Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss his second consecutive game due to back soreness.

The Bucks will be without reigning NBA MVP Antetokounmpo for Saturday's clash against the Orlando Magic, the team announced.

Antetokounmpo sat out Milwaukee's 112-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday because of his back problem.

"He did some work earlier today and he is making progress. I think he is very close," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters pre-game on Saturday.

"Just not ready to go or not capable tonight. We'll hope that not playing tonight and another day without a game, he will return soon."

This season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 30.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game for the league-leading Bucks (28-5).

Giannis Antetokounmpo will have his back soreness closely monitored by the Milwaukee Bucks after he sat out of their win over the Atlanta Hawks.

The Bucks (28-5) cruised to a 112-86 victory on Friday without the reigning NBA MVP and are hopeful the Greek's problem will not have longer-term effects.

Antetokounmpo's status for Saturday's road game against the Orlando Magic is undecided and he will be kept under review going forward.

He had only missed one other game this season and was replaced in the starting line-up by Ersan Ilyasova, who impressed with 18 points and 17 rebounds as Khris Middleton top scored with 23.

"His back is something I guess would be in that category of something we manage and keep our eyes on, and sometimes it flares up," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo.

"It's enough that he can't play. But you're hopeful that it's not anything significant even though it is something that we kind of monitor on a regular basis.

"Except for that he's out [against Atlanta], I think he's been doing really well. He's felt good and looked strong just even to the general eye test."

On the other side of the court, Trae Young left the game in the second quarter after he sustained a sprained ankle and will miss at least one game for the Hawks, who face the Chicago Bulls next.

"I rolled it pretty bad," Young said, per ESPN. "It hurts pretty bad right now, but that's to be expected. I'm getting treatment on it and iced it already."

The Milwaukee Bucks cruised without star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA, while the Miami Heat recorded an impressive win on Friday.

Antetokounmpo was sidelined with back soreness, but the Bucks were untroubled in a 112-86 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks.

Khris Middleton starred with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Ersan Ilyasova had a double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds.

Milwaukee improved to 28-5 as they bounced back from their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Miami are third in the Eastern Conference and edged the Indiana Pacers 113-112.

Bam Adebayo's double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds led the Heat as Jimmy Butler contributed despite struggling from the field.

Butler finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but went three-of-11.

 

Celtics roll on as Adams guides Thunder

The Boston Celtics posted their fifth straight win by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-117.

Jaylen Brown (34 points) and Jayson Tatum (30) were the stars for Boston.

Steven Adams' 14 points, 12 rebounds and three assists helped the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 104-102 overtime win against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Golden State Warriors made it four straight wins as D'Angelo Russell's 31 points guided them past the Phoenix Suns 105-96.

 

76ers' road woes remain

The Philadelphia 76ers are 16-2 at home but slipped to 7-9 on the road after crashing to a surprise 98-97 loss to the Orlando Magic.

 

Flying Jones

Miami's Derrick Jones Jr. delivered an epic alley-oop.

Friday's results

Boston Celtics 129-117 Cleveland Cavaliers
Oklahoma City Thunder 104-102 Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic 98-97 Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks 112-86 Atlanta Hawks
Miami Heat 113-112 Indiana Pacers
Golden State Warriors 105-96 Phoenix Suns

 

Raptors at Celtics

After back-to-back losses, the Toronto Raptors (21-10) face a test against the Celtics (22-7) at TD Garden on Saturday.

The Los Angeles Clippers claimed Christmas Day honours as neighbours the Los Angeles Lakers crashed to their fourth consecutive defeat in the NBA.

Kawhi Leonard starred with 35 points to lead the Clippers past the slumping Lakers 111-106 in the battle of LA on Wednesday.

Leonard scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and added 12 rebounds as the Clippers beat the Lakers for the second time this season, having also won on opening night.

The Lakers (24-7) led 63-51 at half-time but were outscored 60-43 by the Clippers (23-10) in the second half in Los Angeles.

Montrezl Harrell posted 18 points off the bench and Clippers team-mate Paul George contributed 17 at Staples Center midweek.

LeBron James, who returned from a muscle strain, put up 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the beaten Lakers, while Kyle Kuzma led the way with his 25 points.

 

Embiid takes down Bucks

Joel Embiid was at his brilliant best with 31 points and 11 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers upstaged league leaders the Milwaukee Bucks 121-109. It was Embiid's seventh game of the season with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Simmons added 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown was 10 for 13 from the field and five-of-seven from three-point range for 30 points to inspire the Boston Celtics' 118-102 victory against defending champions the Toronto Raptors. Chris Boucher had 24 points off the bench for the Raptors.

Damion Lee's 22 points and a career-high 15 rebounds helped the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets 116-104. It was Golden State's third straight win. Double-doubles from Russell Westbrook (30 points, 12 rebounds), James Harden (24 points, 11 assists) and Clint Capela (10 points, 11 rebounds) were not enough for the Rockets.

 

Giannis struggles from the floor

While Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, it was a tough night for the reigning MVP. He was eight of 27 from the floor and 0 of seven from three-point range.

 

Beverley says no to LeBron!

Patrick Beverley produced a big defensive play as the Lakers tried to rally against the Clippers. James led the charge, but he was denied by the energetic Beverley.

 

Wednesday's results

Boston Celtics 118-102 Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers 121-109 Milwaukee Bucks
Golden State Warriors 116-104 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 111-106 Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans 112-100 Denver Nuggets

 

Spurs at Mavs

After their high-scoring battle against the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs take on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. The Mavericks could welcome back star guard Luka Doncic.

Brett Brown believes the Philadelphia 76ers are "designed for the playoffs" after celebrating Christmas with a dominant win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 76ers spread plenty of festive cheer on Christmas Day courtesy of a 121-109 victory against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the high-flying Bucks in Philadelphia.

Embiid starred for the 76ers, posting 31 points and 11 rebounds as he upstaged reigning MVP Antetokounmpo at Wells Fargo Center, where Philadelphia led by as many as 29 points.

The Bucks (27-5) rolled into town as the league leaders and the team to beat, and the 76ers (23-10) passed the test.

"I think this team is designed for the playoffs," said head coach Brown, who brought in Al Horford and Josh Richardson in the offseason after Jimmy Butler's move to the Miami Heat.

"I believe that the road we have travelled so far has been erratic at times. Whether it's the infrequency of our five players playing together, whether it's navigating through some zone, at times some lost leads.

"It's like you're under a microscope trying to move this team forward and trying to get it whole. I think that the landing spot is exciting."

Embiid stepped up in Philadelphia's first home Christmas game in 31 years – the All-Star shooting three threes to go with as many assists and two blocks.

"A lot of people have kind of forgotten who I am," said Embiid, who is eyeing the playoffs after the 76ers lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season. "When I'm needed, I'm going to show up."

"You are playing the best in the league," Embiid added. "We came out and showed that we are right there. We still have a long way to go, obviously, but we are right there and we are going to keep on getting better."

It was a tough night for Bucks star Antetokounmpo, who was eight of 27 from the floor and 0 of seven from three-point range for 18 points and 14 rebounds.

"They just played harder than us, better than us," Antetokounmpo said. "There are going to be some nights that you don't make shots. But you got to keep making plays, you got to keep believing in yourselves.

"You cannot back down. I wasn't having my best night tonight, but at the end of the day my team-mates want me to keep shooting the ball. I want to keep shooting the ball."

The Milwaukee Bucks are the team to beat at Christmas time and it bodes well for their championship aspirations.

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks (27-4) top the NBA standings on Christmas Day, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (24-6).

Not since 1971 have the Bucks won a title – their only success so far since being founded in 1968.

However, the past three champions – the Toronto Raptors last season and Golden State Warriors in 2016-17 and 2017-18 – earned a ring having led when Santa Clause came to town.

Over the past 10 seasons, five teams who topped the league on Christmas went on to celebrate a championship, with the 2011-12 campaign not getting underway until December 25 due to a lockout.

 

2018
Dec 25 leaders: Toronto Raptors (25-10)
Champions: Raptors

2017
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (27-7)
Champions: Warriors

2016
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (27-5)
Champions: Warriors

2015
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (28-1)
Champions: Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8 on Christmas Day)

2014
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (23-5)
Champions: Warriors

2013
Dec 25 leaders: Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers (23-5)
Champions: San Antonio Spurs (22-7 on Christmas Day)

2012
Dec 25 leaders: Los Angeles Clippers (22-6)
Champions: Miami Heat (19-6 on Christmas Day)

*2011
Champions: Miami Heat (*lockout)

2010
Dec 25 leaders: San Antonio Spurs (25-4)
Champions: Dallas Mavericks (23-5 on Christmas Day)

2009
Dec 25 leaders: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers (23-5)
Champions: Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers lost in LeBron James' absence in the NBA on Sunday, while the Toronto Raptors rallied from 30 points down to beat the Dallas Mavericks.

James missed the clash with the Denver Nuggets due to a thoracic muscle strain and his absence hurt the Western Conference leaders in a 128-104 loss at Staples Center.

Anthony Davis played almost a lone hand for the Lakers (24-6), posting 32 points and 11 rebounds as he fought through a suspected knee problem sustained after an awkward fall in the third quarter.

Kyle Kuzma added 16 points on his return from an ankle injury but there was no stopping the Nuggets (20-8), who were inspired by Paul Millsap's 21 points and a double-double from Will Barton (14 points, 13 rebounds).

Defending champions the Raptors, meanwhile, set a franchise record with their incredible 110-107 win against the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks.

Kyle Lowry led the way with 32 points and 10 assists as Toronto (21-8) overturned a 30-point third-quarter deficit to record their largest-ever comeback victory.

 

Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

Giannis Antetokounmpo fell one assist short of a triple-double as his 18 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-89 rout of the Indiana Pacers, who were on a five-game winning streak before Sunday's contest.

Jayson Tatum put up a career-high 39 points on 15-of-29 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 119-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets to stay in touch with the Bucks.

Paul George endured an unhappy return to Oklahoma City as the Los Angeles Clippers, who rested Kawhi Leonard, led for three quarters before slipping to a 118-112 defeat to the Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, part of the trade that sent All-Star George to the Clippers, posted 32 points for the second time in a week.

 

Brogdon's rough Bucks reunion

Before facing the Bucks, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon said he would not have left Milwaukee had he been properly "valued". He gave his old team little cause for regret at Fiserv Forum, making five of 19 shots from the floor and going zero-for-four from three-point range.

 

Monk's massive dunk

Malik Monk provided a highlight for the Hornets with a huge dunk over Enes Kanter.

Sunday's results

Toronto Raptors 110-107 Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics 119-93 Charlotte Hornets
Oklahoma City Thunder 118-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Milwaukee Bucks 117-89 Indiana Pacers
Denver Nuggets 128-104 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Toronto will look to carry their momentum into Monday's important Eastern Conference encounter with the Pacers, who have a point to prove after falling well short against the Bucks.

James Harden soared to fourth for 40-point games in NBA history on Saturday, while Giannis Antetokounmpo maintained top form in a big win for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Houston Rockets star Harden hit nine three-pointers and went 15-of-27 from the field to finish with 47 points in a 135-129 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (271), Michael Jordan (173) and Kobe Bryant (122) have had more 40-point games than Harden's 89, the 30-year-old having surpassed Elgin Baylor's 88.

Russell Westbrook contributed 30 points and 10 assists as the Rockets (20-9) extended their winning run to three games.

Two days after downing the Los Angeles Lakers, Antetokounmpo made light work of the New York Knicks in 123-103 victory for the Bucks (26-4) at Madison Square Garden.

The reigning MVP posted a triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in 26 minutes for the Eastern Conference leaders, while Kyle Korver chipped in with 17 points off the bench.

Embiid lifts 76ers out of slump

Joel Embiid's 21 points and 13 rebounds led the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-108 win against Washington Wizards, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Fuelled by Kawhi Leonard's 26 points, the Los Angeles Clippers strengthened their grip on second spot in the Western Conference with a 134-109 rout of the San Antonio Spurs.

Trae Young put up 47 points at Barclays Center but the Atlanta Hawks still lost 122-112 to the Brooklyn Nets, who were powered by Spencer Dinwiddie's 39 points and a double-double from DeAndre Jordan.

 

Batum blows cold

The Charlotte Hornets had just two starters, Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham, reach double figures for points in a 114-107 home defeat to the Utah Jazz. Nicolas Batum failed to offer much help as the former first-round pick attempted four field goals and a solitary three-point shot in 30 minutes on the floor.

 

Thanasis soars

Bucks star Giannis had to share the spotlight in the Big Apple as older brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo produced a huge tip-in dunk in the fourth quarter.

Saturday's results

Houston Rockets 139-125 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 113-106 Minnesota Timberwolves
Utah Jazz 114-107 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 122-112 Atlanta Hawks
Chicago Bulls 119-107 Detroit Pistons
Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Washington Wizards
Milwaukee Bucks 123-102 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 119-115 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 134-109 San Antonio Spurs

 

Nuggets at Lakers

After two successive losses and with LeBron James potentially missing due to a reported muscle problem, the Lakers (24-5) look vulnerable ahead of Sunday's game against the in-form Denver Nuggets (19-8) at Staples Center.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James tipped their hats to Giannis Antetokounmpo after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The two teams went into the game at Fiserv Forum with NBA-leading 24-4 records and it was the Bucks who emerged triumphant, claiming a 111-104 victory.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 11 rebounds and made a career-best five three-pointers in a commanding display.

Davis, who sat out the defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday with an ankle sprain, played the entire second half and finished with a game-high 36 points.

Asked for his thoughts on Antetokounmpo's display, James simply gestured by tipping an imaginary hat, while Davis suggested there was little more the Lakers could have done to stop him.

"We tip our hats to him, man. I think we executed our game plan as far as him driving," said Davis.

"He did a good job of knocking down threes, he did a good job of finding guys and they made shots for him.

"You've got to tip your hat to him, he made five of them and they were all tough looks. Two were highly contested at the end of the shot clock, one was wide open, and I think the other two were dribble-up threes from the wing."

On his ankle injury, Davis added: "I just tried to play through it, I still felt it a little bit. I tried to keep going, battle through it a little bit and help my team win."

The Lakers trailed by 18 points at half-time and were unable to avoid succumbing to successive defeats for the first time this season at the end of a five-game road trip, despite James claiming a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

"We continue to build chemistry, we continue to build camaraderie," James said.

"Pretty much every time anyone does anything, we pretty much do it together on the road. Just kind of have that bunker mentality, that brotherhood when we hit the road."

Russell Westbrook led the way as the Houston Rockets downed Kawhi Leonardo's Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 in the NBA on Thursday.

Westbrook posted 40 points and 10 rebounds to inspire the Rockets' win in Los Angeles, where Houston rallied.

The Rockets (19-9) trailed by 15 points at half-time but used a 36-point third quarter to emerge triumphant at Staples Center.

James Harden contributed 28 points and 10 assists – the Rockets star breaking Calvin Murphy's franchise assist record in the process.

Paul George's 34 points and Leonard's 25 and nine rebounds were not enough for the Clippers (21-9) on home court.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 in their highly anticipated showdown.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 34 points and 11 rebounds led the Bucks to the NBA's best record at 25-4 in Milwaukee.

LeBron James recorded a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis had 36 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (24-4).

 

Dinwiddie has career night

Spencer Dinwiddie posted a career-high 41 points but not even that could stop the Brooklyn Nets from losing 118-105 to the San Antonio Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs.

Donovan Mitchell's 30 points led the Utah Jazz past the Atlanta Hawks 111-106. Trae Young scored 30 of his own for the Hawks.

 

Lakers get nothing from bench

Starters James, Davis, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope really carried the Lakers in Milwaukee. They were the only players to reach double-digit points – the team's bench only contributing four points via Dwight Howard (2) and Rajon Rondo (2).

 

Giannis from distance!

Antetokounmpo had a career-high five-pointers, including this gem from the beyond the arc against the Lakers.

 

Thursday's results

Utah Jazz 111-106 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 111-104 Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs 118-105 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 Houston Rockets

 

Mavs at 76ers

After losing for the first time at home this season, the Philadelphia 76ers have the chance to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

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.

 

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.

 

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."

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