The Milwaukee Bucks underlined their NBA title favouritism as they reached 50 wins for the season with a commanding 116-104 road victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo backed up Monday's 40-point return against the Sacramento Kings with 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists at the Footprint Center.

The Bucks have won 20 of their past 22 games, including a 15-game winning streak during that stretch, while the Suns have now lost three consecutive games.

Milwaukee's record is 50-19, pulling clear of the Boston Celtics (47-22) in second in the Eastern Conference, while the 37-31 Suns remain among the mayhem in the tight Western Conference playoffs race.

The Suns had rallied from a 57-48 half-time deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter but the Bucks steadied, with Antetokounmpo's block on Devin Booker's two-point attempt among the highlights.

Bucks center Brook Lopez added 21 points with 10 rebounds, while Jrue Holiday chipped in with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Booker top scored for the Suns, still missing Kevin Durant due to an ankle injury, with 30 points on 13-of-27 shooting, while Chris Paul added 11 points with eight assists. Phoenix only made eight three-pointers for the game.

Nuggets fall to fourth straight defeat

The Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets slumped to their fourth straight defeat despite a third-quarter rally, going down 125-110 to the Toronto Raptors.

Fred VanVleet scored 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting including eight triples as the Raptors flew out of the blocks with a franchise-record 49-point first quarter, improving their record to 33-26.

The Nuggets fall to 46-23 amid their slump, with Nikola Jokic scoring 28 points with eight rebounds and seven assists, while Michael Porter Jr added 23 points with five three-pointers.

Lakers hit franchise record in key win over Pels

Anthony Davis produced a bounce-back display after his "terrible" showing two nights ago with 35 points and 17 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers won 123-108 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Malik Beasley added 24 points, shooting seven-of-12 from beyond the arc, as the Lakers moved closer to .500 with a 34-35 record to boost their playoffs hopes.

Beasley's three-point shooting helped the Lakers achieve a franchise record for threes made in a half, with 15 as a team before half-time.

Anthony Davis labelled his own performance "terrible" as he blamed himself for the Los Angeles Lakers' 112-108 loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday.

The Lakers missed the chance to get back .500, with the narrow defeat leaving them 33-35 in the battle for playoffs spot in the West.

In LeBron James' absence, Davis was critical of his own ability to lead the side, managing 17 points and 16 rebounds but shooting one-of-five from the free-throw line.

Davis also had four assists, two steals and a block, but his eight-of-18 field shooting left a lot to be desired, with the power forward stating "my play" was the reason for the loss.

"I played terrible," Davis told reporters. "Couldn't find my shot: free throws, layups, everything. The guys did their job. I didn't do my job."

Davis had little impact down the stretch with the game up for grabs, shooting one-of-four from the field.

"I just missed a lot of shots," he said. "I don't think they did anything special. A lot of times one-on-one, they doubled a couple of times."

The Lakers' three-game winning streak may have been halted, but there was some good news with James, who was out of a walking boot and rejoined the team.

The four-time MVP has not played since February 26 and will be re-evaluated next week, potentially offering the Lakers a major boost in their push for the playoffs if they can stay in contention in the meantime.

"It's also good for him to unplug a little bit," Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said about James' break. "Not be detached necessarily, but just mentally get a little bit of a calming to everything that's transpired over the year.

"It's not just about him getting healthy, it's about him being in a good place mentally and spiritually, so we get the best version of him when he returns."

The Lakers (33-35) are 11th in the Western Conference, which is tightly contested from the fourth-placed Phoenix Suns (37-30) down to the 12th-placed New Orleans Pelicans (33-35).

Anthony Davis says he will be fine after shaking off a bloodied nose to record 30 points with a season-high 22 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Memphis Grizzlies 112-103 on Tuesday.

In the absence of the injured LeBron James, Davis was crucial for the Lakers who moved up to ninth – among the Play-In Tournament spots - in the Western Conference with the win, improving their record to 32-34.

Davis was floored and left clutching his bloodied nose with 6:43 remaining in the second quarter after copping an errant hand from David Roddy when securing a rebound.

The All-Star power forward was patched up and returned with a dominant performance, shooting 11-of-17 from the field with seven-of-nine from the free-throw line, with 22 rebounds including four offensive boards.

"It's still bleeding but we've got to win basketball games," Davis told ESPN during his on-court post-game interview.

"I do all I can to come out and compete every night and help this team get victories. The nose will be alright. We've got two days to recuperate and make sure it's still in place. I'll be alright."

Davis hailed the Lakers' defense for the win, coming two days after knocking off another Western Conference rival, the Golden State Warriors, 113-105 on Sunday.

The race for playoffs spots in the Western Conference is tight, with the Lakers only a few games behind the fifth-placed Dallas Mavericks and Warriors (both 34-32).

"It's a must-win," Davis said. "Every game we play from now is a must-win for us. Nothing changed tonight.

"Our ball club did a great job competing on both ends of the floor, little carryover from the game before against Golden State.

"We feel we owe this team one, we let one slip away in Memphis. Ja [Morant] was a big part of that. We wanted to come out and compete. All our guys stepped up tonight."

The New York Knicks secured their ninth straight victory with an epic 131-129 double over-time win over the Boston Celtics as Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 38 points.

Quickley stepped into the Knicks starting line-up in the absence of Jalen Brunson (left foot injury), playing a career-high 55 minutes, and scoring their first seven of 10 points overall in the second over-time period.

The Knicks shooting guard scored 27 of his 38 points in the second half including OT. He made 15-of-28 attempts from the field, including five-of-12 from beyond the arc, with eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

But the Celtics almost snatched victory, with Al Horford's three-point attempt on the buzzer rimming out after a pass from Jayson Tatum.

Tatum also spurned a chance to win it in the first over-time period, missing a two-point attempt after Jaylen Brown kept the ball for too long with the clock ticking down, putting his team-mate under pressure for a tough look.

Brown had sent the game to OT with a three-point play after a foul from Quentin Grimes at the end of regulation squared it up.

Tatum finished with 40 points on 12-of-30 shooting with six-of-17 from three-point range, 11 rebounds and six assists. Brown added 29 points, while Horford had 20 points, making six-of-10 three-point attempts, but not the crucial last one.

Randle offered excellent support to Quickley with 31 points, nine rebounds and four assists, draining five triples. The win improved the Knicks' record to 39-27, sitting fifth in the east.

AD leads Lakers past GSW in Curry's return

Stephen Curry scored 27 points on his return from injury, but it was not enough as Anthony Davis led the Los Angeles Lakers past the Golden State Warriors 113-105 in a big Western Conference clash.

Davis scored 39 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to lead the Lakers home, improving their record to 31-34 as he continues to shine in LeBron James' absence with a foot injury.

The result snapped the Warriors' five-game winning streak even with Curry back in action after a left leg injury. The Golden State guard added 19 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, shooting five-of-13 from three-point range.

Booker and Doncic square off as Suns win

Kevin Durant landed a fadeaway jumper with 11 seconds left to earn the Phoenix Suns a 130-126 victory over Kyrie Irving's Dallas Mavericks in another huge clash in the West.

Devin Booker and Luka Doncic squared off face to face after the Mavs guard missed a two-point shot at 128-126 with 3.5 seconds remaining, earning them both technical fouls. That square-off was a flashback to the tense Mavs-Suns Conference Semi-Finals last season, when Dallas eliminated Phoenix in a Game 7 blowout.

Durant finished with 37 points and seven rebounds in his first match-up against his former Nets team-mate Irving, since both left Brooklyn. Booker added 36 points with 10 assists for Phoenix, while Doncic finished with 34 points and nine rebounds and Irving had 30 points.

Anthony Davis will join LeBron James on the sidelines and miss the Los Angeles Lakers' game with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday due to a foot injury.

The Lakers said Davis had a right foot stress injury, which is an issue that has caused him to miss 20 games earlier this season.

Darvin Ham's 29-33 side are already without James (ankle) and D'Angelo Russell (foot) as they look to launch a charge to qualify for the playoffs. Entering Wednesday's slate of games, the Lakers are 12th in the Western Conference.

Wednesday's game was the second of a back-to-back for LA, having lost 121-109 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.

Joel Embiid will also not play on Wednesday due to a sore foot, missing the Philadelphia 76ers' clash with the Miami Heat.

The 76ers said it was left foot soreness, forcing him to miss a game for the 13th time this season.

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to 15 games after defeating the Brooklyn Nets 118-104 away from home on Tuesday.

Milwaukee are now one win away from tying the third-longest streak in franchise history, while their best-ever run of 20 games, led by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1970-71 season, is now also within reach.

They had to come from behind against the Nets, trailing 35-22 early in the second quarter, but they pulled things level halfway through the third and then hit the front for the entire fourth period.

The Bucks were led by MVP hopeful Giannis Antetokounmpo with a game-high 33 points on 15-of-27 shooting, adding 15 rebounds and four assists on his return, while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Brook Lopez chipped in 13 points (six-of-13 shooting), 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Three-time All-Star wing Khris Middleton continued his road to recovery with 18 points (seven-of-13), six assists and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench, but he is still yet to exceed 25 minutes in a game since the new year began.

For the Nets, Mikal Bridges was terrific with 31 points (11-of-19), five assists and two steals, and Spencer Dinwiddie put together a strong stat-line of 26 points (nine-of-17), eight assists and six rebounds.

With the win, the Bucks improved to 44-17, remaining ahead of the Boston Celtics (44-18) for the best record in the league.

Brooklyn have lost seven of their past nine, but still sit sixth in the Eastern Conference at 34-27.

Lakers drop first game of LeBron's absence

Desperate for a strong finish to sneak into the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a 121-109 defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first game since LeBron James' injury.

James is expected to miss at least two weeks, and Anthony Davis stepped up to try and fill the void, contributing a team-high 28 points (nine-of-19), a game-high 19 rebounds and a game-high five blocks.

But it was not enough to prevent Ja Morant from getting the result for Memphis, with the reigning Most Improved Player putting together a massive 39-point triple-double, shooting 15-of-29 from the field with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Memphis (37-23) are almost a lock for a top-four seed in the west, but the Lakers (29-33) sit 12th, one game out of the play-in tournament places and 2.5 wins out of the six seed.

Warriors pull above .500

It threatened to be the latest Damian Lillard masterclass early before the Golden State Warriors strangled the life out of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half of a 123-105 home victory.

Lillard – who is leading the NBA in scoring over the past 15 games with a gaudy 39.5 per contest – had 15 in the first quarter to help the Blazers build a 41-27 lead at the first break.

Golden State steadied the ship, and then produced a 75-40 second half, holding Lillard to just 10 points in the next three quarters and nine-of-21 shooting overall.

Jordan Poole led the way offensively for the Warriors, scoring 29 points (10-of-24 shooting) with six rebounds and five assists, while Donte DiVincenzo put together another strong performance in the starting line-up with 21 points (eight-of-11).

The win, combined with the Dallas Mavericks' loss, meant the Warriors (31-30) ended the day sitting sixth in the West.

The Los Angeles Lakers might still be "figuring things out" but Anthony Davis is confident they are in position to make a push for the playoffs.

Malik Beasley scored 25 points and Austin Reaves stepped up with 17 from the bench as the Lakers defeated reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors 124-111 on Thursday.

The Lakers did not have it all their own way, having to shrug off the blow of losing D'Angelo Russell to a sprained ankle in the first quarter.

While Russell's initial scans came back clear of major damage, he is set for further assessments on Friday.

But without him, and with LeBron James – 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists – not finishing with the kind of contributions he is accustomed to, the Lakers nevertheless got the job done in convincing fashion.

The Lakers are onto a 28-32 record for the season, just one win behind the Warriors, who occupy the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

For Davis, who added 12 points and as many rebounds, the Lakers showed they are a "complete" unit.

“We're still figuring things out on the fly," he told reporters.

"The past two games we've really looked good as a whole. I think we've got a complete team where we're able to make a run."

Beasley top scored, three points ahead of the Warriors' Klay Thompson (22), as the Lakers made it three wins from four since the trade deadline passed.

The Lakers traded Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz, with Beasley one of the players sent their way.

While Westbrook never ultimately linked up with the Jazz, instead buying out his contract to join the Los Angeles Clippers, Beasley has settled in quickly at his new team.

"LeBron and AD didn't get going as much as they wanted tonight, but we're deep, I think that's the statement we want to make," Beasley said.

"It can be any player on any given night."

Coach Darvin Ham added: "Just overall great team win. Everybody contributed, everybody had different moments and guys stayed aggressive.

"I feel great about what we've been able to do. It's paying dividends right now and we've just got to continue to get more and more familiar with one another."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham says the team's goal is to reach the playoffs rather than falling into a play-in situation as they look to revive their season after the All-Star break.

The Lakers are currently 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-32 record ahead of their resumption against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Despite the Lakers' lowly rank in the west, they are only 2.0 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder as the 10th seed, which earns a play-in berth.

But LA are also only 3.5 games behind the sixth-placed Dallas Mavericks, for the final of the guaranteed playoffs spots, offering hope for a side which drastically changed its roster prior to the break.

Russell Westbrook has departed, while they acquired D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to bolster their squad.

The Lakers also have LeBron James and Anthony Davis fit again and ready to team up as they look for a charge, with the four-time NBA MVP earlier this week labelling their final 23 regular-season games as "the most important" games of his career.

"The goal is for us to come out and try to be the best version of ourselves each game, but definitely, if we can go and secure a spot, that is our goal right there," Ham told reporters.

"If we fall into a play-in situation, so be it. But our number one goal is to go secure a spot, not just throw games off here or there and just wish for a play-in. We want to go secure a spot."

The Lakers face two of their main rivals for those final Western Conference playoffs spots in their next two games, with the Warriors sitting ninth with a 29-29 record but they will be without star Stephen Curry to injury.

The Mavericks, who acquired Kyrie Irving prior to the Trade Deadline, are next on Sunday after Golden State.

"I mean we have to help ourselves first and foremost, and we only do that by winning games," Ham said.

"We've already put ourselves behind the eight ball enough, we don't want to get into a further situation where we're depending on teams in front of us to lose games and all the while we're dropping games.

"Winning is the focus. It's the only way we can help ourselves and take care of what we can control."

All-Star Davis said the Lakers needed to treat every remaining game as a "must-win" and play them like Game 7 of a series.

Mikal Bridges scored a career-high 45 points in his third game for the Brooklyn Nets since his trade for Kevin Durant as they won 116-105 over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Nets had dropped four of their past five games since trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks, with the injured Durant following him out the exit door last week.

Bridges shot 17-of-24 from the field, making four-of-six from beyond the arc with eight rebounds and five assists.

The Nets became the first team in NBA history to have four players score 45 points or more in a single game in one season.

Cameron Johnson, who also joined the Nets from the Phoenix Suns alongside Bridges, added 18 points with three assists.

The Nets had trailed 56-52 at the main break, but Bridges broke the game open with 15 straight points.

Bridges finished the game with 17 points in the fourth quarter, comfortably eclipsing his previous career-best return of 34 points.

Bam Adebayo had 24 points with 13 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, while Max Strus scored 18 points as the Heat fell to 32-27.

The win lifted the Nets to 34-24, although Ben Simmons' woes continued with only two points, four rebounds and assists in 20 minutes.

Embiid brings up milestone amid double-double

Joel Embiid brought up his 10,000th career as he recorded a double-double as the Philadelphia 76ers won their fourth straight in a 118-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid finished with 29 points with 14 rebounds and five assists, while James Harden also managed a double-double with 19 points and 12 assists. Harden assisted and scored in 27 of 38 first-quarter points.

The 76ers led 63-38 at half-time, although Donovan Mitchell fought hard for the Cavaliers, scoring 25 second-half points, before finishing with 33.

LeBron returns as Lakers win

LeBron James scored 21 points on his return after three games out with a foot injury as the Los Angeles Lakers won 120-102 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 28 points with 10 rebounds and five assists as the Lakers improved to 27-32 to boost their playoff hopes, while D'Angelo Russell added 21 points. The Lakers never trailed after a 38-point opening quarter.

Brandon Ingram top scored for the Pelicans, still missing Zion Williamson, with 25 points, while Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points with 11 rebounds.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough as the fast-finishing Dallas Mavericks lost 124-121 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Irving and Luka Doncic (33 points) combined for 69 points for the Mavs, who trailed 100-82 at three-quarter time and rallied from a 26-point deficit.

The Mavs point guard, however, lost the ball to Taurean Prince with an errant pass on the final possession, denying Dallas getting a shot away to tie the game after a disrupted play where he exchanged passes with Doncic.

Irving's 26-point fourth quarter was the highest scoring quarter of his career, finishing the game on 15-of-23 shooting with four-of-nine from beyond the arc, along with five rebounds and six assists.

Doncic had 12 rebounds and six assists with his 33 points, while Christian Wood added 24 points off the bench.

For the triumphant Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards scored a team-high 32 points with five rebounds, while Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

The defeat means the Mavs have lost both games Doncic and Irving have played together since the latter's trade from the Brooklyn Nets last week.

Lillard leads long-range Blazers blitz over Lakers

Damien Lillard scored 40 points as the Portland Trail Blazers hit 23 three-pointers in a 127-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were missing LeBron James for the third straight game with a sore left ankle.

The Blazers' 23 triples were a season-best, while they broke their first-half franchise record with 17 three-pointers. Lillard led the way from range, making eight-of-14 three-point attempts.

Malik Beasley came off the bench to top score for the Lakers with 22 points, including six three-pointers, while Anthony Davis scored 19 points with 20 rebounds and three blocks.

Mitchell stars as Spurs lose 13th straight

Donovan Mitchell scored 41 points with five three-pointers as the Cleveland Cavaliers condemned the San Antonio Spurs to a joint franchise record 13th straight defeat.

The Cavs won 117-109 led by Mitchell with Jarrett Allen adding 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, securing their seventh successive victory to improve their record to 38-22.

The loss leaves San Antonio with a 14-44 record, with their run of defeats marking their worst since the 1988-89 season.

Anthony Davis insisted his reluctance to celebrate LeBron James' NBA scoring record was related to the state of Tuesday's game rather than any issue between the two Los Angeles Lakers superstars.

James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-time record against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Davis did not look to join his Lakers team-mates in saluting the new scoring king.

Fan footage posted on social media showed Davis sat on the bench, with his view of the court obscured by standing Lakers, as James made his historic fadeaway jumper.

That reaction prompted puzzlement from those on the outside of the organisation, but Davis provided an explanation on Thursday.

As he pointed out, the Lakers trailed the Thunder at the time of James' history-making bucket, which saw the game paused, and LA were unable to rally later in the 133-130 defeat.

Speaking after another home loss against the Milwaukee Bucks, seeing the Lakers fall to 25-31 in 13th place in the West, Davis appeared irked by mention of the topic as he said: "You all know mine and Bron's relationship. It's nothing.

"It's about the game. We're losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game we needed. And I was p***ed off that we were losing. It's that simple.

"It's nothing that has to do with Bron. He knows that.

"Everybody else is outside looking in, it's their opinion. But I was p***ed off that we were losing the game."

The Los Angeles Lakers "hardly ever discuss" LeBron James' hunt for the NBA points record, according to coach Darvin Ham.

James scored 26 points, added seven rebounds and provided seven assists as the Lakers fought back to beat the Pacers 112-111 on Thursday.

That haul moved James onto 38,325 points across his illustrious career, 62 short of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record.

It means James is likely to break the record against the Oklahoma City Thunder next week.

Ham, however, says the Lakers do not treat it as too big of a deal.

"I think it's an amazing feat," Lakers coach Darvin Ham told reporters.

"When it happens, kudos to Bron for all his longevity and not just longevity, but longevity at the top of the list at an elite level.

"But our day-to-day, we hardly ever discuss it unless we're asked about it. For us, it's just, how can we get our team in the best position to make a run?"

James, though, did not look to downplay the importance of the record.

"I think it's one of the greatest records in sports, in general. It's like the home run record in baseball," he said.

"It's one of those records that you don't ever see or think will be broken.

"You see guys like Hank Aaron, who had [baseball's home run record] for so long. You see guys like Sammy [Sosa] and Mark McGwire and you start climbing it and it's like, 'Oh, this could really happen.'

"It's a fun thing as a sports person. It was fun watching those guys chasing it."

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 31 points and 14 rebounds, and it was his 11-foot shot with 35 seconds left put Los Angeles ahead, before he made a crucial block from Tyrese Haliburton.

Davis missed out on selection for the All-Star Game, though that was of little concern.

"I'm here to win, to try to compete for championships, not to get into All-Star Games," Davis said.

"My wife is ecstatic. She already texted me, 'So, where we going [during All-Star break]?'"

The Los Angeles Lakers trailed by 14 early in the fourth quarter before storming back to defeat the Indiana Pacers 112-111 on the road.

Los Angeles' defense let them down early on Thursday as they gave up 35 points in the first quarter and another 32 in the second, heading into the long break trailing 67-54.

The Lakers were finally able to hold the Pacers under 30 points in a 30-29 third frame, before their defense woke up in the final period and kept the home side to just 15.

The visiting team did not claim their first lead of the game until LeBron James drained a three-pointer to jump ahead 108-106 with 2:35 remaining, but a jump shot from rookie Andrew Nembhard put the Pacers up by one with under a minute to play.

With the game on the line, Anthony Davis drained a clutch post fadeaway over elite defensive center Myles Turner to retake the lead, and although the Lakers left the door open with a pair of missed free throws from Pat Beverley, Buddy Hield's potential game-winner was off the mark thanks to Beverley's smothering defense.

It was a gutsy comeback to give the Lakers their second win in a row, led by Davis' 31 points on 13-of-27 shooting with 14 rebounds and two blocks. 

Meanwhile, James was efficient with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, adding seven rebounds and seven assists. He is now 62 points away from tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring mark.

For the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton enjoyed a strong return from injury after three weeks on the sideline, leading his team in points (26) and assists (12) after being named to his first All-Star team earlier in the day.

Jokic toys with the Warriors

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic continued his march towards a three-peat as he dominated the Golden State Warriors in the Denver Nuggets' 134-117 triumph.

Jokic finished with 22 points on nine-of-13 shooting with 16 assists and 14 rebounds. Over his past 17 games, he has only finished with fewer than nine assists once, and no player is averaging more than his 11.9 assists over their past 15 games.

It was also another strong performance from Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, scoring 33 points on 12-of-23 shooting with eight assists and five rebounds. Over his past five outings, Murray is averaging 27.6 points and 7.2 assists.

The Nuggets sit four games clear atop the Western Conference at 36-16, while the 26-26 Warriors are ninth.

Mavericks hold on as Doncic leaves hurt

The Dallas Mavericks led the New Orleans Pelicans by 31 points during the second quarter, but ended up getting pushed all the way in a 111-106 victory.

Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic had 27 points in the first half, and made his way up to 31 early in the third period before he suffered a heel injury due to a hard fall, ending his night.

The Mavericks led by 28 when he exited the game, and from that point on the Pelicans closed the contest on a 50-27 run. They ultimately came up short after a controversial refereeing mistake in the final seconds robbed them of a chance to shoot for the tie.

It was the Pelicans' 10th loss in a row as they desperately await the return of Zion Williamson from his hamstring injury, while the Mavericks improved to fifth in the West at 28-25.

LeBron James is completely relaxed about breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record NBA points total after moving another step closer during the Los Angeles Lakers' 129-123 win over the New York Knicks.

James played a starring role on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, becoming the first 38-year-old to ever record a 20-point triple-double as he finished with 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Those 10 assists saw him overtake Steve Nash on the all-time leaderboard for NBA assists, with James now fourth on 10,336.

He remains 908 behind still-active Chris Paul in third, but the record that all eyes are on is overall points.

James' 28 here leaves him 88 off Abdul-Jabbar's record (38,387), meaning he is likely to surpass to his fellow Lakers great either on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans, or three days later against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Some athletes might get nervous when approaching such a milestone, but James is utterly at ease with the situation due to it essentially being a formality.

"It's not getting heavier," James said.

"I'm going to do it. I mean, it's just a matter of time when I'm going to do it.

"It's not heavy. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be in this league for at least a few more years.

"I'm going to do it. It's not heavy at all."

There is also an element of anticipation from James' team-mates, with it set to be a momentous moment for everyone associated with the Lakers when he does break the record.

That is not lost on Anthony Davis.

"The team is very excited," he added. "It's probably going to be a surreal moment for all of us, but probably more so him... Obviously, whatever game it is, we want to be able to win the game."

But much of the focus around James on Tuesday related to his assists and overtaking Nash.

"It's amazing because that's just what I love to do and get my guys involved," James continued.

"Anytime you link with some of the greats – Mark Jackson played here, was drafted here by the Knicks, so it's a super cool thing. And obviously, we know when Nash was [in the league]; I played against him for many, many years. His ability to pass the ball was very uncanny."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham also paid tribute to James, saluting him for ignoring criticism about his game over the years and continuing to play true to himself.

"He's just a kid who's grown before our eyes. The last 20 years at this level, has done nothing but play the right way and make the play that's in front of him," Ham said.

"Regardless of how much he's been criticised for a while for not taking the last shots and the overpassing, he's just making the right plays. You saw that again tonight."

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

James is dealing with left ankle soreness, while Davis has a right foot stress injury, the team confirmed the day before the game.

Both men played in Saturday's overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, in which James scored 41 points.

For James, his absence in Brooklyn may well mean a historic NBA moment comes in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles.

The four-time MVP now has 38,271 career regular season points, putting him just 116 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record.

Averaging 30.2 points per game this season, James would only require four more games to pass Abdul-Jabbar at his current rate of scoring.

The Lakers have four games in this coming week – all on the road.

After that, the Lakers return to Staples Center on February 7 to play the Oklahoma City Thunder in a game in which James will likely be targeting the record.

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