Joel Embiid has apologised for his middle finger gesture at Kevin Huerter and vowed to prove to his critics that he is the best player in the world.

The 25-year-old delivered a career-high 49 points, to go with 14 rebounds, as the Philadelphia 76ers eased to a 129-112 victory over Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

He had a chance to reach 50 in the final 30 seconds, but with the Sixers 17 points ahead Embiid instead appeared ready to run down the clock.

Huerter stole the ball off Embiid as he passed half court, however, prompting a one-finger salute that was picked up by the courtside cameras. 

Explaining his actions after the game, Embiid told NBC Sports Philadelphia: "I want to say sorry for what I did at the end. Y'all probably saw that on TV. I'm sorry."

But when questioned on the same topic at a news conference, Embiid backtracked slightly by adding: "There's always this thing about you shouldn't shoot the ball if you're up 20.

"I feel like it should go both ways too. I mean, I'm running the clock down and I feel like the game is over, that's why I'm doing it.

"But to me, if the other team is going to keep playing defense and they're going to keep shooting the ball at the other end, I feel like we should just be like, 'Well, be better next time,' and just go out and score. 

"I thought about it when I had the ball again, but I was like 'Eh, I'm going to stay cool.'"

Embiid has produced three big performances in a row for the Sixers, either side of a 22-point display in the NBA All-Star Game.

And after labelling himself among the league's elite performers following Philadelphia's overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Embiid admitted it is down to him to prove his claim.

"What I said was that All-Star Game fourth quarter, I'm out there with some of the guys that are considered the best players in the world, and I'm out there just dominating, being unstoppable, doing whatever I want, especially in the post," he said.

"So to me, I just felt like that was a chance for me to prove that I deserved being in that conversation of being the best player in the world.

"That's what I said. But like I said tonight, if I play like that every night, like this, like I played tonight, what more can you say? I just gotta keep on doing it; I know I'm not, but I do believe it, because I got to prove it, I got to win. 

"My goal is to win a championship - that's how you prove you're up there. I'm going to do everything I can to get to that point and win a championship."

The Los Angeles Clippers ended their losing streak in the NBA on Monday, while Joel Embiid and Bradley Beal produced career-highs.

The Clippers snapped a three-game losing run by crushing the Memphis Grizzlies 124-97.

Kawhi Leonard had 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Montrezl Harrell contributed 22 off the bench.

Embiid delivered a career-high 49 points, to go with 14 rebounds, as the Philadelphia 76ers eased past the Atlanta Hawks 129-112.

Meanwhile, Beal's career-high 55 points were not enough for the Washington Wizards.

He became the first player to score 50 or more points on back-to-back nights since the late Kobe Bryant in March 2007.

The Wizards almost upset the Milwaukee Bucks before falling 137-134 after overtime, with Khris Middleton pouring in 40 points.

 

Harden hot as Doncic lifts Mavs

James Harden led the way for the Houston Rockets with his 37 points and nine assists in a 123-112 win over the New York Knicks.

The Dallas Mavericks eased past the Minnesota Timberwolves 139-123 as Luka Doncic posted 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Aaron Gordon's double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds helped the Orlando Magic past the Brooklyn Nets 115-113.

 

Bad Brooks

Dillon Brooks struggled massively for Memphis, going one-of-seven from the field for just four points in 25 minutes.

 

Brilliant Beal

Beal was at his best against the Bucks.

Monday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 125-119 Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers 129-112 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 137-134 Washington Wizards
Orlando Magic 115-113 Brooklyn Nets
Houston Rockets 123-112 New York Knicks
Dallas Mavericks 139-123 Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns 131-111 Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Clippers 124-97 Memphis Grizzlies

 

Bucks at Raptors

The Eastern Conference's top two do battle in Toronto on Tuesday. The Bucks (49-8) are eyeing their 50th win of the season and are seven games clear of the Raptors (42-15).

The Philadelphia 76ers lost Ben Simmons to injury in another NBA road defeat on Saturday, while the Miami Heat paid tribute to Dwyane Wade.

Simmons left a 119-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first quarter after aggravating an existing back problem and will reportedly undergo an MRI on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo relished his fellow All-Star's absence, putting up 31 points and 17 rebounds in a double-double that condemned Philadelphia to a sixth successive away loss.

The 76ers (35-22) sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, one place behind the Heat (36-20) following their 124-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The win added to a memorable occasion as Miami welcomed former favourite Wade back to AmericanAirlines Arena, officially retiring the number three jersey he wore during the team's NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

Wade, 38, retired at the end of last season after returning to the Heat for his career swansong.

 

Harden hot in valuable Houston victory

James Harden hit a game-high 38 points while Russell Westbrook went 14-of-26 for 34 points as the Houston Rockets topped the Utah Jazz 120-110.

The Jazz struggled to handle Houston's small-ball approach and are now level with the Rockets at 36-20.

Kawhi Leonard tallied 31 points and eight rebounds but the Los Angeles Clippers lost for the third time in as many games, going down to the Sacramento Kings 112-103.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks overcame a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-107.

Trae Young and John Collins each recorded double-doubles to inspire the Hawks to their 17th win of a lean campaign.

 

Kawhi a lone performer for cold Clippers

Leonard did his part against the Kings at Staples Center but the reigning MVP had little help from his fellow Clippers starters, all of whom failed to reach double figures for points.

Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet were particularly culpable, the pair making just three of their combined 12 three-point attempts.

 

Bam drops the hammer

Fresh from winning the Skills Challenge on NBA All-Star Weekend, Heat big man Bam Adebayo put on another show with a huge dunk against the Cavaliers.

 

Saturday's results

Sacramento Kings 112-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Brooklyn Nets 115-86 Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks 111-107 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 124-105 Cleveland Cavaliers
Phoenix Suns 112-104 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 119-98 Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets 120-110 Utah Jazz

 

Celtics at Lakers

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers entertain Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the pick of Sunday's seven games.

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said he loves playing alongside team-mate Ben Simmons and believes the pair can "accomplish something special" with the franchise.

Embiid and guard Simmons have been the subjects of endless questions about their chemistry, with repeated claims that the All-Star duo cannot play together for the 76ers due to contrasting styles.

There have also been reports the 76ers – fifth in the Eastern Conference as they eye a championship – could deal one of their stars at the end of the season, with Embiid more likely to be moved on should Philadelphia explore a trade, according to ESPN.

Quizzed on what everyone is asking him, 76ers center Embiid rolled his eyes as he told ESPN: "'Can they play together, do they had each other?'

"I mean, at the end of the day, we know what we go to do. I love playing with him. He is a special talent.

"He helps us a lot. We can accomplish something special."

Embiid, who posted a season-high 39 points and 16 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, is averaging 23.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the 76ers in 2019-20.

Simmons, meanwhile, is averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 assists and 7.9 rebounds.

Joel Embiid feels his current run of form, including a 22-point display in the NBA All-Star Game, has proven he is the best player in the world.

Big man Embiid is often maligned despite averaging 23.3 points and 12 rebounds per game this season, with his highly-talented Philadelphia 76ers an underwhelming fifth in the Eastern Conference.

But the 25-year-old has had a big hand in Sixers wins either side of the All-Star break.

Embiid tallied 26 points and nine rebounds as he starred alongside Ben Simmons in a defeat of the Los Angeles Clippers, while a brilliant 39-point, 16-rebound return lifted Philadelphia to an overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, extending their winning run to four games.

In between those two performances, Embiid also managed 22 points and 10 rebounds for Team Giannis as he took on the best the Western Conference had to offer.

It was this display in the All-Star Game that Embiid felt secured his place as the league's elite performer.

"The All-Star game was fun, being there in the fourth quarter doing my thing at the end of the game," he said after seeing off the Nets, who will miss Kyrie Irving for the remainder of the season.

"The game against the Clippers was a good starting spot, but the All-Star game was just proving that I'm here, I belong, being the best player in the world.

"And I just intend to keep coming out every single night and playing hard, just going out and trying to win a championship."

Embiid will have the opportunity to back up his claim on Saturday when the Sixers take on conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks and All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is on course for a second straight MVP award.

"We beat them pretty bad in the first matchup [121-109 in December], they got us the last one [112-101 earlier this month]," Embiid said. "So, it's on us to go out there and try to beat them again."

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks resumed their NBA season with a comfortable win, while the Houston Rockets cruised on Thursday.

Back in action after the All-Star break, the Bucks improved to 47-8 with a 126-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double of 33 points and 16 rebounds, while Khris Middleton poured in 28 points.

Eric Bledsoe went eight-of-14 from the field for his 19 points and Brook Lopez contributed 18 for the Bucks.

The Rockets were untroubled by the Golden State Warriors in a 135-105 thrashing.

James Harden (29 points and 10 assists) and Russell Westbrook (21 points and 10 assists) finished with double-doubles.

All five of Houston's starters finished with double-digits for points, with Robert Covington adding 20.

 

Young red-hot as Embiid lifts 76ers

Trae Young had a career-high 50 points in the Atlanta Hawks' 129-124 win over the Miami Heat.

Joel Embiid's double-double of 39 points and 16 rebounds helped the Philadelphia 76ers past the Brooklyn Nets 112-104 after overtime.

Malik Monk's 25 points off the bench helped the Charlotte Hornets beat the Chicago Bulls 103-93.

 

Bulls' slump continues

The Bulls' loss was their seventh straight as they were left with a 19-37 record and in 11th in the Eastern Conference.

 

Young from deep

Young went eight-of-15 from three-point range in a dazzling display.

Thursday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 126-106 Detroit Pistons
Atlanta Hawks 129-124 Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers 112-104 Brooklyn Nets
Charlotte Hornets 103-93 Chicago Bulls
Sacramento Kings 129-125 Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets 135-105 Golden State Warriors

 

Grizzlies at Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers (41-12) resume their campaign against the Memphis Grizzlies (28-27) at the Staples Center on Friday.

Dirk Nowitzki feels Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons has the potential to develop into one of the NBA's best players.

Australian Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in his second straight All-Star Game in Chicago at the Weekend.

The 23-year-old is averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the 76ers, while he also leads the NBA in steals.

Earlier in this campaign he drained his first regular-season three-pointer - with Simmons' shooting from beyond the arc often used as a stick to beat him with - and 2007 NBA MVP Nowitzki believes that is the only facet of his game preventing him from moving into the elite echelon.

"I love Ben. I got to meet him a couple of times. His potential… the sky's the limit," said Nowitzki, who was speaking at the Laureus Awards in Berlin, where he won the Lifetime Achievement prize.

"He's super, super athletic, he's got a great touch. He sees the floor, gets his guys involved. Eventually, I think we all know, he needs to improve his shot.

"If he improves his shot he can be one of the best in the league, best in the game.

"Just right now people are playing off him a little bit and making him shoot.

"He's got the touch, the feel for the game that if he works hard, keeps improving the way he has – he's still young – he's going to be fun to watch for a long, long time."

Nowitzki brought the curtain down on his decorated 21-year NBA career after last season having been named to 14 All-Star Games and also winning the 2011 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks, where he spent his entire career.

Despite Nowitzki's departure, the future looks bright for Dallas thanks to two other Europeans - 20-year-old Slovenian Luka Doncic and 24-year-old Latvian Kristaps Porzingis.

Doncic has already taken on Nowitzki's mantle as Dallas' star and he was named as a starter for the All-Star Game in just his second season.

"Amazing," Nowitzki added of Doncic.

"He was voted a starter at 20 years old. He's been so much fun to watch and hopefully he'll stay in Dallas for his whole career and we'll have a lot of fun watching him, hopefully for a long, long time.

"The way he plays, the way he reads the game, the way he scores – he's a great all-round player. He's super fun to watch.

"They're young still. Luka's only 20, Kristaps is 24. Hopefully those guys can build something and be together in Dallas for a long, long time and play on a high level.

"Of course, eventually they would like to bring a championship to Dallas, that would be amazing. We'll just see how they play off each other and grow together."

On receiving Laureus' Lifetime Achievement Award, Nowitzki added: "Of course it's a great honour to get the award for my lifetime achievement.

"I played more than 20 years in the NBA. I was trying to move the game forward.

"It's nice to feel that you're respected and accepted for what I achieved during my career. For me it's a huge honour. I'm glad to be here."

Paul George claimed the Los Angeles Clippers fell victim to some "home-court cooking" after Tuesday's defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers.

A Ben Simmons triple-double inspired the 76ers to a 110-103 victory at Wells Fargo Center, where George endured a rough evening.

The six-time NBA All-Star was just three of 15 from the field and one of four from three-point range for 11 points in 35 minutes.

But he felt the Clippers were up against it in more ways than one, with the visiting side penalised for eight more personal fouls than the Sixers.

"I thought we played well, we lost by seven," he said. "There was some home-court cooking tonight, to say the least.

"I mean, it was 19 to 11. You all figure out what those numbers are. It was 19 to 11."

George believes both teams have the quality to make it to the Finals, with the 76ers fifth in the Eastern Conference and the Clippers third in the Western.

"You got two good teams, two teams that are playing for something obviously, and it's a feel-out," he said.

"They could be a team that gets hot and make it to the Finals and we could be a team that gets hot and makes it to the Finals. Definitely going to be two teams that are feeling each other out."

A Ben Simmons triple-double inspired the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-103 victory at home to Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA.

Simmons posted his second successive triple-double, finishing with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the 76ers in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

It was his sixth triple-double of the season and 30th of his career as the 76ers – who already boast the NBA's best home record at 25-2 – won their third straight to improve to 34-21 for the campaign.

Josh Richardson scored 17 of his 21 points in the final quarter, while Joel Embiid contributed 26 points at Wells Fargo Center.

Clippers superstar Leonard had 30 points for the visitors, who fell to 37-17 in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets snapped the Boston Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

James Harden registered 42 points and Russell Westbrook had 36 points to go with 10 rebounds as the Rockets trumped the Celtics 116-105 in Houston.

Gordon Hayward top scored with 20 points for the Celtics against the Rockets, who ended a run of back-to-back losses.

 

Zion stars as Pelicans soar

Zion Williamson produced another dominant performance. The star rookie had a season-high 31 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Portland Trail Blazers 138-117.

Zach LaVine put up 41 points but the Chicago Bulls still lost 126-114 at the Washington Wizards, who were led by Bradley Beal's 30.

The San Antonio Spurs snapped a five-game skid by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-106 thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge's 25 points and 14 rebounds.

 

George struggles in Philadelphia

Paul George never got going against the 76ers. The Clippers star was just three of 15 from the field and one of four from three-point range for 11 points in 35 minutes. He did have 12 rebounds for a double-double, but it was far from George's usual best.

After back-to-back games of 30 or more points off the bench, Furkan Korkmaz was drafted into Philadelphia's starting five at the expense of Al Horford. However, Korkmaz had a game to forget. In 23 minutes, he was scoreless – 0 of five from the field, while he missed all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.

 

Simmons… somehow

The Australian All-Star put on a show in Philadelphia. This incredible piece of improvisation sent the 76ers on their way.

 

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 110-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards 126-114 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 138-117 Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs 114-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 116-105 Boston Celtics

 

Raptors at Nets

Riding a franchise-record winning streak, NBA champions the Toronto Raptors (40-14) will look to make it 16 straight victories when they visit the Brooklyn Nets (24-28) on Wednesday. The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are also in action.

Joel Embiid expressed his love for the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans after being booed, shushing supporters and posting a cryptic social media post.

Amid criticism of NBA championship hopefuls the 76ers, Embiid was the target of boos in Sunday's 118-111 win over the Chicago Bulls in Philadelphia, where the All-Star responded by shushing the crowd following a three-pointer.

On Monday, Embiid sparked doubts over his future when he posted a photo of himself shushing 76ers fans, with the caption: "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain".

That drew a response from former 76ers team-mate and Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, who said: "I know a place where villains are welcome".

Embiid replied, "Damn right my brother."

Shortly afterwards, Embiid then wrote: "Made for this… If I can take it then you can too. PHILA TOUGH!!! #AllLove".

Embiid addressed the backlash on Tuesday after helping the 76ers past the Los Angeles Clippers 110-103 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"They've been going at me, I went back at them," a smiling Embiid told reporters post-game. "We're all human beings, if I can take it, then everybody else can take it too.

"We move on, we learn from it, we move on. I've got to do a better job, they've got to do a better job. I understand where they come from, but then again, if you dish it, you've got to be able to take it back."

Drafted by the 76ers with the third pick in 2014, Embiid added: "It's all love. I love my city. I've been here for a long time now, we have a special relationship, and I’m happy to be here. I can't wait for the future, especially this year. I think we can accomplish something great."

"Tonight, I could've shushed them again, but it was all about having fun again. Just getting back to my myself, like I said last game, I'm back to doing whatever I want and say," continued Embiid, who posted 26 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers.

"That's how I used to be and I was dominating that way. This year, I made a decision to change and I guess it hasn't worked out so it comes with the good and bad. If it helps us win, then I'm going to be that guy."

The Los Angeles Clippers handed the Cleveland Cavaliers the worst home loss in their history, while Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant posted his first NBA triple-double.

Lou Williams scored 25 points as the Clippers crushed the Cavaliers 133-92 in Cleveland on Sunday.

Cleveland's previous worst home loss was a 39-point defeat against the Chicago Bulls in 2012.

Paul George contributed 22 points for the Clippers, who were playing without star Kawhi Leonard (sore knee) following Saturday's embarrassing 142-115 loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.

Andre Drummond started his first game for the Cavs since being traded by the Detroit Pistons at the deadline and he posted 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Grizzlies sensation Morant had a night to remember as Memphis defeated the Washington Wizards 106-99.

Morant put up 27 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds to help the Grizzlies see off the Wizards in Washington.

 

Furkan stars off the bench… again

There is no stopping Furkan Korkmaz at the moment. After posting a career-high 34 points against the Grizzlies, Korkmaz had 31 in the Philadelphia 76ers' 118-111 victory over the Chicago Bulls. He was 12 of 17 from the field and six of 11 from three-point range. Ben Simmons recorded his fifth triple-double (19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) of the season on Australian Heritage Night in Philadelphia, while Joel Embiid scored 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Trae Young came up big for the Atlanta Hawks, who prevailed 140-135 against the New York Knicks after double overtime. Young had 48 points and 13 assists – the ninth time he has scored at least 40 points this season. John Collins added 32 points and 16 rebounds for the Hawks. The Knicks were led by Julius Randle's 35 points and 18 rebounds.

The Boston Celtics won their seventh straight game behind a balanced performance from their starters, who all had double-digit points, headlined by Jayson Tatum (26, 11 rebounds) and Kemba Walker (27).

Russell Westbrook (39 points) and James Harden (28 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) starred but the Houston Rockets lost 114-113 at home to the Utah Jazz. Jordan Clarkson contributed 30 points off the bench for the Jazz.

 

Horford struggles again

Much has been made about Al Horford and his impact, or lack thereof, in Philadelphia. The high-profile recruit did not score a point against the Bulls. He was 0 of six from the field and missed both shots from beyond the arc in 30 minutes of action.

Austin Rivers did not make a shot from the field after 19 minutes. The Rockets guard was 0 of four from the floor, while he missed both of his three-point attempts.

 

Bojan stuns Rockets

With 1.6 seconds remaining, Bojan Bogdanovic nailed a buzzer-beating three to silence the Rockets in Houston.

 

Sunday's results

Boston Celtics 112-111 Oklahoma City Thunder
Memphis Grizzlies 106-99 Washington Wizards
Atlanta Hawks 140-135 New York Knicks (Double OT)
Philadelphia 76ers 118-111 Chicago Bulls
Utah Jazz 114-113 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 133-92 Cleveland Cavaliers
Portland Trail Blazers 115-109 Miami Heat

 

Timberwolves at Raptors

Amid a franchise-record 14-game winning streak, reigning champions the Toronto Raptors (39-14) welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-35) to Scotiabank Arena on Monday.

Reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to 13 games, while the Philadelphia 76ers claimed a crucial victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Raptors (38-14) stayed hot with a 115-106 win away to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday – a franchise record 10th straight road victory.

Serge Ibaka fuelled the Raptors with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Fred VanVleet (20 points) and Kyle Lowry (16 points, 11 assists) made solid contributions.

Lowry moved third on Toronto's all-time list for scoring, surpassing Vince Carter, before leaving the game with whiplash.

Eastern Conference rivals the 76ers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Grizzlies 119-107 in Philadelphia.

Struggling on the road, the 76ers impressed again at Wells Fargo Center thanks to 22 points and 10 assists from Ben Simmons.

A stiff neck limited Joel Embiid to 10 points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes.

 

What the Furk?

Forget about Simmons, Embiid and Tobias Harris, it was the Furkan Korkmaz show in Philadelphia. Korkmaz had a career-high 34 points. The Turkish import made 13 of 17 shots, including seven of nine three-pointers.

All-Star Jayson Tatum posted 32 points to lead the Boston Celtics past the Atlanta Hawks 112-107. John Collins had 30 points for the visiting Hawks.

Kelly Oubre Jr. (39) and Devin Booker (33) combined for 72 points as the Phoenix Suns crushed the Houston Rockets 127-91.

 

Brown headlines Pistons' struggles

The post-Andre Drummond error started with a loss for the Detroit Pistons and starter Bruce Brown was among those to struggle in the 108-101 loss at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Brown was one of nine from the field for just four points in 33 minutes.

Only two Grizzlies starters reached double-digit points – Ja Morant (15) and Jonas Valanciunas (14, 10 rebounds). Jaren Jackson Jr. (six points), Dillon Brooks (nine points) and Kyle Anderson (six) struggled.

Russell Westbrook sat out and the Houston had a night to forget. While James Harden recorded 32 points, his Rockets team-mates struggled. Houston only made 29 of 85 shots at 34.1 per cent.

 

Beal with the game-winner!

Bradley Beal was the hero for the Washington Wizards, who stunned the Dallas Mavericks 119-118 at the buzzer.

 

Friday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 119-107 Memphis Grizzlies
Boston Celtics 112-107 Atlanta Hawks
Oklahoma City Thunder 108-101 Detroit Pistons
Toronto Raptors 115-106 Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards 119-118 Dallas Mavericks
Phoenix Suns 127-91 Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings 105-97 Miami Heat
Utah Jazz 117-114 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Lakers at Warriors

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers and in-form Raptors are in action on Saturday, however, all eyes will be on the Los Angeles Lakers. After being upstaged by the Rockets at Staples Center, LeBron James and the Lakers (38-12) travel to the lowly Golden State Warriors (12-40).

Joel Embiid acknowledged he needs to "smile a little more" and readjust his mindset after the Philadelphia 76ers went down 112-101 to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 76ers lost for a fourth straight NBA game on Thursday, all on the road, and Embiid endured a mixed display, scoring just four first-half points and ending with 19 from 6-of-26 shooting.

Embiid later said his troublesome left hand, which he had surgery on last month, was causing some issues but insists that was not the reason for his patchy showing.

"I'm trying to get back to the fun Joel, smile a little more," Embiid told reporters. 

"The whole season I told myself I was going to be serious. I felt like everyone looked at [me] in a way that I'm moody or I might not care. I do. I want to win. 

"But at the same time I try to have a different attitude. Obviously, it hasn't been working. Gotta go back to that fun Joel, fun personality. [But] still locked in. Try to help us any way I can."

Team-mate Al Horford said the 76ers are trying to "find ourselves" as they aim to come out of a rut.

"I think it puts a lot of things in perspective," he said. "And desperation. We've lost four in a row now. 

"It's like finding ourselves. Trying to figure it out. I think good is going to come out of this."

Russell Westbrook scored 41 points as the new-look Houston Rockets upstaged the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers 121-111 in NBA action.

While Rockets team-mate James Harden struggled, Westbrook was red hot in a stunning performance to take down rivals the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Robert Covington made his debut for the Rockets, who traded away center Clint Capela prior to the deadline in a bid to become smaller and faster on the court, and he impressed with 14 points – including four three-pointers.

Double-doubles from LeBron James (18 points, 15 assists) and Anthony Davis (32 points, 13 rebounds) were not enough for the Lakers.

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks defeated the struggling Philadelphia 76ers 112-101 earlier on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo produced another dominant performance with 36 points and 20 rebounds as the Bucks improved to 44-7 for the season.

Antetokounmpo had 30-plus points and 15 or more rebounds for the fifth consecutive game and the 14th time this season. Antetokounmpo also became just the fifth player in Bucks history to record a 30-20 game and the first since 1996.

 

Zion flexes muscles… again

Zion Williamson continues to star. The 2019 number one pick posted his fourth consecutive 20-point game – the longest streak among rookies this season. Williamson finished with 21 as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Chicago Bulls 125-110.

Damian Lillard put up 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the San Antonio Spurs 125-117.

 

More woes for 76ers & Embiid

Much had been made about Philadelphia's form on the road and their chemistry, or lack thereof. And the 76ers crashed to their fourth straight loss – dropping to 9-19 away from home. Joel Embiid put up 19 points and 11 rebounds but it was a rough night for the All-Star. Cutting a dejected figure, Embiid was just six of 26 from the floor and three of 10 from three-point range. The 76ers struggled with 37.4 per cent shooting, hitting just 37 of 99 shots.

Harden was far from his best in Los Angeles. Harden was three of 10 from the floor and one of six from beyond the arc for 14 points in 35 minutes.

 

LeBron with the reverse jam!

James turned back the clock with a monster dunk against the Rockets.

 

Thursday's results

New York Knicks 105-103 Orlando Magic
New Orleans Pelicans 125-119 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 112-101 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 125-117 San Antonio Spurs
Houston Rockets 121-111 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Can the red-hot Toronto Raptors (37-14) extend their winning streak to 13 games? The defending champions are on the road against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers (31-20) on Friday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo expressed his satisfaction with the Milwaukee Bucks not trading at the deadline, insisting "we're the best team in the NBA".

The NBA-leading Bucks did not make any moves prior to Thursday's deadline, opting to keep faith in the team who continue to dominate this season.

After the Bucks improved to 44-7 thanks to a 112-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Milwaukee, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo told reporters: "I think a lot of teams are getting players so they can play against us, so they can guard us better. 

"But I think we're the best team in the NBA; we have the best record in the NBA.

"For me, I think there should not be any change. Thank God there wasn't. I think the guys we have, the chemistry we have on the team is amazing right now.

"The guys we have are playing great. These are the guys I've been going to war with all season and I'm happy we have the same team."

Antetokounmpo produced another dominant performance with 36 points and 20 rebounds against the visiting 76ers.

The 'Greek Freak' had 30-plus points and 15 or more rebounds for the fifth consecutive game and the 14th time this season. Antetokounmpo also became just the fifth player in Bucks history to record a 30-20 game and the first since 1996.

"It's crazy," Antetokounmpo said. "I'm happy that we're winning and we're playing good. But I can get a lot better.

"I can be smarter; I can be sharper. I can make better passes on time, make three-point shots and two-point shots. That's the mindset I have."

 

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