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).

A tearful Michael Jordan was given a standing ovation after paying tribute to his "little brother" Kobe Bryant during an emotional memorial service at Staples Center on Monday.

Thousands packed into the home of the Los Angeles Lakers to pay their respects to Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were tragically killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Vanessa Bryant referred to Kobe, who passed away aged 41, as "the perfect husband" and said her 13-year-old daughter Gianna "would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA".

Shaquille O'Neal also gave a poignant speech, while there were performances from Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys before the legendary Jordan had the likes of Stephen Curry on their feet with a touching tribute.

Jordan said: "Kobe and I were very close friends, not only was he my good friend, he was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I, I just wanted to talk about Kobe."

He added: "This kid had passion like you would never know. It's the amazing thing about passion, if you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extremes to try to understand or get it.

"What Kobe Bryant was for me, was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way either I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game.

"He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be and as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.

"To do that you have to put up with the aggravation, the late-night calls or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person; a better basketball player.

"We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything and he was just trying to be a better person. I am inspired by what he's done and what he's shared with Vanessa and his kids."

Jordan finished off by saying: "When Kobe Bryant died a piece of me died and as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died, or else you wouldn't be here.

"Those are the memories that we have to live with and we learn from and I promise you, from this day forward I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in any way I could. Please rest in peace little brother."

Vanessa Bryant on Monday submitted a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters over the crash in Calabasas, California on January 26.

A spokesman for Island Express Helicopters said: "This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending litigation."

Kobe Bryant’s widow on Monday sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in fog and killed the former Los Angeles Lakers star and their 13-year-old daughter last month.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant in Los Angeles Superior Court said the pilot was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions Jan. 26 and should have aborted the flight.

Pilot Ara Zobayan was among the nine people killed in the crash.

The lawsuit names Island Express Helicopters Inc. and also targets Zobayan’s legal representative, listed only as “Doe 1” until a name can be determined.

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit asserts that Zobayan was negligent in eight different ways, including failing to properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn’t cleared for and failing to control the helicopter.

The lawsuit was filed as a public memorial service for Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and all the victims, including Zobayan, was being held at the arena where Bryant played most of his career.

Calls to Island Express seeking comment were not answered and its voicemail was full.

The company issued a statement Jan. 30 on its website saying the shock of the crash had prompted it to suspend service until it was appropriate for staff and customers.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash into a hillside in Calabasas on the outskirts of Los Angeles County.

Zion Williamson believes LeBron James does not get the respect he deserves despite the incredible standard he has maintained throughout his NBA career.

Williamson will face LeBron for the first time in his career on Tuesday when the New Orleans Pelicans take on James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Pelicans are 10th in the Western Conference standings with a 25-32 record, but still harbour hopes of claiming the eighth seed in the playoffs.

Should they achieve that goal, the Pelicans could face the Lakers, who hold the top seed in the West as it stands, in the first round of the postseason.

Williamson, though, is not viewing this week's encounter as a possible playoff preview.

"I'm not necessarily looking at it from that perspective," he told reporters after scoring 28 points in the Pelicans' 115-101 road win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.  

"I'm looking at from the perspective as, you know we need every win, we're trying to fight for that eight seed in the playoffs."

On four-time MVP James, he added: "I used to watch him all the time, especially when he was in Cleveland the first time, he was just an incredible player to watch, he always held his own.

"Sometimes I feel he doesn't get the respect he deserves but it's not for me to decide."

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers came out on top 114-112 against Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the NBA on Sunday.

James nailed a fallaway jump shot with 30 seconds remaining as the Lakers prevailed, despite Tatum's 41 points at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"I had been setting him [Tatum] up all night with the back-down to the drop step to the baseline," James said. "I figured he would sit on it, thinking I would try it again, so I just went to my back-down, gave a little Dream Shake to the baseline and was able to open up the middle and get my fadeaway."

Lakers superstar James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Western Conference leaders, who extended their winning streak to five games as Celtics great Bill Russell watched from the sideline.

Anthony Davis posted 32 points and 13 rebounds, while the Celtics played without Kemba Walker (left knee soreness) for the second straight game.

The Milwaukee Bucks did not play on Sunday but the NBA leaders still made history thanks to the Chicago Bulls.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks became the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff spot after the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards.

The Bucks secured a postseason berth through 56 games on February 23, topping the Golden State Warriors' record – set on February 25 in 2017 after 58 appearances.

 

Zion stars in San Francisco

Zion Williamson flexed his muscles with 28 points and seven rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans soared past the lowly Golden State Warriors 115-101. Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 23 points in the final quarter.

A career-high 53 points from Bradley Beal were not enough for the Wizards, who went down 126-117 to the Bulls. Coby White's 33 points saw him join Michael Jordan as the only Bulls rookies with 30 or more points in successive games.

Double-doubles from Serge Ibaka (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Kyle Lowry (16 points, 11 assists) inspired defending champions the Toronto Raptors to a 127-81 demolition of the Indiana Pacers.

A 131-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs was memorable for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Oklahoma City's largest victory margin ever against the Spurs. Chris Paul (12 points, 10 assists), Steven Adams (21 points, 14 rebounds) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22 points, 13 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Thunder.

 

Spurs struggle

San Antonio had a night to forget away to the Thunder. The Spurs were just 36.9 per cent from the field, making just 38 of 103 shots. Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both struggled. Aldridge was three of 10 from the field and he missed all five three-point attempts for eight points. Meanwhile, DeRozan was four of 12 for 11 points.

 

Zion with the slam!

The 2019 number one pick and Pelicans rookie provided another highlight against the Warriors.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets 128-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors 127-81 Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls 126-117 Washington Wizards
Oklahoma City Thunder 131-103 San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans 115-101 Golden State Warriors
Portland Trail Blazers 107-104 Detroit Pistons

 

Hawks at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers (35-22) are expected to be without injured All-Star Ben Simmons for Monday's visit of the Atlanta Hawks (17-41). Simmons hurt his back in the loss away to the NBA-leading Bucks. Awful on the road, the 76ers – currently fifth in the Eastern Conference – boast the best home record in the league at 26-2.

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed veteran forward Markieff Morris, the NBA franchise announced on Sunday.

Western Conference leaders the Lakers brought in Morris after waiving injured center DeMarcus Cousins.

Morris negotiated a buyout with the Detroit Pistons on Friday and joins the Lakers – who are led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis and looking to win a championship.

The 30-year-old Morris, the twin brother of Los Angeles Clippers recruit Marcus, averaged 11 points and 1.6 assists in 44 appearances for the Pistons this season.

In 623 career games with the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit, Morris has averaged 11.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

The Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 114-112 on Sunday to extend their winning streak to five games and improve to 43-12 atop the west.

Euroleague Basketball has strongly condemned a "cowardly, criminal attack" in Athens on a taxi carrying referees who took charge of the game between Panathinaikos and Barcelona.

Three referees and a referee coach were being transported to their hotel following Friday's match when the window of their taxi was smashed by two people. 

In a statement on Sunday, Euroleague warned it may consider moving future matches from Greece should another similar incident occur in the country.

"Following the conclusion of the Panathinaikos OPAP Athens-FC Barcelona game in Round 25 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague regular season in Athens, Greece, two individuals performed a cowardly, criminal attack, smashing a window of the taxi that was transporting the referees from OAKA to their hotel," read Euroleague's statement.

"Fortunately, all three referees, the referee coach and the taxi driver are OK," read the statement. "After the attack, Euroleague Basketball communicated directly with the Hellenic Police, who guaranteed the safety and security of the referees until they departed from Greece."

The statement continued: "Euroleague Basketball and all participating clubs condemn violent acts of any shape or form, and will continue to apply a zero-tolerance policy.

"Euroleague Basketball will support the police investigation into the attack. Should the two individuals be identified, they will be banned for life from attending any Euroleague Basketball game/event, without prejudice to any additional legal proceedings.

"Euroleague Basketball will seek the cooperation of the clubs and the local authorities to prevent any such incidents in the future.

"Whilst the attack is unprecedented in the 20-season history of Euroleague Basketball, should a similar incident occur again within the territory of Greece, this would signify that a safe and secure environment for the visiting teams, referees and all other accredited personnel cannot be guaranteed.

"Therefore, Euroleague Basketball will immediately evaluate relocating all further EuroLeague, EuroCup and U18 Tournament games outside of Greece."

Euroleague Basketball has strongly condemned a "cowardly, criminal attack" in Athens on a taxi carrying referees who took charge of the game between Panathinaikos and Barcelona.

Three referees and a referee coach were being transported to their hotel following Friday's match when the window of their taxi was smashed by two people. 

In a statement on Sunday, Euroleague warned it may consider moving future matches from Greece should another similar incident occur in the country.

"Following the conclusion of the Panathinaikos OPAP Athens-FC Barcelona game in Round 25 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague regular season in Athens, Greece, two individuals performed a cowardly, criminal attack, smashing a window of the taxi that was transporting the referees from OAKA to their hotel," read Euroleague's statement.

"Fortunately, all three referees, the referee coach and the taxi driver are OK," read the statement. "After the attack, Euroleague Basketball communicated directly with the Hellenic Police, who guaranteed the safety and security of the referees until they departed from Greece."

The statement continued: "Euroleague Basketball and all participating clubs condemn violent acts of any shape or form, and will continue to apply a zero-tolerance policy.

"Euroleague Basketball will support the police investigation into the attack. Should the two individuals be identified, they will be banned for life from attending any Euroleague Basketball game/event, without prejudice to any additional legal proceedings.

"Euroleague Basketball will seek the cooperation of the clubs and the local authorities to prevent any such incidents in the future.

"Whilst the attack is unprecedented in the 20-season history of Euroleague Basketball, should a similar incident occur again within the territory of Greece, this would signify that a safe and secure environment for the visiting teams, referees and all other accredited personnel cannot be guaranteed.

"Therefore, Euroleague Basketball will immediately evaluate relocating all further EuroLeague, EuroCup and U18 Tournament games outside of Greece."

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.

Zion Williamson recognises he still has a lot to learn a month into his NBA career, although his New Orleans Pelicans team-mates claim the rookie is already getting "vet calls".

The number one overall draft pick made his long-awaited league debut in a defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on January 22 after recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Williamson played his 11th game on Friday, and a 128-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers moved the Pelicans to within four games of the playoffs in the Western Conference.

The 19-year-old is averaging 22.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, and he was typically influential again in a 25-point display.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Williamson insisted he is far from the finished product and does not expect to fulfil his immense potential until "year four or five".

However, having visited the free-throw line 10 times against the Trail Blazers, shooting 50 per cent, Williamson's team-mates are mocking his early ability to draw fouls.

"I'm learning the pace, when to do things, when not to do things," he said. "I'm starting to get my legs back under me a little bit, I'm learning my team-mates, just the travel.

"Even though I'm a rookie and people think that I'm doing good, there's so much that I have to learn.

"I'm always learning something new from JJ [Redick], E'Twaun [Moore], Jrue [Holiday], Zo [Lonzo Ball], Derrick Favors, so much about the game. There are small things that I'm learning.

"By year four or five, I feel like I'm going to have all of them down.

"I think I am starting to get a little bit comfortable - I'm not saying a lot [more comfortable] because it's only 11 games. I've got a lot to learn, but I'm ready for the journey."

On the foul calls, Williamson added: "I think I just draw a lot of fouls. My team-mates joke with me and say I get 'vet calls'. I don't know about that yet.

"But when we get to the free-throw line, it's one thing to get there but we just have to knock them down."

Portland are one of the teams standing between 11th-placed New Orleans and a playoff berth in the top eight, and Williamson acknowledges there is little room for error for his team.

"Honestly, for us, at this point, I think every game is important," he said. "It's really like a college season at this point now - every game matters. If we take a loss, it's a big loss, a tough loss for us.

"So we need to come into every game ready to play, ready to lock in, we can't have any slow starts. And if we do, we can't dig ourselves into a big hole."

LeBron James lauded Anthony Davis again after the Los Angeles Lakers' latest win but insisted his team-mate is "on a nice list of great players I've played with" and his own approach over the coming months will not change as a result.

The Lakers, who reportedly intend to waive injured center DeMarcus Cousins and sign Markieff Morris, a free agent after his Detroit Pistons buyout, beat the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 on Friday.

James scored 32 points, while Davis had an outstanding 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for the 42-12 Western Conference leaders.

Four-time MVP James has carried the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers in the past, but Davis - deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, held by Rudy Gobert, according to his team-mate - is sharing the load.

That does not change the veteran's mentality in the closing months of the season, though, as he looks to do whatever is necessary for the team.

"I never really looked at it like that. It's always been a team game," James told reporters. "I've never looked at it like I need to put a whole franchise, a whole team on my back.

"I need to do my job. If I do my job then we put ourselves in a position to be successful, and I'm going to have to do that again this year.

"AD's on a nice list of great players I've played with. But nothing changes for me in my preparation, the way I go out and approach the game, nothing changes."

He added on Davis: "He does everything. He's able to protect the rim, he's able to guard on the post, he's able to switch out on guards, he's able to block shots, get steals. He does everything defensively for us.

"That's why he's Defensive Player of the Year. He does everything. There's not one thing he doesn't do well defensively."

Davis had to step out of the game for a spell due to a bruised calf but returned in style.

"I just felt like I was able to get back on the floor and play," he said. "The leg felt good enough for me to go out and give it a try.

"I was just trying to stay loose and stay warm so it won't tighten back up. I just want to be on the floor to help the guys."

LeBron James and Anthony Davis starred as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 in the NBA.

James posted 32 points and Davis scored 28 points and tallied 14 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a fourth consecutive victory on Friday.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers used a 32-19 second quarter to see off the Grizzlies at Staples Center.

Luka Doncic, meanwhile, produced another big performance as the Dallas Mavericks won 122-106 at the Orlando Magic.

All-Star Doncic finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavericks on the road.

Maxi Kleber added a career-high 26 points off the bench, while Kristaps Porzingis contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Magic were led by Nikola Vucevic's 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Evan Fournier's 28 points.

 

Celtics quartet star

Boston Celtics quartet Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Daniel Theis all scored 25 or more points in the team's 127-117 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The last time four starters scored 25-plus points in a game was in 2006.

Pascal Siakam put up 37 points and 12 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors topped the Phoenix Suns 118-101 for their 16th win in 17 games.

Chris Paul's 29 points and Steve Adam's double-double of 19 points and 17 rebounds led the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Denver Nuggets 113-101.

Zion Williamson recorded 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting as the New Orleans Pelicans trumped the Portland Trail Blazers 128-115.

 

Smith struggles in DC

The Washington Wizards lost 113-108 to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Ish Smith struggled. The Wizards guard played 30 minutes, shooting just two of 12 from the field and one of five from three-point range for five points.

 

Beal pulverises Drummond

Wizards star Bradley Beal dunked on Andre Drummond in merciless fashion.

 

Friday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 117-105 Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Pelicans 128-115 Portland Trail Blazers
Cleveland Cavaliers 113-108 Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks 122-106 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 118-101 Phoenix Suns
Oklahoma City Thunder 113-101 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 106-98 New York Knicks
Boston Celtics 127-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 113-104 Utah Jazz

 

76ers at Bucks

The Philadelphia 76ers will have to overcome their worrying road woes if they are to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Philadelphia – fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 35-21 record – are 9-19 away from home but have won four straight in the NBA.

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.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will go head-to-head on April 9 after the NBA clash was rescheduled following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant last month.

City rivals the Lakers and Clippers were meant to meet on January 28, however, the showdown was postponed after NBA great Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

The Lakers and Clippers now have a new date for the Western Conference blockbuster at Staples Center in April.

As a result, three other games have been rescheduled to accommodate the Lakers-Clippers fixture.

The Clippers will play the Chicago Bulls on April 6 instead of April 8, the Lakers' clash with the Golden State Warriors has been brought forward from April 9 to April 7 and their game against the Bulls will take place on April 8.

LeBron James and the Lakers top the Western Conference with a 41-12 record, while Kawhi Leonard's Clippers (37-18) are third.

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."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.