Mavs silence Thunder, Towns shines for Timberwolves

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

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Los Angeles , United States (AFP) — Dennis Smith Jr made the go-ahead layup with 24.8 seconds remaining Sunday, as the Dallas Mavericks held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-103.

Paul George, whose 36 points included the Thunder's last 13, missed a jump shot with two seconds left, and Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook missed a three-pointer form the corner at the buzzer as the Mavs claimed the NBA victory, despite trailing by as many as six points with less than two minutes to play.

Rookie Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 25 points. Harrison Barnes added 16, and Smith had 14 for the Mavs, who squandered a 13-point third-quarter lead before turning things around at the end.

Westbrook endured a tough night, connecting on just four of 22 shots from the field on the way to nine points, with eight assists and nine rebounds.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he wasn't worried about Westbrook's shooting numbers.

“He's getting clean looks, and he's got to keep taking those shots,” Donovan said. “Clearly he has shot below what he's capable of shooting. I'm not worried about it. As long as we're getting good shots, that's the biggest thing.”

Veteran Evan Fournier's floater at the buzzer lifted the Magic to a 109-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons in Orlando.

DJ Augustin led the Magic with 26 points before departing late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic added 22 apiece and Fournier contributed 13.

The Magic led by nine with less than four minutes remaining, but the Pistons clawed within one point, at 105-104, with 8.9 seconds left and had tied it at 107-107 with 2.5 to play — setting the stage for Fournier's heroics.

“I really embrace those moments and I'm glad that coach drew up a play for me, and the execution was great,” said Fournier, who was mobbed by teammates after the shot fell. “I had a little bit of space on my right side and I decided to use my float game.”

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 113-104 victory over the Miami Heat with a stellar game of 34 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and six blocked shots — a stat line that drew comparisons to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 35 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists and eight blocks for the Lakers against Phoenix in 1975.

Towns, who also had three steals, connected on 12 of his 24 shots from the field, including three of six from three-point range.

“I wanted to make the right plays that we needed to win,” Towns said. “I'm glad I was able to make them.”

In Toronto, the Raptors shook off a slow start — scoring a season-low 14 points in the first quarter — to beat the Chicago Bulls 95-89.

Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Raptors. Pascal Siakam added 20 points and 12 rebounds while Danny Green and Fred VanVleet scored 10 points apiece to help Toronto bounce back from a 116-87 loss to the Magic on Friday.

The Los Angeles Lakers erased a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit on the way to a 121-114 victory over the Sacramento Kings, their first victory without LeBron James since their superstar suffered a groin injury in a Christmas Day game.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 26 points off the bench. Josh Hart added 22 and Brandon Ingram 21 for the Lakers, who outscored the Kings 29-18 in the final period to give James — cheering from the bench on his 34th birthday — extra reason to celebrate.

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