The Brooklyn Nets showed how they plan to approach their playoff rotation in a 118-107 home win against the Cleveland Cavaliers to leapfrog into the seven seed with one more game to play. 

In a game considered a must-win for the Nets to avoid the much more difficult Play-In Tournament setup for teams who finish ninth and 10th, Brooklyn cut their rotation down to eight players while Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Bruce Brown all played at least 39 minutes.

Seth Curry and Andre Drummond filled out the starting five, while Kessler Edwards, Patty Mills and Nic Claxton came off the bench, with LaMarcus Aldrige, Blake Griffin and rookie Cam Thomas out of the mix.

Durant went on to finish with a game-high 36 points on 11-of-20 shooting (four-of-six from long range, 10-of-10 from the free throw line) to go with five assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block, while Brown had 10 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks to go with his 18 points (six-of-12 shooting).

With the win, Brooklyn is now in position to host their first Play-In Tournament game – likely against the Cavaliers – with the winner entering the playoffs as the seven seed, while the loser gets another chance to play for the eight seed.

Most Improved Player contender Darius Garland was spectacular for the Cavs, scoring 31 points on 12-of-24 shooting, but the loss means his side has now lost eight of their past 10, and have been sputtering without injured center Jarrett Allen.

Overall, the Cavaliers are 43-38 this season, but just 8-17 in games Allen has missed.

No stoppin' Obi Toppin

It was a career night for New York Knicks cult figure Obi Toppin as he scored a career-high 35 points in his side's 114-92 away win against the Washington Wizards.

In only his eighth start of the season, the former first-round pick shot 14-of-22 from the field, including six-of-nine from deep, while fellow fan-favorite Immanuel Quickley was terrific off the bench, scoring 23 points (nine-of-18 shooting) with 10 assists.

 

Siakam shines, Heat hang on

Pascal Siakam seems destined to receive All-NBA honors this season after another great performance lifted his Toronto Raptors to a 117-115 win against the Houston Rockets.

In his past 10 games, Siakam is averaging 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists while shooting 53 per cent from the field, and improved those numbers with 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against the Rockets.

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks played their shortened playoff rotations, and Trae Young's 35 points and eight assists was not enough as the top-seeded Heat prevailed 113-109 at home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

George returns in Clippers comeback win

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

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

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

 

Lakers slide continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Curry-less Warriors beaten again

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

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

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

 

Knicks' remarkable run downs Heat

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

Giannis Antetokounmpo missed his second game in the Milwaukee Bucks' past three as they won 114-102 over the Washington Wizards but head coach Mike Budenholzer insists there is nothing to worry about.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP missed the game with a sore right knee, leaving Jrue Holiday to star with 24 points and 10 assists as the Bucks improved to 46-27.

Antetokounmpo also missed Saturday's 138-119 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves with knee soreness.

"I don't think it's anything long-term or anything significant, but we'll see whether he travels tomorrow and make decisions on the game Saturday as we kind of see how he feels and learn more," Mike Budenholzer told reporters before Thursday's game.

Khris Middleton has missed Milwaukee's past two games with a sore left wrist but Budenholzer was bullish he would be available to face the in-form Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

"I fully expect him to travel with us to Memphis," Budenholzer said. "I think I'd go as far as to say we're hopeful he'll play against Memphis.

"We'll see how he does in the next day or two, but as of now, I'd expect him to be on the flight and we're hopeful that he'll play."

Devin Booker put on a show with 49 points as Chris Paul returned from a broken wrist as the Phoenix Suns clinched top spot in the Western Conference with a 140-130 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Booker's 49 points was a season-high, while 36-year-old Paul returned for the first time since February 20 with 17 points, including 15 in the first half, and 13 assists as the Suns secured their sixth straight win.

Three-time All-Star Booker shot 16-of-25 from the field and also had 10 assists, with Mikal Bridges contributing 22 points from eight-of-nine shooting.

The win means the Suns have secured the NBA's best record for the third time in franchise history, following on from 1992-93 and 2004-05.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had 28 points with six rebounds and six assists for the Nuggets, who are 43-31 and holding on to sixth spot in the Western Conference.

 

Grizzlies and Bucks win without stars

The Memphis Grizzlies won again without Ja Morant with a 133-103 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Desmond Bane scored 30 points with five assists and five rebounds as the Grizzlies improved to 16-2 without Morant.

The Milwaukee Bucks triumphed without Khris Middleton (wrist) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) with Jrue Holiday starring with 24 points and 10 assists in a 114-102 win over the Washington Wizards.

Pascal Siakam equalled his season-high 35 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-104 in a crucial game in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

 

DeRozan out as Bulls slide continues

The Chicago Bulls slipped to their fifth defeat from their past six games, going down 126-109 to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Bulls are fifth in the east with a 42-31 record, just ahead of the Cavs and Raptors (both 41-32).

The Bulls, who were without DeMar DeRozan due to a left groin issue, were dominated 40-24 by the Pels in the fourth quarter, led by Devonte' Graham (30 points including five three-pointers) and Jonas Valanciunas (16 points and 19 rebounds).

Zach LaVine was Chicago's best with 39 points in DeRozan's absence, going 12-of-23 from the field, while Coby White added 23 points off the bench including five triples.

Frank Vogel was keen to take the time to acknowledge LeBron James' achievement in passing Karl Malone despite the Los Angeles Lakers' 127-119 defeat to the Washington Wizards.

With 38 points against the Wizards, James moved ahead of Malone (36,928) onto 36,947 for his career, now trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) all-time.

For James, who has played 197 games fewer than Abdul-Jabbar, this was a 31st 30-point game of the season – behind only Joel Embiid (33).

Lakers team-mate Russell Westbrook described this latest accomplishment as "an amazing feat to witness", while Carmelo Anthony said he was "still in awe" of James.

James insisted he could not "separate" his own performance from the defeat – "all I care about is wins and losses," he explained – but that was not a stance Vogel agreed with.

"It's bittersweet, but I think it's important to separate it," the coach said.

"This is a moment of time that we can't get caught up in the pain of this loss and [must] recognise what an incredible feat this is for LeBron, doing it in the fashion that he did it.

"He just attacked the game tonight. He came in and was aggressive on both sides of the ball, the second night of a back-to-back, really playing with incredible energy after playing 45 minutes last night.

"It was just a signature performance in a game where he passes one of the greats and becomes the second all-time leading scorer in the history of the game.

"It's really impressive, and I'm super happy for him. It's awesome."

For a player so focused on results, this has been a tough season for James, with the loss leaving the Lakers just half a game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans in ninth in the West at 30-41.

This is despite James' 29.8 points per game – the third-highest mark of his career and highest since 2007-08.

"It's just an incredible game, an incredible season, and I don't know where we'd be without him," Vogel said.

Happily for the Lakers, as they look set for the play-in game, Vogel believes James is still getting better.

"This year's no different. The fact that it's later in his career and he's still doing it at this level is different," he added.

"Obviously, the way he's continuing to evolve his game with the deep shooting, with the turnaround, fadeaway jump shot that Kobe [Bryant] and Michael [Jordan] had later in his career... He's growing as a receiver. That part is special."

LeBron James will not allow himself to think about breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA point scoring record despite moving into second spot on Saturday.

Four-time NBA MVP James scored 38 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 127-119 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday, helping him surpass Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone's mark into second spot on the all-time list.

James is now behind only former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time NBA scoring list with 38,387 points.

The 37-year-old's 38-point haul moved him to 36,947 career points, which is 1,440 points behind Abdul-Jabbar's record.

The Lakers superstar has scored 1,580 points this season, meaning becoming the NBA's all-time top scorer is realistic in the next 12 months yet he insisted it was not a focus.

"I will not allow myself to think about it," James said at the post-game news conference. "I've always just played the game and these things have just happened organically by playing the right way.

"I hope to accomplish that at some point in my career but I won't think about it too much, pretty much until we get there hopefully."

James surpassed Malone's mark with 5:20 left in the second quarter. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are fourth and fifth respectively on the list.

"Just to be a part of this league for as many years as I've been a part of it, to be linked with some of the greatest to ever play this game, guys I've watched or studied, or read about, or inspired to be like, I'm just lost for words for it," James said.

"It's an honour for myself, for my friends and family to live these moments, for anyone who's shared my journey."

LeBron James will not allow himself to think about breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA point scoring record despite moving into second spot on Saturday.

Four-time NBA MVP James scored 38 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 127-119 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday, helping him surpass Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone's mark into second spot on the all-time list.

James is now behind only former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time NBA scoring list with 38,387 points.

The 37-year-old's 38-point haul moved him to 36,947 career points, which is 1,440 points behind Abdul-Jabbar's record.

The Lakers superstar has scored 1,580 points this season, meaning becoming the NBA's all-time top scorer is realistic in the next 12 months yet he insisted it was not a focus.

"I will not allow myself to think about it," James said at the post-game news conference. "I've always just played the game and these things have just happened organically by playing the right way.

"I hope to accomplish that at some point in my career but I won't think about it too much, pretty much until we get there hopefully."

James surpassed Malone's mark with 5:20 left in the second quarter. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are fourth and fifth respectively on the list.

"Just to be a part of this league for as many years as I've been a part of it, to be linked with some of the greatest to ever play this game, guys I've watched or studied, or read about, or inspired to be like, I'm just lost for words for it," James said.

"It's an honour for myself, for my friends and family to live these moments, for anyone who's shared my journey."

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

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

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

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

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

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James has surpassed Karl Malone as the league's all-time second leading scorer in Saturday's Los Angeles Lakers game against the Washington Wizards.

James trailed the former Utah Jazz Hall of Famer by 20 points coming into Saturday's game but passed him with 5:20 left in the second quarter.

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

Two-time MVP Malone scored 36,928 points across his decorated 19-year NBA career. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are fourth and fifth respectively on the list.

James, who was under some doubt for Saturday's game due to knee soreness following Friday's over-time win over the Toronto Raptors, entered the game averaging 29.7 points per game this season.

The four-time NBA champion has not had such a productive offensive season since 2009-10 when he averaged 29.7 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson enjoyed an on-court reunion on Monday, which was described by the latter as "magical".

For the first time since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, the Warriors had their star trio of Curry, Green and Thompson on the court together.

Green had been out since early January due to a back injury, meaning he had been unable to feature since Thompson's return from two serious injury lay-offs.

But the trio were back and as good as ever against the Washington Wizards, who the Warriors defeated 126-112.

Green featured for 20 minutes and had six points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Thompson added 20 points to the Warriors' tally.

Curry, meanwhile, marked his 34th birthday in sensational style, scoring a season-high 47 points and finishing with six rebounds and as many assists. 

It was the sixth time in 2021-22 that Curry has enjoyed a 40-plus point game.

"That was magical," Thompson told reporters, while Green enthused: "It was beautiful."

Curry explained: "I think what it did for him is what it did for all of us. You could tell the energy picked up.

"It's not anything more than what's built on 10 years of experience and chemistry and winning and an understanding of how we do things. No matter how much time we have off, we can get right back to it.

"It is crazy to think first time me, Klay and Draymond had been on the court in a very, very long time.

"We want to keep building on that. We know each other like the back of our hand, we complement each other very well."

Golden State have now won four straight games all by double digits, following a five-game losing streak.

The Warriors moved to 47-22 for the season and have now beat every other team in the NBA at least once this season.

Frank Vogel led the praise for LeBron James after the four-time MVP scored 50 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 122-109 win over the Washington Wizards.

James reached the half-century mark for the 15th time in his illustrious career, and a second time in the space of three games, to inspire the Lakers' comeback victory.

The 37-year-old was 18 of 25 from the field and made six 3-points in the space of 36 minutes as Vogel's side rallied to snap a two-game losing streak and improve to 29-37.

He is the first Lakers player with 50-or-more points in back-to-back home games since Kobe Bryant in 2007 after hitting 56 against the Golden State Warriors last week.

Adding to his growing list of records, James is also the first player in NBA history to have a 50-point game followed by a triple-double followed by another 50-point game.

Nineteen years on from starting his career at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Vogel is amazed by James' longevity at the top of the sport.

"He's really good at basketball, that LeBron James," Vogel told reporters after the game. 

"I think what stands out to me is the league has never seen a player at his stage of his career do what he's doing. Just an incredible, unbelievable, epic performance."

 

With six rebounds against the Wizards, James moved past Dikembe Mutombo into 12th place on the NBA's career defensive rebounds list with 8,553.

He is just two assists away from becoming the first player ever to reach 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists in NBA history.

Reflecting on another standout display, James said: "We just needed to pick our energy up and get more detailed about how we wanted to attack the Wizards. 

"We did that, especially in the third quarter. I was able to hit a hot streak at one point. I just tried to stay in that zone as long as possible and hit a couple.

"For us to be able to come in in the third quarter, that's been one of our down quarters this year, held them to 23 points in that third and run off 37. It was big for us."

Malik Monk scored 21 points and Talen Horton-Tucker added 15 for the Lakers, helping to inflict a third defeat in four games on the 29-36 Wizards.

Kristap Porzingis's season-high 14 rebounds and 14 points looked as though it would be enough for the visitors until James took over.

"Bron was exceptional tonight, it's hard to stop him," Porzingis said. "Even at his age, he's still capable of doing incredible things like that.

"Once he got going, it was really hard to stop anything he was doing."

The Lakers return to action on Sunday when they face the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns, who have already booked a playoff spot, while the Wizards face the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Phoenix Suns became the first team to secure a playoff spot with an impressive 111-90 defeat of the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

Devin Booker returned from a four-game absence to put up 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the leaders of the West toppled the top side in the East.

The Suns, who are 53-13 for the season, have now beaten all other 29 teams in the same season for the first time since 2006-07.

"I told the guys it was one of the best defensive performances I've ever seen," said Suns coach Monty Williams after watching his team concede just 35 points in the second half. "I've been around for a little bit."

Duncan Robinson was top scorer for Miami with 22, who led by 11 in the early stages before falling to just their third defeat in 15 games.

"They were first to the ball a lot," said Robinson. "They were the aggressor. Unacceptable."

 

The Milwaukee Bucks are now two games behind the Heat at the top of the Eastern Conference after beating the Atlanta Hawks 124-115, with Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double of 43 points and 12 rebounds firing them to a sixth-straight win.

Antetokounmpo finished 15-of-22 from the field to take his tally to 82 points in the space of 24 hours after his 39 in Tuesday's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"The things he does are not normal," said team-mate Bobby Portis. "It's fun to be his team-mate and fun to play alongside him."

Rockets stun Lakers in overtime

The Los Angeles Lakers lost for the ninth time in a row on the road, going down 139-130 in overtime against the Houston Rockets.

A triple-double from LeBron James and 30 points from Russell Westbrook were not enough as rookie Jalen Green hit a career-high 32 points for the Rockets.

"We have a really small margin of error this season and teams are making us pay," said James, whose run of consecutive 25-point games ended at 23. "I missed a lot of shots that I know I'm capable of making, have made throughout the course of the season and my career."

The Los Angeles Clippers snapped their two-game losing streak, beating the Washington Wizards 115-109, while the Utah Jazz improved to 41-24 with a comfortable 123-85 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bulls back on track, Beasley sets record

The Chicago Bulls ended a run of five consecutive losses, DeMar DeRozan scoring 36 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, in a 114-108 win over the Detroit Pistons.

It was a day to remember for Malik Beasley, who set a franchise record for three-pointers in the Minnesota Timberwolves' win at home over the Thunder.

Beasley landed 11 of his 17 attempts from beyond the arc as Minnesota, seventh in the West, made it six wins in a row.

The Boston Celtics continued their recent good form with a 115-101 win at the Charlotte Hornets, while the New York Knicks pulled off a fifth-straight road win over the Dallas Mavericks, Julius Randle scoring 26 points in a 107-77 blowout.

Gregg Popovich will have to wait for his NBA record 1,336th regular-season win as coach, the San Antonio Spurs falling 119-104 at home to the Toronto Raptors.

There were also wins for the Orlando Magic, who topped the New Orleans Pelicans 108-102, and the Denver Nuggets, who beat the Sacramento Kings 106-100 thanks to a 38-point double-double from Nikola Jokic.

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