The Barba on his debut after the punitive quarantine puts 44 points like CJ, but he slips the triple of the success of the extra time of the Blazers. San Antonio scores 2 out of 2
Show in Portland where CJ McCollum and James Harden with 44 points each illuminate a match that the Blazers win in extra time. From Chicago comes the important confirmation of Indiana’s strength, from Sacramento the one that the Kings with two wins out of two want to do seriously. Success also for San Antonio with Toronto and Minnesota at the home of the Jazz: both are 2-0.
Portland Trail Blazers-Houston Rockets 128-126 dts
Drama, suspense, uncertainty until the end. Portland-Houston has all the ingredients of a splendid thriller, which only in the finale reveals CJ McCollum as the killer, for once Batman instead of Robin. The number 2 of the Blazers signs the victory with 44 points, including the triple that at 6 ”from the end of the overtime seal the decisive overtaking. “I tried to be aggressive, to put my opponents in difficulty. But we still have a lot to improve ”says McCollum, who finishes with 9 three-pointers, his career high. He and Damian Lillard, 32 points with 9 assists and the innate ability to always do the right thing (like passing for McCollum in the deciding triple) were a constant show for 53 ‘. Just as a show was James Harden. He came from 4 days of punitive quarantine (including Christmas in solitary confinement) for the escapade at the strip club on Monday; from weeks of long faces and misunderstandings following his trade request; from controversy for its state of form. Yet in the first game of the season he shows up with 44 points, with the triple step back which is always a lethal weapon, and with 17 assists to try not only to be the best possible version of himself, but also to help his teammates do the same. . Starting with Christian Wood, whose understanding with Harden is already remarkable as evidenced by the 31 points and 13 rebounds of the precious piece of the offseason Rockets. Houston showed up in Portland with only 9 players: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon were absent, all in preventive quarantine for a week. Harden shone for them too, leading the team and tarnishing an excellent performance with a very expensive turnover (4th of his evening) in the last possession in extra time.
Houston, in the first of the season after the game with Oklahoma City was skipped because coach Silas did not have 8 healthy players available, is not intimidated by having only 9 players available and in the second quarter tries to escape, hitting 55- with Harden 39 at 4’30 “from the interval. Before the break, the Blazers reduced the gap to 68-58, then in the third quarter overturned the situation with a 19-8 run inspired by the extraordinary McCollum. From there the exciting match was born, full of back and forth between the four brightest stars on the pitch. Portland could have closed it in regulation, but two errors in the line of the still positive Nurkic (12 points and 11 rebounds) and that of Lillard from the average in the last possession send the two teams to extra time at 113-113. McCollum continues to play at a spatial level even in the extra 5 ‘, Harden however responds blow for blow and 15 ”from the end brings Houston ahead 126-125 after that in the extra half period he was down by 5. Portland flips again with McCollum, primed from Lillard, then walls Harden who misses the last possession. Portland’s first win of the season after the first home cue against Utah.
Portland: McCollum 44 (8/14 from two, 9/16 from three, 1/2 free throws), Lillard 32, Nurkic 12. Rebounds: Nurkic 11. Assists: Lillard 9.
Houston: Harden 44 (6/9, 6/13, 14/16), Wood 31, Tate 13. Rimbalzi: Wood 13. Assist: Harden 17.
Chicago Bulls-Indiana Pacers 106-125
Indiana takes two heavy shoulders to get rid of the insecure Chicago and take the second win out of two. Bjorkgren’s team, driven by Domantas Sabonis (5th triple-double in career with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists), closes with 55.9% from the field and defends the attack of the Bulls, forced to 37.4% shooting and annihilated in the two central quarters, in which the Pacers first break the balance and then, with an extraordinary start of recovery, definitively close the accounts. Indiana is changing its skin, because Bjorkgren’s philosophy is completely different from that of McMillan, his predecessor, but for now he doesn’t seem to have “growing pains”. In addition to Sabonis good TJ Warren, 23 points in 27 ‘, Victor Oladipo, 22 points in 25’, and Malcolm Brogdon, brain of the team with 18 points and 6 assists. No positive indication from the dullness of Chicago, which like Indiana is shedding its skin but starts from a more uncertain base. Only Lauri Markkanen, 16 points and 9 rebounds, showed something. Coby White is still impalpable: what for coach Donovan is the Bulls barometer closes with 10 points, shooting 4/10 from the field and only 3 assists. Indiana breaks the balance with a devastating 21-0 run in the second quarter, sealed 4’14 ”from the break by Aaron Holiday at 55-40. Chicago tries to remedy and returns to the locker room under 66-56, but the Pacers open the second half with a terrifying 18-0, prologue to +30, 88-58, touched with a 4-point game by Oladipo with 6’09 “on the third quarter stopwatch that turns off any Chicago ambitions.
Chicago: LaVine 17 (3/7, 3/6, 2/2), Markkanen 16, White 12. Rimbalzi: Markkanen 9. Assist: Satoransky 9.
Indiana: Warrenn 23 (10/14, 0/2, 3/4 tsp), Sabonis 22, Oladipo 22. Rimbalzi: Sabonis 10. Assist: Sabonis 11.
Sacramento Kings-Phoenix Suns 106-103
Two out of two. Sacramento concedes an encore, but the victory over Phoenix is not as daring as the one in extra time with Denver on the opening night. The Kings find in De’Aaron Fox (24 points and 7 assists) the right guide to overcome the obstacle Suns, who are not enough with the excellent Devin Booker (26 points) and Chris Paul (22 with 12 assists) to avoid the first seasonal ko. Sacramento rebounds (56-40) and keeps opponents at 41.8%, thus avoiding paying the 18 turnovers and the 5/23 from three. Phoenix has little else besides the two phenomena, despite Paul’s sensational game management (his 12 assists produce 26 points and end up with 7 different companions): good Jae Crowder, with 17 points only other player in double figures, bad DeAndre Ayton , who finishes with 12 rebounds but takes only 5 shots. The Kings, who close with 6 players in double figures, start with a devastating 15-2 and try to control, but Phoenix does not give up, shortens up to 58-54 at rest dragged by the excellent Paul (9 points and 4 assists in 2 4th quarter) and then definitively closes the gap in the third. Bjelica deceives the Kings by bringing them to +8 at the start of the fourth period, but Paul and Booker keep Phoenix inside. The last minute begins with the Kings ahead 102-100: Holmes immediately stretches from the line, Booker and Paul lose the magic touch and Sacramento can return to winning the first season at home after 7 losses in a row.
Sacramento: Fox 24 (4/7, 3/7, 7/8 tl), Hield 14, Bjelica 12. Rimbalzi: Bagley III 11, Barnes 11. Assist: Fox 7.
Phoenix: Booker 26 (7/14, 3/7, 3/3 tl), Paul 22, Crowder 17. Rimbalzi: Ayton 12. Assist: Paul 12
San Antonio Spurs-Toronto Raptors 119-114
Never bet against the Spurs. The old adage of when Gregg Popovich’s team, making their home debut in their 25th season as coach, fought for the title also holds true in 2020-21, that San Antonio starts with two wins out of two after beating Toronto at the end of a lively head to head. The Raptors, with the second knockout, were 114-110 ahead with 70 seconds left, before a triple from DeRozan inspired by Aldridge and a close layup by the 35-year-old with 29 ”from the end turned everything around and handed the victory to the Texans. In addition to the two veterans (27 points for DeRozan, of which 10 in the fourth period, 12 with 6 rebounds for Aldridge), Patty Mills also shines, fundamental with 21 points from the bench (5/6 of three) and Dejounte Murray, who signs with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists his first triple double in his career. Toronto closes with 6 players in double figures, rediscovers Chris Boucher who closes with 22 points and 10 rebounds from the bench and yet ends up defeated as he had in his “home” debut (the Raptors emigrated to Tampa for 2020-21) with New Orleans. The best was Fred VanVleet, 27 points with 9 assists; Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry both stood out (16 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists for the Cameroonian, 16 points and 10 assists for the play) despite shooting badly (12/31 pairs, evenly divided. Raptors ahead 17-7 at the start, the Spurs get up with 16 points in DeRozan’s first quarter and transform the rest of the match into a nice head-to-head, on which the Canadians feel they can get their hands when VanVleet from the outside scores 114-110 with 2’07 The advantage holds up for a minute, then the veterans Spurs orchestrate the turnaround.
San Antonio: DeRozan 27 (7/13, 3/4, 4/5 tl), Mills 21, Walker IV 14. Rimbalzi: Murray 10. Assist: Murray 10.
Toronto: VanVleet 27 (5/8, 5/12, 2/3 tl), Boucher 22, Siakam 16, Lowry 16. Rimbalzi: Siakam 15. Assist: Murray 10.
Utah Jazz-Minnesota Timberwolves 111-116
The encore is served. Minnesota crushes Salt Lake City, disappointing the 1500 fans who have had access to the Jazz arena, taking the second victory that confirms the desire to be the protagonist of the team of coach Ryan Saunders, who in Utah discovers the talent of Anthony Edwards, first choice to the draft that from the bench puts 18 points shooting 8/12. The rookie is one of the most positive notes of a team that kept the Jazz at 38.3% from the field and finished with 5 players in double figures, including D’Angelo Russell (25 points and 6 assists) and Karl-Anthony Towns (16 points and 12 rebounds). In addition to the problems in attack, the Jazz also pay the 19 turnovers, transformed by the Wolves in 26 points. Things got bad for the Jazz at the end of the first half, where Minnesota reached 68-53 with a triple at 7 ”from Russell’s siren. Beasley at the start of the second half puts the 70-53, Wolves maximum advantage also touched at 2’34 “from the third siren on 86-69. The Jazz at that point wake up, putting in a 20-8 run closed by a triple from Clarkson 9 ‘from the end which reopens the game. Utah raises its head, but when Gobert hits 113-111 there are only 5 ”to go. And the Wolves can stay safe.
Utah: Clarkson 23 (6/11, 2/6, 5/6 tl), Mitchell 21, Conley 20. Rimbalzi: Gobert 17. Assist: Mitchell 5.
Minnesota: Russell 25 (6/15, 3/6, 4/8 tl), Beasley 18, Edwards 18. Rimbalzi: Towns 12. Assist: Russell 6, Rubio
December 27 – 07:56
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