After years of buying and selling back-and-forth delicate jabs throughout the media, Houston Rockets superstar and 2018 NBA MVP James Harden would not take the bait on throwing any other shot at 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“I’ve not anything to end up to any one,” Harden mentioned. “Not anything to mention.”
Even supposing he leads the league in scoring through a large margin, it was once Harden’s late-game protection that helped seal the most recent victory. Within the ultimate 2 mins, 30 seconds, Harden performed a key function in forcing 3 turnovers in opposition to the Greenbacks — together with two through Antetokounmpo.
With underneath 20 seconds to move, Harden stopped the reigning MVP as he dribbled up the courtroom, forcing him to check out a cross-court move, which led to a turnover.
In a sport wherein the Rockets have been outrebounded 65-36 and outscored 60-20 within the paint, Houston made its mark with 15 steals and through making 12 extra 3s than the Greenbacks. Although the Rockets tied a report for a law sport with 61 Three-point makes an attempt (making 21), the Greenbacks made simplest nine of 35 3s (25.7%).
“Very, crucial. I assumed all the way through the process the sport, we performed some truly excellent protection,” mentioned Harden, who ended with 24 issues on Five-for-14 taking pictures from the sphere. “Clearly they are a excellent offensive group, however all the way through the process the sport, we were given stops after we had to. Offensively, we had numerous alternatives. Numerous open shot alternatives that we generally make that we neglected. So general, a excellent, aggressive sport.”
Antetokounmpo completed with 36 issues, 18 rebounds and eight assists to sign up for former Greenbacks superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the one gamers to report 15 30-point, 15-rebound, Five-assist video games in a season during the last 50 seasons, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data analysis. However Milwaukee squandered a 13-point first-quarter lead and gave up 30 issues off in their 23 turnovers; the Greenbacks had simplest 21 assists.
Houston is now 2-Zero within the bubble, in spite of going through double-digit deficits in each video games. The Rockets trailed 112-104 with Three:14 left to play however closed the sport on a 16-Four run. Friday night time, Houston overcame a 138-131 deficit with 45.2 seconds left in law to win in extra time in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks.
In the meantime, the NBA-best Greenbacks are 2-Five of their previous seven video games, courting to sooner than the league suspension. Availability has performed a job — the Greenbacks have been with out reserve wing Pat Connaughton and start line guard Eric Bledsoe for the second one consecutive sport, as each proceed to paintings themselves again into sport form after checking out sure for the coronavirus.
Each are neglected — Bledsoe for his ballhandling and protection on the level of assault, Connaughton for a bench that has numerous viable choices however won not more than 5 issues from any person in Sunday’s loss.
“On every occasion we step at the flooring we attempt to win, however on the finish of the day we now have were given to strengthen every sport,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “Win or lose, we now have were given to get ourselves in a position to play excellent basketball after we want it probably the most.
“Clearly, Bledsoe’s no longer taking part in, Pat’s no longer taking part in, so once they come again it’ll be so much more uncomplicated. Much more power, however on the finish of the day we now have were given to recover every day. We have were given to get in form, we now have were given to play excellent basketball, we now have were given to present groups all that we are in a position to, and when it issues probably the most, we now have were given to be in a position. We have were given to play the most productive basketball we will be able to play.” — Eric Woodyard
The newest buzz
Boston’s wager on Tatum and Brown is paying off
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Nonetheless coping with a mins restriction as he continues to increase power in his balky left knee, Celtics superstar Kemba Walker was once compelled to sit down and watch from the sidelines all through the fourth quarter of his group’s frenetic matchup with the Blazers.
However as Walker regarded on whilst Boston’s two younger wings, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, powered the Celtics to a victory with a mixed 64 issues — tied for probably the most the 2 have scored in any sport in combination of their careers, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data analysis — any frustrations he felt from having to observe have been changed through pleasure for the long run.
“They have been particular,” Walker mentioned. “To ensure that us to be a perfect group, the ones two guys are going to have to move at it each night time, they will need to steadiness off every different.
“They are gonna have to like every different, as a result of their skill stage is unreal, and it might take our group to nice heights when they are taking part in basketball on that more or less stage.”
A group constructed round Tatum and Brown taking part in at an elite stage for the following decade is why Boston resisted the temptation to industry for to be had stars during the last a number of years. As a substitute of transferring one among them for any individual from Anthony Davis to Kawhi Leonard to Paul George to Jimmy Butler, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge as a substitute selected to face pat, having a bet on his younger skill to upward thrust to that stage someday.
Sunday was once the most recent indication that wager would possibly simply repay.
Tatum was once impressive early, shrugging off an terrible 2-for-18 efficiency in opposition to the Greenbacks through scoring 21 issues within the first part and completing with 33 issues plus a career-high 8 assists. On a type of assists, Tatum hit Brown within the nook for a surprisingly tricky shot to assist put the sport away within the ultimate minute.
Brown, in the meantime, scored 16 of his 30 issues within the fourth quarter, making one impressive shot after any other to stymie a livid push from Portland, which is combating for a playoff spot.
The Celtics shouldn’t have such issues. Boston will nearly undoubtedly be the No. Three seed when the postseason starts in a few weeks. However for the Celtics to make the type of playoff run they hope to, they will want Brown and Tatum to play this manner at the greatest phases. Thus far this season, each have taken dramatic leaps ahead, paying off Boston’s religion of their shared construction. And, as Sunday confirmed, when the lighting get brilliant, they’re each in a position to emerging to the instance. — Tim Bontemps
Suns triumph over 15-point deficit, turn out to be newest group to get the most productive of Mavericks within the snatch
The Dallas Mavericks, the highest offense within the NBA, had a chance to bop again after a demoralizing Friday night time loss to the Houston Rockets. It regarded as though they might cruise at the Phoenix Suns, with All-Famous person level guard Luka Doncic scoring 23 issues in a primary part that noticed Dallas lead 73-60.
The Suns had different plans. Regardless of trailing through as many as 15 issues within the first part and coping with foul bother to All-Famous person taking pictures guard Devin Booker, Phoenix consumed Dallas’ complete lead through the tip of the 3rd quarter. The Mavericks by no means led within the fourth quarter, and the Suns hung on overdue after neglected 3s through Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. for a 119-117 win.
Doncic had 40 issues and 11 assists, whilst Booker led the Suns with 30 issues sooner than fouling out. Regardless of the loss, Dallas nonetheless clinched a playoff spot.
All within the circle of relatives
Magic win, however Isaac reinjures knee
Overdue Sunday night time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Isaac’s damage is a season-ending torn left ACL, and the group later showed the document.
Isaac drove the lane and did a hop-step between two defenders. He then straight away fell to the ground untouched whilst clutching his left knee in ache with nine:19 left within the fourth quarter.
The Magic received 132-116 to stay their lead for the Japanese Convention’s 7-seed. However shedding Isaac prices Orlando one among its supreme defenders and stunts the expansion of a participant who had labored to return again after injuring the similar knee on Jan. 1.
Nets win an important matchup in race for No. eight
With out Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and a slew of different gamers, the Brooklyn Nets have been written off throughout the bubble sooner than the video games even started. However because the clock wound down on Sunday afternoon, a trio throughout the group’s core made certain that the crowd would have no less than one memorable second at the Walt Disney Global campus — getting any other step nearer to a playoff berth within the procedure with a 118-110 win over the Washington Wizards.
Caris LeVert scored a game-high 34 issues, outscoring the Wizards 14-12 through himself within the ultimate seven mins of play, whilst large guy Jarrett Allen chipped in with 22 issues and 15 rebounds and sharpshooter Joe Harris added 27 issues of his personal.
“We learned we truly had to win proper there,” LeVert mentioned. “Guys who have been right here, myself, JA and Joe, we more or less took it into our personal palms like ‘We will’t lose this sport.’ We all know what is at stake, we will be able to’t lose this sport. We simply went in there and gave it the entirety we had.”
With the win, the Nets at the moment are seven video games forward of the Wizards with six to play. Washington will want to be inside 4 video games of the No. eight seed after the seeding time table to qualify for a play-in event.
“It is massive,” Harris mentioned. “Clearly, you take a look at the time table and also you take a look at the standings and you recognize the significance of groups which might be type of all jockeying for a similar place. We are clearly competing to check out and get within the playoffs, and there is no promises with the play-in structure … those video games are extraordinarily essential for us.” — Nick Friedell
Zion no longer getting annoyed with mins restrict, losses
New Orleans Pelicans superstar rookie Zion Williamson says it’s been exhausting to observe from the sideline because the group misplaced their first two video games within the NBA bubble whilst his mins had been restricted.
“It is very tricky to be fair as a result of once I begin to wreck that sweat, I glance over and that horn is for me and I’ve to return out the sport,” Williamson mentioned Sunday. “Additionally, after I do catch the drift of the sport, like I mentioned, that horn is going off and it is for me.” — Andrew Lopez
In a detailed fight, the Washington Wizards failed of their try to acquire any floor at the Brooklyn Nets within the race for 8th within the Japanese Convention. The Orlando Magic, who beat the Nets on Friday to seize the 7-seed, blew out the Sacramento Kings, who had to jump again from Friday’s demoralizing loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs secured an enormous win Sunday night time in opposition to the Memphis Grizzlies, and with the Portland Path Blazers‘ loss previous within the day, San Antonio has now leapfrogged Portland for the No. nine seed within the Western Convention.
eight. Memphis Grizzlies | 32-35 (.478) | —
nine. San Antonio Spurs | 29-36 (.446) | 2.Zero GB
10. Portland Path Blazers | 30-38 (.441) | 2.Five GB
11. Sacramento Kings | 28-37 (.431) | Three.Zero GB
12. New Orleans Pelicans | 28-38 (.424) | Three.Five GB
13. Phoenix Suns | 28-39 (.418) | Four.Zero GB
Monday’s must-see video games
It is a must-win state of affairs for the Pelicans, who dropped their first two video games in Florida. After Saturday night time’s loss to the LA Clippers, Pelicans small ahead Brandon Ingram mentioned, “We more than likely can not lose any further video games” if the Pelicans need to make their playoff push. New Orleans has a 2-Zero benefit on Memphis this season, so the Grizzlies might be on the lookout for a bit of of payback.
Monday’s matchup would be the 2d contest of the season between South Carolina natives Ja Morant and Zion Williamson. Williamson (24 issues) had the higher hand on Morant (16 issues) within the first assembly, even though the Grizzlies have been lacking Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke in that sport. — Andrew Lopez
This would be the 3rd sport for every group and each might be hoping for higher performances than that they had of their 2d video games. Every group spread out play in Florida with a win Thursday however stumbled Saturday — Utah shedding to Oklahoma Town 110-94, and Los Angeles falling to Toronto 107-92.
A win in opposition to Utah will clinch the most productive report within the Western Convention for the Lakers with 5 video games to move sooner than the playoffs. In the meantime, Utah is in fourth position within the West, a sport again of Denver for No. Three. Each groups might be having a look to mend their offenses and get again on track. — Lopez