Luguentz Dort finds himself in illustrious company after his game-winning shot lifted the Oklahoma City Thunder to victory over the San Antonio Spurs. 

With the game tied at 99-99, Dort received the ball in the corner and successfully drained a three-pointer, sealing the win in dramatic fashion before falling to the court as he was mobbed by team-mates. 

The 21-year-old is just the third player in franchise history to hit a game-winning attempt from beyond the arc as time expired. The others? Kevin Durant (twice) and Russell Westbrook (three times).

"It felt good when it left my hand," said Dort. "I was just staring at the ball and when it dropped in, I dropped too."

Having gone undrafted in 2019, Dort joined the Thunder initially on a two-way contract. He featured in 36 games last season, averaging 6.8 points per game while shooting 29.7 per cent from deep, building a reputation for his defensive abilities. 

However, he has had a larger role on offense in his second campaign in the NBA, nearly doubling his output in terms of points per game (12.5) while improving to 31.8 per cent from three-point range. 

"Lu's changed it around, obviously, changed the narrative," Thunder team-mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said after the Spurs game.  

"It's just him working hard, not getting down on himself, being confident. When you work hard, confidence comes with it because you believe in yourself." 

Gilgeous-Alexander also excelled against San Antonio, setting a new career high for points as he contributed 42 to Oklahoma City's cause. 

"I just wanted to be aggressive, try to put the defense on their heels, and from there, make the right play," said Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 21 points alone in the third period.

Dort's clinching shot lifted him to 16 points, while Al Horford also managed the same.

Dejounte Murray had 27 in a losing cause for the Spurs, who were beaten for just the fourth time in 13 games on the road this season. 

LeBron James called on the depleted Los Angeles Lakers to remain confident despite suffering a fourth straight loss, this time against an in-form Utah Jazz team who set an NBA record. 

The Jazz hit 22 three-pointers as they shot 46 per cent from deep in a resounding 114-89 triumph on Wednesday, in the process improving to 26-5 for the season.

While Utah lead the way in the Western Conference, the Lakers are suffering a dip that has coincided with the absences of key duo Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder through injury.

James acknowledged it is a "tough stretch" for the reigning champions, though even with the poor recent run they still boast a 22-11 record.

"It's challenging for all of us, especially some of our young guys and some of our guys who haven't been in the position before where they need to do a little bit more than what they are asked to in a normal situation," James said. 

"Everyone is speaking about AD [Davis], and that's obviously a big hit, but we also haven't had Dennis down this stretch too. He's a big piece of our puzzle as well.  

"But it's always about staying confident, continuing to give my team-mates the courage and confidence out there on the floor, and make plays. 

"It's a tough stretch for us, but this won't define who we will be for the rest of the season."

As for the Jazz, they are the first team in NBA history to make 50 threes over a two-game span, having finished with a franchise-record 28 in a blowout triumph over the Charlotte Hornets.

They have now won 14 straight home games by double digits, the second-longest streak posted in the NBA, behind only the Phoenix Suns (15) in the 1989-90 season.

"They came back with the same roster, but what I noticed, more than anything, is that those guys are fully healthy," James told the media.

"Mike Conley is back to himself; you can see that with the way he's moving on the floor and it's trickled down to everyone else. They are playing some really good ball and are a really good team."

Rudy Gobert did not attempt a three but still contributed 18 points, as well as nine rebounds. Conley, meanwhile, landed four of his six attempts from beyond the arc, as well as eight rebounds and eight assists.

"It's all about getting better," Gobert said. "We did a great job sharing the ball offensively. When we defend and we share the ball, it's hard to beat us."

LeBron James was left helpless as the Utah Jazz destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-89, with the defending champions slipping to a fourth straight loss.

James was the game's top scorer with 19 points while six Jazz players hit double-figures, with Rudy Gobert and Jordan Clarkson dropping 18, and the NBA leaders raced away with this contest between two championship contenders.

Utah stormed to a 16-point half-time lead before restricting the Lakers to a season-low 17-point third quarter, and the hosts once again set the bar high from downtown, shooting 22 threes, including a franchise-high 14 in the first half.

The lifeless Lakers offered little resistance while slipping to their biggest loss of the season as the Western Conference leaders cruised to a 22nd win in 24 games.

The Jazz's league-leading 15-2 home record improves them to 26-6 overall.

With Anthony Davis joined by Dennis Schroder on the sidelines, Montrezl Harrell (16 points) and Markieff Morris (12 points) were the only other Lakers players to hit double-figures as their record fell to 22-11.

Gallinari writes Hawks and NBA history

Danilo Gallinari set an Atlanta Hawks franchise record of 10 three-pointers in the 127-112 win against the Boston Celtics.

The Italian veteran had the best shooting day of his career, burying 13 of his 16 attempts from the field, while putting up a personal-best 38 points. 

Siakam ineffective for Raps

Pascal Siakam was only able to put up five points from his 24 minutes on court in the Toronto Raptors' 116-108 defeat by the Miami Heat.

The Raps center landed one of six field-goal attempts, sinking one of his three from distance and adding a pair of free throws, before being benched in the fourth quarter.

 

Dort beats the clock and comes up clutch 

Luguentz Dort's three-point buzzer-beater earned the Oklahoma City Thunder a dramatic 102-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs, after a career-high 42 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Canadian becomes only the third player in franchise history to sink a game-winning three since the move to Oklahoma, joining Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Wednesday's results

Atlanta Hawks 127-112 Boston Celtics
Golden State Warriors 111-107 Indiana Pacers
Cleveland Cavaliers 112-96 Houston Rockets
New Orleans Pelicans 128-118 Detroit Pistons
Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 San Antonio Spurs
Miami Heat 116-108 Toronto Raptors
Chicago Bulls 133-126 Minnesota Timberwolves
Charlotte Hornets 124-121 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 114-89 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pelicans at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Milwaukee Bucks (19-13) to third in the east and they host the Zion Williamson-inspired New Orleans Pelicans (14-17) on Thursday.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will step in to replace injured Los Angeles Laker, Anthony Davis, in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.

Davis is suffering from Achilles tendinosis and a strained right calf, leading to commissioner Adam Silver to choose Booker as an alternate, one day after he was overlooked by league head coaches.

Booker joins Suns team-mate Chris Paul as a 2021 All-Star, earning his second selection after making his debut last season.

The duo have led Phoenix to the fourth-best record in the competition, 20-10, setting their team's best record through 30 games in the past 13 years.

The All-Star captains, Lakers superstar LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets ace Kevin Durant, will draft their rosters on March 4 for the game at State Farm Arena, Atlanta, on March 7.

Seventeen-time All-Star James had tweeted: "Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!! Simple as that," after Booker was snubbed from the All-Star reserves list.

Booker is averaging 24.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds during the 2020-21 season and has dropped a career-high 50.1 per cent of his field-goal attempts.

Robert Lewandowski heads a stellar list of nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award after a golden 12 months for Bayern Munich.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and tennis great Rafael Nadal are also in contention. Joshua Cheptegei and Armand Duplantis complete the male nominees.

Poland striker Lewandowski enjoyed a memorable 2020 for the German giants, with his impeccable performances helping Bayern to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble. 

Across the top-five European leagues, no player could match Lewandowski's 45 goals scored in all competitions from January 1 to December 31 with Cristiano Ronaldo his nearest rival on 41.

In that 12-month period, only Barcelona great Lionel Messi (115) and Juventus superstar Ronaldo (85) registered more shots on target than Lewandowski's 83, while a shot-conversion rate of 34.09 was the fifth highest among players to score at least 20.

Reflecting his all-round contribution, Lewandowski recorded 12 assists in the calendar year, with team-mate Thomas Muller leading the way on an impressive 21. 

Unsurprisingly, Lewandowski won a fifth Torjagerkanone (awarded to the Bundesliga's top scorer) overall and a third in a row thanks to 34 Bundesliga goals in 2019-20, higher than an expected goals rate of 26.9. His 15 goals in the Champions League were also a competition high.

 

In a stacked deck, James is included after a year that saw him win a fourth career NBA title and first with the Lakers, while he also claimed a fourth Finals MVP award.

Across six games in the Lakers' 4-2 triumph over the Miami Heat, James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists, while he shot 59.1 per cent from the field and drained 41.7 per cent of three-point attempts.

Mercedes driver Hamilton won a seventh F1 drivers' title in 2020 to match the overall record of the legendary Michael Schumacher.

During another sensational season, the Briton reached 95 career race wins, which surpasses the previous benchmark of 91 set by Schumacher.

In a calendar year disrupted heavily by the coronavirus pandemic, Nadal still had personal reason to celebrate after winning a record-extending 13th French Open title.

His triumph at Roland Garros means he now stands alongside Roger Federer on 20 grand slams – the most achieved in the men's game.

Uganda's Cheptegei broke both 5,000 and 10,000 metres world records in 2020, while Duplantis of Sweden broke the indoor and outdoor pole vault record.

Tennis' global superstar Naomi Osaka is nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award.

The Japanese was champion at the US Open in 2020, which took her career slam tally to three. She recently made that four by winning the first major of 2021 at the Australian Open.

Lyon captain Wendie Renard is in contention after helping her team to a fifth straight Women's Champions League title, while WNBA Finals MVP award winner Breanna Stewart is included after guiding the Seattle Storm to championship glory.

Cyclist Anna van der Breggen – who won both the road race and time trial at the World Championships – is up for the prize, as is skier Federica Brignone, the first Italian woman to win the overall World Cup.

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei completes the women's nominees after winning the rescheduled London Marathon by more than three minutes.

Bayern, the Lakers and Mercedes are all up for the World Team of the Year Award, as are Liverpool, who won a first English top-flight title in 30 years.

The Kansas City Chiefs make the list after winning a first Super Bowl since 1970, while Argentina's men's rugby team are nominated after earning a first ever win over three-time world champions New Zealand.

Patrick Mahomes' role in the Chiefs Super Bowl win earned him a nomination for the World Breakthrough of the Year Award, with Iga Swiatek up for the prize after winning the women's singles at the French Open aged 19, the youngest slam winner since 1990.

MotoGP world champion Joan Mir, Tour de France victor Tadej Pogacar, US Open male champion Dominic Thiem and prodigious Barcelona talent Ansu Fati complete that category.

Paul George admits he is not a fan of the NBA All-Star Game going ahead this year, despite being selected to represent the Western Conference. 

George is averaging 24.6 points and shooting an impressive 48.6 per cent from three-point range this season for the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that boasts a 23-10 record after Tuesday's win over the Washington Wizards.

His efforts have been rewarded with a place among the list of reserves for the West for the game in Atlanta on March 7. 

It will be a seventh All-Star appearance for George, yet he feels that – amid the coronavirus pandemic – the league should have considered skipping the contest in 2021, insisting: "It's not something that needs to be had". 

"I'm not a fan of it, and that's just for personal reasons," George said. 

"I'm just not a fan of it with everything going on, I think it's just smart [not to happen]. I get that we have an amazing league, I'm not discrediting that. But I think, in the middle of a pandemic, it's not something that needs to be had. 

"I got fined for spending time with a team-mate, for having a team-mate over, then we're having this All-Star Game.  

"I've got personal reasons why I disagree with the game, but I've been selected, and I'll be there to play for the fans."

George missed out on selection for last year's All-Star lineups, while his first season with the Clippers finished in disappointing fashion, the team letting slip a 3-1 series lead to lose to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals. 

For the 30-year-old, however, such setbacks just fuel his desire to become even better.  

"It's just more so, me just staying grounded, me staying committed just to the process. With all the noise, everything going on, you find motivation through it," he said, referencing the reaction to the Clippers' postseason collapse in the Orlando bubble. 

"You dig deep and you would be amazed on what comes out of it. It was honestly just using everything as motivation and fuel and all of that towards this year.

"It's a good milestone to start how my season is going, but definitely not where I want it to end. Got a lot more work to do."

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle praised Luka Doncic for having "laser-like focus" after his game-winning shot sunk the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. 

Doncic hit a three-point attempt with just 0.1 seconds remaining to seal a 110-107 triumph for the Mavericks in front of a small crowd, his second successful effort from deep during a dramatic finish to proceedings.

The Celtics had tied the scores at 107-107 when Jaylen Brown made a driving layup, but there was still enough time left for the Mavs to nick it. 

For Carlisle, it was just further proof that certain players are wired differently to deal with such moments, putting Doncic in the same bracket as legendary names such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. 

"He's just a very unique player, a very unique person," Carlisle said.

"The wiring of people like Luka Doncic, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, guys that have this laser-like focus in these situations.  

"It's difficult to explain how their minds and their brains work." 

Doncic – who will be one of the starters for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game next month – finished with 31 points, aided by making six of his eight attempts from deep.  

He had missed a late three that would have tied the game in the defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers last time out, but this time came up with the clutch shot under pressure, something he has become accustomed to taking – and making – despite not turning 22 until Sunday.

"It felt good out of my hands, I was kind of tired just running around the whole possession. But it got in, and that's all that matters," Doncic said. 

"It's something I've been doing. Sometimes two people go to me and I have to pass it. 

"Sometimes you're going to miss it, sometimes you're going to make it."

Brown led the way for the Celtics with 29 points, while Jayson Tatum contributed 28. Both players were named to the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves list prior to the game. 

"I don't feel very much like an All-Star because we're below .500," Brown said as Boston fell to a 15-16 record for the season.  

"I think this is the most I've lost since I've been here. I'm hopeful that we'll string some games together and make a run. It's very much in our grasp to do so." 

James Harden's triple-double fuelled the streaking Brooklyn Nets to a 127-118 win over the Sacramento Kings in the NBA.

Harden recorded his sixth triple-double since joining the Nets from the Houston Rockets in January, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists as Brooklyn extended their winning streak to seven games on Tuesday.

The former MVP is averaging 27.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 11.1 assists per game with a .500 field goal percentage during Brooklyn's seven-game winning run. Per Stats Perform, the last NBA player to reach all those numbers over a seven-game span was Magic Johnson in 1988.

Bruce Brown scored 13 of his career-high 29 points in the final quarter, while Nets team-mate Kyrie Irving put up 21 of his own at home to the slumping Kings – who have lost eight games in a row.

 

Jokic goes off in Denver, Giannis stars

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic scored 41 points to inspire his team to a 111-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo helped the Milwaukee Bucks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 139-112 thanks to his 37 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals.

The Golden State Warriors topped the New York Knicks 114-106 behind Stephen Curry's game-high 37 points on the road.

Kawhi Leonard (32 points) and Paul George (30 points) combined as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Washington Wizards 135-116.

 

Baptism of fire for debutant Finch

How big is the challenge facing new Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch? Look no further than the loss to the Bucks. Minnesota have lost five consecutive games and nine of their last 10 to own the NBA's worst record of 7-25. Former Raptors assistant Finch replaced Ryan Saunders on Monday.

Fred VanVleet was just four of 14 from the field for 12 points in the Toronto Raptors' 109-102 defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers, but he was only three-of-13 shooting from the field.

 

Doncic calls game

Luka Doncic delivered in a clutch moment for the Dallas Mavericks, who edged the Boston Celtics 110-107. Doncic nailed a three-pointer with 0.1 seconds remaining to break a tie against Boston. He posted 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

 

Tuesday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 112-111 Atlanta Hawks
Detroit Pistons 105-93 Orlando Magic
Brooklyn Nets 127-118 Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors 114-106 New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers 109-102 Toronto Raptors
Dallas Mavericks 110-107 Boston Celtics
Milwaukee Bucks 139-112 Minnesota Timberwolves
Denver Nuggets 111-106 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Clippers 135-116 Washington Wizards

 

Lakers at Jazz

It is the hunted against the hunters on Wednesday. Defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers travel to the NBA-leading Utah Jazz midweek. A run of three consecutive losses has left the Lakers (22-10) third in the Western Conference, behind the Jazz (25-6) and neighbours the Clippers (23-10).

James Harden and Anthony Davis headline the reserves for next month's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets will captain their respective sides – Team LeBron and Team Durant – in the 70th All-Star contest on March 7.

Nets guard and former MVP Harden has been named an All-Star for the ninth consecutive year as he headlines the Eastern Conference reserves, which also includes Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum (both Boston Celtics), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Julius Randle (New York Knicks) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic).

Brown, LaVine and Randle have earned All-Star selection for the first time in their careers.

Lakers star Davis is the pick of the Western Conference reserves, alongside 11-time All-Star Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns.

Joining the pair as reserves from the west are Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers), Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert (both Utah Jazz), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) – who is a first-time All-Star.

The All-Star Game rosters will be determined through a March 4 draft, where James and Durant will select from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference.

The 10 All-Star Game starters were unveiled last week, with Durant, Kyrie Irving (Nets) two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards) and Joel Embiid (76ers) in the Eastern Conference starter pool.

James, Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) and Kawhi Leonard (Clippers) are in the Western Conference starter pool.

76ers head coach Doc Rivers will coach Team Durant, while Quin Snyder of the Jazz will coach Team LeBron.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash expects Kevin Durant to return from injury before the NBA All-Star break.

Nets star Durant sat Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings – his fifth in succession – due to a left hamstring strain.

The All-Star Game takes place on March 7 and former MVP Durant has been named captain of the Eastern Conference team.

Brooklyn have four games remaining prior to the league halting on March 5, and Nash told reporters before the Kings clash: "We're just trying to monitor and be cautious.

"We definitely have kind of slowed things down in that respect, not putting any pressure on him, not trying to rush him back in any capacity and just make sure that we give him the right amount of time to be more than healed, to be strong and conditioned to come back to the team."

Durant is averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for the star-studded Nets this season.

The star-studded Nets (20-12) have won six consecutive games to be within half a game of Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (20-11).

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban insisted trade rumours claiming the NBA franchise are shopping star Kristaps Porzingis are "not accurate".

The trade deadline is March 25 and speculation over Porzingis has intensified amid reports the Mavericks have gauged the Golden State Warriors' interest.

Dallas acquired Porzingis in a trade with the New York Knicks in 2019, pairing him with Luka Doncic but the Latvian big man has struggled for form and fitness.

Cuban, however, denied the reports regarding 2018 All-Star Porzingis – who was the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

"It's not accurate," Cuban told The Dallas Morning News. "We have not discussed him in a trade at all. Has not happened."

Prior to Tuesday's clash with the Boston Celtics, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added: "I know Mark's denied it. I'm denying it."

Porzingis is averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for the Mavericks (14-15) this season.

The 25-year-old returned from a knee injury in January, which he sustained in October.

"He's had to play his way into shape, and it just hasn't quite been the same," said Carlisle.

"It's not an excuse thing in my mind. These are just the true facts of what's happened."

Two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol has confirmed he is heading back to Barcelona, having earlier denied reports of a return to his former team.

Gasol started his career with Barca in the 1998-99 season before entering the NBA draft three years later, selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks.

A storied stay in the United States followed, notably taking in a six-year stretch with the Los Angeles Lakers.

But Gasol has not played in the NBA since March 2019 due to a foot injury and was waived by the Trail Blazers later that year without playing a single game in Portland.

The center, now 40, has continued to discuss a potential return to action, with the suggestion of a move back to the Lakers mooted when Marc Gasol, his brother, signed for the team this season.

However, the idea of turning out for the Blaugrana once again had also appealed to Barcelona-born Gasol.

Responding to the reported move last week, Gasol wrote on Twitter: "I remain focused on my recovery and I am not ready to get back to competing just yet."

But he added he would announce any future news on his social media account, and Gasol had an update on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy to announce that I'm coming home and that I'll soon join the ranks of Barca's basketball team," Gasol said.

"I want to put my skills and experience at the disposal of the club at a key point in the season, while at the same time making progress in my physical condition and getting into the rhythm of competition.

"I'm happy to return to the club where I began, and I'm excited about this new opportunity: I hope to contribute to the first team very soon. I want to thank Barca and its technical staff for making it possible to join them."

Barcelona announced he has joined until June 30, stating on their website: "FC Barcelona is delighted that Gasol has decided to sign and return to the place that has always been his home. The club is pleased and honoured that Pau will be wearing the blaugrana colours once again."

The upcoming Olympic Games would appear to be a motivating factor in a move that seemingly ends the six-time All-Star's NBA career.

Gasol, the Rookie of the Year winner in his debut season with the Memphis Grizzlies, played 1,226 regular season games in the NBA, averaging 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 0.5 steals.

His best scoring season brought 20.8 points per game in 2006-07, his final full campaign with the Grizzlies, although he was an increased threat on the boards later in his career, with 11.8 rebounds per game with the Chicago Bulls in 2014-15.

Between starring for Memphis and Chicago, Gasol joined Kobe Bryant on two title-winning teams in LA, although he first lost in the Finals shortly after joining the Lakers in 2008.

Gasol started all 46 playoff games across their successes in 2008-09 and 2009-10, having been named to the All-NBA Third Team in the regular season on each occasion.

The Lakers star then made the Second Team with 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game the following year.

Russell Westbrook believes the Washington Wizards sticking together prevented the team from coming apart after an awful start to the NBA season. 

The Wizards continued their revival as they earned a 127-124 overtime win against defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. 

They trailed by 17 points in the second half but rallied impressively, with Westbrook racking up 32 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. 

The Wizards have now won five straight games, having previously not even put together a run of four consecutive victories since February 2018. 

Wins against the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Lakers have turned the season around. 

The Wizards started 6-17 in Westbrook's first year since his trade from the Rockets, but they are now surging ahead of another huge test at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. 

"It has been tough, but we have been sticking together," Westbrook said, per ESPN, amid the team's best run in three years. 

"That's the main thing. If you get caught up with everything else going on, teams and players tend to come apart. 

"But we have been sticking together and communicating on how to become a better team, and it's been paying off for us."

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal also shone with 33 points, including six on three straight possessions during a pivotal spell in overtime. 

"It feels different, in a great way," he said. "It feels great, but at the same time, we still haven't done a damn thing. 

"We realise that, and we keep telling each other that. 

"We've still got bad habits we need to break, but we don't discount what we did." 

LeBron James had 31 points for the Lakers, who have now lost four of their last five, with Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder out injured. 

"It takes a whole team to collectively get wins, and right now we have two of our main rotation guys out," Kyle Kuzma said after registering 14 points in the loss. 

"Obviously there are no excuses. You don't want to lose to an under-.500 team like that, but this is the NBA and anybody can win. We just have to figure it out." 

LeBron James insisted he does not believe in rest after the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a frustrating loss to the Washington Wizards.

Defending NBA champions the Lakers have lost three games in a row and four of their last five after going down 127-124 in overtime on Monday.

James missed a free-throw with 10 seconds left in regulation time and did not connect with his last four three-point attempts in the fourth quarter and OT as the Lakers surrendered a 17-point lead.

The 36-year-old played for over 43 minutes. He has not missed a game this season and has clocked up over 200 minutes more than anyone on the Lakers roster, with star team-mate Anthony Davis out injured.

James still had 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in a productive outing, but acknowledged he had not been at his best.

The Lakers (22-10) have gone to OT four times in the last 17 days, losing this one as Bradley Beal (33) and Russell Westbrook (32) combined for 65 points.

"This whole narrative of 'LeBron needs more rest' or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it's become a lot bigger than what it actually is," James told reporters after the game, per ESPN. 

"I've never talked about it, I don't talk about it, I don't believe in it. 

"We all need more rest, s***. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I'm here to work, I'm here to punch my clock in and be available to my team-mates.

"And if I'm hurt or if I'm not feeling well then we can look at it then, but I have nothing but honest people around me [advising me].

"I'm also honest with myself as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my team-mates is more important than anything.

"Obviously I take full responsibility [for] missing that free throw. I got to make the free throw up there, it's an easy point for us. 

"We didn't lose the game there, but I take that responsibility for sure, and I got to be better."

James added about his workload: "I'm not pushing myself. I'm doing my job and I'm trying to do it at a high level, but that's been a narrative around the league.

"I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it's growing to a point where it's not even coming from me anymore. I've been hearing it for five, six, seven years now and I'm still going strong. 

"So, I don't need a handout, I'm not looking for a handout, my job is to go out when I'm available, when I'm healthy to go out and play and that's what it's all about."

"It's something I've done before," James added about the packed schedule and an upcoming All-Star game. "I can continue to do it, but I would much rather us be whole."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel called James "a workhorse" and said he would make decisions about the veteran on a game-by-game basis.

A game at Western Conference leaders the Utah Jazz is next on Wednesday.

Western Conference leaders, the Utah Jazz, bounced back from their first loss in 10 games by draining a franchise-record 28 threes while crushing the Charlotte Hornets 132-110.

Donovan Mitchell top scored with 23 points, while three players – Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang – came off the bench to post 20 points or more to send the Jazz to 25-6.

Ingles and Niang each shot seven from downtown, while Clarkson added five. 

Utah became the fastest team in NBA history to record 500 three-pointers in a season, setting the record at 31 games.

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