NBA Wrap March 4th
IMAGE: Orlando Pinstriped Post
YOUNG HAWKS RUN OVER THE TOP OF MAGIC
Dictating the flow of the game has been of rare occurrence for the Orlando Magic.
When they led by as much as 19 early in the second half, they seemed poised to blow out the Hawks.
Not to be, as they lost the lead and with it a crushing loss.
Trae Young finished with 32 points, 8 assists, while veteran Danilo Gallinari had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists as the Atlanta Hawks ran over the top of the Orlando Magic 115-112.
It’s a second consecutive victory for Atlanta under new interim Head Coach Nate McMillan who replaced Lloyd Pierce after he was fired by the organisation after two and a half seasons.
All-Star Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 29 points, 9 rebounds, while Sixth Man Terrence Ross had 28 points coming into the starting lineup for Evan Fournier who was sidelined by a left groin strain.
Orlando, a team which has had difficulties creating an consistent offensive scheme raced out the blocks burying six triples to take a 39-27 advantage at the end of the opening 12 minutes.
The Magic certainly looked more the team which began the season 6-2, with defence as the calling card tightening the screws on a free flowing Hawks team averaging 112.2 points per game, to extend its lead to 17 at intermission (61-44) with Dwayne Bacon ending the half in style with a floater.
Orlando pushed its lead out to 19 (64-45) when Michael Carter-Williams landed a three ball early in the second half. Then Atlanta strung together a run going on a 16-2 spurt to narrow the Magic’s lead down to five when Young converted a three point play.
Orlando though had an answer every time Atlanta threatened to reach shouting distance pushing its lead out to 16 with 6:08 left in regulation when Bacon sunk both free throws from the charity stripe.
Then the young Hawks found their range and from range they did the majority of the damage. Atlanta in a period of 4:59 landed seven bombs from behind the arc, the last by Tony Snell receiving the pass from Young all alone in the left corner to give the side its first lead of the game with 1:09 remaining.
Orlando after an initial missed layup from Al-Farouq Aminu landed in the hands of Vucevic who stuck with the play to tip home the miss to re-take the lead. Young drew a foul on Carter-Williams sending him to the line, where he made both free throws to have Atlanta up one.
Still plenty of time for Orlando to get a quality shot. Of the inbounds Ross got the ball, curled to the middle putting up a lean away floater only clanking the back iron into the waiting hands of John Collins who iced the game at the line.
Both teams now have the week’s break to freshen up for a big second half of the season.
LILLARD’S GO AHEAD THREE PROPELS BLAZERS PAST WARRIORS
Damian Lillard may have given Portland the go-ahead three late, but his play to draw the offensive foul of Draymond Green was game defining.
Lillard had 22 points, 6 assists while Carmelo Anthony also had 22 as the Portland Trailblazers beat the Golden State Warriors 108-106 at the Moda Centre.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 35 points for Golden State who lost the season series to the Blazers 2-1 which could have implications on playoff seeding later in the season.
Golden State held a six point lead (101-95) with 3:57 to play when Draymond Green found a curling Curry to knock down one of his triples in the contest. Robert Covington answered right way with a three for Portland having initially faked a pass.
Curry came back with a smooth reverse layup of the glass, then Lillard levelled the game at 103 burying a three with 2:06 left.
After a Curry miss, Lillard secured the rebound back the other way. In a movie seen numerous times, the superstar found himself on an island with Kent Bazemore matched up on him.
Lillard took a few dribbles, then with Bazemore slightly off balance went to his patterned step back swishing home another triple to put Portland up two with 14 seconds to play.
The biggest shot of the game was matched by his defensive effort. Green got the ball back from Curry who had nowhere to move, he drew an excellent pump fake up getting Covington up in the air taking the ball to the basket. However, Lillard knowing Green was going for a layup stepped in to draw the charge – a pivotal moment in the context of the game.
The Warriors bounded out of the blocks early scoring the game’s first ten points, before Portland worked themselves into the contest to take a 56-55 lead into intermission.
Golden State makes the trip to the desert to face the firing Phoenix Suns for its final game before the All-Star break. Portland also is in action on a back-to-back, up against the Sacramento Kings for the team’s third and final meeting.
In other results around the Association:
Joel Embiid was a menace for the Utah Jazz posting 40 points and 19 rebounds, including the game-tying three to force Overtime as the Philadelphia 76ers won the battle of the League’s top two teams 131-123.
Donovan Mitchell finished with 33 points for the Jazz before being ejected with 30 seconds left in the extra frame for arguing with the officials. As he left the court, the normally level - headed star whacked the Gatorade cooler in frustration.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 29 points, while T.J. McConnell had a triple-double: 16 points, 13 assists and a franchise record 10 steals as the Indiana Pacers recorded a much needed win beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-111.
Wayne Ellington’s stroke was on song all game hitting eight threes in a 25 point performance as the Detroit Pistons swept aside the short-handed Toronto Raptors 129-105.
James Harden marked his first game back in Houston with a usual dominant performance finishing with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists as the streaking Brooklyn Nets sent the Rockets to a 13th straight loss 132-114.
Terry Rozier put up 31 points as the Charlotte Hornets obliterated the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves 135-102.
Zach LaVine had 36 points and 8 assists as the Chicago Bulls bounced back to hold off a late New Orleans rally to win 128-124.
Kristaps Porzingis posted 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks grounded out a hard-fought 87-78 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder despite superstar Luka Doncic sitting out with low back tightness.
Buddy Hield scored 29 points and the Sacramento Kings survived a missed three on the buzzer by Kyle Kuzma to prevail over the Los Angeles Lakers 123-120.
By Juri Bilcich