The Miami Heat moved a step closer to claiming the Eastern Conference's first seed with a 114-109 win on the road against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Kyle Lowry put up 16 points and 10 assists in an emotional return to the Air Canada Centre against his old team, while Victor Oladipo scored a season-high 21 points.

Lowry had not played in Toronto since February 2020, when he was still a member of the Raptors, weeks before that season was shut down and moved to a bubble due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Heat had a healthy spread of scorers as Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo scored 18 and 16 points respectively, on the way to winning their fourth consecutive game.

Miami remain two games clear of the Boston Celtics atop the standings in the East, while both teams have only three games remaining in the regular season.

Toronto now hold an equal record with the fifth-placed Chicago Bulls, but the Bulls hold the tiebreaker. However, they remain 2.5 games clear of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-in spots.

Bucks no match for Luka magic 

Luka Doncic was unstoppable as his Dallas Mavericks defeated the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks 118-112.

Doncic had 32 points on nine-of-22 shooting, as well as 15 assists, eight rebounds and three steals in a game that saw both coaches cut their rotation down to nine players and extend the minutes of their stars.

Giannis Antetokounmpo top-scored for the Bucks with 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting, but was a costly 50 per cent from the free throw line, going four-of-eight.

Clippers clinch play-in double chance 

The Los Angeles Clippers secured eighth spot in the Western Conference on Sunday, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 119-100.

Marcus Morris made four three-pointers on the way to 22 points, while the Clippers went 21-of-44 from total beyond the arc and connected on all eight attempts in the first quarter.

The Clips guaranteed the double chance in the play-in with the win, meaning if they lose to the seventh seed, they would face the winner between the ninth and 10th seed for an eventual play-off spot.

Luka Doncic was hoping to "put on a show" and did not disappoint as he helped the Dallas Mavericks seal a playoff spot with a 120-112 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Doncic put 35 points on the board as well as recording 13 assists and nine rebounds, narrowly missing out on a spectacular triple-double.

Dorian Finney-Smith also benefited greatly from the Slovenian star's performance, claiming 28 points of his own.

There were a number of Slovenian fans in attendance at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, which Doncic claimed inspired his efforts in Cleveland on Wednesday.

"When all the people come to see you, you want to put on a show," he said after the win.

The Mavericks trailed 67-61 at half-time but scored 17 more points than the Cavaliers in the third quarter to put themselves in a strong position.

Caris LeVert (32 points) and Darius Garland (25 points) impressed for the hosts, but Doncic's domination secured the crucial win for Dallas, who move to 48-29 while Cleveland drop to 42-34.

Doncic has an average of 28.1 points per game this season, with only LeBron James (30.1), Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid (both 29.9) averaging a higher figure than that in the league, and he has scored more than 30 in each of his last three outings.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd noted the presence of the Slovenian fans, and praised the 23-year-old Doncic for his impact.

"We talked about there being a large Slovenian contingent in Cleveland on the plane," Kidd said. "He wanted to put on a good show and came to work. He comes to work every night.

"He knew when to pass the ball and when to attack. Luka will have two [guys] on the ball and he trusts his team-mates to make plays."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel slammed his side's performance in Tuesday's 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks as they slipped out of the play-in spots.

The Lakers, who were without LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (foot), slumped to 11th spot in the Western Conference with a 31-44 record.

In the race for the final play-in spot in the west, the Lakers are behind the San Antonio Spurs, who have the same record but are ahead on the tie-breaker.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 37 points in the Mavs defeat where Luka Doncic (34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists) recorded a triple-double.

Vogel labelled the performance as "not good enough in any way" and refused to be drawn into discussing their slide outside the play-in positions.

"The standings are the results," Vogel told reporters. "We have to keep our focus on the process and the work and the things that are going to lead to our next win. That's the only place that our focus will be."

He added: "We always learn from every game. It won't be any different despite the huge deficit in this game."

James has been outstanding on an individual level this season, leading the NBA for points per game at 30.1 ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.9) and Joel Embiid (29.9).

The four-time MVP's absence was felt against the Mavericks, with the Lakers slipping to 4-13 since the All-Star Break.

"With those guys [James and Davis] out, we're at a talent deficit, so the focus and execution has to make up for it," Vogel said.

"This is just the latest dose of adversity that this year's team has faced. We've been playing some really good basketball of late.

"When you lose Bron, okay, you have to adjust yet again throughout a season of setbacks. We have to find footing. We didn’t find it in the second half the other night and we certainly didn't find it."

Giannis Antetokounmpo came up with a game-winning block on Joel Embiid after scoring 40 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' crucial 118-116 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo rose to block Embiid's attempt to level the scores with less than two seconds left on the clock, with head coach Mike Budenholzer labelling it "special".

The Greek superstar finished with 40 points on 66 per cent shooting with 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

The Bucks win is significant in the race for Eastern Conference seeds, moving Milwaukee (47-28) into second behind the Miami Heat (48-28), while the 76ers (46-29) slip to fourth.

Khris Middleton added 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Jrue Holiday contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

Embiid finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, while James Harden had 32 points making four-of-10 from beyond the arc, with five rebounds and nine assists.

 

George returns in Clippers comeback win

Paul George marked his first game since December 22 with 34 points including six three-pointers as the Los Angeles Clippers fought back from 25 points down to win 121-115 over the Utah Jazz who have lost five in a row. The Clippers finished the game on a 34-12 run.

Kevin Durant scored 41 points with 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks while Kyrie Irving managed 24 points in his second home appearance as the Brooklyn Nets won 130-123 over the Detroit Pistons.

The Chicago Bulls found some form after winning only four of their past 15 games with an important 107-94 win over the Washington Wizards led by DeMar DeRozan with 32 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

 

Lakers slide continues

The Los Angeles Lakers' struggles continued with a heavy 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks as Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. The Mavs led by as much as 37 points. The Lakers, who were without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are 31-44 and slip to 11th out of the west's play-in spots.

James Harden scored 29 points with a season-high 15 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers improved to 46-27 with a 122-97 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

Harden had four three-pointers in his 29 points, while he also dished off seven assists, with Joel Embiid adding 27 points with 10 rebounds as the 76ers flexed their muscle.

The 76ers set the tone with a 35-19 first quarter with Tobias Harris (12 points, two rebounds and two assists) hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

Harden's 15 rebounds are the most the 2018 MVP has had in a game since December 2020 with the Houston Rockets.

The win helps the 76ers close on the Miami Heat (47-27) and Milwaukee Bucks (46-27) at the top of the Eastern Conference in the jostle for top seed ahead of the playoffs.

 

Curry-less Warriors beaten again

The Golden State Warriors lost for the fourth time in their past five games since Stephen Curry's foot injury, going down 121-110 to the Atlanta Hawks despite Klay Thompson's 37 points including nine triples. Hawks guard Trae Young starred with 33 points and 15 assists.

The Minnesota Timberwolves clinched their 11th win from their past 14 games as they got the Dallas Mavericks 116-95 led by Karl-Anthony Towns' 20 points and nine rebounds. Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavs.

The Charlotte Hornets responded after their shock defeat to the New York Knicks with an impressive 107-101 win over the Utah Jazz, with Miles Bridges scoring 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Terry Rozier added 25 points.

 

Knicks' remarkable run downs Heat

The Miami Heat looked set to gain some breathing space on top of the Eastern Conference before the New York Knicks closed on a remarkable 38-13 run to claim a stunning 111-103 victory. Immanuel Quickley scored 20 of his 23 points in the last quarter.

Once again, the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to get the job done on a night where LeBron James made history.

With James expected to pass Karl Malone for second place on the all-time regular season scoring list, the Lakers suffered a fourth-quarter collapse to lose 127-119 against the Washington Wizards.

James trailed the Utah Jazz Hall of Famer by 20 points coming into the night, passing him with 5:20 left in the second quarter on his way to 38 points (16-of-29 from the field, four-of-10 from three) with 10 rebounds and six assists.

The 37-year-old now is behind only former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time NBA scoring list with 38,387 points. James now has 36,947 career points.

The Lakers led 97-83 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, before getting out-scored 44-22 the rest of the way.

Joel Embiid and James Harden scored a combined 56 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-101 on Friday.

Going 11-for-20 from the floor, Embiid scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half, including a fadeaway three on the buzzer to give the Sixers a 58-53 lead at the interval.

Luka Doncic put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists but was held to 25 per cent from the floor and 20 per cent from the perimeter, in a poor shooting night.

At 43-26, the Sixers are now three games behind the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference leaders, while the Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference at 43-27.

Westbrook lifts Lakers to overtime win in Toronto

Russell Westbrook's three-pointer at the end of regulation propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a 128-123 road win over the Toronto Raptors in overtime.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, the much-maligned Westbrook forced a turnover off a Raptors inbound before draining a contested triple from the wing, to tie the game at 116-116.

Both sides remain firmly placed in play-in calculations, though, with the Lakers ninth in the Western Conference at 30-40, while the Raptors are seventh in the East on 39-31.

Short-handed Hawks snap Memphis win streak

Without their two scoring leaders, the Atlanta Hawks secured an important win at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, emerging 120-105 victors.

In John Collins and Trae Young's absence, Bogdan Bogdanovic came up big with a season-high 30 points, while Delon Wright and Clint Capela also added 18 each.

Despite 29 points from Ja Morant on 11-for-23 shooting, the Grizzlies had a four-game win streak snapped, but still hold the NBA's second best record at 48-23.

Joel Embiid and James Harden scored a combined 56 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-101 on Friday.

Going 11-for-20 from the floor, Embiid scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half, including a fadeaway three on the buzzer to give the Sixers a 58-53 lead at the interval.

Luka Doncic put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists but was held to 25 per cent from the floor and 20 per cent from the perimeter, in a poor shooting night.

At 43-26, the Sixers are now three games behind the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference leaders, while the Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference at 43-27.

Westbrook lifts Lakers to overtime win in Toronto

Russell Westbrook's three-pointer at the end of regulation propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a 128-123 road win over the Toronto Raptors in overtime.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, the much-maligned Westbrook forced a turnover off a Raptors inbound before draining a contested triple from the wing, to tie the game at 116-116.

Both sides remain firmly placed in play-in calculations, though, with the Lakers ninth in the Western Conference at 30-40, while the Raptors are seventh in the East on 39-31.

Short-handed Hawks snap Memphis win streak

Without their two scoring leaders, the Atlanta Hawks secured an important win at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, emerging 120-105 victors.

In John Collins and Trae Young's absence, Bogdan Bogdanovic came up big with a season-high 30 points, while Delon Wright and Clint Capela also added 18 each.

Despite 29 points from Ja Morant on 11-for-23 shooting, the Grizzlies had a four-game win streak snapped, but still hold the NBA's second best record at 48-23.

Spencer Dinwiddie delivered the buzzer-beating dagger in the Dallas Mavericks' 113-111 win on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

In a game with First Team All-NBA stars Luka Doncic and Kevin Durant going head-to-head, Dinwiddie hit the most important shot of the night as defenders rushed to trap Doncic with just seconds remaining as the Mavericks trailed 110-111.

The game only required Dinwiddie's heroics after a string of late-game shot-making saw the lead seesaw.

After a Dirk Nowitzki-esque mid-range fadeaway from Doncic to grab a 110-108 lead, Durant took matters into his own hands.

Facing a defence that was game-planned to get the ball out of Durant's hands by sending two defenders to him whenever he had the ball, the seven-foot star was unselfish throughout the game as he moved the ball to the open outlet pass and racked up 10 assists to go with his 23 points (8/20 shooting).

But with everything on the line, Durant was determined to live and die by his own shot-making, pulling up and draining a ridiculous long-three with two defenders closing in on him to nab a one-point lead, before Dindwiddie answered.

LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, rebounds and assists respectively, in the Los Angeles Lakers' 140-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

James notched up his 10,000th assist during the second quarter, with a cross-court pass to Carmelo Anthony for an open three.

The Suns were dominant at home to the Lakers, though, putting up 48 points in the first quarter alone on their way to a commanding win.

Having already secured a playoff berth, despite losing at home to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, Phoenix faced conveniently light work heading into a road back-to-back this week.

Devin Booker continued to shoulder the burden without Chris Paul, putting up 30 points and 10 assists.

With the loss, meanwhile, the Lakers move to 29-38 and teeter dangerously close to touching distance for the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers, in the race for the final two Western Conference play-in spots.

Durant leads Nets with Irving in the building

Kevin Durant put up an individual season-high 53 points, including a game-breaking three to give the Brooklyn Nets a 110-107 win over the New York Knicks.

The shorthanded Nets were at least able to have Kyrie Irving in the building for the win, with New York mandates now enabling those unvaccinated for Covid-19 to spectate. However, the mandate still requires the vaccination for people who work there, meaning Irving is still unable to suit up.

At the end of the game, Irving walked off the Barclays Center floor arm-in-arm with Durant, who finished with nine assists and six rebounds to go with the 53 points - one point off his career-high.

Joel Embiid had his 30th 30-point game of the season as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Orlando Magic 116-114 in over-time. Embiid finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Tobias Harris came up with a crucial late three-pointer to finish with 26 points.

Ja Morant had a quiet game by his standards with 17 points, five rebounds and 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies improved to 47-22 with a 125-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

Doncic dagger propels Mavs to road win

The Dallas Mavericks claimed an impressive win on the road, edging the Boston Celtics 95-92 at the TD Garden. Despite leaving the floor with a hamstring scare in the first half, Luka Doncic’s fingerprints were all over the game’s dying moments - he hit the game-tying three-pointer with 1:21, before being called for fouling Marcus Smart on the potential tying three.

It was overturned on review however, and along with the win, Doncic put up 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. On a night where Kevin Garnett's No. 5 jersey was to be retired by the Celtics post-match, the Mavs moved to 42-26 for the year, half a game behind the Western Conference’s fourth-placed Utah Jazz.

Luka Doncic maintained his record-breaking pace as he broke into the top 10 scorers in Dallas Mavericks history on Monday.

Doncic, still just 23 and in only his fourth season in the NBA, scored 35 against the Utah Jazz to move to 6,485 points in a Mavs uniform, nudging ahead of Jay Vincent (6,464) into 10th place.

The Slovenian has reached that mark in just 248 games, with only eight NBA players scoring more at this stage of their careers since 1963-64 – essentially a who's who of the sport's greatest names, including Michael Jordan (8,023), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (7,896), Shaquille O'Neal (6,766) and LeBron James (6,593).

Only among Mavs players, nobody can match Doncic, with Mark Aguirre (6,169) the sole other to pass 6,000 points within 250 games. Unsurprisingly, Doncic's 26.1 career points per game lead all-time Mavs players.

"There's some great scorers on that list," coach Jason Kidd – who is 15th (5,258) – said after the win against the Jazz.

"To do it in less than four years... that's pretty impressive. Kudos to him. He's special, and he showed it tonight."

Doncic is scoring 28.0 points per game this season – good for fifth in the NBA, as Joel Embiid's 29.7 points lead the way.

After a slow start, the Mavs superstar has accelerated up the standings in his past 15 games, averaging 34.1 points as well as 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists.

Since the 1976-77 merger, the only other players to average 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists over a 15-game span have been Jordan and Russell Westbrook.

Doncic told reporters he was not aware of breaking into the Mavs' top 10 but said of the scoring pace that put him there: "Is it good? Could be better, right? Could be better."

The Philadelphia 76ers maintained their perfect record with James Harden in the side with a 121-106 win over the slumping Chicago Bulls on Monday.

Joel Embiid scored 43 points with 14 rebounds while Harden had 16 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists as the 76ers made it six wins from their past seven games.

The 76ers are also 5-0 with Harden in the side, while the Bulls have lost their past five games.

Embiid recorded his 10th 40-plus point game this season, along with his 10th game this season with 40 or more points and 10 or more rebounds. The 76ers center also had his fourth quarter for the season with at least 15 points and five rebounds, which is an NBA high.

For the Bulls, All-Star DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Zach LaVine added 24 points.

 

Jokic records 18th triple-double

Nikola Jokic backed up Sunday's 46-point haul with another triple-double as the Denver Nuggets defeated the short-handed Golden State Warriors 131-124. Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season by three-quarter time and finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. The Warriors, who rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the catch-up game, have lost nine of their past 11 games.

Luka Doncic scored 35 points, with 16 rebounds and seven assists in a tense game, where the All-Star received a technical foul, as the Dallas Mavericks won 111-103 over the Utah Jazz. Doncic's game marked his third this season where he has scored 35 or more points and 15 or more rebounds, with Oscar Robertson the only other guard to achieve the feat in a single season.

Victor Oladipo returned for the first time since April last year for the Miami Heat scoring 11 points in 15 minutes as they beat the Houston Rockets 123-106, while top draft pick Cade Cunningham (28 points and 10 assists) lifted the Detroit Pistons to an over-time win over the Atlanta Hawks 113-110.

 

Spurs equals record as Lakers slump

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tied Don Nelson's all-time NBA record for most coaching wins (1,335) as they won 117-110 over the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James. Russell Westbrook struggled in James' absence, with 17 points shooting five-of-14 from the field with five turnovers.

Stephen Curry acknowledges things are "rough right now" for the Golden State Warriors, with time running out to fix their form before the playoffs as rival superstars continue to capitalise.

LeBron James put up 56 points as the Los Angeles Lakers handed the Warriors their fourth straight loss and eighth in 10 games.

The Warriors had won nine in a row prior to that run but have now slipped to 43-21 and third place in the West.

Saturday's 124-116 defeat followed a familiar, frustrating theme, according to Curry, whose 30 points paled next to James' efforts.

His 56 were the most by any opposition player against the Warriors this season, meaning three of the top four such performances have come in their past three games.

Luka Doncic had 41 for the Dallas Mavericks against the Warriors, while Karl-Anthony Towns scored 39 for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"Obviously LeBron played amazing, he hit some tough shots and we've got to acknowledge that, for sure, but we still had some self-inflicted wounds," Curry said.

"That's tough when you're trying to get out of a hole. We're bringing the right energy, it's just IQ, effort plays, simple breakdowns and obviously boxing out.

"It's rough right now. Keeping it plain and simple: it's rough.

"We've got to figure out how to claw our way out, because as you've seen the last four games, it's self-inflicted wounds but also guys are playing with confidence on the other end and coming at us, having not career nights but performances that are unlike the previous five games or whatever.

"You're coming in and you're giving teams confidence as well. We've got to figure that out."

Two-time MVP Curry accepted: "Right now, if the playoffs started tomorrow, we'd be in some trouble."

He added: "We know we've shown who we are, in terms of how we started the season. I feel like we can get back to that – that's the confidence that has to remain – but we cannot give in to this losing spirit of just finding different ways to lose basketball games.

"The clock will tick out on you and you'll go into the summer thinking what could have been, should have been, have regrets. I don't want to let us get into that vibe.

"What are there, 18 games left? We have to figure out how to turn things around pretty quick."

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.

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