Thunder roar past Pacers 104-93
Thunder roar past Pacers 104-93
A meeting of the NBA's highest-scoring offense and the league's stingiest defense went the Thunder's way as they eclipsed 100 points for the 12th straight game.
Of course, Oklahoma City boasts the NBA's second-best defense to go with all that offensive firepower.
Russell Westbrook added 21 points and came up with a big block against 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert — 11 inches taller than him — during a late 8-0 burst by the Thunder that put it away after the Pacers had pulled within three.
David West had 21 points for Indiana, which had all five starters score in double figures.
Knicks 112 Nuggets 106: In New York, Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game absence with 34 points against his former team, and New York the NBA's only team unbeaten at home.
Back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a cut on the middle finger of his left hand that required stitches, Anthony twice made baskets in the final 2:08 after Denver had pulled within four points.
Jason Kidd scored 17 points for the Knicks, who bounced back from their worst offensive performance of the season a night earlier in Chicago and improved to 8-0 at Madison Square Garden. Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith each had 15 points.
Ty Lawson had 23 points and Danilo Gallinari had 21 points and nine rebounds against the team that drafted him and later dealt him in the package for Anthony in February 2011.
Jazz 117 Lakers 110: In Los Angeles, Paul Millsap scored 24 points, Mo Williams added 22 and Utah won its third straight.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points, making 12 of 14 free throws, as they fell to 4-7 in their last 11 games.
Al Jefferson and reserves Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter added 14 points each for the Jazz, which improved to 4-9 on the road in ending a two-game skid away from home.
The Lakers never led in the second half while losing their second in a row. They trailed by three to start the fourth quarter only to get outscored 20-8 and fall behind by 15. Hayward had seven points and Kanter six in Utah's spurt.
Magic 98 Suns 90: In Phoenix, Rookie Andrew Nicholson scored nine of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and Orlando handed Phoenix its seventh straight loss.
Nicholson made 9 of 11 shots and grabbed nine rebounds, also the best of his young career.
J.J. Redick scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half for the Magic in the final stop of their five-game road trip.
Shannon Brown scored 17 and Jared Dudley 15 for the Suns, who were without starting point guard Goran Dragic due to illness.
Phoenix's losing streak is its longest since 2004.
Bucks 97 Nets 88: In New York, Brandon Jennings scored 26 points, Monta Ellis had 24 points and Milwaukee withstood Brooklyn's fourth-quarter rally.
The Bucks led by 29 points with 6:59 left in the third quarter but the Nets got within six after Deron Williams found Kris Humphries open for an uncontested dunk.
Ellis' layup then made it 87-79 before the Nets called a timeout with 2:24 left in regulation. On the ensuing play, Gerald Wallace lost his balance and the ball and Milwaukee's Larry Sanders made a reverse layup to extend the Bucks' lead to 10 points. MarShon Brooks, who scored 14 points, then hit a 3-pointer to bring the Nets within seven but Marquis Daniels' hit a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.
Williams had 18 points and eight assists and Wallace added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets.
Clippers 102 Raptors 83: In Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford led a fourth-quarter rally by the reserves with 16 points and the Clippers won their sixth in a row and handed Toronto its 10th consecutive road loss.
The backups gave the Clippers their first double-digit lead of the game after Toronto kept it close through the first three periods before dropping its fourth straight and 10th in its last 11. The Raptors have just four wins this season.
Eric Bledsoe added 14 points to help the Clippers' reserves outscore their counterparts 47-24.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 19 points. Chris Paul added 16 points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 rebounds. Caron Butler was the only starter to play in the fourth, coming in only after Matt Barnes was ejected with 1:36 to play.
Toronto's DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points in his hometown. Linas Kleiza, who started in place of injured Mickael Pietrus, added 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Amir Johnson had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Toronto.
Poor use of local talent, bad auction decisions have cost Royal Challengers Bangalore dear in IPL
- 2018 debacle – eight losses in 14 games – follows on the heels of a 2017 season where they won just three matches
- Bangalore, both in terms of recruitment and on-field execution, were well off the pace in this year's IPL
The city of Bangalore can now boast of two extremely popular sports teams.
The football team, Bengaluru FC, has only been in existence since 2013. But that half-decade has been enough for them to become a beacon for Indian football, a role model of professionalism — the previous absence of which contributed so much to the slide down the world rankings from the 1970s.
The cricket team, in contrast, has epitomised the worst of Indian sport, with its ‘chalta hai (it works)’ attitude.
That would seem excessive criticism of a franchise that has reached three finals in 11 seasons (losing them all), but if you scratch beneath the surface, it is always individual brilliance rather than a robust team ethos that has been responsible for the team’s crests.
The 2018 debacle – eight losses in 14 games – follows on the heels of a 2017 season where they won just three matches. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have finished sixth or worse in three of the five seasons where Daniel Vettori has been coach.
Qualifying for the playoffs in 2015, and reaching the final a year later on the back of Virat Kohli’s 973 runs, was largely down to the triumvirate of Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle being in such formidable touch.
The captain too cannot be exempt from blame. But this season, there were extenuating circumstances.
While the auction was going on in Bangalore in January, Kohli’s full focus was trained on a Wanderers Test that he was determined to win.
When asked a question about the IPL after the match was won, he brushed it off with a curt answer of “Sir, please don’t ask me such things now.”
Bangalore’s auction missteps were cruelly apparent on Saturday evening, as two Karnataka players combined to knock them out.
Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham have never worn RCB colors. It cost Rajasthan Royals 62 million rupees ($910,000) to sign Gowtham, but Gopal came at his base price of two million rupees.
The spin web they spun – 6 for 23 in six overs – illustrated Bangalore’s inability to make best use of local talent. Three of the Indian spinners RCB signed – Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar and Murugan Ashwin – for a combined cost of 64 million rupees ended up bowling 31 overs across the season.
Of course, you cannot be too parochial when it comes to professional sport. The National Football League’s two greatest quarterbacks – Joe Montana and Tom Brady – both crossed the width of a continent to script their legends.
Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles were not born within a goal kick of Hackney or Islington. And Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona certainly were not all about the boys from La Masia.
But in Bangalore’s case, despite Karnataka having enjoyed some excellent seasons in domestic cricket this decade, there has been a marked reluctance to pick the players for RCB. Even those that did play and shine, like KL Rahul, who made 397 runs for them in 2016, were not retained.
Instead, RCB’s third retention card in 2018 was spent on Sarfaraz Khan, who finished the season with 51 runs. Rahul already has 652.
Vettori succeeded Ray Jennings in January 2014, the man who had taken them to two finals in 2009 and 2011.
A year later, when Kohli was handed the Test reins by India, Jennings told The Indian Express how Kohli had been instrumental in him losing his job.
“People generally don’t like being questioned and pointed out their shortcomings, but I knew what I did was for his, and the team’s, well-being,” he said. “But as a captain, he has the right to work with the people he is comfortable with and I have no complaints.”
Gary Kirsten, who took India to the No.1 ranking in Tests and helped win a World Cup in 2011, joined RCB this season as mentor and batting coach.
In the T20 format, Kirsten has a wretched record. India failed to make it out of the Super Eights at the World T20 in both 2009 and 2010, and his two seasons with the Delhi Daredevils were nothing short of a disaster.
Vettori’s attempt to spread his wings with Middlesex last summer saw him finish with a 5-7 win-loss record.
The successful teams long ago realized that T20 is a separate sport, where success depends on good scouting and use of analytics.
Pedigree in the longer forms is no guarantee for success in T20, where the name of the game is tactical innovation.
Bangalore, both in terms of recruitment and on-field execution, are well off the pace.