NBA

Thunder victory takes a back seat to LeBron's iconic moment, Booker returns in Phoenix win

By Sports Desk February 08, 2023

LeBron James was the biggest story in sports on Tuesday as he became the NBA's all-time scoring leader, but the Oklahoma City Thunder got the last laugh.

James reached the legendary record late in the third quarter, with a turnaround jump shot from the free throw line bringing up his 36th point of the game, and his 38,388th regular season point overall to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 39-year-old record.

But it was the Thunder leading 104-99 at the time of the basket, and it would be the Thunder coming away with the 133-130 victory.

Oklahoma City were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who remains one of seven players this season averaging at least 30 points per game (30.8) after scoring an even 30 on nine-of-17 shooting, adding eight assists and two steals.

Rookie wing Jalen Williams was terrific with 25 points (10-of-19 shooting), seven rebounds and six steals, while point guard Josh Giddey added 20 points (10-of-19), six assists and five rebounds.

James ended up scoring a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and three steals, while Russell Westbrook put together one of his better performances this season with 27 points (10-of-19), eight assists and two steals.

With the win, the Thunder improved their record to 26-28 to sit 11th in the Western Conference, although things are so tightly bunched that they are only 2.5 games back from the six seed. 

The Lakers fell to 25-30, and are four games back from the Dallas Mavericks in the six seed.

Thomas makes history as Booker returns for Phoenix

Brooklyn Nets rising star Cam Thomas became the youngest player to ever score 40 points in three consecutive games, but Devin Booker's return lifted the Phoenix Suns to a 116-112 win.

After scoring a career-high 44 points against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, and then following it with another career-high of 47 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Thomas dropped 43 against the Suns.

He shot 11-of-23 from the field – his worst shooting performance in this three-game run – but boosted his tally by going 18-of-20 from the free throw line.

But the return of Devin Booker after 21 games and six weeks on the sideline provided a jolt in the arm for the Suns, contributing 19 points on six-of-15 shooting with six assists in 26 minutes, while Deandre Ayton dominated the action with 35 points (14-of-18) and 15 rebounds.

Another Jokic masterclass blows away the Timberwolves

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic showed exactly why he is the favourite to make it a three-peat with a dominant performance in the Denver Nuggets' 146-112 blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jokic had 17 points on eight-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds and 10 assists by half-time, and he did not attempt a field goal in the second half, finishing with 20 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.

He has a chance to become the first center in NBA history to average a triple-double if he can maintain his current figures of 24.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.2 assists, while Michael Porter Jr carried the scoring load against Minnesota, pouring in 30 on 11-of-15 shooting.

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  • Suns point guard Booker expected to be sidelined for 7-to-10 days Suns point guard Booker expected to be sidelined for 7-to-10 days

    The Phoenix Suns will likely be without Devin Booker for 7-to-10 days after the four-time All-Star sprained his right ankle late in Saturday’s 118-109 loss to the Houston Rockets.

    Booker had 24 points in 38:21 of action before getting injured when he stepped on teammate Royce O'Neale's foot.

    Booker is averaging 27.5 points - second on the Suns behind Kevin Durant (27.8) – and leads the team with 6.8 assists per game while also averaging 4.6 rebounds.

    Booker, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are the only three players in the NBA averaging at least 27.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.

    Phoenix (35-26) is in seventh place in the Western Conference and battling a handful of teams for positioning in an attempt to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament.

  • LeBron James 'hated' circumstances of reaching record 40,000-point mark LeBron James 'hated' circumstances of reaching record 40,000-point mark

    LeBron James "hated" the circumstances in which he reached 40,000 career points as it came in a defeat for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The NBA's record all-time scorer hit the latest milestone in his career in the second quarter of his side's 124-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

    James scored a team-high 26 points, taking his overall tally to 40,017, but it was not enough as the Lakers' two-game winning run was snapped.

    "For me, the main thing is always the main thing, and that's the win," James said after the contest at Crypto.com Arena

    "I hated that it had to happen in the defeat, especially versus the team that plays extremely well. 

    "We played some good basketball tonight, but wasn't able to close it out. So, it's bittersweet but I enjoyed every moment tonight on the floor."

    James is averaging 25.3 points per game this season, which is currently the 17th-best return of any player.

    "I feel like I'm still that threat out on the floor and I am still able to do the things that I was doing 10 and even 20 years ago," James added.

    The loss was the Lakers' eighth in a row against the Nuggets and continued a theme of James losing games in which he hits a milestone figure.

    James also fell short in games that saw him hit 10,000 rebounds, 10,000 assists, 30,000 points and a record 38,388 points.

    The 20-time NBA All-Star surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 40-year points record last season and is showing no signs of letting up.

    Of all active players, the Phoenix Suns' Kevin Durant is closest to James with 28,342 points, while Stephen Curry has 23,254 points.

    Asked if James' ever-growing tally will ever be surpassed, team-mate Anthony Davis said: "Possibly Steph, the way he shoots the ball, but I guess not?"

    "It's just tough because he's not finished playing, so it's only going to increase. That gap is only going to get bigger and bigger.

    "So as of right now, I don't see anybody breaking his record."

    James does not quite see it that way, though, adding: "We have a lot of great guys in our league that can score the ball.

    "If they were to stay healthy and they would play a long time, then they can eclipse it. Records are always meant to be broken. Never say never."

    The 33-29 Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference ahead of facing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

  • Curry laments 'perfect storm' as Warriors demolished by Celtics Curry laments 'perfect storm' as Warriors demolished by Celtics

    Stephen Curry lamented a "perfect storm" as the Golden State Warriors were on the end of a 140-88 defeat to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

    The loss at TD Garden was the fourth-worst the Warriors, who entered the contest in good form, have suffered in franchise history.

    It marks the third time this season the Celtics have won by 50 points or more, meanwhile, as they racked up an 11th victory in a row.

    "The way that they've been playing, they seem very sure of themselves in their identity and who they are," Curry said. "Give them credit. 

    "They came out and whooped us from the jump, and it was a perfect storm of a rough [day] on our end and them taking it to us."

    Curry played despite being questionable, but he did not feature in the second half as he finished with a season-low tally of four points.

    The Warriors will hope to have Curry back to full fitness for their return to action against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

    "This was not a day off for Steph, though he probably could have used one," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said.

    "He's played so well and for so long this year. Hopefully the next few days he'll get it recharged."

    Jaylen Brown led the scoring with 29 points, while birthday boy Jayson Tatum had 26 in the Celtics' third-biggest victory in franchise history.

    Boston led by a franchise-record 44 points at the midway point and went on to extend their advantage to 51 before making some changes.

    "It feels great, but, at the same time, it's always within humility," Brown said. "We don't take the game for granted. 

    "We didn't come and mess around and that's just how we show our respect to the game, we handle business and take care of it.

    "It's a lot of respect for the Golden State Warriors, but we feel like it's our time now."

    The 48-12 Celtics lead the Eastern Conference, while the Warriors are ninth in the Western Conference with a record of 32-28. 

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