Kyrie Irving stands by his criticism of some Brooklyn Nets team-mates and defended his leadership style as he insisted he is not a "f****** a*****e".

Irving – who joined the Nets as a free agent in the offseason – made headlines this week when he claimed the team had "glaring" needs following a 117-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, the 27-year-old, a one-time NBA champion and a six-time All-Star, believes he was right to criticise his team-mates and cites his career achievements as the basis for taking a leadership role.

"It's probably a tell-tale sign of the career that I've had, some of the moves that I've made individually as well as coming to different environments and organisations," Irving told reporters in a video shared by SNYtv.

"At the end of the day, it's an entertainment league. We're drama-filled, everything revolves on these media platforms, which is part of society. I can't really do anything about it, except really be a pillar in our locker room and when I'm out there, winning, that's what it comes down to.

"It's not like I'm a f****** a*****e shouting all of the time in the locker room.

"I'm going to continue to push, demand greatness from my team-mates and we go from there. If it's harsh as a leader or it's too much for anybody, you're not in our locker room – stay the f*** out, it's as simple as that."


Irving also insisted he has earned the right to be respected and listened to by his team-mates, as he attempts to propel the Nets towards a championship win.

"At the end of the day, my name is in a lot of people's mouths all of the time," Irving added.

"I've earned that respect because of how great I am as a player and there's still more goals I want to accomplish in this league and I can't do it without improving an organisation and winning a championship, and that's what it comes down to."

The Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference with an 18-22 record for the season, with pacesetters the Milwaukee Bucks next up on Saturday.

Brandon Ingram served a timely reminder of his quality ahead of Zion Williamson's impending return by scoring a career-high 49 points against the Utah Jazz, and Lonzo Ball called him the New Orleans Pelicans' "go-to guy".

It was confirmed on Monday that Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and one of the most hyped prospects to ever enter the NBA, is expected to make his regular-season debut next week against the San Antonio Spurs.

A knee injury has kept the teenager sidelined since preseason and Ingram, traded to the Pelicans in the offseason as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, has thrived in his absence.

The forward led the Pelicans to a 138-132 overtime victory over the Jazz, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped as a result on Thursday.

Ingram is averaging 25.8 points per game this season - the 10th best return in the NBA - and Ball said that he has to be considered the main man on the team that landed Williamson.

"He has come into his own. It is Brandon Ingram time now," Ball, who also came across to New Orleans from the Lakers in the Davis trade, told reporters.

"Since I have known him, he has been a confident person but this whole year, he has been on a whole other level.

"Obviously, he is our go-to guy on this team and we trust him."

NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks topped the Boston Celtics 128-123 thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double.

Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and collected 17 rebounds as the Bucks (37-6) extended their winning streak to five games on Thursday.

It was the 35th double-double of the season for reigning MVP Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

Kemba Walker posted a game-high 40 points for the Celtics (27-13) on the road.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers made it back-to-back wins via a 122-95 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Orlando ended the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak on Wednesday, but they were unable to back up that performance against the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 32 points, five assists and five rebounds in LA, where Montrezl Harrell added 21 points and Jamychal Green put up 11 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Ingram and Mitchell explode for career highs in shoot-out

Brandon Ingram recorded a career-high 49 points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a stunning 138-132 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tied his career high with 46 points.

Will Barton (31 points) and Nikola Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds), Michael Porter Jr. (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Malik Beasley (27 points) helped the Denver Nuggets outlast the Golden State Warriors 134-131 in OT.

 

Hayward struggles

It was a tough night for Celtics star Gordon Hayward. Struck down by injuries during his time with Boston, Hayward was one of 10 from the floor and one of nine from three-point range for seven points in 32 minutes.

The Pelicans soared but Lonzo Ball did not. While managing 13 assists, Ball had just five points on two-of-12 shooting from the field and one-of-five from beyond the arc in 42 minutes.

 

Tatum leaves opponents in a spin

In fine form this season, Boston's Jayson Tatum sent one opponent to the floor while he turned another en route to the basket.

 

Thursday's results

Phoenix Suns 121-98 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 128-123 Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans 138-132 Utah Jazz (OT)
Denver Nuggets 134-131 Golden State Warriors (OT)
Los Angeles Clippers 122-95 Orlando Magic

 

Bulls at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers will look to generate some momentum when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday. The 76ers (26-16) are 19-2 at home and 7-14 on the road as they welcome the Bulls (15-27) to Wells Fargo Center.

LeBron James was "happy as hell" for Markelle Fultz after the Orlando Magic guard posted a triple-double in a 119-118 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fultz had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists at Staples Center for his second career triple-double as the Magic ended the Lakers' nine-game winning streak on Wednesday.

The former first overall pick struggled with his shooting motion after entering the NBA and made just 33 appearances across his first two seasons in the league with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Fultz was eventually diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and last February got traded to the Magic, where he continued his rehabilitation.

The 21-year-old revealed before the game against the Lakers that James had been a "mentor" to him and the four-time MVP was impressed by his latest display.

Asked how Fultz has been able to turn his career around, James replied: "Confidence and opportunity.

"They're confident in him, he's confident in himself, and he's given an opportunity to go out and play the game how he grew up playing. I think everything else takes care of itself.

"I've been supportive of him ever since he was in high school, when he was a rookie in Philly. Been supportive of his situation and still [am] to this day. I'm happy as hell for him."

Fultz is averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 assists in 27 minutes per game this season and is pleased his perseverance is paying off.

"What I've been through, it just gives me more fire to keep going," he told ESPN. "I put in a lot of hard work to be where I'm at. I've been through a lot, but I never gave up.

"So, it just shows for people out there, whoever is doubting you, whoever is doing something [to you], put something on your mind and if you have something on your mind, go do it.

"Don't ever let somebody tell you that you can't and I'm never going to stop. I'm going to keep working until I can't play no more."

Luka Doncic's sensational numbers in the Dallas Mavericks' 127-123 beating of the Sacramento Kings were "hard to fathom" for gleeful head coach Rick Carlisle.

The Mavericks won a third straight game with Doncic finishing with a stunning triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists.

In doing so, Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double consisting of at least 15 rebounds and assists.

Doncic's display earned effusive praise from coach Carlisle, who said: "These numbers are just crazy. It's hard to fathom. 

"They're trapping him all over the court every time down. He's both beating the traps and playing beautifully out of the traps."

Doncic really came to life in the third quarter where he put up 11 points and six rebounds.

Even more impressively, Doncic made his triple-double despite going 0-5 from beyond the arc, a statistic that left the Slovenian insisting he can play better.

"Obviously, not as good as I can play. I have to practice those threes," Doncic said. 

"They were doubling me every time, and I like it. Basketball is five players so somebody's going to be open if they double me."

Doncic's night started in inauspicious fashion with a wayward pass that found its way into the stands.

The 20-year-old was able to see the funny side of things.

"It was a bad pass," he added. "I was laughing. He was open. I should have hit him. That was a very bad pass."

The Orlando Magic snapped the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak in the NBA, while the Houston Rockets were also stunned on Wednesday.

The Lakers' nine-game winning run was ended with a shock 119-118 loss to Orlando.

LeBron James had a double-double of 19 points and 19 assists, but the Lakers (33-8) were stunned at the Staples Center.

Markelle Fultz was the star for Orlando (20-21) with a triple-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Houston were also surprised in a 117-107 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Russell Westbrook contributed a triple-double of 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, but James Harden (13 points) went three-of-12 from the field.

Damian Lillard (25 points) and CJ McCollum (24) combined for 49 points for Portland, while Hassan Whiteside (18 points and 18 rebounds) and Carmelo Anthony (18 points and 12 rebounds) managed double-doubles.

 

Doncic delights as Sabonis shines

Luka Doncic starred with 25 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds in the Dallas Mavericks' 127-123 win over the Sacramento Kings. The 20-year-old became the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double with at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists.

Domantas Sabonis' double-double of 29 points and 13 rebounds helped the Indiana Pacers past the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-99.

The Philadelphia 76ers overcame the Brooklyn Nets 117-106 as Ben Simmons contributed 20 points and 11 assists.

 

Kuzma struggles

Kyle Kuzma struggled in the Lakers' defeat, going two-of-10 from the field for just four points in 27 minutes.

 

Mykhailiuk from deep

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk converted from beyond half-court to beat the buzzer in the third quarter of the Detroit Pistons' 116-103 victory against the Boston Celtics.

Wednesday's results

Detroit Pistons 116-103 Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers 117-106 Brooklyn Nets
Miami Heat 106-100 San Antonio Spurs
Chicago Bulls 115-106 Washington Wizards
Indiana Pacers 104-99 Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors 130-121 Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets 100-86 Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers 117-107 Houston Rockets
Dallas Mavericks 127-123 Sacramento Kings
Orlando Magic 119-118 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Celtics at Bucks

The Celtics (27-12) get a chance to bounce back when they face Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks (36-6) on Thursday.

Luka Doncic made NBA history during the Dallas Mavericks' 127-123 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old dominated with 25 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds as the Mavericks improved to 26-15.

Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double with at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists.

The Slovenian is enjoying a brilliant season to be among the NBA MVP contenders.

Doncic was averaging 28.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists heading into the clash with the Kings.

Joel Embiid said "I'm trying to win a f***** title" as the Philadelphia 76ers star craves NBA glory following last season's heartbreaking playoff exit.

The 76ers are championship contenders in 2020 after re-signing Tobias Harris and adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson to a roster headlined by All-Stars Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Embiid is seen as the key to Philadelphia's title hopes and the popular center is hellbent on winning a ring after being left in tears when the 76ers suffered a buzzer-beating defeat to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Recovering from a finger injury, Embiid – whose 76ers last won a championship in 1982-83 – wrote in The Players' Tribune: "You know, we all came into this year talking about how bad we want a title. We're pretty good at talking, myself included. But it's not enough just to talk it. You gotta walk it. You gotta bring it every single night. And that includes me, too. 

"Listen, I know it sucks that I'm out. Nobody feels worse than me about it. But it's just a finger. It's nothing. Compared to what I've been through, it's nothing man. 

"I'm going to be back. And we're going to get this thing right. And we're going to be a problem in the playoffs, I promise you. But I have to say it now — the one thing I'm not going to do is change who I am as a basketball player. 

"I got nothing but love for the legends of the game like Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal] and Charles [Barkley]. So I respect what they're saying about my game. But I'm never going to be the kind of traditional big like Shaq was in the '90s. You can't go down to the post every single time down the floor and have success in this league. Not in 2020. Not with the way the game has evolved. Not with the way teams double-team now. You have to be able to spread the floor and pass the ball and get buckets all over the court.

"It doesn't matter if you're a guard or a 7-footer, you need to be versatile to win in this league. You need to be unpredictable. Yes, I idolised guys like Dream [Hakeem Olajuwon]. I watched hours and hours of Dream every single day, literally. Everybody knows that story. But you know who I love watching now? KD [Kevin Durant], [James] Harden, even point guards like Steph [Curry] and CP3 [Chris Paul]. For me, that's where the game is the most interesting right now. 

"Above everything, I'm a student of the game. That's the only way I was able to pick it up in such a short amount of time. You can't just be a Big on the block anymore. You need to be a basketball player.

"If we're going to win a title, I gotta be a little bit of Dream, and a little bit of [Allen] Iverson, and a little bit of Kooooobeeeeeeeeeeeeee [Kobe Bryant]. That's the way I'm always going to see myself. 

"And I know you guys on TV want me to score 35 on the block every night. I know it. I hear you. But I gotta be honest with you. This isn't 1995. This is 2020. I'm not working every single day to be the next Dream. There's only one Dream. There's only one Shaq. I'm not trying to be the best Big ever. I'm trying to be the best basketball player in the league, and I really believe I can be that. 

"I'm done with the trash talking and the memes and all that. Once I'm holding that trophy in my hands, maybe I'll be back to my charming self. For now, I got one thing on my mind. I'm not trying to win a debate. I'm trying to win a f***** title."

Zion Williamson is finally ready to make his NBA bow in one of the most highly-anticipated debuts of all time.

Forward Williamson was the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after dazzling as a college star in his only season at Duke.

The New Orleans Pelicans won the draft lottery and selected Williamson, but the franchise has yet to see the benefits of that on the court, with the 19-year-old suffering a knee injury during preseason in October.

The wait will soon be over, though, and we've taken a look at some of the things to keep an eye on, with Williamson set to debut against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, January 22.

 

DUNKS, BLOCKS AND HIGHLIGHT-REEL PLAYS

In today's social-media age, Williamson was already considered a superstar long before he even arrived at Duke.

The NBA has perhaps never seen anyone that big (6ft 6ins, 284 pounds) who is also that athletic, with Williamson regularly rushing down the court and rising above the rim to deliver devastating slams and brutal blocks.

His pre-game feats have already got more traction on Twitter and Instagram than some NBA stars' in-game shots so expect social media to be abuzz whenever Williamson wows.

COUNTING THOSE MINUTES

The Pelicans would dearly love to have Williamson on the floor for as long as possible, but they also need to be smart.

He has not played a game at all in three months and it is 10 months since he last played a competitive one, when he was unable to prevent Duke from losing to Michigan State at the Elite Eight stage of March Madness.

Pels head coach Alvin Gentry has already confirmed there will be a "minutes restriction" in place for Williamson, but it might be difficult to leave him on the bench for too long if he starts living up to the hype straight away.

 

CELEB SPOTTING

NBA courtsides are home to the rich and famous and Pels homes games will soon be the hottest ticket in town thanks to the legend of Zion.

Former US president Barack Obama was in attendance when Duke played North Carolina during Williamson's sole season with the Blue Devils.

Boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. and rapper Jay-Z also rocked up to Duke games to see what all the fuss was about and the interest will only grow now Williamson is in the pros.

BUT WHAT ABOUT BRANDON?

With Williamson sidelined, another former Duke star, Brandon Ingram, has come to the fore for Gentry's team.

Ingram was one of those traded to New Orleans as part of the package that saw Anthony Davis join the Los Angeles Lakers and, away from the City of Stars, the 22-year-old has been able to shine.

The small forward is averaging 25.1 points - the 11th best in the NBA this season.

That number will surely take a hit when Williamson returns but New Orleans will hope Ingram can still flourish alongside their top draft pick in a league littered with dynamic duos.

 

GETTING HIS KICKS

The previous US president did not see much of Williamson due to an injury the teenager sustained after his Nike shoe came apart.

That did not prevent him from signing with the sportswear giant's Jordan brand, though, in a deal reportedly worth $75million across seven years.

The sneakers worn by basketball stars are always the subject of great interest and the kicks Zion first dons will be of particular interest, especially after the incident in the North Carolina game.

Zion Williamson's highly anticipated NBA debut is set to come on January 22 when the New Orleans Pelicans face the San Antonio Spurs.

The teenager, one of the most hyped prospects ever to enter the league in recent years, has been sidelined since October after suffering a knee injury during preseason.

His last game came against the Spurs on October 13, when he put up 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Williamson has been involved in the Pelicans' recent pregame warm-ups and has taken part in three-on-three and four-on-four drills, with the franchise's executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin now outlining a likely return date.

"We hope to have a more intense practice on the 17th or 19th, if all goes well from that, and assuming that he is cleared by then, our anticipation is he'll play his first game on the 22nd at home against San Antonio," Griffin told reporters.

"This process has been one that's been really, really good. We've learned a lot more than we've probably taught him, quite frankly.

"He's getting to the point where we actually think he's as ready as he believes he is.

"Everything's moving in the right direction."

Williamson underwent surgery on October 21 and was initially given a six-to-eight week timeframe for his return.

Recent reports had suggested Williamson would feature against the Utah Jazz on Thursday.

However, the 19-year-old is set to miss that game and contests against the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies before he finally makes his bow.

"Anybody that was guessing before wasn't getting it from anybody who actually knew so that's really frustrating," Griffin added.

"The only people that really knew anything about the process were our medical team and the player."

Williamson was selected with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Pelicans, who had the right to pick him after winning the lottery.

The forward only spent one year in college with Duke and his last competitive appearance on the court came in their defeat to Michigan State during the NCAA's March Madness tournament.

The Pelicans have the second-worst record in the Western Conference with a 15-26 record.

Kawhi Leonard has urged his Los Angeles Clippers team-mates to "enjoy the process" and prepare to be "down in the trenches" in their quest to be crowned NBA champions.

Leonard scored a season-high 43 points in only 38 minutes on court in the Clippers' 128-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center on Tuesday.

The three-time NBA All-Star lifted the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the second time in his career when the Toronto Raptors won a maiden NBA title last year.

Leonard says the Clippers must be patient in their bid to dethrone the Raptors.

The small forward said: "We just can't be in a rush. That's what I'm [telling them]. Just be patient. It's hard to win a championship.

"The pressure isn't even on us now. Just enjoy the process and have fun."

He added: "It takes a whole team to win games, win championships. It's not won by one guy, two players – it's the whole 15.

"Those are the things that I tell them: Don't be in a rush to win these games. Enjoy every moment of it. Enjoy the process and use it as a learning tool when you get down in the trenches."

The Clippers (28-13) are fourth in the Western Conference and will have home advantage again when they take on the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

Klay Thompson is buoyed his progress down the long road to recovery from a torn ACL, but knows he must remain patient as he eyes a return to the court.

The Golden State Warriors star suffered the injury during Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June.

Thompson is far enough along in his rehabilitation that he has been able to shoot with his team-mates after practice sessions.

While the prospect of a return to competitive action remains a way off, Thompson – speaking during the Warriors' 124-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks – is keeping a clear head and a positive outlook.

"It's going great," the 29-year-old said in quotes reported by ESPN. "I mean, at least my suits are well tailored. And it's fun to watch these guys battle.

"Obviously, I wish I could be out there. It's been a long process. I haven't stopped working since the third day after Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. 

"You might not see me a lot, but I'm working. I don't know what's going to come this season, I would love to get out there.

"It's very rare for me not to be grinding through it with them, but I'm trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again, so I'll be very patient because I want to play at a high level 'til my late 30s."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been heartened to see Thompson get involved in post-practice shooting sessions.

"More than anything it just feels good to see him out there," he said. "And for him to feel it, like he's actually closer. Even though he's still a way from being out on the floor, he's so far along now compared to when this first started.

"So he's pretty far down the path, so I think he's starting to feel that.

"The routine is changing now. He's on the court a lot more, and I'm asking him to be around our team a lot more. Both Steph [Curry] and Klay I've talked to about starting to be engaged and involved with the group. The new players need to get to know those guys and vice versa.

"And they give our young group some confidence just with their presence. So I think that's all part of the next step here for both Steph and Klay."

Giannis Antetokounmpo showed no mercy in a devastating 21-minute display as the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks defeated the New York Knicks 128-102.

Antetokounmpo only played three quarters but the reigning MVP still scored 37 points to lead the Bucks past the Knicks on Tuesday.

The Bucks, who led by as many as 35 points, improved their league-best record to 36-6 with a fourth consecutive victory.

Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard posted 43 points as the Los Angeles Clippers cruised past the Cleveland Cavalier 128-103.

Lou Williams contributed 24 points off the bench for the Clippers, who were again without injured star Paul George.

 

Jazz extend winning streak

The Utah Jazz made it 10 successive wins by beating the Brooklyn Nets 118-107. Joe Ingles matched his career high with 27 points, while Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 18 rebounds. Kyrie Irving recorded 32 points and 11 assists for the Nets.

Trae Young's double-double of 36 points and 10 assists helped the lowly Atlanta Hawks soar past the Phoenix Suns 123-110. Devin Booker scored 39 points for the visiting Suns.

James Harden's 41 points were not enough after the Houston Rockets fell 121-110 to the in-form Memphis Grizzlies. Rookie Ja Morant put up 26 points as the Grizzlies won their sixth successive game.

 

O'Neale scoreless

Royce O'Neal did not post a point against the Nets. In 32 minutes, he was 0 of five from the floor, while he missed all three of his three-point attempts.

 

Grizzlies put on a show

Led by Morant and Jackson, the Grizzlies grounded the Rockets.

 

Tuesday's results

Atlanta Hawks 123-110 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 118-107 Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks 128-102 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 121-110 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 128-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Dallas Mavericks 124-97 Golden State Warriors

 

Magic at Lakers

Can the Los Angeles Lakers (33-7) make it 10 straight wins? The Western Conference leaders play host to the Orlando Magic (19-21) on Wednesday.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he is nearing a return from a gluteus maximus contusion.

Lakers forward Davis has missed the past three NBA games due to the injury suffered against the New York Knicks last week.

The six-time All-Star escaped serious injury after landing heavily on his backside and he told reporters on Tuesday: "Right now, just talking to you? Zero [pain] right now.

"It's the movement that kind of gets me. But ... I'm getting closer to getting back on the floor with these guys."

"It was very painful," Davis continued. "Hard for me to walk, obviously. It was pretty tough for me to just roll over on my back and on my side at the initial point of contact.

"It was tough. I didn't want any speculation, but I was just praying that it wasn't anything too serious."

Davis – who has been averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season – added: "Very relieving knowing that just based on how it felt, a day-to-day thing, [rather] than a fracture or anything like that where you need surgery and you're out weeks or months or whatever. I'm glad [that my return timeline], it's just based on how I feel.

"Every day it's getting better and I'm a lot closer than I was three days ago. Made some more progress today. When I feel like I'm able to get back to my old self and do the moves I've always done and be successful at it, that's when I'll be able to get back on the floor."

The Western Conference-leading Lakers (33-7) have not missed a beat in Davis' absence, extending their winning streak to nine games.

"This is L.A. You know everything I say will be quoted out of context. So I was going to make a joke, but I'm not going to joke because we definitely need Anthony Davis," said Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

"But we are undefeated this week without him. Something along the lines of, 'Well, if you look at the statistics ...' I don't know what the joke would be. I'm not very funny."

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.

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