Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler delivered the overtime dagger as the 76ers withstood 60 points from Kemba Walker in a 122-119 NBA victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.
Another nail-biter saw the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors drop a 112-109 decision to the Mavericks in Dallas.
Slovenian rookie Luka Doncic scored 24 points, including the jump shot that put Dallas ahead for good with 1:10 remaining.
The Warriors, missing injured starters Stephen Curry and Draymond Green — and still smarting from the dust-up between Green and teammate Kevin Durant earlier this week — led by eight in the second half before Dallas rallied to beat the Warriors for just the second time in their last 19 meetings.
The champions have now lost four of their last six, and have lost two in a row for the first time this season.
Durant scored 32 points, but only three in the fourth quarter. Klay Thompson added 22 for Golden State, but the Warriors had multiple shots in the final minute to tie or take the lead and came up empty.
Far from pushing the panic button, coach Steve Kerr said he was pleased to see the Warriors play well enough to win — even if they came up short.
“What we did tonight was fantastic,” he said. “The effort was great. We got incredible energy from the bench. Our guys competed the whole way through. It’s a first step to kind of getting our groove back.”
In Charlotte, Walker’s career night ended in disappointment as Butler, acquired this week in a blockbuster trade with Minnesota, blocked a Walker shot to keep it tied at 119-119 with 15.7 seconds left in overtime then drained a 27-foot jump shot with three-tenths of a second remaining to secure the win.
“As much as I wanted the shot to go in to win the game, I also wanted it to go in because I didn’t want Kemba to give me 70,” Butler quipped. “I wanted it to stop at 60.”
Walker, the first player in Hornets history to score 60 points in a game, connected on 21 of 34 shots from the field and made all 12 of his free throw attempts. He also pulled down seven rebounds, handed out four assists and came up with four steals.
“I’m still proud of — that’s an unbelievable thing to do,” a frustrated Walker said. “I’m just mad that we lost. It would have been even better with a win.”
– Lakers Lose –
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers saw their promising four-game winning streak come to an end with a listless 130-117 loss to the Orlando Magic in Florida.
Nikola Vucevic scored 24 of his 36 points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds for Orlando, who led by as many as 21 points.
Three days after a 44-point performance that saw him move into the top-five on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, James was limited 22 points on eight-of-19 shooting. He added seven assists and four rebounds, but was on the bench in the fourth quarter, when the Lakers never got the deficit below double digits.
“After the first quarter we were pretty bad defensively,” James said, adding that the young Lakers team had plenty of work to do before they could begin to think of the post-season.
“Right now we’re going to try and get better and better each month. I think we’ve done that — we can’t think about the playoffs just yet.”
A second straight 40-point night from Anthony Davis propelled the New Orleans Pelicans to a 125-115 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
A day after he scored 43 in a comeback victory over the New York Knicks, Davis got 40 points with eight rebounds and eight assists.
He connected on 10 of 20 shots from the field and made 20 of his 21 free throw attempts.
Julius Randle added 21 points off the bench and Nikola Mirotic added a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Pelicans notched their fifth win in six games.
The Celtics, meanwhile, couldn’t build on their come-from-behind win over the Raptors, falling 98-86 to a Utah Jazz team led by the game-high 28 points of Donovan Mitchell.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional Edits By Oisin McQueirns)