NBA Wrap March 5th
IMAGE: Brew Hoop
HOLIDAY THE HERO AS BUCKS EDGE BY GRIZZLIES
The sight of Jrue Holiday recently no doubt inspired the Bucks.
And the All-Star made the biggest play of the night.
Holiday in his third game back after missing the previous ten due to Health and Safety Protocols hit the game-winning jumper on the left baseline as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Memphis Grizzlies 112-111 at Fed Ex Forum.
Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 26 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists, while Khris Middleton had 22 points with Milwaukee bouncing back after being handed its worst loss of the season last game by 31 points to the Denver Nuggets.
Ja Morant finished with a game-high 35 points for Memphis and his backcourt partner Dillon Brooks had 23 points and 7 assists.
Milwaukee took ascendency midway through the opening half stretching its advantage out to 18 (46-28) when Donte DiVincenzo tipped in his own missed layup as the Bucks length and athleticism collapsed on the Grizzlies stifling their flow on the offensive end.
Having being badly exposed in the paint, Memphis gradually found a flow offensively which began when Antetokounmpo was assessed a technical foul with 4:48 left in the opening half. Memphis capitalised on the advantage using a 23-13 run slicing the deficit to eight on Morant’s long two.
Milwaukee took a 61-51 lead into intermission.
Continuing its momentum onto the third, the young Grizzlies completely evaporated Milwaukee’s sizeable lead as Morant was wrecking havoc on the Bucks defence scoring 16 points in the period to have the game even at 84 going into the final quarter.
Three balls which has been the Bucks’s strength during Mike Budenholzer’s three seasons as coach was deserting them as Memphis behind Morant’s isolation three from the right corner put the Grizzlies ahead by seven (98-91) with 6:44 to play.
With the game going down to the wire, both teams came up with crucial offensive plays answering each other’s challenge. Under 40 seconds in the game, Antetokounmpo made an excellent pass drawing attention from the Grizzlies’ defenders in the paint feeding the ball out to Pat Connaughton who made a corner three to re-take the lead for Milwaukee.
Needing another important play, Memphis turned to last season’s Rookie of the Year: Morant and he made it count. The speedy Point Guard turned into the middle driving into the lane where he went to his left hand laying it past the closely guarding DiVincenzo next to him to take back the lead with 7.7 seconds left.
With no timeouts, Milwaukee went immediately the other end with Holiday in possession. The savvy veteran found himself guarded by Brooks where at the last moment he gave himself space on a step back draining home the clutch jumper as his teammates swarmed upon him.
BEAL, WESTBROOK AND WIZARDS DEFEAT CLIPPERS MINUS GEORGE
One of those shooting nights where Bradley Beal didn’t quite have his usually accurate radar
That did not matter as he came up with the game’s vital rebound to deliver the Wizards a pivotal victory heading into the All-Star break.
Beal had a game-high 33 points despite going 9 of 23 from the floor, while Russell Westbrook was a rebound shy of an 11th season triple-double as the Washington Wizards beat the Los Angeles Clippers 119-117 at Capital One Arena.
Kawhi Leonard returning after missing the Clippers’ defeat to the Boston Celtics with back spasms had 22 points, minus Paul George who was a late scratching because of dizziness.
After an evenly contested opening term, the Clippers efficient offence got motoring seizing momentum when Davis Bertans was hit with a technical foul. The Clippers from the Bertans technical went on a 28-13 run with Leonard seamlessly finding his spots on the floor and Ivica Zubac dominating inside.
Washington during its hot streak has faced sizeable double-digit deficits rallied in the opening half’s final minute rattling off eight straight points to trail 61-54 at intermission.
It be the Wizards turn to apply the defensive intensity minimising the Clippers to only eight points in the first 7:27 of the third as it took its first lead since early in the second quarter. The bench play of the Clippers helped stem the flow with 3-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams on target to level scores at 87 at the end of three.
In the fourth, Washington had found a reply to every challenge thrown by the Clippers by riding the sweet shooting of Beal. When Bertans, Moritz Wagner knocked down threes, and Westbrook spilt free throws the Wizards were nearly home up seven (113-106) with 46 seconds on the clock.
There was no time to celebrate, as the Clippers had other ideas. Veteran Nicolas Batum made a three from the arc, on the team’s next possession was fouled by Beal from behind the line going on to make all three free throws to be within three.
After Zubac made both his shots from the stripe after being intentionally fouled, the Wizards got the ball into Rui Hachimura immediately sent to the free throw line.
Hachimura made the first, but missed the second however Westbrook stationed behind the key crashed in out of nowhere to get a hand on the ball spilling to Beal who dribbled back out throwing it in jubilation as the buzzer sounded.
The victory has the Wizards entrenched in a stacked Eastern Conference having won 8 of 11 heading into the All-Star break only two games back of eighth.
In other results around the Association:
Jayson Tatum scored 27 points making two crucial jumpers late as the Boston Celtics won a fourth straight game beating the short handed Toronto Raptors 132-125.
Chris Boucher had 30 points for Toronto who were without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby all out under the League’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Julius Randle put up 27 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists as the New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 114-104 to move a game above .500 heading into the All-Star break for the first time since 2012/2013.
Michael Porter Jr scored 24 points, Jamal Murray 23 points, while Nikola Jokic had 20 points,
12 rebounds and 8 assists as the rolling Denver Nuggets won its fifth straight beating the Indiana Pacers 113-103.
With San Antonio losing to Oklahoma City, the Nuggets move into sixth in the Western Conference only finding themselves 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for third.
Jimmy Butler finished with 29 points, 9 assists as the Miami Heat closed the final 4:12 on a 12-6 run to level its record at an even .500 defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 103-93.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted 33 points and 8 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder toppled the San Antonio Spurs for the second time this season 107-102.
Vintage Damian Lillard was on full display scoring 44 points, including 10 in the final three minutes to pull the Portland Trailblazers over the Sacramento Kings 123-119.
Cameron Payne had his best outing for the Phoenix Suns scoring 17 points along with 10 assists as it ran over the Golden State Warriors minus Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre Jr 120-98 for a fourth consecutive win.
By Juri Bilcich