Normally, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks visiting the Phoenix Suns would feel like a battle for supremacy near the top of the league.

However, going into their clash at Footprint Center on Thursday, it threatens to be the latest in a poor run of form for Dallas, who not only have a bad recent record in Phoenix, but whose form has fallen off a cliff in 2023.

Their win at the Houston Rockets in their first game of the year was their seventh in a row, but since then they have a record of 3-8, including back-to-back home defeats to the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards in their last two outings.

Head coach Jason Kidd recently called for an improvement from his defense, whose standards have slipped this season.

Following defeat to the Atlanta Hawks last week in which they conceded 130 points, Kidd said: "In this league, if you do that, no matter if you have Luka or Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] or LeBron [James], you're going to lose. It doesn't matter how many points you score, you're always going to be short.

"So until we put a better effort into playing defense and understanding what we have to do, we're going to score 120, but we're going to give up 130, 140. One night we might give up 150, but we'll be fine because we scored, so it doesn't look too bad."

The Suns are recovering from their own bad run, though.

Last year's runaway Western Conference winners started the season with 15 victories in their first 21 games, before only succeeding in six of their next 24.

Four wins on the bounce since then have sparked hope of a resurgence in Phoenix, though, and they will be hoping to take advantage of a vulnerable Mavericks side.

After his impressive performance in the 128-97 win against the Charlotte Hornets, Cameron Johnson said: "It's life – you weather storms. Things don't always go your way. We've found that out the past couple years. That doesn't mean you tuck tail, run, sell the farm, hide away forever.

"We have a lot of confidence in our group. Top to bottom."

Monty Williams' men will look to call on that confidence when they welcome the Mavs to Arizona.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS 

Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul

The experienced Paul was absolutely central to the recent 112-110 win against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring 22 points with 11 assists, before putting up another 11 assists against the Hornets.

With Devin Booker out, Phoenix have had to share the wealth when it comes to scoring points, and Paul has been key when available in enabling others to find those points.

If Deandre Ayton (illness) is missing again, it will likely come down to the 37-year-old to step up once more.

Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic

The Suns are 20th in the league for points scored this season, but the Mavs are a place lower. That seems pretty crazy when you think they have one of the best players in the league in their ranks, and he is again having a productive season.

From 44 games, Doncic has led the way with an average of 33.8 points per game, the most in the league, with 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists.

The Slovenian will need help from his team-mates in Phoenix, and a lot more than he had when his 41 points against the Wizards wasn't enough for the win.

KEY BATTLE – Can the Mavs defense finally thrive with no obvious Suns threat?

As mentioned, Dallas have struggled to stop the opposition from racking up the points this season, going from the second-best defense in the regular season last year to 12th so far this.

One factor they could rely on here, though, is the Suns being without Booker and therefore without anyone averaging more than 17.5 points per game (Ayton). 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Prior to Dallas beating Phoenix 130-111 in early December, the Suns had won 10 in a row against them, while they have gone 9-1 in their last 10 home games against the Mavs.

Kevin Durant went down injured before Royce O'Neale scored the game-winning two-pointer with 3.2 seconds left as the Brooklyn Nets edged the Miami Heat 102-101 on Sunday.

Durant exited late in the third quarter with a right knee issue after Jimmy Butler fell on him, but the Nets did enough without him to improve to 27-13 overall and second spot in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn have won 18 of their last 20 games.

Butler put the Heat ahead 101-100 with a dunk with 1:12 remaining, but O'Neale had the final say with a putback after Kyrie Irving had missed a 30-foot three-point attempt.

Irving top scored for Brooklyn with 28 points, including six-of-15 from three-point range with six assists, while Nic Claxton contributed strongly again with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

Durant managed 17 points on five-of-11 shooting from the field with five rebounds in his 30 minutes on the court.

Butler top-scored for the Heat with 26 points, but shot nine-of-21 from the field with two turnovers, while Tyler Herro finished with 24 points before limping off late.

Bam Adebayo was also limited by a right-hand contusion, scoring 10 points with eight rebounds.

Harden records triple-double in 76ers win

James Harden recorded a triple-double and became the 27th NBA player with 24,000 career points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons 123-111.

Harden finished with 20 points on seven-of-14 shooting, including three-of-five from beyond the arc, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Tyrese Maxey also came to the fore for the Joel Embiid-less 76ers, while Pistons guard Killian Hayes had a game-high 26 points, with four three-pointers.

Suns slump to sixth straight loss

The Cleveland Cavaliers consigned the short-handed Phoenix Suns to their sixth straight defeat with a 112-98 victory as Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland scored 22 points each.

Mitchell, who scored a season-high 71 points in last weeks' OT win over the Chicago Bulls, made seven-of-12 from the field, while Garland dished off seven assists in a fine display.

The Suns were missing their backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker but were within one point at three-quarter time before fading.

Duane Washington top scored for Phoenix in 25 minutes off the bench with 25 points including five triples.

It's that time of year, which will warm the hearts of most but possibly send a chill down the spines of Denver Nuggets fans.

Denver are 1-6 (.143) all-time on Christmas Day, the second-worst record among active franchises, and they come up against last season's Western Conference top seeds this year.

Coach Michael Malone will be confident of providing a rare moment of Christmas cheer to their fans against the Phoenix Suns, though, with his team in excellent form heading into Sunday.

The Nuggets lead the Western Conference, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies at 20-11, and have picked up victories in six of their last seven.

Friday's 120-107 win against the Portland Trail Blazers was a good example of what has been Denver's strength this season, with Nikola Jokic leading the way with 29 points but also being ably backed up by the other four starters each scoring 13 or more.

The Suns have the fifth-best record in Christmas Day games at 12-7 (.632) and have also won each of their last two meetings with Denver.

However, Monty Williams' men have not been able to follow up their impressive 64-18 regular season record from last year, now 19-14 to sit fourth in the West.

A 125-100 defeat to the Grizzlies on Friday was chastening enough without the six losses from the prior nine games; five of those seven defeats have been by double-figures.

They have missed the influence of Devin Booker in their last three games, absent with a groin strain since he put up 58 points against the New Orleans Pelicans, and it remains to be seen if the man averaging 28.0 points per game this season will be back on Sunday.

The future looks bright for the Suns, with Mat Ishbia recently agreeing to a record $4billion purchase of the franchise, but their immediate target is to get back on track, starting by trying to dampen Denver's Christmas spirit even further.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul

Should he play, Booker will of course provide a significant boost for Phoenix, but if he is missing again, Williams will need someone to step up in his absence, which has not happened in their last two games.

The experienced Paul made a big contribution in the recent win over the Lakers, yet he has otherwise not been putting up his usual numbers this season. His plus/minus of 1.7 is well down on last year's 7.1, but if the 37-year-old can find his best form at Christmas, it could go a long way against a strong opponent.

Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic

The back-to-back league MVP keeps putting up numbers to compare with the greats of the game. In the recent win against the Charlotte Hornets, Jokic became the first man to finish a game with at least 40 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.

The Serbian star is averaging 24.9 points per game this season, as well as 10.9 rebounds and a career-best 9.3 assists.

KEY BATTLE – Nuggets' efficiency could decide contest

Denver are very good at putting the basketball through the hoop, which is quite helpful.

No team have a better success rate from beyond the arc than the Nuggets (38.9 per cent) this season, although no team have had fewer than their 923 attempts. Only the Sacramento Kings (943) have allowed fewer three-point attempts than the Suns (996).

The Nuggets are also second in the league for field-goal percentage, with their 50.6 per cent only behind the Brooklyn Nets (50.8).

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Phoenix won their last encounter in March, 140-130 at Ball Arena, which was their 100th victory against Denver in the regular season.

The Nuggets have only 85 wins against the Suns, with the last coming in October 2021, but they have won 18 of the last 23 clashes between the teams.

Chris Paul told Patrick Beverley to "just play basketball, man" after the latter's celebration that appeared to make fun of the 37-year-old's height during the Los Angeles Lakers' defeat to the Phoenix Suns.

Beverley was fouled by Paul while scoring a layup before placing his hand just above the floor, seeming to imply his opponent was not tall enough to deal with him.

It was a questionable time for Beverley to make such a gesture as Phoenix were comfortably leading the game, while he himself had otherwise struggled compared to fellow veteran Paul's impressive showing.

After the Suns completed a 130-104 win on Monday, Paul dismissed the celebration, saying: "You can't pay attention to that stuff. That ain't new. He ain't come up with it. But just play basketball, man."

Paul recorded 28 points, with eight assists and four rebounds, compared to Beverley's nine points, three assists and one rebound as the Suns strolled to a routine win against a depleted Lakers side.

Coach Darvin Ham was without Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves due to injury, and it showed as the Lakers could not keep up with their opponents at Footprint Center.

Ham did, though, defend Beverley's actions, saying: "Pat is Pat. He wears his feelings on his sleeve. I think everybody is getting a little too uptight with guys celebrating.

"Obviously, there's sportsmanship issues, and you have to be respectful of your opponent. I get that. And I think for the most part, we are. But I don't want to see the league get to a place where players can't have natural enthusiasm.

"The passion and emotion that's involved with this game, and the trash talking, as long as no one is disrespecting another person's family or spouse or kids or anything like that, I think it's fodder. It's fun fodder, man."

Devin Booker credited his determination to get out of a recent "slump" for his electric performance in the Phoenix Suns' win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

The Suns trailed by 24 points at one stage at Footprint Center, before surging back to win 118-114, with Booker's incessant shooting a key feature.

The 26-year-old scored 58 points, making 21 of 35 field goal attempts, six of 12 from beyond the arc and 10 of 15 from the foul line.

Booker had not topped 20 points in his previous five games but was determined to be the difference against New Orleans.

"I was just making shots, man," he said after the win. "I've been in a bit of a slump and just gotta keep shooting. That's what I live by. I was put in the right situations to make the right plays.

"I usually just want to make the right play every time, but once I get it going a little bit, you know shooting over a hand, it is the right play."

At one point, Booker scored 25 consecutive points for Phoenix to bring the deficit down to just one midway through the fourth quarter.

Monty Williams was understandably impressed with Booker, claiming he as his coach was "the only person that could've stopped him tonight... by taking him out the game".

Chris Paul, who himself scored 18 along with eight assists and five rebounds, praised Booker for rising to the challenge as the Pelicans sought to slow him.

"I don't take it for granted," Paul said. "I know how hard it is. Having games similar to that, not 58, but when you've just got it going like that and you just want the ball and you know every time you're going to make it a play.

"So, I appreciate it, because I know how hard it is to consistently do that when everybody on the court knows you're going to get the ball."

Devin Booker reached 12,000 career points with a season-high 58 points as the Phoenix Suns rallied from a 24-point deficit with a hard-fought 118-114 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

Booker, who returned from a hamstring issue in Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers which ended the Suns' five-game losing run, made 21-of-35 attempts from the field, including shooting six-of-12 from beyond the arc.

The Suns guard's haul was the second most by a player in a single game this NBA season, behind only Joel Embiid with 59 points last month against the Utah Jazz.

Booker, 26, also became the sixth youngest player in NBA history to reach 12,000 career points, behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady.

The Suns had trailed 83-59 with 7:14 left in the third quarter, coming after the Pelicans had beaten them twice last week.

Booker had five rebounds and five assists along with his 58 points, while Chris Paul added 18 points with five rebounds and eight assists.

Zion Williamson scored 30 points with nine assists for the Pels, while C.J. McCollum added 27 points with eight assists.

Cavs hang on for OT win over Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks spurned three late go-ahead opportunities, including Christian Wood's 30-foot buzzer-beating attempt as the Cleveland Cavaliers got home 100-99 in overtime.

Jarrett Allen's dunk with 2:01 remaining in overtime was the final score, with Donovan Mitchell scoring 25 points for the victorious Cavs, who improved to 20-11. Jarrett Allen had eight points with 15 rebounds.

Kemba Walker top scored with 32 points for the Mavs, who were missing Luka Doncic (quad), while Wood scored 26 points, including five triples, but he missed the crucial late one.

Kawhi finds groove with season-high

Kawhi Leonard scored a season-high 31 points as the Los Angeles Clippers fought back from a three-quarter time deficit to win 102-93 over the Washington Wizards.

Leonard, who has been working back slowly after missing last season with an ACL injury, played a season-high 31 minutes, shooting 12-of-26 with nine rebounds.

Luke Kennard came off the bench to add a season-high 20 points with four three-pointers as the Clippers rallied from a 75-72 three-quarter time deficit.

Chris Paul wants the Phoenix Suns to "keep this train moving" after they ended a five-match losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Suns stopped the rot on their travels on Thursday, seeing off the depleted Clippers 111-95.

Los Angeles were without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Norman Powell, Reggie Jackson and Ivica Zubac as they were beaten in their own backyard.

Mikal Bridges scored 27 points, while Paul weighed in with 15 and also provided 13 assists in a win that moved them to 17-12.

Phoenix sit fourth in the Western Conference and point guard Paul is eager to get on a roll.

"I'm happy we finally got a win out of this road trip, and we're going to try to keep this train moving," he said.

Suns coach Monty Williams praised Bridges for the manner in which he responded to an off day against the Houston Rockets.

"He's a prideful player," Williams said. "He needed a forklift to get his lip off the ground the other night, he was so down about his performance.

"When he's shooting the ball like (tonight), we're a pretty good team."

The Clippers are 17-14 and occupy eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul believes the Phoenix Suns will remain a contender this season if they remain positive, despite dropping their fifth straight game in Tuesday's 111-97 loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Suns dropped to a 16-12 record, having now lost six of their past seven games, with their injury troubles getting worse as Deandre Ayton (ankle) and Cameron Payne (foot) both exited and did not return after half-time.

Phoenix were without All-Star guard Devin Booker for a third straight game due to a hamstring injury, while Cameron Johnson has not played since meniscus surgery in early November.

The Suns' injury issues mean their five-game losing streak may potentially snowball, but 37-year-old Paul remained bullish that they can turn it around.

"Not really," Paul told reporters when asked if he was worried about the losing run snowballing out of control. "As long as the locker room stays positive and understands that it’s a long season.

"We went on an 18-game winning streak [last season] and lost in the second round. You know what I mean? In this league you can't get too high or too low."

The Suns' five-game losing streak is their longest since the 2019-20 season. All five losses have occurred since Chris Paul returned after a 14-game absence due to a heel injury.

In a touching moment after the game, Suns head coach Monty Williams embraced Rockets head coach Stephen Silas, who was back on the sidelines for the first time since his father, three-time NBA champion Paul Silas, passed away on the weekend.

"Everybody knows he's one of the best people in the world," Silas said about Williams. "It means a lot from him.

"He's been through so much and has so many little tidbits and so many experiences that he draws from that he has a great way of communicating.

"Tonight his way of communicating was through a hug, which I needed. I love him for that, he's a good man."

Joel Embiid posted another 50-point performance to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past the Charlotte Hornets 131-113 on Sunday.

Embiid scored 53 points with 11 rebounds for the Sixers, backing up his league season-best 59 points against the Utah Jazz on November 13.

The Sixers center joined Allen Iverson (2000-01 and 2004-05) and Wilt Chamberlain (1965-66 and 1967-68) to become the third player in franchise history to record multiple 50-point games in the same season.

Embiid also joined Chamberlin as the only Sixers in franchise history with at least 30 games of 40 points and 10 rebounds.

The big man's haul was built around 20-of-32 shooting along with making 11-of-11 free throws as the Sixers improved to 14-12.

James Harden made a solid contribution with 16 assists along with 19 points, including three-of-eight three-point shooting.

Pelicans soar into Western Conference lead

Zion Williamson scored 35 points to power the New Orleans Pelicans to a 129-124 overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns, who were missing Devin Booker again.

Williamson starred on 14-of-21 shooting with eight rebounds for the Pels, who beat the Suns twice in three days to surge into the Western Conference lead with a 18-8 record, fueled by seven straight wins.

Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton both fouled out for Phoenix, who were without Booker due to left hamstring tightness.

Griffin snatches remarkable OT Hawks win

A.J. Griffin sunk an overtime buzzer-beater to clinch the Atlanta Hawks a thrilling 123-122 win over the Chicago Bulls, after DeMar DeRozan hit three free throws with 0.5 seconds left to take the lead.

The Hawks snatched the win when Jalen Johnson's inbound alley-oop pass found Griffin, who hit a six-foot turnaround jumper. Trae Young had 19 points and 14 assists for Atlanta.

DeRozan scored a game-high 34 points for the Bulls, including 12 in the fourth quarter and three overtime free throws after being fouled by Bogdan Bogdanovic with less than a second left on a three-point attempt.

The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

Giannis powers Bucks to another win

Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

Giannis powers Bucks to another win

Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

Chris Paul is expected to play for the Phoenix Suns for the first time in a month when they take on the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Paul has been absent since November 7 after injuring his heel in the 100-88 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Suns have gone 9-5 without Paul on the court and will head into the match-up with the Celtics in first place in the Western Conference.

Paul's return comes as the Suns prepare to take on Boston, who are top of the Eastern Conference and boast the NBA's best record at 20-5.

"I feel pretty good," Paul told reporters. "I'm going to see how I feel after this and go from there."

Injury aside, 37-year-old Paul has had his struggles this season, averaging just 9.5 points-per-game and shooting at just 36.8 per cent, both career-lows.

Devin Booker continued his prolific start to the season as the Phoenix Suns flexed their offensive muscle with a 134-105 win over Western Conference rivals Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

Booker, who turns 26 on Sunday, became the first player in franchise history to have three 30-point games in the first four of a season, finishing with 34 on 10-of-19 shooting from the field with seven assists and three steals.

Deandre Ayton added 16 points with 14 rebounds, including 11 in the first half, while Chris Paul had 16 points with seven rebounds and nine assists.

The Suns, who improved to 3-1, shot at 41 per cent from the field, making 12-of-29 three-pointers, with Paul draining four-of-five from beyond the arc. Phoenix outscored the Warriors 62-39 in the second half.

The reigning champions, who moved to 2-2, continued their worrying defensive start to the season, having conceded 109 or more points in all four of their games this season, averaging 124 points against per game.

Stephen Curry managed 21 points to end his 30-point run to start the season, shooting seven-of-17 from the field and four triples.

Jordan Poole was productive off the bench with 17 points, including 14 in the first half. Klay Thompson was ordinary again with two points, shooting none-of-five from three-point range.

Pels triumph over Doncic's Mavs despite key outs

The New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of Zion Williamson (hip) and Brandon Ingram (concussion) along with a Luka Doncic masterclass to win 113-111 over the Dallas Mavericks.

Doncic scored 37 points on 16-of-30 shooting, with 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Mavs, but the undermanned Pels triumphed, led by Trey Murphy with a team-high 22 points with 100 per cent shooting. 

C.J. McCollum struggled to find his range, shooting six-of-20 for 14 points but eight Pels players reached double-figure scoring as they improved to 3-1 to start the season. 

Doncic became the first Mav to ever open a season with three straight 30-point games. The Slovenian is also only the second player in NBA history with 100-plus points, 25-plus rebounds and 20-plus assists through the first three games of a season.

SGA's OKC down short-handed Clippers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander produced a dominant all-round display with 33 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder cruised past the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 108-94.

The Clippers were without former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard due to knee soreness along with seven-time All-Star Paul George with illness, with the defeat seeing them slip to 1-3.

Gilgeous-Alexander went at 50 per cent from the field, making two-of-two from beyond the arc, with five rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and three steals in a masterful display, while Tre Mann scored 16 of his 25 points in the first half.

Chris Paul felt "privileged" to have played with some of the NBA's best shooters in his career after becoming just the third player to reach 11,000 assists in the league on Sunday.

Devin Booker's 35-point haul helped the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-95, with Paul bringing up the landmark against his former team by teeing up Deandre Ayton to dunk.

In doing so, Paul joined John Stockton and Jason Kidd in an exclusive club of players with 11,000 NBA assists, also becoming the first man to amass that many assists as well as 20,000 points in NBA history.

Speaking after the Suns' win, Paul credited the quality of his teammates and said he was unaware of his achievement until after the game. 

"I've been fortunate to play for a while now with a lot of great shooters, great players in general,'' he said. "I'm privileged.

"There's been a lot of firsts here at the Staples Center, well, Crypto Arena. I honestly didn't have a clue until I checked out of the game."

Suns coach Monty Williams added: "It's amazing. I look at him and I'm like, 'holy smokes, I get to coach Chris Paul'.''

Paul, who also has the most assists for the Clippers in the franchise's history, finished with seven points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

The 12-time NBA All-Star has some way to go to top the league's assist charts, however, with his tally of 11,009 some way short of Stockton's record of 15,806.

LeBron James and Chris Paul believe Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver deserves a stronger punishment after an investigation found he engaged in racist and sexist conduct at the workplace.

The NBA announced on Tuesday that Sarver, who also owns the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended for one year and fined $10million following a 10-month independent investigation.

A scathing 43-page report found Sarver was known to make a number of inappropriate comments to women in the workplace – including discussing oral sex at a business meeting as recently as 2021 – as well as repeating the n-word on five occasions in situations where he claimed he was "recounting the statements of others".

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling received a lifetime ban from the league in 2014 over alleged racist comments he made over the phone to an ex-girlfriend, whereas Sarver will be allowed to resume duties in 12 months' time.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended that decision on Wednesday, claiming the Sarver and Sterling cases cannot be compared, which led to criticism from high-profile stars James and Paul on social media.

In a series of Twitter posts, Los Angeles Lakers star James said: "Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong. I don’t need to explain why.

"Y'all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I'm gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behaviour. I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right.

"There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don't matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this ain't it."

Twelve-time All-Star Paul, who has played for the Suns since 2020, also questioned the severity of the punishment.

"Like many others, I reviewed the report. I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read," he wrote on Twitter. "This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.

"I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behaviour. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected."

The NBA will donate Sarver's $10m fine to organisations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.

In a statement released after the report was published, Sarver said: "While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA's report, I would like to apologise for my words and actions that offended our employees.

"I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgement are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values."

Page 1 of 10
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.