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Australians in the NBA – Boomers star shines

Australia’s Duop Reath has produced a heroic effort to lead the scoring for an injury-ravaged Portland, but could not prevent a three-point NBA loss to Denver.

The Trail Blazers were forced to start five rookies – the first team to do so since 2012 – and the 27-year-old Reath was the most prolific amongst them with 24 points in 26 minutes on court.

But Portland – second-last in the Western Conference – fell agonisingly short of a famous victory on their home court over the second-placed Nuggets, going down 114-111.

The 206cm Reath, who came into Saturday averaging just 9.3 points per game in what has been an improving first season, also contributed eight rebounds and two assists.

Scoot Henderson had 22 points and Jabari Walker had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Trail Blazers.

Portland were behind 57-47 at halftime, fought back to trail by only two at the last break, but were outgunned 29-28 in the final quarter.

Denver, without star duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, were led by Aaron Gordon, with 22 points and 12 boards, while Reggie Jackson had 23 points.

The Trail Blazers became the first team with five rookies in the starting line-up since the Golden State Warriors on April 26, 2012, against the San Antonio Spurs.

Australian Joe Ingles’ Orlando also suffered a close defeat at home, losing 109-107 to Sacramento.

Ingles had just 12 minutes on court for three rebounds and three assists.

Both sides went toe-to-toe throughout the match, with Orlando up by two points at halftime but were overhauled in the second half by the Kings, who were led by De’Aaron Fox with 31 points and eight rebounds.

Domantas Sabonis had a double-double with 21 points and 14 boards, while Jonathan Isaac had 25 points for the Magic.

Elsewhere, the runaway Eastern Conference leaders Boston further enhanced their status with a comfortable 124-113 win at Chicago.

Despite their relative table positions, the ninth-placed Bulls stayed with the Celtics and trailed by three points at the last break, before being blown away 29-21 in the final term.

Jayson Tatum had 26 points for Boston, while Al Horford had 23 with eight boards, while the Bulls were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 28 points.

In other games, the Knicks beat the Nets 105-93 in the New York derby at Madison Square Garden, Atlanta thrashed the visiting Charlotte 132-91, Phoenix won 131-106 at San Antonio, Houston crunched the visiting Utah 147-119 and Washington won at home against Toronto, 112-109.