Basketball

Harden agrees with comparisons between Luka Doncic and Larry Bird

Brooklyn Nets' star James Harden sang praises of Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic, after the Slovenian inspired a 115-98 win over the Nets yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Doncic, who scored 27 points as Dallas snapped the Nets' eight-game winning streak, has been compared to legends such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson following his inspirational performances.

Harden agreed, saying: "There are some similarities. He never lets anyone speed him up, and he gets what he wants.

"That's rare for a guy at a young age. I think he's 21 years old. And to be able to dictate the game and control the game like he does, we all know he has a very, very bright future.

"The Mavs got a special one."

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who was Bird's former teammate, had likened Doncic to the Celtic great, noting that his charge also has the ability to make his teammates better.

When asked by ESPN about the comparisons to Bird, Doncic was only too keen to play it down.

"You can't compare me to Larry Bird," said the point-guard, who turned 22 yesterday, adding that he has a "long time" ahead of him in his career.

"I just want to keep hooping, having fun out there playing basketball."

Harden scored 29 points against the Nets, but it was not enough as he shouldered the load in the absence of Kevin Durant (left hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (right shoulder).

Brooklyn remained half a game behind Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia 76ers, who fell 112-109 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime.

The Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz bounced back from a defeat by the Miami Heat, cruising past Orlando Magic 124-109. - AFP

Basketball