Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is available for Sunday's contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder, though Kyrie Irving remains out.

Durant missed three consecutive games due to the NBA's coronavirus health and safety protocols, but the two-time champion and Finals MVP is set to return at home to the Thunder in Brooklyn.

After sitting out the 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury, Durant is averaging 28.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Nets this term.

Durant – the 2014 MVP – is also shooting 51.4 per cent from the field and 45.5 per cent from three-point range as Steve Nash's Nets sit at 5-5 in the Eastern Conference.

Nets team-mate Irving, meanwhile, will again be absent due to personal reasons.

NBA champion and six-time All-Star Irving has missed the past two games for the Nets.

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in Brooklyn this season.

The NBA has postponed the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat showdown due to health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday's contest was set to go ahead, despite the Celtics missing seven players – including star pair Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – because of COVID-19 protocols, and nine in total.

But the NBA announced the postponement just hours before tip-off after a Heat player reportedly returned an inconclusive coronavirus test, leaving Miami without the required eight players to play due to contact tracing.

Heat guard Avery Bradley (health and safety protocols) had been ruled out of the game earlier in the day.

The Celtics were set to have the minimum eight players available against the Heat after Javonte Green, Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams, Robert Williams II and Tristan Thompson were listed as outs pre-game.

Injuries had already forced Celtics pair Kemba Walker (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) to miss the scheduled meeting.

It comes as COVID-19 outbreaks impact the NBA following a coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign in the United States.

Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers were depleted for Saturday's loss to the Denver Nuggets after Seth Curry tested positive for coronavirus.

Contract tracing seriously impacted Doc Rivers' 76ers, who were without Curry, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier, paired with injures to All-Star duo Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Philadelphia were only able to dress eight players against the Nuggets, though Mike Scott was unable to play due to a knee injury.

The Celtics own a 7-3 record in the Eastern Conference, ahead of last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Heat (4-4).

LaMelo Ball became the youngest player to post a triple-double in NBA history on Saturday and Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego believes he is a "rare" talent.

At 19 years and 140 days old, Hornets rookie Ball put up 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Charlotte improved to 5-5 with a 113-105 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Spectrum Center.

He took the record from Markelle Fultz, who recorded his first triple-double for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018 aged 19 years and 317 days.

Ball's triple-double was the first by a Charlotte player since Nic Batum in March 2018, while he became only the second Hornets rookie to achieve the feat after Kemba Walker.

"He just continuously gets better. He's a special player. He's not fazed by the moment. It's like he's been doing this for a number of years already," said Hornets head coach Borrego.

"He was special tonight. Playmaking, shotmaking, on the boards, made the right decisions. He's a special player.

"I love the person, I love the kid, and more than anything I love his spirit, I love what he brings to our locker room, our organisation. Just proud of him, he was fantastic tonight.

"A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this. This is just rare what you're seeing. I can't get over this kid, he's just a wonderful person to be around, he's humble, he's genuine, he's coachable."

Ball, the third overall pick in this year's draft, retained a level head after achieving something he thinks he will only take stock of in retirement.

"I live my life and I know what I'm capable of, so stuff like this doesn't move me like that. I know that's supposed to happen," he said.

"I've not really processed it yet. Probably when I look back on it after my career when I'm like 40 or something, then I'll probably look back at everything."

Ball was one assist away from a triple-double when the Hornets beat the New Orleans Pelicans and his brother Lonzo Ball on Friday, but he denied that provided him with additional motivation against the Hawks.

"I figured I was one assist away during the game, but pretty much the next day I knew we had another basketball game and came to it like I come to every other basketball game," he said.

"The main goal is always winning. Whenever we get a win, that's great."

LaMelo Ball created history in the Charlotte Hornets’ 113-105 win against the Atlanta Hawks by becoming the youngster player of all time to score a triple-double.

The first round rookie announced his arrival in the NBA after coming off the bench to post 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a dazzling 31 minutes on court.

Terry Rozier added 23 points and PJ Washington posted 22 points to help Charlotte improve to 5-5 as the Hawks rallied with De'Andre Hunter scoring 20 points but fall to to 4-5.

Mikal Bridges starred and six players hit double figures as the Phoenix Suns advanced to 7-3 in the Western Conference with a 125-117 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Bridges led the scoring with a career-high 34 points as the Pacers fell to 6-3 in the Eastern Conference despite Domantas Sabonis' 28 points and 22 rebounds.

Earlier in the day, a threadbare Philadelphia 76ers fell to 7-3 after losing 115-113 to the Denver Nuggets as coach Doc Rivers had only seven players available due injury and COVID-19 protocols.

A second defeat in three days was rather easier to take for the Philadelphia 76ers as their depleted roster went down fighting against the Denver Nuggets. 

Philadelphia fell to 7-3 for the season but could take great heart from their latest loss, perhaps at odds with Thursday's reverse at the hands of a Brooklyn Nets team missing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

This time it was the Sixers' turn to go without their star men in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, while Seth Curry was absent after he tested positive for COVID-19 - he was told of his result as he attended the Nets game. 

Contact tracing left Doc Rivers with just eight players to choose from, though one of them - Mike Scott – did not feature due to a knee issue.

The Nuggets' 115-103 success came as no surprise then, but the relatively narrow margin was just reward for a makeshift Philadelphia team.  The Sixers led in the game as late as midway through the second quarter and never let Denver get away from them, even if the result scarcely seemed in doubt.

Gary Harris' 21 points led the way for the Nuggets, while Nikola Jokic was just shy of another triple-double with 15 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. 

Three of the Sixers' five 2020 draft picks were among the seven players involved, with Tyrese Maxey in particular rising to the occasion, given the responsibility to lead the team despite Rivers jokingly suggesting before the game that center Dwight Howard would play at point guard. 

Maxey, selected 21st in the first round out of Kentucky, had not previously started in the NBA and had averaged 6.9 points in 15.7 minutes over his first nine games. 

Remarkably, the 20-year-old put up a massive 39 points in 45 minutes, along with seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. 

Maxey not only outstripped his previous NBA high of 16 - against Brooklyn - but also his best performance in his single college season with Kentucky (27 points). 

Since 1963-64, only Allen Iverson - on 11 occasions in 1996-97 - and Andrew Toney - once in 1980-81 - had previously scored 35 points or more in a game as a rookie for the franchise. 

Second-round picks Isaiah Joe (13 points in 45 minutes) and Paul Reed (six in 26 off the bench) also enjoyed their unlikely opportunities, showing Philadelphia's strength in depth.

The Philadelphia 76ers will play the Denver Nuggets as scheduled on Saturday after enough players were cleared from coronavirus protocol. 

Reports had suggested the game - tipping off at 15:00 ET - was in doubt due to close contact between the rest of the Sixers team and Seth Curry, who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Guard Curry, who is averaging 17.0 points per game this season, did not play against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday due to an ankle issue. 

However, he was with the team, sitting on the bench for the first quarter before news of his positive result emerged. 

Contact tracing has seriously impacted Doc Rivers' options against the Nuggets, but the 7-2 Eastern Conference leaders have the required minimum of eight players listed as available.

Rivers revealed only seven would actually feature, though, with center Dwight Howard remarkably set to fill in at point guard.

"The last 36 hours have been nuts, as you would expect," Rivers said.

"Being held up in New York, doing multiple tests, waiting for tests, contact tracing, then getting the list of guys being out, getting back to Philly at one in the morning, getting to your house and trying to think, not knowing if you're playing or not.

"You're on the phone with your coaches until four in the morning, still not knowing. We were just trying to create some kind of game plan.

"Then coming here, an hour ago we were told we were playing. We have eight active players, and one is one that's been injured, in Mike Scott, and I can tell you now that there's no way that I'm going to play him.

"So you can make a case we have seven bodies to throw out. We had a walkthrough that I wasn't a part of because I was on a call with the league, so I have a list here that I've not even looked at.

"We're going to throw them together and Dwight Howard's going to play point guard tonight and we're going to see how it goes."

Steph Curry had Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and team-mate Eric Paschall purring about his game-changing impact in the comeback win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Golden State trailed 85-63 deep into the third quarter at Chase Center on Friday and looked set for a second straight loss to the Clippers, only for a 52-20 surge to see them emerge 115-105 winners.

Curry was the driving force behind that recovery, finishing with 38 points and 11 assists.

He was 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-14 from three-point range in the win, and now averages 30.6 points through nine games this season.

His efforts in triggering the recovery - 33 of Curry's points came when the Warriors were trailing - were at once exhilarating but also exactly what Kerr knows his star man can produce.

Kerr said. "It's just who Steph is. He's been doing this for many, many years and it's one of the reasons he's a two-time MVP and he's a phenomenal basketball player.

"Usually with Steph when he has a tough game he bounces back [in] the next one. That's part of his character, part of his competitiveness. He found something out there, he found some openings, and got himself going."

That "tough game" for Curry came in the 108-101 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday, when he had a season-low 13 points.

This time it was a different story, and Paschall, in his second season in the NBA, was thrilled to be able to share a court with a red-hot Curry.

"Sometimes I've gotta remember that I'm his team-mate," Paschall said. "I'm so used to watching it on TV.

"Sometimes I gotta remember like, 'Hey, hold on. You're playing with Steph'. But sometimes you do want to sit there and watch, I’m not going to lie. It's very entertaining.

"I get a front-row seat so I'm not complaining."

Curry exited early in the fourth quarter before returning to finish the job.

He explained how there had been some confusion about how prominent a role he would play in that final period, after misunderstanding a message from associate head coach Mike Brown.

"Me and Mike Brown, he told me at the end of the third quarter break ... he said something like he was going to give me a minute and I didn't hear what he said after that," Curry said.

"I thought I was coming out for a minute and was going to play 10 or 11 minutes in the fourth because I had a roll on.

"But he said, 'You're going to keep playing, I’ll give you possession for a minute and then take you out'."

When Curry stepped off the court after that minute, momentum was all with the Warriors. By the time he returned, they were ahead, a remarkable victory incoming.

Kawhi Leonard warned the Los Angeles Clippers "have to change" after they were made to pay by the Golden State Warriors for another second-half capitulation on Friday.

The Clippers held a commanding 85-63 lead with just over three minutes of the third quarter remaining at Chase Center, but slumped to a 115-105 defeat.

Steph Curry was their chief tormentor, scoring half of his 38 points in the third quarter to leave the Clippers 6-4 in the NBA Western Conference.

The Clippers have lost eight games when leading by at least 15 points since the start of last season, according to ESPN, letting more advantages by such a margin slip than any other team in that period.

Four-time NBA All-Star Leonard, who scored 24 points, said such collapses are unacceptable and must be addressed.

The small forward declared: "We just have to change, pretty much. We've got to change it. We've got to get better."

He added: "I'm not about to tell you what we're doing in the locker room. It's locker room talk."

Leonard felt the Clippers made it far too easy for the Warriors (5-4) to storm back and secure what appeared to be such an unlikely victory when they were so far behind.

"Our third quarter was terrible as far as defense. Them able to get easy looks, coming down just laying up the ball with no one there. Steph Curry did a few times." said Leonard.

"In that third quarter, just guys coming down and getting either open looks or just walking to the basket and laying up the ball."

Paul George, the Clippers' highest scorer with 25 points as well as laying on seven assists, echoed Leonard's sentiments.

He said: "We want to just be great as a unit, just demand greatness out of everybody. We've got to be better. All of us included. This was a team loss, more than anything. We've just got to get better. We'll work on it."

George added: "I think this is good that something like this happened for this team so early. Because fact of the matter is, we have to be a better closing-out team."

Bradley Beal slammed the Washington Wizards' defense, saying they were unable to "guard a parked car".

Beal had a game-high 41 points but the Wizards fell to 2-7 after a 116-107 loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA on Friday.

The Wizards have given up an average of 122.1 points per game – the worst record in the NBA – to begin the season and Beal rued their defensive efforts.

"We all know it's our defense, but I don't know why it's our defense," he told a news conference.

"At this point we can't guard a parked car."

After back-to-back losses, the Wizards are bottom of the Eastern Conference.

But Beal remains confident they can respond, having missed the playoffs in the past two seasons.

"The way we played in the second half, it was two different teams that were out there," he said.

"In the second half, we played with energy, coach put guys out there that haven't got burned all year and they gave us a spark that we needed so I think moving forward a lot of things will be changing in terms of our lineup.

"But I'm always optimistic, I'm confident in my game, I'm confident in the team I'm on, I'm always going to be for my guys and I'm always going to be confident that we can turn it around.

"Eventually you run out of games, you do run out of games so we can't keep saying, 'It's early', we can't keep saying, 'Oh, onto the next one', we've got to make that change and we've got to compete better than what we are."

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors past the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, while the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back.

Curry's fine start to the NBA season continued in the Warriors' 115-105 win over the Clippers.

The guard had a double-double of 38 points and 11 assists as the Warriors (5-4) responded to their loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

Curry was 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-14 from three-point range in the win.

Paul George (25) and Kawhi Leonard (24) combined for 49 points for the Clippers, but they slipped to 6-4.

The Lakers bounced back from their loss to the San Antonio Spurs by overcoming the Chicago Bulls 117-115.

LeBron James' 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists led the Lakers, who were without Anthony Davis (strained adductor).

Zach LaVine finished with 38 points for the Bulls.

 

Bucks fall despite Giannis' display, Celtics win

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but the Milwaukee Bucks went down to the Utah Jazz 131-118.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz, posting 32 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown continued his good form with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds in the Boston Celtics' 116-107 win over the Washington Wizards. Brown and Jayson Tatum (32 points) became the third pair of team-mates in the past 20 seasons to each record 250-plus points in their team's first 10 games, joining Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant (2001-02) and Curry and Kevin Durant (three times).

The Wizards slumped to 2-7 despite Bradley Beal's 41 points.

Caris LeVert exploded for 43 points, but the Brooklyn Nets – without Durant and Kyrie Irving – were edged by the Memphis Grizzlies 115-110.

 

Magic misery

The Orlando Magic have made a good start to the season, but they shot at just 38.2 per cent in a 132-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. Orlando are now 6-3.

 

Brotherly battle

LaMelo and Lonzo Ball did battle on Friday. LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 118-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Friday's results

Detroit Pistons 110-105 Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics 116-107 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 118-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 101-89 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 132-90 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 115-110 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 131-118 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 144-123 Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors 115-105 Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-115 Chicago Bulls

 

Cavaliers at Bucks

The Bucks (5-4) will look to bounce back when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-4) on Saturday.

LaMelo Ball revelled in a "great feeling" after facing his brother, Lonzo, as the Charlotte Hornets overcame the New Orleans Pelicans.

LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Hornets' 118-110 victory in the NBA on Friday.

His brother, Lonzo, had less of an impact, finishing with five points, three assists and two rebounds for the Pelicans.

LaMelo, who had the first double-double of his NBA career, enjoyed facing his older brother.

"It was a great feeling for sure," he told Fox Sports.

"Onto the next one, we don't really live in the past, we've got a game tomorrow."

Gordon Hayward lifted the Hornets with 26 points, while Zion Williamson had 26 for the Pelicans.

LaMelo praised his team for working together as they improved to 4-5.

"I've played a lot of basketball and I know basketball don't change," he said.

"At the end of the day I'm smooth but all of our team-mates together we all help each other and push each other."

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James condemned the scenes in Washington, D.C. and shared the feeling that the response by law enforcement could have been far worse had the perpetrators been black people.

On Wednesday, a large number of violent protestors stormed the US Capitol after descending on the city for a rally held by Donald Trump, who has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, his presidential election loss to Joe Biden was fraudulent.

Five people are confirmed to have died and dozens arrested after appalling scenes at the seat of democracy in the United States on the day the electoral college certified Biden's victory, with some individuals able to force access into private offices and take pictures in the chair of vice president Mike Pence while members of congress were forced to flee under escort.

Tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda as part of non-lethal means to disperse the crowd, and Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook claimed the outcome would have been "totally different" had the vast majority of aggressors been African-American.

Team-mate Bradley Beal said, compared with the police handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year, the response lacked the same "sense of urgency".

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers shared that sentiment, saying: "It basically proves the point about a privileged life in a lot of ways. I'll say it because I don't think a lot of people want to: could you imagine today if those were all black people storming the Capitol and what would have happened?"

And James, who hit 27 points, six rebounds and 12 assists in the Lakers' 118-109 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, said the black community has endured a hard week following the Capitol riots and the news that the police officer who shot and paralysed Jacob Blake in Wisconsin in August will face no charges.

"Obviously, the last few days have been very, very tough on anybody in the black community," James said.

"We got the news in Memphis with the Jacob Blake announcement and the cop being let off and then seeing what happened in our national capital, inside the Capitol.

"We live in two Americas. That was a prime example of that yesterday, and if you don't understand that or don't see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, then you really need to take a step back, not even just one step, maybe four or five or even 10 steps backwards.

"Ask yourself: how do you want your kids, or how do you want your grandkids, how do we want America to be viewed as, how do we want to live in this beautiful country? Because yesterday was not it.

"Being part of a household with three kids, two boys, a daughter, a wife, a mother-in-law, so many black folks in my household during that time and it's on the TV, couldn't help but wonder if those were my kind storming the Capitol... what would have been the outcome? I think we all know."

The Los Angeles Lakers' four-game winning streak was snapped in the NBA on Thursday, while the Philadelphia 76ers also fell.

Despite a double-double of 27 points and 12 assists from LeBron James, the Lakers were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs 118-109.

Anthony Davis also had 23 points and 10 rebounds, but the Lakers slipped to 6-3.

LaMarcus Aldridge posted a game-high 28 points for the Spurs.

After five straight wins, the 76ers fell to a 122-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Joel Embiid had a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers (7-2).

The Nets were without Kevin Durant (quarantine) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), but Caris LeVert posted 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as they improved to 5-4.

 

Lillard lifts Trail Blazers, Doncic dominates

Damian Lillard's 39 points, seven rebounds and seven assists saw the Portland Trail Blazers past the Minnesota Timberwolves 135-117.

Luka Doncic dominated with 38 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks overcame the Denver Nuggets 124-117 after overtime.

Andre Drummond had a double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Memphis Grizzlies 94-90.

 

Terrible Timberwolves

After back-to-back wins to start the season, the Timberwolves have suffered six straight losses. Malik Beasley struggled against the Trail Blazers, going three-of-13 from the field for 12 points in 28 minutes.

 

Cool Jokic

Nikola Jokic forced overtime for the Nuggets against the Mavericks with a long two. He finished with 38 points and 11 rebounds in the overtime loss.

Thursday's results

Brooklyn Nets 122-109 Philadelphia 76ers
Cleveland Cavaliers 94-90 Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers 135-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 118-109 Los Angeles Lakers
Dallas Mavericks 124-117 Denver Nuggets

 

Clippers at Warriors

The Los Angeles Clippers (6-3) and Golden State Warriors (4-4) meet for the second time in three days on Friday. The Clippers claimed a 108-101 victory on Wednesday.

Steve Nash labelled Joe Harris "a stud" after he helped the Brooklyn Nets beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Thursday.

Harris was 11-of-19 from the field and six-of-nine from three-point range for 28 points in 30 minutes in a 122-109 victory.

The Nets were without Kevin Durant (quarantine) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), but Harris delivered off the bench.

Nash hailed the 29-year-old for his performance after the Nets improved to 5-4.

"Joe's a stud. He makes shots, he makes plays, he battles physically, defends, rebounds, he does a bit of everything," he told a news conference.

"He's not just a shooter. He makes other plays and makes his team-mates better because of his energy, effort and shot-making."

Durant and Irving are set to be absent again when the Nets face the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

A report claimed Irving simply did not want to play against the 76ers (7-2), but Nash dismissed those suggestions.

"I haven't spoken to him yet. I can't really comment because I haven't spoken to him and it's personal reasons so it'd have to come from Kyrie, but I don't believe that to be the case," he said.

Kevin Durant could return for the Brooklyn Nets against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, head coach Steve Nash said.

Durant missed Tuesday's win over the Utah Jazz and was expected to be absent for another three games after reportedly being exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

But the star may return early, although he will still miss the Nets' next two games – including Thursday's clash against the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I think Kevin's situation is that if he continues to test negative he can play Sunday," Nash told a news conference.

"That's all I have on that, but can't wait for Sunday to come."

The Nets will also be without another star, Kyrie Irving, against the 76ers due to personal reasons.

"I just found out. I just sent him a message in the last half hour and I haven't heard back yet," Nash said.

"But obviously thinking about him and hope all is well. It's a private matter."

Durant is averaging 28.2 points, seven rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Nets (4-4) this season.

Irving, meanwhile, is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds.

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