Australian Josh Giddey again showed flashes on Sunday (AEDT), but his Oklahoma City Thunder suffered another defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
Giddey finished with 10 points, six assists, and four rebounds in a 103-82 defeat where the 19-year-old showed off his playmaking and constantly improving defence.
The game itself was largely a non-contest as Steph Curry and the Warriors put together a hot shooting performance to leave the Thunder in the dust.
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Nevertheless, Giddey was able to show off the parts of his game that have seen him become one of the most exciting picks from this year’s draft. Crucially, he helped ignite the Thunder in the second quarter after they were down by eight points after the first break.
OKC went scoreless in the first 2:30 of the second term, before Giddey checked in. He immediately scored or assists his side’s first 7 points of the quarter, but it wasn’t enough as the Warriors extended their lead to 11 by the half and 24 by the third break.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander topscored for OKC with just 15 points, with the starters sitting in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach. Giddey finished with 10 points, six assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes.
Curry had scored just five points at half-time on one-of-six shooting from three-point range, but exploded for 15 points in the third quarter. He also added six assists and five rebounds to go with his 20 points in three quarters, sitting the final term.
Four other Warriors reached in double digits, with Draymond Green impressing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
But it was Oklahoma’s offence that hurt them most, scoring just 8 of 39 from deep (just over 20 per cent) and 29 of 81 shooting overall. They never led in the 31-point defeat.
SIXERS EXACT REVENGE AS SIMMONS MYSTERY REMAINS
The Philadelphia 76ers made sure not to blow it this time around against the Atlanta Hawks, securing a 122-94 win.
The Sixers infamously collapsed in the semi-finals last season against the Hawks to bow out of title contention.
It also sparked a lengthy standoff between Ben Simmons and the organisation after the Australian passed up a wide-open dunk in the loss.
Simmons again was unavailable for Sunday’s game due to personal reasons, with Tobias Harris (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Joel Embiid (19 points) stepping up in his absence.
It was a team effort though with Tyrese Maxey (16), Seth Curry (15), Matisse Thybulle (11) and Shake Milton (11) also hitting double figures in points.
Philadelphia has struggled at times to find rhythm on the offensive end with Embiid even looking far from his best while managing a knee complaint.
On Sunday though Philadelphia pushed the pace with 34 fast-break points compared to Atlanta’s 14 while also winning the paint battle 60-36.
Cam Reddish was Atlanta’s best with 16 points while Trae Young and Bogan Bogdanovic added 13 points.
Young though had a tough shooting night, managing 5-for-15 from the floor.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers provided an update on Simmons, saying there is no time frame for his return.
“I stay out of it,” Rivers said.
“I really do. My job is to coach the guys who are here and to believe that the guys that are here will play for us some day. That’s all I have to believe as a coach. I try not to get involved as a coach in the clutter.”
Rivers added he had been in contact with Simmons’ agent Rich Paul but described it as personal contact as opposed to anything meaningful on the Australian’s situation.
BONKERS FINISH AS NUGGETS HOLD ON
The Minnesota Timberwolves twice – in the last three seconds – had the chance to level the score against the Denver Nuggets and send a back-and-forth thriller into overtime. Both attempts from inside the paint were blocked as the Nuggets held on to clinch a crazy game 93-91.
The Timberwolves led by 14 at the first break and by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, when an ESPN statistic rated them a 90.6 per cent chance of winning.
Things tightened in a series of lead changes. But they again fought back to lead by seven midway through the fourth, with an 84.3% chance of winning.
Denver took the lead at 91-89 with 2:04 remaining in the final quarter, before an Anthony Edwards lay-up with 31.6 seconds to play kept the Timberwolves alive, just two points down at 93-91.
They got the desperately-needed stop as Karl-Anthony Towns stole the ball from Nikola Jokic.
But Will Barton blocked Malik Beasley’s layup attempt just two feet from the basket with three seconds to play. Edwards claimed the rebound and tried to put in the three-foot equaliser only for Jokic to make amends for his turnover with a game-winning denial in a staggering finish.
Jokic finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists to go with three blocks. Monte Morris had 16 points, while Michael Porter Jr had 7 points plus 12 rebounds. Aaron Gordon and Will Barton added 12 and 10 points respectively.
For the Timberwolves, Edwards, Towns and D’Angelo Russell each scored 14 points. Edwards had 11 rebounds, Towns eight rebounds and three assists, and Russell six assists.
Beasley came off the bench with 18 points despite his heartbreaking last-gasp miss.
HORROR 1-MINUTE PERIOD SUMS UP BOSTON’S WOES
The Boston Celtics have fallen in double overtime for the second time in 11 days, this time suffering a 115-112 loss to the Washington Wizards.
The Celtics had a horror night from deep, shooting just 2-for-26 from the 3-point line compared to the Wizards’ 10-of-36.
It is a credit to Jaylen Brown in particular that Boston went as close as it did to victory, with the wing starring with 34 points (14-of-24 shooting) to spark an offence lacking execution.
The poor execution ended up costing Boston, with Jayson Tatum having a layup blocked, missing a nine-foot shot and turning the ball over in a mistake-riddled one-minute period.
Brown then lost the ball in the final possession of the game as Boston failed to execute down the stretch and it is far from the first time this season late mistakes had proved costly for the Celtics.
Boston is now 2-4 for the season while Washington improves to 5-1 off the back of a 36-point effort from Bradley Beal.
Tatum had told NBC Sports Boston pre-game he had “talked plenty of times” about playing with Beal but while Washington keeps winning it is hard to see him leaving.
Kyle Kuzma (17 points, 17 rebounds) and Montrezl Harrell (20 points, 14 rebounds) also made their presence felt for the Wizards on both sides of the floor.
NO. 1 PICK SHAKES OFF ‘JITTERS’ IN MIXED DEBUT
Cade Cunningham may have been the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft but the Detroit Pistons are taking it slow with the 20-year-old.
Cunningham was on a minutes restriction as he made his NBA debut in a 110-103 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday.
The Oklahoma State product had been dealing with an ankle injury but managed 19 minutes in his debut, finishing with two points and seven rebounds.
Cunningham’s shooting is a work in progress after the rookie went 1-for-8 from the field but his playmaking was a highlight and immediately saw an improvement in Detroit’s ball movement.
Coach Dwane Casey said pre-game there was a very good reason for Cunningham’s limited involvement.
“Shorter bursts, shorter stints,” he said of how many minutes the young gun would play.
“The medical people will (kill me) if I play him over a certain amount of minutes.”
“It was good,” Cunningham said of his debut.
“I feel like coming in and being able to make some plays off the ball and get some rebounds … those are the points I wanted to come out and prove that my ankle was straight and move and guard.”
“I got all the jitters out and now I can go and play free.”
Fellow rookie and Gonzaga prospect Jalen Suggs also struggled, finishing the game with 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting but he did have six assists.
Jerami Grant led the way for the Pistons with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Kelly Olynkyk added a crucial 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals off the bench.
ZION QUESTION MARK AS NEW ORLEANS NIGHTMARE DEEPENS
RJ Barrett put up 35 points in a sensational performance as the New York Knicks continued their red-hot start with a 123-117 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 35 points matched Barrett’s career high.
Barrett was great all game, shooting 12-for-18 and 6-for-8 from 3-point range and adding with eight rebounds and six assists, but he single-handedly held off the Pelicans’ late charge in the final two minutes as the Knicks improved to 5-1.
Barrett banged in a big 3-pointer with 1:40 left after the Pelicans had cut the Knicks’ lead to two, after which he shushed the crowd.
The Knicks shot 19-for-33 from 3-point range.
A driving Barrett then fed Taj Gibson for a layup with 1:05 left after the Pelicans came within two again.
And Barrett topped it off with a 3-pointer with 43 seconds left, to put the Knicks up 119-112, after which he was mobbed by his mates.
After draining one 3-pointer from the corner early in the fourth quarter, Barrett turned and appeared to glance briefly at his former college brother.
The Pelicans are reeling at 1-6 — beset by Williamson’s season-long rehab from foot surgery.
As for when Williamson could return, that still remains a mystery.
“I think Zion will be a huge help,” head coach Willie Green said.
“Look, we’re down somebody that is huge in terms of offensively and defensively for our team. So adding him, hopefully soon, will just make us an even better team. But right now I love what our guys are doing.
On Sunday, the Pelicans gave their other star, Brandon Ingram, a rest day after he woke up “sore”, Green said.
Barrett’s gem followed his terrific 20-point outing in Chicago, when he also made a game-sealing stop on defence against DeMar DeRozan.
Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, has yet to make his season debut.
The half-empty stands were a reflection of a fan base waiting for the return of a player who had been billed as the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are off to their best start since 2012-13, when they opened 6-0.
The case could be made the schedule hasn’t been rough, with two games against the Magic and one apiece versus the Pelicans and the below-.500 Celtics.
The Knicks came out bombing, with point guard Kemba Walker, Julius Randle and Barrett bagging early 3s as they jumped to a 14-3 lead after three minutes.
The Knicks maintained a comfortable lead for most of the first half with Barrett excelling. He even connected with Mitchell Robinson for an alley-oop.
Barrett scored 10 points — as did Randle and Walker.
The Knicks shot 9-for-18 from 3-point range in the half, but let a big lead slip away.
HAWKS 94 SIXERS 122
RAPTORS 97 PACERS 94
KNICKS 123 PELICANS 117
MAGIC 103 PISTONS 110
CELTICS 112 WIZARDS 115
JAZZ 99 BULLS 107
HEAT 129 GRIZZLIES 103
SPURS 102 BUCKS 93
THUNDER 82 WARRIORS 103