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Australians in the NBA – Giddey powers Thunder home

Josh Giddey has sparked the Oklahoma Thunder early as they rolled past the struggling Memphis Grizzlies 124-93 to remain on top of the NBA’s Western Conference standings.

Australian Giddey finished the home game with 16 points and 10 rebounds, having posted 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in the first quarter as he led the Thunder to a healthy 38-24 lead.  

It was a third straight win for the hosts who moved to 45-19 for the season.

All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had his 23 points and six assists in the first three quarters, after which the Thunder led 102-68, while rookie Cason Wallace scored a season-high 23 points.

“They got guys fighting for contracts, fighting for minutes, and that’s a dangerous team to play,” Giddey said, “And I thought we did a good job of playing the game, not the opponent.”

The only bad news for the Thunder came when No. 2 scorer Jalen Williams left in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle and did not return.

The Grizzlies were short-handed again. Star guard Ja Morant has missed most of the season. Desmond Bane remained out with a sprained ankle and Marcus Smart was still out with an injured finger.

Giddey’s Australian countryman Joe Ingles posted 11 points in 23 minutes on court for the Orlandio Magic (37-28) but they fell to Eastern Conference close rivals the Indiana Pacers 111-97. 

Fellow Aussie veteran Patty Mills continued to enjoy improved court time for his new team Miami, scoring seven points in his 14 minutes off the bench as the Heat (35-29) lost to the lowly Washington Wizards, 110-108.

Boomers center Jock Landale had nine points, five rebounds and four assists in his 17 minutes off the bench for the Houston Rockets (29-25) as they beat the higher-ranked Sacramento Kings 112-108.

Rockets starting centre Alperen Sengun was taken off the floor via wheelchair in the closing moments of the game after landing awkwardly. 

He is to have an MRI on his right knee and ankle so Landale could be set for a bigger role in coming games.

 In 63 games (all starts) this season, Sengun has averaged career highs in points (21.1), rebounds (9.3) and assists (5.0).

In Los Angeles, Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s first victory on their California road trip, beating the short-handed Clippers 124-117.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as the Bucks (42-23) rebounded from back-to-back losses to Golden State and the Lakers by outlasting the Clippers (41-22), who played without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.