By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Indiana Pacers beat the Dallas Mavericks, 118-111, under the NBA bubble in Orlando overcoming a monster display by Luka Doncic. Kristaps Porzingis was not available on Sunday after being quarantined. Also, Domantas Sabonis who was ruled out indefinitely by the Pacers.
The Mavs were in control heading into the second half but did not extend their push despite Doncic flirting with a triple-double. His 20 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists did not make the cut for the “W”.
Other European double-digit scorers came in the form of Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic who combined for 29 points, 18 and 11, respectively.
T.J. Warren scored 20 points for the Pacers, Victor Oladipo followed with 18 and Malcolm Brogdon put in 17 of his own. Naz Mitrou-Long notched two assists and one rebound in 5:44.
Basketball is a simple gamepic.twitter.com/CyCMiuDaUh
— Eurohoops (@Eurohoopsnet) July 26, 2020
Ibaka guides Raptors to second win
Hitting 17 threes, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-104 in other scrimmage action. Serge Ibaka poured a team-high 19 points in just under 25 minutes and Pascal Siakam added 18 points. OG Anunoby put in 7 points, six rebounds and four assists, Marc Gasol three points and four rebounds in 9:52 after missing the first friendly win.
“I feel very good. I am excited about it,” said Gasol commenting on his return, “Obviously I want to play more, but you have to build it up. I have to be ready for more minutes when the big games come.”
The losing side minus injured Damian Lillard (left foot) failed to hold on in the second half. C.J. McCollum with a game-high 21 points was the offensive vocal points assisted by Bosnian Jusuf Nurkic who posted a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double as a member of the big lineup set by Terry Stotts to start the exhibition contest.
Mario Hezonja played 25:37 but only had two points to display alongside eight rebounds and one assist. Fellow European Jaylen Hoard threw in nine points, two assists, and one rebound in 8:50.
Harden setting himself up for additional playing time
Refusing to settle for less than 35 minutes on the court, James Harden banked 31 points leading the Houston Rockets to the 119-104 win versus the Memphis Grizzlies. He also registered nine assists and eight rebounds.
“I just don’t want to play 20 minutes,” noted Harden after the exhibition, “In reality, when the eight games come, I’ll be playing 35-36 minutes. It’s going to be a huge shock. I want to prepare myself so when next week comes, I’m ready and it’s not a big shock on my legs or body.”
Overall, 11 players earned playing time with Ben McLemore knocking in 26 points, Jeff Green 18, and Robert Covington 11 being the other double-digit scorers. Russell Westbrook was held to 8 points and 3/14 field goals.
Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 17 points. Lithuanian big Jonas Valanciunas posted 12 points and nine rebounds in losing effort.
Sixteen players in action for the Celtics
Nearing the official restart scheduled for July 30, the Boston Celtics bounced back for the 117-103 victory versus the Phoenix Suns. Sixteen players saw action with Jaylen Brown banking a game-high 21 points with 7/13 from the field including three made shots beyond the arc.
The European contribution was highlighted by Enes Kanter with seven points, three rebounds, and one steal in just 11:17. Daniel Theis added four points, and Javonte Green two, but Vincent Poirier did not score in five minutes.
Among the top performers up to his early exit due to an ankle injury, Dario Saric finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Ricky Rubio returned to action after contracting coronavirus in July with six points, four assists, and two rebounds.
Thunder erase a 24-point deficit
A strong fourth quarter granted the Oklahoma City Thunder the 102-97 scrimmage win over the Philadelphia 76ers tipping off the Sunday games in Orlando. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put up a game-high 16 points.
German Dennis Schroder was 3/13 from the field en route for eight points. Italian Danilo Gallinari added five more points.
Furkan Korkmaz was held to 1/5 threes and missed all of his three two-point attempts summing up four points for the losing side.