The Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a seventh straight win, while Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers to victory on Friday.

Even without Anthony Davis due to injury, the Lakers were untroubled in a 129-114 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

LeBron James starred with 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Kyle Kuzma – Davis' replacement – contributed 26 points.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The Clippers were tested on their way to a 109-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Leonard's 36 points helped the Clippers to their win, while Lou Williams chipped in with 21 off the bench.

Middleton steps up as Butler finishes with 33

Khris Middleton had a double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks' 127-106 win against the Sacramento Kings.

Jimmy Butler finished with 33 points as the Miami Heat fell to a surprise 117-113 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Zach LaVine managed to score 43 points, but the Chicago Bulls were downed by the Indiana Pacers 116-105.

 

Graham struggles in Hornets' loss

Devonte' Graham struggled in the Charlotte Hornets' 109-92 loss to the Utah Jazz. The guard went two-of-nine from the field for just four points in 25 minutes.

 

LeBron passes Jordan

James moved up to fourth on the all-time list for field goals made, going past Michael Jordan (12,192). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837), Karl Malone (13,528) and Wilt Chamberlain (12,681) remain ahead of him.

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 111-101 Atlanta Hawks
New Orleans Pelicans 123-111 New York Knicks
Brooklyn Nets 117-113 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 116-105 Chicago Bulls
Memphis Grizzlies 134-121 San Antonio Spurs
Phoenix Suns 98-94 Orlando Magic
Utah Jazz 109-92 Charlotte Hornets
Los Angeles Lakers 129-114 Dallas Mavericks
Milwaukee Bucks 127-106 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 109-100 Golden State Warriors

 

Lakers at Thunder

The Lakers will try to extend their winning streak when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-16) on Saturday.

Anthony Davis has been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' clash against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Davis suffered a gluteus maximus contusion during the Lakers' 117-87 thrashing of the New York Knicks on Tuesday after a hard fall.

The superstar forward will miss the clash against the Mavericks as he continues to recover from the injury.

"Anthony Davis is out for tonight's game," the Lakers announced via their Twitter account.

The Lakers are on a six-game winning streak and top the Western Conference with a 30-7 record.

Davis has enjoyed a fine season so far, averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

The Milwaukee Bucks returned to winning ways with a 107-98 victory over the Golden State Warriors, while James Harden's triple-double inspired the Houston Rockets.

NBA leaders the Bucks bounced back from their loss to the San Antonio Spurs by topping the Warriors away from home on Wednesday.

Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 30 points and 12 rebounds as the Bucks improved to 33-6 for the season, while Khris Middleton added 21 points.

Alec Burks top-scored for the Warriors with 19 points off the bench in San Francisco.

 

Harden stars as Rockets soar

James Harden moved up to eighth on the all-time triple-doubles list with his performance in the Houston Rockets' 122-115 victory over the lowly Atlanta Hawks. He recorded 41 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to a nail-biting 107-106 win at the Dallas Mavericks. Jokic scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half, including the game-winning basket with 7.9 seconds remaining in Dallas. Luka Doncic posted 27 points and 10 assists for the Mavericks.

DeMar DeRozan's 30 points fuelled the Spurs' 129-114 triumph over the Boston Celtics.

 

Warren ejected on tough night

Just two days after posting a season-high 36 points, T.J. Warren had a game to forget as the Indiana Pacers lost 122-108 at home to the Miami Heat. Warren managed only three points before being ejected after sarcastically applauding a foul on Jimmy Butler.

The Nuggets did not get their usual output from star Jamal Murray, who was seven of 18 from the field for 14 points in 31 minutes. He also missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Kemba Walker also had a tough night in Boston. The Celtics star was ejected for arguing a non-call after a hard pick by LaMarcus Aldridge in the third quarter. He had six points in 18 minutes.

 

Spider man!

Donovan Mitchell nailed this slam as the Utah Jazz topped the New York Knicks 128-104.

 

Wednesday's results

Toronto Raptors 112-110 Charlotte Hornets (OT)
Miami Heat 122-108 Indiana Pacers
San Antonio Spurs 129-114 Boston Celtics
Orlando Magic 123-89 Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets 107-106 Dallas Mavericks
Houston Rockets 122-115 Atlanta Hawks
New Orleans Pelicans 123-108 Chicago Bulls
Utah Jazz 128-104 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 107-98 Golden State Warriors

 

Celtics at 76ers

After falling to the Spurs, the Celtics (25-10) will face Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers (24-14) on the road. The 76ers, who will be without All-Star Joel Embiid, are eyeing back-to-back wins.

Luka Doncic may have recorded his 11th triple-double of the season on Monday, yet the Dallas Mavericks sensation insisted he is paying little attention to his historic numbers.

The 20-year-old had 38 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as the Mavs improved to 23-13 with a 118-110 win over the Chicago Bulls.

It was the ninth time this season Doncic had made a 30-point triple-double, more than the rest of the NBA combined, with LeBron James (three) the only other player to have achieved that feat on multiple occasions.

Unlike his last triple-double - which came in a losing cause against the Charlotte Hornets - Doncic's heroics came in a victory, which was the most important thing to the Slovenian.

"I don't know what to tell you, man," he told reporters. "It's just stats, you know. Every game is another stat.

"For me, I always say it's more important to get a win."

It was the 19th triple-double of Doncic's career, by far the most ever of any NBA player under the age of 21.

The great Magic Johnson is next on the list with seven, while James had five.

"The rare thing about Luka is he's doing this at 20," added Tim Hardaway Jr, who had 15 points in Dallas' win.

"I haven't really seen any 20-year-old be this effective on both ends of the floor."

Doncic's brilliance was also appreciated by Bulls coach Jim Boylen, who described him as being built like an NFL player.

"He uses his physical size – he's like a linebacker handling the basketball,” Boylen said in quotes published on the Mavs' website.

“Then you add that with the skill level. He has unbelievable skill level.

"The step-back going left, the forceful drives going right.

"That combination of size, strength, skill level and decision-making makes him a special player."

The San Antonio Spurs stunned NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks 126-104, while the Philadelphia 76ers ended a four-game losing streak on Monday.

San Antonio used a season-high 19 three-pointers to upstage Milwaukee, who had their five-game winning streak snapped.

DeMar DeRozan posted 25 points for the Spurs (15-20) and team-mate Patty Mills added 21 points – including six for 10 from beyond the arc.

The high-flying Bucks (32-6) were led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his 24 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists on the road.

In Philadelphia, the 76ers returned to winning ways thanks to a 120-113 victory at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ben Simmons' double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds, Josh Richardson's 23 points and Joel Embiid's 18 points despite a dislocated finger fuelled the 76ers.

 

Doncic with league-leading triple-double

Luka Doncic recorded his 11th triple-double of the season as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Chicago Bulls 118-110. He scored 21 of his 38 points in the third quarter, collected 11 rebounds and tallied 10 assists.

Markelle Fultz – the number one pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the 76ers – had a career-high 25 points to lead the Orlando Magic past the Brooklyn Nets 101-89. Team-mate Nikola Vucevic added 11 points and 24 rebounds.

Nikola Jokic was red-hot in the Denver Nuggets' 123-115 triumph at the Atlanta Hawks. He had a career-best 47 points with no turnovers.

Ish Smith put up a game-high 27 points as the Washington Wizards shocked the Boston Celtics 99-94.

Bogan Bogdanovic's 35 points led the Utah Jazz to a 128-126 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans and a sixth straight win.

 

Nets duo struggle, Washington cold from floor

Taurean Prince was two of 11 from the field and two of nine from three-point range for six points in 29 minutes. His Nets team-mate Garrett Temple did not fare much better, posting nine points on two of 13 shooting and one of eight from beyond the arc.

The Charlotte Hornets lost 115-104 to the Indiana Pacers and PJ Washington struggled. While Washington collected nine rebounds, he only made three of his 12 shots from the field, while he missed all five of his three-point attempts.

 

Trae with the fake

The Hawks might be struggling, but Trae Young continues to star in Atlanta…

 

Monday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 120-113 Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers 115-104 Charlotte Hornets
Washington Wizards 99-94 Boston Celtics
Orlando Magic 101-89 Brooklyn Nets
Denver Nuggets 123-115 Atlanta Hawks
Utah Jazz 128-126 New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs 126-104 Milwaukee Bucks
Dallas Mavericks 118-110 Chicago Bulls
Sacramento Kings 111-98 Golden State Warriors

 

Knicks at Lakers

The lowly New York Knicks (10-26) make the trip to Staples Center on Tuesday. The Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers (29-7) will look to extend their winning streak to six games.

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks defeated the San Antonio Spurs 127-118 for their 32nd win of the season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a game-high 32 points as the high-flying Bucks improved to 32-5 on Saturday.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo scored 19 of his points in the third quarter to fuel Milwaukee's fifth successive win since a Christmas Day loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs (14-20) with 26 points on the road in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Luka Doncic's NBA-leading 10th triple-double of the season was not enough to stop the Dallas Mavericks from falling 123-120 to the Charlotte Hornets in overtime.

Doncic had 39 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Mavericks, who succumbed to Terry Rozier's go-ahead shot from range in OT.

Rozier finished with 29 points as the Hornets erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

 

Young sees Hawks soar

Trae Young's 41 points powered the struggling Atlanta Hawks past the Indiana Pacers 116-111.

Jae Crowder (27 points), Jaren Jackson Jr. (24), Ja Morant (22) and Dillon Brooks (22) starred as the Memphis Grizzlies crushed the Paul George-less Los Angeles Clippers 140-114 in LA.

Double-doubles from Fred VanVleet (29 points, 11 assists) and Serge Ibaka (21 points, 12 rebounds), and Kyle Lowry's 26 points guided the Toronto Raptors to a 121-102 win at the Brooklyn Nets.

The Utah Jazz topped the Orlando Magic 109-96 thanks to Donovan Mitchell's 32 points on the road.

Jamal Murray put up 39 points in the Denver Nuggets' 128-114 defeat away to the Washington Wizards.

 

Aldridge goes cold

LaMarcus Aldridge scored all 16 of his points in the first half, with the Spurs big man 0 of seven from the field in 15 second-half minutes.

 

Carter makes history

Hawks veteran Vince Carter, 42, received a standing ovation after he became the first NBA player in history to feature in four different decades.

 

Saturday's results

Memphis Grizzlies 140-114 Los Angeles Clippers
Toronto Raptors 121-102 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 109-96 Orlando Magic
Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks 116-111 Indiana Pacers
Boston Celtics 111-104 Chicago Bulls
Washington Wizards 128-124 Denver Nuggets
Detroit Pistons 111-104 Golden State Warriors
Milwaukee Bucks 127-118 San Antonio Spurs
Charlotte Hornets 123-120 Dallas Mavericks (OT)
New Orleans Pelicans 117-115 Sacramento Kings

 

Pistons at Lakers

The Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers (28-7) will welcome the Pistons (13-23) to Staples Center on Sunday. The Lakers have won four straight, while the Pistons are eyeing back-to-back victories.

Luka Doncic inspired the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA on Thursday, while the Los Angeles Clippers cruised again.

Doncic's 31 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists saw the Mavericks past the Brooklyn Nets 123-111.

Seth Curry provided plenty of support off the bench with 25 points on nine-of-13 shooting.

The Clippers eased to a 126-112 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 30 points, but it was the Clippers' bench that did most of the damage.

Montrezl Harrell (23 points), Lou Williams (22) and JaMychal Green (12 points and 12 rebounds) impressed.

 

Awesome Adebayo leads Heat

Bam Adebayo had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds in the Miami Heat's 84-76 win against the Toronto Raptors.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered 25 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 109-103 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

A double-double from Rudy Gobert (17 points and 12 rebounds) saw the Utah Jazz past the Chicago Bulls 102-98.

Poor Pistons

Detroit's starters struggled against the Clippers. The Pistons' starting line-up – Tony Snell, Sekou Doumbouya, Andre Drummond, Svi Mykhailiuk and Tim Frazier – went 14-of-43 from the field in the loss.

 

Spellman's slam

Golden State Warriors forward Omari Spellman delivered a huge dunk against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thursday's results

Charlotte Hornets 109-106 Cleveland Cavaliers
Denver Nuggets 124-116 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 84-76 Toronto Raptors
Utah Jazz 102-98 Chicago Bulls
Minnesota Timberwolves 99-84 Golden State Warriors
Dallas Mavericks 123-111 Brooklyn Nets
Oklahoma City Thunder 109-103 San Antonio Spurs
Sacramento Kings 128-123 Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Clippers 126-112 Detroit Pistons

 

Pelicans at Lakers

Flying high atop the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers (27-7) host the New Orleans Pelicans (11-23) on Friday. The Pelicans are on a four-game winning streak.

The evolving world of sport means a new decade is likely to see widespread change.

With superstars like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to be plying their trades in 2030, the stage is set for new names to come to the fore.

Omnisport's team of writers have tipped 20 20-year-olds to do just that over the next 10 years.

 

Men's football: Joao Felix

A €126m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid made Joao Felix the second most expensive teenager in football history. His career in LaLiga is yet to truly ignite but the forward's lavish gifts are beyond doubt as he faces up to the decade when Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the stage for their native Portugal. Joao Felix is the anointed heir.

Basketball: Luka Doncic

The 2018 EuroLeague MVP and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Doncic's incredible rise has continued unchecked this season – he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists for the Dallas Mavericks. He should earn a first All-Star appearance this season and make his bow in the playoffs, where you would expect to see him featuring regularly in the coming years.

Cricket: Prithvi Shaw

Opening batsman Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a Test hundred on debut in 2018 and followed that up with a half-century in his second appearance. However, last year was one to forget for Shaw, who had injury problems before serving a six-month doping ban having taken a substance typically found in cough syrups. A first-class double hundred last month suggests he is ready to make up for lost time.

Tennis: Marketa Vondrousova

Although she was unable to win a title on the WTA Tour in 2019, Vondrousova was the runner-up at the French Open – one of three final appearances last year – and having risen to 16th in the world rankings she looks set to break the top 10 soon. The Czech's unorthodox playing style and penchant for drop shots makes her a particularly entertaining watch.

Formula One: Lando Norris

Norris enjoyed an excellent debut season in Formula One, helping McLaren to an impressive fourth place in the constructors' championship. After landing three straight points finishes to end the year, he carries momentum into 2020 and looks capable of challenging Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over the next 10 years.

UFC: Chase Hooper

Featherweight Hooper was awarded a development deal after winning the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018 and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He improved his unbeaten mixed martial arts record to 8-0-1 by stopping David Teymur in the first round of a thoroughly impressive UFC debut in December.

American football: Trevor Lawrence

The NFL is blessed with talented young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, but the potential star of the 2020s will not enter the league until 2021 at the earliest. Clemson's Lawrence possess the size, skill and nerve to succeed at the next level. He is still yet to lose a game in college and is one win away from back-to-back National Championships.

Sport climbing: Janja Garnbret

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and Garnbret is a favourite for success. She successfully defended her bouldering and combined titles at last year's world championships and added gold in the lead discipline. The Slovenian's tally of 14 International Federation of Sport Climbing titles is unprecedented.

Rugby league: Tom Flegler

Front-rower Flegler enjoyed a hugely promising breakthrough year with Brisbane Broncos in 2019, featuring 23 times in his maiden campaign. He has reportedly knocked back a host of lucrative offers to remain with Brisbane in 2020 and will now aim to make an even bigger impact.

Women's football: Georgia Stanway

Vastly experienced for her age, Stanway joined Manchester City from Blackburn Rovers and made her Women's Super League debut at 16 in 2015. She won her second FA Cup with a goalscoring player-of-the-match display as City beat West Ham 3-0 in 2019's Wembley final and was the youngest member of an England squad Phil Neville led to the World Cup semi-finals. If the Lionesses are to take the next step over the coming decade, expect Stanway to play a vital role.

Rugby union: Marcus Smith

Harlequins fly-half Smith is knocking on the door for full England selection after an impressive first two years of his club career. He was man of the match in last July's win over Barbarians, which fans of Eddie Jones' side will hope is a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Golf: Matthew Wolff

The PGA Tour welcomed a host of talented rookies in 2019, but Wolff may just be the best of the bunch. A standout college player with an unorthodox swing that generates enormous power, he won last July's 3M Open in only his third professional start.

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo

After Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to defeat Marc Marquez in a MotoGP world championship, retired, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his career, fans are looking to the next generation. That group looks set to be led by Quartararo, who will ride a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 after claiming six pole positions and seven podiums in a magnificent rookie season.

Golf: Nasa Hataoka

Already fifth in the women's world rankings, Hataoka has claimed three LPGA Tour titles in the past 18 months, after becoming the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour back in 2016.

Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jnr

Guerrero has a lot to live up to but has already shown enough to suggest he may follow his father into baseball's Hall of Fame. Having signed for the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2015, Guerrero served his time in the minors before making his debut in the Major Leagues last April. He spent the rest of his maiden season displaying the kind of power that has marked him out as a star of the future, hitting .272, mashing 15 home runs and knocking in 69 RBI. By the end of the next decade, his may well be the face of baseball.

Ice Hockey: Quinn Hughes

Hughes, who could not even debut for the Vancouver Canucks until he recovered from an ankle injury in March, is an elite defenseman who also sat top of the rookie assist chart in late December.

Swimming: Michael Andrew

This year is an Olympic one and for the first time since the 1996 Games, Michael Phelps will not be in the pool. The United States needs a new swimming hero, and the hope is that Phelps' namesake can be the next star. Andrew was the youngest US swimmer to ever turn professional when he did so at 14 and, having finished fourth in the 50 metres butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, he appears primed to be a breakout star in Tokyo.

Tennis: Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov finished 2019 at a career-high ATP ranking of 15th, having won his first title in Stockholm. Expect his threat at the 2020 majors to be very real.

Athletics: Sydney McLaughlin

At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, gold in the 4x400 metres relay followed silver in the 400m hurdles for McLaughlin. Only a Dalilah Muhammad world record was enough to deny her the victory.

Boxing: Joseph Adorno

Currently plying his trade in the lightweight division, Adorno was brought up in Puerto Rico and his thunderous left hook has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cotto – the great four-weight world champion hailing from that boxing-mad island. Promoters Top Rank will look to step up Adorno's level of opposition in 2020, although anyone climbing into the corner opposite a young man boasting a 14-0 record with 12 knockouts should make sure they get well paid.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George helped the Los Angeles Clippers bounce back in the NBA, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook led the Houston Rockets.

Coming off a loss to the Utah Jazz, the Clippers responded by crushing the Sacramento Kings 105-87 on Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, their star duo led the way as Leonard had 24 points and George finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

The Rockets' two main stars guided Houston to a 130-104 thrashing of the Denver Nuggets on New Year's Eve.

Harden had 35 points and Westbrook finished with 28 to go with seven assists and three rebounds.

The Nuggets (23-10) are second to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference, ahead of the Clippers (24-11) and Rockets (23-11).

 

Doncic dominance not enough for Dallas

Luka Doncic's 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists were not enough as the Dallas Mavericks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-101.

DeMar DeRozan's 24 points guided the San Antonio Spurs to a 117-113 overtime win against the Golden State Warriors.

Serge Ibaka had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Toronto Raptors' 117-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Kings, Hornets continue to struggle

The Kings slumped to an eighth straight loss with their defeat to the Clippers.

The Charlotte Hornets are on a six-game losing run, meanwhile, after being beaten by the Boston Celtics 109-92.

 

Sabonis slam

Domantas Sabonis produced a huge slam during the Indiana Pacers' win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 109-92 Charlotte Hornets
Indiana Pacers 115-97 Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Clippers 105-87 Sacramento Kings
Toronto Raptors 117-97 Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets 130-104 Denver Nuggets
San Antonio Spurs 117-113 Golden State Warriors
Oklahoma City Thunder 106-101 Dallas Mavericks

 

Suns at Lakers

The Lakers (26-7) will be expecting to begin 2020 with a win against the Phoenix Suns (13-20) on Wednesday.

LeBron James was thrilled to make NBA history as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks but was less impressed about the possibility of having to stump up the cash for his own birthday party.

Superstar James became the ninth player to make 9,000 league assists in the Lakers' 108-95 victory on Sunday but is the first to match the milestone with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds – something he achieved in November.

Over the past two games, which also yielded a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, James has tallied 29 assists and the 15-time All Star said being generous with the ball was an attribute taught to him at a young age.

"It was something that was instilled in me when I first picked up a basketball," James told reporters. 

"One of my earliest coaches said the best part of the game was to move side to side, attract the defense and get the team-mate the open look.

"My team-mates and coaching staff trust me to play the point and run the show. It's my job to take care of the ball, put guys in position to be successful, get them the ball on time and on target.

"The milestone of it is when you grow up in the inner city around a lot of things that you don't want your kids to see, to be able to get to this point in age where the statistics are stacked up against you for obvious reasons, that's a blessing. 

"It's more of a blessing for me to be able to do what I love to do every day and be able to let my family reap the benefits of that, and they allow me to be an inspiration to them. That is really cool."

The milestone moment arrived just a day before James' 35th birthday but any celebrations will be kept low key, in part because of a desire not to pay for his own party.

"I don't wish to have a party because I got to pay for it," he added with a smile. "S***, I got to pay for my own damn birthday party!

"I don't have wishes. Biggest one I had was when I turned 21. This one will be mild. When I turn 40, that will be epic."

Part of the Lakers' success was down to their defensive effort against one of the league's best attacking outfits.

Dallas' 95 points was their lowest tally of the season, while they committed 19 turnovers.

"We just had to find ourselves again," Anthony Davis said. 

"We were able to get back to what we do defensively. And when we do that, we're able to beat any team and feel good about ourselves."

Dallas star Luka Doncic reflected ruefully: "That was one of the worst games we played. We didn't play like us and had a really bad night. I can't say much more."

LeBron James bested Luka Doncic as the Los Angeles Lakers eased to a 108-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA.

Two MVP candidates went head-to-head at Staples Center on Sunday and Lakers superstar James emerged on top after making history on his way to a double-double of 13 points and 13 assists.

One day out from his 35th birthday, the three-time NBA champion became the ninth player in history to reach 9,000 assists and the first to do it with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds.

Doncic, making his 100th appearance in the league, needed treatment after a heavy fall in the first quarter, although he still led the Mavs with 19 points and seven assists.

Dallas (21-11) are now four and a half games adrift of the Western Conference-leading Lakers (26-7) and two games behind the second-placed Denver Nuggets, who prevailed 120-115 against the Sacramento Kings.

Nikola Jokic made a clutch fadeaway jumper in the fourth quarter and finished with 17 points, while Will Barton and first-time starter Michael Porter Jr had 19 apiece for the Nuggets (23-9).

 

Lonzo leads Pelicans past Rockets

Lonzo Ball starred in James Harden's absence as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Houston Rockets 127-112 to notch a fourth consecutive victory. Rockets guard Harden joined Russell Westbrook on the sideline due to a toe problem and Ball – the former number two draft pick – took advantage with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander consigned defending champions the Toronto Raptors to a third loss in four games, his 32 points, plus 25 and 11 rebounds from Chris Paul, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 98-97 triumph at Scotiabank Arena.

Dillon Brooks went eight of 13 from the floor for 20 points as the Memphis Grizzlies overcame the Charlotte Hornets 117-104.

 

Rivers dries up

The Rockets needed scoring production from elsewhere with star pair Harden and Westbrook unavailable, but Austin Rivers struggled to step up against the Pelicans. The 27-year-old guard managed nine points and five assists in 29 minutes, hitting one of four three-point attempts and just two of seven from the floor.

 

Jokic shows off skills

Denver big man Jokic showcased his slick handles with two brilliant behind-the-back dribbles in the Nuggets' five-point win against the Kings.

 

Sunday's results

Oklahoma City Thunder 98-97 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 117-104 Charlotte Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans 127-112 Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets 120-115 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 108-95 Dallas Mavericks

 

Bucks at Bulls

The Milwaukee Bucks (29-5) will hope Giannis Antetokounmpo can overcome back soreness in time for Monday's trip to the improving Chicago Bulls (13-20).

LeBron James made NBA history when he recorded his 9,000th career assist in the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

James, 34, became the ninth player to reach the mark and the first to combine it with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds, which he achieved in November.

The four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion registered the record-breaking assist with a pass to Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis in the first quarter at Staples Center.

Western Conference leaders the Lakers led the Mavericks 54-43 at half-time as they looked to build on the skid-snapping 128-120 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Lakers superstar James was averaging 25.5 points, 10.8 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game heading into Sunday's matchup.

Luka Doncic sent a scare through the Mavs camp after a heavy fall following a hard foul in the second quarter, but the star guard was cleared to return for the second half.

LeBron James is confident he will be fit for the Los Angeles Lakers showdown against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday as he continues to manage a groin problem.

James was listed as questionable ahead of Saturday's game at the Portland Trail Blazers, having aggravated the injury during a Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the four-time MVP played through the pain to score 21 points and make 16 assists as the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 128-120 victory.

Despite also landing heavily on his elbow after a fall, James is ready to patch himself up and go again against the Mavs.

"I'm fine, I’ll be alright. Yes [it was the same part of the elbow I hit in Miami], pretty much," he told reporters before being asked if he would face Dallas.

"Yes, I'm planning on it," he replied. "As long as this ice takes care of its business and I wake up comfortably and healthily, yeah.

"I'm doing alright for myself."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel maintained James would need to be assessed closely.

"When you have a back-to-back, you just treat it like this is the only game you're playing and then figure out tomorrow tomorrow," he said, as quoted by ESPN.

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 24 points, while Anthony Davis contributed 20 and Rajon Rondo provided 15 points and four assists from the bench.

"Rondo came in with so much, his pace was incredible. Kuz is keeping up his streak of scoring the ball with the punch we’ve been wanting all year," James added, with Kuzma having defused potential pre-match tension caused by his personal trainer making critical comments of LeBron on social media.

"He's getting back to his groove. And AC [Alex Caruso], and Dwight [Howard] was a monster in the paint. Everybody else just chipped in. It was a good all-around game."

Luka Doncic may have enhanced his MVP credentials with another brilliant display at the Golden State Warriors, but the Dallas Mavericks star does not believe he is at Stephen Curry's level yet.

The 20-year-old had his ninth triple-double of the season in the Mavs' 141-121 victory over the Curry-less Warriors, Doncic scoring 31 points while claiming 12 rebounds and 15 assists.

Dallas broke a franchise record by making 24 three-pointers, with Doncic sinking five of his eight attempts - a stat that surely would have impressed two-time MVP Curry, who remains sidelined with a hand injury.

Should Doncic's form continue, he may be named himself MVP himself, though the Slovenian feels comparisons with Curry are unfair at this stage.

"He's shooting way better than me," Doncic said, as quoted by ESPN.

"He's a better player. He's been in the league a long time, he's somebody that everybody looks up [to], everybody wants to play like him.

"I remember last year after the draft, I practiced once with him and it was crazy. He couldn't miss. He can't miss. And that was like something I'll always remember, practice with him."

Dallas' coach Rick Carlisle is in no doubt over Doncic's importance, though, pointing out how he led the way on a night when the Mavericks improved to 21-10.

"Doncic was amazing tonight, absolutely amazing," Carlisle added.

"[He had] a 30-point triple-double in three quarters, and really made it look easy.

"That's a phenomenal performance and he set the table for everybody that was out there."

LeBron James led the way as the Los Angeles Lakers ended a four-game losing streak with a 128-120 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA.

James posted a double-double to snap the Lakers' season-long winless run away to the Trail Blazers on Saturday.

In doubt with a groin problem, James took to the court and scored 21 points and tallied 16 assists for the Lakers in Portland.

Kyle Kuzma put up 24 points and Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis added 20 points.

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard had a game-high 31 points as Portland lost their third consecutive game.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers lost 120-107 at home to the Utah Jazz.

Paul George had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard recorded 19 points, but the Clippers went down to the visiting Jazz – who were led by Donovan Mitchell's 30 points.

 

Doncic delivers another triple-double

It was the Luka Doncic show as the Dallas Mavericks star had 31 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds in just 30 minutes. His ninth triple-double of the season led the Mavericks past the Golden State Warriors 141-121. Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell finished with 35 points and nine three-pointers.

James Harden starred with 44 points and 10 rebounds as the Houston Rockets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 108-98.

Joel Embiid posted 35 points and 11 rebounds but the Philadelphia 76ers suffered a heartbreaking 117-116 overtime loss to the Miami Heat.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors topped the Boston Celtics 113-97 thanks to Kyle Lowry's 30 points. Serge Ibaka contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan (29 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points, 12 rebounds) combined to help the San Antonio Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons 136-109.

 

Fultz falters

Former number one pick Markelle Fultz has shown glimpses of his talent this season. However, Fultz was just one of 10 from the floor in 30 minutes of action. He finished with just four points as the Orlando Magic went down 111-100 to the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

Happy Holidays

Jrue, Justin and Aaron Holiday made history in the New Orleans Pelicans' 120-98 victory against the Indiana Pacers. It was the first time in the NBA three brothers shared the court at the same time.

 

Saturday's results

Denver Nuggets 119-110 Memphis Grizzlies
Toronto Raptors 113-97 Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans 120-98 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 117-116 Philadelphia 76ers (OT)
Chicago Bulls 116-81 Atlanta Hawks
Cleveland Cavaliers 94-88 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 107-100 Washington Wizards
Houston Rockets 108-98 Brooklyn Nets
San Antonio Spurs 136-109 Detroit Pistons
Dallas Mavericks 141-121 Golden State Warriors
Milwaukee Bucks 111-100 Orlando Magic
Phoenix Suns 112-110 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 128-120 Portland Trail Blazers
Utah Jazz 120-107 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Mavs at Lakers

Doncic and the Mavericks will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to face James and the Lakers in a Western Conference showdown.

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