PHOENIX: File photo shows, Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets on February 07, 2020 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. —AFP

NEW YORK: Getting double-figure scoring totals from all five players, Grizz Gaming downed Celtics Crossover Gaming 87-68 in the decisive contest of a best-of-three match on Tuesday as Week 5 of the NBA 2K League season began.

The night’s other two matches were two-game sweeps. NetsGC improved to 1-1 with a victory over Magic Gaming, and Jazz Gaming dumped winless Lakers Gaming.

The scheduled match between Hawks Talon GC and 76ers GC was pushed back to an unspecified date.

Originally due to begin its season March 24, the NBA 2K League postponed play because of the coronavirus pandemic. On April 27, the league announced an initial six-week, online-only schedule, with all 23 teams playing eight total matches from their home markets. Action finally began May 5.

Each match is a best-of-three, with the outcome of each three-game series counting as one win or one loss in the standings.

After the Celtics took the opener against the Grizz 69-59, the Grizz leveled the match with a 76-62 decision.

In the third game, the Grizz’s Zach “Vandi” Vandivier produced 32 points and 11 assists, Meyhar “AuthenticAfrican” Ahmed-Hassan scored 23 points, and Dayvon “GOOFY757” Curry had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Justin “Jrod” Rodriguez added 11 points, and Daniel “DDouble” Davis contributed 10 points.

The Celtics got 50 points and seven assists from Albano “oFAB” Thomallari, but it wasn’t enough.

In the opener, oFAB had 35 points and seven assists, and teammate Terry “NO xAUTOGRAPHSx” Jackson scored 18 points. AuthenticAfrican led the Grizz with 25 points, and Vandi put up 20 points and 11 assists.

Vandi’s 40 points were the difference in Game 2. AuthenticAfrican and GOOFY757 each added 14 points for the Grizz, and GOOFY757 pulled down 16 rebounds. oFAB scored 43 points in the defeat.

The Jazz opened with a 76-63 victory over the Lakers, as Lytel “Lotty” Martin amassed 25 points and nine assists, and Spencer “Ria” Wyman had 10 points and 16 rebounds. Sten “SAV” Valge-Saar paced the Lakers with 38 points and eight assists.

Ria’s triple-double — 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists — powered the Jazz to a 73-60 win in the second game. Kimanni “Splashy” Ingram added 19 points for the Jazz while SAV led the Lakers with 25 points and 10 assists.

The Nets got 39 points from Josh “Choc” Humphries plus 21 rebounds from Aziz “Shuttles” Salem in a 66-61 victory over the Magic in Game 1. The Magic’s Brendan “Reizey” Hill had 40 points, and Robert “May” May racked up 12 points and 22 rebounds.

The Nets sealed the sweep with a 62-49 triumph, getting 29 points and seven assists from Choc, 17 points from Kory “Chess” Taylor, and 20 boards from Shuttles. May finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds, hitting 6 of 7 shots from the field, and Reizey also scored 14 points.

Meanwhile, the NBA is aiming to complete the 2020 season by mid-October, reports said Tuesday, as the league edges towards a return from the coronavirus shutdown. ESPN reported that according to a timeframe due to be voted on by NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday, Game 7 of the NBA Finals would take place no later than October 12.

The NBA and NBA Players Association are still finalising the details of the resumption of the season, which was halted on March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic erupted. ESPN reported that the league is planning a 22-team format for its return to play on July 31. 

All games are expected to be within the confines of Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando Florida, with all teams remaining on site to minimise risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The NBA’s proposal to be put before the board today requires support from three quarters of the league’s 30 teams in order to be approved.

ESPN reported there was overwhelming support for the plan being recommended by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

One of the key issues to be settled is the format of the competition which will determine the final line-up for the 16-team playoffs. 

Six teams currently just outside the playoff places will be included in the 22-team field and given the opportunity to claim a playoff berth.

If approved, the format will bring an abrupt end to the season for eight teams languishing outside the top 22.

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said Tuesday exclusion from the restarted season would hurt his young team.

“The biggest thing we can benefit from is playing basketball,” Pierce said. “If the season is going to resume and we are not a part of it, it hurts our growth, it hurts our product, it hurts our ability to continue the momentum that we need going to next season. 

“I play young guys, I have young guys - we need to play basketball.” 

The restart is expected to include a two-week quarantine for players in their home cities, one to two weeks of workouts at team facilities followed by two-week training camps.

The regular season was halted abruptly after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive. Gobert, of France, was given the all-clear about two weeks later.

So far, less than a dozen NBA players have been confirmed as testing positive for the coronavirus although not all have been identified. —AFP