarter of its 93-83 victory over the Miami Heat.
Up next for the Mavericks is a Texas battle with the Houston Rockets, as for the Bulls they take on the Portland Trailblazers to begin a four-game West Coast trip.
HOT SHOOTING GEORGE LEADS CLIPPERS OVER FAST FINISHING SUNS
LA Clippers superstar Paul George shook a horrid shooting performance two nights earlier against the Utah Jazz to drop 39 points as it held off a fast finishing Phoenix Suns 112-107.
George who couldn’t find a bucket finishing only 6 of 22 from the floor was unstoppable this time going 15 of 24 including 7 of 10 from deep.
The domination from the 30-year-old helped offset one of Kawhi Leonard”s worst shooting nights in his career who shot a paltry 4 of 21.
The victory elevates the Clippers on top of the Western Conference along with the Suns and its co-tenant Lakers.
CURRY MAGIC IN A CARRER-NIGHT
Steph Curry has done many remarkable feats during his illustrious NBA career and this time he broke his personal best scoring record.
Curry finished with a career-high 62 points including eight triples as the Golden State Warriors extracted payback over the Portland Trailblazers 137-123.
The 2-time MVP broke his previous career-high of 54 against the New York back in February 2013.
Portland were led by dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum who had 32 and 28 points each, but it wasn’t enough as the Blazers gave up 100 points for the fifth time in six games.
The Warriors continues its seven game homestand with a game against Pacific Division rival the Sacramento Kings. For Portland it returns home to face the Chicago Bulls.
By Juri Bilcich
IMAGE: Sky Sports.