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.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James became the third player in NBA history to score 34,000 points.

James reached the milestone in Friday's blockbuster showdown with Giannis Antetokounmpo's league-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

The three-time champion and four-time MVP was already third on the NBA's all-time list for scoring after leapfrogging Kobe Bryant in January before the Lakers legend tragically died in a helicopter crash.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) still owns the record, ahead of Karl Malone (36,928) and the 35-year-old James.

Entering the Lakers' clash against the Bucks, James had been averaging 25.4 points, 10.7 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game this season.

The Los Angeles Lakers have confirmed the signing of free agent Dion Waiters.

Waiters was announced as a Laker on Friday, having reportedly agreed a contract on the NBA minimum until the end of the season.

The eight-year guard had been without a team since early February after the Miami Heat traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies and he was subsequently waived.

This season Waiters made just three appearances for the Heat, who handed him three separate suspensions in relation to his conduct.

He also struggled with foot and ankle injuries after signing a four-year, $52million contract with Miami in 2017.

The fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Waiters has averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his professional career.

The Los Angeles Clippers were also said to be closing in on a new addition on Friday, with ESPN reporting that Joakim Noah will join on an initial 10-day contract next week.

Stephen Curry's comeback on Thursday night was a welcome sight for LeBron James, who told the Golden State Warriors guard "the game missed you".

Curry had been out since October with a broken hand but he played 27 minutes against the Toronto Raptors at Chase Center, draining three three-pointers in a 23-point display.

The Warriors, whose season has been ruined by the injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson, lost 121-113 but head coach Steve Kerr said his team were "through the woods" now their two-time MVP was fit again.

Golden State's NBA-worst 14-49 record means they are not a factor in the Western Conference, with the Los Angeles Lakers leading the way ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets.

Yet Lakers star James was still pleased to see Curry back on the hardwood.

"Happy to see @StephenCurry30 back out there again!" James wrote on Twitter.

"Nothing like being in your sanctuary! The game missed you."

LeBron James' enduring brilliance is a source of inspiration to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who aims to follow in the NBA great's footsteps. 

The pair will face off when Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks take on James' Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

At the age of 35, James is still producing the goods, and Antetokounmpo – whose Bucks side beat the Indiana Pacers 119-100 on Wednesday – cannot help but admire him.

"It's amazing. He's 35 and playing at a high level," said the 25-year-old Antetokounmpo, per ESPN.

"A lot of times we think that, 'Okay, we're going to retire at 35,' but seeing a guy at 35 being still a top-three best player in the world, that makes us want to be there.

"It makes me want to be there one day, so I've got to keep taking care of my body, eating the right way, being healthy, and as I said – he paved the way, and hopefully we can just follow."

Looking ahead to the Bucks' match-up with the Lakers ​– the two teams leading their respective conferences – Antetokounmpo cited James and Anthony Davis as key players, while Frank Vogel's men will have revenge on their mind following a 111-104 loss in December.

"The Lakers are going to come and play hard. We know that," he said. "I watched the game [against the New Orleans Pelicans]. They played extremely hard. They played through Anthony Davis, LeBron was facilitating, guys were shooting the ball, they were running to the corner, they were playing good basketball.

"And they lost the first game, so they're going to come out and try to win the second one.

"But at the end of the day, we've got to do what we do, which is defend and run to the corner and run to our spots, move the ball, take the open shot, make the right play, drive the lanes.

"We've done this for two years now – a year and a half, almost two years – and things take care of itself. So as a leader, I've just got to do that, and as a team, we've just got to stay on track."

LeBron James was thrilled to see Anthony Davis "going nuts" in the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

Davis was 13-of-19 from the field for his 37 points and 13 rebounds, with the Lakers claiming a 120-107 victory.

James, who had 22 points and 14 assists, thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

"AD was going nuts," said James, per ESPN. "It was fun."

James had long lobbied for the Lakers to sign Davis and, with that ambition realised when he traded from the New Orleans Pelicans in July, the three-time NBA champion is delighted with how things are working out.

"It's everything I expected and more," he said. "Obviously that's why I wanted him here. When you get a generational talent like that and you got an opportunity to get him, you just try to do whatever you can to get him.

"I gave my opinion on what I thought he could bring to this franchise. I gave my thoughts about the player, but not only the player, the person. Hopefully they took my advice to heart.

"Obviously, ultimately they made the decision to do what we did in the offseason. It's no surprise to me.

"I already knew how incredible the guy is. He had 50 [points] in the All-Star Game. You know, 30s, 20s, 40s and 20s he had when he was with the Pelicans and just doing the things he was doing at that size, there's not too many guys who have done that in this league."

The Los Angeles Lakers powered past the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, while Caris LeVert starred for the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James had double-doubles in the Lakers' 120-107 win over the 76ers.

Davis was 13-of-19 from the field for his 37 points, and 13 rebounds, while James had 22 points and 14 assists.

LeVert produced a career-high 51 points as the Nets upset the Boston Celtics 129-120 after overtime.

The 25-year-old scored 26 points in the fourth quarter and 11 in OT as the Nets came from behind after trailing by 17 through three quarters.

Jaylen Brown had 22 points for Boston, while Kemba Walker finished with 21 but went six-of-16 from the field.

 

Cool Kawhi, Zion stars in Pelicans' loss

Kawhi Leonard's 25 points and eight rebounds helped the Los Angeles Clippers past the Oklahoma City Thunder 109-94.

Zion Williamson had 25 points and eight rebounds, but the New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 139-134.

Pascal Siakam (33 points) and Kyle Lowry (28) starred in the Toronto Raptors' 123-114 win over the Phoenix Suns.

 

Lee struggles

The Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets 116-100, but Damion Lee went one-of-nine from the field for just four points in 33 minutes.

 

LeBron from the logo

James hit a long-range three during the Lakers' win.

Tuesday's results

San Antonio Spurs 104-103 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 129-120 Boston Celtics
Minnesota Timberwolves 139-134 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Clippers 109-94 Oklahoma City Thunder
Golden State Warriors 116-100 Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors 123-114 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers 120-107 Philadelphia 76ers
Sacramento Kings 133-126 Washington Wizards

 

Pacers at Bucks

Flying with a 52-9 record, the Milwaukee Bucks host the Indiana Pacers (37-24) on Wednesday.

LeBron James sent a message to critics who question his mentoring of younger players, saying they could "kiss my a***".

James' triple-double of 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds led the Los Angeles Lakers past the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 on Sunday.

For the Pelicans, Zion Williamson – the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft – scored a career-high 35 points to continue the strong start to his career.

James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, shared a post-game moment with Williamson, a day after praising Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

"It's my obligation and it's my job to continue to pass on the game to the guys that are coming in after me, it's just my responsibility," he told a news conference on Sunday.

"No-one told me to do that, I just feel like it's my responsibility to leave the game in a better place than when I had it.

"When you see the class of guys that are in our league right now, I mentioned Ja last night, you mention Zion tonight, you see Trae Young, you see Luka Doncic, you see Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, you just see all these guys, these young guys, the league is in a very good place.

"If I'm able to give my wisdom and game and pass it down no matter when I'm playing or after I'm playing I feel like it's my job because the game has given me so much as I started playing when I was eight years old.

"It's my responsibility and anybody that says, 'LeBron, why would he do that while he's playing? It's a sign of weakness, he's buddy-buddy with guys he's going against', tell them they can kiss my a***, with a smile too."

James' Lakers hold a 46-13 record and are 5.5 games clear atop the Western Conference.

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.

LeBron James believes the sky is the limit for "super special" rookie Ja Morant, who helped the Memphis Grizzlies defeat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.

Morant, the heavy favourite for the Rookie of the Year award, tallied 27 points as the Grizzlies beat James and the Lakers 105-88.

He and James swapped jerseys after the game, with the four-time MVP heaping praise on the 20-year-old point guard.

"The kid is super special," James said after the road defeat snapped a seven-game winning streak for the 45-13 Lakers.

"Like I said when we just played him in LA, Memphis got a great one. They got a great one. So, the sky's the limit for the kid

"I didn't even know I was getting his jersey actually. I gave him mine, for sure, but I didn't know he was returning the favour. But it's pretty cool.

"I think it's just mutual respect. I've watched him for quite a while now.

"And once he obviously got to the league you start to pay attention more and more and the relationship starts if that guy wants it, from my side.

"And it's just all about understanding what those guys [rookies] are going through because I was in that position before as well."

Speaking to ESPN about the "open-door policy" he has with other NBA players who approach him, James said: "I've always thought about that. Like, what young guys are coming up in the ranks that will be able to continue to carry it on after I'm gone.

"You look at Ja and you look at Zion [Williamson]. You look at Jayson Tatum. You look at Luka Doncic and Trae Young, and the list goes on and on.

"Those guys are just not only great on the floor but also, more importantly, off the floor. And that's a great thing to have. Our league is in a very, very good place."

The Los Angeles Lakers' seven-game winning streak was snapped in the NBA, while the Houston Rockets won a thriller on Saturday.

The Lakers were handed their 13th defeat of the season in a 105-88 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

LeBron James had a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists and Anthony Davis contributed 15 points, but the Lakers fell.

Ja Morant (27 points and 14 assists) and Jonas Valanciunas (22 points and 20 rebounds) led the Grizzlies.

The Rockets edged the Boston Celtics 111-110 in an overtime thriller.

Russell Westbrook was the star with 41 points for the Rockets, who were forced to OT by Jaylen Brown's buzzer-beating three in regulation.

 

Young, Dragic shine

Trae Young's 25 points and 15 assists helped the Atlanta Hawks past the Portland Trail Blazers 129-117.

Goran Dragic's double-double of 19 points and 10 assists saw the Miami Heat edge the Brooklyn Nets 116-113.

Mitchell Robinson went 11-of-16 from the field for 23 points, plus had 10 rebounds, off the bench as the New York Knicks recorded a 125-115 win over the Chicago Bulls.

 

Bad Bradley

Avery Bradley went two-of-eight from the field for just six points in 21 minutes in the Lakers' loss.

 

Brown brilliance

The Celtics fell short in OT, but Brown's three to force it was superb.

Saturday's results

New York Knicks 125-115 Chicago Bulls
Atlanta Hawks 129-117 Portland Trail Blazers
Miami Heat 116-113 Brooklyn Nets
Indiana Pacers 113-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies 105-88 Los Angeles Lakers
Houston Rockets 111-110 Boston Celtics
San Antonio Spurs 114-113 Orlando Magic
Golden State Warriors 115-99 Phoenix Suns

 

Lakers at Pelicans

James and the Lakers (45-13) will get a chance to bounce back against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans (26-33) on Sunday.

Anthony Davis felt the Los Angeles Lakers "filled the void" left by LeBron James' absence in the 116-86 win over the Golden State Warriors.

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

"LeBron, when he's out, it's taking away a lot of things that we do," said Davis after helping his side to a seventh consecutive win.

"It's on all of us to make sure we try to fill those voids, and I think we did that.

"Usually when he's playing and he comes off the floor we kind of take a dip in all aspects of the game. We've got to play how we did tonight when he's playing and he's not on the floor.

"It's good for guys to get those reps. When he comes back we've just got to make sure we keep the same pace, same intensity even when he's not on the floor."

Defeated Warriors coach Steve Kerr conceded runs to the NBA Finals in each of the previous five seasons have taken their toll on his team.

Despite his absence, Kerr cited James as a remarkable example of how to cope with the rigours of going deep into the postseason year after year, although he can see the positives in missing out this time around.

"Watching LeBron, he looks refreshed, he looks recharged," said Kerr. "The idea of eight straight Finals in insane when you think about five here and what it's done and how our players have felt this past year and the injuries that have hit.

"I do believe that when all is said and done, by next year's training camp our guys should feel recharged and refreshed and ready to go.

"Hopefully that's the case. LeBron's also LeBron. He's built differently than most people."

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

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

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

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

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

 

Harris leads 76ers

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

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

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

 

Bazemore endures tough night

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

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

 

CP3 with the no-look pass

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

 

Thursday's results

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

 

Thunder at Bucks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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