NBA Roundup: LA Lakers Continue Winning Streak

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers

After a three-game winning stretch on the road, the Lakers returned home to the Staples Centre last night more than ready to battle the Miami Heat.

With a few stagnating points in the game, it was left to Anthony Davis and LeBron James to pick up the pace and lead LA to victory. Davis led with 26 points, adding nine rebounds and seven assists, whilst LeBron James put 25 on the score, 12 of those points dropping in the fourth, marking him only the third player in NBA history to hit 20 points in 1,000 career games.  

Facing the strong offensive line-up of the Lakers, Miami employed a zone defence to help form a barrier and affect play at the start. But a few adjustments made by LA early in the game, as well as their effective ball movement, saw them counter with 25 assists on 33 baskets in the first three quarters. 

For Heat, Jimmy Butler hit the team-high with 22 points while Goran Dragic added 19. Despite pulling Miami back in the game, scoring nine points in the third quarter, Butler had a less than impressive three-point game, hitting 3-for-24, including eleven consecutive misses.

With nine minutes remaining in the final quarter, the Heat successfully sliced LA’s lead to six points as the division leaders locked horn for the big finish. But the Lakers’ will was too much for Miami as they were held to one field goal and six points in the final 8.54, their comeback crushed by a devastating 13 missed shots. The Heat wrapped up the night at 35% shooting from the field and 17% from three, compared to LA’s 44.9%. and 25% respectively.

James rounded off the game sweetly for LA, sinking a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes to seal yet another victory. With two of the league’s best offensive players on their roster and a towering defence, the Lakers remain on top in the NBA’s overall standings as they move forward to host the Raptors on Sunday. 

Jazz 103, Bucks 100

It was the suspense-fuelled final rally in Salt Lake City which put last night's Bucks/Jazz game in the headlines this morning. 

An abysmal first half by Milwaukee looked set to turn around as they clawed their way back through Utah’s defence to chip away at a 22-point deficit in a mighty comeback. This sublime second-half for the Bucks rested on the shoulders of All-star Giannis Antetokounmpo, as he and Eric Bledsoe set the tone, leading a 21-5 run across the first 5½ minutes of the third and combining to hit 15 of those 21 points scored. It was a seven-point game by the time the fourth rolled around.

The Jazz walked onto the court with intent to lock down the paint and prevent Milwaukee’s offensive edge, forcing the Bucks to attempt three after three, however, they failed to get any to fall, shooting 5-of-24 from deep before halftime. On the off chance that the Bucks got inside, their performance was no better, as every attempt seemed to roll right off the rim. 

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Clippers

Antetokounmpo was held to two points on 0 for 7 shooting in the opening 24 minutes as the rest of the Bucks, bar Middleton, who had 13 of his 26 points by the break and made 3 of 4 three-pointers, fell in shambles around him. Milwaukee headed into halftime down 55-35.

Bucks turnaround came fast in the third as they opened the quarter with a 7-0 run fuelled by Bledsoe, breaking into the inside for a layup, and Antetokounmpo adding his own layup, complemented by a three. Jazz pushed the lead back to double digits with their own retaliation run, pushing Antetokounmpo to his limits as a leader. He threw up Milwaukee’s last 12 points of the third.

Again, Antetokounmpo came onto the glass hard in the fourth to give Bucks their first lead at 89-88, hitting a three off the back of Jazz star Royce O’Neale’s bucket and blocking Mike Conley to make a fast-break layup. However, the Greek Freak got into serious foul trouble later down the stretch, racking up three in the space of 67 seconds to total five for the game as Jazz went on an 8-0 run. 

In the final 2.3 seconds, everything the Bucks had fought for, clutch plays and Antetokounmpo’s vengeance, all fell short. The sellout crowd at Vivint Smart Home Arena began raucously chanting the name of Bojan Bogdanovic, the man who had just splashed a buzzer-beating three-pointer for Utah to slap Milwaukee with a 103-100 defeat.

Tied at 100, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton became the main figure in handing Utah the victory as his jumper was cut short by 7-foot-1 Jazz centre Rudy Gobert, in his struggle to offload the failed attempt to Brook Lopez, the whistle sounded for travel – the final quarter’s fatal turnover.
Last night marked Milwaukee’s 18th straight loss against the Jazz in Salt Lake City, dating back to 2001.

Nets 119, Trail Blazers 115

The Damion Lillard versus Kyrie Irving matchup did not disappoint last night as the two premier point guards of the NBA brought their cold-blooded clutch to Portland. Even Lillard's career-high 60 points came up short and were not enough to stop Irving as Portland fell to the Nets.

Lillard dropped 26 points in the first half and hit 18 in the third to walk into the fourth with 44 as he shot a consistent 14-for-23 from the field, 6-for-12 from the three and 10-for-10 from the free-throw line but the Blazers still trailed by three as the final quarter began.

Spencer Dinwiddie led Brooklyn in points with 34 off the bench, followed closely by Irving who put up 33, with five and three rebounds respectively. Despite Lillard's show-stopping performance, the ball sat firmly in Irving's hands in the most important possession of the game as he stepped up in the clutch. 

Houston Rockets v Brooklyn Nets

The game was tied at 103 with under five minutes remaining as Irving powered through on a run that sealed a victory for the Nets. He assisted Joe Harris for a three then made it to the rim for an and-1 to give Brooklyn a six-point lead with three minutes remaining. A 12-3 run decided the outcome as Irving found his signature spot on the glass to sink a dagger three which put the Nets up by 10 and ended Lillard's chance of a resurgence. 

Friday Night's NBA:

Knicks 106, Mavericks 102

76ers 97, Nuggets 100

Timberwolves 125, Warriors 119 (OT)

Raptors 122, Pelicans 104

Cavaliers 113, Wizards 100

Pacers 112, Pistons 106

Magic 118, Grizzlies 86

Kings 121, Hawks 109

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