LeBron James upstaged Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Los Angeles Lakers secured their playoff berth with victory over the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

James led the Lakers to a 113-103 victory at home to Antetokounmpo and the visiting Bucks in Los Angeles on Friday.

Lakers superstar James won his battle with reigning MVP Antetokounmpo, posting 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Western Conference leaders.

Anthony Davis added 30 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 48-13 following the blockbuster showdown.

Antetokounmpo's 32 points and 11 rebounds were not enough as the high-flying Bucks fell to 53-10 for the season.

 

Baynes makes history

Aron Baynes had a game to remember. The Australian tallied a career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and made nine three-pointers as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-117. He joined James Harden as the only players in NBA history with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and eight or more three-pointers in a game.

Kristaps Porzingis recorded his fifth straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds after putting up 26 and 11 in the Dallas Mavericks' 121-96 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Duncan Robinson made history in the Miami Heat's 110-104 loss away to the New Orleans Pelicans. Robinson finished with 24 points following eight three-pointers. It took Robinson's three-point tally to 233 this season – a single-season record by an undrafted player.

Bradley Beal's 35-point performance extended his streak of 25-plus points to 21 consecutive games. It tied LeBron James for the second-longest run by an Eastern Conference player since the 2000-01 season. The Washington Wizards won 118-112 against the Atlanta Hawks.

 

Bradley struggles

Usually a handy contributor for the Lakers, Avery Bradley failed to make much of an impact despite his team's victory over the Bucks. The point guard played 31 minutes and failed to make any of his shots from the field (0 of five) or three-point range (0 of three). His two points came from the free-throw line.

The Chicago Bulls went down 108-102 to the Indiana Pacers and Lauri Markkanen headlined his team's woes. The 22-year-old had just three points, going one of 10 from the field and missing all five of his shots from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron slams it down!

James was an immovable force for the Lakers against the Bucks, who were unable to prevent this dunk.

 

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 118-112 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 139-120 San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-103 New York Knicks
Utah Jazz 99-94 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 108-102 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 132-118 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 110-104 Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks 121-96 Memphis Grizzlies
Phoenix Suns 127-117 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Warriors

The Philadelphia 76ers (38-25) will be eyeing back-to-back road wins when they travel to the Golden State Warriors (14-49) on Saturday.

The Miami Heat nullified reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and stunned the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks 105-89 on Monday.

Antetokounmpo matched a season-low with 13 points on six-for-18 shooting as the Heat became the first team to beat the Bucks twice this term.

The Bucks superstar, who also collected 15 rebounds, was limited to just six points in the first half in Miami.

Eastern Conference rivals the Heat were led by Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler's 18 points each, while Bam Adebayo added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

James Harden posted 35 points and eight assists, but the Houston Rockets lost 125-123 away to the lowly New York Knicks.

Russell Westbrook (24), Robert Covington (20, 13 rebounds), Danuel House Jr. (20) and Eric Gordon (11) also had double-digit points for the Rockets in New York.

Rookie guard RJ Barrett tied his season-high with 27 points as the Knicks snapped the Rockets' six-game winning streak.

 

McCollum inspires Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum put on a show with 41 points as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Orlando Magic 130-107. Portland outscored Orlando 38-19 in the final quarter. Nikola Vucevic starred for the Magic with 30 points and 11 rebounds.

Collin Sexton had a game-high 32 points in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 126-113 loss at home to the Utah Jazz.

 

DeRozan struggles

For someone averaging 22.6 points per game this season, Monday's performance was not up to standard for DeMar DeRozan. The San Antonio Spurs star was just four of 10 from the field for 10 points in 38 minutes of action in a 116-111 defeat against the Indiana Pacers.

 

Fultz fools Blazers

Orlando's Markelle Fultz with the no-look pass against the Trail Blazers.

 

Monday's results

Utah Jazz 126-113 Cleveland Cavaliers
New York Knicks 125-123 Houston Rockets
Portland Trail Blazers 130-107 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 127-88 Atlanta Hawks
Miami Heat 105-89 Milwaukee Bucks
Chicago Bulls 109-107 Dallas Mavericks
Indiana Pacers 116-111 San Antonio Spurs

 

76ers at Lakers

The Philadelphia 76ers (37-24) will have their hands full away to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (46-13) on Tuesday. The 76ers are missing All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, while Josh Richardson has been ruled out with concussion. The 76ers are 9-22 on the road following their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Western Conference-leading Lakers are 21-7 at Staples Center.

LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers past the New Orleans Pelicans, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was in spectacular form in the NBA on Sunday.

James' triple-double of 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds helped the Lakers bounce back from their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies with a 122-114 victory over the Pelicans.

Zion Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, delivered one of the best performances of his young career with a career-high 35 points and seven rebounds.

Without Anthony Davis (knee), the Lakers had six players finish with double-digits in points, including Kyle Kuzma (20).

Antetokounmpo powered the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks past the Charlotte Hornets 93-85.

The 2019 NBA MVP finished with 41 points, 20 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 52-8.

 

Leonard lifts Clippers, Jokic shines

Kawhi Leonard's 30 points helped the Los Angeles Clippers to a 136-130 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Shake Milton had a game-high 39 points for the 76ers in the absence of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson.

Nikola Jokic's triple-double of 23 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists guided the Denver Nuggets past defending champions the Toronto Raptors 133-118.

The Dallas Mavericks crushed the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-91 as Kristaps Porzingis contributed 38 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Bad Bridges, Biyombo

Miles Bridges (seven points in 35 minutes) and Bismack Biyombo (eight points in 22 minutes) combined to go five-of-21 from the field in the Hornets' loss.

 

LeBron, Zion put on a show

James and Williamson thrilled during the Lakers' win over the Pelicans.

Sunday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 93-85 Charlotte Hornets
Dallas Mavericks 111-91 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 136-130 Philadelphia 76ers
Denver Nuggets 133-118 Toronto Raptors
Sacramento Kings 106-100 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Lakers 122-114 New Orleans Pelicans
Washington Wizards 124-110 Golden State Warriors

 

Bucks at Heat

The Bucks (52-8) will aim for a seventh straight win when they face the Heat (38-22) in Miami on Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks humbled the Oklahoma City Thunder 133-86.

The Bucks showed no mercy as they handed the Thunder their worst loss of the season – a 47-point defeat in Milwaukee on Friday.

Bucks star and reigning MVP Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points and 13 rebounds at home to the streaking Thunder.

The Thunder had won five straight games, but Oklahoma City were no match for the devastating Bucks – who made a season-high 21 three-pointers as they improved to 51-8.

Chris Paul posted 18 points for the Thunder (37-23), while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11) was the only other player in double-digits.

Paul George recorded 24 points and Kawhi Leonard added 19 as the Los Angeles Clippers eased past Western Conference rivals the Denver Nuggets 132-103.

It was the Clippers' 40th win of the season as Doc Rivers' team reigned supreme at Staples Center.

 

Williamson stays hot

Zion Williamson became the first player in NBA history to record 20-plus points in 10 straight games before the age of 20. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie finished with 24 points in the 116-104 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Luka Doncic celebrated his 21st birthday on Friday and the Dallas Mavericks star put up 23 points and 10 assists. However, Doncic – playing with an aching thumb – did not have a memorable birthday as the Mavs lost 126-118 at the Miami Heat.

A first career triple-double from Aaron Gordon (17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists) inspired the Orlando Magic to a 136-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Terrence Ross had a season-high 33 points.

It was another big performance from Bradley Beal. The Washington Wizards guard had 42 points and 10 assists in his team's 129-119 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

Derrick Rose's 31 points helped the Detroit Pistons snap a seven-game skid by topping the Phoenix Suns 113-111.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points and collected a career-high 25 rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies' 104-101 defeat against the Sacramento Kings.

 

McCaw goes scoreless

Patrick McCaw is a three-time NBA champion – twice with the Golden State Warriors and once with the Toronto Raptors – but he did not look like one on Friday. The 24-year-old did not score a point in Toronto's shock 99-96 loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets. He was 0 of six from the field, while he missed both of his three-point attempts in 20 minutes.

Dallas' Dorian Finney-Smith also struggled. Finney-Smith played 27 minutes, going 0 of four from the field and the same from beyond the arc for just three points as a starter.

 

Spider man!

Donovan Mitchell hammered home the slam against the Wizards. He ended the game with 30 points.

 

Friday's results

Orlando Magic 136-125 Minnesota Timberwolves
Atlanta Hawks 141-118 Brooklyn Nets
Charlotte Hornets 99-96 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat 126-118 Dallas Mavericks
Sacramento Kings 104-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Milwaukee Bucks 133-86 Oklahoma City Thunder
New Orleans Pelicans 116-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons 113-111 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 129-119 Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets XX-XX Los Angeles Clippers

 

Rockets at Celtics

James Harden and the Houston Rockets (38-20) travel to the Boston Celtics on Saturday, riding a five-game winning streak. The Celtics (41-17) have won back-to-back games.

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.

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.

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."

Luka Doncic has described Zion Williamson as "a different beast", the like of which the NBA has never seen before.

Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, had back-to-back 30-point games for the New Orleans Pelicans prior to the All-Star Game in Chicago this weekend.

The teenager has scored at least 20 points in eight of his first 10 NBA appearances - with five-time MVP Michael Jordan the last rookie to achieve such a feat - and is averaging 22.1 points after returning from a knee injury that delayed the start of his much-anticipated debut season.

Doncic will face Williamson in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday when Team World face Team USA and the Slovenian has been highly impressed by the Pels forward's adaptation to the NBA.

"You can see he's a beast," Doncic told reporters.

"What's he played - 10 games? He's averaging like 25 [points].

"He's a different beast. I don't think we've seen a player like him. He's going to be an amazing player."

Should Williamson continue to put up huge numbers, he could succeed Doncic in winning the Rookie of the Year award.

The Dallas Mavericks star has enjoyed a fine sophomore season too, averaging 28.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists.

Along with reigning MVP and Greece international Giannis Antetokounmpo and Serbian center Nikola Jokic, Doncic is one of several international players currently starring in the NBA.

"There's a lot of international players that are really good," Doncic added.

"That's what it shows in this All-Star [Weekend] - there's a lot of international players.

"The world can see that we can play basketball too."

The Toronto Raptors and their 15-game winning streak was snapped by the Brooklyn Nets, while the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks lost without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Toronto carried a franchise-record run into Wednesday's contest but the defending champions went down 101-91 at the Nets midweek.

It was the Raptors' first defeat since falling to the San Antonio Spurs on January 12.

Kyle Lowry's triple-double of 12 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds were not enough for the Raptors, while Serge Ibaka top scored with 28 points on the road.

Caris LeVert led the Nets by scoring 20 points and Jarrett Allen contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bucks, meanwhile, were beaten by the Indiana Pacers 118-111 in the absence of star Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo missed his second successive game following the birth of his son and the Pacers took advantage, snapping a season-worst six-game losing streak.

Malcolm Brogdon posted 17 points and matched a career-high with 13 assists for the Pacers in Indianapolis, where T.J. Warren stole the show with 35 points.

Donte DiVincenzo was the pick of the Milwaukee players after scoring 19 points off the bench.

 

LeBron lifts Lakers, Doncic dazzles

LeBron James and Anthony Davis put on a show. James posted a triple-double (32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds) and Davis registered 33 points and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 120-116 in overtime. They became the first Lakers team-mates with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in the same game since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2008.

Luka Doncic was at it again, putting up 33 points and 12 rebounds to help the Dallas Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 130-111.

The streaking Utah Jazz defeated the Miami Heat 116-101 thanks to Donovan Mitchell's 26 points and a Rudy Gobert double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds.

 

Carmelo and Osman struggle

Carmelo Anthony has shown he is far from a spent force after being picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers in November. However, the 10-time All-Star had a rough night in the 111-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. While collecting 15 rebounds, Anthony was just one of 15 from the floor for five points in 36 minutes. The veteran also missed all four of his three-point attempts.

The Cleveland Cavaliers topped fellow strugglers the Atlanta Hawks 127-105, but Cedi Osman had a game to forget. Osman made just one of 10 shots from the field, while he was one of seven from beyond the arc for three points.

 

LeBron almost breaks the rim!

James has provided countless highlights over the course of his illustrious career and the three-time NBA champion produced another, this time a ferocious dunk.

 

Wednesday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 127-105 Atlanta Hawks
Orlando Magic 116-112 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Washington Wizards 114-96 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 118-111 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn Nets 101-91 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 111-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Charlotte Hornets 115-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 130-111 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz 116-101 Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns 112-106 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 120-116 Denver Nuggets (OT)

 

Clippers at Celtics

The two final games before the All-Star Weekend take place on Thursday. The Los Angeles Clippers (37-17) travel to the Boston Celtics (37-16), with both teams coming off losses. The Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are also in action.

Much of the focus at the All-Star Game will be on the headline event and the Slam Dunk Contest, but the Rising Stars Challenge also offers great intrigue.

Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic and Trae Young will all be involved as Team USA take on Team World.

With the early success that quartet have enjoyed in their fledgling careers, the Rising Stars Challenge should serve as further compelling evidence the future of the NBA is in good hands.

Here we guide you through what to watch for when the league's brightest talents do battle.

 

ZION & JA TEAM UP

Williamson and Morant appear poised to contest a fascinating rivalry over the course of their careers, but on Friday they will be on the same side.

Number one overall pick Williamson, sidelined for much of the year with a knee injury, and Rookie of the Year favourite Morant went head-to-head two weeks ago and offered a glimpse into the future as Zion's New Orleans Pelicans beat the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Rising Stars Challenge will provide a window into how the pair's talents complement each other, which could potentially be crucial for future USA Olympic coaches.

With Morant set for a prestigious honour and Williamson having recorded two double-doubles in eight games, Team World will have a hard time slowing them down.

 

DONCIC DOUBLES UP

Likely to finish high in the MVP voting, Doncic will - along with Young - double up at All-Star weekend.

The Dallas Mavericks guard will contest the All-Star Game as well as the Rising Stars Challenge, having been picked as a starter for Team LeBron.

With the odds in favour of Team USA winning the Rising Stars Challenge, Doncic's best chance of success in Chicago should be in the headline event.


UNDER-THE-RADAR STARS

While Williamson, Morant and Doncic will claim most of the attention among the rising stars, there are several less heralded players with the chance to snatch some of the limelight.

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Canadian Brandon Clarke will face off having played an instrumental role in the Grizzlies' rise to playoff contention.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be crucial to Team World's hopes, his development unhindered by a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder.

Eric Paschall's opportunities to shine on a national stage have been limited thanks to the demise of the Golden State Warriors this season, but the forward will have the chance to prove he is the Dubs' latest second-round gem.

 

YOUNG TRIBUTE TO KOBE

Proceedings at the United Center are set to be dominated by tributes to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash last month.

In the wake of their tragic passing, an emotional Young - having been mentored by Bryant - scored 45 points in the Atlanta Hawks' win over the Washington Wizards.

With two games on his agenda, Young will have ample opportunity to honour his idol by delivering on the court in his first appearance at the weekend as an All-Star.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic said he is ready to return from an ankle sprain against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

Doncic has missed the past seven games with an ankle injury that has proved troublesome this NBA season.

However, reigning Rookie of the Year and All-Star Doncic is set to make his comeback midweek.

"I'm ready," Doncic, who also hurt his ankle in December, told reporters. "I'm just excited to be back out there and play basketball."

Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists in his second NBA season.

The Mavericks are seventh in the Western Conference with a 32-22 record.

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