The Golden State Warriors will approve the four-team trade they agreed to at the deadline, but not before filing a complaint to the NBA about Gary Payton II's injury not being disclosed.

Payton, who was a member of the Warriors' championship-winning team in 2022, left the franchise to sign a free agent deal with the Portland Trail Blazers in the offseason.

He had been battling a number of injuries that kept him out of action until the new year began, but he has since managed 15 appearances since January 2.

Payton's return to action had the Warriors believing his injury problems were behind him, and they were given no indication during negotiations that he was still struggling.

However, their medical examination of him revealed a core muscle injury that the Warriors' medical staff believe will take months to heal.

It meant the Warriors had the ability to void the deal – which was a complicated four-team trade that also sent James Wiseman to the Detroit Pistons, while the Atlanta Hawks received Saddiq Bey – but with the deadline already passed, Golden State would not be able to make any further moves.

That is a crucial point because while the acquisition of Payton was important, the Warriors were just as interested in parting ways with Wiseman. 

The Athletic reported that because of Golden State's status as a luxury tax repeater, the franchise were going to have to pay over $50million for Wiseman's $9m salary this season, and over $80m for his $12m salary in 2023-24.

With how little the former number two draft pick has proven, the Warriors decided his time with the team had run out, and they would prefer the playoff-proven Payton on a cheaper contract.

While they are still going through with the trade, the Warriors filed a complaint to the league about the Trail Blazers providing misleading information about Payton's injury status, prompting the league to launch a review.

It is also being reported that Payton was being pushed by Portland's training staff to play through his injury with the help of pain relief medication.

Joel Embiid and James Harden led the Philadelphia 76ers to a hard-fought 101-98 win against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Saturday.

The Nets, now shorn of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, had to face another of their former stars in Harden, who had no problem showing them the kind of form he rarely displayed in Brooklyn on his first appearance there since leaving last year, scoring 29 points with six rebounds and six assists.

Embiid had an even better outing, with the Cameroonian finishing with 37 points and 13 rebounds, making 12 of his 18 field-goal attempts.

Mikal Bridges scored 23 on debut for Brooklyn after his arrival as part of the Durant deal with the Phoenix Suns, with fellow debutant Cam Johnson adding 12, while Joe Harris managed 18 points from just over 16 minutes on court.

The two players the Nets acquired as part of the Irving deal, Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie, struggled against the Sixers.

Finney-Smith made just two of his eight field-goal attempts, while Dinwiddie fared even worse with two from 10, and zero from four shots from beyond the arc.

Dinwiddie thought he had forced overtime at least when a three-pointer finally went in, but it was ruled out of time after a review as Philadelphia secured the victory.

 

Doncic and Irving outfoxed by De'Aaron

In their first outing together for the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic and Irving could not get the W as De'Aaron Fox helped the Sacramento Kings to an overtime victory.

Both Doncic and Irving spent more than 40 minutes on the court, scoring 27 and 28 points respectively in a tight game in which neither team ended a quarter with more than a two-point lead.

Fox particularly shone in the latter stages as he recorded 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including six free throws in the final 18.4 seconds to help seal a 133-128 win at Golden 1 Center.

Jokic makes history, Young's assist bonanza

Nikola Jokic became only the fifth player in NBA history to record 20+ triple-doubles in a single season as he led the Denver Nuggets to a 119-105 win at the Charlotte Hornets.

The two-time MVP scored 30 points, with 16 rebounds and 10 assists, while Trae Young also had a productive game as the Atlanta Hawks beat the San Antonio Spurs 125-106.

Young provided an impressive season-high 17 assists for his team to go with his 24 points to make it a 12-game losing streak for the Spurs, their longest since 1988-89 (13).

A much-changed Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a 109-103 victory against the Golden State Warriors, with Dennis Schroder top-scoring with 26 points, while the returning D'Angelo Russell added 15 and Anthony Davis recorded 16 rebounds.

The four-team trade between the Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers is at risk of falling through after Gary Payton II failed his physical with the Warriors on Friday.

Payton, who was a member of the Warriors' championship-winning squad this past season before joining Portland in free agency, was set to return to Golden State after they shipped off James Wiseman to the Pistons, while Saddiq Bey went from Detroit to Atlanta, and the Trail Blazers received Kevin Knox and five second-round draft picks.

A key part of the deal for the Warriors was shedding Wiseman's contract, with the franchise's status as a luxury tax repeater meaning they were going to have to cough up over $100million total to cover his $9.6m salary this season and $12.1m in 2023-24.

However, the Warriors are now faced with the option to void the deal entirely after it was revealed during Payton's physical that his abdominal injury – which has limited him to 15 appearances this season – will keep him out for "up to three months", per The Athletic's Shams Charania.

It seems unlikely that the Warriors would bring Wiseman back into the fold after making the tough decision to cut ties with their former second overall pick, and Payton's timeline should mean he can return this season if the Warriors are a playoff team.

They will have until Saturday to decide whether to finalise the deal or not.

The Phoenix Suns went down 116-107 against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, but nothing could dampen their spirits after securing a trade for Kevin Durant.

In the lead-up to the trade deadline, the Suns sent Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and four unprotected first-round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Durant, sending shockwaves throughout the league.

In an instant, Phoenix became the favourites in the Western Conference, boasting the league's best offensive duo with Durant and 26-year-old All-NBA First Team talent Devin Booker, while retaining elite point guard Chris Paul and franchise center Deandre Ayton.

Speaking to the media after Thursday's loss, Paul referenced Durant's famous "I'm Kevin Durant – y'all know who I am" interview when discussing the immense impact he can make on the Suns.

"What did KD say in that interview one time? What did he say? Y'all know who he is," Paul said. 

"So you add him to the – who is that that the Harlem Globetrotters play against all the time? The Washington Generals. You add him to them and they're going to be nice. You know what I mean? 

"KD is different, man. He different. That's why he is who he is. He's been doing it in this league for a long time. We got to see what it is."

More than anything, Paul said he is looking forward to sharing his love for the game with another future Hall-of-Famer.

"He's one of the best players to ever play the game," he said. "Just to know how he approaches the game, his nickname's 'Easy Money', just somebody who loves the game like that. 

"I think that's what brought me and Book closer together because he just loves to hoop. And KD, he just loves to hoop. So I'm excited about the process of building this team."

When asked if he feels Durant is happy about the trade, Paul said "I mean, he ain't mad", before adding some context.

"But it's also a lot for him," he said. "He's been there in Brooklyn for a while. I think that's the thing, I get it, it's definitely exciting – but there's a lot that goes into this stuff, man.

"Obviously guys are changing teams, but guys got their families. [Mikal Bridges] and Cam [Johnson]'s settled in Phoenix. KD done built a whole business and he's a big figure there in Brooklyn, New York. 

"It's a lot to deal with, so I think everybody's got to figure it out. It just happened."

Ayton was asked if he felt the trade gave them a realistic chance at the championship, and he was not bashful in his response.

"Damn right," he said. "You're damn right. That's how I feel. 

"We've been in situations where a team threw everything at us to stop us even though we didn't have the right pieces on the court... knowing what these teams can throw at us, we're ready for it man.

"It's going to be real fun because it's so many pieces, golly. It's trouble, and it's fun, because it's about time. We got the firepower for real, and you can feel it."

Head coach Monty Williams shared that enthusiasm, having previously spent time with Durant as part of Team USA's 2016 Olympic team.

"I think it's more than a lift," he said. "I think it's a jolt, if that makes sense. Just because of, not just who he is as a player, but his love for the game. 

"I think the guys are going to see something that they may not have seen before as far as his approach and how much he just loves to play basketball. 

"I think if he could hoop every day, 24/7 he would do that and I think that's who we are. So to be able to have someone like that in your gym, but who's also ultra talented, and one of the best to ever do it, I think it's going to not just compliment what we do, it's gonna uplift and give us a bit of a jolt."

However, Williams also acknowledged the tough side of trades, sharing the pain of saying goodbye to players he has watched grow up.

"There's a human side to all of this that you have to deal with," he said. "It was an emotional day talking to those guys. 

"I got to see them before they took off and it was emotional. Those two are near and dear to my heart. They literally are like my family."

The Suns sit sixth in the West with a record of 30-27, and they will be anxiously awaiting Durant's debut some time after the All-Star break as he recovers from a knee injury.

Cam Thomas starred off the bench as the depleted Brooklyn Nets came from behind to defeat the Washington Wizards 125-123 on Saturday.

Already without Ben Simmons and talisman Kevin Durant, the Nets were dealt a further blow when Kyrie Irving was ruled out due to a calf problem.

Irving's injury came just a day after news broke of his wish to leave the Nets, with the point guard having handed in a trade request.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics star was not in attendance at the Barclays Center, though that decision was a joint one with the team's management.

A bleak end to the week looked set to be compounded as the Warriors held a healthy 23-point lead, yet the Nets fought back partly thanks to Thomas' efforts.

He scored a career-high, game-leading 44 points, while Edmond Sumner chipped in with 29 as the Wizards – who lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday – became the first team in the past 25 seasons to throw away 20+ point leads on consecutive days.

Kristaps Porzingis top scored for the Wizards with 38 points.

James gets closer but Pelicans end losing streak

LeBron James is now just 36 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing NBA record, yet his efforts were not enough for the Los Angeles Lakers against the New Orleans Pelicans.

James added 27 more points to his total on Saturday, though the Lakers lost 131-126 to a Pelicans team that had suffered 10 straight defeats.

While Anthony Davis was the Lakers' standout performer with a double-double of 34 points and 14 rebounds, Brandon Ingram's 35-point haul led the Pelicans, who moved onto .500 for the season.

Curry concern for Warriors

Stephen Curry scored 21 points, added six rebounds and provided seven assists but hobbled out of the Golden State Warriors' 119-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Curry must now await results of an MRI scan, which is set to take place on Sunday, to determine the severity of the issue.

Reigning NBA champions Golden State nevertheless got the job done without him in the final quarter, getting over the line against a Dallas side missing their star man Luka Doncic.

Draymond Green's 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists were crucial, with Spencer Dinwiddie's game-high 25 points not enough for the Mavs, who have lost seven in 11.

Nuggets tie with Celtics

The Boston Celtics lost for the fourth time in six games on Friday and the Denver Nuggets capitalised to tie level as joint-NBA leaders.

Denver beat the Atlanta Hawks 128-108, with Nikola Jokic (14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists) claiming his 18th triple-double of the season while Jamal Murray turned on the style with his season-best tally of 41 points.

The Nuggets are now tied with the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics on 37-16 for the season and have won 19 of their last 20 home games.

Damian Lillard's red-hot scoring form continued on Monday as he posted his eighth 40-point game of the season.

Lillard was the star of the show in the Portland Trail Blazers' 129-125 home win against the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 42 points on 10-of-21 shooting after finishing a perfect 17-of-17 from the free throw line. Only Joel Embiid (nine), Giannis Antetokounmpo (10) and Luka Doncic (11) have scored 40 more often this season.

He outdueled Dejounte Murray of the Hawks, who was terrific in his own right, collecting a career-high 40 points (13-of-26 shooting), eight rebounds and seven assists.

Having already claimed the record as the Trail Blazers' all-time leading scorer earlier this season, Lillard is showing no signs of slowing down, and is on pace for arguably the best statistical season of his career.

He is averaging a career-high 30.4 points per game, while also tying his career-best field goal percentage of 46.3. Lillard has never averaged more than the 4.1 three-pointers he is making each game, while he is also on track for his fourth season with at least seven assists per game, and his fourth season shooting at least 90 per cent from the line.

He started the season in fine fashion as he posted back-to-back 41 point games in the opening week, but after his scoring average dipped to 22.3 in November, Lillard has hit a rich vein of form since the beginning of the new year.

The six-time All-NBA selection is averaging 34.5 points per game in January – trailing only Philadelphia 76ers powerhouse Embiid with 34.9 – and nobody in the league is averaging better than Lillard's 38.8 points across their past 10 contests.

Portland are 19-19 in the 38 games their star point guard has suited up for this season, and are 5-7 without him, but that does not accurately portray how valuable Lillard is for his franchise.

Lillard's overall plus/minus this season of plus 129 is the best figure on the team, while Josh Hart (plus 110) is the only other player with a mark better than Jusuf Nurkic's plus 52.

His impact on the Trail Blazers' offense is massive, as the team boasts an offensive rating of 118.7 while he is on the floor, but it drops to 112.4 when he is on the bench or not available. For reference, that 118.7 mark is higher than the league-leading Denver Nuggets (117.4), while 112.4 would tie them with the 23rd-ranked Los Angeles Clippers.

Lillard will likely not receive any MVP consideration unless the Blazers make a late push into the Western Conference's top-six, but since the calendar flipped over to 2023 there has arguably not been a better player in the sport.

The ascension of Houston Rockets centrepiece Jalen Green continued on Monday as he scored a career-high 42 points in a 119-114 home win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Green, 20, was the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and he is living up to the hype as one of the game's most electrifying young scorers.

Against the Timberwolves, Green shot 15-of-25 from the field and six-of-12 from long range for his 42 points, four rebounds, four assists with a steal and a block.

The performance came only two games after he tied his career-high 41 points against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, and he is now averaging a team-high 21.7 points per contest with 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

He was not the only young Rockets prospect to show why he is viewed as the future of the franchise, as center Alperen Sengun put together another complete performance in what has been the best month of his career.

Also in his second season after being drafted by the Rockets in 2021, Sengun had 21 points on eight-of-12 shooting while adding seven rebounds and seven assists. It is his playmaking that is the most notable aspect of his growth.

After averaging 2.6 assists per game as a rookie, and no more than 2.8 during the months of October, November and December, he has put together figures of 18.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists during his 11 games since the new year began, including a streak of seven consecutive performances with at least six assists.

Despite the win, the Rockets still own the worst record in the NBA at 11-36, and Houston fans will be desperate to add future number one draft pick Victor Wembenyama to their promising young core.

Bucks become fourth team to reach 150 this season

The Milwaukee Bucks had their biggest offensive explosion of the season as they erupted in a 150-130 demolition of the Detroit Pistons.

Despite the Pistons putting up 130 points of their own and the final score appearing competitive, the reality is they were never a chance as the Bucks opened up a 40-12 lead just eight minutes into the game.

Led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo's 29 points (eight-of-15 shooting), 12 rebounds and four assists, the Bucks tied for the league's second-highest score this season, trailing only the Sacramento Kings' 153-121 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in November.

Bulls make it three wins in a row

The Chicago Bulls tied their longest winning streak of the season as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks 111-100 for their third in a row.

In a clash between two teams on the Eastern Conference playoff bubble it was DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic rising to the occasion on an inefficient night for the recently red-hot Zach LaVine.

DeRozan scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting, adding six assists and three steals, while Vucevic grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds while also chipping in 14 points and seven assists.

The Bulls are now 22-24, one game behind the Hawks (24-24) in the East's eighth seed.

The Memphis Grizzlies' achieved a franchise record 11th straight win with Desmond Bane and Ja Morant starring in a thrilling 115-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Darius Garland had a three-point shot on the buzzer blocked by Dillon Brooks, after Steven Adams tipped in with 16 seconds left after Morant's miss.

Bane top scored for the Grizzlies with 25 points, including five-of-eight three-point shooting. Morant added 24 points with eight assists for Memphis, who improved to 31-13, along with 20-3 at home.

Morant had spent time in the locker room in the first quarter after copping a knee to his neck, but re-entered the game in the second quarter.

Game-winner Adams scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, while Jaren Jackson Jr had an excellent all-round game with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four blocks.

Memphis also managed an 11th consecutive game with 115 or more points.

The Cavs were missing Donovan Mitchell due to a groin strain, with Garland top scoring with 24 points on five-of-11 three-point shooting along with 14 assists.

Caris LeVert added 23 points with four rebounds and six assists, with power forward Evan Mobley scoring 18 points and bringing down 15 rebounds with two blocks. The Cavs are now 28-18.

Trae downs Doncic as Hawks win fourth straight

The Atlanta Hawks continued their run of momentum with their fourth straight win in a 130-122 victory over Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks.

Dejounte Murray scored 30 points, making four-of-six three-pointers, while John Collins added 19 along with 18 from Trae Young plus 12 assists, as the Hawks secured a season-best four-game winning streak to move above .500 at 23-22.

Doncic, who was traded as a top-five pick for Young at the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 30 points for the Mavs, but only 11 after quarter-time, while he gave up seven turnovers.

Jokic adds another franchise record in Nuggets win

Nikola Jokic recorded his 14th triple-double of the season as he surpassed Alex English for the most assists in franchise history in the Denver Nuggets' 122-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The MVP candidate finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, going past English's 3,680-assist franchise record with a dime for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Jamal Murray added 28 points for the Nuggets, who secured their eighth straight win and 15th successive victory at home to remain top in the west, at 32-13.

The New York Knicks have now won six of their past seven games after Jalen Brunson excelled in a 112-108 victory against the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Brunson, who is averaging career-highs in points (21.9) and assists (6.4) since signing with the Knicks in the offseason, was once again his side's best player.

He scored a team-high 34 points on 12-of-24 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists, continuing the red-hot form that has seen him average 33.2 points, 5.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds on 52 per cent shooting since the new year began.

Another player in scintillating form since the start of January is Knicks forward Julius Randle, and he is now averaging 24.8 points and 14.4 rebounds this month after putting up 23 points (eight-of-19 shooting) and 16 rebounds.

The Knicks overcame a terrific performance from Wizards wing Kyle Kuzma, who scored a season-high 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting with seven rebounds and seven assists.

New York are now 24-19, and sit sixth in the Eastern Conference.

No Jokic, no problem for the Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets showed they can survive without reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic as they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 115-103.

It was just the third contest Jokic has missed out of 41 total opportunities, but while on the sidelines nursing a wrist injury he watched Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr pick up the slack.

Murray scored a team-high 24 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists, while Porter had 22 points (nine-of-17) with four rebounds and three assists.

The highlight of the game came courtesy of Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who dunked on the head of Zeke Nnaji on his way to 24 points (10-of-21) and nine rebounds.

Hawks bigs deliver the win

Despite having two All-Stars in their backcourt, the Atlanta Hawks frontcourt came to the rescue in a 113-111 triumph over the Indiana Pacers.

Third-year center Onyeka Okongwu was tremendous with 18 points (nine-of-12 shooting), a career-high 20 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals. 

His interior partner, John Collins, was less impactful for the first three quarters, and while he only finished with seven points, he scored the game-winning tip-in with less than a second remaining on the clock.

LeBron James claimed it does not feel right to match records when it comes in "a losing effort".

James is averaging 28.9 points per game this season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and amassed 25 points in Friday's 130-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

That victory made it four wins on the bounce for the Lakers, who have begun a bounce back from a dismal streak of one win in six.

But the Lakers remain 12th in the Western Conference with an 18-21 record for the season.

James, who turned 38 last month, is closing in on the all-time regular-season points record, held by former Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who accumulated 38,387 across a long career.

Yet James is not interested in achievements if they come when the team are struggling.

"I want to win. [The losing is] not sitting well with me," James told ESPN.

"I don't like having accomplishments, and it don't feel right, when it comes in a losing effort.

"We sit here right now as a franchise and as a team that's below .500. We've been playing some good basketball as of late, but we want to and I want to win at the highest level.

"Breaking records or setting records or passing greats in a losing effort has never been a DNA of mine."

James was instrumental for the Lakers against the Hawks, adding 10 assists and seven rebounds to his tally of points.

Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn also impressed for the Lakers, who were depleted by injuries. Indeed, James himself had only just recovered from illness.

Westbrook said: "There are going to be times where guys go down, unfortunately, and we have a group of guys that have just been preparing themselves for when it's their moment to play and play well.

"[It] seems like we've been hitting a good stride of figuring that out."

Coach Darvin Ham said: "It's motivating them to step their games up. They know I'll put anybody out there, and if they're playing the right way, they'll play a significant amount of minutes."

Zach Lavine torched the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night to deliver a 126-112 road win for the Chicago Bulls.

Lavine finished two points off his season-high with 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, and he made history with his marksmanship from long range.

He hit 11 of his 13 three-point attempts (84.6 per cent), joining Stephen Curry as the only players in NBA history to hit at least 11 three-pointers in a game at over 80 per cent efficiency.

Over his past five games, Lavine is averaging 27.6 points while shooting 54.8 per cent from the field, 55.3 per cent from deep and 96.2 per cent at the free throw line.

Against the 76ers, Lavine was supported well by third-year forward and former top-five draft pick Patrick Williams, who scored 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting with six rebounds. 

It is the latest impressive sign from Williams, who had his best game of the season on Wednesday with 22 points (six-of-eight shooting), seven rebounds and two steals in an upset win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 76ers were without franchise centrepiece Joel Embiid, and James Harden put together a poor performance, finishing four-of-17 from the field for his 17 points and 11 assists.

Chicago have won seven of their past 10 to improve their record to 18-21 – two games behind the Eastern Conference's eight seed, currently occupied by the Miami Heat (20-19).

Lakers win fourth on the trot

LeBron James was at his playmaking best in the Los Angeles Lakers' 130-114 victory on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.

James had 17 points and 10 assists at three-quarter time, and after the Hawks cut the margin to 10 points early in the last period, James responded by scoring eight of the Lakers' next 10 points to put the game to bed.

He shot 10-of-19 for his 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with another triple-double off the bench, posting 18 points (seven-of-14), 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Nuggets take top spot in the West

The Denver Nuggets (26-13) are now alone atop the Western Conference standings after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-108.

It is the Nuggets' ninth win from their past 11 fixtures, and they were once again carried by reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Jokic averaged 29.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.1 assists during the month of December as he continues to build a case to become the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird from 1984-86.

Klay Thompson recalled his lowest moments from an extended time on the sidelines after posting his best scoring performance of the season on Monday.

Thompson, who missed over two and a half years through injury before returning to the court last January, scored 54 points as the Golden State Warriors sealed an overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks.

The 32-year-old, who also had eight rebounds and three assists, made 21 of 39 field goal attempts and 10 of 21 from beyond the arc as the Warriors won 143-141 at Chase Center.

"It's better than good, [it's] amazing,'' Thompson said after his performance. "Those moments where you have the ball with the game on the line down the stretch and your team-mates trust you, those are what you really live for as a competitor, as a basketball player. It was hard to see those at times during the rehab process."

The defending NBA champions have struggled on the road this season, but their far more reliable home form saw them move to 20-18, with 17 of those wins coming at Chase Center.

Coach Steve Kerr was particularly pleased with the effort of Thompson, saying: "He just made shot after shot and play after play, he was incredible."

Kevon Looney scored the winning basket right at the final buzzer in second overtime, making up for a miss just prior, and laughed when asked if he had ever scored a game-winner before.

"Not a walkoff game-winner," Looney said. "I rushed the first one. I didn't think I had that much time, but I saw I had more time, so I took my time on the second one and I was able to make it."

LeBron James thought he could become "one of the greatest players" in NBA history as a teenager after the Los Angeles Lakers man enjoyed a birthday game to remember.

The superstar forward celebrated his 38th birthday in style with a mammoth 47-point performance to steer his side to a 130-121 comeback win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

In his 20th season now, James continues to build upon a legacy that already includes four championships, four MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals, among other accolades.

Reflecting on his time in the NBA, he put himself into the shoes of his younger self and spoke of the ambition he had two decades ago to prove he could thrive in the sport.

"I feel better than [I felt at] 18," James said. "I didn't know what I could become at 18.

"But I just knew if I continued to put in the work, I continued to be true to the game, then I could be one of the greatest players to ever play this game.

"I just always believed that. There are times when I'm on the floor where I do feel like a kid again. That's for sure."

James' dominant performance, which also included 10 rebounds and nine assists at State Farm Arena, continued to showcase his age-defying skills on the court.

He is the third-oldest active player in the NBA right now, behind Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala, and he sees no reason why he cannot play on further.

"[I have got to] make sure my mind stays fresh, and my body, more importantly," he added. "As long as I keep my mind fresh, my body will follow."

LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday with 47 points in a near triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers downed the Atlanta Hawks 130-121 on Friday.

James scored 47 points on 18-of-27 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds and nine assists, showing the four-time NBA MVP is evergreen.

The 18-time All-Star scored 16 points in both the second and fourth quarters on his way to a season-high points haul.

The Lakers rallied back from a 15-point deficit before getting the edge in a tight fourth quarter, with James' three-pointer giving them a 103-101 lead which they never surrendered.

James iced the game with a pair of free-throws amid chants of "MVP! MVP!" from the State Farm Arena crowd, who appeared to be willing to switch allegiance for the star on his birthday.

Thomas Bryant scored 19 points with a  season-high 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook added 14 points and 11 assists off the bench.

Trae Young returned from a calf contusion for the Hawks to top score with 29 points and eight assists, while Dejounte Murray contributed 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.

The result improves the Lakers to a 15-21 record, having lost nine of their past 13 games entering the game. The Hawks fell to 17-19 having lost their past three.

Giannis drops another 40-point game

Giannis Antetokounmpo powered an almighty third-quarter comeback from the Milwaukee Bucks, who won 123-114 over the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropping 40 points for the fourth time in six games.

The Bucks trailed 61-50 at half-time, but won the third 39-22 led by Antetokounmpo, who finished the game with 43 points on 14-of-23 shooting with 20 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Milwaukee had good contributions off the bench from Bobby Portis with 22 points and 14 rebounds and Joe Ingles with 14 points and 10 assists. Anthony Edwards top scored for the Wolves with 30 points and 10 rebounds.

McCollum hits franchise-record 11 threes

C.J. McCollum scored a franchise-record 11 three-pointers on his way to 42 points as the New Orleans Pelicans downed the Philadelphia 76ers 127-116.

McCollum shot 11-of-16 from beyond the arc in a dazzling display, well supported by Zion Williamson with 36 points on 13-of-19 shooting with five rebounds.

Joel Embiid was strong for the 76ers with 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists, while James Harden added 20 points including four triples and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving said stepping up in "winning time" is "all I really know" after he played a big part in the Brooklyn Nets' 108-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Irving scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets extended their winning streak to 10 games at State Farm Arena on Wednesday.

The influential Irving also provided eight assists as Brooklyn recorded the longest run of victories in the NBA this season.

Irving said: "For me specifically, when the fourth quarter hits, it's winning time.

"That's all I really know. When I'm out there with that group to start the fourth, I know KD [Kevin Durant] is resting a little bit, so I just have to raise my aggression level and raise my efficiency up, and I'm grateful to have the trust of my team-mates and coaching staff.'"

Durant weighed in with 26 points and claimed a season-high 16 rebounds as the Nets continued their charge.

"I think the whole second half we were there for each other,'" Durant said. '"We made a couple of adjustments on a couple of guys and we were able to execute that.

"We were able to slow them down just a little bit."

Hawks coach Nate McMillan could not fault his players after they suffered back-to-back defeats to slip to 17-18.

"I saw fight from our guys tonight," McMillan said. "You can live with that. I thought from start to finish we stepped up and played.

"We didn't think about the guys that were out. The guys that were playing came out and played to win."

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