The Magic were criticized last year during their playoff run for being too dependent on the three. Live by the three die by the three. Chris Webber of TNT was particularly critical of the Magic’s perimeter reliance. There was no way they could sustain it, that was the consensus. Yet, they kept shooting and shooting, all the way to the NBA Finals.
Already without Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves were without their second twin tower for most of Saturday night after Rudy Gobert got ejected for kicking and tripping the Thunder’s Kenrich Williams.
Early in the second quarter, Williams was driving to the rim and Gobert was there to contest it, and with the contact Williams went to the ground, then Gobert tripped over him and fell. As Williams started to get back up and try to get down the court, Gobert kicked Williams’ legs out from under him, tripping Williams. A brief scuffle followed.
The referees reviewed the play (it didn’t take long) and ultimately Gobert was given a flagrant 2 and ejected, while Williams got a technical. The refs got that one right.
Rudy Gobert was ejected for kicking Kenrich Williams and tripping him 😳 pic.twitter.com/oCROiUhNk1
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2022
The game was chippy the whole way through, but going against a smaller Timberwolves front line the Thunder picked up a 135-128 win behind 33 from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Anfernee Simons scored a career-high 45 points and blocked a potential 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 116-111 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
“I wanted to be aggressive and set the tone for my teammates,” Simons said. “Early on, let them know that we are in this game and I’m going to do whatever it takes for us to win it.”
The Jazz led 111-110 after Kelly Olynyk‘s twisting jumper and then had a chance to tie it at 114, but Simons swiped the ball from Jordan Clarkson as he rose for a 3-point attempt from the right angle.
“I just tried to catch him before he went up. … Kind of a risky play, but I’m glad I got it,” Simons said with a chuckle.
The Trail Blazers had lost seven of their last eight games before winning this thriller as Damian Lillard missed his seventh game with a lower right leg injury.
Portland’s Jerami Grant scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter as the Jazz swarmed Simons.
Jusuf Nurkic had 15 points and 14 rebounds and Trendon Watford finished with a career-high 14 rebounds, too.
The Jazz held Simons to just one field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, but he hit two free throws with 29.2 seconds to play, giving Portland a 112-111 lead. Grant added four free throws in the final 6.4 seconds for the final margin.
“Ant got it going early and we just kind of rode him, rode him, rode him. And then obviously Jerami was going,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said.
Clarkson had 24 points, and Lauri Markkanen added 21 for the Jazz, but committed two turnovers in the final 35.7 seconds. Collin Sexton scored 19 points and Jarred Vanderbilt had a season-high 16 for Utah.
Portland led 107-101 on Grant’s 3-pointer with 4:12 to play, but Sexton scored five quick points in 10-3 run that was highlighted by Markkanen’s block of Simon’s drive in the final minute.
Simons scored 23 points in the first quarter – a season high for Simons, as well as any Blazers player in any quarter. Simons had 22 in the third quarter against Denver on Oct. 24.
By halftime, Simons had 33 points and the Blazers led 69-60.
“You have to come out in the very beginning and try to set the tone. Doesn’t matter that it’s the second night of a back-to-back. They came out with an aggressiveness and a physicality that we didn’t (have),” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
Simons became the third Trail Blazer in the last decade to score 45 points, joining Lillard and CJ McCollum. He wanted more.
“In the back of my mind, I wanted 50. But there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for that. It’s all right, because we got the win,” Simons said.
NEW YORK (AP) — Luka Doncic had a game-high 30 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 28 points against his former team, and the Dallas Mavericks beat the New York Knicks 121-100 on Saturday.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 17 points for Dallas, which outscored New York 69-41 in the second half for just its second win seven games.
“I think it’s great that everyone’s in the locker room smiling,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “Everybody saw the ball go in, we shared the ball, we played the right way. … We’re a team that lives or dies by the 3, and today we made them.”
Forward Julius Randle led the Knicks with 24 points, and Immanuel Quickly chipped in 23. Leading scorer Jalen Brunson had 13 points playing against Dallas for the first time since he signed with the Knicks on July 12, but New York fell for the sixth time in its past eight games.
“To be honest, not fun,” Brunson said when asked what it was like playing against his former team. “They played great tonight. You got to give them credit. No matter who is on the floor, my approach stays the same. But to see them after the game and shake their hands, that was pretty cool.”
Hardaway exacted revenge against his former team, with whom he played 254 games over parts of four seasons. Hardaway had 17 points in the third quarter, including five 3-pointers, during a 27-6 run. He credited familiarity in New York – and Dallas’ previous game in Detroit – as keys to his third straight 20-plus point game.
“This road trip, when you have family and friends in both cities, it lightens you and brings some positive vibes and some positive energy,” Hardaway said. “To come here, to Detroit and to New York, both places where I used to play college and professionally, was a great atmosphere. I was comfortable, and my teammates (were) keeping me positive.”
Doncic, the NBA’s leading scorer, had just 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting in the first half. But he took over in the third, scoring 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Dallas outscored New York 41-15 in the third quarter, turning a tight game into a rout.
“The first half I wasn’t really participating,” Doncic said. “It was a challenge to come out of the locker room with more energy.”
The Knicks shot 55% in the first half, including 63% from the field in the first quarter. Randle had 14 of his 21 first-half points in the first quarter, including seven on a 9-0 run that gave New York an early 14-5 advantage.
The Knicks led by as many as 15 in the second quarter, but Dallas turned up the defensive intensity and cut New York’s lead to seven, 59-52, at halftime.
“The start of the game, I thought we were pretty good,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We built the 15-point lead, then we sort of lost traction mid-second quarter.”
A frustrated Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant must have used some special language near the end of the Grizzlies’ loss to the Timberwolves, because both were ejected within a matter of minutes near the end of the game Wednesday night.
The league fined Morant $35,000 for “confronting and directing inappropriate language toward a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection.”
Morant was not demonstrative at the time and was clearly surprised by the ejection. Before leaving the court he dapped up Anthony Edwards (who was shooting free throws) and a couple of other players before heading back to the locker room. Afterward Morant took to social media.
Ja Morant’s reaction to being ejected on Instagram: pic.twitter.com/1ouQwBhwSj
— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) December 1, 2022
If the official said that to Morant, he should also be punished. The league can’t come down on players for not showing the referees respect if it’s not a two-way street.
It was an ugly loss for the Grizzlies, who fell to a Timberwolves team without Karl-Anthony Towns.