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Landale posts NBA career high in Spurs win

Australian rookie Jock Landale has continued his impressive NBA rise, scoring an NBA career-high 18 points as his San Antonio Spurs crushed the short-handed Detroit Pistons 144-109.

The Boomers centre came off the bench for 17 minutes and again outscored starting centre Jakob Poeltl (14 points) on Sunday night as his game time continues to grow under coach Gregg Popovich.

Landale added five rebounds and three assists in a busy performance before home fans.

Keldon Johnson led with 27 points but Landale was the team’s second-highest scorer as the Spurs (14-18) put up their biggest points tally of the season against the struggling Pistons (5-27).

San Antonio have won three straight and four of five to move into 10th in the Western Conference but now face playing five games in seven days.

Detroit had five players out in the league’s health and safety protocols, including top draft pick Cade Cunningham, while Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk are also out with injuries.

The Spurs were among the few teams not impacted by COVID-19 this season, but that changed Sunday morning when star Dejounte Murray was ruled out.

Landale’s fellow Australian rookie, Josh Giddey, produced a most unusual double-double as he helped Oklahoma Thunder to a 117-112 home win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Giddey did not score a single point but had 10 assists and 10 rebounds while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points and rookie Aaron Wiggins added a career-high 24.

It’s only the second time in NBA history – and first time in 50 years – that a player posted a double-double without scoring. Giddey is averaging six assists and seven rebounds a game.

In Los Angeles, Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 22 rebounds, rallying Denver past the Los Angeles Clippers 103-100 after the Nuggets had blown a 17-point lead.

The Clippers sit one spot behind the fifth-placed Clippers (17-15) in the Western Conference and pulled closer as they improved to 15-16 this season.

Joel Embiid enjoyed a productive night in the US capital, scoring 36 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 117-96 win against the Washington Wizards.

Tobias Harris added 23 points and Philly improved to 17-16 in the Eastern Conference after dropping four of their last five, while Spencer Dinwiddie led Washington (17-16) with 17 points.

In Cleveland, Kevin Love and Darius Garland scored 22 points apiece and the Cavaliers tied their franchise record with 46 points in the third quarter of a 144-99 rout over the COVID-depleted Toronto Raptors.

Lauri Markkanen added 20 points and Garland had eight assists for the Cavs (20-13), who won their fifth in a row at home and made 22 triples in a team-record 52 attempts.

The Raptors currently have 10 players in the league’s health and safety protocols, including top-scorer Fred VanVleet.

Elsewhere, the Miami Heat won the Florida derby over the Orlando Magic 93-83 and the Memphis Grizzlies were 127-102 victors at the Sacramento Kings.

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