Oklahoma City guard Josh Giddey has helped the Oklahoma City Thunder to a dominant 132-113 win over the Toronto Raptors, scoring 15 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists.
Giddey could have added to his personal tally but the Australian exited the game with five minutes left in the third quarter and only briefly returned for eight seconds, subbed off also immediately after a bad pass led to points for the Raptors.
It follows up another excellent showing from Giddey in a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Bucks where the Australian had 18 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
Giddey continues to provide highlight reel plays, once again pulling off another spectacular out-of-bounds pass to set up a Thunder bucket.
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“He came up with every ball. As the game got tighter and tighter, he got more clutch,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said of Giddey after that Bucks game.
It continues what has been a promising string of performances for Giddey, who has not looked quite like his usual self early in the season after battling an ankle injury early.
Giddey’s running partner Shai Gilgeous-Alexander once again led the way for Oklahoma City with 20 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.
All of the Thunder starters finished the game in double figures, while Eugene Omoruyi had a career-high 19 points off the bench as he got increased minutes late in the game.
Jalen Williams was also highly productive with 10 points and 10 assists from the bench while Tre Mann added 13 points.
CELTICS DUO STAR IN STATEMENT WIN OVER CONTENDERS
In other news, the usual suspects were at it again but some key contributions elsewhere proved just as important for the Boston Celtics in a big 131-112 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Star duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown proved too much for Denver to handle in the defeat, with the pair combining for 59 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists.
It was not just Brown and Tatum though, with Al Horford draining six 3-pointers in the win while Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard both came up big on both ends of the floor.
Admittedly, it was Brown and Tatum who led the way early for Boston, with the pair combining for 22 points as the Celtics took a 33-25 lead after the first quarter.
Boston shot over 60 per cent from the floor during that period, with Brown the best of the bunch as he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, putting up 12 points with four rebounds and three assists.
As for Denver, it was the usual suspects doing the damage, with Nikola Jokic (five points, five rebounds) and Michael Porter Jr. (five points) powering the offence.
Jokic finished the game with a team-high 29 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists while Jamal Murray had 14 points, 10 assists and four rebounds in the loss.
The Celtics opened the second quarter on another hot streak, pushing their lead out to 55-38 as Pritchard (six points, two rebounds) and Williams (six points) both making crucial buckets. Williams was also making an impact on the defensive end, coming up with a big block on a Bruce Brown layup.
Of course, Tatum (five points, one assist) also was heavily involved for Boston in that run before Denver started to mount a comeback to draw within nine points (66-57) at halftime.
The third quarter did little to separate the two sides either, with the Nuggets creeping even closer to trail 97-91 heading into the final 12 minutes of the game.
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Again, Tatum (nine points) and Brown (eight points) were getting going on the offensive end for Boston, scoring or assisting on all of the team’s first 15 points.
As for Denver, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope started to find his rhythm from deep, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in the space of two minutes to help the Nuggets close the gap to 87-85.
That gap quickly widened again though as Horford and Tatum combined to score Boston’s first 16 points of the fourth quarter, with the Celtics jumping out to a 111-95 lead.
From that point it was all the Celtics to close the game as the Nuggets failed to get within single figures, finishing on the wrong end of a 131-112 scoreline.
Boston plays Detroit next while Denver will look to bounce back against Chicago.
MOST IMPROVED CONTENDER STARS IN UPSET WIN FOR MAGIC
Elsewhere, the Phoenix Suns suffered a heavy 114-97 loss to the Orlando Magic with Chris Paul (sore right heel) sidelined.
Australian Jock Landale (seven points, six rebounds) was solid in the defeat while both Cameron Payne (22 points, four assists, three rebounds) and Devin Booker (17 points, six assists, eight rebounds) both stuffed the stats sheet.
It was an all-round team effort from Orlando though, who had all starters finish in double figures as ‘Most Improved Player’ contender Bol Bol made a big impact on both ends of the floor with 13 points and 15 rebounds — his third double-double this season.
While the Suns were without Paul, the Magic had one absent star of their own with breakout rookie Paolo Banchero sitting out Saturday’s game with an ankle issue.
The rest of the Orlando starting unit stepped up in his absence though, with Jalen Suggs (16 points, five assists, three rebounds) impressing once again.
Suns coach Monty Williams described Wendell Carter Jr. as “underrated” pre-game but the center was getting plenty of praise after dropping a team-high 20 points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists in the upset win.
The Magic finished the game shooting an impressive 45.5 per cent from 3-point land, much better than rivals Phoenix, who could only manage 31 per cent.
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