Al Horford ejected for elbowing Mo Wagner, video, reaction, Kyrie Irving buzzer beater, Ben Simmons

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Jacque Vaughn has asked — scratch that, demanded — the Nets to fight for each other. On Saturday (AEDT), they got back up off the mat and fought their way to a stunning come-from-behind 119-116 victory over the Raptors.

It was Kyrie Irving — who last season couldn’t play in Canada due to COVID-19 vaccine restrictions — that won it with a 27-footer at the buzzer. He had a team-high 32 points, and Kevin Durant added 28 for the Nets, who have won nine of 10.

It completed a season sweep of the Raptors, and it also was the latest proof that this Nets team actually has a jaw. They rallied from 18 points down to grind out a tough, gritty win and disappoint the sellout crowd of 19,800 at Scotiabank Arena.

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Sat, 17 Dec

Saturday December 17th

The Nets (18-12) came into Friday fourth in the Eastern Conference, a game behind third-place Cleveland and one clear of fifth-seeded Philadelphia, both of which were in action Friday.

Toronto (13-16) has dropped four straight.

Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets is guarded by Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors. Picture: Mark BlinchSource: Getty Images

The score was knotted at 105-all after Fred VanVleet (game-high 39 points) scored with 3:06 to play. But back-to-back dunks from Ben Simmons and Durant put the Nets ahead.

The teams went back and forth, with VanVleet, Irving and Toronto’s Scottie Barnes each taking turns giving their team the lead. But it was an unlikely hero for the Nets that came through with the biggest shot of the night.

Irving drove and drew in three defenders, kicking out to ex-Raptor Yuta Watanabe in the corner. He drilled a clutch 3-pointer to put the Nets up, 116-114, with 14.1 seconds left.

Barnes tied it at the free throw line with eight seconds left. Irving then untied it with his 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Nets looked good in the fourth quarter with Simmons at small-ball centre and length at every position around Irving. But it was the third quarter that put the Nets in position to win it.

Trailing 62-44 with 1:17 left in the first half after a Pascal Siakam 3-pointer, the Nets closed the half with eight unanswered points, which grew to a 14-0 spurt that spanned intermission.

It was the start of an extended 35-14 run that changed the game. The Nets shot 10 of 13, with Durant having seven points on 3 of 5 from the floor.

The Nets harassed Toronto into 5-for-18 shooting — including 0-for-6 from deep.

Durant gave the Nets the lead, and Watanabe’s finger roll on a three-on-two fast break made it 79-76 with just over three minutes left in the third.

The fourth was drama filled, no play more dramatic than Irving’s 3-pointer.

This article originally appeared on The New York Post and has been republished with permission.

HORFORD CHEAP SHOT

Al Horford’s return from a five-game absence hardly went to plan on Saturday, ejected in the third quarter of the Boston Celtics’ shock 117-109 loss to the Orlando Magic.

Horford, who had been sidelined due to personal reasons, was called for a foul on Orlando big man Moe Wagner which was later deemed to be a flagrant two.

It meant Horford was automatically ejected from the game with just over 10 minutes left in the third quarter, with replays later showing he had elbowed Wagner in the groin area.

Horford had been on the court for only 16 minutes before his night came to an early end, finishing the game with six points and six rebounds.

Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum was in heavy disagreement with the ejection call after the game.

“I didn’t think that was the right call,” Tatum said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s post-game coverage.

“ … That was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe Al got thrown out the game. I didn’t think that was warranted. Especially once they went to go review they saw that Mo fouled him first — that’s how I got to shoot the free throws. Sometimes guys get tired of people grabbing on them and the ref not seeing it.”

Tatum (31 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and Jaylen Brown (26 points, four rebounds, three assists) led the way for the Celtics, who dropped to 22-8 with the loss.

Al Horford of the Boston Celtics blocks a shot by Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic. Picture: Winslow TownsonSource: Getty Images

As for the Magic, Cole Anthony was productive off the bench with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists from 29 minutes.

Four of Orlando’s starters, excluding Bol Bol (four points) also hit double figures in the win, with Wagner (25 points, eight rebounds) topping the scoring in the Magic’s 10th win of the season.

INCREDIBLE GIDDEY PASS

His Oklahoma City Thunder might’ve lost, but Josh Giddey showed off his brilliant basketball IQ with an epic assist against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Guarded closely by veteran Austin Rivers, Giddey drove and dribbled towards the top of the key before pulling off an outstanding right-handed bounce pass to Jalen Williams, who timed his baseline cut to perfection and nailed a running dunk.

The Aussie recorded another double-double, finishing with 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, but the Timberwolves claimed a 112-110 victory.

Rivers, Naz Reid and Anthony Edwards combined for 67 points for Minnesota.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander top scored for the Thunder with 35 points.

LAKERS WIN AMID INJURY CONCERN

The Los Angeles Lakers pulled away late for a 126-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets, despite losing Anthony Davis to a right foot injury at halftime.

Davis was clearly hindered after tangling with Denver’s Nikola Jokic under the basket in the first quarter but played on, the Lakers trailing 65-64 after a hard-fought first half.

Denver led by 12 with 8:03 left in the third quarter, but a driving layup by LeBron James and a three-pointer from Dennis Schroder had the Lakers up by five going into the fourth, when they relentlessly pulled away.

James led the Lakers with 30 points and Thomas Bryant added 21 off the bench as he filled in for Davis in the second half.

Two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Denver.

EMBIID, HARDEN SPARK SIXERS AFTER SLOW START

The Philadelphia 76ers overcame a shaky start, bouncing back from giving up a 38-point quarter against the undermanned Golden State Warriors to take a 118-106 win.

Joel Embiid and James Harden stood up when the Sixers needed it most, scoring 34 and 27 points respectively in the win, with the former grabbing 10 defensive boards.

Harden, meanwhile, was dishing it out as he finished the game with nine assists.

The Warriors jumped out to a surprise lead in the first quarter, with DiVincenzo (15 points on 5-for-6 from deep) leading the way for Golden State.

Even with Steph Curry and Draymond Green sidelined, the Warriors were having no trouble piling on the points, taking a 38-33 lead over Philadelphia into the second quarter.

Overall, Golden State was shooting 9-for-12 from downtown in the opening period and while that was not necessarily sustainable, it was enough nonetheless to keep the Sixers at bay.

Philadelphia may still be without Tyrese Maxey, who is reportedly on track to return from a left foot fracture by Christmas Day, but the 76ers also still had Embiid and Harden available.

James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles past Klay Thompson. Picture: Tim NwachukwuSource: Getty Images

The latter had 15 points in the opening quarter on 5-for-8 from shooting, leading the Sixers in scoring while Embiid had a stats line of eight points, three rebounds and two assists.

The Sixers were able to slow down the Warriors’ 3-point shooting barrage in the second quarter, drawing within two points at half-time, trailing 57-55.

Both Embiid and Harden had 17 points at that point, with the former finding plenty of success driving towards the basket, recording nine free-throw attempts by the half.

Philadelphia carried the momentum into the third quarter too, jumping out to a 88-81 lead heading into the final period of the game as Embiid scored 12 in the quarter.

Australian Matisse Thybulle got involved with a 3-pointer to open the scoring for the Sixers in the fourth quarter, while Georges Niang scored five quick points to make it 98-83 with nine minutes on the clock.

A few Klay Thompson three-pointers helped reduce the deficit while Jordan Poole also had a pair of late buckets as the Warriors refused to go away, just staying in touch.

One of those Poole buckets — a driving floating jump shot — cut Philadelphia’s lead to 109-99 with just over three minutes left as the Sixers called a time-out.

In the end the Warriors would not get much closer, going down 118-106.

Suns smash depleted Clippers! | 01:08

“They made a lot of shots, they were hot to start the game,” Embiid said of a Warriors team that led by two at half-time.

“We knew at some point they were going to cool down. We just had to stay aggressive, get stops.”

ELSEWHERE

In Detroit, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox scored 24 points and Domantas Sabonis added 23 points and 13 rebounds as seven Kings players scored in double figures in a 122-113 come-from-behind victory over the Pistons.

Detroit led by eight at half-time, but the Kings surged in the third quarter, out-scoring the Pistons 38-23 to seize control, Detroit fans booing their team as the Kings put together a 23-6 scoring run.

The New York Knicks pushed their winning streak to six games with a 114-91 victory over the Bulls in Chicago.

RJ Barrett scored 27 points and Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes added 22 apiece, Brunson making a career-high six three-pointers and Grimes draining five as the Knicks finished with 17 from beyond the arc.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, fuelled by 41 points from Donovan Mitchell, rallied for a 118-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Trae Young scored 31 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 28 for Atlanta as the Hawks beat the Hornets 125-106 in Charlotte.

LATEST NBA SCORES

ATLANTA HAWKS 125 – CHARLOTTE HORNETS 106

SACRAMENTO KINGS 122 – DETROIT PISTONS 113

ORLANDO MAGIC 117 – BOSTON CELTICS 109

INDIANA PACERS 112 – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 118

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 106 – PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 118

NEW YORK KNICKS 114 – CHICAGO BULLS 91

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 112 – OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 110

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 110 – DALLAS MAVERICKS 130

DENVER NUGGETS 108 – LOS ANGELES LAKERS 126

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