Utah Jazz

Best of NBA: Bradley Beal's career-high 51 points ignite Wizards' win

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Best of NBA: Bradley Beal's career-high 51 points ignite Wizards' win

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Bradley Beal scored a career-high 51 points, and the Washington Wizards bounced back from a demoralizing loss the night before to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 106-92 on Tuesday night.

Beal made 21 field goals, also a career high, and the Wizards led by as many as 23 points. He hit five 3-pointers.

Damian Lillard finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for the Blazers, who have lost three straight at home after returning from a 4-1 trip.

Portland was hurt midway through the final quarter when center Jusuf Nurkic limped off the court and to the locker room after appearing to injure his right ankle. He had 15 points and nine rebounds before leaving.

The Wizards were coming off a 116-69 loss Monday night at Utah, the second-largest losing margin in franchise history (see full recap).

Westbrook's triple-double sparks Thunder comeback
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 34 points in his seventh triple-double of the season, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from 17 points down in the second half to defeat the Utah Jazz 100-94 on Tuesday night.

Westbrook finished with 14 assists and 13 rebounds. Paul George scored 21 points, Steven Adams had 20 points and nine rebounds and Carmelo Anthony added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who won their third straight.

Rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points and Joe Ingles added 16 for the Jazz, who had won six straight and scored at least 106 points in each game.

The Jazz led 47-39 at halftime, and they opened things up even more early in the third quarter. A driving layup by Alec Burks put the Jazz up 72-55 as the Thunder continued to misfire on open shots.

Westbrook closed out the third quarter strong and helped the Thunder cut Utah's lead to 80-68 by the end of the period. He scored 11 points in the quarter.

Oklahoma City cut the deficit to six points early in the fourth quarter before Westbrook re-entered the game after a brief rest. The Thunder finally took the lead on a layup by Westbrook with about four minutes remaining. A tip-in by Adams with 43.2 seconds left put the Thunder up five (see full recap).

Lowry, DeRozan lead Raptors past Suns
TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 10 assists, DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns 126-113 on Tuesday night, improving their NBA-best home record to 9-1.

Suns guard Devin Booker had to be carried off the floor by two teammates after suffering an apparent leg injury with 2:40 remaining and Phoenix trailing by 11. Booker froze in pain while playing defense and did not move as trainers came out to examine him.

Booker, who shook off a 2-for-11 start to score a season-high 46 points Monday in a win at Philadelphia, shot 0 for 7 in the first half Tuesday. He finished 4 for 15 with 19 points, including 10 of 12 from the foul line.

Serge Ibaka scored 19 points and OG Anunoby matched his career high with 16 as Toronto won its fourth straight.

The Raptors, who have scored 100 or more points in 10 consecutive games, almost reached triple digits in three quarters Tuesday. Toronto led 97-79 heading to the fourth and weren't seriously challenged in the final frame.

Greg Monroe had 11 points and 10 rebounds as the weary Suns wrapped up a six-game, 10-day road trip with their seventh of 15 back-to-backs this season. Phoenix is 3-4 in the second game of back-to-backs.

Alex Len scored 13 points and Troy Daniels and Josh Jackson each had 13 for Phoenix, which went 2-4 on its trip (see full recap).

Sixers praise Amir Johnson as MVP of win over Jazz

Sixers praise Amir Johnson as MVP of win over Jazz

BOX SCORE

Ben Simmons scored a career-high, Joel Embiid recorded a double-double, and still, the highest praise was directed to an unlikely player after the Sixers’ 107-86 win over the Jazz: Amir Johnson.

“He was the MVP of tonight,” Embiid said. 

Johnson embraced the ultimate role player mentality. He didn’t know until shortly before the game if he was going to start in place of Embiid or come off the bench. Embiid, who had been dealing with left knee soreness, ended up playing. So Johnson waited for his name to be called and stepped right into action. 

Johnson began the game with five rebounds in four first-quarter minutes. He finished with 13 boards, eight points and four blocks in 21 minutes. Johnson pulled down 10-plus rebounds for the 98th time in his career (see observations)

“I feel like my job is just to find ways I can help my teammates,” Johnson said. “Knowing Joel, Ben and those guys are going to get the majority minutes, but when I come in I want to be effective at the same time.”

The 13-year veteran has been studying game film. Even though he didn’t get on the court in either of the Sixers’ matchups against the Warriors and played a combined 28 minutes in three road games in California, Johnson has been staying ready. 

“It’s huge for us,” Simmons said of Johnson’s defense. “Having a guy come off the bench and play a role like that. As a vet, he’s one of the leaders. He comes in, plays hard, doesn’t ask for more minutes or anything like that. He’s a great player.”

The Sixers signed Johnson to a one-year, $11 million contract this summer. He proved what he could do on the court since entering the league out of high school in 2005, but the even bigger draw was what he could add to the locker room. Brett Brown reached out to some of Johnson’s former teammates and the assessments echoed one another. Now the Sixers are seeing what those who played with Johnson were talking about. 

“It was amazing, to a man, how consistent the reviews were,” Brown said. “People skills, work his butt off, could handle sitting and swinging a towel or coming in and making a difference. He’s a good person and he’s a pro. 

“To be able to bring him in the game, and not worry about is he happy, is he fresh, is he in shape, does he need 10 shots isn’t ever on my mind with Amir. He’s a perfect teammate.” 

Redick bounces back in 2nd half
JJ Redick is at a point in his career where he isn’t worried about a slow start. He went scoreless in the first half and still ended up with 20 points. 

“Maybe five or six years ago I probably would have been a little more stressed at halftime,” Redick said. “But I just knew there would be some opportunities and stayed patient.”

Brown noticed Redick getting better looks after halftime. He evenly distributed his scoring with 10 points in both the third and the fourth quarters. He shot a perfect 4 for 4 from the field in the third. 

“I’m always going to be aggressive. There just weren’t opportunities to get shots off in the first half,” Redick said. “I scored 20 in the second half, but didn’t feel like I was forcing anything. The opportunities were there. Sometimes that happens within a game.”

Simmons, too
Simmons showed the same kind of poise, even more notable because he is a rookie. Simmons shot 2 for 9 in the first half, shook off the early struggles, and scored a career-high 27 points. He scored half of the Sixers’ 28 points in the third quarter off an efficient 7 for 9 shooting stretch. 

“I thought I was going to have more, honestly,” Simmons said. 

Simmons took advantage of the Jazz missing center Rudy Gobert in the middle. He became the only Sixer since 1963-64 to score in double digits in each of his first 16 games. Simmons is averaging 18.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

Joel Embiid swatted Donovan Mitchell, drew a tech, and ignited a Philly explosion

Joel Embiid swatted Donovan Mitchell, drew a tech, and ignited a Philly explosion

We didn't even know if Joel Embiid was going to play just hours before tonight's contest as he was listed as a game-time decision with knee soreness.

Play he did. And he treated the Wells Fargo Center crowd to one of the more energetic moments of the evening. 

The Sixers beat the Jazz in South Philly on Monday night, 107-86, to bounce back from that tough loss on Saturday (see observations).

Embiid was a big part of that. He finished with 15 points, 11 boards, three assists and a couple of blocks.

It was one block on Donovan Mitchell in particular that had The Center going bonkers.

Watch:

The block, the stare down, the technical foul signal, the crowd pumping ... Embiid provided a perfect moment.

"It was some good theater and the two embraced afterwards. It was fun to watch," Marc Zumoff said after the game.

Mitchell wrote it off as a rookie mistake.

"Just gotta keep my head," Mitchell said. "It's a learning experience, especially in that situation when we're making a comeback."

Whether they were making a comeback or not is debatable. 

"I shouldn't have done it. I should have just let it go."

Brett Brown was OK with the play.

"I'm always mindful of how do we stay disciplined," Brown said. "Jo understands it's risky if you taunt. I want my guys playing with an edge. I want them to feel some level of swagger and feel good about themselves. That was a big play. It certainly got the crowd involved."

As for his part in the incident, Embiid admitted he may have embellished just a bit. The big guy is not that easy to move.

"I flopped and he got a technical for it," Embiid said. "That's basically how it happened. It's all fun. After the game, we shook hands."