Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin is closing in on a return after he was cleared to resume all basketball related activities. 

Griffin has not featured this season after being sidelined by a hamstring injury and posterior knee soreness.

The Pistons announced on Thursday that the six-time All-Star, who underwent knee surgery in April, will be monitored on a daily basis. 

Detroit are 4-5 this season in the absence of Griffin, who was so impressive in the previous campaign. 

He averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists last year while shooting 36.2 per cent from beyond the arc en route to the Pistons' eighth-seeded finish in the Western Conference.

A trip to Indiana Pacers on Friday is the next assignment for the Pistons, who beat the New York Knicks 122-102 on Wednesday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo may have been "excited" about facing Kawhi Leonard, but the reigning MVP admitted his life was made easier by the Los Angeles Clippers star's absence in the Milwaukee Bucks' 129-124 success.

Leonard, who joined the Clippers in the offseason after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title, missed Wednesday's game as he is dealing with a slight knee problem, and Antetokounmpo took full advantage, scoring 38 points and making four of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.

The Clippers are in action again on Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers, and Leonard has not played on back-to-back nights since April 2017 when he was with the San Antonio Spurs, with both the Raptors and Clippers managing his minutes since.

"Every organisation has their own way that they operate," Antetokounmpo told reporters.

"I was excited to play against one of the best players in the league, I think that brings out the best of you.

"[But] I'm not going to say I was disappointed. If Kawhi was playing, you know you're going to have a tough night. You've got to guard him and score. I'm excited to see him in the future.

"I'm motivated when I play against anybody but obviously when you play against Kawhi - one of the best players in the league - you're going to have a little bit of extra juice in you."

Antetokounmpo's brilliant 2018-19 season led to him winning his first MVP award, and the Greek has started the new campaign in even more impressive fashion.

The 24-year-old is the first player in NBA history with 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists through the first eight games of a season.

"He played the whole fourth quarter and was fabulous," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer added.

The Philadelphia 76ers are waiting to see how serious Ben Simmons' shoulder injury is after the Australian was forced off in Wednesday's loss to the Utah Jazz.

Simmons was withdrawn in the second quarter of Utah's 106-104 victory with what the team described as "right shoulder soreness", an injury he appeared to sustain when bumping Jazz guard Royce O'Neale in the chest.

Philadelphia face the Denver Nuggets on Friday and Simmons is expected to be assessed on Thursday to determine how long he will be out for.

"I hope he's going to be alright," team-mate Tobias Harris said in quotes published on the Philadelphia Inquirer's website.

"I checked him after the game. He said he's going to be okay. We'll just have to wait for tomorrow and see what happens."

It was a blow to the 76ers as they got Joel Embiid, another All-Star, back from a ban.

Embiid, who was suspended for two games following his brawl with Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, led the 76ers with 27 points, but head coach Brett Brown admitted his team missed Simmons.

"Defense is where I think we felt the pain of not having him the most," Brown told reporters.

"After that, you're just missing a veteran athlete to come in and keep the group together."

Were Simmons to miss any time, Philadelphia would lean more heavily on Embiid, and he vowed to avoid any more bans following his fracas with Towns.

"Obviously getting suspended is not good for me and the team," he said.

"So it's never going to happen again. But I'm happy to be back."

James Harden guided the Houston Rockets past the struggling Golden State Warriors, while the Los Angeles Clippers were beaten in the NBA on Wednesday.

Harden scored 36 points and provided 13 assists in the Rockets' 129-112 victory over the Warriors at the Toyota Center.

Houston improved to 5-3 to begin the season, while the injury-hit Warriors slipped to 2-6.

Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard was rested as the Clippers were handed a 129-124 loss by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (38 points and 16 rebounds) led the way as the Bucks claimed their sixth win in eight games, while the Clippers are 5-3.

 

Super Siakam, delightful Doncic

Pascal Siakam had a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds to lift the Toronto Raptors to a 124-120 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Luka Doncic continued his impressive start to the season, his 27-point haul seeing the Dallas Mavericks edge the Orlando Magic 107-106.

The Detroit Pistons breezed past the struggling New York Knicks 122-102 thanks to 27 points and 12 rebounds from Andre Drummond.

 

Reddish struggles

The 10th pick in the NBA Draft, Cam Reddish struggled for the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. The 20-year-old went one-for-eight for five points in 23 minutes of a 113-93 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

 

Harden, Capela combine

Harden and Clint Capela combined for a nice play during the Rockets' big win.

Wednesday's results

Detroit Pistons 122-102 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 121-106 Washington Wizards
Chicago Bulls 113-93 Atlanta Hawks
Toronto Raptors 124-120 Sacramento Kings
Houston Rockets 129-112 Golden State Warriors
Memphis Grizzlies 137-121 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 107-106 Orlando Magic
Utah Jazz 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks 129-124 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Trail Blazers at Clippers

The Clippers (5-3) get a chance to bounce back when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers (3-4) at the Staples Center.

Jamaica centre Samardo Samuels has admitted he was grateful to join Greek Club Panionios BC after facing the very real prospect of the end of his basketball career.

The 30-year-old big man joined the Greek Basketball League (GBL) last month, only weeks after taking part in the United States Big Three League.  The player has been dogged by controversy in recent times after changing four clubs in the last two years due to a clutter of disciplinary issues.

"I was at home… I was at home and no one wanted me and this opportunity came up. Everyone told me to stop, everyone told me it was time to do something else. Coming here and winning the first match was really a thrill for me. I arrived with a positive mood, I had a smile all the time. Everyone welcomed me and it had an impact on the way we fought during these games,” Samuels told basketball Europe.

The Jamaican enjoyed a solid start to his season after staring in wins over Rethymnon and Iraklis.  Samuels averaged 21 points and 7.5 rebounds.

 "I will tell you a story. In the summer, I saw Kevin Durant. We have known each other since we were young. And when he saw me, he asked me if I was still playing basketball! He was surprised when I said yes.”

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James poked fun at his doubters after posting his third consecutive triple-double in the NBA.

James became the first Laker with three straight triple-doubles in 32 years following Tuesday's 118-112 win over the Chicago Bulls.

The four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as he became the first Lakers player to achieve the feat since Magic Johnson in 1987.

After a difficult first campaign in Los Angeles ravaged by injury, James is flourishing this season and the 34-year-old had a message for his critics.

Quote-tweeting a post from the Lakers, James wrote "#WashedKing" next to two emojis – one representing a "shh" sign and another being a crown.

James endured a forgettable debut campaign in Los Angeles, where a groin injury restricted him to 55 games in 2018-19 as the Lakers missed the playoffs for a sixth successive season.

But James and the Lakers are flying high thanks to six successive wins following their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Opening Night.

"Try to be in the right place at the right time," James – whose team rallied from a 19-point deficit in Chicago – said when asked what the keys are to his triple-doubles. "Being a triple threat on the floor.

"I trust my team-mates to make shots. I just try to put the pull in on time and on target. They've been doing that.

"Defensively, trying to rebound as much as I can even though I'm playing a point-guard position. Then scoring, just trying to read the defence and pick my spots – be aggressive.

"It comes with team success for me. A triple-double means absolutely nothing to me if it's not in a win. This is three wins for us and I feel pretty happy about how we have performed."

LeBron James posted his third successive triple-double as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers prevailed 118-112 against the Chicago Bulls.

James stayed hot with 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Lakers to their sixth consecutive victory in the NBA on Tuesday.

The Lakers trailed the Bulls by 19 points before a fourth-quarter comeback ensured Los Angeles extended their winning run.

Kyle Kuzma helped lead the rally with 11 of his 15 points in the deciding quarter in Chicago.

Zach LaVine had 26 points but the Bulls fell to their fifth loss in six games.

 

Hayward ties career high

Gordon Hayward was the start of the show with 39 points in the Boston Celtics' 119-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a career-high night for Hayward, who made all 16 of his two-point attempts.

Devonte Graham scored a career-high 35 points as the Charlotte Hornets outlasted the Indiana Pacers 122-120 in overtime.

Trae Young fuelled the Atlanta Hawks with 28 of his 29 points in the second half as the hosts topped the San Antonio Spurs 108-100.

 

Magic's struggles continue

At 2-5, it has not been an easy season for the Orlando Magic. In 2019-20, the Magic are yet to reach 100 points in a game following their 102-94 defeat away to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

Young with the fancy feet

LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and the Spurs had no answer to Young in Atlanta.

 

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 122-120 Indiana Pacers (OT)
Boston Celtics 119-113 Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks 108-100 San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder 102-94 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Lakers 118-112 Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets 109-89 Miami Heat

 

76ers at Jazz

Coming off their first defeat of the season, all eyes will be on the Philadelphia 76ers and how they respond. The championship hopefuls had opened the season with five straight wins before falling to the Phoenix Suns. The Utah Jazz also have a point to prove after back-to-back losses.

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins has been suspended without pay for 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA's anti-drug program.

The league announced on Tuesday that Collins tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2).

Collins' ban will start against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, but the 22-year-old told ESPN he plans to appeal against the sanction.

In a statement released via ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter, he said: "First I want to apologise to my team-mates, the Hawks organisation, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation.

"I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all us in this position.

"I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement, which unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component.

"I plan to appeal my suspension in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and continue to contribute to our 2019-20 campaign."

Collins – a first-round selection by the Hawks in the 2017 NBA Draft - has averaged 17 points and 8.8 rebounds through five games this season.

Monty Williams hailed Devin Booker as "a complete player" after he sparkled in the Phoenix Suns' 114-109 victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76ers.

There were 'MVP' chants for Booker at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Monday as he scored 40 points to inflict a first defeat of the NBA season on the 76ers.

The 23-year-old became the eighth-youngest player to reach the 6,000-point mark in the NBA, while also claiming four rebounds and laying on three assistants.

Suns coach Williams said: "He's a complete basketball player. He's competitive, not afraid of the moment, he makes big plays, and the thing I like about Devin is he'll get off of it.

"It wasn't just his scoring, he's a willing passer. He gets off of the ball and finds guys for open shots, but in those moments, we have to get out of the way sometimes.

"It's not a structure, it’s just a really good basketball player going to work."

Booker knows he must maintain the high standards he has set.

"Every day I wake up, I get another chance to come play the sport I love in the city I love. I try to take full advantage of it," said Booker.

"I know it's cliche, but when people say it's the first time somebody is watching, it could be the last time somebody was watching you also. I take that in.

"Every day I wake up and step in here and I know I can affect peoples' lives and in positive ways. Everybody's excited, everybody's happy. So, you know, I just gotta keep working."

Devin Booker inspired the Phoenix Suns as the Philadelphia 76ers suffered their first defeat of the NBA season, while the injury-ravaged Golden State Warriors prevailed.

Booker scored 40 points to lead the Suns past the previously undefeated 76ers 114-109 in Phoenix on Monday.

Ricky Rubio chipped in with 21 points and 10 assists for the Suns (5-2), who are on a three-game winning streak.

The 76ers (5-1) – playing without suspended star Joel Embiid – were led by Al Horford's 32 points on the road.

Meanwhile, the Warriors claimed just their second victory of the season after upstaging the Portland Trail Blazers 127-118.

Without injured stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell, the Warriors improved to 2-5 thanks to 36 points and 13 rebounds from rookie Eric Paschall.

Damian Lillard's 39 points and a double-double from Hassan Whiteside (22 points, 11 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Trail Blazers in San Francisco.

 

Giannis ignites Bucks as Irving and Harden star

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 34 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-106. The reigning MVP has recorded a double-double in all seven games this season.

Kyrie Irving put up 39 points and nine assists as the Brooklyn Nets withstood Brandon Ingram's career-high 40 points for a 135-125 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Houston Rockets topped the Memphis Grizzlies 107-100 behind James Harden's 44 points in the absence of rested star Russell Westbrook.

 

Simmons silenced

It was a quiet night for Ben Simmons, who was limited to just six points on two-of-eight shooting from the floor against the Suns.

 

Giannis with the coast-to-coast slam!

There was just no stopping 'The Greek Freak' against the Timberwolves in Minnesota.

 

Monday's results

Washington Wizards 115-99 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 135-125 New Orleans Pelicans
Houston Rockets 107-100 Memphis Grizzlies
Milwaukee Bucks 134-106 Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns 114-109 Philadelphia 76ers
Golden State Warriors 127-118 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Lakers at Bulls

LeBron James and his in-form Los Angeles Lakers will look to extend their winning streak to six games when they visit the struggling Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he has never seen anything like the Golden State Warriors' injury crisis.

The struggling Warriors (1-5) have been ravaged by injuries this NBA season, with stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the sidelines.

Curry broke his hand last week and Thompson is recovering from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament after Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals prior to his switch to the Brooklyn Nets.

Draymond Green also tore a ligament in his left index finger, while D'Angelo Russell sprained his right ankle in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on November 1.

"I've never seen it," Lillard said prior to Monday's clash between the Trail Blazers and Warriors. "I think they might be the first to do a lot of things.

"At one point they had a starting five of five All-Stars, won 73 games, they've done a lot of great things, made a lot of history.

"It just seems like adversity has hit hard at this point for them. Those guys aren't old. They'll bounce back from it, but you just hate to see it."

Lillard, whose Blazers are 3-3 for the season, added: "It's just unexpected. You don't expect to see them go from being such a huge deal, big super team, to one guy [Durant] leaves and injuries.

"It's just an unfortunate situation that you hate to see. In that way, it's just different. It's kind of weird to see them not as the Warriors.

"I feel for the players. You never want to see any of your peers go down with injuries. Klay's a great dude, so it sucks to see him go down that way. Same thing with Steph. ... They'll recover and they'll be back hopefully at 100 percent. That's what we all want to see."

Kawhi Leonard played down being compared to Michael Jordan by Doc Rivers after inspiring the Los Angeles Clippers to a 105-94 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Rivers stated during the play-offs last season that Leonard was "the most like Jordan that we've seen", a compliment that cost him $50,000 for violating the NBA's anti-tampering policy.

The Clippers coach was asked about that statement again at Staples Center on Sunday and replied: "I said there's no body type more like Michael Jordan's than Kawhi, and I actually said because of his hands and his length.

"And I did say part of his game, his in-between game."

Leonard then led the Clippers with 30 points - 18 scored in the final quarter - in a defeat of the Jazz before being quizzed about Rivers' comments.

"Just to be able to get recognised for my talents and where I came a long way to where I am now and just showing my hard work is paying off," said the small forward.

Leonard said taking aggressive approach and not hiding was the key to his final-quarter exploits.

"If you are able to make shots and lead your team to a victory I think it's great. With me it's just about taking advantage of the moment and not shying away." he said.

"Just keep going to your spots and shooting and keep being aggressive for the team.

"That's what I take my pride in, you are not going to make every shot that you shoot to win a game, or every shot in the fourth quarter, so to me it's about keep being aggressive and having fun and see what happens with the results."

LeBron James credited his improved health for his inspired start to the NBA season with the streaking Los Angeles Lakers.

James endured a forgettable debut campaign in Los Angeles, where a groin injury restricted the three-time champion to 55 games in 2018-19 as the Lakers missed the playoffs for a sixth successive season.

However, four-time MVP James is fit again and at the forefront of the Lakers' five-game winning streak after Los Angeles dropped their opener against the Los Angeles Clippers.

James posted 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for back-to-back triple-doubles as the Lakers topped the San Antonio Spurs 103-96 on Sunday.

Reflecting on his impressive start to 2019-20, the 34-year-old – who became the first Lakers player with consecutive triple-doubles since 2006 – said: "I'm playing injury free. I'm not injured. My quick twitch is back. My speed is back, my strength is back.

"Playing with a torn groin last year - even when I came back it was still partially torn - it was difficult to be able to move and shift like I'm capable of doing that defensively.

"For me, I just take the challenge. I love being challenged. Head coach [Frank Vogel] challenged me, AD [Anthony Davis] challenged me, I challenged myself.

"I put a lot of hard work into my offseason by getting my quick twitch, getting my bounce back, getting my speed back, my reaction time back. My mind has always been there. That's what it's all about."

On James' performance against the Spurs in San Antonio, Vogel added: "Well it's contagious, and his commitment on that end of the floor has been a great surprise for us in terms of just how proficient he's been.

"He's leading the charge with care factor on that end of the floor. When he's working that hard and caring that much about getting stops, it carries over to everybody else, and you see it on the floor."

LeBron James posted a triple-double as the in-form Los Angeles Lakers topped the San Antonio Spurs 103-96 in NBA action on Sunday.

James record his second successive triple-double courtesy of 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to their fifth consecutive victory.

Star team-mate Anthony Davis chipped in with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Dwight Howard had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers – who improved to 5-1.

The Spurs were led by Dejounte Murray's 18 points and 11 rebounds in An Antonio, where Rudy Gay added 16 points off the bench.

Kawhi Leonard put up 30 points as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the visiting Utah Jazz 105-94 – the home team using a 40-point final quarter to get the win.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler impressed in the Miami Heat's 129-100 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Butler had 18 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals for the Heat, who raced out to a 46-14 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back to register a third straight win.

James Harden scored 29 points for Houston, while Russell Westbrook was held to just 10 on three-of-11 shooting.

 

Doncic fuels Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic scored 29 and added 15 assists and 14 rebounds — his second straight triple-double — to key a 131-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Porter has game to forget

Chicago Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. hit one of 10 shots in a 108-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

 

Windmill!

De'Aaron Fox stole the ball and had plenty of time to plan the perfect dunk for the Sacramento Kings, who beat the New York Knicks 113-92.

 

Sunday's results

Indiana Pacers 108-95 Chicago Bulls
Miami Heat 129-100 Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings 113-92 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 103-96 San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks 131-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Clippers 105-94 Utah Jazz

 

76ers at Suns

The Phoenix Suns have been a minor surprise, winning their last two despite the suspension of center Deandre Ayton. The Philadelphia 76ers are still perfect, but have had a couple of close calls against the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers.

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