LeBron James is adamant the Los Angeles Lakers are still capable of ending their season on a high, despite falling to a sixth defeat in seven games on Tuesday.

The Lakers lost 109-104 to the Dallas Mavericks at Crypto.com Arena to slide to a season-worst seven games below .500, leaving them ninth in the Western Conference.

James led the scoring with 26 points, one more than Mavs star Luka Doncic, but it was not enough for the 27-34 hosts as their poor run continued.

But despite the Lakers' ongoing struggles, James is not ready to write off the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign with 21 games of the regular season still to go.

"We still have games to play," he told reporters. "Until you stomp me out, cut my head off, bury me 12 feet under, then I got a chance. So that's my confidence.

"Obviously, at the end of the day, we got to come in here and win ball games and we got to play better but as long as we've got more games to play, we should have a chance.

"I feel like poop right now. But tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to be prepared and ready for the Clippers on Thursday. That's just my mindset. That's just who I am."

James has missed 17 games this season through injury, but the 37-year-old shot down suggestions he will use the final stages of this season as an opportunity to rest up.

"The only way it'll be back to full strength is with rest," he said. "But I don't have the luxury of having rest. It can wait until the off-season."

 

The Lakers made up a 21-point deficit to lead 100-94 with seven minutes to play, but 11 consecutive points ensured the Mavericks claimed an eighth win in 10 outings.

Luka Doncic stepped up by scoring seven of his 25 points in the final quarter and is now averaging 27.5 per game for the season – a tally bettered by only six others.

"We stayed together and just executed the game plan, played the game," Doncic said. "My mentality is to close the game with the best shot possible."

Los Angeles managed only four points in the final seven-plus minutes and head coach Frank Vogel accepted there is a lot to improve on.

"Our guys really competed," he said. "Our helpers really competed, but he had that stretch in crunch time where he scored a few buckets in a row. 

"It wasn't good enough. It hurts. All these guys are hurting in there. We're putting in the work."

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.

James Harden recorded his first triple-double for the Philadelphia 76ers who flexed their muscle with a dominant 125-109 win over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Harden had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists, while Joel Embiid top scored with 37 points along with nine rebounds and four blocks.

Embiid made a season-high 23 free-throws, heading to the line 27 times across the game as the 76ers relentlessly attacked the rim.

The 76ers made 39 free-throws for the game, which was the most of any team this season.

Philadelphia had contributions from beyond their star pair, though, with Tyrese Maxey scoring 21 points with seven rebounds

 

Doncic leads Mavs comeback win

Luka Doncic helped the Dallas Mavericks overcome a 21-point third-quarter deficit to win 107-101 over the Golden State Warriors. The Slovenian had 34 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavs, while Stephen Curry finished with 27 points and 10 assists.

The Utah Jazz claimed their eighth win from their past nine games and condemned the Chris Paul-less Phoenix Suns to their second straight defeat in a 118-114 defeat, with Rudy Gobert scoring 16 points with 14 rebounds.

Kelly Olynyk scored a match-winning buzzer beater in overtime as the Detroit Pistons beat the Charlotte Hornets 127-126, while the in-form Boston Celtics were shocked 128-107 by the Indiana Pacers.

 

Lakers demolished on home court

The Los Angeles Lakers were humiliated 123-95 by the New Orleans Pelicans at home, giving up 23 turnovers for the game, which was the team's most this season. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook combined for 14 turnovers which was their worst return as teammates. The only positive was James scored 32 points, marking his 500th career game with 30 points or more.

Luka Doncic took criticism of his weight at the start of this NBA season to heart and has since been "unstoppable", according to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

For the second season running, Doncic was the preseason MVP favourite; for the second season running, the Mavs superstar was accused of turning up for work out of shape.

Doncic himself acknowledged he "maybe" relaxed "too much" after leading Slovenia in a sensational deep run at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 22-year-old vowed to "trim down" and "do better" and has done exactly that – reportedly now at a similar weight to his rookie year.

The Mavs were 17-18 up until the end of December, with Doncic featuring in only 21 games and averaging 25.6 points, 8.5 assists, 8.0 rebounds and a plus/minus of -4.0.

In 2022, the team are 18-6, carried by their main man's 29.3 points, 9.4 assists and 10.3 rebounds per game, along with a plus/minus of 9.1. He has not missed a game since January 7.

This calendar year, Doncic ranks third for total points (674), second for total assists (217) and sixth for total rebounds (236) – a response, Cuban suggests, to early-season criticism.

"I think he was humbled a little bit," Cuban told The Ticket. "I think he didn't like being called out for his weight and other things, and it finally clicked that there's a level of discipline that's required.

"All athletes at his level go through it at some level, where things are just easy and you're always used to being the best and you're always used to getting all the accolades.

"Then when something doesn't go according to expected, it makes you reconsider.

"He knows what he needs to do, and it finally clicked that if he's going to be the best – and I know he wants to be the best – there's certain things he has to control.

"Once he got a handle on those things, it's just been 'Katie, bar the door'. He's just been unstoppable."

Jason Kidd has run out of ways to describe Luka Doncic who, according to the Dallas Mavericks coach, "just gets better".

Doncic was at the top of his game on Thursday, as he scored 49 points in a 125-118 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 22-year-old became the first player in NBA history to score 40+ points, have 15 or more rebounds, provide at least five assists, make five or more threes and have a plus-minus of +20 or better, all in a single game.

Doncic averages 27.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game from 44 appearances this season, leading the Mavs in each of those categories.

"Luka set the tone early and often," Kidd told reporters. "We can sit here and talk about him all day. The things that he does on the court for himself and his team-mates are incredible.

"We've used every noun and adjective to describe his game. He just gets better."

Doncic's points tally was just two shy of the career-high 51 he set against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 10. 

The Slovenian has now had 45 points or higher in three of his last four games, but Doncic was actually underwhelmed by parts of his display.

"I didn't really notice, but my career-high in points [before] was about 44 or 45 points. I definitely felt good for two quarters, but the last quarter was just very bad," he said.

"There were too many bad shots, but we still got a win, so I'm happy."

Team-mate Maxi Kleber, however, did not share Doncic's frustration.

"What he's doing right now is unbelievable," Kleber said. "He's just gifted as a team-mate. It's fun to watch."

All-Star pair Devin Booker and Chris Paul led the way as the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-96 to make it six wins in a row.

Booker scored 26 points and Paul added 17 and 14 assists for the NBA-leading Suns, who have now won 17 of their past 18 games and are 47-10 for the season.

The Clippers had defeated the Golden State Warriors in their previous game and led the Suns 90-88 with six minutes to play at Footprint Center.

But Booker and Paul took control to give the hosts a slender lead and restricted their opponents to just one point in the final 2:53 to put another victory on the board.

Reflecting on a hard-fought win, Suns head coach Monty Williams said: "Our past experiences are helping us now, even the hurt that we felt last year is helping us now."

 


Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

The Milwaukee Bucks snapped a two-game losing run with a 128-119 victory over the Indiana Pacers thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's latest impressive showing.

Two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo scored 50 points on 17-of-21 shooting, with those 21 attempts the fourth-fewest in a 50-point game in NBA history.

It is the first time the 27-year-old, returning from an ankle injury that kept him out of the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, has hit 50 in the regular season since November 2019.

The Bucks improve to 36-23 for the season, with a winning percentage of .610, while the Pacers have now lost seven successive games.

Celtics continue strong form

The Boston Celtics eased to a 135-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers for their ninth win in a row, with Jaylen Brown scoring 26 of his 29 points in the first half.

They are now 11-1 across their last 12 games and have outscored opponents by 253 points – only the 1970-71 Bucks (+260) have a larger point differential over a 12-game span in NBA history.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Luka Doncic scored 21 points in the Dallas Mavericks' 107-99 win against the Miami Heat, while the Atlanta Hawks held off the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-116.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies recorded 126-120 and 121-109 victories over the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans respectively.

The Philadelphia 76ers made a statement as Joel Embiid piled on a 40-point triple-double as they won 103-93 over the Cleveland Cavaliers without new acquisition James Harden on Saturday.

Embiid scored 40 points with 14 rebounds and 10 assists for the Sixers, who improve to 34-22. It was only Embiid's fourth career triple-double.

The Cameroonian center's points haul included a highlight-reel dunk, a one-handed throw-down over Jarrett Allen late in the first half.

Embiid also made four of five three-pointers, going at 50 per cent from the field, while he added three steals in an outstanding game as they wait on Harden to be cleared medically to debut.

 

Klay hits season-high

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 33 points, marking a major milestone in his recovery from long-term injury, as the Golden State Warriors won 117-115 over the Los Angeles Lakers. Thompson shot five-of-nine from beyond the arc, with Stephen Curry (24 points, five rebounds, eight assists) taking a backseat. LeBron James had 26 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers.

The Chicago Bulls, sitting second in the Eastern Conference, overcame a sluggish start as DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points with six rebounds and five assists, while Nikola Vucevic added 31 points and 15 rebounds in a 106-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luka Doncic scored 45 points with 15 rebounds and eight rebounds in a losing cause as the Dallas Mavericks went down 99-97 to the Los Angeles Clippers, while the table-topping Phoenix Suns won their fourth straight with a 132-105 win over the Orlando Magic led by Devin Booker's 26 points and Chris Paul's 15 assists.

 

Nets slump to 11th straight loss

Kyrie Irving led a late Brooklyn Nets charge that fell short as they went down 115-111 to the Miami Heat. Irving scored 29 points, including 20 in the final quarter, with five rebounds and five assists as the Nets slumped to their 11th straight defeat. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat who have won five in a row.

Luka Doncic felt he and Kristaps Porzingis were "building something great" but accepted "it didn't obviously work out" after his Dallas Mavericks team-mate was traded to the Washington Wizards.

Much was expected of Porzingis, who was acquired in a huge trade with the New York Knicks back in 2019, but the Mavericks opted to move on from the giant former All-Star midway through a $158million contract.

During his time in Dallas, Porzingis averaged 20 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per games, but injuries restricted him from ever reaching the sort of performance levels he showed in New York.

He arrived while recovering from an ACL injury to his left knee and sustained meniscus damage in his right knee during the playoffs in his first season.

In total, Porzingis played only 134 games, featuring in 34 of 55 this season – a campaign in which he has battled injuries and illness.

Doncic described the trade, which saw the Mavs acquire guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Davis Bertans, as "shocking" but accepted the reasons behind it.

"Obviously, we're going to miss KP," Doncic said. "We were building something great here. It didn't obviously work out. 

"I wish him the best, and we've got two new guys who are welcome. Bertans is a great shooter. Dinwiddie can put the ball on the floor, and he can score. The NBA is a business.

"He went through a lot with the injuries. I think this year, he was way better. Like I said, the NBA is a business, and I wish him the best in the future."

Doncic added that he has trust in general manager Nico Harrison and governor Mark Cuban to put together a roster capable of challenging for NBA titles.

"I trust them, whatever move they make," he said. 

"I think I have great team-mates. A lot of people can do a lot of stuff, and I'm really good now. I think we're playing great basketball."

Doncic was speaking after a mightily impressive performance in the Mavs 112-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, in which he scored 50 points for the first time in his career.

In total he had 51, shooting 28 in the first quarter, the most by any NBA player in a quarter this season. He went 10-of-13 shooting, making seven of his 10 three-point attempts.

"When you feel like that, you just don't want to be stopped and keep going," Doncic said. 

"All the shots felt good. I missed two threes – even those felt great. They were switching. They didn't want me to create, so I had to go to work."

It was the fifth time in Mavs history a player had a 50-point performance, and Doncic could have tried to tie or break Dirk Nowitzki's franchise record of 53 but opted to dribble out the final play instead of going for the basket.

"You don't shoot that shot," Doncic explained. "It's disrespectful."

With Porzingis having now departed there is even more onus on Doncic to perform for a Mavs side who are fifth in the Western Conference with a 33-23 record.

Head coach Jason Kidd was asked whether his team could contend without a second recognised star on their roster.

"We'll see. I'm the coach who has to put them in a position to be successful, get paid, find a way to win," Kidd said.

"As we go through this journey, we'll see if we come across a number two guy. It could be the team that we have where there is no real second star. You've just got guys who play roles at a very high level. And you've seen teams win championships that way, too."

The Phoenix Suns outclassed defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday to win 131-107 and stretch their NBA-best record to 45-10.

In a rematch of last season's Finals, won by the Bucks, Phoenix pulled clear in the second half after a competitive opening two quarters in Arizona.

Deandre Ayton top-scored for the Suns with 27 points, finishing on 12-of-14 shooting from the field, while Chris Paul enjoyed a special game: his 17 points and 19 assists brought about his 500th career double-double, a tally only previously reached by three guards in the league's history.

"I'm grateful that I still get a chance to play," he said. "Not just play, but I feel like I play at a high level every night. It's cool."

It was a 15th win from 16 games for the Suns and reinforced their championship credentials against the team who came from 2-0 down to win last year's Finals series 4-2.

"They're the defending champs. We still hurt," said coach Monty Williams. "But from a confidence standpoint, for sure, it was a big game for us. I can admit it now."

The Golden State Warriors, second to the Suns in the West, fell to a second straight defeat for only the third time this season despite a double-double from Stephen Curry.

Julius Randle's 28 points and 16 rebounds, the latter an equal-high for the season, saw the New York Knicks win for the first time in four games in their West Coast trip, Klay Thompson's missed buzzer-beater meaning it finished 116-114.

The Miami Heat remain top of the Eastern Conference, their dominant second-half display seeing them to a 112-97 defeat of the New Orleans Pelicans. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 29 points for Miami, while Kyle Lowry got his first triple-double of the season.

Doncic hits 50 for first time

The latest star turn in the incredible early career of Luka Doncic helped the Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-105 in Texas.

The 22-year-old scored a career-best 51 points, 28 of which came in an astonishing first quarter in which he hit seven of his attempted nine three-pointers.

Marcus Morris Sr. top-scored for the Clippers with 21, while Reggie Jackson posted 18, but there was simply no way back from the damage dealt by Doncic.

"Tonight was just Luka," said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. "That little step-back three, I'll live with that. That's his shot, but if he misses a couple or few of those, then the game is different. But he made them, and that's why he's a great player."

Kuzma triple-double settles clash of busy traders

In a battle of teams at the heart of the trade deadline drama, the Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-112.

A first career triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for Kyle Kuzma proved pivotal for the Wizards, who added Kristaps Porzingis on a busy Thursday in the week they lost Bradley Beal for the rest of the season to a wrist injury.

The Nets, who sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster trade involving Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, slipped to a 10th loss on the spin despite Kyrie Irving's 31 points.

Elsewhere, Kevin Porter Jr. put up 30 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 139-120, while the Memphis Grizzlies took their winning streak to four, Ja Morant scoring 23 points in a 132-107 rout of the struggling Detroit Pistons.

 

Darius Garland and Fred VanVleet have both been selected to the NBA All-Star Game for the first time as Eastern Conference reserves.

After the 2022 captains and starters were announced a week earlier, the rest of the pool of players was filled out on Thursday.

Garland, having led the Cleveland Cavaliers into fifth place in the East, was a popular pick.

Charles Barkley said on TNT: "I like it when they earn it. They don't just get the fan vote, like a lifetime achievement award. This kid deserves to be at the All-Star Game."

Third-year point guard Garland becomes the first Cav to be recognised since LeBron James left the team, rewarded for averaging 19.8 points and 8.2 assists this season.

He is not the only new face, however, as VanVleet also made the cut in a career year. The 2019 champion is leading the Toronto Raptors in scoring with his 21.5 points.

Fellow pick in the East James Harden is far more familiar with this stage, included for a 10th consecutive season. Only James (18) is on a longer active streak.

Jimmy Butler, Zach LaVine, Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum all also return.

LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Tyler Herro and Jarrett Allen were among the players to narrowly miss out in a hugely talented Eastern Conference.

In the West, Chris Paul makes his 12th appearance, and Luka Doncic is also included.

Paul is joined by Phoenix Suns team-mate Devin Booker, while Draymond Green boosts the number of Golden State Warriors to three, alongside starters Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins.

Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Karl-Anthony Towns complete the roster.

Injured Warriors forward Green, speaking in his role as a pundit, said he hoped the San Antonio Spurs' Dejounte Murray would be called up in his place.

Earlier on Thursday, the NBA unveiled new designs for the trophies to be handed out across All-Star Weekend – including the Kobe Bryant Trophy, awarded to the All-Star Game MVP.

Luka Doncic banked 40 points for the Dallas Mavericks but still felt he was to blame for Wednesday's 120-114 overtime defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The two-time NBA All-Star impressed with a further 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals, yet it was not enough to prevent the Mavericks from falling to back-to-back defeats.

The Thunder scored a quick lay-up with eight seconds remaining of regulation time to tie the contest, with Doncic missing on a 28-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Despite registering his second-highest score of the season, one short of the 41 managed against the Toronto Raptors last month, Doncic was not pleased with his overall display.

"That was just my bad. I didn't see it coming," said Doncic of his defense on the Thunder's final shot in regulation. 

"This game is on me… the last two possessions shouldn't happen. By far, my worst defensive game this year for sure, and it's just on me."

It is the first time since Christmas that the Mavericks have lost successive games and leaves them fifth in the Western Conference, now 29-23 for the season.

Lu Dort was the hero for Oklahoma, scoring 14 straight points in overtime and 30 in total – his second 30-point game of the season, compared to one in the previous two years.

"In the biggest part of the game, he had his foot on the gas and closed it out for us," said Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.

The Mavericks had won their previous eight home games, but head coach Jason Kidd had no complaints about the defeat.

"They just played harder than we did," Kidd said. "When it got tight there, we started to play better. 

"We put ourselves in a position like Orlando: Someone had to make a shot – someone did. We just couldn't get the stop on the other end."

Anthony Davis stepped up with a double-double in LeBron James' absence as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game skid with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

James was absent for the fourth straight game with a knee issue but Davis took charge with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook contributed with a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 24 points for the Lakers. Norman Powell landed five three-pointers in his 30-point haul for Portland.

The Lakers had raced to a 12-point quarter-time lead but the Blazers narrowed that to one point by half-time before seesawing second half which went down to the final moments.

The win means the Lakers improve to 25-27 but remain ninth in the Western Conference.

Embiid, LaMelo and Doncic star in defeats

Joel Embiid had 27 points and 14 rebounds but could not lift the Philadelphia 76ers as they went down 106-103 to the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) had a triple-double for the Wizards, while Kyle Kuzma added 24 points.

LaMelo Ball was excellent in a losing side as well, providing a career-high 38 points including four triples with six rebounds and nine assists as the Charlotte Hornets went down 113-107 to the Boston Celtics. Luka Doncic also had 40 points as the Dallas Mavericks lost 120-114 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ja Morant had 23 points, four rebounds and nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won 120-108 over the New York Knicks, while the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 108-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets skid extends to six games

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their sixth straight defeat, their worst skid since January 2020, after a 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings. James Harden, nursing a sore hand, only managed four points shooting two-of-11 from the field, which was his lowest return since May 15 last year.

Anthony Davis stepped up with a double-double in LeBron James' absence as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game skid with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

James was absent for the fourth straight game with a knee issue but Davis took charge with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook contributed with a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 24 points for the Lakers. Norman Powell landed five three-pointers in his 30-point haul for Portland.

The Lakers had raced to a 12-point quarter-time lead but the Blazers narrowed that to one point by half-time before seesawing second half which went down to the final moments.

The win means the Lakers improve to 25-27 but remain ninth in the Western Conference.

Embiid, LaMelo and Doncic star in defeats

Joel Embiid had 27 points and 14 rebounds but could not lift the Philadelphia 76ers as they went down 106-103 to the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) had a triple-double for the Wizards, while Kyle Kuzma added 24 points.

LaMelo Ball was excellent in a losing side as well, providing a career-high 38 points including four triples with six rebounds and nine assists as the Charlotte Hornets went down 113-107 to the Boston Celtics. Luka Doncic also had 40 points as the Dallas Mavericks lost 120-114 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ja Morant had 23 points, four rebounds and nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won 120-108 over the New York Knicks, while the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 108-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets skid extends to six games

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their sixth straight defeat, their worst skid since January 2020, after a 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings. James Harden, nursing a sore hand, only managed four points shooting two-of-11 from the field, which was his lowest return since May 15 last year.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic triumphed against Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Denver Nuggets routed the reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks 136-100 on Sunday.

Jokic almost recorded his 13th triple-double of the season, while he matched his season-high for assists with 13.

The Serbian had 18 points, nine rebounds and 15 assists for the Nuggets, while Aaron Gordon contributed a team-high 24 points including four triples as Denver dominated the second half 71-43 after leading by eight points at the long break.

Antetokounmpo, who won the 2019 and 2020 MVP awards, finished with 29 points but only managed seven in the second half. The Greek forward also had nine rebounds and two assists.

Khris Middleton was kept quiet offensively with nine points, five rebounds and seven assists while Jrue Holiday added 14 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

The Nuggets improve to 28-21 overall aided by a five-game win streak, including four on the road, while the Bucks slip to 31-21.

 

Suns fight back for 10 straight

The table topping-Phoenix Suns overturned a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to clinch their 10th straight win, beating the San Antonio Spurs 115-110. Devin Booker top scored with 28 points including four three-pointers, while Chris Paul was exceptional with 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high 19 assists.

Trae Young starred with 36 points and 12 assists as the Atlanta Hawks extended their winning streak to seven games with a 129-121 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without LeBron James for the third straight game with a knee soreness. Malik Monk scored 33 points for the Lakers.

Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but the Dallas Mavericks lost 110-108 to the Orlando Magic, while 2021 top draft pick Cade Cunningham claimed a second career triple-double in the Detroit Pistons' 115-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Jazz starter suffers worrying injury

Utah Jazz swingman Joe Ingles went down with an apparent knee injury in the second quarter of their 126-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz confirmed Ingles will undergo an MRI in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Rick Carlisle was moved to tears by a video tribute on his first return to the Dallas Mavericks, who he then backed for a big season under successor Jason Kidd.

Carlisle was Mavs coach for 13 years before resigning at the end of last season, with Kidd appointed in his place.

Kidd was a player under Carlisle when they won the only NBA title in franchise history back in 2011.

Carlisle is now coach of the Indiana Pacers and, after winning his first matchup with the Mavs in Indiana in December, he returned to Dallas on Saturday.

As his achievements with the Mavs were recognised, Carlisle said: "I was not expecting anything like that. It was a wonderful gesture, very much appreciated."

Mavs superstar Luka Doncic added: "I've been with him my first three years and learned a lot of things.

"He helped me in a way, too, so it was a special moment. The tribute was special to him. You could see it, and he deserves it."

Kidd said: "He helped all of us achieve that one goal that we play for, and that was to win a championship. He set the bar high for the next coach or coaches."

Kidd is now giving it his best shot, as his team were far less accommodating of Carlisle on the court, dominating in a 132-105 victory – led by Doncic's 30 points and 12 assists.

The Mavs are on a 13-3 run, coinciding with Doncic's return to form and fitness, and have the talent to trouble the leading teams in the Western Conference – although Kristaps Porzingis exited with knee soreness against Indiana.

Carlisle, who recommended Kidd for his role, said: "He's done a tremendous job.

"His history here, as a player who was drafted here, a Hall of Fame player on a championship team here, I know the kind of warrior he is when it comes to winning and how smart he is. They're a major threat in the West."

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