NBA highlights Mar. 10: Two sleepers a day keep Warriors and Bucks away
Li Xiang

The 2018-19 NBA regular season met two sleepers on Sunday. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the visiting Milwaukee Bucks 121-114 at the AT&T Center while the Phoenix Suns claimed a victory at the Oracle Arena by beating the Golden State Warriors 115-111.

Spurs come back from 15-point trailing

LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots in the game they win against the Milwaukee Bucks 121-114, March 10. /VCG Photo

LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots in the game they win against the Milwaukee Bucks 121-114, March 10. /VCG Photo

LaMarcus Aldridge had the court's most 29 points and 15 rebounds for San Antonio. DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points and delivered six assists. Bryn Forbes got 12 points while Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills from the bench both put down 16 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for Milwaukee. Eric Bledsoe had 21 points while Khris Middleton got 15. Brook Lopez put down a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Pat Connaughton and Nikola Mirotic contributed respectively 14 and 10 points off the bench.

Giannis Antetokonmpo #34 of the Bucks drives towards the basket in the game against the Spurs, March 10. /VCG Photo

Giannis Antetokonmpo #34 of the Bucks drives towards the basket in the game against the Spurs, March 10. /VCG Photo

Before Sunday, the ranking difference between the Bucks (No.1 of the whole league) and the Spurs (No.8 in the Western Conference) meant this was not an equal contest. As a matter of fact, Milwaukee did what they were good at in offense as the team led in both three-pointers (14-12) and early offense points (20-13).

However, San Antonio managed to take advantage of the weakness in the opponent's defense. The Bucks, thanks to their better height and wingspan, were able to limit the opponent's offense both from the 3-pt line and under the rim, leaving only opportunities in the middle range. It so happened that the Spurs had two master players in this area, Aldridge and DeRozan.

DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Spurs shoots in the game against the Bucks, March 10. /VCG Photo

DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Spurs shoots in the game against the Bucks, March 10. /VCG Photo

As a result, Milwaukee's defense fell into a dilemma. Aldridge pinned down their defense from the inside while San Antonio's shooters kept burying shots in the middle range. When the Bucks tried to focus on stopping them in the middle range, with one or two extra passes, the Spurs could get open shots from the 3-pt line. Though they trailed by at most 15 points in the first quarter, San Antonio was the leading side from the second to the fourth quarter and took the win that helped them rise to No.7 in the West.

Durant's injury does not justify losing to Phoenix

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors shoots in the game they lose to the Phoenix Suns 115-111, March 10. /VCG Photo

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors shoots in the game they lose to the Phoenix Suns 115-111, March 10. /VCG Photo

Devin Booker exploded in offense by dropping 37 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists for Phoenix. Kelly Oubre scored 22 points while Deandre Ayton had 18 points and nine rebounds. Both Tylor Johnson and Mikal Bridges got 10 points.

Golden State had four of their players score double-digit points and they all came from the first-lineup. Klay Thompson had 28 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kevin Durant put down 25 points before he sprained his ankle. Stephen Curry went cold to make only six of his 20 shots to get 18 points plus seven rebounds and eight assists. DeMarcus Cousins had 13 points.

Stephen Curry #30 of the Warriors shoots in the game against the Suns, March 10. /VCG Photo

Stephen Curry #30 of the Warriors shoots in the game against the Suns, March 10. /VCG Photo

GSW played like the defending champion only in the first quarter as they led 29-16. In the rest of the game, they seemed to forget what defense meant by watching the Suns claim in total 89 points, including 40 in the second quarter and 36 in the fourth quarter. Though the Warriors managed to keep their lead via offense for two quarters, that ceased to work after Durant left the court because of injury.

Phoenix launched a violent attack since then and established an 11-point lead (109-98). Golden State did not give up and narrowed the score down to 111-108 in the last minute. However, as Curry missed the life-saving three-pointer, he and his team had to accept a loss at home to the No.15 team in the West.

Mavericks one step away from defeating Rockets

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball under the defense of Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets in the game, March 10. /VCG Photo

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball under the defense of Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets in the game, March 10. /VCG Photo

In a game that ended earlier, the Dallas Mavericks were one step away from creating their sleeper as they lost 94-93 to the visiting Houston Rockets at the American Airlines Center. Luka Doncic missed one assist for a triple-double as he scored 19 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. His pass in the last position to Jalen Brunson could have led to a buzzer beater unless Chris Paul did not block the shot.

James Harden was struggling in offense as he made only seven of 25 shots. Meanwhile, the Mavericks managed to make him commit his fifth personal foul at the beginning of the third quarter. Since then, every time Harden had the ball, Dallas would double team him to force Harden to pass to his teammate. Then there's always one player following Harden to keep him from getting the ball again. In offense, the Mavericks had almost everyone go after Harden because they knew his hands were bound because of the foul trouble. Such tactics should be a reminder to teams that may play against the Rockets in the playoffs: Harden's weakness in defense not only made him vulnerable to fouls, but also a way to limit his offense.

Other games on Sunday included: (away teams come first)

Chicago Bulls 108-131 Detroit Pistons

Toronto Raptors 125-104 Miami Heat

Indiana Pacers 89-106 Philadelphia 76ers

New Orleans Pelicans 116-128 Atlanta Hawks

Orlando Magic 97-105 Memphis Grizzlies

New York Knicks 92-103 Minnesota Timberwolves