Josh Giddey has delivered another huge praise that’s drawn massive praise from his coach. Plus an underdog pulled off the unlikeliest of upsets to keep its shock winning streak alive.
Catch up on all of the day’s action in our NBA Wrap!
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GIDDEY HELPS SPARK ROAD WIN
Josh Giddey has delivered another key performance in the OKC Thunder’s huge 110-109 road win over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday (AEDT).
The Australian star posted 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three triples to help guide the Thunder to their second-straight win following an eight-game losing streak, now sitting 8-16 on the season.
Giddey’s impressive playmaking was on full display in one of his most mature performances yet, with OKC coach Mark Daigneault full of praise for his guard post-match.
It was a showdown against Raptors rookie Scott Barnes, who was taken two spots ahead of Giddey in the 2021 draft. Barnes finished 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks in a strong performance.
Elsewhere, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 26 points and nine assists, while Lu Dort added 22 points and four triples.
Pascal Siakam (23 points, 11 boards), Fred VanVleet (19 points, five threes, eight rebounds, nine assists) and Gary Trent Jr. (24 points, four triples, two steals) also had it going for the Raptors, although they got just 14 bench points.
The Thunder overcame a double-digit deficit in this one with their backs to the throughout the first half. But Daigneault’s team used a 33-12 third quarter where Gilgeous-Alexander dropped in 16 of his 26 points to charge ahead 64-54 at the final change.
OKC pushed ahead by as much as 91-78 early in the first quarter before the Raptors rallied home hard and even pushed ahead late after back-to-back threes from Siakam and VanVleet.
Mike Muscula’s go-ahead three put the Thunder back in front 110-109 with under 10 seconds remaining, while Justin Champagne’s tip-in on VanVleet’s missed shot at the buzzer was deemed to late, giving the Thunder the victory.
ROCKETS STUN NETS FOR SEVENTH-STRAIGHT WIN
The Houston Rockets kept their remarkable form rolling, holding off the Brooklyn Nets’ comeback to win 114-104 for their seventh win in a row.
The shorthanded Nets were playing without Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge (both resting), but the Rockets would prove to be no walkover.
It marked James Harden’s second visit to Houston since being traded from them in January, finishing with 25 points on 14-of-16 free-throw makes, 11 rebounds and eight assists while committing eight turnovers.
Eric Gordon stepped up for the Rockets with 23 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter, while Garrison Mathews stepped up as an unlikely hero.
Mathews had 19 points including 12 in the fourth and had a block and steal on Harden late in the game in key defensive plays to halt the Nets’ comeback.
The Rockets fans were loving Mathrews so much they were even chanting M-V-P when he went to the line late.
“When you beat a team like that it means something,” Mathews said post-match “This streak‘s been a huge boost to our confidence. It’s been a huge boost to our morale.”
The Rockets’ seven-game winning streak remains the longest in the NBA in a stunning turnaround from their 1-10 start to the season.
Meanwhile, Harden admitted post-match that Houston will always have a special place in his heart.
“Very special,” he said. ”I spent some of my most amazing years here on the court and off the court.”
The Nets slid to 17-8 but remain first in the Eastern Conference.
CAVS OUST DEPLETED BULLS
Darius Garland scored 24 points and rookie Evan Mobley added 16 with nine rebounds as the Cavaliers beat the depleted Bulls 115-92.
The Cavs posted their biggest winning margin of the season against the Bulls, the second-ranked team in the East.
Earlier in the day the Bulls saw Matt Thomas become their fourth player to enter Covid-19 protocols after testing positive for coronavirus.
Thomas had made the trip to Cleveland, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan received word early Wednesday morning that he would not be available.
Donovan, however, said after the blowout defeat that the available players had to step up.
“We’re better than that,” Donovan said. “And we need to be better than that. I don’t know when or who is coming back on what dates.
“My feeling is right now, we’re going into Miami with the same group, and if we don’t compete at a higher level, we’re going to get the same result we got here tonight. … It’s not to say we’re going to win, but we can do a better job than we did tonight.”
SHORTHANDED HEAT SHOCK CHAMPS
The Heat will host the Bulls on Saturday coming off a 113-104 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday — just the second defeat in a dozen games for the reigning NBA champions who are lying third in the East.
With Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler sidelined by injury, forward Caleb Martin led the heat with a career-high 28 points.
Martin, starting in place of Butler who was absent with a tailbone bruise, made a career-high six three-pointers in eight attempts. He pulled down eight rebounds, handed out three assists and blocked two shots.
Heat guard Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and handed out 13 assists, sparking Miami’s big third quarter with 16 points in the period on efficient six-of-10 shooting.
The Heat out-scored the Bucks 39-26 in the third period to erase a seven-point halftime deficit and take a six-point lead into the final quarter.
Max Strus kept things going, scoring all of his 16 points in the final frame as the Heat held on.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points as the Heat limited the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player to four-of-13 shooting from the field.
Jrue Holiday led the Bucks with 27 points and Khris Middleton added 20, but the Bucks couldn’t overcome the Heat’s franchise record-equaling 22 three-pointers.
WIZARDS WIN IN OT
In Detroit, Washington forward Kyle Kuzma broke Pistons’ hearts, draining a three-pointer with six-tenths of a second left in overtime to lift the Wizards to a 119-116 victory.
Kuzma scored 26 points and Bradley Beal added 25 for the Wizards, who held on after letting a late double-digit lead slip away and handed the Pistons a 10th straight defeat.
Jerami Grant scored 28 points for Detroit and Cade Cunningham scored eight straight in overtime to knot the score with 24.6 seconds.
It saw the Wizards end a three-game losing losing streak to improve to 15-11, sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Pistons dropped their 10th-straight game — the worst active streak in the NBA.
SIXERS 110 HORNETS 106
BULLS 92 CAVALIERS 115
WIZARDS 119 PISTONS 116
KNICKS 102 PACERS 122
BUCKS 104 HEAT 113
THUNDER 110 RAPTORS 109
NETS 104 ROCKETS 114
MAVERICKS 104 GRIZZLIES 96
JAZZ 136 TIMBERWOLVES 104
NUGGETS 120 PELICANS 114