The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks crashed to a 119-116 defeat against the Brooklyn Nets, while the Phoenix Suns upstaged the Los Angeles Clippers at the buzzer.

Back-to-back three-pointers from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot put the Nets ahead during the closing stages as the Bucks suffered a surprise loss in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday.

Luwawu-Cabarrot posted a career-high 26 points for the Nets (32-25), while reigning MVP and Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 points before sitting out the entire second half.

The Bucks (54-14) are yet to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference following consecutive defeats at the Walt Disney World Resort.

There was another upset in the Orlando bubble as the Clippers went down 117-115 to the Suns following Devin Booker's buzzer-beating shot.

Booker nailed a turnaround jumper over Clippers star Paul George as time expired in a 35-point performance for the Suns, after Kawhi Leonard had tied the game with 31.1 seconds remaining.

The playoff-chasing Suns (29-39) claimed their third consecutive victory since the NBA resumed following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Leonard led the Clippers (45-22) with 27 points, while team-mate George contributed 23 of his own.

 

Doncic's historic triple-double leads Mavs

Luka Doncic's 34 points, career-high 20 rebounds and 12 assists helped the Dallas Mavericks top the Sacramento Kings 114-110 in overtime. At 21 years and 158 days, Doncic became the youngest player to finish a game with 30 or more points, 20 or more rebounds and 10 or more assists.

T.J. Warren enjoyed another fine outing with 32 points as the Indiana Pacers beat the Orlando Magic 120-109.

A 21-point and 19-rebound Jusuf Nurkic double-double fuelled the Portland Trail Blazers' 110-102 victory over the Houston Rockets.

 

Bogdanovic struggles

In the Kings' loss to the Mavericks, Bogdan Bogdanovic was just one for 15 from the field in 21 minutes. The Kings shooting guard only made one of eight three-pointers for three points.

 

Harden inspires quick basket

A perfectly weighted inbound pass from Houston Rockets star James Harden caught the Portland Trail Blazers napping as Russell Westbrook made the catch before teeing up Ben McLemore in a swift move.

 

Tuesday's results

Brooklyn Nets 119-116 Milwaukee Bucks
Dallas Mavericks 114-110 Sacramento Kings (OT)
Phoenix Suns 117-115 Los Angeles Clippers
Miami Heat 112-106 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 120-109 Orlando Magic
Portland Trail Blazers 110-102 Houston Rockets

 

Thunder face Lakers

The Oklahoma City Thunder will meet the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. The Thunder are coming off a loss, while the Lakers clinched the top seed in the west on Monday.

Zion Williamson expressed his delight at being allowed to play during the decisive closing stages as the New Orleans Pelicans won their first game since the NBA season restarted.

The Pelicans had restricted the minutes for their star rookie in their first two games in Orlando, with Williamson on the bench as they fell to defeats to the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers.

New Orleans had been following "medical advice" with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after Williamson - whose debut season has been disrupted by injury - had to quarantine for four days right before the campaign resumed last week having left the Florida 'bubble' to attend to a family matter.

But Williamson was allowed to play a greater role in the Pelicans' crucial 109-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday as he scored 23 points in 25 minutes, outshining fellow rookie star Ja Morant, who managed only 11 points and eight assists in 39 minutes.

"I felt alive again," Williamson told ESPN on being on the court at the end.

"My competitive spirit was there, and I'm glad coach [Alvin Gentry] and the whole team trusted me to finish the game out."

He later added: "I ain't gonna lie to you, it's just different in a bad way when I'm on the bench in the fourth quarter, and there's nothing I can do to help my team win.

"So I said I felt alive. It was just great to be out there doing whatever I can to help my team win. And as for the energy part, me and my team-mates can just feed off each other."

Williamson tied his career-high with five assists, as well as contributing seven rebounds, while his 21 field-goal attempts were an indication of a more aggressive approach.

"It was a little bit of both from myself and the coaching staff," Williamson said of taking more shots.

"They were telling me to try to give the team a spark and that's what I was trying to do, give my team a spark, get them going."

New Orleans are 2.5 games back of the Grizzlies, who own the eighth and final playoff spot for the Western Conference.

The Los Angeles Lakers clinched the Western Conference top seed as Anthony Davis erupted, while reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors extinguished the Miami Heat.

Davis led the way for the Western Conference-leading Lakers with 42 points and 12 rebounds in Orlando, Florida on Monday.

LeBron James added 22 points as the Lakers (51-15) – six games ahead of rivals the Los Angeles Clippers in the West – look forward to their first playoff appearance since 2013.

Donovan Mitchell top-scored for the Jazz (42-25) with 33 points at the Walt Disney World Resort.

As for the Raptors, they outlasted Eastern Conference rivals the Heat 107-103 thanks to Fred VanVleet.

VanVleet posted a career-high 36 points and made seven three-pointers for the Raptors, who have won back-to-back games since the league resumed behind closed doors following the coronavirus-enforced break.

The Raptors (48-18) are second in the East amid a six-game winning streak, while the Heat are fourth (42-25).

 

Red-hot Warren stars again, Jokic triple-double

After his career-high 53 points in his team's first game back, T.J. Warren put up 34 points and 11 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Washington Wizards 111-100. Warren had 16 points in the third quarter to spark a 22-2 run. He was 14-for-26 from the field.

A Nikola Jokic triple-double (30 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) and Michael Porter Jr's double-double (37 points, 12 rebounds) fuelled the Denver Nuggets' 121-113 overtime victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

Pelicans struggle from the line

While the New Orleans Pelicans secured a much-needed 109-99 win against the Memphis Grizzlies, they made just 24-of-39 free throws. JJ Redick, a reliable free-throw shooter at 91 per cent, missed back-to-back attempts in the game.

Kendrick Nunn was 0-of-seven from the field and missed all five of his three-point attempts in the Heat's defeat. His two points came via a pair of free throws in 16 minutes of action.

 

Clutch Milton lifts 76ers

With the Philadelphia 76ers trailing 130-128, Shake Milton nailed a three-pointer 6.1 seconds from the end to help his team outlast the San Antonio Spurs 132-130.

Monday's results

Toronto Raptors 107-103 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 111-100 Washington Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers 132-130 San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Lakers 116-108 Utah Jazz
Denver Nuggets 121-113 Oklahoma City Thunder (OT)
New Orleans Pelicans 109-99 Memphis Grizzlies

 

Nets face Bucks

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (54-13) will look to bounce back from their loss to the Houston Rockets when they face the Brooklyn Nets (31-35) on Tuesday. Brooklyn occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Anthony Davis said nailing down top spot in the Western Conference was "a small milestone" for the Los Angeles Lakers after his standout performance against the Utah Jazz.

The seven-time All-Star arrived from New Orleans last year with the motivation to drive the Lakers towards championship contention.

After six years of despair at missing out on the postseason, the Lakers are firing again, with Davis and LeBron James driving them forward.

Davis scored 42 points and had 12 rebounds in a 116-108 win over the Jazz at Walt Disney World Resort, making certain of the top seed in the West.

"It's an honour for the organisation," Davis said. "We haven't made the playoffs for a long time. It's a small milestone in what we're trying to accomplish. We have a long way to go, but we're definitely going to enjoy it.

"No-one knew before the game - players-wise we never talked about it, but to do something like [securing the top seed] has been a long time coming for the Laker Nation.

"We try to be the best version of the team we can be. It's a good feeling.

"Obviously we're not done. We've still got a long way to go, but it's a good accomplishment for our organisation."

The Lakers were last NBA champions in 2010, and their most recent playoff appearance resulted in a first-round sweep by the San Antonio Spurs in 2013.

A tepid showing against the Toronto Raptors in their previous outing last week, resulting in a 107-92 defeat, had the Lakers fired up for their latest game.

"I have to play better basketball than I did to help the team win," Davis said.

"Even though I was making the right plays, I still had to be aggressive.

"I didn't like the way I performed [against Toronto] and we didn't like the way we performed as a team.

“It was a collective effort to come out and be more aggressive, shoot the ball. We shot poor last game but wanted to come out and keep shooting, knowing we're going to find our rhythm.

"Everyone was more aggressive tonight, hence why we got the win. We played a lot better."

Sealing top spot with games to spare allows the Lakers to think about strategy for the playoffs, and could allow coach Frank Vogel to look at his options in the coming fixtures.

As Davis said: "We still want to go out and win every game but we want to sharpen our tools as well."

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Sunday's 132-116 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Isaac dropped to the floor after driving between two defenders and was treated on court before being wheeled away accompanied by Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman.

In a statement released on Sunday, Magic confirmed an MRI scan showed the 22-year-old had torn the ACL in his left knee.

"Isaac will be out indefinitely and his return to the court will depend on how he responds to treatment and rehabilitation," the statement said.

Isaac had only recently recovered from a knee injury sustained on January 1 against the Washington Wizards, when he landed awkwardly and was diagnosed with a "posterior lateral corner injury and medial bone contusion".

It was expected he would miss the remainder of the season, but the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic gave him the chance to recover in time for the restart in Orlando.

"That was tough, man," team-mate Aaron Gordon said, the Magic bench having been clearly downcast despite their resounding victory.

"That one brought me to tears, and instantly, just because I know how good of a guy J.I. is and how hard he works and how hard he has worked to get back since hurting himself in D.C. That was tough."

The Houston Rockets edged the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA on Sunday, while the Boston Celtics also claimed a narrow win.

The Rockets rallied past the Bucks 120-116 on the back of a standout performance from Russell Westbrook at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Westbrook finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while James Harden had 24 points.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 36 points, to go with 18 rebounds and eight assists.

The Celtics claimed their first win since the restart by overcoming the Portland Trail Blazers 128-124.

Jayson Tatum bounced back to form, going 11-of-22- from the field for 34 points.

 

Mavs clinch playoff spot, Morant marvellous

After the Memphis Grizzlies' loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks reached the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16.

They later fell to a 117-115 defeat to the Phoenix Suns despite 40 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds from star Luka Doncic.

Ja Morant had 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, plus nine rebounds and nine assists, in the Grizzlies' 108-106 loss to the Spurs.

 

Johnson struggles

Tyler Johnson missed all seven of his field-goal attempts in the Brooklyn Nets' 118-110 win over the Washington Wizards

 

Markelle magic

Markelle Fultz hit a shot from three-quarter court in the Orlando Magic's win over the Sacramento Kings.

Sunday's results

Brooklyn Nets 118-110 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 128-124 Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs 108-106 Memphis Grizzlies
Orlando Magic 132-116 Sacramento Kings
Houston Rockets 120-116 Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns 117-115 Dallas Mavericks

 

Raptors face Heat

Following a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, defending champions the Toronto Raptors (47-18) face another test when they take on Eastern Conference rivals the Miami Heat (42-24) on Monday.

New Orleans Pelicans sensation Zion Williamson said it is "very tough" to watch his team-mates lose with his minutes restricted.

The Pelicans have lost both of their games since the 2019-20 NBA season resumed on July 30 at Walt Disney World Resort, after the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New Orleans went down to the Utah Jazz on the opening night of the NBA's return before falling to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, with Williamson on restricted minutes due to his interrupted preparation in the Orlando bubble.

Williamson, who made his long-awaited debut in January, had to leave the Walt Disney complex to attend to an "urgent family matter", which led to the number one pick spending four days in quarantine.

Having completed just 29 minutes of basketball through two games since the restart, Williamson told reporters on Sunday: "It's very tough, to be honest, because as soon as I start to break that sweat, I look over and that horn is for me and I have to come out the game.

"Also, when I do catch the flow of the game, like I said, that horn goes off and it's for me."

"It's still fun but I guess, like you said, it's not to that full extent as y'all are used to seeing," Williamson added. "I'm a competitor, I want to stay on the court.

"When I'm coming out of the game, my competitive side of me that I want to stay in. I guess that does affect the fun a little bit, but not too much."

Williamson only played 15 minutes and scored 13 points in the Pelicans' 106-104 defeat to the Jazz, while he featured for just 14 minutes as New Orleans were beaten 126-103 by the Clippers.

On the game against the Clippers, which saw the Pelicans trail by as many as 37 points heading into the final quarter, head coach Alvin Gentry explained his decision not to put Williamson back on the court.

"We definitely would have saw him in that situation," Gentry said when asked if Williamson was set to play the fourth quarter originally.

"Obviously in a 30-point game, I'm not going to stick him back in in those situations even though some people think it would give him an opportunity to be on the floor and play. I just didn't feel like that made sense in that situation."

"We talked to him about that," Gentry said. "You just have to be smart in those situations. Everyone wants to play and play right now. We try to spend time as coaches and medical people trying to let him understand that this is going to be for the best short-term and long-term really."

The Pelicans are 12th in the Western Conference with a 28-38 record, adrift of the eighth-placed Memphis Grizzlies (32-34) in the race for the playoffs.

TJ Warren admitted he had "one of those special nights" as his career-best 53 points led the Indiana Pacers past the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 26-year-old, who had never previously scored more than 40 points in his six-year NBA career, had the hot hand in Orlando, pouring in nine three-pointers to tie a franchise record.

Only three other players had previously scored 50-plus points for the Pacers - Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal and Billy Knight - as Warren made the most of an opportunity afforded to him by some Indiana injuries.

"I play a lot of basketball. When I'm at home with my friends, when I'm playing pickup games, anywhere," Warren said, in quotes reported by ESPN.

"I'm just born to be a hooper so just me coming out here, just playing the way I play and playing my game, being aggressive.

"It doesn't matter the environment, you've just got to come with it every game. Every game I feel anxious and nervous at the same time but it's full of excitement. Tonight was one of those special nights."

While Warren's performance may have raised eyebrows for many outside the Pacers organisation, his team-mates felt such a display was in keeping with the man they see in practice.

"TJ Warren [has] been scoring his whole life. Since his AAU days to NC State," Victor Oladipo added.

"He's been a scorer since as long as I've known him. I've known him for a long time.

"Getting to know him, playing here, he was born to get buckets so it's no surprise to any of us that he was able to do what he did.

"It's great to have him on our team. It was amazing to watch and we're all happy for him. That was incredible. Things like that don't happen often."

LeBron James lavished praised on the Toronto Raptors after the defending champions defeated his Los Angeles Lakers 107-92 on Saturday.

The Lakers, who are leading the way in the Western Conference, lost an 11th straight game in their rivalry with the Raptors as point guard Kyle Lowry scored 33 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds.

Toronto have not lost to the Lakers since November 2014 and, despite losing 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers after their historic 2018-19 campaign, the 47-18 Raptors produced a performance that suggested they will be a serious threat in the postseason once more.

"That's a great team - exceptionally well coached, [with] championship DNA, you can never take that away from a ball club," James told reporters.

"Even before that they've got playoff-tested guys. Guys who played not just here in the NBA in big games but FIBA games as well. Marc [Gasol] has been in big games throughout his whole life it seems like.

"They're just a great team. The media may not talk about them much or give them much credit because Kawhi has gone, but players in the league definitely know what type of team they are.

"They won a championship for a reason. It wasn't just solely because of Kawhi, and obviously you're seeing that.

"They've got the two-headed monster in Fred [VanVleet] and Kyle that set the tone and their wings are extremely good in Pascal [Siakam] and OG [Anunoby].

"They've got experience in the front court, at the center position in Marc and Serge [Ibaka] and then they've got a bunch of complementary guys. They've been the team that they've been all year."

The Lakers shot a season-low 35.4 per cent from the field and went 10-of-40 with their three-point attempts.

"I think for most of the game they double-teamed Anthony [Davis] and LeBron in the post and kind of left a lot of guys open to make some shots," said Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma.

"We just didn't hit shots tonight. We got what we wanted, great shots, open shots. It was tough for us to hit them."

Defending NBA champions the Toronto Raptors were too good for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 107-92 in Orlando on Saturday.

Kyle Lowry posted 33 points and 14 rebounds and team-mate OG Anunoby scored 23 points as the Raptors claimed their 11th consecutive victory over the Lakers.

The Raptors – second in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks – have not lost to the Lakers since 2014-15.

LeBron James' double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds was not enough for Western Conference leaders the Lakers, who are 1-1 since the restart at Walt Disney World Resort.

After scoring 34 points in the Lakers' return, Anthony Davis managed just 14 against the Raptors as the Los Angeles franchise remain one win away from clinching the top seed in the west.

TJ Warren, meanwhile, had a career-high 53 points as the Indiana Pacers resumed their season with a 127-121 win against Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers.

Warren was 20 of 29 from the field and nine of 12 from three-point range in his first game with at least 50 points.

The Pacers (40-26) and 76ers (39-27) had shared identical records prior to Saturday's encounter, but Indiana broke a tie to take control of the Eastern Conference's fifth seed.

 

George stars from beyond the arc

Paul George led the way as the Los Angeles Clippers outclassed the New Orleans Pelicans 126-103. George made eight of 11 three-pointers in a 28-point performance. The All-Star shot three straight from beyond the arc in the opening minutes to set the tone. The Clippers broke the franchise record by making 25 of 47 threes. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers also moved 11th on the NBA's career list for wins after celebrating his 939th victory.

Joel Embiid became the first 76ers player with multiple 40-plus point, 20-plus rebound-games since Charles Barkley. The All-Star finished with 41 points and 21 rebounds against the Pacers.

 

Mitchell struggles as Jazz lose

Donovan Mitchell (13 points) was just five for 15 in the Utah Jazz's 110-94 defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The two teams were meant to meet on March 11 before Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus prior to tip-off. The Jazz shot just 39 per cent from the field.

 

LeBron with the layup

While the Lakers lost, James still provided a number of highlights, including this run to the rim.

 

Saturday's results

Miami Heat 125-105 Denver Nuggets
Oklahoma City Thunder 110-94 Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Clippers 126-103 New Orleans Pelicans
Indiana Pacers 127-121 Philadelphia 76ers
Toronto Raptors 107-92 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Bucks at Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks (54-12) face the Houston Rockets (41-24) on Sunday. Both teams are coming off wins after the restart.

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."

Jonathan Isaac opted not to wear a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt or kneel for the anthem prior to the Orlando Magic's NBA game against the Brooklyn Nets, saying he did not think such acts were "the answer".

The 2019-20 NBA season resumed on Thursday in Florida and players have been wearing 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirts and taking a knee for the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

However, while the rest of his Magic team-mates knelt and wore those t-shirts prior to tip-off against the Nets on Friday, Isaac remained standing in his Orlando jersey.

"I believe that black lives matter," the forward told reporters after Orlando's 128-111 win.

"A lot went into my decision and part of it is my thought that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt don't go hand in hand with supporting black lives.

"And so I felt like, just me personally and what it is that I believe in, standing on a stance that I do believe that black lives matter, but I just felt like it was a decision that I had to make and I didn't feel like putting that shirt on went hand in hand with supporting black lives."

Isaac, who became an ordained minister in March, added: "I don't think that kneeling or putting on a t-shirt for me, personally, is the answer.

"I feel like for me black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel. That we all have things that we do wrong and sometimes it gets into a place of pointing fingers about which wrong is worse."

Later on Friday, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon also stood for the anthem, though both were wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts.

Popovich has frequently spoken out about racial injustice in the past and Spurs star DeMar DeRozan urged others not to "vilify" those who did not kneel.

"Don't take away nothing from those guys," he said.

"You know Pop speaks out. When it comes to Becky, she's been [on the] front line, fighting for equality since I've been a fan of hers playing in the WNBA.

"So everybody has their own right of making a statement and you can't vilify nobody for not doing what the other group is doing. I'm all for it."

Asked why he had not knelt, Popovich replied: "I prefer to keep that to myself.

"Everybody has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about that. Everybody has the freedom to react any way that they want. For whatever reasons that I have, I reacted the way I wanted to."

Marcus Smart accused officials of giving Giannis Antetokounmpo preferential treatment in the Boston Celtics' loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a 119-112 victory in the NBA on Friday, scoring 36 points to go with 15 rebounds.

But there was late controversy, the reigning NBA MVP almost fouling out, only for a charge call to be overturned to a blocking foul against Smart.

Smart believes officials simply did not want to see Antetokounmpo foul out.

"The excuse was I was late on the charge, they said the replay centre said I was late and it was a block," Celtics guard Smart told a news conference.

"But quite frankly I think we all know what that was about, Giannis' sixth foul, didn't want to get him out.

"We'll just call that spade a spade and that's just what it is."

Antetokounmpo was keen to move on from the incident, having exchanged words with Smart during the game.

"I know that he's going to try to attack all the time and try to get me out of my game," the Bucks star said.

"And I respect that he's doing that because he's trying to get me out of my game. I understand it.

"When I sit down and I calm down, I understand what he's trying to do. I don't think he’s a bad person. At the end of the day, that's his opinion.

"I feel like he was moving in the last play, but either way, if it was a charge, if was not a charge, I'm happy that we got the win."

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred in a win for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA on Friday, while the Houston Rockets edged the Dallas Mavericks.

Antetokounmpo's double-double of 36 points and 15 rebounds helped the Bucks past the Boston Celtics 119-112.

The reigning NBA MVP went 14-of-20 from the field in the Bucks' victory.

Marcus Smart scored 23 points off the bench for Boston, while Jaylen Brown contributed 22 points.

James Harden starred with 49 points in the Rockets' 153-149 overtime win against the Dallas Mavericks.

Kristaps Porzingis (39 points and 16 rebounds) led the Mavericks, but they fell short.

 

Fantastic Fournier, Portland trio shine

Evan Fournier went 10-of-15 for 24 points in the Orlando Magic's 128-118 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The Portland Trail Blazers overcame the Memphis Grizzlies 140-135 after overtime thanks to CJ McCollum (33 points), Damian Lillard (29) and Carmelo Anthony (21).

 

Terrible Tatum

Jayson Tatum struggled badly in the Celtics' loss. The forward went two-of-18 from the field for just five points in 32 minutes.

 

Harden's hot start

Harden made a fast start with 23 points in the first quarter for the Rockets.

Friday's results

Orlando Magic 128-118 Brooklyn Nets
Portland Trail Blazers 140-135 Memphis Grizzlies
Phoenix Suns 125-112 Washington Wizards
Milwaukee Bucks 119-112 Boston Celtics
San Antonio Spurs 129-120 Sacramento Kings
Houston Rockets 153-149 Dallas Mavericks

 

Lakers face Raptors

In another battle between two championship contenders, the Los Angeles Lakers (50-14) face the Toronto Raptors (46-18) on Saturday.

Alvin Gentry explained he was simply following medical advice when asked why Zion Williamson was not on the court during the closing stages of the New Orleans Pelicans' loss to the Utah Jazz.

The 2019-20 NBA season restarted on Thursday with a 22-team tournament in Orlando and the Pelicans' defeat left them 4.5 games back from the eighth seed – and the final playoff spot – in the Western Conference with seven to play.

They were leading by four points when Williamson exited midway through the fourth quarter and the rookie sensation – who scored 13 points in 15 minutes – did not return down the stretch.

Williamson, whose much-anticipated debut campaign in the NBA was delayed until January by a knee injury, had to leave the NBA's 'bubble' in Orlando to attend to an "urgent family matter", only returning last Friday, at which point he had to quarantine for four days.

"Of course, we wish we could've played him down the stretch, but we used the minutes that were given to us and that's the way it is," coach Gentry said, according to ESPN.

"We weren't going to stick him back out there. The medical people said we played them in the minutes that were allowed for us to play him, and just move on.

"I thought he looked good, I thought he had some good moments, and obviously we're a much better and different team when he's out on the floor.

"I was told the minutes that he could play, and that's what I did."

Williamson, who missed the first 43 games of the season following knee surgery, explained that it was a case of finding his rhythm again as he went 6-for-8 shooting.

The rookie said: "They weren't holding me back.

"Yeah, I did want to be out there, but we're just working my way back into my flow. That's all it is."

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