NBA Wrap January 7th
BROGDON SHINES AGAIN AS PACERS DEFEAT ROCKETS
Malcolm Brogdon put up a career-high 35 points as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Houston Rockets 114-107.
With under three minutes left and the game in the balance, Brogdon came through nailing a triple which took a couple of bounces back and fourth on the rim before dropping to give the Pacers a two possession lead.
Domantas Sabonis who won Eastern Conference Player Award for the opening week finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists, including the sealing tip-in off an Aaron Holiday miss.
John Wall in his first season with Houston since being part of the Russell Westbrook trade didn’t look the athlete who was coming off a long-layoff with an Achilles finishing with 28 points.
Both teams were playing short-handed with the Rockets without athletic big Christian Wood due to a sore left knee and the Pacers missing T.J Warren who is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery for stress fracture in his foot.
Indiana stays home to take on the League’s early-season improvers the Phoenix Suns, Houston makes the trip back to the Toyota Centre to face Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic.
MAGIC TOO MUCH AGAIN FOR CAVS
The Orlando Magic led by Terrence Ross’s 20 points off the bench gave the Orlando Magic its second win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in as many games 105-94.
However, the win was soured by a serious left ACL injury to former number one pick Markelle Fultz. The point guard was attempting to go by Cavs rookie Issac Okoro when his knee buckled falling onto the court in pain.
Despite his injury, the Orlando Magic are off to its best start to a season (6-2) since the 2017/2018 Season.
Collin Sexton had 24 points, making it his eighth consecutive 20 point game to start a season the breaking LeBron James record of seven back in 2004/2005.
League’s leading-rebounder Andre Drummond was influential with 19 points and 15 rebounds, and was a major factor early.
Orlando begins a short two game Texas trip, first with the Houston Rockets, Cleveland also embarks on the road in a matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.
76ERS WIN DESPITE BEAL’S CAREER-NIGHT
The Philadelphia 76ers continue to have the League’s best record this season, despite Bradley Beal’s career night as it edged out the Washington Wizards 141-136.
Beal who was become one of the premier shooting guards in the League over the past three seasons had 60 points tying former franchise player Gilbert Arenas who accomplished the feat in 2006.
Despite his feat, Washington drops to a 2-6 record, sitting third last in the early stages of a crowded Eastern Conference.
76ers enigmatic big man Joel Embiid continues to flourish in Doc Rivers’ system putting up a season-high 38 points to go with 8 rebounds, while Aussie Ben Simmons was everywhere finishing with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in 36 minutes.
Next for Philadelphia a battle with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington to take on the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
HAYWARD’S CAREER-NIGHT LIFTS HORNETS PAST HAWKS
He may be only seven games into his Charlotte Hornets career, but Gordon Hayward is showing way the organisation wanted him during the off-season.
Armed with a 4-year, $120 million deal Hayward is displaying the level of basketball that saw him become an All-Star in 2017.
He finished with a career-high 44 points as the Hornets withstood an furious Atlanta Hawks rally after leading by 24 to prevail 102-94.
Atlanta who had begun the Season winners of four of its first five have dropped its last three.
Charlotte next travels to the Big Easy to face the New Orleans Pelicans before the Hornets Hawks play each other again in three days.
PRITCHARD THE HERO AS CELTICS SQUEEZE BY THE HEAT
Coming off a career-high 23 points off the bench in a win over the Toronto Raptors, rookie Payton Pritchard delivered when the game was on the line.
He might have only shot 3 of 10 from the floor, but his tip-in of teammate Marcus Smart’s missed layup gave the Boston Celtics a pulsating 107-105 triumph over the Miami, in the team first meeting since last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston’s one-two punch off Jayson Tatum and Jayden Tatum had 27 points and 21 points, while Miami’s Jimmy Butler posted a team-high 26.
With Boston up 105-95 with a minute remaining, the result seemed a mere formality.
However Miami wouldn’t give up easily.
Duncan Robinson sunk two triples, including a four point play before the cool head of veteran Goran Dragic who sunk a corner three to level the scores.
And that set the stage up for Pritchard’s moment to deliver Boston’s third successive win on the trot.
The Celtics have Washington up next, Miami too plays the Wizards after its game with Boston.
RANDLE, RIVERS PIVOTAL IN KNICKS COMEBACK OVER JAZZ
Its no fluke these New York Knicks are playing a lockdown style of basketball which is disrupting opposition team’s offensive flow under Coach Tom Thibodeau
It was on show last night as the Knicks wiped up an early 18 point deficit to finish on top of the Utah Jazz 112-100 at Madison Square Garden.
Julius Randle who has been sublime to commence the campaign put up 30 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists, while Austin Rivers in his first year in the Big Apple scored 23 including 14 of the team’s last 16 points.
The win moves New York (5-3), its best start through eight games since the 2012/2013 Season when it started 7-1.
Utah got contributions from Aussie Joe Ingles who finished with 16 and sixth man Jordan Clarkson 19.
New York remains home with OKC coming to town, Utah continues its six game Eastern swing with the Milwaukee Bucks.
THUNDER SNEAK BY PELICANS
Thunder young guard Shai Gilegous-Alexander had 21 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder prevailed by the New Orleans Pelicans 111-110.
It was sweet result for the Thunder who were obliterated in the side’s first meeting 113-80 on New Year’s Eve where it was restricted a fourth quarter season-low seven points.
New Orleans two young stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram tried their all to give the Pelicans the victory, with Williamson finishing with 29 points and Ingram with 24.
OKC makes its way for two games in the Apple Eye: first with the resurgent New York Knicks,
the Pelicans conclude a four-game homestand with the Charlotte Hornets.
In the other four games…
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks for the second time against the Detroit Pistons manhandled its Central Divison rivals in a 130-115 win.
Antetokounmpo finished the contest with 25 points and 8 rebounds while All-Star teammate Khris Middleton had 23.
The Phoenix Suns led by sweet shooting Devin Booker prevailed 123-115 over the Toronto Raptors sending the 2019 Champions to a miserly 1-6 start.
Booker would end up 24 points while Jae Crowder was lasering the ball from distance going 6 of 9 for 21 points.
Toronto’s Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 32 points, but it wasn’t enough as the franchise is off to its worst start since going 0-9 from November 2-20 2005.
Clippers superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George each had 21 in a 108-101 victory at the Chase Centre.
Steph Curry who had combined for 92 points in his last two games, was held in check putting up a personal season-low 13 on 5 of 17 shooting.
It’s the Clippers fourth win in five road games, and are currently 3-0 against Pacific Division opponents.
Sacramento’s youngsters Buddy Hield and the organisation’s first selection in the draft Tyrese Hailburton landed vital triples as the Kings defeated the Chicago Bulls 128-124.
The win puts an end to a three game slide and evens the Kings at .500.
By Juri Bilcich
IMAGE: USA Today.