James Harden scored 49 points in a 153-149 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks, but it was the Houston Rockets' defensive effort that the former MVP wanted to highlight. 

Another fine offensive night from Harden saw him move past Calvin Murphy to become the player with the second-most points in the franchise's history, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon. 

With Russell Westbrook adding 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists too, it was a fine outing for Houston's leading duo, though Harden was quick to defer praise to the collective performance at the other end of the court. 

"It's not even about the points," Harden told ESPN on court after the game. 

"Our effort was there continuously throughout the course of the night against one of the best offenses in this league.

"They were going to be tough from the beginning of the game and we had to stay with it, even when we were down by double digits. We kept fighting, especially on the defensive end and forced overtime. 

"We wanted to stay with it and give ourselves a chance at the end of the game. We did that. Our confidence defensively was building, especially in that fourth quarter. We kept pushing the tempo, kept fighting." 

Luka Doncic had a triple-double for the Mavs - his NBA-leading 15th of the season - but went just one-for-nine from three-point range, while Trey Burke added 31 points from the bench having drained eight of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc. 

"We are a young team. We have got a lot to learn," Doncic said.  

"We will get better, for sure. I know we are going to get together when it matters most, so I'm not worried about that."

The NBA finally returns on Thursday and it's been a long-time coming.

Not since March 11 have players taken to the court and fans watched official games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, after months of waiting, the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers clashes will headline the 2019-20 season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, 22 teams will resume their regular seasons before the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks topped the NBA standings at the time of the postponement, while the Los Angeles Lakers were flying in the Western Conference.

Using STATS data, we look at the best-performing players prior to the hiatus as LeBron James eyes a fourth championship ring and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo chases a maiden title.

 

Red-hot LeBron

After a tough first season in Los Angeles, James has returned to his brilliant best in 2019-20. Before the coronavirus-enforced break, the four-time MVP catapulted himself into the mix for a fifth Most Valuable Player honour by leading the Lakers – who have played 63 of their 82-game regular season – to a Western Conference-best 49-14 record.

As the 35-year-old superstar prepares to resume his bid for another NBA crown, James leads the league in assists per game with 10.6. If he maintains his pace, James would be the third-oldest player to lead the NBA in assists per game behind two-time MVP and Phoenix Suns great Steve Nash – who did so in both 2009-10 (age 35-36) and 2010-11 (age 36-37). The former Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers forward has also been averaging 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season.

James, whose maiden campaign at Staples Center was cut short by a Christmas Day injury almost two years ago, was playing some of his best basketball alongside All-Star recruit Anthony Davis before the March suspension. In five games that month, James averaged 30.0 points and 10.6 assists per game, while shooting 55.7 per cent from the field. It is the only time in the last 30 years that any NBA player has averaged 30.0-plus points and 10.0-plus assists on 55.0-plus per cent shooting in a calendar month (minimum five games played).

 

Giannis – The Greek Freak

The Eastern Conference-leading Bucks (53-12) are on track for their first NBA title since 1971 thanks to superstar MVP Antetokounmpo after Mike Budenholzer's side lost in the Conference Finals last season.

Antetokounmpo – expected to go close to winning back-to-back MVPs – has not taken a backward step since being crowned the league's best in 2018-19, averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the high-flying Bucks this season.

The only players to average 25/13/5 in a season are Elgin Baylor (1960-61), Wilt Chamberlain (1963-64 and 1965-66) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1972-73 and 1975-76).

 

Harden firing Rockets

James Harden's standing among the greats is often debated but there is no doubting his quality and importance to the Houston Rockets.

Harden has established himself as a scoring machine in Houston since joining the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, especially from beyond the arc, and after averaging 36.1 points last season, the 2018 MVP is at it again.

In 2019-20, Harden – now partnered with fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook – is averaging 34.4 per game. The only players to average 34-plus points in back-to-back seasons are Wilt Chamberlain (six straight from 1959-60 to 1964-65), Baylor (three straight from 1960-61 to 1962-63) and Michael Jordan (1986-87 to 1987-88).

The Rockets – sixth in the west with a 40-24 record – are relying heavily on Harden to lead the two-time champions to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1995.

 

Dallas' dazzling Doncic

If you thought Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a one-season wonder, think again.

The reigning Rookie of the Year continues to take the NBA by storm, elevating the Mavericks (40-27) into a legitimate playoff threat after Dallas missed the postseason for a third consecutive year last term.

A first-time All-Star this season, Doncic is averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game for the much-improved Mavs in 2019-20.

The 21-year-old Slovenian sensation – who is forming a formidable combination with fellow international star Kristaps Porzingis – is looking to join Oscar Robertson (five times), Jordan (1988-89), Harden (2016-17) and Westbrook (2016-17) as the only players to average 28/8/8 in a season.

 

Williamson following in MJ's footsteps

When it comes to number one draft pick Zion Williamson, believe the hype.

The Pelicans rookie has not missed a beat since debuting in January, quickly making his presence known around the NBA competition.

Likened to James during his college days with Duke, Williamson has averaged 23.6 points per game in his first 19 games – the most by any player through 19 career games since Chicago Bulls and NBA legend Jordan (25.6).

Williamson has helped fill the void left by Davis in New Orleans and the Pelicans – 10th in the Western Conference with a 28-36 record – will be hoping the 20-year-old can lead the organisation to just their second playoff appearance in five seasons.

 

Keep an eye on Nets' LeVert

The Nets will be far from full strength in the NBA bubble. Superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both sidelined through injury, while DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince have opted out.

Step up Caris LeVert.

LeVert has been much improved since re-joining the starting line-up with the playoff-chasing Nets. In his first 14 games off the bench, he was only averaging 11.1 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds as Brooklyn went 5-9.

Since returning to the starting five, the 25-year-old is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds through his last 16 games. More importantly, the Nets (30-34) boasted a 9-7 record to be seventh in a congested Eastern Conference.

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."

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.

Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard headline Team LeBron, while Team Giannis includes Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam for the NBA All-Star Game.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo finalised their teams for the showcase event, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 16.

James used the number one pick to draft Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis to Team LeBron, while reigning MVP Antetokounmpo countered by selecting Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Team LeBron's starting five consists of James, Davis, Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard, Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic and Houston Rockets star James Harden.

Antetokounmpo, Embiid, Toronto Raptors star Siakam, Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker and the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young are the starters for Team Giannis.

Team LeBron reigned supreme last year – James' squad winning 178-164 over Team Giannis in Charlotte.

 

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Reserves: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)

Team Giannis

Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
Reserves: Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)

Luka Doncic will miss at least the Dallas Mavericks' next six games, head coach Rick Carlisle has revealed.

MVP candidate Doncic suffered a right ankle sprain in practice on Thursday and was ruled out of the game against the Houston Rockets the following day.

The 20-year-old sprained the same ankle in December, missing four games, but Carlisle was unable to offer an immediate estimate for his return this time.

However, speaking on his show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Friday, the coach had an update, saying: "He'll miss the next six games, for sure."

The 29-18 Mavs are fifth in the West but look set to be without Doncic against the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets, as well as the Rockets.

Dallas then face the Utah Jazz on February 10.

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

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic faces another spell on the sidelines after reinjuring his problematic right ankle on Thursday.

The newly selected All-Star suffered another sprain in practice and will miss Friday's game against the Houston Rockets.

Dallas expect to have a clearer picture of the problem once Doncic, 20, undergoes an MRI.

"Luka turned his right ankle in practice," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in quotes published on the team's website.

"He's getting treatment right now. We don't know the status. We obviously hope it's not serious. But we don't know."

Doncic missed four games after spraining the same ankle during an overtime loss to the Miami Heat in December.

Whether the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year will be fit to start his first All-Star Game on February 16 remains unclear.

Veteran guard J.J. Barea said: "Stuff happens. Playing hard basketball and stepped on somebody. We hate it that it happened at the end of practice to Luka.

"But he's a tough kid. We'll see what happens, but hopefully it won't be that long."

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

The Mavs could also be without Tim Hardaway Jr. against the Rockets after listing him as questionable due to tightness in the lower back region.

An emotional Luka Doncic led the Dallas Mavericks to a 107-97 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the short-handed Houston Rockets topped the Utah Jazz.

Emotions were still raw on Monday following the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, on Sunday.

Suiting up for the road game in Oklahoma City, Mavericks star Doncic posted 29 points and 11 rebounds for Dallas – who have retired Bryant's iconic number 24 jersey.

"I broke down after the first quarter," Doncic said. "That was when it really hit me. It was really hard to explain."

The Thunder were without star guard Chris Paul, who sat out his first game of the season to mourn the loss of friend Bryant. Oklahoma City cited personal reasons.

Eric Gordon scored a career-high 50 points as the Rockets defeated the high-flying Jazz 126-117 in Utah.

In the absence of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Gordon became the first Rockets player besides the former to score 50 points in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon had 51 in 1996, per Stats Perform.

 

Career night for Hield

A career-high 42 points from Buddy Hield helped the Sacramento Kings outlast the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-129 in overtime. The Kings rallied from a 27-point deficit in Minnesota.

DeMar DeRozan put up 36 points and 10 rebounds in the San Antonio Spurs' narrow 110-109 defeat the Chicago Bulls.

Bam Adebayo's third triple-double of the season (20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) inspired a 113-92 victory for the Miami Heat against the Orlando Magic. "It was about honouring Kobe," Adebayo said. "I felt like I had the 'Mamba Mentality' tonight ... I never got to meet him but he's here in spirit."

The Jazz lost but Donovan Mitchell starred with 36 points against the soaring Rockets.

 

Tough outing for Ingles

Usually a strong contributor, Joe Ingles struggled for the Jazz. The Australian was two of eight from the floor and one of seven from three-point range for just seven points in 33 minutes.

 

Timberwolves honour Bryant

Teams across the league have continued to honour five-time champion and 2008 MVP Bryant. On Monday, the Timberwolves opened the game by taking an eight-second backcourt violation and Sacramento took a 24-second shot-clock violation in hour of the two numbers Bryant wore in his famed 20-year career. While taking their violation, Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins placed the ball on the free throw line – where Bryant scored to eclipse Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA's scoring list in December 2014.

Monday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 115-100 Detroit Pistons
Miami Heat 113-92 Orlando Magic
Dallas Mavericks 107-97 Oklahoma City Thunder
Chicago Bulls 110-109 San Antonio Spurs
Sacramento Kings 133-129 Minnesota Timberwolves (OT)
Houston Rockets 126-117 Utah Jazz

 

Celtics at Heat

It is an Eastern Conference blockbuster as the Heat host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. The Heat (32-14) are second in the east, while the Celtics (30-15) are fourth. The showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers was supposed to headline play, but the clash has been postponed following Bryant's death.

Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic and Pau Gasol were among those to pay tribute on Sunday as news broke of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant's passing.

Bryant, 41, was one of nine people who lost their lives in a helicopter crash close to the city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County, California.

The Lakers icon's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the incident.

A number of NBA players led tributes to Bryant, while others were involved in games on Sunday, with a moment's silence observed at the Denver Nuggets.

Philadelphia 76ers' Embiid was among the first to react, describing himself as "so freaking sad" as he reflected on the death of an inspirational star.

"Man I don't even know where to start," he wrote on Twitter. "I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals.

"I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I'm so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! RIP LEGEND"

MVP candidate Luka Doncic uploaded a picture with Bryant's daughter, writing: "this is so sad! RIP"

Bryant's former Lakers team-mate Pau Gasol posted: "Beyond devastated... my big brother... I can’t, I just can't believe it."

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green simply posted: "Stunned!"

Similarly, the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard wrote: "Wow."

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, and the Sixers were among the teams to post a statement in response to his death.

"The Philadelphia 76ers organisation mourns the losses of NBA icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and all of those who passed away tragically today in an accident in California," it read.

"Bryant, one of the most decorated players in NBA history and a global ambassador for the game, made an everlasting mark on our league.

"His determination, passion to win and fierce competitiveness fuelled the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA championships and inspired millions of people around the world. 

"Bryant's journey to icon status in the world of basketball included deep ties to the Philadelphia region, where he starred at Lower Merion High School from 1992-96.

As he honed his craft in Philadelphia, Bryant established a reputation as a player with once-in-a-lifetime poise, grit, heart and an unwavering love of the game.
 
"While his imprint on the game of basketball will be etched in the history books forever, Bryant will also be remembered for his love of his family, commitment to community through his philanthropic work, and for being an innovative leader in business.

"The 76ers organisation sends its sincerest condolences to Vanessa Bryant and the Bryant family during this incredibly difficult time.

"We also send our condolences to Jeanie Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers organisation and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere."

LeBron James and Luka Doncic celebrated their All-Star selections with brilliant performances in valuable NBA road victories on Thursday.

James, who will captain Team LeBron against Team Giannis in Chicago next month, led the Los Angeles Lakers to a gritty 128-113 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 35-year-old posted a triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to spoil Kyrie Irving's return after a game out with hamstring tightness.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers team-mates were facing each other for the first time since Irving (20 points) joined the Nets in July 2019.

Doncic gained his first All-Star selection after topping the Western Conference backcourt vote and then inspired the Dallas Mavericks to a 133-125 win against the Portland Trail Blazers.

His nine assists and team-high 27 points ensured 47 from Damian Lillard went in vain as the Mavs prevailed for the fifth time in six games.

Beal brilliant in Wizards' win

After losing to the Heat in Miami, the Washington Wizards bounced back to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-112.

Bradley Beal went 15 of 22 from the field for 36 points and eight assists in a sublime performance at Quicken Loans Arena.

 

Simons fizzles in losing cause

Lillard and Carmelo Anthony (16 points) had to be productive for the beaten Trail Blazers given Anfernee Simons' struggles on home court.

The 20-year-old guard contributed just five points in 23 minutes on the floor.

 

AD denies Kyrie!

Anthony Davis sent a message to Irving and the Nets with a huge rejection in the third quarter.

Thursday's results

Washington Wizards 124-112 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 128-113 Brooklyn Nets
Dallas Mavericks 133-125 Portland Trail Blazers 

 

Clippers at Heat

Providing he overcomes knee soreness, Jimmy Butler will seek to prove he should have been an All-Star starter when the Miami Heat (31-13) host the Los Angeles Clippers (31-14) on Friday.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will return as NBA All-Star team captains after leading the vote for February's showpiece contest in Chicago.

Three newcomers – Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Pascal Siakam – will also take the floor for the 69th edition of the annual exhibition game.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James captained Team LeBron to victory over Team Giannis in 2019 and the pair will renew their rivalry at United Center on February 16.

James, an All-Star for the 16th year of his illustrious career, will have the chance to draft Dallas Mavericks sensation Doncic onto his team for the first time, the MVP contender a walk-up selection amid a brilliant sophomore season in the NBA.

All-Star regulars James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard round out the Western Conference starter pool.

Atlanta Hawks guard Young topped the count among Eastern Conference backcourt options to secure a start alongside the Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker.

The pair gained selection ahead of four-time All Star Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, who scored poorly in the fan portion of the vote.

Siakam's selection comes after averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game for the Toronto Raptors this season, while injury troubles failed to prevent Joel Embiid from sealing a frontcourt berth.

Fan ballots were weighted at 50 per cent, while current players and the media contributed 25 per cent of the starter vote.

Captains James and Antetokounmpo will select their teams from the eight other starters, while NBA head coaches will be responsible for choosing the 14 reserves that will be announced on January 30.

 

Eastern Conference starters:

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Western Conference starters:

James Harden (Houston Rockets), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.