LeBron James guided the Los Angeles Lakers to a ninth straight win in the NBA, while the Boston Celtics claimed a victory on Monday.

James' 31 points and eight assists saw the Lakers ease past the Cleveland Cavaliers 128-99.

Dwight Howard contributed a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds off the bench as the Lakers improved to 33-7 this season.

The Celtics made it back-to-back wins by overcoming the Chicago Bulls 113-101.

Boston had four starters manage double-digits in points, with Jayson Tatum leading the way with 21.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander shines as Lillard lifts Trail Blazers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a triple-double of 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game.

Damian Lillard's 30 points and nine assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers past the Charlotte Hornets 115-112.

Nikola Vucevic finished with a double-double of 26 points and 15 rebounds in the Orlando Magic's 114-112 win over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Misery for Morris

Markieff Morris went two-of-12 from the field for just seven points in 18 minutes in the Detroit Pistons' 117-110 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Lillard from deep

Lillard hit a buzzer-beater from near half-court to finish the third quarter.

Monday's results

New Orleans Pelicans 117-110 Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers 101-95 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 113-101 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
Portland Trail Blazers 115-112 Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic 114-112 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 128-99 Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Cavaliers at Clippers

Things get no easier for the Cavaliers (12-28) as they stay in Los Angeles to face the Clippers (27-13) on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers insists there is no way he should have been ejected in Sunday's defeat to the Denver Nuggets.

It was a disappointing evening for the Clippers, who fell short in a rally to fall to a 114-104 loss on the road.

Rivers allowed frustration to get the better of him with a little over a minute remaining when Patrick Beverley was pinged for fouling the influential Nikola Jokic.

After Jokic nailed the free-throws, Rivers – who was already reeling from seeing Montrezl Harrell called for an offensive charge against Jerami Grant earlier in the quarter – remonstrated with official Nick Buchert and received two technical fouls to be ejected. 

"Listen, coaches can lose their composure, so can officials," Rivers said. "There's no way I should have been thrown out of the game.

"The pick was solid. The bottom line is I shouldn't get a tech. That's number one. That's on me."

Jokic impressed for the Nuggets with 20 points, 15 rebounds and six assists and Rivers conceded his team did not get to grips with the Denver dangerman.

"Post-ups, he's great. Passing, he's great. Shooting, he's great," Rivers said. "Not a lot of weaknesses there. Just got to guard him hard."

The Clippers were without Paul George (hamstring) for the second straight game and Rivers said "we'll just keep evaluating" when asked about his progress.

Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets past Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers 114-104, while Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving impressed on his return in the NBA.

Jokic's double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds helped the Nuggets see off Western Conference rivals the Clippers in Denver on Sunday.

Jamal Murray contributed 19 points as the Nuggets edged the Clippers, who closed within six points with just over a minute remaining after trailing by as many as 20 in the second half.

In the absence of Paul George (hamstring) for the second consecutive game, Leonard led the Clippers with 30 points on the road.

In Brooklyn, Irving ended his two-month injury absence in the Nets' 108-86 victory at home to the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

Back on the floor following a shoulder injury, Irving was 10 of 11 from the field for 21 points in 20 minutes of action against the Hawks – who were without Trae Young.

 

Valanciunas makes Grizzlies roar

Jonas Valanciunas posted 31 points and collected a season-high 19 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Golden State Warriors 122-102. Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell – who missed the previous six games due to a shoulder problem – scored 34 points.

Kelly Oubre Jr. finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds to help the Phoenix Suns outlast the Charlotte Hornets 100-92.

Jimmy Butler put up 25 points and 10 rebounds but the Miami Heat were stunned 124-121 away to the New York Knicks.

All of the Utah Jazz's starters had double-digit points (Bojan Bogdanovic 31), Rudy Gobert (21, 14 rebounds), Joe Ingles (20), Emmanuel Mudiay (14) and Royce O'Neale (10), while Jordan Clarkson added 23 off the bench in a 127-116 victory over the Washington Wizards.

 

Raptors blow lead

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors were unable to hold out the San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors surrendered an 18-point lead in a 105-104 defeat at home to the Spurs.

Landry Shamet played 25 minutes against the Nuggets and he failed to score a point. The Clippers guard was 0 of five from the floor.

 

Irving's back!

After a prolonged absence and talk of surgery, Irving was back on the court on Sunday and it was like he was never away.

 

Sunday's results

Utah Jazz 127-116 Washington Wizards
New York Knicks 124-121 Miami Heat
San Antonio Spurs 105-104 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 122-102 Golden State Warriors
Brooklyn Nets 108-86 Atlanta Hawks
Phoenix Suns 100-92 Charlotte Hornets
Denver Nuggets 114-104 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Cavs at Lakers

A ninth successive win will be on the line when Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Lakers (32-7) welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers (12-27) to Staples Center on Monday. The Lakers could have star pair LeBron James and Anthony Davis back for the clash. The Cavs have won two straight.

Kyrie Irving savoured his long-awaited comeback after ending a two-month injury absence to lead the Brooklyn Nets past the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

Irving returned from a right shoulder injury for his first NBA appearance since November as the Nets beat the Hawks 108-86 in Brooklyn on Sunday.

The NBA champion and six-time All-Star posted 21 points in 20 minutes, shooting 10 of 11 from the field against the visiting Hawks.

"I really missed the game of basketball," Irving said after the game. "I'm grateful to be out here. I worked extremely hard to get back.

"We got a long season ahead of us, a lot more goals to accomplish, and it started tonight ... I love the game man, I missed it so much."

The Nets improved their season record to 18-20 to be seventh in the Eastern Conference following back-to-back wins.

In his first season with the Nets since leaving the Boston Celtics, Irving is averaging 27.9 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Kyrie Irving appears set to make his first appearance since November after the Brooklyn Nets said the six-time All-Star was "getting ready" for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Irving, one of Brooklyn's big free-agent acquisitions in the offseason along with Kevin Durant, has missed the Nets' past 26 games with a right shoulder injury.

The Nets, who remain without the injured Durant, have gone 13-13 in that time and Irving's return will be a timely boost for a team eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Irving had officially been listed as 'probable' for the game in Brooklyn, and the Nets' tweet on Sunday suggested he will be returning.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics guard has averaged 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists - all career highs - in his 11 appearances for Brooklyn so far.

James Harden revelled in the "great accomplishment" of surpassing the 20,000 point-mark in the NBA on Saturday.

The Houston Rockets star posted 32 points in his side's 139-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, adding 12 rebounds and eight assists for good measure. 

A haul of 20,022 places Harden 45th on the all-time list, although Kareem Abdul-Jabbar' 38,387 remains a distant prospect.

"It's a great accomplishment obviously," Harden said. "I have a bigger picture and bigger goals, but it's pretty cool."

The 30-year-old revealed that he took the game ball and gave it to his mother for safe keeping.

"She has everything,'' he said. "Every goal and achievement that I have, she has it. I gave it to her, and she'll put it in a safe place.''

Russell Westbrook offered glowing praise of his team-mate.

"To be able to do that on a very, very high level is something we don't take for granted," he said.

"Growing up in LA and being able to see him progress over the years, to me, is just a blessing to see as his friend, and I'm truly happy for him."

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks were too good for the Portland Trail Blazers 122-101, while the depleted Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points and 17 rebounds as the Bucks won their third consecutive game and improved to 35-6 for the season.

Khris Middleton posted 30 points and team-mate Eric Bledsoe contributed 29 for the high-flying Bucks in Portland on Saturday.

The Lakers celebrated their eighth successive victory by topping the Oklahoma City Thunder 125-110 without a host of stars on the road.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Danny Green were all absent for the trip to Oklahoma City, but Western Conference leaders the Lakers still won thanks to a season-high 36 points from Kyle Kuzma.

 

Career night for Tatum

A career-high 41 points from Jayson Tatum led the Boston Celtics past the New Orleans Pelicans 140-105, snapping a three-game skid in the process.

James Harden passed 20,000 career points in the Houston Rockets' 139-109 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He scored 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in three quarters.

Triple-doubles from Tristan Thompson (18 points, 13 rebounds), Kevin Love (19 points, 15 rebounds) and Cedi Osman (11 points, 12 rebounds) helped the Cleveland Cavaliers shock the Denver Nuggets 111-103.

 

Shooting struggles for Sixers

The Philadelphia 76ers had plenty of looks but were woeful from the floor in their 109-91 loss away to the Dallas Mavericks. Philadelphia tallied 98 shots but finished at 38 per cent. The 76ers were also nine of 37 from three-point range.

 

Celtics sizzle

The Celtics were red-hot in this team move that stunned the Pelicans and set up Enes Kanter.

 

Saturday's results

Houston Rockets 139-109 Minnesota Timberwolves
Boston Celtics 140-105 Orleans Pelicans
Chicago Bulls 108-99 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Lakers 125-110 Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas Mavericks 109-91 Philadelphia 76ers
Cleveland Cavaliers 111-103 Denver Nuggets
Milwaukee Bucks 122-101 Portland Trail Blazers

 

 

Clippers at Nuggets

The Los Angeles Clippers (27-12) – riding a two-game winning streak – can cement second spot in the west on Sunday. The Nuggets (26-12) will host the Clippers after being shocked by the Cavs.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will miss the showdown with Western Conference rivals the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA franchise announced.

Having already confirmed superstar LeBron James (illness) and Danny Green as absentees prior to tip-off against the Thunder on Saturday, the Lakers added Davis to the list.

Davis – initially listed as questionable for the clash – missed Friday's win over the Dallas Mavericks due to a gluteus maximus contusion suffered against the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Flourishing since arriving from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade, Davis has been averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Lakers.

The Lakers are riding a seven-game winning streak as they top the Western Conference with a 31-7 record.

LeBron James was ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, while Anthony Davis was a doubt.

With Davis absent for Friday's meeting with the Dallas Mavericks due to a gluteus maximus contusion, James played through illness to lead the Lakers to a 129-114 victory at American Airlines Center.

However, the team's official Twitter account confirmed the four-time NBA MVP and Danny Green would sit out against the Thunder. Davis was listed as questionable.

The Lakers are on a seven-game winning streak and lead the Western Conference with a 31-7 record.

James has averaged 34.9 minutes, 25.4 points, 10.7 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game this season.

LeBron James was honoured to again be linked with another NBA great after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time list of field goals made in the Los Angeles Lakers' victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Four-time MVP James surpassed Chicago Bulls legend Jordan's 12,192 field goals as the Lakers defeated the Mavs 129-114 in the absence of Anthony Davis for their seventh straight win.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (12,681), Karl Malone (13,528) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837) remain ahead of the former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat star.

James was proud to be mentioned alongside such esteemed company amid the gruelling regular season.

"When you're on a journey and you're in a marathon, to be able to have feats along the way is pretty special," said James, who had a double-double of 35 points and 16 rebounds to go with seven assists.

"Any time I'm linked with the greats, tonight being MJ himself, that's special.

"Hopefully I continue to make the greats proud, live on that legacy and continue to make my family and my fans proud as well."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James: "He's just special. There's not enough adjectives, really, to describe LeBron James.

"He's a guy that's going to be setting milestones or breaking records every few games, seemingly, probably, for the rest of his career. It's pretty awesome."

Kawhi Leonard produced two stunning dunks as the Los Angeles Clippers came back to defeat the Golden State Warriors and he thinks his health is on an upward trend.

Load management due to a left knee injury has seen Leonard restricted to 29 appearances this season, with the three-time All-Star yet to play on back-to-back nights.

The Warriors, who sit bottom of the Western Conference and slipped to 9-31 with defeat at Staples Center, took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, with the Clippers having committed 17 turnovers through the first three periods.

After the Clippers erased the deficit and moved in front, Leonard – who finished with 36 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block – drove around Glenn Robinson and got the better of Omari Spellman for an emphatic finish at the rim.

The two-time NBA champion acknowledged that four days off were beneficial for the Clippers and hopes he will continue to improve.

"I'm feeling better. I'm able to jump without it grabbing me too much and hopefully I just keep going uphill from here," said Leonard.

"[Time off] helped from an energy standpoint, just as far as people's bodies feeling better, us able to practice, getting to know each other on the floor, talk it through, work on execution. It helped."

Coach Doc Rivers said of Leonard: "He's been doing it a lot lately. I think he's in a far better place now than he was after game one, let's put it like that.

"You can see it with him in the practices, it's just going up. You can feel it, you can see it. He has a better thrust now and it's good. It's been really good to see."

Rivers was not overly concerned by the Clippers' display but admitted they will not get away with repeating it in the postseason.

"If we play like that in May or April that would hurt us, then I wouldn't be good about it," he said.

"We can see and our guys can see it so it's something we can look at, keep changing and keep getting better. We're a work in progress, we've just got to keep getting better."

Luka Doncic felt like "I don't know how to play basketball" during the Dallas Mavericks' loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, which saw him rip his jersey in frustration after missing a free throw.

The Mavericks fell to a 129-114 defeat to the Lakers at the American Airlines Travel Center on Friday.

Doncic had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds to go with seven assists, though he did turn the ball over six times.

However, his anger at what he believed to be a sub-par performance boiled over in the second quarter when he was unable to convert from the line.

"I played very bad. I felt like I don't know how to play basketball. I've got to get better - a lot," Doncic said afterwards.

"I'm competitive, and like I say, I've got to get better at a lot of points. A lot better.

"I know I can get better. There's a lot of things. I'm 20 years old. I've got a lot of things that I can do better, I can learn better. So I'll get better."

Coach Rick Carlisle, who was ejected from the game for berating the officials for allowing a Lakers timeout from an out-of-bounds play, after the Mavericks had already inbounded the ball, had plenty of sympathy for Doncic.

"He is a guy that wants to win, and he gets frustrated," Carlisle said. "Those are emotions and feelings that are about winning and losing, and so I get it. I get it.

"He's going through a lot this year. He's going through just a lot of different situations - some phenomenal performances and other nights where people are just taking physical liberties on him and beating the s*** out of him.

"He's learning how to deal with all that stuff, but it's not easy.

"You know, when I was 20 years old, I was walking around as a freshman at the University of Maine. I didn't know whether to s*** or wind my wristwatch. And this guy is a second-year player, and he's going to be a starter in the All-Star Game.

"I think we've got to understand that he's still young. He's mature beyond his years in terms of how he sees the game and his skill set and how he can do things out on the floor, but we're going through a rough stretch right now. Everybody needs to try to keep their emotions in check."

The Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a seventh straight win, while Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers to victory on Friday.

Even without Anthony Davis due to injury, the Lakers were untroubled in a 129-114 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

LeBron James starred with 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Kyle Kuzma – Davis' replacement – contributed 26 points.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The Clippers were tested on their way to a 109-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Leonard's 36 points helped the Clippers to their win, while Lou Williams chipped in with 21 off the bench.

Middleton steps up as Butler finishes with 33

Khris Middleton had a double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks' 127-106 win against the Sacramento Kings.

Jimmy Butler finished with 33 points as the Miami Heat fell to a surprise 117-113 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Zach LaVine managed to score 43 points, but the Chicago Bulls were downed by the Indiana Pacers 116-105.

 

Graham struggles in Hornets' loss

Devonte' Graham struggled in the Charlotte Hornets' 109-92 loss to the Utah Jazz. The guard went two-of-nine from the field for just four points in 25 minutes.

 

LeBron passes Jordan

James moved up to fourth on the all-time list for field goals made, going past Michael Jordan (12,192). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837), Karl Malone (13,528) and Wilt Chamberlain (12,681) remain ahead of him.

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 111-101 Atlanta Hawks
New Orleans Pelicans 123-111 New York Knicks
Brooklyn Nets 117-113 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 116-105 Chicago Bulls
Memphis Grizzlies 134-121 San Antonio Spurs
Phoenix Suns 98-94 Orlando Magic
Utah Jazz 109-92 Charlotte Hornets
Los Angeles Lakers 129-114 Dallas Mavericks
Milwaukee Bucks 127-106 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 109-100 Golden State Warriors

 

Lakers at Thunder

The Lakers will try to extend their winning streak when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-16) on Saturday.

Anthony Davis has been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' clash against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Davis suffered a gluteus maximus contusion during the Lakers' 117-87 thrashing of the New York Knicks on Tuesday after a hard fall.

The superstar forward will miss the clash against the Mavericks as he continues to recover from the injury.

"Anthony Davis is out for tonight's game," the Lakers announced via their Twitter account.

The Lakers are on a six-game winning streak and top the Western Conference with a 30-7 record.

Davis has enjoyed a fine season so far, averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

Russell Westbrook felt like he was back at home as he was given a rousing reception on his return to Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.

The 2016-17 NBA MVP and eight-time All-Star was given a standing ovation before the Houston Rockets were beaten 113-92 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

There were chants of "MVP" for Westbrook from the Thunder faithful in his first appearance at his old stomping ground since ending an 11-year spell with Oklahoma to join the Rockets last year.

Westbrook scored a game-high 34 points and although he was unable to make a winning return, the point guard savoured the welcome he was given, with a tribute video also played in recognition of the huge impact he made for the Thunder.

"Man, some things you can't put into words, just because I've been here so long, so many great memories, great people," Westbrook said.

"Obviously, the best fans in the world, because they come with it, and tonight they came with it.

"The organisation, Sam [Presti], Mr. [Clay] Bennett, they do an amazing job of just making you feel home. And I felt like I was home."

Westbrook added: "It's special. It's a very, very special thing that meant a lot to me, honestly.

"Coming back here, just making me feel that I was very, very appreciated."

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