Nets shock NBA champion Bucks, Morant dazzles in Grizzlies win
Irving’s decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 means he cannot play home games because of New York’s vaccine mandate. But he showed no sign of rust against the Bucks.
“It’s the collection of guys we have in the locker room. Honestly, they keep me in shape,” Irving said. “They keep pushing me, keep me motivated.”
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 14 rebounds. But he missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime, and the Bucks saw victory slip away against a team that had only two wins in their last 10 games.
The Miami Heat moved a game ahead in the East with a 133-129 victory over the San Antonio Spurs while the Bulls fell 116-110 to Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Morant was spectacular in a 46-point performance, setting a career-high and a Grizzlies’ franchise record.
His display ended Chicago’s six-game winning streak. Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan also saw his streak of eight straight games with at least 35 points snapped, just two shy of the franchise record set by Michael Jordan.
DeRozan finished with 31 points and seven rebounds, but that wasn’t enough against 22-year-old Morant and his surging Grizzlies.
Morant connected on 54 percent of his shots from the field with a trio of three-pointers and an array of highlight-reel baskets that included a 360-degree spin to bank in a shot and an alley-oop dunk in his 20-point third quarter.
Miami, fueled by a season-high 36 points from Bam Adebayo, overcame a 16-point first-quarter deficit to improve to 40-21.
Elsewhere, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 53 points to lead the Celtics to a 113-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons and their rising star Cade Cunningham.