Dyson Daniels continues to make the most of his opportunities, producing his best game yet at NBA level.
The Aussie young gun racked up a career-best 14 points and nine assists to go with eight rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench as the New Orleans Pelicans took down the Toronto Raptors at home 126-108 to improve to 13-8.
Daniels got an extended run and shined with the Pelicans playing without Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum and Herb Jones leaving the game early with an ankle issue.
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The 19-year old Daniels even closed out the game and defended Pascal Siakam in crunch time to add another superstar to his list of players he’s been assigned to guard.
Daniels’ breakout performance drew huge praise his from teammate Zion Williamson, coach Willie Green and the NBA world on social media alike.
“It was big time,” Williamson said of Daniels.
“I remember when I first came to the league .... it’s like, this isn’t high school or college.
“This is our job. Yeah, we love basketball, but at the end of the day, this is how everybody feeds their family.
“So when you get thrown out there, it’s not always kicks and giggles, it’s real life.
“So to see Dyson getting out there and stepping up like that and to be 19. It’s unfolding in front of our eyes, he’s just getting better game by game.”
Green addedL “He was huge for us.”
“It’s funny watching him play, he’s just getting better and better the more he gets time. He’s poised and he makes really good plays.
“Nine assists and eight rebounds and 14 points – close to a triple-double from a 19-year old young man – it’s impressive.”
Despite missing key stars, the Pelicans never looked like losing this game, pouring in 40 points in the first quarter and opening up a 73-47 lead by half-time.
It’s a testament to guys likes Daniels and Jose Alvarado for being able to step in and play key roles to showcase the depth of this team.
And it’s exactly these types of performances that’ll help the Aussie get more regular rotation minutes when the Pelicans are at full strength – as deep as they are.
Daniels made several key plays while running the offence during the third to ensure the Pelicans would maintain their big lead as Toronto was only able to shave three points off the margin during the period.
The Raptors gathered some momentum in the fourth, with Gary Trent Jr’s driving layup cutting their deficit to 97-111 with 6:25 remaining.
Nick Nurse’s side kept pushing from there as OG Anunoby’s slam followed up a Trent three-pointer to get Toronto within 11 points with 5:28 on the clock.
But Zion Williamson threw down consecutive dunks for the Pelicans to steady the ship and Daniels’ bucket stretched it to 119-102 advantage for the home side to help them coast home to the win.
Williamson exploded for 33 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks to lead the Pelicans sensationally, while Trey Murphy (26 points, six triples) and Jonas Valanciunas (16 points, 13 boards) were also crucial.
Trent was red-hot for the Raptors with 34 points and six triples off the bench and Pascal Siakam and posted 23 points.
Welcoming back Scottie Barnes from injury following Siakam’s return last game, Fred VanVleet however was ejected from the contest early in the third after receiving his second technical foul.
The loss saw Toronto, who’d won its last two games against Dallas and Cleveland, fall to 11-10.
TATUMS EPIC MVP STATEMENT
Jayson Tatum has to be the MVP frontrunner now.
The Celtics superstar erupted for a season-high 49 points to lead Boston past the Miami Heat at home 134-121 and extend their winning streak to five games.
Tatum went 8-of-12 from three-point range and 11-of-12 from the free throw line, adding 11 rebounds and two steals in a dominant well-rounded performance.
With it, Tatum became the first player in NBA history to record multiple games with 45 plus points, 10 plus rebounds and eight plus threes, per StatMuse.
His play has been key for the NBA-best 18-4 Celtics in a subliminal first quarter of the season as one of the MVP favourites alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.
The Heat, who were without Jimmy Butler for a seventh-straight game due to a knee issue, were competitive all contest despite trailing for most of the game.
Luke Kornet’s bucket pushed Boston’s lead out to 102-96 at the end of the third quarter, but Miami scored the first four points of the last term to get to within two.
The Heat stayed with the Celtics in the fourth including Kyle Lowry converting and-one play to keep them within striking distance at 113-116.
However an Al Horford triple and Jaylen Brown Dunk – both on Marcus Smart assists – gave the Celtics a 123-115 cushion with less than five minutes remaining.
Tatum drilled two triples down the stretch and the Heat never really looked like getting back in the game from that point.
Brown also came up big for Boston with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Malcolm Brogdon had 21 points off the bench,
Bam Adebayo and Max Strus (five triples) scored an equal team-high 23 points for Miami, but it wasn’t enough as Erik Spoelstra’s team fell to 10-12 on the season.
76ERS 85 CAVALIERS 113
HAWKS 125 MAGIC 108
HEAT 121 CELTICS 134
WIZARDS 107 NETS 113
BUCKS 109 KNICKS 103
GRIZZLIES 101 TIMBERWOLVES 109
RAPTORS 108 PELICANS 126
SPURS 111 THUNDER 119
ROCKETS - NUGGETS
BULLS - SUNS
CLIPPERS - JAZZ
PACERS - KINGS
BLAZERS - LAKERS