Giannis Antetokounmpo said he is not supposed to be up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the Milwaukee Bucks star remained grounded following Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bucks claimed the best record in the NBA after reigning MVP Antetokounmpo inspired a 111-104 victory in the blockbuster showdown.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for the highly anticipated clash as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

Antetokounmpo upstaged James and Davis with his 34 points and 11 rebound, the Bucks moving top of the overall NBA standings.

"I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it's hard," Antetokounmpo said afterwards.

"You feel like, 'OK, what else?' But at the end of the day, I realise and my family realises that I'm not supposed to be here.

"I wasn't the number one pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn't supposed to be here.

"I'm not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I'm just happy that I'm here and happy that I'm going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that's what gives me joy."

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers against the Lakers, on eight attempts from beyond the arc.

"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said. "And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added: "I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it's part of our league, part of being a professional.

"But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body -- but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He's doing it. He's putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he's ours and excited about him and our future."

Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double led the Milwaukee Bucks past the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 and to the NBA's best record.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for Thursday's highly anticipated showdown as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

The blockbuster encounter also pitted reigning MVP Antetokounmpo against Lakers superstar LeBron James.

And the Bucks secured the league's best record thanks to Antetokounmpo, and his 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers for the Bucks, who used a 42-29 second quarter to move clear of the Lakers.

James finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but it was not enough for the visiting Lakers.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 10 rebounds after returning from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury.

 

Star trio Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are among the nominees for the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame.

Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant, San Antonio Spurs icon Duncan and Boston Celtics favourite Garnett headline the 2020 class of potential inductees.

Former Miami Heat star Chris Bosh and Shawn Marion are also on the list of 50 people nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The finalists will be announced during the All-Star Weekend in Chicago in February, with the inductees unveiled in April.

Regarded as arguably the Lakers' greatest ever player, prolific scorer Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the storied Los Angeles franchise.

An 18-time All-Star, Bryant – who retired in 2016 – won five NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards, while he was crowned the league's MVP in 2008.

Like Bryant, Duncan was also a one-team player after spending his career with the Spurs, where he claimed five NBA rings during his 19 seasons before retiring in 2016.

Former Spurs big man Duncan was also a three-time Finals MVP, two-time league MVP and 15-time All-Star.

Garnett helped the Celtics to NBA glory in 2008 after being crowned the 2004 MVP during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Bosh ended his career with two championships and 11 All-Star appearances.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will return from a one-game absence to face the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday's NBA blockbuster showdown.

Davis sat out Tuesday's defeat to the Indiana Pacers due to a mild ankle sprain, leaving his availability for the Bucks clash in question.

However, the All-Star has overcome that ankle issue as the Western Conference-leading Lakers and Eastern Conference pacesetters the Bucks square off with matching 24-4 records.

Since teaming up with LeBron James at the Lakers, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

 

Anthony Davis is not ready to commit to the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of free agency, despite his stellar start to life at the Staples Center.

Davis has barely missed a beat since swapping the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers prior to the start of the NBA season, helping Los Angeles to a joint-NBA best 24-4 record.

But Davis is a free agent at the end of the campaign, and the six-time All-Star has previously talked up the "possibility" of joining hometown team the Chicago Bulls.

"I still look at it as we'll see what happens at the end of the season," Davis told ESPN.

"Obviously, the season's going great so far and I'm trying to stay in the moment and worry about that when the season's over. But I feel like we can do something special this year.

"With the team that we put together and the coaching staff that we have, I don't feel like no one can beat us but the Los Angeles Lakers.

"But when that time comes I'll think about it and see what's going on. But right now I'm trying to focus and win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers."

Since teaming up with LeBron James in Los Angeles, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Davis, though, is questionable for Thursday's blockbuster clash with the Milwaukee Bucks – who the Lakers are tied with for the best record in the league – due to a left ankle sprain.

"We'll see how the ankle feels and hopefully I'm able to play," Davis told The Dan Patrick Show.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks meet in a blockbuster clash between the NBA's two conference leaders on Thursday.

Holding the best records in the NBA at 24-4, the Western Conference-leading Lakers visit the Eastern Conference leaders at Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks and Lakers will meet just twice during the regular season and both encounters are shaping as must-watch matches.

With the help of Stats Perform data, we take a closer look at the two teams' starts to the season.

Matchup among the best

With a 48-8 combined win-loss record, this clash marks the seventh highest combined win percentage (.857) entering a game since 1970-71, with a minimum of 25 games played by both teams.

Milwaukee set up their record on the back of an 18-game winning streak that was only broken by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are also going into the game on the back of a defeat after losing to the Indiana Pacers.

They have embarked on two seven-game runs and a 10-match winning streak this season.

The Lakers and Bucks' 24-4 records are the equal 13th best through the first 28 games of an NBA season.

Bucks impressively cruising

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 31.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season, Milwaukee have dominated.

Their points/G differential of 12.9 is the highest in the NBA since 1970-71, currently standing greater than the 1971-72 Lakers (12.3) and 70-71 Bucks (12.3).

Both those Lakers and Bucks went on to win the NBA championship.

Milwaukee have claimed huge victories over the likes of the New York Knicks (132-88), Charlotte Hornets (137-96), Orlando Magic (123-91), Minnesota Timberwolves (134-106), Los Angeles Clippers (119-91) and Detroit Pistons (127-103) this season.

 

Lakers duo starring

As was expected, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have led the Lakers.

James is averaging 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, while Davis (27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists) is also delivering impressive numbers.

The pair are tracking to be among the best team-mate duos – to have played in 70 per cent of their team's games – since 1976-77, when it comes to most points plus assists plus rebounds.

James (43.9) and Davis (40.0) are fifth on the list at 83.9, with Houston Rockets pair James Harden (52.3) and Russell Westbrook (38.1) topping it at 90.4 after their performances this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo described LeBron James as "an alien", with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar continuing to dominate despite his advancing years.

James – who celebrates his 35th birthday on December 30 – is averaging 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game for the Lakers this season.

The three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP is showing no signs of slowing down in his 17th year in the league, following a difficult first season with the Lakers.

Reigning MVP and Milwaukee Bucks star Antetokounmpo hailed James ahead of Thursday's blockbuster showdown – pitting the league's two best teams against each other.

"It's crazy. Obviously, for me, that's one of my goals to be able to play at a high level for the next 10 years, but he's about to turn 35 this month and he's moving like that, playing like that, and just playing smart," Antetokounmpo told reporters on Wednesday.

"It's insane to see what he's able to do, but he's LeBron James, he's different. He's an alien. So you expect it from him, but yeah, it's crazy."

With matching 24-4 records, the Bucks and Lakers top the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively this season.

The Bucks had their 18-game winning streak snapped by the Dallas Mavericks, while the Lakers fell to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Ahead of the clash at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said: "What LeBron James has done in our league is phenomenal.

"He's just a very, very special player, so any time you get to play against him – and now Anthony Davis is very similar and they've got great fits, great players around them. So I think the thing we often talk about when you play a really good team is how you get tested and how you learn more about yourself.

"I think that's kind of the way I look at it, and that usually means you're playing somebody good, and I'm excited about that opportunity."

Doc Rivers hit back after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James spoke out against load management, a concept the Los Angeles Clippers have used with Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers have handed Leonard – whose minutes were managed carefully in the Toronto Raptors' championship-winning 2018-19 season as he made his comeback from a quadriceps issue – a number of games off this season in an aim to keep him fit for the playoffs.

After the Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, 17-year NBA veteran James made his thoughts on the issue clear.

He said: "If I'm healthy I'll play. That should be the approach. Unless we're getting to late in the season, we've clinched and we can't get any better or worse, I could benefit from that, but why wouldn't I play if I'm healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me, personally.

"I mean, I don't know how many games I've got left in my career. I don't know how many kids that may show up to a game that are there to see me play and if I sit out, then what? That's my obligation. My obligation is to play."

When James' remarks were posed to Rivers, the head coach stated the philosophies of the two franchises likely differ because the Lakers' is based on "whatever LeBron says".

"It's our philosophy. I don't know what theirs are. I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is, to be honest," said Rivers.

"That makes a lot of sense to me. I like what we are doing, and I think it's the smart thing to do. Who knows? We'll see at the end."

Myles Turner hailed a "signature win" for the Indiana Pacers after they ended the Los Angeles Lakers' 14-game winning streak on the road with a 105-102 triumph at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Turner and Domantas Sabonis both impressed as the Pacers improved to 19-9 by beating a team who came into the contest with an NBA-leading 23-4 record.

"I think we showed ourselves we can hang in with the best," said Turner, who contributed 16 points and seven rebounds on Tuesday as team-mate Sabonis put up 26 points.

"They're the best team in the league as of right now and we were in there all game.

"This is the signature win to this point, as far as opponents we've played.

"I think that we don't have anything to prove to anybody but ourselves. We know we're a good team with potential to be a great team."

The Pacers, who remain without injured All-Star Victor Oladipo, trailed by five points with three minutes and 28 seconds remaining and head coach Nate McMillan was delighted to see his side hold their nerve in a tense finale.

"When you're playing in games like this against the Lakers and the elite teams, [we have] our three Cs," said McMillan in a news conference. "You've got to be calm, you've got to be clear and you've got to be connected.

"I thought we showed calmness, being down five and not panicking. We were clear about what we needed to do and I thought we were connected on both ends of the floor. It was a collective effort."

An upbeat LeBron James outlined the Los Angeles Lakers' determination to bounce back against the Milwaukee Bucks after their long winning streak on the road was ended by the Indiana Pacers.

The Lakers had won 14 games in a row away from their home court, but went down 105-102 to the Pacers on Tuesday in the absence of Anthony Davis (ankle) as Domantas Sabonis contributed 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Next up for James and his team-mates is an eye-catching clash with the Bucks in Milwaukee on Thursday - a contest between two teams boasting 24-4 records, comfortably the best in the league.

Asked about the challenge of keeping the team's energy up in what will be their 12th away game out of 15, James told reporters: "That's what we're trying to do - it feels like we've been on the road all year and we have one more game on the road and we pride ourselves on trying not to lose two in a row, so we want to come back on Thursday in Milwaukee and play Laker basketball."

Reflecting on the Lakers' loss to the Pacers, which was sealed when Rajon Rondo missed a deep three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, James added: "We kept our composure [throughout the winning streak], and we did that tonight too. We still had an opportunity to win the game, we just didn't.

"Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, which is ok. That's how it is.

"We just didn't execute the [final] play to a tee."

While the Lakers' meeting with the Bucks will attract plenty of attention given both sides' form this season, James - a three-time NBA champion and Finals MVP - rejected the suggestion Thursday's game will be "special".

"I'm 17 years in. A regular-season game like that, it's just two teams that are trying to continue to get better and better, but no, it doesn't feel special," he explained.

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered just their fourth loss of the NBA season, while the Clippers cruised on Tuesday.

Without Anthony Davis (ankle), the Lakers went down to the Indiana Pacers 105-102.

LeBron James had 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but the Lakers star went 0-for-six from three-point range.

Dwight Howard made a huge contribution off the bench for the Lakers (24-4), going 10-for-10 for 20 points.

But Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers (19-9) with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds.

The Clippers had no such troubles, easing past the Phoenix Suns 120-99.

Paul George (24 points) and Kawhi Leonard (20) once again led the Clippers, who improved to 21-8.

 

Brilliant Barrett lifts Knicks

RJ Barrett's 27 points helped the New York Knicks to their third win in four games by beating the Atlanta Hawks 143-120.

Double-doubles from Malik Monk (23 points and 10 rebounds) and Bismack Biyombo (10 points and 12 rebounds) guided the Charlotte Hornets past the Sacramento Kings 110-102.

 

Poor Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans' worst losing streak in franchise history continued. The Pelicans lost 108-101 to the Brooklyn Nets after overtime for their 13th consecutive defeat.

 

Prince rejection

The Nets' Taurean Prince produced a huge rejection of Lonzo Ball.

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 110-102 Sacramento Kings
Indiana Pacers 105-102 Los Angeles Lakers
New York Knicks 143-120 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 108-101 New Orleans Pelicans
Utah Jazz 109-102 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Clippers 120-99 Phoenix Suns

 

Celtics at Mavericks

Without the injured Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks (18-8) host the Boston Celtics (17-7) on Wednesday.

LeBron James joked he was not confident his body would be able to hold up to the demands of the NBA long enough for him to play at the same time as his son Bronny.

Bronny, 15, led Sierra Canyon to a 59-56 victory over his father's former high school St Vincent-St Mary on Saturday, with LeBron in attendance for the game in his home state of Ohio.

The four-time NBA MVP was pictured bouncing up and down courtside after his son stole the ball and laid in a go-ahead basket in the final minute.

Following the Los Angeles Lakers' 101-96 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, LeBron was asked if he had thought about playing in the league at the same time as Bronny.

The 34-year-old said: "The way my body feels right now post-game, no, absolutely not. Through the grace of God and the grace of health, we will see what happens.

"But at the end of the day, it's not promised my son can make it to this level. We don't even discuss that.

"We live every day by every day and [think about] how he can continue to be a great team-mate, be a positive role model to his little brother and little sister and, when he leaves the house, continue to hold the James last name with the utmost respect.

"Because it's not just about him – and when I leave the house, it's not just about me – it's about our family and what we've created.

"Being in the NBA is extra credit as far as life [goes]. If you're able to make it, you don't ever take it for granted. This is all cool and well and dandy, but there's so much more to life especially when you're raising a family."

On his trip to Columbus, he added: "It was my son's eighth high school game and the first I was able to be at live, so to have all the family… all my friends and people I grew up with in my home town were all there. My mentor and father figure coach Dru Joyce was on the other side coaching St Vincent-St Mary.

"It was a surreal moment, not only for myself but my family and friends were talking about it as well, how things have come full circle.

"Seeing my son out playing in our home state versus my alma mater, playing in front of our family and friends, everyone was telling me it was like I was back in high school all over again watching my son. It was one of the greatest moments in my life so far."

LeBron had 32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks as the Lakers extended their winning run to seven games against the Hawks.

The 34-year-old was clearly enjoying himself in the second quarter, pretending to block a shot by team-mate Rajon Rondo and teeing up Dwight Howard for a dunk with a pass between his own legs.

"He was spectacular, he had some all-time clips," said head coach Frank Vogel. "He was terrific, he was a huge part of the win."

LeBron James helped the Los Angeles Lakers extend their winning streak with another dominant display, while the Brooklyn Nets were too good for the Philadelphia 76ers.

James' double-double led the Lakers to a 101-96 victory over the Atlanta Hawks and a seventh successive win in the NBA on Sunday.

The Lakers superstar posted 32 points and 13 rebounds as Los Angeles moved level with the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA's best record at 24-3.

Anthony Davis contributed 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, while Trae Young led the Hawks with 30 points.

The Nets powered to a 109-89 victory over the 76ers as Philadelphia's road woes continued.

Without Joel Embiid due to illness, the 76ers were no match for the Nets – slipping to 6-8 on the road despite a 14-0 home record.

Ben Simmons' 20 points were not enough to extend Philadelphia's winning run to six games, while Spencer Dinwiddie's 24 fuelled the Nets.

 

Isaac inspires Magic

Jonathan Isaac had 21 points and 11 rebounds to see the Orlando Magic past the slumping New Orleans Pelicans 130-119.

Jrue Holiday had 29 points for the Pelicans, while Josh Hart put up 20 from the bench.

A Nikola Jokic double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds helped the Denver Nuggets to a 111-105 victory against the New York Knicks.

 

Pelicans set unwanted record

It was a forgettable outing for the Pelicans. A loss to the Magic set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive defeat.

Terry Rozier – part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics – endured a poor shooting performance in the Charlotte Hornets' 107-85 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Rozier was just one of 12 from the floor for three points in 25 minutes. He also missed all three of his shots from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron x Dwight

James does it all. From shooting buckets and slamming dunks, to setting up others. This through-the-legs pass to Dwight Howard for the slam was something else.

Sunday's results

Brooklyn Nets 109-89 Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Lakers 101-96 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers 107-85 Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic 130-119 New Orleans Pelicans
Sacramento Kings 100-79 Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets 111-105 New York Knicks

 

Mavs at Bucks

Monday's showdown was expected to pit MVP rivals Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo against each other. However, Dallas Mavericks star Doncic will miss the clash due to an ankle injury. Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are eyeing their 19th win on the bounce.

LeBron James said being told he was "too passive" by his Los Angeles Lakers team-mates in a "reckless" first-half display fuelled him to raise his game in a 113-110 victory over the Miami Heat.

The Lakers inflicted a first home defeat of the NBA season on the Heat, but a 13th straight road win looked unlikely when they trailed by 14 points in the first half.

James dropped well short of his usual sky-high standards in that opening half, turning the ball over seven times and missing seven of his 11 shots.

The four-time MVP was transformed in the second half, though, finishing with 28 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds as the Western Conference leaders won a thriller to move to 23-3.

James revealed some frank words from his colleagues were justified.

"Well, we were down today because of me," he told ESPN. "I was reckless.

"My team-mates got on my ass. They told me you're playing too passive, thinking about the game way too much instead of reading and reacting and doing what you do. Anthony Davis got on me, Boogie Cousins got on me and they told me to just be me.

"So I was like, 'Thank God we have two halves in a basketball game,' where I can flush the first one, and then come back and try to help us win."

Davis also played a major part in the Lakers' turnaround, racking up 33 points and 10 rebounds. 

He said: "We knew it was going to be a dog fight, that's what it was tonight and the game was fun. These are the types of games we live for."

James Harden produced another 50-point performance in the NBA, while Giannis Antetokounmpo helped the Milwaukee Bucks extend their streak on Friday.

Harden made it back-to-back 50-point games in the Houston Rockets' 130-107 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Coming off a 55-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Harden had 54 in the win over Orlando.

The Bucks made it 17 straight wins by getting past the Memphis Grizzlies 127-114.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double of 37 points and 11 rebounds in the Bucks' latest victory.

Los Angeles' duos shine

LeBron James (28 points and 12 assists) and Anthony Davis (33 points and 10 rebounds) helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat 113-110.

The Los Angeles Clippers' stars also impressed. Paul George had 46 points and Kawhi Leonard 42 in a 124-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Philadelphia 76ers are 14-0 at home after Ben Simmons contributed 24 points and 11 assists in a 116-109 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Bad Bulls

The Chicago Bulls were woeful in an 83-73 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The Bulls went at just 30 per cent from the field, shooting 27-of-90.

 

Harden hot

Harden continued his irresistible form for the Rockets.

Friday's results

Houston Rockets 130-107 Orlando Magic
Philadelphia 76ers 116-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Lakers 113-110 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 110-100 Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets 83-73 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 127-114 Memphis Grizzlies
Utah Jazz 114-106 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers 124-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 103-101 Sacramento Kings

 

Pistons at Rockets

Can Detroit (10-15) stop Harden? The Rockets (17-8) host the Pistons on Saturday.

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