LeVert’s clutch floater edges Jo­kic, Nuggets

Em­biid shines as 76ers re­main per­fect at home

Bangkok Post - - US SPORTS -

>> LOS AN­GE­LES: Caris LeVert nailed a clutch shot with 0.3 sec­onds left to spoil a slump-break­ing night by Nikola Jo­kic as the Brook­lyn Nets de­feated the Den­ver Nuggets 112-110 on Fri­day.

Jo­kic got hot for a change, but the Nuggets still couldn’t cool off the Nets who have won four of their last five games.

The 23-year-old Jo­kic is nor­mally a dy­namic seven-foot play­maker but he has been out of sorts and re­luc­tant to score lately.

That wasn’t the case on Fri­day as the Ser­bian all-star fin­ished with a sea­son-high 37 points and tied a ca­reer-best 21 re­bounds.

But the Nets played to the fi­nal buzzer by scor­ing the fi­nal six points, in­clud­ing LeVert’s game-win­ning floater in the lane.

D’An­gelo Rus­sell led the Nets with 23 points, and Jar­rett Allen had 18.

Jo­kic had 11 points in the first quar­ter and a dou­ble-dou­ble with 20 points and 12 re­bounds at half-time.

Af­ter av­er­ag­ing 21.6 points in Oc­to­ber, Jo­kic saw his of­fence dis­ap­pear in Novem­ber.

He has taken only 18 shots in four games, and the only one he took on Wed­nes­day in a loss to Mem­phis was a missed three-pointer in the fi­nal sec­onds that would have won it.

Be­fore the game, he was slapped with a US$25,000 fine for a deroga­tory joke made af­ter a win in Chicago on Oct 31.

The Nets tied it with 29 sec­onds left and Jo­kic was called for trav­el­ling with 22 sec­onds left.

On the win­ning play, LeVert got the ball and was cov­ered by Gary Har­ris. He barged through the tight de­fence to get into the lane and hit a slick floater.

“I just wanted to make the last shot and the shot that I wanted. I pretty much knew it was go­ing in,” LeVert said.

Else­where, Joel Em­biid fin­ished with 42 points and 18 re­bounds as the Philadel­phia 76ers im­proved to 7-0 at home with a 133-132 win in over­time over the Char­lotte Hor­nets.

Em­biid scored 16 points in the fourth in­clud­ing a game-ty­ing three pointer with 34 sec­onds left on the clock.

“They call me ‘clutch’ for a rea­son, so got to make them,” Em­biid said. “Some­times I want to show my fi­nesse. I can do ev­ery­thing on the bas­ket­ball court. I try to mix it up.”

Ben Sim­mons, who has been strug­gling of late, re­turned to form and fin­ished with 22 points, 13 as­sists and eight re­bounds for the 76ers.

Kemba Walker scored 19 of his 30 points in the fourth quar­ter for the Hor­nets, who were com­ing off backto-back vic­to­ries over Cleve­land and At­lanta.

Char­lotte stormed back from a 21-point deficit and led by five points with 78 sec­onds re­main­ing. But the Hor­nets squan­dered an op­por­tu­nity to win it af­ter they were called for a shot clock vi­o­la­tion with time wind­ing down in the fourth.

The Hor­nets also ran into foul trou­ble late in the game. Cody Zeller and Dwayne Ba­con each picked up six fouls and Ba­con fouled out in over­time. Ba­con fin­ished with 15 points in only his fifth game of the sea­son.

The 76ers were com­ing off their first road win of the sea­son, a 100-94 vic­tory over In­di­ana on Wed­nes­day.

Em­biid wel­comes go­ing to the free-throw line where he is shoot­ing 81.8 per­cent this sea­son, up from 76.9 per­cent in 2017-18.

“He’s a re­ally good shooter and he’s con­fi­dent by na­ture, so that’s a pretty good col­li­sion of skill and mind,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said.

“You trust him go­ing to the line and shoot­ing a high per­cent­age. He’s not afraid of the mo­ment.”

In Salt Lake City, Joe In­gles tied his ca­reer high with 27 points to help the Utah Jazz beat the Bos­ton Celtics 123-115 in Gor­don Hay­ward’s re­turn to Utah.

Hay­ward had 13 points and seven as­sists in his first game back in Utah since leav­ing the Jazz af­ter be­com­ing a free agent fol­low­ing the 2016-17 sea­son.

Nets guard Caris LeVert, right, floats over the Nuggets de­fence to hit the win­ning bas­ket with 0.3 sec­onds left.

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