NBA Wrap March 1st
IMAGE: Yahoo News
TATUM CLUTCH AS CELTICS TOP WIZARDS
With the game slipping away late, the Celtics turned to its leading-scorer and he came through.
Jayson Tatum scored 31 points, 8 rebounds scoring the team’s final six points, including the eventual game-winning layup as the Boston Celtics snuck by the Washington Wizards 111-110.
Kemba Walker had 21 points and 8 assists, while Daniel Theis put up 20 points, 9 rebounds – giving the green team a major lift in the fourth scoring 10 points in the vital stanza.
The trio’s efforts helped overcome an offensive juggernaut night from League’s leading-scorer Bradley Beal who finished with 46 points, while his backcourt partner Russell Westbrook had 24 points.
Beal was unstoppable in the final five minutes catching fire, converting a four point play to break scores apart at 94 and scoring on the Wizards next two possessions.
The 2-time All-Star’s burst carried onto the momentum built by Washington with Westbrook – not known for being a three point shooter hit one from the left corner to push the lead out to eight.
Boston answered the gauntlet thrown down rattling off seven consecutive points to bring the deficit to just one when Tatum made a tough fall away jumper from the baseline. Beal was back and seemingly made any hope of the Celtics winning difficult after making an excellent read of Davis Bertans’ pass to make the layup to give Washington a five point edge with 46.9 seconds left.
The Celtics though had one final spurt and it be time for Tatum to take over. The All-Star made the next four Boston points – both on extremely difficult layups to have the deficit back to one.
Then fortune turned in their favour as Tatum and and Javonte Green made a terrific double-team trap on Beal forcing him to slip over out bounds giving back possession to the Celtics. On the final Boston possession, they got the designed play with Tatum matched up on Beal. With a good four inches of height in his advantage, Tatum spun by Beal carving his way home for yet another crafty layup to take back the lead with 4.7 seconds to play.
After a timeout, Washington once more turned to Beal to deliver a game-winner. Receiving a Bertans’ inbound pass, Beal made his move to the corner to open himself for a great look, however Boston applied the same trap on him forcing a late-desperation heave hitting the edge of the rim to end an excellent contest.
Earlier in the game, Boston looked likely to put the result away holding Washington to one field goal in the first 4:32 of the third whilst extending its lead out to 11. The Wizards made their run closing the deficit to only three heading into the fourth.
THE GREEK FREAK’S MONSTER FOURTH PUSHES BUCKS OVER CLIPPERS
The LA Clippers managed to quell the influence of reigning 2-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for three quarters.
But with the game delicately poised, the Greek Freak turned it up another notch.
Antetokounmpo finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists, including scoring 17 in a vital fourth as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 at the Fiserv Forum.
All-Star Khris Middleton was held in check, but finished with 19 points as the Bucks have turned the ledger winning five on the trot. With their victory coupled with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets losing only has them trailing by a game for the East’s number one seed.
Superstar Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and 9 rebounds for the Clippers but missed a game-tying three in the final 10 seconds of regulation.
The Clippers (one of the League’s best defences) for the first three quarters did an excellent job in containing Antetokounmpo’s driving lanes to the rim making him take jumpers. The strategy worked with the team going on a 26-10 run from midway through the third to the first two minutes of the fourth to lead by six (86-80).
The spurt completed by Marcus Morris Sr’ three ignited the 2019 Eastern Conference Finalists with Antetokounmpo starting to take impose his will. Antetokounmpo put the team on his back scoring 13 points in the final six minutes – most of which came deep inside the paint.
He would not be done there. With the shot clock winding down, Milwaukee swung the ball around the key getting it to Middleton - who initially stepped inside drawing confusion from the Clippers defence where Antetokounmpo from the top strode in skying over the defence for the mammoth jam to give the Bucks a three point lead with 10.3 seconds left.
Of a timeout, the Clippers put the ball in Leonard hands after a feed from Paul George. Isolated one-on-one with Pat Connaughton, Leonard stopped before letting fly from 28-feet only to hit the front of the iron, with Middleton securing the rebound.
The 2-time All-Star calmly made both free throws to close out the game with Milwaukee now 5-2 on an eight-game home stand which ends against the Denver Nuggets.
In other results around the Association:
Malik Monk converted the game-winning three point play as the Charlotte Hornets stormed home from eight down with 1:13 left to stun the Sacramento Kings 127-126.
P.J. Washington had a career-high 42 points, while LaMelo Ball posted 24 points and 12 assists.
Julius Randle showed why he was named to its maiden All-Star team finishing with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the New York Knicks smothered the Detroit Pistons 109-90 to move back past .500 for the first time since January 8th.
The Miami Heat continued its hot streak winning a sixth straight game defeating the Atlanta Hawks 109-99 with Kendrick Nunn leading the way with 24 points and 7 assists despite playing without Jimmy Butler (knee).
John Collins was unstoppable for Atlanta scoring a game-high 34 points and 10 rebounds, while Clint Capela had 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Justise Winslow scored 20 points as the Memphis Grizzlies sent the tumbling Houston Rockets to an 11thstraight loss in a rout 133-84.
LeBron James had 19 points as the Los Angeles Lakers easily accounted for the Golden State Warriors 117-91.
Devin Booker scored 43 points as the rolling Phoenix Suns spoiled Chris Finch’s home coaching debut defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-99.
Meanwhile the Toronto Raptors-Chicago Bulls was postponed after the Raptors could not field the required eight players due to the League’s Health and Safety Protocols.
By Juri Bilcich