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

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

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

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

 

 

Warriors win again

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

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

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

 

Jazz stunned in Salt Lake City

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

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

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

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

 

Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

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

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

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

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

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

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

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

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

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

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

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

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

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

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

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

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

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

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

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder

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

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

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

LeBron James returned from injury but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from suffering their third straight defeat going down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

Jayson Tatum starred for the Celtics with 37 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Marcus Smart was excellent with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

James had 23 points, six rebounds and two assists on his return from an abdominal strain, while Anthony Davis top scored for the Lakers with 31 points.

The four-time MVP showed no signs of injury in the first quarter, helping the Lakers to a strong start, combining with Davis for 22 points, which was their second most in an opening period in the past two seasons.

The Lakers held the lead at half-time but the Celtics hit back in the third quarter with an 8-0 run, opening up an 11-point lead at the final change after a 33-21 period.

The defeat means the 2020 NBA champions have lost seven of their past 10 games and slip to an 8-9 record, while the Celtics improve to 8-8.

 

Suns' hot streak continues

Chris Paul had 18 points and 14 assists as the Phoenix Suns secured their 11th straight win, triumphing 112-104 over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic due to knee and ankle injuries.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points and 19 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks' 96-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Khris Middleton passed Ray Allen for most three-pointers made in franchise history (1,052), hitting three triples in his 16 points.

The Golden State Warriors won without Stephen Curry (bruised hip) and Draymond Green (bruised thigh), with Jordan Poole stepping up with 32 points including four three-pointers in a 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

James Harden shot seven of 25 from the field and had six turnovers but finished with 36 points,10 rebounds and eight assists in Kevin Durant's absence ot lead the Brooklyn Nets past the Orlando Magic 115-113.

Zach LaVine scored 36 points in the Chicago Bulls 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets who were missing Nikola Jokic, while LaMelo Ball starred with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 121-118 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

 

Pelicans clip wayward George 

Paul George shot eight of 26 from the field as the Los Angeles Clippers went down to the New Orleans Pelicans 94-81.

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 47 points as the NBA champions took down the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.

Antetokounmpo dominated the Lakers, making 18 of his 23 field goals, while collecting nine rebounds and three assists for the Bucks (7-8) on Wednesday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

 

All-Star Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton made his return after eight games out due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

The Lakers (8-8), again without superstar LeBron James, were led by double-doubles from Talen Horton-Tucker (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (19 points and 15 assists).

 

Suns stay hot

The Phoenix Suns celebrated their 10th straight victory after outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 105-98. Devin Booker (24 points) and Deandre Ayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the Suns, who are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 2010. Chris Paul had 14 assists without a turnover – his 46th career game with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers, tying Muggsy Bogues for most by any player since 1985.

Damian Lillard's 22 points and 10 assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers upstage the Chicago Bulls 112-107. Zach LaVine (30 points), DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Alex Caruso (12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) starred but the Bulls still lost on the road.

The Miami Heat defeated the New Orleans Pelicans behind Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list for threes made with 1,687, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99.

 

Knicks continue to struggle for form

After returning to the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks have made a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign amid plenty of hype. They were sensationally upstaged by the lowly Orlando Magic 104-98 – their fourth defeat in six games.

DeMar DeRozan was at his brilliant best again as the Chicago Bulls routed the Los Angeles Lakers 121-103 in the NBA on Monday.

DeRozan is the face of the new-look Bulls and the four-time All-Star maintained his MVP-calibre start to the season with a game-high 38 points at Staples Center.

The 32-year-old, who joined the Bulls ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, had his fourth 35-plus point game of the month – tying a career high.

Chicago have won four of their past five games, having also trumped the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, on the back of Lonzo Ball's seven three-pointers in his 27-point display against former team the Lakers.

Zach LaVine added 26 points for the Bulls, who improved to 10-4 in the Eastern Conference after beating the Lakers for the first time since 2016, snapping an eight-game drought.

Without superstar LeBron James, Talen Horton-Tucker (28 points), Russell Westbrook (25 points) and Anthony Davis (20 points) led the stuttering Lakers (8-7).

 

 

Streaking Suns sizzle

Last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Phoenix Suns celebrated their ninth successive victory after outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-96. Devin Booker (29 points), Deandre Ayton (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (21 points) all starred on the road. Ayton is the only player this season to be averaging 15-plus points and 10-plus rebounds while shooting at least 60 per cent from the field.

Cade Cunningham joined Stephen Curry (twice), Trae Young and Jason Kidd as the only rookies in NBA history with 25 points, five three-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists in a game. The number one draft pick, however, was unable to prevent the lowly Detroit Pistons falling 129-107 to the Sacramento Kings.

 

Doncic limps off court

The Dallas Mavericks took down reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets 111-101, but it appeared to have come at a cost. Mavericks star Luka Doncic limped off the court after rolling his ankle in the final minute of the game. Doncic had posted 23 points and 11 assists to help fuel the Mavericks. Jokic's 35-point and 16-rebound double-double was not enough for Denver.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant continues to shine in the NBA, but he is playing through a "little tweak" to his shoulder.

Durant maintained his MVP-calibre start to the season in Sunday's 120-96 rout of former team the Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 33 points.

Despite the issue, two-time NBA champion Durant has scored at least 20 points in all 14 of his games in 2021-22 – one short of Karl Malone's record (15) set in 1997-98.

After making nine of his 17 shots from the field while collecting eight rebounds and dishing out four assists, Durant said of his shoulder: "It's solid.

"A little sore here and there, but I played, didn't get in the way too much. Keep getting treatment and take it a day at a time."

Nets head coach Steve Nash allayed concerns of Durant's shoulder post-game in Oklahoma.

"He's got a little tweak. But the ball still goes in the hole so I think he's hanging in there," Nash said.

"I don't think it's the type of thing that we expect to get worse so he's kind of playing through it, so it's not terrible."

It was a reunion for Durant, who spent eight seasons in Oklahoma City and was crowned NBA MVP before joining the Warriors in 2016.

Durant – who is 9-4 in games against his former teams – was booed by the crowd throughout the contest.

"You think about the foundation and how you built yourself up as a pro, and this is definitely the spot for me," he said. "It taught me all about what it means to be a pro.

"The people here and the organisation really guided me as a young player. That set the foundation for where I am today. There are a lot of great memories coming back, seeing a lot of people. It's good to see folks here and play in front of the crowd … I had a good time."

It was also a reunion for Nets team-mate James Harden, who started his career with the Thunder prior to moving to the Houston Rockets.

Harden – who finished with 16 points and 13 assists – and Durant were part of the Thunder team that progressed to the 2012 NBA Finals.

"It's crazy how stuff happens," Durant said. "You never thought when James got traded — I didn't know what the future would hold.

"For us to come back around on the same team as we got older is pretty sweet. ... We helped build this thing. It's good to come in here and see what it is today."

The Golden State Warriors had their seven-game winning streak ended by the Charlotte Hornets, who prevailed 106-102 in the NBA on Sunday.

Boasting the league's best record, Golden State (11-2) were upstaged in Charlotte, where Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier helped take down the high-flying Warriors.

Rozier made two key free throws down the stretch while outleaping Draymond Green on a late jump ball as he finished with 20 points – all in the second half – and Bridges had 22 of his own for the Hornets (8-7).

In his annual homecoming to Charlotte, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry put up 24 points and 10 assists, while team-mate Andrew Wiggins scored 28.

 

The Los Angeles Clippers also had their seven-game streak snapped after falling 100-90 the rampaging Chicago Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan maintained his MVP-calibre play with 35 points and Zach LaVine added 29 to top the Clippers on the road, where Paul George's double-double (27 points and 11 rebounds) was not enough.

 

Hawks soar thanks to Trae

Trae Young's season-best 42 points fuelled the Atlanta Hawks to a 120-100 win over reigning champions the Milwaukee Bucks. Young also had 10 assists, eight three-pointers and eight rebounds as Atlanta ended their six-game skid. In NBA history, only James Harden (three times), George, Russell Westbrook and Young have managed a performance of 40-plus points, 10-plus assists, eight-plus rebounds and eight-plus threes. Giannis Antetokounmpo returned for the stuttering Bucks, registering 26 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Patty Mills was red hot as the Brooklyn Nets routed the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-96. Mills made nine of his 12 three-pointers for 29 points. He broke the record for the most threes off the bench in franchise history. Kevin Durant top-scored with 33 points as Harden had 16 points and 13 assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 114-106 behind double-doubles from Anthony Davis (34 points and 15 rebounds) and Westbrook (14 points and 11 rebounds).

 

Blazers routed in Denver

Playing without star Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers were put to the sword by Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets 124-95. Portland had no answer for Jokic, who narrowly fell short of a triple-double after posting 28 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Stephen Curry reached 40 points or more for the third time this season as the Golden State Warriors' electric start to the season continued with a 119-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Curry finished with 40 points, including nine-for-17 three-pointers, along with five assists and four rebounds as the Warriors improved to 11-1.

The two-time MVP starred with 15 points in the third quarter alone, almost outscoring the Bulls as the Warriors piled on 35-17 points. Curry also passed Ray Allen's 3,358 all-time NBA mark for the most three-pointers made in regular season and playoffs games.

The result marks the Warriors' second-best ever start in franchise history, with their only loss coming in overtime against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State are one of nine teams in NBA history to start the season without a regulation-time loss in their first 12 games, the best being the 2015-16 Warriors with 24 games.

 

Harden hits season high

James Harden backed up Wednesday's triple-double with a season-high 39 points including six three-pointers for the Brooklyn Nets in a 120-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Harden got a double-double, with 12 assists along with five rebounds, while Kevin Durant added 28 points. Joe Harris shot six-for-six from three-point range in the first half, becoming the first player this season to achieve the feat.

Nikola Jokic returned from his one-game ban with a triple-double as the Denver Nuggets got past the Atlanta Hawks 105-96, with 22 points, 10 assists and 19 rebounds. Luka Doncic also registered a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs 123-109.

Denis Schroder had a season-high 38 points as the Boston Celtics won 122-113 in overtime over the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) and Khris Middleton (COVID-19).

 

LeBron-less Lakers floored

Carmelo Anthony scored one-for-12 from the field while starter Kent Bazemore finished with zero points as the Los Angeles Lakers, missing LeBron James, lost 107-83 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Emerging point guard Ja Morant had five turnovers and shot 10-for-19 from the field as the Memphis Grizzlies were beaten by the Phoenix Suns 119-94.

Frank Vogel says the Los Angeles Lakers will show "big-picture patience" while having a "small-picture sense of urgency" after they slumped to a 107-104 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers, missing LeBron James due to an abdominal strain, opened up a commanding 19-point lead in the second quarter at Staples Center on Thursday.

Oklahoma roared back to end the Lakers' three-match winning run, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder secured only their second victory of the season.

Head coach Vogel says the Lakers will not feel sorry for themselves with the likes of James absent and will learn from their defeat to Oklahoma.

"We don't worry about stuff we can't control, we all want to win every game badly," said Vogel. "We want it to be perfect right now.

"We have big-picture patience but small-picture sense of urgency to get this right, right away and to win these games in the short term. We fell short tonight, it's disappointing but we'll get to work tomorrow and get better from it."

 

Vogel warned his players they must be consistent throughout matches after a strong first half was in vain.

"It's a long game, they are going to keep playing. Early leads don't really mean anything in the modern NBA," he added.

"You got to keep playing, we learned our lesson last week, but they made their run in the second quarter and it's a 48-minute game, you've got to play quarters."

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 29 points, claimed 18 rebounds and provided five assists as the Lakers slipped to 5-4.

Last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Phoenix Suns took down the Houston Rockets 123-111 for their third consecutive win on Thursday.

Devin Booker inspired the Suns with 27 points while Landry Shamet added 19 points off the bench in Phoenix.

Chris Paul contributed 13 assists, nine points and five steals for the Suns (4-3), who moved above .500 for the first time this season.

Paul is averaging 12.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game in 2021-22. Entering the contest, this season had marked the fifth time in the last 25 years a player has averaged at least 11.0 assists and 2.0 steals over his first six games of a season – the Suns All-Star has been responsible for four of the five, per Stats Perform.

 

Christian Wood (18 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Porter Jr. (20 points) starred but the lowly Rockets (1-7) dropped their fifth straight game.

 

Celtics cool red-hot Heat

The Boston Celtics (4-5) have struggled for form this season, though they made a statement with a 95-78 win over the Miami Heat (6-2). Miami – top of the Eastern Conference prior to the game – had their worst scoring performance since January 2016.

The Philadelphia 76ers (7-1) moved to the top of the east thanks to a 109-98 win at the struggling Detroit Pistons (1-7). Seth Curry produced another stellar shooting display – going nine of 14 from the field – for 23 points. MVP runner-up Joel Embiid had 19 points and nine rebounds as he collected his 3,000th career board in his 268th game – the only 76er in history to reach the mark sooner was Hall of Famer Charles Barkley (253 games).

 

Lakers streak snapped

Playing without injured superstar LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers (5-4) had their three-game winning streak ended after being stunned 107-104 by the Oklahoma City Thunder (2-6).

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James could be out of action for a week due to an abdominal strain.

James was ruled out of Thursday's NBA clash against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder due to the injury.

The 36-year-old and four-time champion, who has already missed two of the Lakers' opening eight games of the season because of a sore right ankle, is facing more time on the sideline.

"Anytime LeBron's out and he's going to miss some time there's obviously concern," Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters pre-game as his team eye a fourth consecutive victory.

"Hopefully this is something that's minimal, and hopefully he'll be back soon."

James has been averaging 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game this season, while shooting 46.7 per cent from the floor and 34.7 per cent from three-point range.

Against Houston on Tuesday, James (30), Anthony Davis (27) and Russell Westbrook (27) became the first trio of team-mates to score 27-plus points for the Lakers in the same game since January 20, 1995, when Cedric Ceballos (31), Elden Campbell (30) and Nick Van Exel (29) accomplished the feat, according to Stats Perform.

The Lakers (5-3) are currently averaging 113.4 points per game while giving up 112.6 a game. The last time Los Angeles both scored and gave up 112-plus points per game for a full season was 1967-68.

Paul George believes the only way is up for the Los Angeles Clippers after he turned on the style in Monday night's clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Clippers had lost four of their opening five games but snatched victory from the brink of defeat as they clinched a 99-94 victory.

George had topped 40 points twice early in the season, and this time his 32-point haul came in tandem with four team-mates also hitting double figures.

After making just one of nine shots from the field in the first half, George hit 10 of 15 in the second.

"It's my job to go out there and play hard," George said in a post-game news conference. "My team needed me and I just tried to step up for them."

The Clippers turned a 91-82 deficit into a 95-92 lead as Reggie Jackson landed a jump shot that clinched the game, earning an embrace from George.

After a rocky run of form, George is hoping this outcome means the Clippers might be turning a corner.

"I just told him this is the worst that the team can shoot – obviously we could shoot worse than this, but in the real picture this is the worst we can shoot," George said.

"That shot can change [Jackson's] rhythm. That shot right there was really the biggest shot of the night. That could be all the confidence he needs going into the next game to make a shot when we needed him to.

"It was a great moment for me and him. We've both been struggling tonight so to end the game on that note was a good moment."

Coach Tyronn Lue hailed the "miraculous shots" from George, while Nicolas Batum enjoyed the "ugly win".

Batum, who finished with 14 points, was relieved to see the Clippers find their stride.

"I've never seen that before, the whole team getting cold for five games," said the French forward. "The thing is, we're not playing that bad actually.

"We keep playing defense, trying to move the ball, trying to find a way, but we just don't make shots, but we kept fighting, we kept grinding.

"It was just finding a way to win a game tonight. We didn't lose confidence. PG [George] was great in the second half and took us home.

"It was an ugly win, but I'd take an ugly win compared to beautiful losses."

 

Assessing another standout display from George, Batum said: "We've got to help him out. The last game [a 111-92 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers] was unacceptable as a team.

"He got 42 and he got 50 per cent of the points. We've got four guys in double figures tonight and that's how we have to do it every night. We can't rely on him to get 30-40 points every night."

The NBA's hottest young scorer got the best of the reigning MVP on Monday as Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets 106-97. 

Morant had 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Grizzlies, who bounced back from an ugly home loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday. 

The 22-year-old Morant is averaging 28.3 points per game, second only to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (28.7), while shooting 52.4 per cent from the field. 

Jokic played a team-high 33 minutes and finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots. 

The Nuggets superstar has shown no ill effects from the knee contusion that forced him out of a game against the Utah Jazz last week in the second quarter. 

The teams meet again in Memphis on Wednesday. 

 

Short-handed 76ers top Trail Blazers

Joel Embiid missed the game with a planned rest day and Tobias Harris sat out due to health and safety protocols, but the Philadelphia 76ers still managed to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 113-103 behind 23 points from Seth Curry and 21 off the bench from Georges Niang. Embiid's replacement, Andre Drummond, added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the 76ers as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to make just 15 of 40 shots from the field, including five of 17 from three-point range, for Portland. 

After making just one of nine shots from the field in the first half, Paul George hit 10 of 15 in the second to finish with 32 points and lead the Los Angeles Clippers past the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-94. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 28 for OKC. 

The Chicago Bulls outscored the Boston Celtics 39-11 in the fourth quarter to rally for a 128-114 road victory. DeMar DeRozan had a spectacular shooting game, making 15 of 20 from the field to lead the Bulls with 37 points while Zach LaVine added 26. 

OG Anunoby had 36 points as the Toronto Raptors handed the New York Knicks their second loss of the season, 113-104 at Madison Square Garden. Gary Trent Jr. added 26 for Toronto, while RJ Barrett led New York with 27 points.

 

Beal, Wizards suffer second loss

Bradley Beal made only three of 11 shots from three-point range and the Washington starting lineup attempted just five free throws as the Wizards suffered their second defeat of the season, 118-111 to the Atlanta Hawks. 

NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks suffered consecutive defeats after being upstaged by the San Antonio Spurs 102-93.

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds, but the Bucks still suffered back-to-back losses on Saturday.

The Spurs (2-4) trumped the Bucks (3-3) on the road in Milwaukee thanks to point guard Dejounte Murray, who scored 16 of his 23 points in the final period.

Murray entered the contest having put up 44 points, 22 rebounds and 23 assists over his previous two games – the only Spurs player in the last 30 seasons to have had at least 40 points, 20 rebounds and 20 assists over a two-game span, according to Stats Perform.

"Obviously, it's a good win against the NBA champions," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the Bucks were again without Jrue Holiday due to an ankle injury. "They were missing a pretty big piece tonight but it happens to all of us."

 

 

76ers gain some revenge as Heat sizzle

Facing the Atlanta Hawks for the first time since being surprisingly eliminated in last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Philadelphia 76ers routed their rivals 122-94. Tobias Harris fuelled the 76ers with 22 points and 11 rebounds, joining Joel Embiid as the only 76ers players this season with 20-10 games.

The high-flying Miami Heat finished one short of setting a new franchise record after sinking 21 three-pointers in their 129-103 victory at the Memphis Grizzlies. Jimmy Butler led the way with 27 points.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic starred with 26 points and 19 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-91.

Double-doubles from Deandre Ayton (17 points and 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (16 points and 10 assists) helped last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Phoenix Suns beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-92.

 

Jazz taste defeat

The Utah Jazz were the last unbeaten team remaining having opened their season 4-0, until the new-look Chicago Bulls spoiled the party with a 107-99 win.

Russell Westbrook has vowed to make amends after accepting the blame for the Los Angeles Lakers' surprise defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers, without LeBron James for a second game running due to an ankle injury, failed to protect a 26-point first-half lead as they fell 123-115 against a previously winless Thunder team.

Westbrook got his first triple-double for the Lakers in Wednesday's contest, but he also had 10 turnovers and was ejected late on for a second technical foul.

Nine-time NBA All-Star Westbrook took issue with Darius Bazley for scoring on a breakaway dunk, rather than dribble out the clock, with 1.5 seconds left in a feisty conclusion.

But while standing by his actions that led to that dismissal, the 32-year-old concedes that he could have done more to prevent his side from falling to a third defeat in five games.

"How I play the game, I'm more old-school," he said when asked about his confrontation with Bazley. "When s*** like that happens, I don't let it slide. 

"In the game of basketball, there's certain things you just don't do. Like in baseball, you don't flip the bat. 

"There's certain things you don't do in sports when the game's already over. And I didn't like it. Simple as that."

Westbrook, who ended the contest with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, added: "I got to take care of the ball. There were too many mishaps allowed. 

"It's my fault. It's on me. But I'm going to take care of it. I know that. And keep the game simple. We need those possessions, especially in games like this."

Westbrook reached 7,000 career rebounds in the game, joining Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd and James as the only players with at least 7,000 rebounds and 7,000 assists.

But it was not enough to prevent his side avoiding defeat as the Lakers allowed 115 points or more for the fifth game running this season – their longest ever such streak.

The Lakers may be going through a transitional phase with a number of new players on top of injuries to contend with, but Anthony Davis is not interested in excuses.

"This ain't no adjustment period at all," he said. "Not this game. That's just straight on us. 

"This isn't an adjustment game where I feel like it's, 'Oh, we're still learning each other'... Nah. Not this game."

The Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference ahead of their return to action on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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