Anthony Davis led the way as the Lebron James-less Los Angeles Lakers accounted for the Golden State Warriors 116-86 in the NBA.

James sat out Thursday's trip to San Francisco due to a sore groin, but star Lakers team-mate Davis stepped up with 23 points and six rebounds.

Kyle Kuzma posted 18 points, while Dwight Howard (13), JaVale McGee (12), Rajon Rondo (12) and Avery Bradley (12) all contributed for the Lakers on the road.

It was a seventh consecutive win for Western Conference leaders the Lakers, who improved to 45-12.

Meanwhile, the lowly Warriors were led by Eric Paschall's 23 points off the bench.

 

Harris leads 76ers

In the absence of injured All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris stepped up for the Philadelphia 76ers. Harris posted a game-high 34 points in a 115-106 win over the lowly New York Knicks. The 76ers improved their league-best home record to 28-2. Shake Milton starred from the three-point line, nailing all five of his attempts on his way to 19 points.

Danilo Gallinari scored 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from 19 points down to top the Sacramento Kings 112-108. It was Oklahoma City's fifth consecutive victory.

Domantas Sabonis tallied his 45th double-double of the season to see the Indiana Pacers past the Portland Trail Blazers 106-100. Sabonis finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. CJ McCollum had 28 points for the Trail Blazers, while Hassan Whiteside put up 18 points and 16 rebounds.

 

Bazemore endures tough night

The Kings lost and Kent Bazemore struggled. The shooting guard was three of 12 from the field and 0 of three from beyond the arc for seven points in 18 minutes.

Sixers recruits Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks – who were both acquired from the Warriors on the deadline – had a chance to impress against the Knicks but failed to do so. In the starting five, Robinson played 21 minutes but was just two of six from the field for a paltry four points. Burks, meanwhile, was two of 10 from the field and made just one of his four three-point attempts as he scored seven.

 

CP3 with the no-look pass

Chris Paul teed up Thunder team-mate Steve Adams in cool fashion.

 

Thursday's results

Oklahoma City Thunder 112-108 Sacramento Kings
Indiana Pacers 106-100 Portland Trail Blazers
Philadelphia 76ers 115-106 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 116-86 Golden State Warriors

 

Thunder at Bucks

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (50-8) play host to the in-form Thunder on Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are riding a four-game winning streak.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been fined $25,000 for resting star guard D'Angelo Russell, the NBA announced.

Minnesota violated the league's player resting policy after 2019 All-Star Russell – who sat out on February 8 due to a quadriceps injury – did not face the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

The NBA "deemed Russell a healthy player under the policy that was designed in part to minimise star player absences from nationally televised games".

In a statement, the Timberwolves said: ''While we respect the league's guidelines and standards, we are a player-centric organisation that's focused on learning and optimizing our players' bodies.

''As a new player in our program, we chose to rest D'Angelo in order to learn his body better and to optimise his health during a difficult stretch of games and travel."

Russell – acquired from the Golden State Warriors prior to the trade deadline – is averaging 23.7 points, 6.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game this season.

 

 

Joel Embiid sat out the Philadelphia 76ers' game against the New York Knicks due to a shoulder problem.

Embiid did not suit up for Thursday's clash with the Knicks after hurting his shoulder in Wednesday's loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The NBA All-Star reportedly suffered a sprained left shoulder, with the 76ers still evaluating Embiid and hoping to provide another update on Friday.

Embiid is averaging 23.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the 76ers (36-23), who are fifth in the Eastern Conference.

The 76ers are already without fellow All-Star Ben Simmons due to a back problem.

Joel Embiid will undergo a scan on his injured shoulder and is a doubt for the Philadelphia 76ers' clash with the New York Knicks on Thursday.

The All-Star center managed just eight minutes of Wednesday's 108-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid appeared to suffer the setback in a coming together with Cavaliers center Ante Zizic, missing two free throws shortly after, and coach Brett Brown was left in doubt over his fitness.

"I'm really sort of a prisoner to the medical people's information," Brown said, per ESPN. "I haven't checked in. I just left the team. I'm unsure, I really am unsure."

The 76ers are 9-21 on the road after their latest loss at Wells Fargo Center, in stark contrast to a home record that is the best in the league.

Brown also had to contend with the absence of Ben Simmons, out with a back injury, but felt it was a chance for someone else to step up against a struggling Cavs side.

"I feel like when you don't have Joel and you don't have Ben, it's an opportunity for others to put their hand up and declare this is who we are. It is who we are," Brown said. "I felt from that physical standpoint we were C-minus."

Embiid is averaging 23.3 points this season and peaked in Monday's win over the Atlanta Hawks, draining a career-high 49 points.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James will sit out the game against the Golden State Warriors due to a sore groin.

A groin problem means James will not suit up to face the Warriors in the NBA on Thursday, the Lakers announced on Wednesday.

James posted a season-high 40 points in the Lakers' 118-109 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old, who endured an injury-ravaged debut season in Los Angeles, is averaging 25.5 points, 10.6 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Western Conference leaders in 2019-20.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis, meanwhile, is listed as probable against the Warriors with a sore left elbow.

Joel Embiid has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for making an obscene gesture on court and using profane language during a television interview.

The Philadelphia 76ers center reacted to Kevin Huerter stealing the ball from him in the final seconds of his team's 129-112 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday by raising his middle finger.

Embiid had a career-high 49 points but opted not to go for a half-century in the closing stages, instead dribbling the ball out to run out the clock.

However, when Huerter claimed possession, the 25-year-old responded with a one-finger salute towards his opponent which was picked up by courtside cameras.

Embiid was then asked after the game in an interview if he is the best player in the world, a question stemming from him making such a claim after a recent win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Opting to stand by his previous comment, he referenced the recent All-Star Game in Chicago – having scored 22 points for Team Giannis - and included the use of an expletive, though he quickly said sorry for his choice of words, as well as issuing an on-air apology for his reaction to Huerter.

In a statement, Kiki VanDeWeghe, executive vice-president of basketball operations for the NBA announced Embiid's punishment, with the amount reflective of his "multiple prior violations of acceptable on-court decorum".

The 76ers are in action on Wednesday, hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maria Sharapova insists there will be no farewell tour after she announced her retirement from tennis, with the Russian stating Kobe Bryant's death proved pivotal in her decision to bow out.

Sharapova – a five-time grand slam champion – confirmed her retirement on Wednesday, having struggled with injuries in recent years, while she also served a 15-month ban for testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

The 32-year-old, who finishes her career at 373 in the WTA rankings and with 36 singles titles to her name, won her first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2004, aged 17.

Despite being one of the biggest names in tennis, Sharapova dismissed any idea of prolonging her time on the court, meaning her last appearance will be the defeat to Donna Vekic in the Australian Open in January.

"I don't feel I need to go on the court for the entire world and every fan to know that this is my last time on the court," Sharapova said in an interview with the New York Times.

"Even when I was younger, it was not the way I wanted it to end. As I think you've seen throughout my career, my perseverance has been my greatest tool, my greatest strength.

"But I've started feeling like it was becoming a weakness, because the stubbornness that was keeping me going was keeping me going for wrong reasons."

Having decided she should soon call it a day while flying from Australia to Los Angeles following her defeat to Vekic, Sharapova added that the death of basketball icon Bryant – who she said had been an "incredible sounding board" for her during her career – on January 26 made her mind up.

"We were supposed to see each other like three days after the crash," Sharapova said.

"I think we all seem at times in our journey like larger than life because of what we do, but everyone at the core is incredibly fragile.

"And if anything it just opens up your eyes to what really matters in life, so that was a moment where I had a really good think about my future as well."

Sharapova acknowledged it is difficult to leave her tally of grand slam titles at five, yet she has no regrets over calling time on her career.

"Look, would I have loved to have a sixth, a seventh, an eighth Grand Slam trophy?" she added. "That number sounds better, but I could have had zero, and I got myself to a pretty incredible place."

Giannis Antetokounmpo acknowledged he had last season's Game 6 Eastern Conference Finals defeat to the Toronto Raptors on his mind as the Milwaukee Bucks won in Canada on Tuesday.

Eventual champions the Raptors rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to dump out Antetokounmpo's number one seed Bucks at Scotiabank Arena in May.

But the two teams are leading the way again in the east this year, and Milwaukee brought up 50 wins with a 108-97 success on their first return to Toronto since the playoffs.

Reigning MVP and 2019-20 candidate Antetokounmpo put up 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the victory was particularly encouraging as he witnessed a postseason atmosphere on the road.

"Yeah, you expect that [atmosphere]," he said. "It's the second time we've faced Toronto.

"We got the first one at home, and you know they're going to try to come out, set the tone and play hard. They're a team that don't stop playing hard.

"That's why they win so many games, that's why they're so good. You expect that, and we knew we had to come out here and earn it."

Asked whether he had thought of the previous meeting, the Greek added: "Obviously, obviously.

"You always remember the last time you played here, the performance you had. It was definitely on my mind."

Antetokounmpo would not be distracted, even as rapper Drake brought out WWE championship belts in a nod to a wrestling video the Bucks posted of their star man the previous day.

Toronto icon Drake had played the part of cheerleader as the Raptors roared past Antetokounmpo in May, yet the 25-year-old was not concerned by the superfan's latest attempts to get under his skin.

"I didn't notice that. I just found out about it. Somebody told me," Antetokounmpo said. "When I'm in the game, I'm just locked in, trying to win the game.

"I really don't look outside at the fans, at what they're doing.

"That's good [that Drake wanted to antagonise me]. He cares about me? I didn't know it. I'm just here to win games and help my team win."

LeBron James proved he is still the master after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, but he tipped the apprentice Zion Williamson "to get better and better".

It was the first career meeting between superstar James and exciting rookie Williamson, with the former dropping a season-high 40 points and adding eight rebounds as the Lakers triumphed 118-109 to make it six straight wins in the NBA.

Anthony Davis contributed 21 points despite only going 6-for-21 from the field, adding 14 rebounds and six blocks, while Alex Caruso was also influential for the Lakers.

Speaking after the game, James predicted Williamson – who landed 29 points for the Pelicans, second only to former Laker Brandon Ingram's 34 – will be a star for years to come.

"He's playing exceptional basketball," James said in quotes reported by ESPN. 

"I think his game is going to get better and better, just having that experience. I think today's game is the perfect fit for his game. 

"The high pace, the way they play, it fits his game. It works perfectly, and our game is so many possessions now, so much space, it's perfect for his game, so he's doing exceptionally well with that."

Davis, who moved to LA from New Orleans in July, echoed a similar message in his assessment of Williamson, saying: "He's a great player.

"He's got a quick first step. Very explosive. He's going to continue to get better and better as he goes on."

Williamson was injured for the Pelicans' first two encounters with the Lakers this season but has now scored 20-plus points in nine consecutive games.

The 19-year-old paid tribute to James' performance.

"It was a great experience," Williamson said. "He's an incredible player. 

"His resume speaks for himself. He handled business. He came out here and did what he had to do to help his team get the win."

James also put up eight assists and provided several highlight-reel dunks. Asked to explain why he had so much success, the veteran said: "I was just reading the defense. 

"They went under a lot of my pick-and-rolls; pretty much every team has done that this year, so I just try to make them pay. 

"I was able to get a couple of threes going and then I was being aggressive the rest of the [third] quarter."

LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a sixth straight win, while the Milwaukee Bucks secured their 50th victory of the NBA season.

James posted a season-high 40 points in the Lakers' 118-109 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Anthony Davis had a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds, while James went 17-of-27 from the field while also contributing eight rebounds and six assists.

The top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson poured in 29 points for the Pelicans.

In a battle between the Eastern Conference's top two, the Bucks were too good for the Toronto Raptors 108-97.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists as Milwaukee improved to 50-8.

 

Terrific Tatum, super Sabonis

Jayson Tatum lifted the Boston Celtics past the Portland Trail Blazers 118-106 with 36 points, going eight-of-12 from three-point range.

Domantas Sabonis' 21 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists helped the Indiana Pacers thrash the Charlotte Hornets 119-80.

Zach LaVine's 41 points were not enough for the Chicago Bulls, who were edged by the Oklahoma City Thunder 124-122.

 

Horrible Hornets

Charlotte are now 3-7 in their past 10 after the heavy loss to the Pacers. Terry Rozier went two-of-13 from the field for five points in 26 minutes.

 

LeBron, Caruso combine

Alex Caruso delivered a pass through his legs for James to dunk home.

Tuesday's results

Indiana Pacers 119-80 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 108-97 Toronto Raptors
Oklahoma City Thunder 124-122 Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets 115-98 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Lakers 118-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Boston Celtics 118-106 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 112-94 Golden State Warriors

 

Celtics at Jazz

The Celtics (40-17) look for back-to-back wins when they visit the Utah Jazz (36-21) on Wednesday.

The Golden State Warriors are hoping Stephen Curry makes his return from injury against the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

Curry has played just four games this season, sidelined since October due to a broken hand.

The two-time MVP is targeting a return against the Wizards and head coach Steve Kerr is hopeful about the 31-year-old's availability for the clash at the Chase Center.

"That is the hope," Kerr told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I think we're going to re-evaluate on Saturday so he won't come back before that date, but I know he's had that date in his mind.

"He'll continue to work this week and then we'll make that determination on Saturday whether he'll play or not on Sunday."

The Warriors have struggled without Curry and amid an injury-ravaged season, having gone into Tuesday with the worst record in the NBA at 12-45.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said there is "never going to be a closure" over the death of Kobe Bryant.

Lakers great Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others, in California last month.

Thousands packed into Staples Center on Monday for an emotional memorial service – Bryant's wife Vanessa, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal delivering heartfelt speeches.

James reflected on the service and Bryant's death prior to Tuesday's NBA clash against the New Orleans Pelicans.

"It's never a closure. It's never going to be a closure," James said. "I mean, we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here.

"So, it's not a closure. But it was a celebration which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world."

James added: "Emotionally a wreck, like everyone else. Another challenging day for all of us. Like you've been hearing me talk about the last couple times you guys asked me about the whole situation, it's just been hard to kind of talk about it. Trying not to go back. It's just tough."

"One thing I can come out of it saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa is," James continued. "To stand up there the way she did, to give that speech the way she gave that speech. I commend her.

"My heart is with their family still. With his three daughters that are still here. With his wife. With his mom and dad and his sisters. It was just a very difficult day. Obviously a celebration but it was a difficult day for all of us. So, I appreciate it. If we could move onto tonight, that would be great."

Tom Brady revealed he has endured sleepless nights and shed "so many tears" over the tragic death of "superhero" Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

Basketball legend Bryant and 13-year Gianna were among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26.

Vanessa Bryant paid an emotional tribute to her late husband and daughter at a memorial service at Staples Center on Monday, while a tearful Michael Jordan described the Los Angeles Lakers great as his "little brother."

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady took to social media to state that it is down to everybody to adopt the same positive approach that made Bryant, 41, so special.

He wrote in a long tribute on Tuesday: "I have been deeply affected by the passing of Kobe, Gigi and the others in that tragic flight weeks ago.

"Since then, I've witnessed the well-deserved outpouring of love and support for the families that had so much left to give, and it's helped me reflect and gain perspective.

"I know that love peace and joy will always endure. And in this tragedy, I have learned so much. Why has this touched me in the way that it did? Why has it kept me up at night, and brought me so many tears?

"In Kobe, we were able to witness the man in the arena. For many of us, sports show what we are made of, they define our personalities and emotions. We cannot hide from the good or the bad, from wins or the losses... the joy and despair, the happiness and the pain.

"What you see is what it is, we aren't actors. We have found a real life stage where we become vulnerable to the world and are judged based on the outcome of each performance. And we care deeply about what we do.

"For some, these days are the pinnacle in their life, and there's nothing wrong what that but it's clear to me, for Kobe, that was how he lived his life in every way. In his second chapter, you saw even more. You saw the excitement for life, and for achieving in areas only he thought possible. He became more of an entrepreneur, media mogul, father, husband and mentor among other roles.

"And he didn't stop with himself. Kobe didn't care whether you were a man or woman, boy or girl, black or white, rich or poor, ordinary or extraordinary, he wanted to help you become the best you could be. His mere presence had an effect on everybody he was around. He had the energy to recognise in others what they could not recognise in themselves.

"I think that's why I will miss him most. Because we all know the world needs more of that leadership and positivity. We recognise that he was doing the work that others don't want to or simply can't do. The world we live in is full of people telling kids and adults "you can't", "you won't" or "you never will."

"The world we live in is teaching EVERYONE to fear, to worry, to shame or to give up. And that's the opposite of what Kobe stood for. That's what made Kobe a real superhero.

"He spoke about mentality with such conviction, about the idea that if you truly believed in something you would achieve it... you could overcome the obstacles in your path. And not just that, he walked the walk and did the work. He pushed others to find that same confidence. He was the real-life superhero our world needs.

"That's what we will all miss. That's why we hurt. Because we know that he was always fighting against the norm. He was doing more than his share. Now who is going to do the work that is still here to be done?

"Who is going to fight and break the norms with love and joy and inspiration? Who is going to discard fear, and doubt, and hate? Who is going to carry the load and be the superhero that he was? The answer is simple to me, ALL OF US. 

"Decide to make the change in yourself. If there is anything I have learned and been inspired by through this tragic event, it is this, SEIZE THE DAY. That's what Kobe always did, and that's what he wanted for us too." 

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