LOS ANGELES: James Harden finished with 37 points and 11 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets improved to 7-0 against Pacific Division teams this season with a 112-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Nets went a perfect 5-0 on their western swing road trip and extended their win streak to a season-high six games.
Harden recorded the 77th career double-double and added seven assists at Staples Center arena in southern California. “We just kept our composure,” he said. “Down the stretch we wanted to get a good shot every single time and we came out with the win. “We are a very confident team that continues to grow.”
Kyrie Irving scored 28 points with eight assists while Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan and Bruce Brown scored 13 each for the Nets. Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant missed his fourth straight game with an injured hamstring. The Nets also lost forward Jeff Green with an apparent shoulder injury after a collision with Clippers guard Patrick Beverley with just under three minutes left.
Kawhi Leonard tallied 29 points and 13 rebounds, while Ivica Zubac finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Paul George had 34 points and seven rebounds but sat out the game’s crucial moments down the stretch because Los Angeles wanted to limit his minutes in the game. “We had to bring him back to get the game close,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. “The biggest thing is he is healthy.”
Elsewhere, Brandon Ingram scored 33 points as the New Orleans Pelicans engineered their largest comeback in team history Sunday by overcoming a 24-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 120-115 in overtime. Ingram hit the go-ahead three pointer with 34 seconds remaining in the overtime.
Zion Williamson had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Josh Hart had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Jayson Tatum scored 32, Jaylen Brown had 25, and Tristan Thompson and Kemba Walker added 14 each to lead the Celtics. After an exchange of baskets to start the overtime scoring, Williamson made one of two free throws.
Brown made a layup to give Boston a 112-111 lead with 72 seconds left. Ingram tied it with a free throw and added a three-pointer to give the Pelicans a 115-112 lead in the overtime. Walker missed a three-pointer, and Hart hit two free throws for a five-point lead with 18 seconds left as New Orleans closed it out.
Lonzo Ball made one of two free throws at the end of the fourth quarter to give the Pelicans a one-point lead with 32 seconds left in regulation. Williamson then executed a three-point play to give the Pelicans a 108-106 lead with six seconds left. Tatum scored on a short shot with 0.2 left to send the game into the extra session.
Also, Fred VanVleet scored 23 points and had nine assists as the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 110-103 in Florida. Pascal Siakam scored 23 points and had seven rebounds and eight assists for the Raptors.
Wolves sack coach
The Minnesota Timberwolves fired head coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday after a disappointing 7-24 start to the NBA season. “We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organization and wish him the best in the future,” Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas said in a statement. “These are difficult decisions to make, however this change is in the best interest of the organization’s short and long-term goals.”
Saunders was 43-95 as coach of the Timberwolves in two-plus seasons. They have won just seven of 31 games and lost eight of their past nine for the worst record in the NBA. Saunders’ sacking comes after Minnesota lost 103-99 to the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Minnesota has been hit hard by injuries and COVID-19 issues this season, with starting guard D’Angelo Russell out for up to six weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee. Karl-Anthony Towns contracted the coronavirus and suffered a wrist injury, resulting in him playing just 11 games so far this season. Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch is believed to be the frontrunner for the job to replace Saunders. – AFP