Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he was happy to quiet the raucous Philadelphia crowd after downing the 76ers 129-100 on the road.

It was one of the most highly-anticipated regular season fixtures in some time after James Harden and Ben Simmons sensationally switched teams just weeks ago, with Philadelphia undefeated in five games with Harden in the lineup. 

With the game taking place in Philadelphia, Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving was allowed to play, with his inability to play in home games due to New York’s vaccine mandate reportedly a major factor in Harden’s desire to move on from the situation.

Durant said that the chants, particularly aimed at new Net Ben Simmons who had an acrimonious split with the 76ers, died down after Brooklyn took a 21-point lead into half-time.

"It was good to quiet them all down mid-way through the game," Durant told TNT. "It was very quiet towards the end – we ain’t hear no more Ben Simmons chants from the 76ers fans, there were more Nets fans here than anything."

Later on in the post-game news conference, Durant touched on the poor performance of his former teammate after Harden finished with 11 points, shooting 3-17 from the field.

"He relies a lot on the free throw line," Durant said. "Getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line gets him in rhythm, and we didn’t let him do that.

"He was three-of-17 – he was trying to get to the rim, but we were all there swarming.

"He hit a few open threes – but you know – when he’s getting to the rim, and getting downhill and to the free-throw line, that’s when they’re tough to stop, and we eliminated a lot of that stuff."

He sure is. pic.twitter.com/v4vOEI30UN

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022

While he downplayed the importance of a regular season game in March, Durant said the Nets were aware of the hostility that would meet Simmons, and that he was determined to make it a night to remember for his new teammate.

"I think all of us were [trying to quiet the crowd] – we look at Ben as our brother," he said.

"We knew this would be a hostile environment, and that he didn’t have the opportunity to play, so we wanted to come out there and get [the crowd] focused on the court, more-so than [Simmons].

"They were focused on the court tonight – it’s hard to chant at Ben Simmons when you’re losing by so much."

It is a return that calls for popcorn when the Brooklyn Nets head to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

A month after leaving the Nets for the Sixers, James Harden will have the opportunity to face his former team and show them what might have been.

The 32-year-old's time in Brooklyn was underwhelming to say the least, but he has taken to life in Philadelphia like a duck to water, with the Sixers winning all five games in which he has featured so far.

His partnership with Joel Embiid in particular has thrived, with the Cameroonian putting up 43 points and Harden making 14 assists in Monday's win against the Chicago Bulls.

Harden insists he is calm ahead of meeting his former teammates, saying: "I'm not nervous. It's basketball.

"I put the work in to go out there and just play my game and live with the results. Honestly, every game is a big game for us. We're fairly new. We got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we’re playing."

Meanwhile, another highly anticipated return won't quite be the same as Ben Simmons remains sidelined for the Nets but will reportedly be in attendance at Wells Fargo Center.

Another less discussed story will be Seth Curry, who has made an excellent start to life in Brooklyn since being a part of the trade that saw Harden and Simmons swap cities.

In 10 outings for the Nets, Curry has maintained his average of 15 points per game that he managed in 45 appearances with the Sixers this season, though he has gone three without reaching double figures so will want to put that right against his former team.

The Nets have lost four of their six clashes since the All-Star break and sit on an even record of 33-33, while the Sixers have won five of six in that time, and all three home games.

They have met three times already this season, of which Brooklyn have won two, though Philadelphia did come out on top in late December 110-102.

It promises to be a fun night in Philly, and whether it be cheering Harden or booing Simmons, Sixers fans will likely make themselves heard.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Philadelphia 76ers – James Harden

I mean… who else?

It's not just because of the overwhelming amount of narrative involved. Harden has been a success story so far in Philly and will want to put on a show on this night of all nights.

Of course, as the league leader for points per game (29.7), Embiid will likely be the main man as usual, but with an average of 24.6 points per game since joining the Sixers and a big point to prove here, expect Harden to be at the centre of things either way.

Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving

It's not very often that Irving isn't the centre of attention, but with the Harden/Simmons factor here you would think he might get a night away from the spotlight. 

Then again, if his form is anything to go by, maybe not.

Irving hit 50 points in Tuesday's win against the Charlotte Hornets and is averaging 26.2 points per game for the season, albeit while still missing several games due to vaccination rules.

KEY BATTLES – Nets must rely on experience

The cliche is that sport is a young person's game, but Brooklyn will be hoping that isn't true.

The Nets have the fourth-oldest average age of active roster in the league, and the second-highest percentage of points scored by players over 33 years old (40.8 per cent).

The Sixers are not exactly kids themselves but do have the 10th most points scored in the league by players under the age of 23 (15.5 per cent), mostly thanks to impressive 21-year-old Tyrese Maxey, who is averaging 17.6 points per game this season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

As mentioned, the Nets actually lead this season's head-to-head 2-1, although since the start of the 2016-17 season, the Sixers have won 14 and lost just eight of the 22 meetings between the two.

Kevin Durant hailed Kyrie Irving's season-high 50-point performance in the Brooklyn Nets' 132-121 win over the Charlotte Hornets as a "masterclass".

Durant took a backseat as the Nets point guard hit nine three-pointers, shooting at 79 per cent from the floor, making 15-of-19.

Irving became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, while he also became the second guard – behind Michal Jordan – in the league to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75 per cent or better from the floor.

"Everything he does is pure. It looked so easy tonight," Durant told reporters after the game. "I seen [sic] it in his eyes to start the game.

"He wanted to play better last game, so he came out tonight and wanted to impact the game from the start. He led us all night. It was an incredible performance.

“Younger players should watch this game and learn what it takes to score at that level. That was just a masterclass."

Nets head coach Steve Nash added to the praise of Irving, labelling him an "incredible player".

"He's incredible. He's a career-highlight reel every night," Nash said. "We have a special player on our hands. Overall, he's an incredible player and shot creator."

The result lifts Brooklyn to a 33-33 record, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference ahead of the final push for the playoffs, having won only four of their past 21 games.

Durant added: "It's always good to get a win. We definitely want to play better than we did in the second half.

"We know we're fighting for our lives every game to get into the playoffs or the play-in. It's good to get the W."

Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 50 points to help snap the Brooklyn Nets' four-game losing run with a 132-121 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.

Kevin Durant took a backseat to Irving's "master class", as the Nets point guard hit nine three-pointers, shooting at 79 percent from the floor, making 15-of-19.

Irving scored 30 points in the second half, with his Nets teammates contributing 33, helping them claim their fourth win from their past 21 games.

The 29-year-old became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, along with becoming the second guard – behind Michal Jordan - in NBA history to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75 percent or better from the floor.

Durant added 14 points with three rebounds and seven assists while Andre Drummond had 20 points with 14 rebounds.

 

Giannis stars as champions win fifth straight

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 39 points, shooting 13-of-19 including four-of-four from beyond the arc, as the Milwaukee Bucks crushed the Oklahoma City Thunder 142-115 for their fifth straight win. Khris Middleton added 25 points while Bobby Portis had 18 points with 14 rebounds.

Devin Booker was still out but the Phoenix Suns triumphed after a late Mikal Bridges block in a 102-99 win over the Orlando Magic. Deandre Ayton had 21 points with 19 rebounds for the Suns.

Ja Morant scored 24 points with eight rebounds and eight assists as the Memphis Grizzlies downed the New Orleans Pelicans 132-111, while Darius Garland became the fourth player in Cleveland Cavaliers history with 40 points and 10 assists in a game (41 and 13) as they won 127-124 over the Indiana Pacers.

 

Splash brothers shooting off

The Golden State Warriors' splash brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson only managed a combined three-of-15 from beyond the arc but they snapped their five-game skid with a 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Curry and Thompson finished with 15 and 20 points respectively, while Reggie Jackson struggled with two-of-14 shooting for the Clippers.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has confirmed Ben Simmons will be with the team on the bench for Thursday's return game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons is expected to receive a frosty reception from the 76ers fans at the Wells Fargo Center as he returns for the first time since last month's trade to the Nets.

The point guard had a major fallout with the 76ers after a nightmare playoffs period, leading to him requesting a trade and opting not to play all season until a trade was finalised in February.

Nash said Simmons, who is yet to debut for Brooklyn, will not play for the Nets on Thursday but will be in attendance with the team which he felt he needed to get out of the way.

"It's great," Nash told reporters prior to Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets.

"He's on our team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the whole Philly thing out of the way a little bit. Maybe it never goes away, but the first time it's always nice to kind of deal with it and move on."

He added: "I don't think he's naive to think he's not going to get some boos. I hope he enjoys it. It's a part of the game I miss."

Simmons has not played since his trade due to a back complaint which has hampered his ability to get reconditioned to game standard having not played all season.

Nash was not clear-cut on Simmons' likely debut, with the Australian still not cleared to practice.

"It's to be determined," Nash said. "I think he's progressing this week, but I don't know what that means as far as Saturday.

"He'll see us [Wednesday] in Philly. I don't think he's ready for 5-on-5 basketball but he's improving, working out, and he'll join us in Philly, and a few good days of rehab."

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers believes Ben Simmons deserves a tribute when the Brooklyn Nets visit on Thursday.

Simmons left the 76ers acrimoniously with a trade to the Nets after more than five years with Philadelphia.

The 25-year-old point guard endured a difficult 2021 playoffs leading to a fallout with the 76ers, demanding a trade and sitting out the first half of the season before the Nets move materialised. 

Simmons and 76ers center Joel Embiid fell out too, ramping up the tensions with the latter posting a cryptic Twitter update upon Simmons' exit last month.

“I do actually,” Rivers said when asked if Simmons deserved a tribute video upon his return. “Ben did a lot of good things here.

"It didn’t end well, right? Just like marriages and all kinds of other things that don’t end well but Ben did a lot of good things here.

"It’s funny, I don’t know if we are or not, but if we did, I’d have no issues with it.”

Simmons won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, had been a three-time All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member with the 76ers reaching the playoffs in all four of his seasons with the side.

The Australian is yet to debut for the Nets and unlikely to play on Thursday as he builds up his conditioning having not played all season at the 76ers but may attend the game with the team.

Rivers sarcastically added: "Our fans are so silent so I can't imagine anything happening."

Meanwhile, James Harden shrugged off any talk of nerves ahead of the match-up where he will face his former Nets teammates for the first time since last month's trade with Simmons.

"I'm not nervous, it's basketball," Harden told reporters after Monday's 121-106 win over the Chicago Bulls. "I've put the work in to just play my game and live with the results.

"Honestly every game is a big game for us. We're fairly new, we've got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we're playing."

Jayson Tatum was living in dreamland after his 54-point haul in the Boston Celtics' 126-120 victory over a Brooklyn Nets team boasting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

Durant and Irving teamed up for only the fourth time this season, but it was Tatum who took centre stage, shooting 16-of-30 from the field and eight-of-15 from beyond the arc.

His incredible display included 34 second-half points, with 18 coming during the final quarter as the Celtics overturned a one-point deficit.

While Durant put up 37 points in only his second game back from an MCL sprain, becoming the 23rd player to reach 25,000 career NBA points, Irving managed just 19 points with four rebounds and six rebounds.

And Tatum was thrilled to get the better of two stars of the game as the Celtics, for whom Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, improved to 39-27.

"As a competitor, night in, night out, but especially games like this, those matchups when you're [against] one of the better teams in the league with two of the best guys, just as a competitor, these are the kinds of moments that as a kid you dreamed about and looked forward to," he said.

"When those opportunities come, you try to make the most of it.

"Obviously, somebody like myself or [Brown] can have nights like this. And it's contagious when guys are hitting shots, spreading the wealth and making the extra pass, driving and kicking.

"Just getting those open looks and seeing them go in, it just opens everything up for us. We know how tough we can be on defense. When we kind of match that energy on offense, we'll really be special."

Team-mate Marcus Smart cited slight tweaks in Tatum's approach that had led to an upturn in his performances.

He said: "He stopped trying to force it, and making the right read, making the game easy for himself.

"Saving that energy and not trying to beat every double-team that comes his way and that's allowing him to do what he does at the end of games. He has the legs late in those fourth quarters to take over the games and that's what it's all about.

"When you are a great player, that's what it's about, having those legs in crunch time to be able to do that. The way you do that is getting everyone else involved, picking your spots wisely.

"He's doing a great job of that, him and Jaylen. They both are and that's the reason why we are doing what we are doing. That's good players that get us going on the offensive end, making sure we get great shots either for themselves or for their team-mates."

Jayson Tatum produced a dominant display with 54 points as the Boston Celtics won 126-120 over the Brooklyn Nets who had the rare partnership of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

Durant and Irving teamed up for only the fourth time this season but their presence would not deny Tatum's brilliance, shooting 16-of-30 from the field and eight-of-15 from beyond the arc.

Tatum, who scored 34 points in the second half, led the Celtics' late charge as they won after trailing by one point at the final change.

Durant scored 37 points in his second game back from an MCL sprain which kept him out since mid-January, becoming the 23rd player to reach 25,000 career NBA points.

Irving only managed 19 points with four rebounds and six rebounds for the Nets who slip to 32-33, while the Celtics have won 21 of their past 27 games to improve to 39-27.

 

Middleton scores season-high

Khris Middleton scored a season-high 44 points as Giannis Antetokounmpo took a back seat in the Milwaukee Bucks' 132-122 win over the Phoenix Suns, who were missing both Chris Paul (thumb) and Devin Booker (protocols). The Bucks, who have won four straight, stormed home with a 12-1 run over the last three minutes as Antetokounmpo got into foul trouble.

The Houston Rockets snapped their 12-game losing run with a shock 123-112 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, for whom Ja Morant scored 22 points with six assists. The Utah Jazz closed on Memphis in the west with a 116-103 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder as Bojan Bogdanovic hit a franchise-record 11 three-pointers for his 35 points.

Nikola Jokic scored 46 points, including 30 in the fourth quarter, as the Denver Nuggets won 138-130 over the New Orleans Pelicans in over-time. Jokic had 46 points plus 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the Nugs rallied after squandering a 21-point lead.

 

Allen injury sours Cavs win

The Cleveland Cavaliers won 104-96 over the Toronto Raptors but lost Jarrett Allen indefinitely to a suspected fractured finger. Rookie Evan Mobley had 20 points with 17 rebounds for the Cavs who are 37-27.

Kyrie Irving believes New York City mayor Eric Adams is "on my side" as the Brooklyn Nets' All-Star hopes he rolls back the city's vaccination mandate to permit him to play home games.

Irving contributed 19 points as the Nets went down 126-120 on the road to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

The 29-year-old has not been permitted to play any home games at Barclays Center this season due to New York City's vaccination mandate, although a recent change of mayorship offered Irving hope.

Adams said last week that allowing the point guard to play home games "would send the wrong message" to the people of New York, despite wanting to see Irving win an NBA championship, thus ruling out an exemption.

"Shoutout Eric Adams, man," Irving told reporters after the loss to the Celtics on Sunday, speaking publicly for the first time since Adams' comments.

"It's not an easy job to be the mayor of New York City. And with COVID looming, the vaccination mandates, everything going on in our world, with this war in the Ukraine, and everybody feeling it across America, I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now trying to delegate whether or not one basketball player can come and play at home. I appreciate his comments and his stance. He knows where I stand.

"And I know one day we'll be able to break bread together and he'll be able to come to the games and hopefully we'll move past this time like it never happened in our sense.

"But, it's just the reality that it's been difficult on a lot of us in New York City and across the world. So, I know he's feeling it and I'm just grateful that he's on my side, as well as the [NBA] commissioner."

Kevin Durant became just the 23rd player in all-time NBA history to reach 25,000 career points during the Brooklyn Nets' 126-120 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Durant, who also played for the Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors during his NBA career, scored a team-high 37 points for the Nets on Sunday.

The 2014 NBA MVP admitted the milestone was "pretty cool" but pointed out that it should be more, referring to injuries during his career.

"It's pretty cool," Durant told reporters after Sunday's loss. "I should be at 30 [thousand] right now, to be honest.

"But it's cool, it's cool to reach that milestone and be amongst the greats and I just got to keep pushing and keep going and see where I end up."

Durant is the seventh fastest player to achieve the feat, reaching 25,000 points in his 922nd game, behind Wilt Chamberlain (691), Michael Jordan (782), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (889), LeBron James (915), Oscar Robertson (917) and Jerry West (920).

Only James and Carmelo Anthony are active players who have also scored 25,000 NBA points.

Nets teammate Kyrie Irving added: "I told him in the locker room, 25,000 points, you're a savant. "You are an artist. You have clipped history. And will forever be remembered as a legend in our game.

"He's been doing it since he was 19, and there's a level of admiration I have for my best friend right there, and he just does it in ways that makes it look easy. And even when he takes six weeks off, it looks like he hasn't missed any time. And that level of work ethic that he puts in, it shows why he's as great as he is.

"For me, it motivates me to continue to get my game up and hopefully when I'm done with my career I could be sitting next to him and having 25,000 as well and look back and we just crack jokes on a few championships that we won together. So that's the goal at hand."

Kevin Durant returned from injury with 31 points but the Brooklyn Nets' struggles continued with a 113-107 defeat to the Miami Heat.

Durant had missed the past 21 games due to an MCL sprain sustained on January 16, with the Nets going 5-16 in his absence, and they led by 16 points in the first half upon his return, but could not sustain it.

The 2014 NBA MVP had a three-point attempt with 57 seconds left which would have put the Nets in the lead but he missed and the Heat scored from the ensuing possession via Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo finished the game with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Tyler Herro came off the bench to contribute 27 points, four rebounds and eight assists.

Durant shot 10-of-21 from the field for his 31 points, including two three-pointers, with four rebounds and four assists.

The result leaves the Nets at 32-32 with a .500 record, while the Heat are top of the Eastern Conference with a 42-22 record.

 

Tatum leads Celtics final-quarter charge

The Boston Celtics continued their strong form as Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter in a 120-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant maintained his own hot streak, with 38 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

Luka Doncic produced a dominant display with 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors for the second time in five days, 122-113. Stephen Curry managed 21 points with nine assists for the Warriors who have lost seven of their past 10 games.

The Chicago Bulls suffered their third straight defeat with Trae Young scored 39 points with 13 assists as the Atlanta Hawks won 130-124.

 

Struggling Lakers beaten by Clippers

The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to their fourth consecutive loss going down to the Los Angeles Clippers 132-111 after being blown apart in a 40-18 third quarter. LeBron James shot eight-of-18 from the field for his 26 points with four turnovers, while Reggie Jackson scored 36 points for the Clippers.

Kevin Durant ominously said he will "only get better" after he scored 31 points on his return from a 21-game injury lay-off but that was not enough as the Brooklyn Nets lost 113-107 to the Miami Heat.

Brooklyn went 5-16 in Durant's absence, sliding from second in the Eastern Conference to eighth, after he sustained an MCL sprain on January 16.

The Nets led by as many as 16 points in the first half but the Heat fought back to win, with Durant playing 35 minutes on his return, scoring 31 points with four rebounds and four assists.

"I felt great. I'm only going to get better and get more comfortable out there," Durant said during his post-game news conference.

"Take more of the load out there too when I get more games under my belt. I felt solid."

The Nets were missing Kyrie Irving who is unable to play in home games at the Barclays Center due to the New York City vaccination rules, while recruit Ben Simmons is still yet to debut as he builds up his conditioning having not played all season.

Durant played alongside new signings Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and Goran Dragic in the starting line-up for the first time and admitted their cohesion may take time.

"It can take one game, it can take 20 games," he said. "It's a matter of getting out there and seeing what works for us.

"It's not like a certain formula that goes into how you know to build chemistry. It's an organic thing that happens naturally."

The Nets do not have time on their side, with the defeat leaving them at .500 with a 32-32 record having lost three in a row.

"It's to focus on the details every day," Durant said when asked what his short-term focus was. "Obviously winning basketball games, I don’t even need to say that, that's always the goals.

He added: "You've got to give Miami credit. There's no moral victories, but we look at the film, we know how we play, we know what we need to do to win."

Kevin Durant will make his return from injury when the Brooklyn Nets face the Miami Heat on Thursday.

The 12-time NBA All-Star has been out since suffering an MCL sprain of his left knee on January 15.

Steve Nash's side have struggled in Durant's absence and are eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 32-31 record this season.

Superstar Durant will give Brooklyn a huge lift when he is back on court against Eastern Conference leaders the Heat at Barclays Center. He is averaging 29.3 points per game, the most since his MVP campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2013-14 (32).

The Nets on Wednesday confirmed Durant has been taken off the NBA's injury report following over six weeks on the sidelines.

Luka Doncic stepped up to help the Dallas Mavericks recover and overcome the Los Angeles Lakers 109-104 in Tuesday's topsy-turvy encounter.

The Mavericks blew a 21-point lead in the space of 12 minutes spanning half-time at Crypto.com Arena and trailed 100-94 with seven minutes to play.

But 11 consecutive points ensured Jason Kidd's side claimed an eighth win in 10 outings, while the out-of-form Lakers slid to a season-worst seven games below .500.

While not at his best, Doncic led the scoring for the Mavericks with 25 points – seven of those in the final quarter – as he went 9 of 21.

LeBron James scored 26 points for the Lakers and Carmelo Anthony had 20, but it was not enough to prevent the hosts from tasting a sixth loss in seven outings.

 


Timberwolves inflict another defeat on Warriors

The Golden State Warriors (43-19) have the second-best record in NBA, but they lost for a sixth time in eight games with a 129-114 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 39 points and nine rebounds, while going 14 for 22 from the floor, as the Timberwolves made it back-to-back victories.

"We're going to be fine long-term. I'm excited about our team and excited about where we can go, but we've just got to weather this storm," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.


Clippers' run goes on, Nets downed by Raptors

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Houston Rockets 113-100 thanks to Ivica Zubac's 22 points and 12 rebounds for their fourth win in a row as they went 33-31 for the season.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the struggling Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors for a second time in two days, going down 109-108 in a tight contest at Scotiabank Arena.

Jayson Tatum's 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists inspired the Boston Celtics to a 107-98 win against the Atlanta Hawks, while the Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 116-113.

All-Star Ja Morant scored a career-high 52 points including a massive dunk and a buzzer-beater as the Memphis Grizzlies won 118-105 over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Morant's 52-point haul was the second highest of the NBA season, behind only Trae Young who scored 56 points for the Atlanta Hawks against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 3.

The 22-year-old guard went 22-of-30 from the field including four-of-four from beyond the arc. Morant also hit a ridiculous half-time buzzer-bester after Steve Adams' full-court pass, catching and shooting in one motion.

Earlier in the second quarter, Morant produced a monster one-handed dunk over Spurs center Jakob Poeltl.

Morant's half-century follows up his career-best 46 points against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. It was also the first 50-point game in Grizzlies franchise history.

 

Bucks bounce back with Giannis starring

Reigning champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, had dropped four of their past five games but Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way as they bounced back with a 130-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Antetokounmpo scored 26 points with 16 rebounds, four blocks, two steals and six assists, with Bobby Portis adding 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Miami Heat took some ground in the race for top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 112-99 victory over the Chicago Bulls, with Tyler Herro contributing 20 points, six rebounds and five assists off the bench. DeMar DeRozan's 10-game run of 30-point games was halted, managing only 18 for the Bulls.

D'Angelo Russell's good run of scoring continued with 25 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves boosted their playoffs hopes by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-22, with Karl-Anthony Towns () draining a key late three-pointer.

 

Short-handed Nets blown away

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their 14th loss from their past 17 games, going down miserably 133-97 to the Toronto Raptors at home. Scottie Barnes dominated with 28 points, 16 rebounds and five steals for Toronto while the Nets, missing Kyrie Irving who is ineligible to play home games and head coach Steve Nash in protocols, had few winners

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