Chris Paul is embracing the prospect of the Phoenix Suns matching their franchise record streak of 17 consecutive wins ahead of Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

The Suns veteran, who reiterated that the ultimate goal is an elusive NBA title, had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists as Phoenix beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-107 on Saturday.

The win over the Nets moved the Suns' winning run to 16 games, within one victory of their franchise best, set in 2006-07.

"It would be nice," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously everybody knows the ultimate goal is to win a championship but if you don't enjoy the small victories throughout the regular season then what the hell are you doing?

"More than anything, we are having fun... We are going to keep taking it one game at a time and enjoy the moments because it's all about the journey."

The Suns, who were beaten in last season's NBA Finals by the Milwaukee Bucks, have a 17-3 record this season, only bettered by Tuesday's opponents Golden State (17-2).

"We know how good that team is over there," Paul added. "They have identity. They're led by Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green] and now they've got Iggy [Andre Igoudala]. That's a tough team anytime you play against them."

Devin Booker top scored for the Suns with 30 points against the Nets, including four three-pointers along with four assists.

On the potential franchise-equalling game, he added: "I am looking forward to it. "Obviously [it is] not a make it or break it game. Not a playoff game. But we know it will be a high-energy game.

"Two best records in the NBA. It is going to be a high intensity fun game."

James Harden admits he is still trying to figure out how to play his best basketball for the Brooklyn Nets after an ordinary display in the 113-107 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

Harden registered his fourth triple-double of the season, but he had seven turnovers and shot poorly, going none-for-six from three-point range for his 12 points under close guarding from Mikal Bridges.

The 2018 MVP also shot four-for-16 from the field, finishing with 13 rebounds and 14 assists, as his up-and-down season continues.

Harden is averaging 20.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game this season, with his offensive output the most alarming decline on his 25.0 career average.

The 32-year-old averaged 24.6 points for the Nets following his January move from the Houston Rockets, with injuries impacting his continuity after the switch and into this season as well as developing cohesion with his new side.

"Honestly I’m trying to figure all that out right now," Harden said at the post-game news conference. “I’m trying to figure it out.

"Trying to figure out when to score, when to be a playmaker when to run offense, when to do a little bit of everything.

"Just trying to figure it out it’s been a little difficult especially since you know, well whatever, but it’s been a little difficult but I’m just trying to figure it out."

Nets head coach Steve Nash admitted it was a "tough night" for Harden, who was jeered by some fans at the Barclays Center upon his seventh turnover.

"It was a tough night for him," Nash said during the news conference. "Some turnover issues. He didn’t get a lot of good looks.

"That's part of our growth too, trying to figure out ways for him to be effective, even if he's not getting to the rim."

The Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to 16 games on Saturday with a 113-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who gave up 20 turnovers for the game.

The Nets coughed up 15 turnovers in the first half alone as the Suns claimed an early lead and were never headed, led by Devin Booker (30 points and four assists) and Chris Paul (22 points, eight rebounds and five assists).

James Harden managed a triple-double but it was far from his best game with seven turnovers while only scoring 12 points, going zero-of-four from beyond the arc. Harden also had 13 rebounds and 14 assists.

Kevin Durant top scored for the Nets with 39 points along with nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals but also had five turnovers.

The Suns can equal their franchise record winning streak when they face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Phoenix's 17-3 mark for the season is their best record through 20 games since 2004-05.

 

Embiid returns with a bang

Joel Embiid scored 42 points and had 14 rebounds on his return after nine games out due to COVID-19 protocols but could not lift the sliding Philadelphia 76ers to victory, going down 121-120 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in double over-time. Embiid had a shot to win the game but was blocked by Anthony Edwards on the buzzer.

Luka Doncic scored 33 points with 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks were beaten 120-114 by the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal hitting 26 points. The Wizards improve to 13-7.

Houston Rockets center Christian Wood had a huge game with 33 points and 16 rebounds as his side defeated the Charlotte Hornets 146-143 in over-time.

 

Randle loses his handle

Julius Randle only managed eight points, shooting three-of-14 from the field as the New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 99-90.

Joel Embiid thought he was not going to overcome COVID-19 to play in Saturday's 121-120 double over-time defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves yet he returned with 42 points.

Embiid had missed nine games after testing positive to COVID-19 on November 8 but dominated with 42 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks upon his return on Saturday.

In Embiid's absence, the 76ers struggled with a 2-7 record, with their latest defeat leaving them 10-10.

The 27-year-old center helped the 76ers haul in a 20-point deficit against the Timberwolves and had a chance to win the game in double over-time but failed to get a shot away under pressure from Anthony Edwards.

The defeat overshadowed Embiid's return, yet he revealed the severity of his COVID-19 experience post-game including breathing difficulties and headaches, making his 42-point haul all the more remarkable.

"It hasn’t been good," Embiid told reporters. "That jawn hit me hard.

"I really thought I wasn’t going to make it [to play against the Timberwolves]. It was that bad. I'm just thankful to be sitting here. I'm just glad I got over it."

Embiid averaged 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds last season, when he was runner-up for MVP honours to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

The 76ers center is averaging 23.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in the 2021-22 season.

Ja Morant sustained a knee injury in Friday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, dealing a hefty blow to the Memphis Grizzlies' hopes this year.

"Ja Morant exited during the first quarter of Friday's game against the Atlanta Hawks," a team statement read. "Preliminary imaging revealed a left knee sprain. Further updates will be provided as appropriate."

There was immediate concern for Morant, who hobbled off the floor after pulling up while dribbling despite receiving no contact.

The 22-year-old had scored only two points in eight minutes to that point, meaning it was no surprise the Hawks eased to a 132-100 win – their biggest of the season.

For the third time in three years since he was selected second in the 2019 NBA Draft, Morant is scoring the largest share of Memphis' points.

His 22.0 per cent of their scoring this season makes him the ninth-most influential individual in the NBA, with Kevin Durant's 24.3 per cent of the Brooklyn Nets' points leading the way.

In the early part of this year, Morant had been spoken about as a potential Most Improved Player candidate, despite already scoring 19.1 points per game last year – the 36th-most in the league. He ranked 52nd (17.8 points) as he was named Rookie of the Year in 2019-20.

That output has improved to 24.1 points per game this year, despite Friday's lowly output, which means only nine other players have seen a greater improvement in their scoring from last season.

Morant ranks 11th for field-goal shooting improvement (up to 47.6 per cent) and seventh for an upgrade in accuracy from three-point range (now 35.6 per cent).

This rapid progress has made Morant the most prolific under-23 scorer in the NBA this year (458 points), leading a group that also includes preseason MVP favourite Luka Doncic.

The Grizzlies fell to 9-10 with their latest loss, but that middling record is still enough for eighth place in the Western Conference for a team Morant led to the playoffs in 2020-21.

Whether Memphis can stay in touch while Morant is out is another matter. Since he arrived in the league, their point differential has been 0.5 in their favour per 100 possessions with him on the court but -2.1 with him absent.

Stephen Curry reserved special praise for Klay Thompson despite his own latest spectacular performance for the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games as they beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 to move to 17-2 for the season.

Curry led the way with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, surpassing Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

The Warriors' impressive form has come despite the continued wait for the return of star shooter Thompson, who this week returned to full-team practice for the first time in more than two years.

Thompson, a key part of the championship-winning sides in 2015, 2017 and 2018, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear during the Warriors' failed 'three-peat' attempt in 2019 and then injured his Achilles tendon during recovery.

Thompson, who was serenaded by the crowd at Chase Center where he stayed on the bench for more than 20 minutes, is now going through perhaps the most difficult part of his journey back to the court, according to Curry.

"I kind of predicted this would be the hardest part of his journey because he's got the basketball back in his hands every day, he's feeling like himself, he's playing pickup and he's around our practices and back with us in those type of situations, but he's still not on the court," Curry said.

"The good thing is we're talking weeks instead of months now. I'm super proud of just the way he's approached this two-year window because unless he wants to write a book and [explain] every step, nobody will understand what he's been through away from the game so long. And it shows how much this game matters to him."

Portland threatened a late comeback when they moved to within eight points in the final six minutes, but the Warriors are nothing if not resolute, two Curry three-pointers helping to safeguard their lead.

"We know these type of nights where we play at home, do the defence, get the crowd into it. It's all about just trying to create an identity here. We've got to do our part throughout the season to win games," he said.

"The defence is huge. We always pride ourselves on being a top-five defensive and we got to that level quickly. We've got to sustain it, obviously.

"Integrating our new guys, the shooting we have, ball movement, there was no guarantee that was going to be a smooth process. I'm proud of everybody stepping up, understanding how we play and everybody enjoying themselves."

The Phoenix Suns are keeping their eyes on the prize as they target NBA glory, with Chris Paul and Devin Booker playing down the team's winning streak.

Phoenix made it 15 consecutive wins thanks to Friday's 118-97 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Paul's 14 points and 10 assists, and Booker's 32 points fuelled the Suns to within two wins of equalling their franchise record for consecutive victories – 17 in 2006-07.

But after falling short in last season's NBA Finals, Paul and the Suns are solely focused on the business end of the campaign.

"This ain't a playoff game tomorrow [Sunday]," Paul said post-game in New York, where the Suns improved to 16-3 – a record only bettered by Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2) this season.

"It's good for us to go out there and compete, and we're probably gonna see different coverages and all that, but we're just trying to build, build.

"It's not about winning a game in November."

 

"We just wanted to get it going," said All-Star Booker. "It's no secret we have a streak going, and we're going to get every team's best shot.

"The whole NBA knows about that, so we just tried to set the tone early. Come out, play team basketball ... we did our job tonight."

Booker added: "We do one at a time. We know we have a tough opponent tomorrow that's been waiting on us, well-rested.

"So we just have to come in with the same mentality, play the type of basketball that we do, defend at a high level and put ourselves in good shape to get it done."

The Phoenix Suns are closing in on a franchise record after celebrating a 15th successive win with a 118-97 victory against the New York Knicks in the NBA.

Last season's Finals runners-up, the Suns are two victories away from equalling their all-time consecutive win streak of 17 games thanks to Friday's triumph – Phoenix won 17 straight games in 2006-07.

Devin Booker fuelled the red-hot Suns with 32 points at Madison Square Garden, Chris Paul (14 points and 10 assists) and Deandre Ayton (14 points and 13 rebounds) contributed double-doubles on the road.

Reigning Western Conference champions the Suns boast a 16-3 record this season, a mark only bettered by rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2).

 

 

Warriors win again

The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games by topping the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while the two-time MVP surpassed Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Draymond Green put up 12 points and 12 assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost a wild game against the Sacramento Kings, outlasted 141-137 following triple overtime. Not even Russell Westbrook's triple-double (29 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) or LeBron James' 30 points and 11 assists could lift the Lakers in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Nikola Jokic-less Denver Nuggets 120-109 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 24 points and 13 rebounds. By topping the depleted Nuggets, the Bucks made it six straight victories.

 

Jazz stunned in Salt Lake City

The lowly New Orleans Pelicans shocked the Utah Jazz 98-97 courtesy of Devonte' Graham's go-ahead three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining on the road.

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the struggling Detroit Pistons 107-96, but it was a rough outing for star Paul George, who was just five-for-19 shooting in a 12-point display. Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham, meanwhile, finished with 10 points having made only three of his 13 shots from the field.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was hit with a $15,000 fine by the NBA for making an "obscene gesture" in Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers.

The NBA also warned James about using profane language after lifting the Lakers past Pacers 124-116 in overtime midweek.

James posted a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in OT to see the Lakers to victory, having returned from a one-game suspension for his part in a heated altercation with Detroit Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart on Sunday.

A four-time NBA champion and MVP, James made a gesture after sinking a late shot against the Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, while he used profanity in his post-game interview.

Against the Sacramento Kings on Friday, James is looking to score 35 or more points in consecutive games for the first time since December 2018, per Stats Perform.

The Lakers are 4-0 in overtime games this season with no other NBA team having more than two wins in OT in 2021-22. Since February, the Lakers have played a league-high 10 overtime games, going 9-1.

Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the New Orleans Pelicans announced on Friday.

Pelicans star Williamson is yet to feature in the NBA this season due to a right foot fracture, which required surgery in the offseason.

But the 2019 number one draft pick played four-on-four full court on Friday as the 2021 All-Star stepped up his comeback, though there is still no return timeline.

Williamson is entering his third year as a professional, however the 21-year-old has so far seen his hugely promising career hindered by injury.

The power forward did not make his NBA debut until January in the 2019-20 campaign after tearing his meniscus in his rookie preseason, while relatively minor issues limited Williamson to 61 games in 2020-21.

Despite concerns about the forward's durability, Williamson has excelled against NBA opposition.

After 22.5 points per game in his rookie year, he improved to 27.0 last season and will return on a streak of scoring 20 in 15 straight games.

Without Williamson this season, the struggling Pelicans have started the campaign 4-16 – the second worst record in the NBA behind the Houston Rockets (2-16).

The NBA Rookie of the Year award won't be handed out for quite a while but if the first month of the season is any indication, voters are going to have plenty of options to choose from.

With teams having played roughly the first quarter of the season, this seems a good time to look at how some of the top draft picks are faring as they navigate their first campaign at the highest level of basketball.

 

Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

After a dreadful start, including missing the first four games due to a sprained ankle, Cunningham has looked more like a player worthy of being a top overall draft pick. In his first three games, Cunningham averaged just 8.7 points on seven-of-39 shooting (17.9 per cent) while misfiring on 20 of 21 from three-point range. He's been far more effective the past six games, scoring 14.7 per contest on 36.3 percent from the field (33 of 91). It's highly unlikely that someone with Cunningham's ability will only shoot the 33.9 percent he's at now. This is, after all, a player who shot 40 percent on three-pointers in his one college season.

His shot selection will improve as he becomes more familiar with the pro game and learns defender's tendencies. Getting to the free throw line would also help improve his offensive efficiency since he's only averaging 1.9 free throws per game, though he is shooting 88 percent (22 of 25). There is inherent pressure with being the first player selected and Cunningham will have to carry that weight throughout his career. But because the former Oklahoma State star has a high basketball IQ and can rebound and distribute at a high level, he doesn't need to pile up points to affect a game's outcome.

The Pistons also are clearly in rebuild mode now, so wins are secondary, giving the well-rounded Cunningham plenty of minutes and opportunities to learn on the job.

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Much like Cunningham, Green has the advantage of playing for a 2-16 Rockets team that have absolutely no expectations and are in a full-on rebuild for the foreseeable future. Green ranks third in minutes (555) among rookies and leads all first-year players in field goal attempts (228) and three-point attempts (115), so he's clearly not lacking for opportunities or touches.

Like many rookie score-first guards, the super athletic Green has faced his share of struggles and mostly from an efficiency standpoint. He's only shooting 38.2 from the field and 27.8 from behind the arc while dishing out 2.3 assists per game. While his overall numbers aren't eye-popping, Green has shown flashes of what he can and likely will become. Chief among them is a 30-point, 11-for-18 performance – eight for 10 from three-point range – in a loss to the Celtics on October 24.

He also had 24 points on nine-for-15 shooting with five three-pointers, five rebounds and five assists in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on November 2. A case can be made that Green is right where he should be after his first 18 games when compared to other rookie guards who have gone onto All-Star status.

Zach LaVine, for example, averaged 8.1 points on 42.2 percent shooting in his first 18 games, while Bradley Beal averaged 11.9 points on 35.9 percent from the field during that same span. Green still has three quarters of the season left to improve and there's no reason to think someone with his skill and athleticism won't as he becomes accustomed to the pro game.

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Off to the best one-month start of any 2021-22 rookie, Mobley suffered a sprained right elbow in a loss to the Boston Celtics on November 15 and is expected to miss multiple weeks. While his momentum was stalled, the seven-footer shouldn't have a problem picking up where he left off upon his return to Cleveland's line-up.

If the Rookie of the Year award was being handed out in November, Mobley might have the best chance to take home the hardware as he's been equally impressive at both ends of the court. His offense has been better than expected with 14.6 points on 49.4 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds and has even made eight of 26 from three-point range. He was tied for fourth in the NBA with 32 dunks through November 16 and has shown rare positional versatility.

There were questions about his offensive ability coming out of college but those have been answered and there's little doubt that Mobley is on his way to becoming a scoring force for years to come. A stellar defensive player at USC, Mobley has continued that path in his NBA career, flashing outstanding timing and discipline in rim protection. He leads all rookies with 1.60 blocks per game and his 24 total blocks were the second most by any Cavaliers player through the first 15 games of a career (Hot Rod Williams, 30 in 1986).

Mobley's injury has clearly left a huge void and the Cavs have been unable to compensate. They rank 26th in the league since November 17 in scoring defence (112.5) and have lost all four games without him following a surprising 9-6 start to the season.

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

Mobley's biggest challenger for the coveted one-month rookie award would be Barnes, who leads this rookie class in scoring (14.8), rebounding (8.4) and minutes per game (35.1) while ranking second in field goal percentage (48.6).

The Raptors' small forward is something of a Swiss Army knife with a well-rounded game and a tantalising set of tools. Barnes adjusted to the NBA very quickly, becoming just the second player (Shaquille O'Neal) since 1985-86 to accumulate at least 170 points and 85 rebounds while shooting 50 percent or better in his first 10 career games. Barnes' 212 points through 13 games were the most by any player in Raptors history and that's a franchise that drafted Vince Carter, Damon Stoudamire and Chris Bosh.

Besides Barnes' ability to score, rebound and pass, he's also excelling on the defensive end, often tasked with guarding the best player on the opposing team regardless of size. He's already been matched up against seven-foot Mo Bamba, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, James Harden and even some point guards. Barnes also has proven to be an adept ballhandler, which is a huge advantage when going up against other bigs.

Perhaps the only aspect of Barnes' game that is lacking is his three-point shooting, as he's only attempted 19 from long range and made five. The ability to stretch the court with deeper shots would make every other part of his offensive arsenal even more effective.

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder

By most accounts, the best pure passer in this draft class was point guard Giddey. A little more than a month into his NBA career and nobody would debate that. Giddey seems like a good bet to lead all rookies in assists, as he's totalled 105 thus far with the Sacramento Kings' Davion Mitchell ranking second with 68. But it's the Australian's all-around game that has the rebuilding Thunder looking very smart for nabbing him with the sixth overall pick.

Besides scoring 10.8 points per game, the six-foot-seven playmaker is third among first-year players with 7.3 rebounds and leads all rookies with 101 defensive boards. Giddey's performance in the first month has him among some elite company. With 105 assists and 131 rebounds in his first 18 games, he joins LeBron James and LaMelo Ball as the only teenagers to reach 100 in both in their first 20 NBA games. Giddey, who turned 19 last month, seems likely to record a triple-double soon after coming close on several occasions already.

After averaging 9.0 points on 37.1 percent shooting in his first 13 games, Giddey has heated up with 15.4 per game on 47.8 percent from the field in his last five games. Scoring is a bonus when it comes to Giddey, who has run the offense with the calm of a veteran and helped the Thunder be far more competitive than most expected.

Stephen Curry hailed his "unbelievable" younger brother Seth as the sibling rivalry became a thrilling sideshow in the Golden State Warriors' win over the 76ers.

It appeared Seth was going to win the battle but lose the war when he led Stephen in scoring while Philadelphia trailed in the game, going into the closing minutes.

Yet a three-pointer with 1:27 to play from Stephen meant he reached 25 points as well as finishing on the winning team, while Seth ended the game on 24 points and on the beaten side.

On Thursday, both NBA stars were set to get together with their family for Thanksgiving, along with Golden State's Damion Lee, who is brother-in-law to the pair after marrying their sister, Sydel.

Philadelphia swept to a 34-23 lead after the first quarter as Seth Curry made a blazing start to Wednesday's game, but a dazzling second half from Stephen and the Warriors saw them dominate 64-35 to snatch a 116-96 win.

Seth missed all five of his three-point attempts, to put another downer on his night.

He said of facing Stephen: "It's not always fun to play against him. For 80 nights out of the year, I want him to have a good game and them to win, but tonight the switch is flipped and I gotta compete against him and try to stop him.

"It's good for our families to watch. I was a little upset in the end of the fourth: it was the first chance I had to outscore him and he gets a wide open three at the end of the game when it's said and done to eclipse me by one point, so I wasn't happy about that."

All the same, Seth was smiling about it all, so a family get-together looked sure to be an enjoyable affair.

He added: "Especially around the holidays it's good for everybody to see each other, and you don't take it for granted, me, Stephen and Damion playing against each other."

 

This was the second time this season the Warriors won a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 10. The rest of the NBA's teams only have three such games.

Stephen Curry made just one free throw (Seth was eight-from-eight from the line) but connected on six of 11 three-point attempts.

After the game, Stephen insisted he had been unaware Seth was close to pipping him for points until that late three-pointed.

"He reminded me right after the game. I didn't know the stakes were so high on that shot," Stephen said.

"That dude's playing unbelievable basketball. It's fun to watch and he continues to get better. It's impressive the way he's playing and the way he's stepped into his identity in this league. I'm a proud, proud brother."

Golden State have won nine straight home games, all by at least 13 points.

Stephen Curry felt the second-half contribution of Juan Toscano-Anderson was key to the comeback, with abundant energy complementing his 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

"For sure. That is contagious. You feel a different spirit because of how much it means to him and how he knows he can influence and impact games," said Warriors star Curry.

"Anybody can skill their way into it and have that flashiness. He has that dog in him that comes out and it's contagious for sure and we feed off that."

Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas hailed "difference maker" Danuel House after his side defeated the Chicago Bulls to snap their 15-game losing streak.

The Rockets (2-16) were down 10 midway through the third quarter and appeared to be heading towards their 16th consecutive loss before a 27-9 run turned the game around.

Silas, whose future came under scrutiny before Wednesday's clash, saw his team storm back to claim a 118-113 triumph, with House starring off the bench.

The 28-year-old managed 18 points in 17 minutes as a replacement, with all those coming in the second half as Houston made eight of their 11 three-point attempts in the decisive third quarter.

After the game, Silas praised the impact of House, who did not feature at all in the first half before the Bulls were outscored 35-18 by Houston in the penultimate quarter.

''He's been in and out of the rotation,'' Silas said. ''He played eight minutes the last game. 

"I wanted to get him out there just so he could continue to believe that his work would pay off, and tonight, he was the difference maker really.

"It feels good, and when you make 17 threes it looks a lot better. We were getting some of those shots previously and shooting 25 per cent instead of 47 per cent. We were in our spacing spots. It looked a lot better because we were making them."

Chicago coach Billy Donovan bemoaned his side's lack of aggressiveness after half-time at United Center, with Zach LaVine's 28-point return in vain.

"We just came out and kind of messed around with the game, and before you know it, we're down by 10 after being up by 10,'' Donovan said. 

''I have to help this group solve it and figure that part of it out. We're a very good team, but we are not so good that we cannot show up and play in a quarter in an NBA game and expect to win."

The moment itself was hardly unique, but Kevin Durant had a hard time grasping what it represented. 

With his first basket Wednesday, less than two minutes into the Brooklyn Nets' 123-104 victory over the Boston Celtics, Durant moved past his childhood idol Allen Iverson and into 25th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Durant watched as Iverson starred at Georgetown University before going on to a legendary NBA career. 

The Hall of Famer Iverson scored 24,368 points in his 14-year career, and Durant now sits at 24,388, which was a bit much for the Nets star to process as he spoke to reporters after the game. 

"It means the world," Durant said. "I dedicated my life to this game at an early age ... so I watched all these guys that I'm passing up [on the scoring list]. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be in the NBA like them, and make an impact in the league like them.

"So Iverson, he was the pantheon for me. One of those guys that I emulated every time I went outside and played with my friends. It's all surreal. I pictured I would be in the league, and had an idea ... but to do it is pretty special."

The 33-year-old Durant should be able to pass several more Hall of Famers on the list this season if he stays healthy. Next in line are Ray Allen (24,505) and another Georgetown icon, Patrick Ewing (24,815).

More immediately, Durant and the Nets just want to keep winning. 

They have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 14-5 ahead of a visit from the NBA's hottest team, the Phoenix Suns, on Saturday. 

While the Nets' only defeat in their last eight games came at home against the other Western Conference superpower, the Golden State Warriors, Durant said it is too early in the season to put too much stock in individual games. 

"We gauge who we are every day," Durant said. "We understand that these teams are coming in, and teams are playing well. But it is November. I mean, every team wants to round into shape in the middle of the season, as the playoffs are starting to come around.

"I'm not saying that we want to give away any games, but, win or lose, I don't really think this is going to tell us that much about where we're headed as a team, you know what I'm saying?

"But we obviously want to come out there and stick to our principles and keep getting better at that stuff. From the outside looking in, I understand the records and the narratives around games and stuff. But I don't think this can tell us too much about what may happen down the line."

It took a while, but big brother came out on top as Stephen and Seth Curry faced off Wednesday. 

Stephen's Golden State Warriors trailed by as many as 19 in the first half but rallied to cruise to a 116-96 victory over Seth's Philadelphia 76ers. 

Seth Curry led all scorers with 17 points before half-time as the 76ers (10-8) roared out of the gate, but they could not sustain it for the long haul. 

Golden State (15-2) opened the second half with a 14-2 run to take the lead and the teams went back and forth for a while before the Warriors iced the game with a 28-8 run in the fourth quarter. 

It was the second time this season the Warriors won a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 10. The rest of the NBA's teams only have three such games. 

Stephen Curry led the way with 25 points and added 10 assists, while Seth finished with 24 to lead the 76ers, but they took different routes to those similar point totals. 

Stephen made just one free throw but connected on six of 11 three-point attempts. Seth missed all five of his three-point tries but was eight-for-eight from the line. 

Golden State have won nine straight home games, all by at least 13 points. 

 

LeBron leads Lakers to OT win in return

LeBron James poured in a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in overtime as he returned from a one-game suspension to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Indiana Pacers 124-116. Russell Westbrook added 20 for the Lakers (10-10), who were playing without Anthony Davis as he was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers (8-12) with 28 points.

Down by 10 to the Chicago Bulls midway through the third quarter, it appeared the Houston Rockets were on their way to a 16th consecutive loss, but a 27-9 run to end the period put the Rockets on top and they never looked back on the way to a 118-113 triumph. Houston (2-16) made eight of their 11 three-point attempts in the decisive third quarter and 17 of 36 threes overall in the game. Danuel House Jr. led the Rockets with 18 points in 17 minutes off the bench, all in the second half. Zach LaVine had 28 for the Bulls (12-7). 

Devin Booker scored 24 of his game-high 35 points in the first half as the Phoenix Suns held off a late challenge to win their 14th game in a row, 120-115 over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chris Paul added 17 points and 12 assists for the Suns (15-3), while Jarrett Allen made nine of 10 shots from the field to lead Cleveland (9-10) with 25 points. 

Patty Mills had 23 points, Kevin Durant 21 and James Harden 20 as the Brooklyn Nets (14-5) opened up an early lead at the Boston Celtics (10-9) and kept rolling on the way to a 123-104 victory. 

 

Rare win for Pelicans over slumping Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost for the fourth time in five games on the heels of a five-game winning streak, getting blown out 127-102 by a New Orleans Pelicans team that entered the game with a 3-16 record. Washington (11-7) turned the ball over 19 times to 10 for New Orleans and made just seven of 31 three-point attempts (22.6) while also missing 13 of their 36 free-throw attempts. Brandon Ingram scored 26 for the Pelicans and Bradley Beal led Washington with 23. 

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