Nikola Jokic has become a more aggressive scorer because he was beaten with a pillowcase full of soda cans by Mike Malone, the Denver Nuggets coach joked.

Nuggets center Jokic had 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in three quarters as Denver cruised to a 119-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old has had at least a double-double in each of his 14 games this season and is averaging a triple-double of 25.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10 assists – all of which represent career highs.

Jokic's best scoring season was 2018-19 when he averaged 20.1 points per game, and Malone gave a light-hearted response when asked what has motivated the Serbian to become more prolific.

He replied: "I locked him in my office one day and I beat him with a pillowcase full of soda cans and I said: 'You've got to score more!'"

In a far more serious tone, Malone continued: "You know how he is, he's a great player, he's playing at an MVP level. You go back to tonight, 27, 12 and six, only one turnover.

"Early on they were playing him one-on-one, and sometimes I get frustrated because I don't think we give him the ball enough, especially when he's being guarded one-on-one.

"Nikola has seen every possible double-team, and so have we as a team. We space the floor correctly and he is so willing to find the open man, and we had great possessions against the double-team.

"He's always going to take what the defense gives him but he is being more aggressive, which is what we need from him."

The Nuggets are 10-2 against the Thunder since 2017-18, their best record against any Western Conference opponent in that span.

Denver's latest victory saw them improve to 7-7 on the season, but they are yet to hold a winning record this season after never being .500 or worse after their first game in the previous campaign.

Nikola Jokic enhanced his MVP credentials with another double-double in the NBA as the Denver Nuggets eased past the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-101.

Two-time All-Star Jokic led the Nuggets with a game-high 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in just three quarters on Tuesday.

Jokic – averaging a triple-double in 2020-21 – has posted a double-double in every game he has played for the Nuggets this season, a league-high 14.

The Nuggets outscored the Thunder 66-43 in the second and third quarters to win for the second time in three games, with team-mate Paul Millsap also putting up a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Luguentz Dort had 20 points on eight-of-11 shooting for the visiting Thunder in Denver.

The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, stayed hot with a 118-102 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Jazz to their sixth successive win.

Rudy Gobert (13 points and 18 rebounds) and Jordan Clarkson (18 points) also made contributions for the in-form Jazz.

Zion Williamson's game-high 32 points were not enough for the Pelicans, who have dropped six of their past seven games.

 

Nets at Cavaliers

James Harden, Kevin Durant and the star-studded Brooklyn Nets (9-6) will look to stay hot when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (6-7) on Wednesday.

It was far from business as usual in the NBA again last week.

A total of 11 games were postponed due to stringent COVID-19 protocols, making it tough for some players and teams to find their rhythm early in the season.

Others have taken full advantage of opportunities presented to them by teams having to go deep into their rosters in order to fulfil fixtures.

We take a look at the players who had the biggest increases and decreases in production over the previous week.

 

RUNNING HOT…

Shake Milton

The Philadelphie 76ers have seen their roster badly affected by COVID-19 protocols and results over the past week have been a little patchy as a result – a pair of wins over the Miami Heat ended a run of three straight defeats but were followed by a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. One who man stepped up, though, was Milton, who was averaging 14.1 points per game up to January 10. Last week he averaged 29.5 – a difference of 15.4, the highest in the league. 

Duncan Robinson

Last season's beaten finalists the Heat are in somewhat of a rut having lost four of their past five to slip to 4-7 for the season. Robinson has done his best to help reverse the fortunes, though, having averaged 23.3 points last week – his improvement of 12.1 from his average at January 10 was second only to Milton. Part of the improvement can be attributed to his prowess from three-point range over with Robinson averaging five per game, compared to 3.1 for the season prior to the week. Team-mate Tyler Herro has also impressed – averaging 25.5 points per game for the week, a +9.9 difference to his average leading into it.

Bruce Brown

With the Brooklyn Nets trading away Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs – as well as a ton of picks – to acquire James Harden, Brown received greater minutes in Steve Nash's rotation. He shot 8-of-11 from the field for 16 points in a win over the Denver Nuggets and had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds against the New York Knicks the following day. However, when Kyrie Irving returns, Brown can expect to see a significant reduction in his time on the floor.

Luka Doncic

The Dallas Mavericks star started to find his range from three over the past week, going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc against the Charlotte Hornets and 6-of-11 versus the Chicago Bulls. He averaged four three-point makes per game last week, a significant improvement on his figure of 1.63 on the season he went in with. Doncic also had 16 rebounds and 15 assists against the Bulls to record his 29th triple-double, surpassing the legendary Michael Jordan on the all-time list. However, he ended up on the losing side against Chicago and blamed himself: "That's on me, that game. I was being selfish a little bit because I had 30 points in the first half. That wasn't me in the second half."

GOING COLD...

Fred VanVleet

Four years after going undrafted, VanVleet was rewarded for his role in the Raptors' recent success as he signed a four-year, $85million deal to stay with Toronto ahead of this season. His performances have not yet justified that outlay, however, and the past week was a particularly disappointing one. The struggling Raptors actually enjoyed a minor upturn in form, winning back-to-back games against the Hornets to improve to 4-8, but VanVleet scored just 14 points per game, 8.1 down on his prior season average of 22.1. There was at least some solace in a first double-double of the season as he stacked up 10 assists in the second Hornets game.

Kevin Huerter and De'Andre Hunter

It was not a good week for the Atlanta Hawks, their shock 3-0 start long since forgotten. Three Atlanta players were at least 6.0 points down on their prior scoring average for the year, yet it was the decline in three-point shooting that really stood out. Huerter and Hunter had each impressed from beyond the arc in the early weeks of the campaign, making 2.4 and 2.1 threes per game respectively. But a remarkable drop-off saw both make just two across three games - two of which were defeats - to each average 0.7. It meant the team as a whole made just five threes in the loss to the Utah Jazz and six as they went down to the Portland Trail Blazers.

George Hill

The Oklahoma City Thunder again traded assets for picks ahead of this season but have still managed to operate at .500 so far, beating the Bulls after defeats to the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Hill's outstanding early form is showing signs of tailing off. A new arrival this year, the 34-year-old point guard was outperforming his career average of 1.2 threes made per game heading into the week (1.9) but did not make a single one of his seven attempts from beyond the arc against the Spurs, Lakers or Bulls.

Terrence Ross

After a strong start to the season with the Orlando Magic, Ross went into last week averaging 17.9 points and 2.44 three-pointers made per game. However, in meetings with the Nets, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, he shot 3-of-15 from beyond the arc – an average of just one make per game. It's therefore unsurprising he also suffered one of the biggest decreases in points per game to 11, with 23 of his 33 total points coming against Brooklyn.

The Philadelphia 76ers-Oklahoma City Thunder matchup has been postponed due to ongoing coronavirus contact tracing, the NBA announced.

Philadelphia (9-5) and Oklahoma City (6-6) were scheduled to meet at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, but the 76ers did not have the required eight players available because of contact tracing with the team.

It comes after Memphis Grizzlies star Jonas Valanciunas entered the NBA's health and safety protocols ahead of Monday's game against the Phoenix Suns, having upstaged the 76ers on Saturday.

The 76ers and their depth have been tested since Seth Curry contracted COVID-19 on January 7.

Philadelphia were still forced to face the Denver Nuggets with eight players on January 9, though Mike Scott did not take to the floor due to injury.

Doc Rivers and the 76ers – who are scheduled to play Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and Friday – used just nine players in the 106-104 defeat at the Grizzlies.

The Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a victory in the NBA, while the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics also extended their winning streaks.

LeBron James had a double-double of 21 points and 11 assists as the Lakers recorded a comfortable 112-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Kyle Kuzma contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, while Anthony Davis struggled from the field, shooting five-of-16 for his 17 points.

Pelicans star Zion Williamson finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but the Lakers extended their winning streak to five.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 31 points and nine rebounds helped the Bucks overcome the Dallas Mavericks 112-109.

Luka Doncic fell just short of a triple-double, contributing 28 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in the Mavericks' loss.

The Bucks (9-4) have won four straight to sit behind the Celtics (8-3) in the Eastern Conference.

Brown leads returning Celtics, Drummond stars

Jaylen Brown had 21 points and eight assists in the Celtics' 124-97 win over the Orlando Magic. It was Boston's first game in a week.

A huge double-double of 33 points and 23 rebounds from Andre Drummond saw the Cleveland Cavaliers edge the New York Knicks 106-103.

The Los Angeles Clippers thrashed the Sacramento Kings 138-100 thanks to 27 points, six assists and four rebounds from Kawhi Leonard.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted 33 points and 10 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 127-125 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Bulls' narrow losses continue

The Bulls are on a four-game losing streak, with those defeats coming by four, two, three and two points. It is the first time in team history they have lost four in a row with each loss by four points or fewer, as per Stats Perform. The last team with a streak that long was the Washington Wizards in 2009 (six straight).

 

Drummond dynamite

Drummond produced a huge performance for the Cavs. He was 10-of-18 from the field and 16 of his 23 rebounds were on the defensive end.

Friday's results

Boston Celtics 124-97 Orlando Magic
Cleveland Cavaliers 106-103 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 112-109 Dallas Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder 127-125 Chicago Bulls
Utah Jazz 116-92 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Lakers 112-95 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Clippers 138-100 Sacramento Kings

 

Magic at Nets

James Harden is set to make his debut for the Brooklyn Nets (7-6) against the Orlando Magic (6-6) on Saturday. Harden's trade from the Houston Rockets to the Nets was confirmed on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Lakers set a franchise record after winning again on the road, while Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic made NBA history.

LeBron James posted 26 points and defending champions the Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-99 on Wednesday.

The streaking Lakers (10-3), who have won four successive games, improved to 7-0 away from home this season – surpassing the 1985-86 team for the best start on the road.

James has had at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in all 13 games this season. In the last 30 years, the only NBA player to have a longer streak of 15/five/five games to start a season was James himself in 2011-12 (22 straight), according to Stats Perform.

Lakers team-mate Montrezl Harrell had 21 points, while Anthony Davis put up 18 points and seven rebounds in Oklahoma City midweek.

Doncic became the first player in NBA history to post 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks, two steals and five threes made, per Stats Perform.

The Mavericks went on to win 104-93 and snap the Charlotte Hornets' four-game winning streak.

Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis returned from a knee injury and scored 16 points in his first appearance since undergoing surgery in October.

 

Red-hot Giannis fuels Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo's triple-double guided the Milwaukee Bucks past the Detroit Pistons 110-101. The two-time reigning MVP finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his 20th career triple-double.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum put on a show as the Portland Trail Blazers prevailed 132-126 against the Sacramento Kings. Lillard (40 points and 13 assists) and McCollum (28 points and 10 assists) became the first team-mate duo in NBA history to have 25-plus points, 10-plus assists and five-plus three-pointers made in the same game, per Stats Perform. They are also the first duo in the NBA to have 25-plus points, 10-plus assists and one or fewer turnovers in the same game since 1987.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker starred with 37 points, but the New Orleans Pelicans still lost 111-106 to the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi Leonard (28) and Paul George (27) combined for 55 points in the Clippers' win.

The Memphis Grizzlies topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-107 behind Jonas Valanciunas' 24 points and 16 rebounds.

 

Knicks duo struggle

The New York Knicks did not get much support from their two starting point guards in a 116-109 loss to city rivals the Brooklyn Nets. Austin Rivers was three-of-10 shooting from the field and two-of-five from three-point range for eight points in 34 minutes. Elfrid Peyton was just three of 11 from the field, while making just one of three-point attempts as he finished with seven points in 33 minutes.

 

Nurkic says no!

There was no way past Jusuf Nurkic as the Trail Blazers big man denied Glenn Robinson III in the fourth quarter.

 

Wednesday's results

Dallas Mavericks 104-93 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 110-101 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 116-109 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 118-107 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Lakers 128-99 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 111-106 New Orleans Pelicans
Portland Trail Blazers 132-126 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards (postponed)
Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics (postponed)
Atlanta Hawks-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Rockets at Spurs

As James Harden reportedly heads to the Nets, the Houston Rockets (3-6) will look to cast the chaos aside when they face the San Antonio Spurs (6-5) on the road on Thursday.

Joel Embiid was the headline act as the Philadelphia 76ers held on to beat the Miami Heat 137-134 in overtime, while NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers won again.

Embiid went berserk with a 45-point, 16-rebound double-double, and a career-high five steals and four assists, in a dominant performance to help the 76ers past the shorthanded Heat in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The three-time All-Star had 10 points in the first half before carrying the 76ers with a stellar third quarter and clutch buckets in OT against the Heat, who were missing the likes of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

Embiid sent the game into overtime with a pull-up jumper 4.3 seconds from the end in the fourth period, while Dakota Mathias' only basket of the game – a go-ahead three-pointer with 26.1 seconds remaining – ensured the 76ers prevailed.

Philadelphia's Embiid became the first 76ers player with 45 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists in a game in franchise history since 1973-74, while he became the first NBA player with those stats since 1983-84.

In Houston, LeBron James starred as the in-form Lakers took down the Rockets for the second time in three days, winning 117-100.

James posted a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists to help the Lakers improve to 9-3 atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Davis contributed 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Lakers.

 

Green sets career high

Danny Green had a game to remember for the 76ers. He set a new career high with nine three-pointers against the Heat. It also tied a franchise record for the most three-pointers in a game, joining Dana Barros in 1995. The two-time NBA champion finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant flexed his muscles again, scoring 34 points, tallying 13 assists and grabbing nine rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets trumped the Denver Nuggets 122-116. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets.

 

Harden – out of shape and out of sorts

James Harden's uninspiring start to the season continued amid ongoing trade rumours. The former MVP – looking out of shape – made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes.

Rudy Gobert got paid in the offseason, signing a stunning contract in excess of $200million. He was far from convincing in the Utah Jazz's 117-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the 2020 All-Star collected 10 rebounds, he finished with just four points on two-of-seven shooting from the field in 25 minutes. Gobert also had two turnovers.

 

LeBron trolls Rockets

As a four-time champion and NBA MVP, James has faith in his ability. The Lakers superstar took it to another level when he nailed a no-look three-pointer against the Rockets.

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 137-134 Miami Heat (OT)
Brooklyn Nets 122-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 117-87 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-100 Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs 112-102 Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers 104-95 Golden State Warriors
Boston Celtics-Chicago Bulls (postponed)

 

Nets at Knicks

Bragging rights will be on the line when the New York Knicks (5-6) host city rivals the Brooklyn Nets (6-6) on Wednesday.

Anthony Davis led the way as defending NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers continued their fine form with a 120-102 win over James Harden's Houston Rockets.

Davis, who sat out on Friday due to a groin strain, returned to score 27 points in Sunday's victory against the Rockets in Houston.

LeBron James posted 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds as the Lakers won for the sixth time in seven games.

"[Tonight] was just A.D. being A.D. and just having him back in the line-up gives us a whole other dynamic both offensively and defensively," James said after the Lakers led by as many as 27 points.

Former MVP Harden finished with 20 points, while Rockets team-mate Christian Wood had 23 of his own.

It was a feisty game in Houston, where the Lakers' Markieff Morris and Rockets big man DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected in the opening half, while there were also five technical fouls and two flagrant fouls.

Kawhi Leonard reached a milestone after the Los Angeles Clippers held on to beat the Chicago Bulls 130-127.

Clippers star Leonard put up a season-high 35 points, including seven three-pointers, four assists and three steals to reach 10,000 career points.

Paul George contributed 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers, who snapped a run of back-to-back losses.

The Bulls were led by Zach LaVine's season-high 45 points away to the Clippers in Los Angeles.

 

Durant stars on return

Back on the court following a three-game absence, Kevin Durant scored 36 points and collected 11 rebounds, but the slumping Brooklyn Nets still lost 129-116 at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander inspired the Thunder with 31 points.

Julius Randle's double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds was not enough to lift the New York Knicks, who went down 114-89 to the Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic (22 points and 10 rebounds) propelled the Nuggets with a double-double of his own.

 

Curry struggles

While the Golden State Warriors trumped the struggling Toronto Raptors 106-105, Stephen Curry was uncharacteristically poor. Curry was just two-of-16 from the field, while he made only one of his 10 three-point attempts for 11 points in 38 minutes.

 

LeBron, the sniper!

James produced a moment of magic to unleash Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a stunning left-handed pass from deep.

Sunday's results

Utah Jazz 96-86 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Clippers 130-127 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 129-116 Brooklyn Nets
Denver Nuggets 114-89 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 120-102 Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves 96-88 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 106-105 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat-Boston Celtics (postponed)

 

76ers at Hawks

The high-flying Philadelphia 76ers (7-3) visit the Atlanta Hawks (4-5) on Monday. Doc Rivers and the 76ers are set to welcome back All-Star Joel Embiid, but Ben Simmons is expected to miss out after a depleted Philadelphia side – ravaged by coronavirus and injuries – lost to the Nuggets.

LaMelo Ball created history in the Charlotte Hornets’ 113-105 win against the Atlanta Hawks by becoming the youngster player of all time to score a triple-double.

The first round rookie announced his arrival in the NBA after coming off the bench to post 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a dazzling 31 minutes on court.

Terry Rozier added 23 points and PJ Washington posted 22 points to help Charlotte improve to 5-5 as the Hawks rallied with De'Andre Hunter scoring 20 points but fall to to 4-5.

Mikal Bridges starred and six players hit double figures as the Phoenix Suns advanced to 7-3 in the Western Conference with a 125-117 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Bridges led the scoring with a career-high 34 points as the Pacers fell to 6-3 in the Eastern Conference despite Domantas Sabonis' 28 points and 22 rebounds.

Earlier in the day, a threadbare Philadelphia 76ers fell to 7-3 after losing 115-113 to the Denver Nuggets as coach Doc Rivers had only seven players available due injury and COVID-19 protocols.

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors past the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, while the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back.

Curry's fine start to the NBA season continued in the Warriors' 115-105 win over the Clippers.

The guard had a double-double of 38 points and 11 assists as the Warriors (5-4) responded to their loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

Curry was 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-14 from three-point range in the win.

Paul George (25) and Kawhi Leonard (24) combined for 49 points for the Clippers, but they slipped to 6-4.

The Lakers bounced back from their loss to the San Antonio Spurs by overcoming the Chicago Bulls 117-115.

LeBron James' 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists led the Lakers, who were without Anthony Davis (strained adductor).

Zach LaVine finished with 38 points for the Bulls.

 

Bucks fall despite Giannis' display, Celtics win

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but the Milwaukee Bucks went down to the Utah Jazz 131-118.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz, posting 32 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown continued his good form with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds in the Boston Celtics' 116-107 win over the Washington Wizards. Brown and Jayson Tatum (32 points) became the third pair of team-mates in the past 20 seasons to each record 250-plus points in their team's first 10 games, joining Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant (2001-02) and Curry and Kevin Durant (three times).

The Wizards slumped to 2-7 despite Bradley Beal's 41 points.

Caris LeVert exploded for 43 points, but the Brooklyn Nets – without Durant and Kyrie Irving – were edged by the Memphis Grizzlies 115-110.

 

Magic misery

The Orlando Magic have made a good start to the season, but they shot at just 38.2 per cent in a 132-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. Orlando are now 6-3.

 

Brotherly battle

LaMelo and Lonzo Ball did battle on Friday. LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 118-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Friday's results

Detroit Pistons 110-105 Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics 116-107 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 118-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 101-89 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 132-90 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 115-110 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 131-118 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 144-123 Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors 115-105 Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-115 Chicago Bulls

 

Cavaliers at Bucks

The Bucks (5-4) will look to bounce back when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-4) on Saturday.

The Boston Celtics edged the Miami Heat in the NBA on Wednesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks claimed their third straight win.

In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics overcame the Heat 107-105 in Miami.

Jayson Tatum (27 points) and Jaylen Brown (21 points and 12 rebounds) led the Celtics (6-3) to their win.

But Payton Pritchard (six points) made the decisive lay-up with 0.2 seconds remaining to secure the win.

The teams kneeled in protest ahead of the clash, in response to a riot on Capitol Hill and after no charges were brought against the police officer who shot and seriously injured Jacob Blake, a black man, in Kenosha in August last year.

Meanwhile, the Bucks made it three straight wins by easing past the Detroit Pistons 130-115.

Giannis Antetokounmpo guided Milwaukee into a 5-3 record with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

 

Hayward heroic, Beal brilliance not enough for Wizards

Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 44 points to see the Charlotte Hornets past the Atlanta Hawks 102-94.

Bradley Beal equalled a Washington Wizards record, but it was not enough. Beal tied the franchise record with 60 points in a 141-136 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Joel Embiid once again inspired the 76ers, scoring 38 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists as they improved to 7-1.

A 35-point haul from Malcolm Brogdon helped the Indiana Pacers beat the Houston Rockets 114-107.

 

Curry cools off

After 92 points in the previous two games, Stephen Curry cooled off. He went five-of-17 from the field for 13 points in 35 minutes as the Golden State Warriors fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 108-101.

 

Beal ties record

Beal was in spectacular form for the Wizards. He equalled Gilbert Arenas' record of 60 points for the Wizards against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006.

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 114-107 Houston Rockets
Orlando Magic 105-94 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 141-136 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 102-94 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 107-105 Miami Heat
New York Knicks 112-100 Utah Jazz
Milwaukee Bucks 130-115 Detroit Pistons
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Phoenix Suns 123-115 Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Clippers 108-101 Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings 128-124 Chicago Bulls

 

76ers at Nets

The 76ers will look to continue their good start to the season when they take on the Brooklyn Nets (4-4). The Nets will again be without star Kevin Durant, who is in quarantine.

Seven players hit double figures as the Philadelphia 76ers surged to 6-1 while Malcolm Brogdon landed an overtime winner as the Indiana Pacers take up chase in the East.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia remain ahead of the pack after a second-quarter flurry helped to sink the Charlotte Hornets, 118-101, with Tobias Harris leading the scoring on 22 points.

Joel Embiid (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (12 points and 10 rebounds) played key supporting roles with double-doubles as the 76ers continue to fly high.

Indiana improved to 5-2 in a 118-116 thriller against the New Orleans Pelicans after Brogdon capped his double-double with the clutch OT winner, while Victor Oladipo top scored for the Pacers with 25 points.

In-form Pelicans duo Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson combined for 55 points in the loss, as Ingram scored 31 and Williamson recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Orlando also stayed in the hunt for top spot as Aaron Gordon (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (23 points) inspired the Magic to move to 5-3 with a 103-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Malcolm Brogdon hits the game-winning floater in OT as the @Pacers pick up their 5th W of the season!

Brogdon: 21 PTS, 7 REB, 11 AST
Victor Oladipo: 25 PTS, 6 AST
Brandon Ingram: 31 PTS, 8 AST
Zion Williamson: 24 PTS, 10 REB pic.twitter.com/XfWbcMXemJ

— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2021


Doncic, Giannis go off as Mavs and Bucks win

Luka Doncic dominated with 33 points and a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks ended the Houston Rockets’ winning streak with a 113-100 win.

Doncic added 16 rebounds and 11 assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr shot for 30 points to boost the Mavs. Houston's Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and a returning James Harden all put up more than 20 points.

The NBA is back! A shortened schedule, a new play-in tournament and increased roster sizes have created plenty of interest in a new season.

A December start seems to have caught a few of the potential title hopefuls a little cold, though it is still early days. The key is not about starting fast, but finishing strong.

Still, some have hit the ground running. Each week, Stats Perform will take a look at the players who are impressing, as well as those seemingly stuck in a bit of a slump.

For this opening edition, however, all statistical comparisons are made to performances on average across the entire 2019-20 season.
 

RUNNING HOT... 

Stephen Curry (32.3ppg versus 20.8ppg) 

Scoring 62 points in a game sure helps to boost the average. Curry actually started out a little slowly – hardly a surprise considering injury meant he played just five games in the previous campaign – as he made only 13 of his combined 48 field goal attempts in defeats to the Nets and Bucks. However, Curry was certainly cooking against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, hitting eight three-pointers as he posted a new career-high points total. So far in this season, he is making 4.3 three-pointers per outing. 

Christian Wood (23.8ppg versus 13.1ppg) 

These are uncertain times in Houston, where James Harden seemingly no longer wants to be. While his future remains the headline story for the franchise, Christian Wood has quickly shown why he was such an astute signing. Having gone undrafted out of college, the 25-year-old flashed potential with the Detroit Pistons in 2019-20, tempting the Rockets to sign him to a three-year, $41million deal. Their reward? Wood has averaged 23.8 points while playing 36.5 minutes for a team that boasts a 2-2 record through four games. 

Kyle Anderson (16.7ppg versus 5.8ppg) 

Opportunity knocks for Anderson in Memphis due to the absence of Jaren Jackson Jr with a knee issue. The forward's minutes on court have risen as a result – and so, too, has his production. Having never averaged in double digits for points for his previous six seasons in the NBA, Anderson is now up at 16.7 per game for the Grizzlies. Ja Morant was, less surprisingly, on the rise in terms of his scoring output as well, up at 26.3 points per game before suffering an ankle injury. 

Luguentz Dort (14.6ppg versus 6.8ppg) 

Someone has to score points for Oklahoma, right? GM Sam Presti is clearly in it for the long haul in terms of a rebuild, considering the number of moves made in the offseason and draft picks now owned by the team. Still, Dort remains on the roster and has stepped up to accept greater responsibility. The Canadian has raised his successful three-point attempts from an average of 0.8 to 2.4 a game, shooting an impressive 44.4 per cent from deep. Team-mate Isaiah Roby is another to catch the eye for the Thunder, averaging 13 points and 6.5 total rebounds.


GOING COLD...

Devonte' Graham (9.0ppg versus 18.2ppg)

The moment Charlotte selected fellow point guard LaMelo Ball with the third pick in the draft, Graham was under pressure. He retained his starting job in the Hornets' backcourt but the pressure is mounting now, considering the form of both players. While Ball seems to be a quick learner after some preseason concerns, his teammate has struggled. Graham is at just nine points per game - half his average from the previous season. His three-point shooting has dipped to 2.0 made per outing from 3.5. He forced himself off the bench and into the rotation for the Hornets last year, yet could soon find himself moving in the opposite direction.

Jimmy Butler (8.3ppg versus 19.9ppg)

There are reasons behind the five-time NBA All-Star's sluggish start. Butler has featured in just three games so far - and one of those he only played in the first half, with an ankle issue keeping him off the court for the remainder of the clash with the Pelicans. He averaged 19.9 per game for a Heat team that made it all the way to the Finals last term. The early going has seen an 11.6-point decrease in his scoring output, though expect that to rise as the weeks progress.

Kelly Oubre Jr. (9.7ppg versus 18.7ppg)

Oubre was on the merry-go-round headlined by Chris Paul going from Oklahoma to Phoenix. His form last season with the Suns was not enough for the Thunder to keep him around, though, as they dealt him to Golden State. It has not been plain sailing with the Warriors; while not required to contribute quite so much on offense for his new team, the concern is his three-point shooting. Having made 1.9 on average per game last season, Oubre's been successful with two of his 30 attempts so far. The early report card for him reads as such: Must do better.

Ben Simmons led the way with his 29th career triple-double as the Philadelphia 76ers claimed top spot in the NBA Eastern Conference with a 127-122 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Simmons dropped 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Philly opened up a 15-point first quarter lead and never looked back to go 5-1.

Joel Embiid contributed with a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Tobias Harris top scored with 24 points as the 76ers claimed a third straight victory.

Ben Simmons (15 PTS, 12 REB, 11 AST) puts up a triple-double as the @sixers move to 5-1!

Tobias Harris: 24 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST, 4 STL, 3 BLK
Seth Curry: 21 PTS (8-11 FGM), 6 AST
Joel Embiid: 19 PTS, 14 REB
Terry Rozier: 35 PTS, 7 3PM pic.twitter.com/ZgvqSUC9kp

— NBA (@NBA) January 3, 2021

The Atlanta Hawks (4-2) fell off the pace in the East following a 96-91 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers as Colin Sexton scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to snatch the win. 

John Wall led the scoring with 28 points as the Houston Rockets made it back-to-back triumphs against the Sacramento Kings, 102-98, in Texas.

Christian Wood posted a double-double with 15 rebounds and 20 points as the Rockets improved from 0-2 to 2-2 since Wall’s arrival, while James Harden was sidelined with an ankle injury.

Big scorers come up short for Magic, Pacers

Nikola Vucevic dazzled, putting up 30 points and 13 rebounds, but it was not enough to prevent the Orlando Magic slipping to 4-2 after a 108-99 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Six OKC players hit double-figures in an all-round team effort as Darius Bazley top scored with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

John Wall impressed on his Houston Rockets debut, while the Philadelphia 76ers' fine start to the NBA season continued.

In his first regular-season appearance since December 2018, Wall helped the Rockets to their first win of the season with a 122-119 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

Wall posted 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds on his Rockets debut after being traded from the Washington Wizards at the start of December.

James Harden again starred, finishing with 33 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

The 76ers improved to 4-1 and handed Orlando their first loss of the season, beating the Magic 116-92.

Joel Embiid was seven-of-11 from the field for 21 points, while he also pulled down nine rebounds.

 

Westbrook's Wizards fall again as Booker shines

Russell Westbrook posted another triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but the Washington Wizards dropped to 0-5 after a 133-130 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to open a season with four triple-doubles in their first four games.

Thomas Bryant had 28 points for the Wizards after going 10-of-11 from the field.

Devin Booker's game-high 25 points helped the Phoenix Suns past the Utah Jazz 106-95. The Suns are 4-1.

Domantas Sabonis had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds in the Indiana Pacers' 119-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sabonis has posted at least a double-double in all five of his games this season.

 

Terrible Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder shot at just 37.5 per cent from the field in a 113-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Harden, Wall power Rockets

Harden and Wall finished with 55 points and 17 assists between them against the Kings.

Thursday's results

Indiana Pacers 119-99 Cleveland Cavaliers
Chicago Bulls 133-130 Washington Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers 116-92 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 122-119 Sacramento Kings
Toronto Raptors 100-83 New York Knicks
New Orleans Pelicans 113-80 Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns 106-95 Utah Jazz

 

Lakers at Spurs

The Los Angeles Lakers (3-2) and San Antonio Spurs (2-2) will meet again on Friday. LeBron James powered the Lakers to a win over San Antonio on Wednesday.

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