Joel Embiid is simply focusing on staying healthy rather than paying too much attention to his chances of picking up a second MVP Award.

Embiid has played 28 times for the Philadelphia 76ers this season, and returned from his latest injury layoff to finish with 41 points and 10 rebounds in a 124-115 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday.

That was Embiid's seventh 40-point double-double of the season, and he now has 42 games of at least 40 points and 10 rebounds, the seventh-highest tally in the history of the league.

However, the reigning league MVP can miss only eight of the remaining 44 regular-season games if he is to be considered for the award this time around.

Embiid, though, suggested that is not his main concern.

"It doesn't matter how many games I play; the goal is to be healthy the rest of the year," Embiid said Monday.

"I've already done it. If I have a chance to get a second one, I'll do it. I'm not going to force myself or push for it.

"My game is always going to speak for itself. We're winning. That's the main thing. We've got to keep winning and you put in the stats to be in the [MVP] conversation that's great, too.

"But at the end of the day, if there's something going on, and I can't meet the requirement for the amount of games played to qualify for that, then so be it."

Philadelphia have won just three games without Embiid this season, losing seven. They are 22-6 with him in the team.

His latest issue concerns a knee problem, but Embiid hopes he is over the worst of it.

"We look at the long run and what's coming up next," Embiid said.

"Hopefully it doesn't swell up again."

Next up for the 76ers is a clash with Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.

"They're best team in the league, best player in the league and we've got to try and do our best to get a win," Embiid said.

"It's fun. I like the competition. Who doesn't want to play against the best?"

The Memphis Grizzlies got career-best scoring performances from Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson to overcome a slew of injured players and spoil Draymond Green's return to the Golden State Warriors' lineup in Monday's 116-107 win.

Williams amassed 24 points and seven rebounds and Jackson contributed 23 points off the bench on a night Memphis was without three of its top four scorers for the season in Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart.

Both players recorded eight fourth-quarter points as the Grizzlies pulled away late to halt a two-game losing streak and hand the reeling Warriors an eighth loss in 11 games.

Green had seven points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes in his first appearance in just over a month. The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year had just completed serving an indefinite NBA suspension for striking Phoenix Suns centre Jusuf Nurkic in the face on Dec. 12.

The Warriors owned a 91-90 lead following Stephen Curry's go-ahead 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but Memphis responded with a 16-5 run to break the game open. 

Jackson, who finished 5 of 8 from 3-point range, had two triples during the surge, which Luke Kennard capped with a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 106-96 advantage with 7:20 left.

Golden State never got closer than seven points behind the rest of the way.

Curry led the Warriors with 26 points and Jonathan Kuminga delivered 20 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

Mavericks down rival Pelicans behind big games from Irving, Hardaway

Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. each eclipsed the 40-point mark while rallying the Dallas Mavericks to a 125-120 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, a win that created a two-way tie atop the Southwest Division between the teams.

The Mavericks overcame a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter and another absence from superstar Luka Dončić to avenge Saturday’s 118-110 home loss to the Pelicans.

Irving and Hardaway more than made up for Doncic missing a third straight game with a sprained ankle. Irving scored 24 of his 42 points in the second half, while Hardaway had 11 of his season-high 41 points during a fourth quarter in which Dallas outscored New Orleans by a 33-21 margin.

The Pelicans held a 111-104 lead with seven minutes left before Dallas took control with a 17-4 run. Hardaway hit back-to-back 3-pointers during the pivotal spurt, the second of which gave the Mavericks a 112-111 edge with 4:16 remaining.

Jalen Green’s 3-pointer with 1:27 left to play extended Dallas’ advantage to 121-115, though New Orleans answered with five straight points to cut its deficit to one with 17.7 seconds remaining.

Irving then hit two free throws on the ensuing possession, and after the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram missed a potential game-tying 3-point attempt, Maxi Kleber made two foul shots to seal the win and pull Dallas even with New Orleans in the standings.

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 30 points and CJ McCollum had 23 in the loss, though Ingram went just 3 of 14 from the field while finishing with 12 points.

Jazz extend winning streak with rout of Pacers

Lauri Markkanen put up 32 points and 10 rebounds as the resurgent Utah Jazz continued their recent winning ways with a 132-105 rout of the short-handed Indiana Pacers.

The Jazz cruised to their sixth consecutive victory behind the hot shooting of Markkanen and Collin Sexton, who went 11 of 17 from the field while scoring a season-high 30 points to go along with five assists. Markkanen made 10 of 15 field goal attempts and was a perfect 10 for 10 from the foul line.

After getting off to a 7-16 start, Utah has won 15 of its last 19 games to move up to ninth place in the Western Conference.

The Pacers lost their second in a row while playing a fourth straight game without star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, out with a hamstring injury. Indiana was also without two other key contributors in guard Bruce Brown and 3-point specialist Aaron Nesmith due to injuries.

Indiana's depleted lineup proved to be no match, as the Jazz took a 33-26 lead after one quarter and increased it to 64-50 at half-time behind 17 points from Sexton and 15 from Markkanen.

Utah maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way, with its lead swelling to 29 points in the final stages.

Buddy Hield and Andrew Nembhard each had 14 points to lead Indiana.


Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown used a laptop to help demonstrate what he feels are calls to have gone against his team from the NBA officials.

Brown was ejected after he stormed onto the court to confront referee Intae Hwang during the fourth quarter of the Kings' 143-142 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

The Kings have lost three of their last five games, but coach Brown was not willing to let his team take full accountability for the loss to the Bucks.

Instead, during his postgame news conference, Brown wheeled out the technology to show what he believes were inconsistent calls from the referee.

"The referees are human, and they're going to make mistakes, but you just hope that there's some sort of consistency and there's some sort of communication between the refs," Brown said.

"The refs tonight, they were great, they communicated with me all night. But in terms of consistency, you guys saw it right here. In my opinion, the consistency wasn't here tonight.

"We had a chance to win the game and we didn't get it done," Brown said. "But I'm telling you, man, to go through [the inconsistency in calls], it's tough, man. It's tough to go through that."

Despite Brown's ejection, the Kings came back from 12 points behind to force overtime, in which they went ahead, only to be condemned to a defeat by Damian Lillard's long 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said: "It was like we had the game and they stole it from us and we took it back at the end.

"When they went up six, it would have been easy for us to throw in the towel, but those guys are resilient. Probably one of our best wins of the season."

The Bucks look to be back on form after a slump earlier in January, and have now won their last three games. They sit second in the Eastern Conference, with the Kings sixth in the West.

Damian Lillard's long 3-pointer just before the buzzer capped a remarkable rally in the final seconds of overtime for the Milwaukee Bucks, who came through with a thrilling 143-142 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

The Bucks trailed 141-137 with under 30 seconds left in overtime before pulling out a third straight victory on late 3-pointers by Brook Lopez and Lillard, who scored nine of his 29 points in extra time and added eight assists.

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 27 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, while Malik Beasley went 5 of 9 from 3-point range while finishing with 23 points and Bobby Portis contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. 

Sacramento put forth quite a comeback of its own before being dealt a second straight loss, as the Kings overcame a 12-point deficit with under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

Kevin Huerter led the Kings' comeback by scoring 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. Sacramento also received a 21-point, 13-rebound, 15-assist triple-double from Domantas Sabonis while getting 32 and 28 points from De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, respectively. 

Huerter buried a go-ahead 3-pointer and Monk followed with a jumper to give Sacramento a 141-137 lead with 33.9 seconds left in overtime. Monk missed two free throws on the Kings' next possession, however, and Lopez made them pay by sinking a corner 3 with 11.5 seconds remaining to cut the margin to one.

After Fox made 1 of 2 free throws to put the Kings up 142-140, Lillard dribbled past half-court and knocked home a 32-foot shot as time expired.

Milwaukee held a seemingly comfortable 113-101 lead with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, but the Kings gradually closed the gap and forced overtime when Fox drove the lane and scored with one second remaining to create a 128-128 tie.


Edwards sparks rally as Timberwolves hold off Clippers

Anthony Edwards scored 33 points and led a second-half surge that propelled the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 109-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in a clash of Western Conference division leaders.

Edwards recorded 20 of his points in the third quarter and added nine rebounds and six assists to help the Northwest Division leaders to a second straight victory. The win put the Timberwolves a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place in both the division and the West.

Minnesota outscored the Clippers by a 35-23 margin in the third quarter to take an 81-63 lead into the fourth, though Los Angeles cut an 11-point deficit down to three with an 8-0 run that trimmed the Timberwolves' advantage to 103-100 entering the final minute.

Rudy Gobert and Edwards combined to go 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the closing stages, however, to keep the Clippers at bay.

Gobert ended with 15 points along with a game-high 18 rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard finished with 26 points and nine rebounds for Pacific-leading Los Angeles, which lost for just the second time in 10 games. Norman Powell had 24 points off the bench on 9-of-12 shooting, but Paul George struggled to a 5-of-19 shooting night while finishing with 16 points in the loss..


Jokic just misses triple-double, leads Nuggets past Pacers

Nikola Jokić finished just shy of another triple-double and was one of four Denver starters with at least 20 points as the Nuggets posted a 117-109 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Jokic compiled 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to narrowly miss extending his league-leading triple-double total to 13. 

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. also had 25 points in the defending NBA champions' second straight victory, while Aaron Gordon recorded 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting along with 10 rebounds.

Denver went ahead to stay after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer that snapped a 71-71 tie midway through the third quarter. The Nuggets gradually extended the margin the rest of the way, and eventually went up comfortably when Jokic followed a Porter 3-pointer by tipping in Murray's missed shot with 3:16 remaining that increased their lead to 109-97.

Indiana, playing a third straight game without injured leading scorer Tyrese Haliburton, was led by former Nugget Bruce Brown's 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. The Pacers had won their first two games since Haliburton strained his hamstring on Jan. 8 and three straight overall. 


The worst two teams in the Eastern Conference pulled off a trade Sunday, as the Washington Wizards acquired Marvin Bagley, Isaiah Livers and two second-round draft picks from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Washington (7-31) will receive second-round picks in 2025 and 2026 from Detroit (3-36).

Bagley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 26 games this season. Livers has appeared in 23 games and is averaging 5.0 points and 2.1 boards.

Gallinari is averaging 7.0 points and just 14.8 minutes in 26 games per game after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Muscala hasn’t played much either, averaging 4.0 points and 14.1 minutes in 24 contests.

The trade comes one day before the Wizards host the Pistons as part of the NBA’s annual tradition of honouring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Jayson Tatum had no regrets after being ejected for the second time in six weeks on Saturday, being pulled up for back-to-back technical fouls as the Boston Celtics crushed the Houston Rockets.

Tatum had 27 points and eight assists in support of Jaylen Brown's 32 points as the Celtics stayed perfect at home, claiming a 145-113 victory over their former coach Ime Udoka and the Rockets.

League-leading Boston are now up to 30-9 and are 19-0 at TD Garden, having never previously started a season with more than 17 straight home wins.

The game ended on a slightly sour note for the Celtics, though, as Tatum was removed for two technicals in quick succession. 

Having received his first for complaining about a non-call when his arm was clearly struck during an attempted dunk with just over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Tatum continued to berate the officials then shouted at referee CJ Washington after being ejected.

Tatum has no regrets over his behaviour, however, suggesting he chose the right moment to air his grievances as Boston closed in on a blowout win.

"I'm a pretty self-aware person. I understand the time and score of the game, Tatum said. "The game was pretty much over. I've got to stand up for myself. I was frustrated. 

"At some point throughout the course of the night, you've got to stand up for yourself. This is not something I do every game or every night. Tonight, I just had to let them know how I felt.”

Boston coach Joe Mazzulla echoed those sentiments, saying: "In the NBA you have that space of having to defend yourself, and for me having to defend my guys. 

"There's a time and a place for everything, and you've just got to pick and choose your spots."

Asked about the non-call which led to Tatum's first technical, Mazzulla said: "When it comes to stuff like that, I try not to have an opinion."

Saturday's win – Boston's 10th in their last 13 games – came just 48 hours after a 33-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, and Brown recognised the importance of bouncing back.

"Last game we didn't feel like we were at our best," Brown said. "Today we wanted to come out and make sure we stayed undefeated on our home court."

Anthony Davis said the Los Angeles Lakers could not use LeBron James' injury-enforced absence as an excuse after the 39-year-old missed Saturday's 132-125 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

James rolled his left ankle during the first half of the Lakers' 127-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, staying in that contest but scoring a season-low 10 points in just 24 minutes on the court.

The NBA's all-time leading scorer was then absent as Los Angeles suffered their sixth defeat in eight games on Saturday, with D'Angelo Russell's season-high 39 points not enough in Salt Lake City.

Davis had a triple-double with 15 points, 15 boards and 10 assists but shot five of 21 from the field as the Lakers dropped to 19-21 for the season. 

While the 30-year-old pointed to the injury problems which have hampered Los Angeles throughout the campaign, he feels they have enough talent on the roster to win games without their stars. 

"We're not in a bad spot," Davis said. "It could be worse. Our injuries just piled up over and over. 

"As soon as we think we get a couple of guys back, guys go down. So, that's the toughest thing but we still have enough to win basketball games. 

"Even though Bron doesn't play, we have enough to win. We've just got to keep going. We've played 40 games, 42 left. We got to make a push. 

"These next five or six games at home are going to be a big stretch of games for us."

The Lakers, who sit 11th in the Western Conference standings, welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls to Arena in the next 11 days.

Jayson Tatum had 27 points and eight rebounds before he was ejected and the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 145-113 victory over former coach Ime Udoka and the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Jaylen Brown scored 32 points and Payton Pritchard added 19 to help the Celtics improve to 19-0 at home this season with their 26th straight regular-season home win.

Cam Whitmore scored 22 points and Alperen Sengun had 19 with 10 rebounds for Houston, which dropped to .500 with their third loss in four games.

Udoka was coaching in Boston for the first time since he was suspended, and then fired, on the eve of the 2022-23 season for inappropriate workplace behaviour.


Surging Jazz defeat Lakers

Lauri Markkanen tallied 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists to help the Utah Jazz stay hot with a 132-123 win over the slumping Los Angeles Lakers.

Collin Sexton scored 27 points and Jordan Clarkson added 21 as the Jazz won their fifth straight overall and eighth in a row art home.

With LeBron James out with a left ankle injury, D’Angelo Russell picked up the slack with a season-high 39 points and eight assists. Anthony Davis had a triple-double with 15 points, 15 boards and 10 assists but shot 5 of 21 from the field as the Lakers dropped their sixth in eight games.


Win gives Thunder share of West lead

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 37 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the short-handed Orlando Magic, 112-100 for tie for the Western Conference lead.

Jalen Williams scored 16 points and Chet Holmgren had 15 to help the Thunder win their fourth straight and match Minnesota with a 27-11 record.

Paolo Banchero had 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but the Magic dropped their third in a row. They played without Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris and Joe Ingles.


Michael Malone revelled in another brilliant display from Nikola Jokic after the Denver Nuggets talisman starred against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jokic finished with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds to record his 10th career triple-double against the Pelicans in a 125-113 home victory for Denver on Friday.

The highlight of the two-time MVP's performance was a blind, behind-the-back, over-the-head pass towards the end of the first half, which Aaron Gordon latched onto at the rim.

And coach Malone saw echoes of NBA great Magic Johnson in Jokic's moment of brilliance.

He said: "I didn't imagine the behind-the-back, over-the-head pass.

"When you’re a young kid watching NBA basketball, that's Magic Johnson, that's 'Pistol' Pete Maravich, the guys that just had this pizazz to their game.

"Nikola can beat you a lot of ways and that was definitely one of the best passes I've seen him make."

Jokic explained: "I just saw him for a blink of an eye, and I just wanted to pass to him as soon as I can.

"Because he's open in that moment, not a moment after that. So, that was the quickest way to pass him the ball."

Reflecting on the Nuggets' performance as they bounced back from a defeat to the Utah Jazz, Jokic, who has now had 12 triple-doubles this season and is shooting 79.3 percent over his last eight games, added: "We played a little bit faster, I think.

"We were the ones who were aggressive. We pushed the pace. I think that was the difference."

Zion Williamson scored 30 points for the Pelicans, but New Orleans was left to lament a poor start in which the Nuggets scored 37 points.

Pelicans coach Willie Green said: "They got off to an early start in this building.

"They had a 37-point first quarter to 25, now it's an uphill battle the rest of the game. That's something they do well.

"They get off to early starts and then they played with a lead. We've got to be better starting a game."

The Nuggets (27-13) are third in the Western Conference, four spots ahead of the Pelicans (23-16). Denver has a 16-4 record at home going into their next game against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

Klay Thompson felt the Golden State Warriors "had to win" as they produced an impressive second-half comeback to defeat the Chicago Bulls.

The Warriors rallied for a 140-131 win at United Center, erasing a 13-point halftime deficit with a strong turnaround.

Thompson scored 30 points and there were 27 from Stephen Curry, although 15 of those points came in the fourth quarter as he overcame a slow start.

Golden State improved to 18-20 after Thompson drained seven 3-pointers, with Curry hitting six from deep.

The Warriors dominated the third quarter 48-20 and led by 15 entering the fourth after Chicago had raced ahead in the first half, when they scored a season-high 72 points.

It was a key win with further road games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz up next for the Warriors.

"This was a game we felt we had to win, especially with the upcoming road trip," Thompson said, per NBC Sports Bay Area.

"When our spirit is right, things tend to go our way. Those last two games, we just felt like they were anomalies of the season.

"We have been fighting so hard, with so many close battles lost. We were not discouraged. We know that it is a long season with ebbs and flows.

"Even though we got beat probably a combined 100 [points], we responded."

Curry finished just 8 of 24 from the field, but did have nine assists, while Jonathan Kuminga added 24 points from the bench as Golden State won despite being without Moses Moody, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II and Draymond Green.

Green is working on his conditioning after his recent suspension.

"I can't wait until Draymond is back," added Thompson. "We are not the Warriors without him.

"Hopefully within these next couple of games, maybe Memphis or Utah would be great. I think he makes the biggest impact defensively."

The Bulls fell to 18-22 despite a game-high 39 points from DeMar DeRozan, while Zach LaVine and Coby White scored 25 points each.

"They did a great job adjusting, coming out and changing up the game plan," DeRozan said about Warriors' turnaround. 

"You can never count them out no matter how big of a lead we have."

The Warriors are 12th in the Western Conference as they fight to reach the playoff positions in the standings.

"It is nice to win a game like that where I know individually I can shoot the ball better but we won a game collectively," Curry said. 

"We have a standard that we want to live up to for ourselves. 

"We are not going to win every game, but you just want to play better and I think we did that."

Coach Steve Kerr was impressed with the response after the Warriors were booed in the big home losses against the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans this week.

He said: "The whole group, the whole team, was just committed to 'Let's go out and win'.

"I'm very proud of them. They have taken a lot of heat; we have all taken a lot of heat this past week. Deservedly so. But this is what you do as a pro. A lot of these guys are champions. You have got to respond, and they did.

"We got off track emotionally and spiritually the last couple of games. Our fans could feel it. We got booed for the first time since I've been here, 10 years. 

"And, as I said, both nights we deserved it because our energy and our competitive spirit were not there. We found that again."

Klay Thompson scored 30 points in one of his best performances of the season, Jonathan Kuminga scored 24 off the bench and the Golden State Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls 140-131 on Friday, bouncing back from a pair of troubling losses.

The Warriors trailed 75-62 at half-time but outscored the Bulls 48-20 in the third quarter to seize the lead.

Golden State flew to Chicago after a 2-5 home-stand that ended with a 141-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Thompson shot 9 of 19 from the field, including 7 for 15 from 3-point range, and added six rebounds and six assists.

Kuminga was 9 for 12 from the floor and made all four of his 3-point attempts. Stephen Curry scored 27 despite 8-of-24 shooting.

DeMar DeRozan 39 for the Bulls, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.


Wembanyama, Spurs spoil LaMelo Ball’s return

Victor Wembanyama had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs routed the Charlotte Hornets 135-99, souring LaMelo Ball’s return from a right ankle injury.

Ball, who last played on Nov. 26, scored 28 points, dished out five assists and had five steals in 27 minutes of action.

Wembanyama needed just 20 minutes on the court to get his numbers as the Spurs won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 2.

Friday’s game was billed as the first matchup between Wembanyama, the first pick in last year’s draft, and No. 2 pick Brandon Miller, but Miller exited after just nine minutes with a lower back contusion.


Jokic has another triple-double as Nuggets beat Pelicans

Nikola Jokic recorded his 12th triple-double of the season and continued his red-hot shooting streak as the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 125-113.

Jokic finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists and shot 11 for 17 from the field. The reigning Finals MVP is shooting 79.3 percent over his last eight games.

Zion Williamson scored 30 in the loss for the Pelicans.

Chauncey Billups lamented a "perfect storm" as the Portland Trail Blazers fell to a 139-77 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

The 62-point margin of defeat was the joint-fifth largest in NBA history and marked a record victory for the Thunder in franchise history.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander registered 31 points at Paycom Center and Jalen Williams 21, while Josh Giddey had a triple-double.

"It was almost like a perfect storm, to be honest with you," Billups told reporters after the game. "Nothing really worked for us.

"I mean, this was, sheesh – not much really good to say about this one for us. 

"I thought that we generated some pretty good looks in the first half. The fact that we couldn't make pretty much anything deflated us."

Only once before have the Trail Blazers been on the end of a worse defeat – a 65-point loss to Indiana Pacers in 1998.

The victory for Oklahoma City was their third in a row, having also defeated the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards this week.

Coach Mark Daigneault was particularly pleased with how his side adapted after returning home in the early hours of the same day.

"I thought we cleared a couple hurdles tonight," Daigneault said. 

"The first one was the start of the game, how ready we were to play and the energy we were able to generate with a tough schedule.

"It's mind over matter. And then the other hurdle was playing with a lead. I thought we played pretty well with a lead, both ends of the floor."

Oklahoma City's previous record margin of victory was 45 points, which they registered twice in the 2012-13 season.

The 26-11 Thunder are level with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the Western Conference. Portland are 10-27 and are in 14th.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to see more urgency from the Milwaukee Bucks after suggesting "fear factor" inspired his team to a big victory over the Boston Celtics.

Antetokounmpo scored 24 points, including a brilliant dunk, and finished with 12 rebounds as the Bucks snapped out of their January slump with a dominant 135-102 win over Boston on Thursday.

The Bucks had lost four of their previous five games, though some well-timed days off and a good practice session helped them reset.

And while acknowledging the Bucks will not always be able to turn it on as they did against the Celtics, Antetokounmpo wants to see the same level of urgency and motivation in every game.

"There was a respect-slash-fear factor also that's very important for this team, that we have to go out there and play at our best today," Antetokounmpo said.

"There was more urgency. Losing four out of five games. We had to be better, to play better.

"We had a great practice, talked about what we could do better, and guys were more urgent. We were very assertive, defensively we were helping one another.

"The team has to be more urgent, we have to respect the other team. We have to do this every single night.

"There'll be nights we play bad, where the other team makes the shots, but having a good practice and a couple of days off, that helped."

Bobby Portis added 28 points to the Bucks' total, combining with Antetokounmpo to devastating effect in a 25-0 burst midway through the first half.

"I love the way we responded," said Bucks coach Adrian Griffin. "We responded like champions today."

The Celtics have lost two of their last three games, though still remain three wins ahead of the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings.

"We just didn't have it," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "That can happen from time to time."

Bobby Portis and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined to score 20 straight points during a 25-0 run midway through the first half and the Milwaukee Bucks coasted to a 135-102 rout of the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Portis finished with 28 points and Antetokounmpo added 24 while both players had 12 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 21 points in his return to the Bucks’ lineup after missing a 132-116 loss to Utah on Monday for personal reasons.

Milwaukee led by as many as 43 points and its 75-38 lead at the break was the fourth-biggest halftime advantage in franchise history.

Payton Pritchard scored 21 points for the Celtics, who missed 16 of their first 17 3-point attempts and finished 9 of 34 from deep. Boston was back in action after beating Minnesota in overtime on Wednesday and looked fatigued.

The Celtics allowed their highest point total of the season and dropped their second straight road game.

Giddey leads Thunder to historic rout

Josh Giddey had a triple-double and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder matched the fifth-largest rout in NBA history, 139-77 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jalen Williams scored 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting and Giddey finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which was on the wrong end of the NBA’s biggest blowout, a 73-point loss to Memphis on Dec. 2, 2021.

The Thunder’s 62-point win shattered their previous record for victory margin of 45 points, set twice during the 2012-13 season.

Portland shot a dismal 27.7 percent from the field and suffered its second-worst loss, having fallen by 65 to Indiana on Feb. 27, 1998.

Irving’s big game lifts Mavericks

Kyrie Irving poured in a season-high 44 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 32 to lead the short-handed Dallas Mavericks to a 128-124 win over the New York Knicks.

Josh Green scored 18 points, the last coming on a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give Dallas a 124-120 lead. Irving and Hardaway combined to make four free throws in the final 11.1 seconds to seal the win.

Dallas superstar Luka Doncic sat out with an ankle injury and Dereck Lively II and Dante Exum also missed the game.

Julius Randle scored 32 points and Jalen Brunson had 30 for the Knicks, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since acquiring OG Anunoby from Toronto on Dec. 30.

Victor Wembanyama was delighted to make a "statement" with his first NBA triple-double on Wednesday, having helped the San Antonio Spurs past the Detroit Pistons with a dominant display.

Last year's number one draft pick finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists at Little Caesars Arena as the Spurs ended a five-game losing streak with a 130-108 win over their struggling opponents.

In doing so, Wembanyama – at the age of 20 years and six days – became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double with no turnovers since turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78, surpassing Andre Iguodala, who did so aged 21 years and 54 days in 2005.

Wembanyama's achievement was made all the more impressive by the fact he played just 21 minutes and two seconds overall, the second-fewest minutes needed for a triple-double in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55).

The Frenchman was under a minute away from the outright record, with Russell Westbrook having recorded a triple-double in 20 minutes and 17 seconds for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2014, against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Speaking after the win, Wembanyama said of his landmark performance: "Doing it in a win is everything, of course. I didn't know it was the second-fastest in NBA history. 

"It matters to me. I'm not the type to talk for nothing. This is the kind of statement we want to make as a team, and this is the type of statement I want to make as a player."

The Pistons were one of the teams who had hoped to recruit Wembanyama, with Detroit having failed to secure the first overall draft pick despite finishing with the league's worst record last year.

Asked about Detroit's previous interest in him, Wembanyama said: "It's weird to imagine a different future and what could have been."

Detroit also have the worst record in the NBA this season, sitting at 3-35 after losing six straight games. Their current losing run started after a win over the Toronto Raptors in late December, which itself halted a joint-record 28-game losing streak.

Pistons coach Monty Williams was unimpressed after a poor first quarter set the tone for another disappointing outing, saying: "The focus and discipline wasn't there.

"There's nobody to look at other than me, not having guys ready to play."

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