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."

Houston Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook was on Wednesday cleared to practice for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19.

Westbrook arrived at the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida on Monday following two negative tests after announcing last week he had contracted the virus. 

"First of all, I'm just thankful and blessed to be able to go out and compete again," the 2017 MVP said while wearing a mask before Wednesday's practice.

"But, just quarantining at home, trying to be productive, obviously not able to get on the basketball floor, but finding ways to kind of stay active and do as much conditioning as I can probably do as far as that." 

Westbrook said he was in good shape before needing to quarantine, and his only symptom was a stuffy nose. 

Although he was able to still do some exercise while self-isolating, the nine-time All-Star urged everyone to take the proper safety precautions to protect themselves against the virus. 

"I'm not a doctor nor a specialist, but I do know that it's definitely something to take very seriously," he said. "To understand that wearing a mask can be [the difference] between life or death honestly ... there are people dying from this virus each and every day and it's something that we all need to take very, very seriously." 

In his first season with Houston after arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 31-year-old Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists prior the league being halted. 

The Rockets will resume their season against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31 and play their first exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. 

It is possible Westbrook could play in the first scrimmage if he and the team's medical staff determine he is healthy enough. 

Shaking off the rust, however, is Westbrook's top priority at the moment. 

"I have to see if I can make a layup at this point," he joked. "I got to start there and work my way from there."

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni is hopeful Russell Westbrook will be ready to play after joining his team-mates in the NBA bubble following his coronavirus diagnosis.

Westbrook tested positive for COVID-19 last week prior to Houston's departure for Orlando, where the 2019-20 season will resume via a 22-team format on July 30 after the league was halted in March due to the coronavirus crisis.

The 2017 MVP travelled to Walt Disney Resort on Monday, with the Rockets scheduled to restart their campaign against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31.

While Friday's scrimmage against defending champions the Toronto Raptors might be too soon for Westbrook, D'Antoni is confident the nine-time All-Star will be up to speed for the Mavericks clash.

"I do expect that once he clears everything that he'll be ready to go five-on-five and all that," D'Antoni said.

"I would think Friday might be a little early. That'll be up to the medical staff and Russell himself and see how he feels in the days before.

"Hopefully, he'll get in a couple of scrimmages and then be ready for us to play."

Westbrook – in his first season with the Rockets after arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder – was averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game prior the league's suspension.

D'Antoni added: "Any time you miss a key piece like that, it makes it a little bit more difficult, but I know he'll be ready. So on one side, we're just anxious to get him.

"It'll give everybody a little pep in their step, but there was no doubt before. The energy has been great. These guys have been practicing hard, so it's just one step closer to being whole. We can get him in there and work on a couple of things and get ready."

The Rockets are sixth in the Western Conference with a 40-24 record, nine and a half games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and five and a half adrift of the second-placed Los Angeles Clippers.

Russell Westbrook tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Houston Rockets' departure for Orlando, the former NBA MVP has revealed. 

Westbrook will join up with his team-mates for the resumption of the NBA season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida after a period of self-isolation. 

"I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my team's departure to Orlando," he wrote in a statement posted on social media. 

"I'm currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to re-joining my team-mates when I am cleared. 

"Thank you for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!" 

The league was suspended on March 11 amid the coronavirus pandemic but will continue from July 30 at its bubble site near Orlando, with all players being tested before travelling. 

Players returned to team facilities in June and were tested for COVID-19, with Nikola Jokic, DeAndre Jordan, Malcolm Brogdon and Jabari Parker among those to have contracted the virus. 

Figures released by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on July 2 said 25 of the 351 players tested between June 23-29 had returned positive results. It added that of the 884 staff members checked, there were 10 confirmed coronavirus cases. 

The Rockets will resume their campaign against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31.

Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, 7.0 assists and 8.0 rebounds for Houston - who acquired the 31-year-old via a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year - when the season was halted.

Russell Westbrook said it was "extremely humbling" to donate meals to healthcare workers fighting coronavirus at his local hospital.

Nurses at the intensive care and COVID units at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital were treated to meals from Los Angeles restaurant The Nice Guy.

Westbrook was born in Long Beach, California and played college basketball at UCLA before entering the NBA in 2008.

The 31-year-old, who was traded to the Houston Rockets before the 2019-20 season, has gone on to be named to nine All-Star Games and was voted the 2017 NBA MVP while with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Alongside an Instagram photo with the meals and nurses, Westbrook wrote: "Last night I helped provide meals to the nurses in the ICU & COVID Units at my hometown hospital, MLK Community Hospital.

"Extremely humbling to be able to do this and we appreciate all your hard work during this time. Thank you for all that you do!"

There have been over 1.6million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, where more than 97,000 people have died.

 
 
 
 
 

When he was a child, Russell Westbrook passed up the chance to meet Michael Jordan because he was too busy playing basketball.

Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, with whom he won six NBA championships, are back in public focus due to the new 10-part documentary 'The Last Dance'.

Houston Rockets guard Westbrook attended one of Jordan's basketball camps in his formative years and detailed how he snubbed the five-time NBA MVP.

"The first time I had an opportunity to meet Michael Jordan… I probably was about 10 or 11. I went to a Michael Jordan camp. My parents sent me to his camp in Santa Barbara," Westbrook told NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"At the end of the camp, usually every kid on every team brings something for Michael Jordan to sign. You need to stand in line and be ready to go.

"When my team was up to get a basketball signed — my parents gave me a basketball to get signed — I don't know why, I don't know what I was thinking, but when it was my team and my time to go, I was in the middle of a game. I was playing pickup with other kids.

"My coach was like, 'Come on, come on, come on. You're going to miss the opportunity to get a picture with Michael Jordan and an autograph with him.' Myself, I said, 'Don't worry, I'm okay, I don't need it right now.'

"So I didn't get a picture with Michael Jordan, didn't get an autograph. I literally didn't get in line. I just kept playing basketball, kept hooping.

"When camp was over and I got home, my mum and dad were like, 'Did you get the ball signed?' I literally was like, 'No, I was playing a pickup game.' At the time, it didn't click to me."

Westbrook's decision seemingly did not have any impact on their relationship as the Rockets star signed with the Jordan brand in 2013.

Eric Dier clambering over rows of seats to confront a fan after Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City was an extraordinary sight.

However, the spectacle was not without precedent, as sportspeople have come into conflict with supporters several times in the past.

While the 'professional' approach is to ignore the vitriol and insults that sometimes emanate from the crowd, there are occasions when instinct takes over.

With Dier likely facing punishment for his indiscretion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we take a look at other sports stars who chose the direct approach in dealing with troublesome fans.

CANTONA'S KUNG-FU KICK

It is possibly the most famous incident of its kind, perpetrated by a hot-headed Frenchman on a cold January night in London back in 1995.

Manchester United's Eric Cantona had just been sent off at Crystal Palace and was heading towards the tunnel when he heard a tirade of abuse from someone in attendance at Selhurst Park.

An incensed Cantona launched into a kung-fu kick, targeting Matthew Simmons – the man who, in his limited wisdom, had chosen to share his ill-considered views – before attempting to land a flurry of punches.

The Football Association banned Cantona for eight months, while he was sentenced to two weeks in jail – later reduced to 120 hours of community service – for his display of martial arts.

 

WESTBROOK READY TO THROW DOWN

Russell Westbrook stopped short of a physical altercation when he felt he had been subjected to some vile taunts during the Oklahoma City Thunders' win over the Utah Jazz last March.

The nine-time NBA All-Star, now with the Houston Rockets, was captured on film delivering an expletive-laden rant to a man and his wife, sat court-side at the Jazz's Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Westbrook snarled: "I'll f*** you up. You and your wife."

The Jazz issued a lifetime ban to one of the perpetrators for "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player".

Meanwhile, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA "for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan".

 

NO JOKE FOR STOKES

Ben Stokes uses controlled aggression very much to his advantage with bat and ball, but he let his anger get the better of him during a Test match in South Africa in January.

The England all-rounder was dismissed for two on the opening day at the Wanderers and was heard on a live broadcast aiming expletives at a spectator.

Stokes claimed to have been "subjected to repeated abuse", but later took to Twitter to say sorry for his "unprofessional" reaction.

He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council match referee.

 

MALICE AT THE PALACE

No, this isn't Cantona again, but it is arguably a more remarkable incident. The brawl that broke out between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in a 2004 NBA game was spectacular enough in itself, but then it got a whole lot crazier.

With the initial disorder beginning to calm, tensions flared again when a fan threw a drink at Pacers small forward Ron Artest, who made a beeline for his assailant. 

That prompted a wide-scale fracas involving players and spectators, with heavy sanctions for many involved.

The NBA dished out a combined 146-game ban for nine of the players, with five charged with assault, while five fans were hit by lifetime bans.

 

CLOUGH GETS TOUGH

Brian Clough was a notoriously no-nonsense football manager and he demonstrated that for all to see in memorable scenes at Nottingham Forest's City Ground in 1989.

With his Forest side having beaten QPR 5-2 to reach the last four of the League Cup, the home fans invaded the pitch to celebrate.

Clough, however, was in no mood to rejoice with them and instead chose to dish out a bit of rough justice, punching, slapping and grabbing anyone he could lay his hands on.

Two of his victims were later invited to the club for an apology – not from Clough, but for them to say sorry to him.

James Harden is convinced RJ Barrett will have the opportunity to become an NBA great after the rookie inspired the New York Knicks to a surprise win over his Houston Rockets side.

Barrett put up 27 points, his joint-season high, as the Knicks ended the Rockets' six-match winning streak in a 125-123 success at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Rockets superstar Harden, who top-scored with 35 points, is impressed by what he has seen from the Knicks guard.

"Aggressive," Harden said of Barrett's performance in quotes reported by ESPN. 

"I like that, especially for a rookie. Not timid at all, and when you're aggressive and confident in your game, you look good out there. 

"Want him to continue to build his confidence and keep being aggressive and have the opportunity, which he will, to be great."

The Rockets fell to a 21-point deficit in a slow start and were 10 down by the end of the third quarter.

Harden, who was perfect with 16 of 16 from the free-throw line, and Russell Westbrook (24 points, nine rebounds) did their level best to drag the Rockets back into contention.

But Barrett, a right-hander, produced a moment of magic with just under eight seconds remaining with a left-handed lay-up on the drive over P.J. Tucker.

"I just took the shot that came," Barrett said. "I like going left. That was kind of, in that situation, you're not really thinking about it. You're kind of just playing."

Westbrook lamented the Rockets' slow start, saying: "We should've never put ourselves in that position because it takes a lot of energy to fight back. Especially on the road.

"We can't take games like this lightly. This is the NBA, everybody is going to go out and compete and we have to be ready to play."

Harden added: "We weren't consistent with our defensive principles throughout the course of the game and we paid for it. Simple."

The Rockets are fourth in the Western Conference with a 39-21 record, while the Knicks (19-42) remain a lowly 13th in the East.

Russell Westbrook's heart is something "you can't go to the supermarket and buy", Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said after their overtime victory over the Boston Celtics.

Westbrook scored 41 points on Saturday as the Rockets edged a thrilling game with the Celtics 111-110 at TD Garden.

The win moved the Rockets to 39-20 for the season, with Houston fourth in the Western Conference standings.

"You can't go to the supermarket and buy heart," D'Antoni said of Westbrook. "You know he has that. It's pretty impressive."

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to send the game to overtime.

However, he conceded the Celtics did not defend well against Westbrook, having held his fellow former MVP, James Harden, to 21 points.

"I think we guarded [Harden] well," Brown said. "I think we accepted his challenge. We just didn't do a good enough job with Westbrook.

"We had a lot of attention on James Harden and forgot about the other MVP over there. He came out and asserted himself early and took over and dominated this game."

The Rockets' decision to trade center Clint Capela in January appears to have had an instrumental impact on Westbrook.

Houston have tweaked their style of play to afford him more opportunities to attack the basket, but Westbrook was non-committal on whether those changes have put him in the best position ever to succeed.

"I don't know, man," Westbrook said. "I just try to find ways every year to be better and find ways to become a better player and team-mate.

"Obviously based on the changes we made and the way we line up, I have to find ways to constantly keep being effective and help my team win games and that's what I try to do.

"Right now, I think I'm moving in the right direction. I've just got to stay locked in on what I'm doing and my craft and keep doing what I've been doing since I've been in the league, and that's going out and competing every night."

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook bemoaned always being considered "the bad guy" and queried why more players were not punished in the incident that led to his ejection against the Golden State Warriors.

Nine-time All-Star Westbrook's night ended prematurely when he received two technical fouls in Houston's 135-105 victory.

The second of those technical fouls came in the fourth quarter after Westbrook caught Damion Lee with a stray arm.

The situation was only exacerbated when Westbrook then argued with players on Golden State's bench, including the injured Klay Thompson, before confronting Kevon Looney prior to being ejected.

"I hold myself to a very, very high standard," Westbrook told reporters afterwards.

"I think the refs, the fans, the media, the NBA are put in a position now that I'm not allowed to really do much. Obviously I'm an emotional guy.

"If you watch the clip, obviously I hit Lee but it wasn't on purpose. I'm going to the glass, he got hit. He said something to me, I said something to him.

"I'm standing there, a guy [Juan Toscano-Anderson] comes to snatch the ball out of my hand. Guys come running to me, I didn't move.

"But I'm always the one who gets painted to be the bad guy in the whole situation.

"They asked me to walk towards the Warriors bench. I'm just over there walking towards the bench and then one of the little young fellas tells me, 'Why you walking over here?'

"I turned around and said, 'What did you say?' So now everybody's running over to me, then I'm walking towards the thing, then Looney steps in front of me.

"I feel like I'm in a position where it's like, 'Oh, well. Russ is being Russ', which nobody knows what that means.

"But I've got to do a better job of holding myself to a very, very high standard. I'll make sure I leave no room for error to allow somebody to paint me out to be a guy that I'm not."

However, Westbrook, who had 21 points and 10 assists before his exit, felt he was singled out and that others should have been punished too.

"I just think it's unfair, though, that after all of that, I'm the only one who gets a tech or kicked out," added Westbrook, who leads the NBA with 13 technical fouls this season.

"That's not fair, I don't care what nobody says.

"There were so many other people involved in it that were doing so many things that weren't okay but I'm the one that gets the tech, gets ejected, and everyone else is cool and gets back to play.

"But I take responsibility and I hold myself to a very high standard."

James Harden believes his partnership with Russell Westbrook can be "pretty scary" after they became only the second team-mates this season to score at least 35 points each in the same game.

The two combined for 78 points as the Rockets recorded a 116-105 home win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday that ended their opponents' run of seven straight victories.

Harden scored 42, including seven three-pointers, with Westbrook adding 36 as they followed Los Angeles Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to become the second NBA team-mates to achieve the feat in 2019-20.

Leonard and George did it in a December game against the Minnesota Timberwolves but this was the first time it had happened in Rockets team history, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Harden and Westbrook's exploits helped the Rockets bounce back from two consecutive defeats to move to 34-20, good for fifth in the Western Conference.

"It's pretty scary," Harden said, per ESPN, of his and Westbrook's potential.

Westbrook is relishing having an open floor to attack due to Harden and Houston's other three-point threats. The Rockets are playing with a small-ball lineup having traded center Clint Capela.

He added: "It's tough to guard, especially when I'm attacking and making plays and being able to do what I need to do to be effective.

"We made a big change, and we've got to get adjusted to that with Clint gone. So we're just kind of getting acclimated to that. I think we've got it moving in the right direction.

"We can be pretty successful. We've just got to find ways to continue to be effective, efficient and make the right plays."

Westbrook also had 10 rebounds and five assists, while Harden had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Coach Mike D'Antoni is keen to utilise the strengths of his two All-Stars.

"For Russell, [the spacing created by small lineups] is really advantageous, and it will be for James, too," said D'Antoni.

"It makes them really hard to guard and it's helping both of them. It opens up the floor. Both of them are great drivers and great finishers and it should trickle down to everybody else, too."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew he had been up against elite competition, adding: "Harden was great and Westbrook was great. Those guys are two of the best in the world and they showed it again."

Russell Westbrook paid tribute to "mentor, friend and brother" Kobe Bryant after inspiring the Houston Rockets to victory at the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA great Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Lakers, and his teenage daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Westbrook grew up in California and put up 41 points as the Rockets ran out 121-111 winners at Staples Center on Thursday.

Speaking to TNT post-game, Westbrook dedicated his performance to Bryant.

"Man, it's a blessing. I don't take this game for granted," Westbrook said. 

"Kobe was a mentor, a friend, a brother to me and every time I step on this floor it's definitely going out to him. 

"Every night I step on the floor, I keep him and his family in my thoughts."

LeBron James contributed 18 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds in the Lakers' losing effort and he believes Westbrook, now 31, has mixed pace and strength with smarter play.

"Of course [his pace and strength are still there], and [he's] smarter - that's what it's all about," James told reporters. 

"We can continue to get older and age in this game, but we continue to get smarter. 

"Russ is a much more complete basketball player right now, he has the ability to use speed and strength but also do things with his brain which helps out a lot."

Russell Westbrook scored 41 points as the new-look Houston Rockets upstaged the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers 121-111 in NBA action.

While Rockets team-mate James Harden struggled, Westbrook was red hot in a stunning performance to take down rivals the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Robert Covington made his debut for the Rockets, who traded away center Clint Capela prior to the deadline in a bid to become smaller and faster on the court, and he impressed with 14 points – including four three-pointers.

Double-doubles from LeBron James (18 points, 15 assists) and Anthony Davis (32 points, 13 rebounds) were not enough for the Lakers.

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks defeated the struggling Philadelphia 76ers 112-101 earlier on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo produced another dominant performance with 36 points and 20 rebounds as the Bucks improved to 44-7 for the season.

Antetokounmpo had 30-plus points and 15 or more rebounds for the fifth consecutive game and the 14th time this season. Antetokounmpo also became just the fifth player in Bucks history to record a 30-20 game and the first since 1996.

 

Zion flexes muscles… again

Zion Williamson continues to star. The 2019 number one pick posted his fourth consecutive 20-point game – the longest streak among rookies this season. Williamson finished with 21 as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Chicago Bulls 125-110.

Damian Lillard put up 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the San Antonio Spurs 125-117.

 

More woes for 76ers & Embiid

Much had been made about Philadelphia's form on the road and their chemistry, or lack thereof. And the 76ers crashed to their fourth straight loss – dropping to 9-19 away from home. Joel Embiid put up 19 points and 11 rebounds but it was a rough night for the All-Star. Cutting a dejected figure, Embiid was just six of 26 from the floor and three of 10 from three-point range. The 76ers struggled with 37.4 per cent shooting, hitting just 37 of 99 shots.

Harden was far from his best in Los Angeles. Harden was three of 10 from the floor and one of six from beyond the arc for 14 points in 35 minutes.

 

LeBron with the reverse jam!

James turned back the clock with a monster dunk against the Rockets.

 

Thursday's results

New York Knicks 105-103 Orlando Magic
New Orleans Pelicans 125-119 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 112-101 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 125-117 San Antonio Spurs
Houston Rockets 121-111 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Can the red-hot Toronto Raptors (37-14) extend their winning streak to 13 games? The defending champions are on the road against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers (31-20) on Friday.

Devin Booker was the most notable omission as six first-timers won NBA All-Star selection among the 14 reserves named on Thursday.

Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook headlined the list of players selected by NBA coaches to round out the roster options for Team LeBron and Team Giannis.

Phoenix Suns guard Booker was denied a place despite averaging 27.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 44 games this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder veteran Paul, Houston Rockets star Westbrook, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz youngster Donovan Mitchell snatched Western Conference guard spots, the latter handed his maiden selection alongside team-mate and fellow first-timer Rudy Gobert.

Brandon Ingram, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis will also be among the newcomers at United Center in Chicago on February 16.

Suns general manager and three-time NBA champion James Jones questioned Booker's absence.

"I've played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star," Jones said in a statement.

Frenchman Gobert's inclusion alongside Sabonis (Lithuania), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Nikola Jokic (Serbia) plus starters Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) lifts the number of international players to eight, a record for an All-Star Game.

The 2020 edition will feature several format changes to honour Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Among them will be a 'target score' to chase in a timeless fourth quarter, the figure being the leading team's tally after three periods plus 24 points - representing the number Bryant wore during the second half of his glittering NBA career.

LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, the designated captains, will select their teams from the available player pool on February 6.

 

Eastern Conference reserves:

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)

Western Conference reserves:

Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Zion Williamson announced himself to the NBA with a thrilling taste of his talent on Wednesday, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook fuelled the Houston Rockets.

Huge expectations surrounded Williamson's long-awaited debut and the number one draft pick did not disappoint at 

The 19-year-old, having overcome knee surgery, erupted for 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to finish with a joint team-high 22, plus seven rebounds, through 18 minutes in the New Orleans Pelicans' 121-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 32 points and 14 rebounds, while DeMar DeRozan added 20 points.

Harden and Westbrook put on their own show in Houston, combining for 55 points as the Rockets topped the Denver Nuggets 121-105.

Fred VanVleet made six of his seven three-point attempts to help the Toronto Raptors prevail 107-95 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

LeBron, Davis drive Lakers

LeBron James dropped 21 points and Anthony Davis had 28 as the Los Angeles Lakers downed the New York Knicks 100-92 at Madison Square Garden.

The win ensured the Lakers bounced back from their heavy loss to the Boston Celtics, who made it two wins on the trot with a 119-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

There was an overtime thriller in Miami, where Jimmy Butler recorded 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to take the Heat to a 134-129 defeat of the Washington Wizards.

The Los Angeles Clippers' four-game winning streak came to a surprise end against the struggling Atlanta Hawks, who had John Collins to thank for 33 points and 16 rebounds in a 102-95 triumph.

 

Difficulty for Draymond

Draymond Green struggled on his return from illness as the Golden State Warriors slumped to 129-96 home loss to the Utah Jazz.

The three-time NBA champion played 25 minutes for five points, four rebounds and two assists in the rout.

 

Zion sends New Orleans into frenzy

Williamson lit up Smoothie King Center, proving a danger from beyond the arc as he went four from four from three-point range.

Wednesday's results

Utah Jazz 129-96 Golden State Warriors
Toronto Raptors 107-95 Philadelphia 76ers
Detroit Pistons 127-106 Sacramento Kings
Oklahoma City Thunder 120-114 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Lakers 100-92 New York Knicks
Boston Celtics 119-95 Memphis Grizzlies
Miami Heat 134-129 Washington Wizards (OT)
Atlanta Hawks 102-95 Los Angeles Clippers
Chicago Bulls 117-110 Minnesota Timberwolves
Houston Rockets 121-105 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 112-87 Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs 121-117 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Lakers at Nets

Kyrie Irving is expected to return from a hamstring problem when the Brooklyn Nets (18-24) host the Lakers (35-9) on Thursday.

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