The Golden State Warriors ended the Phoenix Suns' franchise-record 18-game winning streak with a 118-96 victory to re-claim top spot in the Western Conference on Friday.

Stephen Curry top scored for the Warriors with 23 points including six of 11 from three-point range, after managing only 12 points in the defeat to the Suns on Tuesday.

The defeat was Phoenix's first since October 27 against the Sacramento Kings, although they were without All-Star guard Devin Booker with a hamstring injury.

Curry had 15 points by half-time for the Warriors, who led by 27 points at one stage. Gary Payton II scored 19 points off the bench.

The Suns had few winners, with Deandre Ayton scoring 23 points with six assists, while veteran Chris Paul had 12 points with eight assists.

 

LeBron returns but Lakers lose

LeBron James returned after briefly entering COVID-19 protocols but was held to only seven points in the first half before finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the Los Angeles Lakers' 119-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers are now 12-12 for the season.

Kevin Durant also managed a double-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists as the Brooklyn Nets made it six victories in seven games as they won 110-105 over the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points as the Utah Jazz defeated the Boston Celtics 137-130.

Joel Embiid had a double-double as the Philadelphia 76ers shut down the Atlanta Hawks late to win 98-96. Embiid had 28 points, 12 rebounds and four assists as the 76ers won the fourth quarter 20-9 to claim a come-from-behind victory.

Kyle Lowry scored 26 points including six three-pointers with nine assists as the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 113-104, while Darius Garland starred with 32 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers won 116-101 over the Washington Wizards.

 

Doncic and George's shooting radar off

Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks were soundly beaten 107-91 by the New Orleans Pelicans with the Slovenian shooting none of six from beyond the arc, finishing 21 points and seven turnovers.

The Clippers may have won against the Lakers but Paul George's shooting was off, making zero of seven from three-point range, finishing the game with 19 points.

Phoenix Suns veteran guard Chris Paul says breaking the franchise's record win streak is a "nice piece of history" but insists he was not thinking about it in Thursday's win over the Detroit Pistons.

The Suns completed an 18th consecutive victory, downing the lowly Pistons 114-103 to improve to 19-3 record to top the Western Conference. Phoenix's 18 straight wins broke their previous franchise-best mark from the 2006-07 season of 17.

Paul, who had 12 points and 12 assists against the Pistons, has played in many successful sides before but found unique joy in the Suns' record-breaking streak, even if it was not at the front of his mind.

"It's cool. I really wasn’t thinking about it," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously it's a nice piece of history for the team but for us it's always about that feeling of playing the game the right way.

"We say this every night, a win is a win, but we feel like we could’ve played better."

He added: "It's exciting. Some were so long ago so you forget. To be on this journey with young guys and having rookies on the team, it's cool. It's also cool that guys aren’t stressing about it either. it just happened."

The Suns were without All-Star guard Devin Booker for the first time this season due to a hamstring injury but had plenty of contributions.

Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne both scored 19 points off the bench, while JaVale McGee added 10 points from 15 minutes too.

"We were hooping. It was like most nights," Paul said when asked about the side covering Booker.

"I aint surprised. I don’t expect anything less. It's how our team is. Every night it's someone else stepping up and we expect that."

Suns head coach Monty Williams was awarded Western Conference coach of the month prior to the game after an unbeaten November, with Paul offering up his praise.

"He's a big reason why I wanted to come play here, because of who he is as a person and as a coach, the principles and the accountability we have here," Paul said.

Chris Paul is confident that the Phoenix Suns depth can cover the likely loss of Devin Booker after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's franchise-tying 17th consecutive win.

The Suns defeated the table-topping Golden State Warriors 104-96 despite losing Booker in the second quarter after limping out of the game with a left hamstring injury.

Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said post-game there was no update on the extent of Booker's injury but Paul, who had 15 points and 11 assists, was bullish about the side's depth.

"Just keep playing," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "It's not one guy that's gonna fill that void.

"We've got so many guys like Elfrid Payton who hadn’t played the last few games and he's ready, comes right not the game. Cam Johnson, he started the second half.

"We've got so much on this depth that if somebody does go down, somebody will step up."

The Suns defense contained the Warriors to only 18 points in the final quarter and 42 in the second half.

Paul added: "With Book going down early in the game, it was a next-man-up mentality. Like coach always says, keep the ball moving, that's all we tried to do."

Booker was averaging 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season prior to the injury where he had 10 points, two rebounds and one assist to that point against the Warriors.

The 25-year-old shooting guard had missed four games after suffering a left hamstring strain last January.

"No, nothing yet," Williams said when asked about Booker's status. "We'll have more tomorrow."

Chris Paul is confident that the Phoenix Suns depth can cover the likely loss of Devin Booker after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's franchise-tying 17th consecutive win.

The Suns defeated the table-topping Golden State Warriors 104-96 despite losing Booker in the second quarter after limping out of the game with a left hamstring injury.

Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said post-game there was no update on the extent of Booker's injury but Paul, who had 15 points and 11 assists, was bullish about the side's depth.

"Just keep playing," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "It's not one guy that's gonna fill that void.

"We've got so many guys like Elfrid Paton who hadn’t played the last few games and he's ready, comes right not the game. Cam Johnson, he started the second half.

"We've got so much on this depth that if somebody does go down, somebody will step up."

The Suns defense contained the Warriors to only 18 points in the final quarter and only 42 in the second half.

Paul added: "With Book going down early in the game, it was a next-man-up mentality. Like coach always says, keep the ball moving, that's all we tried to do."

Booker was averaging 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season, prior to the injury where he had 10 points, two rebounds and one assist to that point against the Warriors.

The 25-year-old shooting guard had missed four games after suffering a left hamstring strain last January.

"No, nothing yet," Williams said when asked about Booker's status. "We'll have more tomorrow."

The Phoenix Suns have tied their franchise record 17 consecutive wins and moved level with the Golden State Warriors at the top of the table by beating them in a 104-96 win on Tuesday.

The Suns' record-equalling win came without Devin Booker who suffered a left hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return.

Deandre Ayton top scored with 24 points along with 11 rebounds while veteran guard Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists, but Phoenix's defense was critical to the win.

The Warriors only managed 61 points after quarter-time, with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green finishing the game with only 12 and eight points respectively.

Golden State had a season-high 22 turnovers, with Paul having five steals and Mikal Bridges also registering four steals.

The result means the Suns and Warriors both have 18-3 records across the season and will meet again on Friday.

 

Harden finds his groove

James Harden had his third 30-point game for the season, finishing with 34 points as the Brooklyn Nets won 112-110 over the New York Knicks. Harden had a double-double with 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Kevin Durant contributed 27 points and nine assists.

Top draft pick Cade Cunningham registered a career-high 26 points including five three-pointers as the Detroit Pistons lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 110-92.

In the absence of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane scored 25 and 23 points respectively  to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Toronto Raptors 98-91.

 

Kings struggle from range

The Sacramento Kings only managed six triples for the entire game as they were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers, without LeBron James, 117-92. Shooting guard Terence Davis went zero-for-four from beyond the arc. Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook had 25 and 23 points respectively in James' absence, after he entered the NBA's health and safety protocols prior to tip-off.

The Phoenix Suns have tied their franchise record 17 consecutive wins and moved level with the Golden State Warriors at the top of the table by beating them in a 104-96 win on Tuesday.

The Suns' record-equalling win came without Devin Booker who suffered a left hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return.

Deandre Ayton top scored with 24 points along with 11 rebounds while veteran guard Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists, but Phoenix's defense was critical to the win.

The Warriors only managed 61 points after quarter-time, with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green finishing the game with only 12 and eight points respectively.

Golden State had a season-high 22 turnovers, with Paul having five steals and Mikal Bridges also registering four steals.

The result means the Suns and Warriors both have 18-3 records across the season and will meet again on Friday.

 

Harden finds his groove

James Harden had his third 30-point game for the season, finishing with 34 points as the Brooklyn Nets won 112-110 over the New York Knicks. Harden had a double-double with 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Kevin Durant contributed 27 points and nine assists.

Top draft pick Cade Cunningham registered a career-high 26 points including five three-pointers as the Detroit Pistons lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 110-92.

In the absence of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane scored 25 and 23 points respectively  to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Toronto Raptors 98-91.

 

Kings struggle from range

The Sacramento Kings only managed six triples for the entire game as they were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers, without LeBron James, 117-92. Shooting guard Terence Davis went zero-for-four from beyond the arc. Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook had 25 and 23 points respectively in James' absence, after he entered the NBA's health and safety protocols prior to tip-off.

It is very early in the season to describe any game as being akin to a playoff matchup but Tuesday's meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns has an extremely compelling case for receiving such a label.

The Warriors have been the class of the NBA to this point, their record of 18-2 the best in the league.

However, their title credentials will be sternly tested in Phoenix, where they will face a 17-3 Suns team looking excellently placed to go one better in 2021-22 after losing in the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks last season.

The matchup between the two Pacific Division rivals will mark the first time in NBA history that two teams with a winning percentage of 85 or higher after a minimum of 20 games have faced each other.

In that sense, it is big as stages get in late November in the NBA, and the Warriors boast a player born to dominate such arenas in Stephen Curry.

 

Curry is enjoying another remarkable year, compiling a superb MVP resume after finishing third in the voting last term.

He is tied for the league lead in points per game (28.6) with former team-mate Kevin Durant, while his season-long plus-minus of 283 is comfortably the best in the NBA. Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a distant second on 197.

Curry's 105 made three-pointers are 20 more than nearest challenger Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings, seven of those coming on Sunday in another spectacular showing to propel the Warriors past the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

He will be the lead protagonist in what is likely to be a fascinating encounter between two excellent backcourts. With Klay Thompson still yet to return after two seasons lost to injury, Curry has received magnificent support from the emerging Jordan Poole, who has averaged 19.8 points per game this month and is one of five Warriors in the top 10 in plus-minus for November, illustrating the depth at their disposal.

Three Suns also reside in the top 10 of that list, including their two guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

Eleven-time All-Star Paul continues to defy Father Time and is again the Suns' chief creative force after helping them come within two wins of an NBA title.

Meanwhile, shooting guard Booker is hitting a career-high 41 per cent of his three-point attempts, perhaps setting things up for an absorbing back and forth between him and the man most regard as the greatest shooter of all time.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Golden State Warriors - Draymond Green

With the vast majority of the attention on the enduring brilliance of MVP favourite Curry, it would be easy to overlook the contribution of Green, who has served as chief facilitator for the Warriors' talisman.

Green has 106 assists to his name in the month of November. No other non-point guard has registered more.

Shooting a career-high 55.5 per cent from the field this season, Green is once again proving he can be a critical part of a potential championship team, and the Warriors will need him at his best on both ends of the floor to maximise their hopes of seeing off Phoenix.

Phoenix Suns - Chris Paul

From his time with the Clippers, through his prominent role in engrossing playoff battles between the Houston Rockets and the Warriors to his increasingly impressive spell with the Suns, matchups that see Paul go against Curry have long since been must-watch affairs.

The 'point God' has consistently been overshadowed by the shooting magic of Curry but, among your more conventional point guards, there is still arguably nobody better.

Paul leads the league with 10.1 assists per game this season, justifying the Suns' decision to bring him back on a lucrative contract after their Finals agony of the previous campaign.

He must ensure the Suns' offense outshines Curry and the Warriors this time around if Phoenix is to send an early message by knocking off Golden State.

KEY BATTLE - Can Warriors beat Ayton on the boards?

The Warriors have been among the best rebounding teams in the NBA this season.

Golden State have registered 47.1 rebounds per game, good for fifth in the league.

Meanwhile, the Suns rank 15th in the same category with 45.7, but do possess one of the top rebounders in the league in Deandre Ayton.

The Suns center is averaging 11.4 boards per game, the sixth-most in the NBA.

If the Warriors are to have the advantage on the glass in this one, they will need to find a way to mitigate Ayton's impact.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The Warriors prevailed 122-116 in the last meeting between the two teams, however, Golden State have won only one of their last four games against the Suns in Phoenix.

Chris Paul is embracing the prospect of the Phoenix Suns matching their franchise record streak of 17 consecutive wins ahead of Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

The Suns veteran, who reiterated that the ultimate goal is an elusive NBA title, had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists as Phoenix beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-107 on Saturday.

The win over the Nets moved the Suns' winning run to 16 games, within one victory of their franchise best, set in 2006-07.

"It would be nice," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously everybody knows the ultimate goal is to win a championship but if you don't enjoy the small victories throughout the regular season then what the hell are you doing?

"More than anything, we are having fun... We are going to keep taking it one game at a time and enjoy the moments because it's all about the journey."

The Suns, who were beaten in last season's NBA Finals by the Milwaukee Bucks, have a 17-3 record this season, only bettered by Tuesday's opponents Golden State (17-2).

"We know how good that team is over there," Paul added. "They have identity. They're led by Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green] and now they've got Iggy [Andre Igoudala]. That's a tough team anytime you play against them."

Devin Booker top scored for the Suns with 30 points against the Nets, including four three-pointers along with four assists.

On the potential franchise-equalling game, he added: "I am looking forward to it. "Obviously [it is] not a make it or break it game. Not a playoff game. But we know it will be a high-energy game.

"Two best records in the NBA. It is going to be a high intensity fun game."

The Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to 16 games on Saturday with a 113-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who gave up 20 turnovers for the game.

The Nets coughed up 15 turnovers in the first half alone as the Suns claimed an early lead and were never headed, led by Devin Booker (30 points and four assists) and Chris Paul (22 points, eight rebounds and five assists).

James Harden managed a triple-double but it was far from his best game with seven turnovers while only scoring 12 points, going zero-of-four from beyond the arc. Harden also had 13 rebounds and 14 assists.

Kevin Durant top scored for the Nets with 39 points along with nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals but also had five turnovers.

The Suns can equal their franchise record winning streak when they face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Phoenix's 17-3 mark for the season is their best record through 20 games since 2004-05.

 

Embiid returns with a bang

Joel Embiid scored 42 points and had 14 rebounds on his return after nine games out due to COVID-19 protocols but could not lift the sliding Philadelphia 76ers to victory, going down 121-120 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in double over-time. Embiid had a shot to win the game but was blocked by Anthony Edwards on the buzzer.

Luka Doncic scored 33 points with 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks were beaten 120-114 by the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal hitting 26 points. The Wizards improve to 13-7.

Houston Rockets center Christian Wood had a huge game with 33 points and 16 rebounds as his side defeated the Charlotte Hornets 146-143 in over-time.

 

Randle loses his handle

Julius Randle only managed eight points, shooting three-of-14 from the field as the New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 99-90.

The Phoenix Suns are keeping their eyes on the prize as they target NBA glory, with Chris Paul and Devin Booker playing down the team's winning streak.

Phoenix made it 15 consecutive wins thanks to Friday's 118-97 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Paul's 14 points and 10 assists, and Booker's 32 points fuelled the Suns to within two wins of equalling their franchise record for consecutive victories – 17 in 2006-07.

But after falling short in last season's NBA Finals, Paul and the Suns are solely focused on the business end of the campaign.

"This ain't a playoff game tomorrow [Sunday]," Paul said post-game in New York, where the Suns improved to 16-3 – a record only bettered by Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2) this season.

"It's good for us to go out there and compete, and we're probably gonna see different coverages and all that, but we're just trying to build, build.

"It's not about winning a game in November."

 

"We just wanted to get it going," said All-Star Booker. "It's no secret we have a streak going, and we're going to get every team's best shot.

"The whole NBA knows about that, so we just tried to set the tone early. Come out, play team basketball ... we did our job tonight."

Booker added: "We do one at a time. We know we have a tough opponent tomorrow that's been waiting on us, well-rested.

"So we just have to come in with the same mentality, play the type of basketball that we do, defend at a high level and put ourselves in good shape to get it done."

LeBron James returned from injury but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from suffering their third straight defeat going down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

Jayson Tatum starred for the Celtics with 37 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Marcus Smart was excellent with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

James had 23 points, six rebounds and two assists on his return from an abdominal strain, while Anthony Davis top scored for the Lakers with 31 points.

The four-time MVP showed no signs of injury in the first quarter, helping the Lakers to a strong start, combining with Davis for 22 points, which was their second most in an opening period in the past two seasons.

The Lakers held the lead at half-time but the Celtics hit back in the third quarter with an 8-0 run, opening up an 11-point lead at the final change after a 33-21 period.

The defeat means the 2020 NBA champions have lost seven of their past 10 games and slip to an 8-9 record, while the Celtics improve to 8-8.

 

Suns' hot streak continues

Chris Paul had 18 points and 14 assists as the Phoenix Suns secured their 11th straight win, triumphing 112-104 over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic due to knee and ankle injuries.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points and 19 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks' 96-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Khris Middleton passed Ray Allen for most three-pointers made in franchise history (1,052), hitting three triples in his 16 points.

The Golden State Warriors won without Stephen Curry (bruised hip) and Draymond Green (bruised thigh), with Jordan Poole stepping up with 32 points including four three-pointers in a 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

James Harden shot seven of 25 from the field and had six turnovers but finished with 36 points,10 rebounds and eight assists in Kevin Durant's absence ot lead the Brooklyn Nets past the Orlando Magic 115-113.

Zach LaVine scored 36 points in the Chicago Bulls 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets who were missing Nikola Jokic, while LaMelo Ball starred with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 121-118 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

 

Pelicans clip wayward George 

Paul George shot eight of 26 from the field as the Los Angeles Clippers went down to the New Orleans Pelicans 94-81.

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 47 points as the NBA champions took down the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.

Antetokounmpo dominated the Lakers, making 18 of his 23 field goals, while collecting nine rebounds and three assists for the Bucks (7-8) on Wednesday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

 

All-Star Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton made his return after eight games out due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

The Lakers (8-8), again without superstar LeBron James, were led by double-doubles from Talen Horton-Tucker (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (19 points and 15 assists).

 

Suns stay hot

The Phoenix Suns celebrated their 10th straight victory after outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 105-98. Devin Booker (24 points) and Deandre Ayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the Suns, who are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 2010. Chris Paul had 14 assists without a turnover – his 46th career game with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers, tying Muggsy Bogues for most by any player since 1985.

Damian Lillard's 22 points and 10 assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers upstage the Chicago Bulls 112-107. Zach LaVine (30 points), DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Alex Caruso (12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) starred but the Bulls still lost on the road.

The Miami Heat defeated the New Orleans Pelicans behind Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list for threes made with 1,687, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99.

 

Knicks continue to struggle for form

After returning to the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks have made a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign amid plenty of hype. They were sensationally upstaged by the lowly Orlando Magic 104-98 – their fourth defeat in six games.

Last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Phoenix Suns took down the Houston Rockets 123-111 for their third consecutive win on Thursday.

Devin Booker inspired the Suns with 27 points while Landry Shamet added 19 points off the bench in Phoenix.

Chris Paul contributed 13 assists, nine points and five steals for the Suns (4-3), who moved above .500 for the first time this season.

Paul is averaging 12.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game in 2021-22. Entering the contest, this season had marked the fifth time in the last 25 years a player has averaged at least 11.0 assists and 2.0 steals over his first six games of a season – the Suns All-Star has been responsible for four of the five, per Stats Perform.

 

Christian Wood (18 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Porter Jr. (20 points) starred but the lowly Rockets (1-7) dropped their fifth straight game.

 

Celtics cool red-hot Heat

The Boston Celtics (4-5) have struggled for form this season, though they made a statement with a 95-78 win over the Miami Heat (6-2). Miami – top of the Eastern Conference prior to the game – had their worst scoring performance since January 2016.

The Philadelphia 76ers (7-1) moved to the top of the east thanks to a 109-98 win at the struggling Detroit Pistons (1-7). Seth Curry produced another stellar shooting display – going nine of 14 from the field – for 23 points. MVP runner-up Joel Embiid had 19 points and nine rebounds as he collected his 3,000th career board in his 268th game – the only 76er in history to reach the mark sooner was Hall of Famer Charles Barkley (253 games).

 

Lakers streak snapped

Playing without injured superstar LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers (5-4) had their three-game winning streak ended after being stunned 107-104 by the Oklahoma City Thunder (2-6).

Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul was humbled to have moved up to third in the all-time NBA assists rankings on Tuesday but has no expectation of ever breaking the record.

The 36-year-old has already enjoyed a busy start to the new season, having been named among the NBA's 75 greatest players and become the first player to amass 20,000 points and 10,000 assists.

He had another reason to celebrate in the Suns' 112-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, his 18 assists on the day – a season best – helping him surpass Hall of Famer Steve Nash (10,335) and Mark Jackson (10,334) for the third-most in NBA history.

Paul now has 10,346 across his entire career, a haul bettered by only Jason Kidd (12,091) and record-holder John Stockton (15,806).

But, given his age, Paul acknowledged Stockton's record is beyond him.

"I looked at that list when I first came into the league and seeing that John Stockton and I was like, 'I'm going to get it.' But that ship sailed. That ship sailed. It sailed a while ago when I started missing all them games," he said with a laugh.

"But to be third and still be playing, I'm grateful for it and I still got a ways to go.

"I'm grateful and I thank God for this opportunity. I say it all the time, not only to be on a team and still be in the league but to still be playing. You don't take that for granted."

Paul's achievements are not lost on his team-mates, either, even if they have subconsciously started to accept his feats as anything but unusual.

Suns guard Devin Booker said: "We keep acting like this is normal. We go in the locker room like, 'Oh you passed Steve Nash, Mark Jackson. Game ball.'

"It's bigger than that, man. It really is. Obviously, I know he was going to be close [to Nash's total] coming into today and he passed it by a lot. I'm just happy to be a part of it.

"I'm just inspired by it, honestly. Been a fan for a really long time. It's really fun to see, it's really fun to be a part of it. A long time from now, I'll be able to say I got to play with Chris Paul."

Paul has averaged 9.4 assists each game across his NBA career, a record only Magic Johnson (11.2), Stockton (10.5) and Oscar Robertson (9.5) can better.

"It's pretty cool to watch greatness," Suns coach Monty Williams added.

LeBron James recorded his second double-double of the season and first since opening night as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers withstood the Houston Rockets 119-117 on Tuesday.

James, who was a game-time decision again with his niggling ankle issue, scored 30 points – including two-of-four shooting from three-point – range along with 10 assists, four rebounds and two steals. The four-time NBA MVP added 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers had led by eight points in the final quarter but escaped with the win, improving their record to 5-3 on the back of three straight victories, as Kevin Porter Jr.'s three-point attempt to steal the game on the buzzer rimmed out.

Star trio James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook scored a collective 84 points in their most productive game together after the latter arrived from the Washington Wizards in the offseason.

Davis added 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while former MVP Westbrook had 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

 

Paul third for all-time assists

Chris Paul had 18 assists along with 14 points and seven rebounds to help the Phoenix Suns overcome a 20-point deficit in their rallying 112-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Paul moved past Mark Jackson and Steve Nash into third for all-time NBA assists. The Suns guard has 10,336 assists, behind only John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091).

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 28 points, eight rebounds and nine assists as reigning champions the Milwaukee Bucks ended their three-game skid with a 117-89 win against the struggling Detroit Pistons.

Kyle Lowry drained six three-pointers among his 22 points and nine assists as the red-hot Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 125-110. Luka Doncic scored 33 points for the Mavs.

 

Clarkson's three-point woes

Utah Jazz point guard Jordan Clarkson shot poorly, going one of 11 from beyond the arc, scoring only two points in their 119-113 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

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