Max Strus connected on a 59-foot heave at the buzzer, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to a wild 121-119 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Strus made five 3-pointers in the final 3:42 of the game and capped a back-and-forth ending, giving the Cavs their 20th win in their last 24 games.

Dallas’ PJ Washington made a contested layup with 2.6 seconds remaining to put the Mavs up 119-118.

Without any timeouts to advance the ball, Strus inbounded to Evan Mobley, who quickly returned the ball. Strus took one dribble before launching from behind the half-court line and swishing the game-winning bucket.

Strus finished with 21 points. Donovan Mitchell also made seven 3’s and led the way for the Cavs with 31 points.

With the win, Cleveland (38-19) remained alone in second place in the Eastern Conference.

The Mavericks, who lead by 10 with under four minutes remaining, squandered a signature performance from Luka Dončić, who finished with 45 points, nine rebounds and 14 assists.

 

Celtics extend season-best winning streak

Jaylen Brown scored 31 points, Jayson Tatum flirted with a triple-double and the Boston Celtics weathered a rare cold shooting night, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 117-99 for their ninth straight win.

The Celtics, who lead the NBA in both 3-point makes and attempts this season, shot just 5 of 22 from beyond the arc, both season lows.

Boston compensated for their cold shooting by attacking the rim and shooting 34 of 37 from the free throw line. Tatum – who finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists – was 10 of 11 from the line, while Kristaps Porzingis made all 12 of his free throws.

The Celtics (46-12) improved to 25-0 at home against Eastern Conference opponents.

Tyrese Maxey was the high-point man for Philadelphia with 32, but the rest of the 76ers’ starters combined for just 22 points.

 

SGA powers Thunder to 6th straight win

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued to make his case for league MVP, Jalen Williams scored an efficient 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Houston Rockets 112-95 to win their sixth straight game.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 31 points and has scored at least 30 in every game during the Thunder’s winning streak.

The win kept Oklahoma City (41-17) in a tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the Western Conference.

Alperen Sengun had a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who are just 6-14 in their last 20 games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks held off the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves 112-107 on Friday in a matchup of NBA heavyweights.

Damian Lillard had 21 points, 10 assists and a season-high nine rebounds and Malik Beasley scored all 14 of his points in the third quarter as the Bucks improved to 4-10 under new coach Doc Rivers.

Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to draw the Wolves within 110-107 with 31 seconds left, but Lillard’s long jumper 22 seconds later sealed the win.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points with 14 rebounds and Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 19 boards for Minnesota, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Butler among 4 ejected in Heat’s win

Jimmy Butler was one of four players ejected after a fourth-quarter scuffle and the Miami Heat held off the New Orleans Pelicans, 106-95.

Butler had 23 points and nine rebounds and Bam Adebayo added 24 points for Miami, which snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak and made it seven consecutive wins over the Pelicans.

Also ejected for the melee were Heat reserve Thomas Bryant and Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall of the Pelicans.

Herb Jones scored 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 with 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which couldn’t overcome 37.5 percent shooting, including 7 of 32 from 3-point range.

Maxey leads 76ers over Cavaliers

Tyrese Maxey scored 24 points and Cam Payne added 16 off the bench to propel the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maxey came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of the Sixers’ final 20 points and assisted on a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield that put Philadelphia up by eight in the final minute.

Maxey was the only Sixer to make more than one basket in the fourth quarter and also added four rebounds and two assists.

Jarrett Allen had 24 points and Darius Garland added 20 and nine assists, but Cleveland had a six-game road winning streak stopped while losing for the third time in four games overall.

Recent acquisition Buddy Hield scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers held on late to end the Cleveland Cavaliers' nine-game winning streak with Monday's 123-121 victory.

Despite still being without injured reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, Philadelphia handed the red-hot Cavaliers just their second loss in their last 19 games behind hot-shooting efforts from Hield and Kelly Oubre Jr. 

Hield, making his third appearance since being acquired by the Sixers from the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, finished 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 9 of 13 overall from the field. Oubre hit 10 of his 14 field goal attempts while also collecting 24 points.

The win was Philadelphia's second straight following a 1-8 stretch from Jan. 25-Feb. 9, during which the team lost Embiid for an extended period due to a knee injury that required surgery.

Cleveland got 36 points and six assists from All-Star Donovan Mitchell and 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jarrett Allen, but couldn't match the Sixers down the stretch after taking a 102-100 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Hield scored the final eight points of a 13-2 run that gave Philadelphia a 113-104 advantage with 4:28 left to play, and the 76ers led 120-110 with 1:25 to go following an Oubre 3-pointer.

The Cavs responded with a 9-0 spurt to pull within 120-119 on Mitchell's 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, and had a chance to win at the buzzer when Darius Garland launched a 3-point shot that just missed the mark.

Garland ended with 21 points and nine assists, while Tyrese Maxey recorded 22 points and nine assists for Philadelphia.

Timberwolves dominate second half in rout of Clippers

The Minnesota Timberwolves got 24 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and a big third quarter to pull away for a 121-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and pad their lead atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Edwards added 23 points, 12 of which came during a dominant third quarter in which the Timberwolves outscored Los Angeles by a 40-19 margin.

Minnesota entered Monday's clash owning a slim half-game advantage on the Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, who were handed a 112-95 defeat by the Milwaukee Bucks, in the tightly bunched West standings. 

The Clippers kept it close until the latter stages of the third quarter, as the Timberwolves held a 70-69 edge with under five minutes left in the period.

Minnesota took over from there, as it closed out the quarter on a 19-3 run to take a commanding 89-72 lead into the fourth. Towns had eight points during the pivotal spurt.

The Timberwolves maintained a lead of 15 points or more throughout the final period en route to posting a second straight win and giving Los Angeles a second loss in its last three games.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the Clippers with 18 points each, while James Harden finished with 17 points and six assists. 

Bucks use defence to get past champion Nuggets

The Milwaukee Bucks got 36 points and 18 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and another strong performance from their much-maligned defence to hand the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets a 112-95 loss.

Milwaukee entered Monday's marquee matchup ranked 23rd in the NBA in scoring defence at 119.3 points allowed per game, but held the formidable Nuggets to their second-lowest shooting rate of the season at 38.3 per cent.

The Bucks have yielded under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season. Milwaukee lost five of its first six outings under new head coach Doc Rivers prior to Friday's 120-84 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.

Nikola Jokić amassed 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Denver's second and third-leading scorers on the season, were a combined 4 of 16 from the field, however.

Murray managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting before sitting out the second half due to inflammation in his lower legs.

The Bucks had built a comfortable 60-44 lead at that point as Antetokounmpo racked up 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting over the first two quarters. The Nuggets never got their deficit under 13 points the rest of the way and are now mired in a two-game losing streak.

 

Jarrett Allen scored 18 points to lead eight players in double figures and the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to their ninth consecutive victory, 119-95 over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Donovan Mitchell scored 15 and Max Strus contributed 14 points for Cleveland, which has won 22 of its last 26 games and improved to an NBA-best 17-8 on the road.

The Cavaliers are 11-0 this season when holding opponents below 100 points.

Scottie Barnes scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half for Toronto and matched his season high with 10 assists to go with 10 rebounds for his fourth career triple-double.

The Raptors had won four straight and 10 of the past 11 home meetings against Cleveland.

 

Warriors win on Curry’s last-second 3-pointer

Stephen Curry drained a long 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining – his ninth of the game - and the resurgent Golden State Warriors stunned the Phoenix Suns, 113-112.

After Bradley Beal missed a 3-pointer, Curry grabbed the rebound and the Warriors called time out with five seconds to play trailing 112-110.

Brandon Podziemski’s inbound pass was a little behind Curry, but he grabbed the ball and put up a 33-foot heave that hit nothing but net with the clock down to 0.7 seconds left.

Curry finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Jonathan Kuminga added 21 points to help Golden State win its fourth straight and sixth in seven games.

Devin Booker had 32 points for the Suns, who fell just short of a fourth consecutive victory.

 

Gafford has strong debut for surging Mavericks

Luka Dončić scored 32 points and Daniel Gafford had 19 and nine rebounds in his Mavericks debut as Dallas defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 146-111 for their fourth straight win.

Kyrie Irving added 25 points and Maxi Kleber had 12 points and 12 boards for Dallas, which led 47-30 after the highest-scoring first quarter in franchise history.

The Mavericks are 4-0 with Doncic and Irving in the lineup since Irving’s return from a sprained thumb.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 25 points for the Thunder, who shot 38.8 percent from the field and were outrebounded 54-40.

Donovan Mitchell scored 14 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter and Evan Mobley added 22 on 9-of-10 shooting as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their seventh straight game Wednesday, 114-106 over the Washington Wizards.

Mitchell, who had eight rebounds and five assists, scored at least 40 for the fifth time this season. He is averaging 34 points on 56 percent shooting over his last five games.

Cleveland survived a game with nine ties and 17 lead changes to win for the 15th time in 16 tries. The Cavs moved a game ahead of Milwaukee and New York in second place in the Eastern Conference.

Mitchell scored five points during a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter that gave Cleveland the lead for good and his fifth and final 3-pointer of the night made it 104-97 with 2:19 to play.

Kyle Kuzma scored 28 points and Corey Kispert had 23 on 9-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds for the Wizards, who have lost four in a row overall and 12 straight at home.

 

Pelicans cool Clippers for fourth straight win

CJ McCollum scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and Zion Williamson had 21 with a career-high 11 assists as the New Orleans Pelicans slowed the Los Angeles Clippers, 117-106.

Brandon Ingram had 15 points and eight rebounds and Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III each added 13 points to help the Pelicans open a four-game road trip with their fourth straight win.

James Harden scored 19 points and Norman Powell had 18 for the Clippers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped in their first game back from a 6-1 road trip.

Los Angeles was playing its eighth game in 13 days and lost for only the sixth time in 32 games since the start of December.

 

Porzingis propels Celtics past Hawks

Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points and Derrick White scored 12 of his 21 in the fourth quarter to power the Boston Celtics to a 125-117 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Jayson Tatum tallied 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Jaylen Brown scored 15 for the Celtics, who made 9 of their 17 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to make it seven consecutive wins over the Hawks.

Saddiq Bey scored 25 points and Trae Young added 20 with 10 assists as Atlanta dropped its second straight following a four-game winning streak.

Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points and led a torrid shooting performance from 3-point range that carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to a sixth consecutive win, a 136-110 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Monday. 

Cleveland rolled to its 14th victory in 15 games by going 23 of 41 (56.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Mitchell finished 5 of 11 on 3-point tries and Max Strus was 6 for 10 while adding 22 points.

The Kings got 12 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists from Domantas Sabonis - his 15th triple-double of the season - but couldn't match the Cavaliers' prolific perimeter shooting as Cleveland began pulling away early in the second quarter.

Cleveland scored five straight points to stretch its lead to 46-36 less than two minutes into the second quarter and went into the half owning a comfortable 74-59 advantage behind Mitchell's 19 points.

The Cavaliers remained up by double digits the rest of the way, with their lead expanding to as many as 29 points late.

Harrison Barnes led Sacramento with 22 points while finishing 6 of 10 from 3-point range. The Kings closed out a seven-game road trip in which they had won five of their first six outings and six of seven overall coming into Monday's clash.

Irving, Doncic lead Mavericks past ailing 76ers

Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić combined for 42 points in the duo's first appearance together in two weeks to propel the Dallas Mavericks to a 118-102 win over the staggering Philadelphia 76ers.

Irving racked up 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with eight assists in his return from a six-game absence caused by a sprained right thumb. Doncic had 19 points and eight assists to help Dallas end a two-game skid and deal the ailing 76ers their sixth loss in seven games.

It was just the 23rd time in the Mavericks' 50 games this season they had a healthy Irving and Doncic together in the lineup.

Playing their third straight game without reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, who will undergo left knee surgery and is out indefinitely, the Sixers received 19 points from Kelly Oubre Jr. and 17 from Tobias Harris.

All-Star Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia's second-leading scorer behind Embiid, had 15 points but was just 6 of 16 from the field.

The 76ers did manage to lead 33-26 after one quarter and 57-53 at the half, but Doncic hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:57 left in the third quarter to spark an 8-2 run that gave the Mavericks a 77-72 edge near the end of the period.

Dallas then dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the 76ers by a 41-28 margin with its bench providing most of the offence, as reserves Jaden Hardy and Grant Williams each recorded 10 points in the final 12 minutes. 

Leonard's 36 points help Clippers cap trip with win over Hawks

Kawhi Leonard scored 13 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Atlanta Hawks and completed a successful road trip with a 149-144 victory.

James Harden added 30 points and 10 assists as he and Leonard powered Los Angeles to a ninth win in 10 games. The Clippers went 6-1 on an 11-day trek away from Crypto.com Arena while the venue hosted the Grammy Awards. 

In a fast-paced fourth quarter that saw both teams combine for 90 points, the Clippers outscored Atlanta by a 21-10 margin over a late stretch to move ahead for good.

Leonard began the run with a putback of his own miss that gave Los Angeles a 124-123 lead with 4:52 left, and Harden capped it when he was fouled after hitting a 26-foot jumper with 1:06 to go. He made the free throw to complete the 4-point play and extend the margin to 143-133.

The Hawks put forth a late rally and got to within 147-144 on Bogdan Bogdanović's 3-pointer with 26.7 seconds remaining, but Harden sunk two free throws on the ensuing possession to keep Atlanta at bay.

De'Andre Hunter had 27 points and seven rebounds off the bench to lead Atlanta, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. Trae Young finished with 25 points and 12 assists in the loss. 

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo notched his third triple-double in four games and the Milwaukee Bucks ended the Cleveland Cavaliers’ eight-game winning streak Wednesday with a 126-116 victory in their first game since the firing of coach Adrian Griffin.

Antetokounmpo had 35 points, a season high-tying 18 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double this season. He came up one assist shy of having four consecutive triple-doubles after he had 31 points, 10 boards and nine assists in Saturday’s win at Detroit.

Joe Prunty served as Milwaukee’s interim head coach after Griffin was fired on Tuesday despite the Bucks leading the Central Division with a 30-13 record. The team was finalising negotiations with Doc Rivers to take over.

Damian Lillard added 28 points and Khris Middleton had 24 for the Bucks, winners of six of seven.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with 23 points and Jarrett Allen had 21 and 12 assists.

 

Booker scores 46 for streaking Suns

Devin Booker scored 22 of his 46 points in the third quarter and the Phoenix Suns won their seventh straight game, 132-109 over the Dallas Mavericks.

Bradley Beal had 20 points and Kevin Durant added 12 and 10 rebounds as Phoenix matched its longest win streak of the season by turning a 16-point deficit in the second quarter into a 22-point lead after outscoring Dallas 43-20 in the third.

Luka Dončić tallied 34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists but didn’t get much help with All-Star sidekick Kyrie Irving out with a right thumb sprain.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander keeps Thunder hot

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 points, 10 assists and six rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled away for their fourth straight win, 140-114 over the San Antonio Spurs.

Aaron Wiggins scored 22 points and Chet Holmgren added 17 and nine rebounds as the Thunder remained tied with Minnesota atop the Northwest Division.

Victor Wembanyama had 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Spurs rookie faced off against Holmgren in a matchup of two of the top contenders for Rookie of the Year.

Joel Embiid set a Philadelphia 76ers' franchise record with 70 points in a dominant performance that powered the Eastern Conference contenders to a 133-123 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Embiid broke Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's team single-game record that had stood for over 56 years while also setting a season high with 18 rebounds. The reigning NBA MVP finished 24 of 41 from the field and 21 of 23 from the foul line.

Chamberlain's previous franchise record of 68 points took place against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 16, 1967.

Embiid began his historic night with 24 points in the first quarter and had 34 by half-time, though the 76ers held a slim 62-58 lead at the intermission.

The superstar centre didn't let up in the third quarter, as he recorded 25 points for the period to help Philadelphia pull away for its sixth straight victory.

Kelly Oubre Jr. capped a 12-4 run with a 3-point play with 6:38 left in the third to stretch the lead to 85-72, and the Sixers maintained a double-digit advantage for nearly the entire rest of the way.

Embiid re-entered the game midway through the fourth quarter and hit the 70-point mark with a steal and layup with 1:41 remaining.

Victor Wembanyama had an impressive game of his own in Embiid's shadow, as the Spurs' rookie sensation posted 33 points and seven rebounds in just 28 minutes.

Devin Vassell added 22 points for San Antonio, which had snapped a four-game losing streak with Saturday's 131-127 win over the Washington Wizards.

Timberwolves lose to Hornets despite Towns' team-record 62 points

Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns had a prolific record-setting performance of his own Monday, though his 62 points still weren't enough to prevent the Timberwolves from a stunning 128-125 home loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets, currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, overcame an 18-point deficit late in the third quarter to shock the Western-leading Timberwolves and win for the second time in three games.

Towns made 10 of 15 attempts from 3-point range and ended 21 of 35 overall from the field to surpass his own Timberwolves' single-game record of 60 points, set against San Antonio on March 14, 2022.

The three-time All-Star had 58 points through three quarters as Minnesota owned a seemingly comfortable 107-92 lead, but the Hornets hit five 3-pointers while opening the fourth on a 21-7 run to quickly pull to within one.

Minnesota was clinging to a 121-120 edge with 3 1/2 minutes left before Charlotte scored six straight points, capped by Brandon Miller's jumper off a LaMelo Ball steal that gave the Hornets a 126-121 advantage with two minutes to play.

Miller scored seven of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, while Miles Bridges had 28 points for the Hornets and Ball compiled 18 points and 13 assists. 

The Timberwolves have lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season, previously doing so from Jan. 1-3.

Merrill's hot shooting gives Cavaliers' eighth straight win

The Cleveland Cavaliers remained the league's hottest team by rolling to a 126-99 rout of the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to eight games.

Sam Merrill went 8 of 13 from 3-point range to lead Cleveland with 26 points, while Donovan Mitchell had 25 points along with 13 assists in a game the Cavs never trailed and were up by as many as 36 points.

Merrill scored 20 of his points in the first half as Cleveland cruised to a 72-47 lead at half-time. The Cavaliers shot 59.5 per cent for the first two quarters and 59.1 per cent in the third to move into the fourth holding a commanding 107-74 advantage.

Paolo Banchero led the struggling Magic with 18 points and Franz Wagner added 17. Orlando has now lost nine of its last 13 games and is 7-14 since Dec. 15.

 

Donovan Mitchell and Sam Merrill each scored 18 points to lead seven players in double figures and the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to their seventh straight victory, 116-95 over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

Jarrett Allen had 14 points with 11 rebounds and Dean Wade added 17 points as the Cavaliers scored the game’s first 10 points and never trailed to improve to 3-0 this season against the Hawks.

Cleveland is 12-3 since starters Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were injured.

Dejounte Murray tallied 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Atlanta, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Hawks star Trae Young left the game with 8:43 remaining after taking a charge from Isaac Okoro. Young, who was hit in the face by an inadvertent elbow, remained on the court for a few minutes but walked back to the locker room with the game out of reach.

 

Embiid extends streak for surging 76ers

Joel Embiid scored 33 points to extend his franchise-record streak of 30 or more to 20 games, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to their fifth straight win, 97-89 over the Charlotte Hornets.

Embiid, who added 10 rebounds, last failed to reach 30 points in a loss to Boston on Nov. 15, when he had 20 points.

Tobias Harris scored 21 points and Tyrese Maxey contributed 16 with eight assists for Philadelphia, which limited Charlotte to 16 fourth-quarter points after entering the period trailing by four.

 

Lillard scores 45 as Bucks win

Damian Lillard poured in 45 points and handed out 11 assists as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the lowly Detroit Pistons, 141-135.

Lillard became the first player in franchise history with at least 40 points, 10 assists and five 3-pointers in a game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but missed 11 of 22 free throw attempts. Brook Lopez added 19 points as Milwaukee won its fourth in five games.

Detroit dropped to 2-37 in its last 39 games.

The Milwaukee Bucks expect to have Giannis Antetokounmpo back on the court soon, but coach Adrian Griffin wants his team to learn from their humbling defeat without the two-time former MVP.

Antetokounmpo sat out Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and saw the Bucks beaten 135-95 in his absence.

The superstar forward had played in each of Milwaukee's previous 29 games, although he was also on the injury report before Sunday's overtime win against the Sacramento Kings, scoring 27 points towards his seasonal average of 31.2 points per game.

While taking on an in-form Cavaliers team without Antetokounmpo was always likely to be a tough ask, Griffin offered the Bucks no excuses.

Indeed, he was particularly dismayed by the way in which Cleveland were allowed to race into a 22-2 lead less than halfway through the first quarter. Donovan Mitchell scored 12 of those 22 points on his way to 31 for the night.

"[It was a] tough night collectively," said Griffin, "but we've got to find the energy from the jump – especially being short-handed.

"You have to learn from this, because you can't allow this to happen again, especially at the start of the game.

"Before we looked up, we were down 20. We would literally come down and just shoot."

A big loss for the 28-13 Bucks allowed the 32-9 Boston Celtics to pull further clear at the top of the Eastern Conference, 117-98 victors over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs' number one overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama scored 27 in his first game in Boston, but he was more impressed by the Celtics.

"Everybody can hoop on that team," said the French rookie. "Everyone's a threat on the court.

"But at the same time, they all know their roles, and they're all willing to share the ball, from the most important franchise guys to the role players.

"Everybody is ready to compete and to make the sacrifices."

Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points and the streaking Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to a 135-95 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday.

Georges Niang shot 13 of 14 from the field and scored a career-high 33 points as the Cavaliers won their sixth straight and improved to 11-3 since they lost Darius Garland (broken jaw) and Evan Mobley (knee surgery) with injuries last month.

Antetokounmpo sat with a bruised right shoulder, an injury that sidelined him for the first time since Nov. 15.

Jarrett Allen notched his 10th consecutive double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland, which completed a perfect six-game homestand and now plays the next four on the road.

Damian Lillard led Milwaukee with 17 points on 7-of-20 shooting and Khris Middleton scored two points on 1 of 10 from the field.

 

Doncic shines in return but Davis, Russell lift Lakers

Anthony Davis came up an assist shy of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Luka Dončić’s triple-double in a 127-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Davis had 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting with 12 rebounds and nine assists, while D’Angelo Russell added 29 points with five 3-pointers.

LeBron James had 25 points, eight boards and eight assists as the Lakers won for the fourth time in six games.

Doncic had 33 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season after missing three games with a sprained right ankle.

 

Celtics handle Spurs

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and Jaylen Brown returned from a one-game absence with 21 as the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 117-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Jrue Holiday added 22 points and hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range as Boston improved to 20-0 at home, extending the franchise record.

Brown returned after sitting out a 105-96 victory over Toronto on Monday due to a hyperextended right knee. The Celtics played without Kristaps Porzingis (right knee inflammation) and Derrick White (left ankle sprain).

Victor Wembanyama scored 10 of his 27 points in the first quarter and Devin Vassell had 21 for the Western Conference-worst Spurs, who dropped their third straight since winning two in a row.

Away from the Cleveland Cavaliers this season to work on his mental health, veteran point guard Ricky Rubio has announced that he will no longer play in the NBA.

The 33-year-old Spaniard went into detail Thursday with a post on X about his decision to end his NBA career.

“July 30th was one of the toughest nights of my life,” said Rubio, who didn’t report to Cleveland’s training camp this season.

"My mind went to a dark place. I kind of knew I was going on that direction, but I never thought I wasn’t under control of the situation. The next day, I decided to stop my professional career.

“One day, when the time is right, I would love to share my full experience with you all so I can help support others going through similar situations.

"Until then, I would like to keep it private out of respect for my family and myself, as I’m still working on my mental health. But I’m proud to say I’m doing much better and getting better everyday.

“I wanted to post this message for you today because my NBA career has come to an end.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Rubio with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and he began his career in the 2011-12 season en route to earning First-Team All-Rookie honors.

Rubio also played for the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland, averaging 10.8 points, 7.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 698 career games.

“It all started in June 2009, draft night in New York. What a dream,” he said. “After playing 12 years in the league, with all its up and downs, I have collected lots of good memories and great relationships.

“Minnesota, Utah, Phoenix and Cleveland. Wow. Thank you!”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 of his 40 points in the second half to help the surging Oklahoma City Thunder pull away for an impressive 119-93 road win over the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Friday.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished 14 of 20 from the field and a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line to lead the upstart Thunder to their sixth win in seven games.

Oklahoma City, which last reached the playoffs in the 2019-20 season, is now 21-9 and percentage points ahead of Denver for second place in the Northwest Division.

Chet Holmgren added 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting for the Thunder, who outscored Denver by a 34-20 margin in the third quarter to turn a six-point half-time lead into a commanding 88-68 advantage.

The Nuggets had a six-game winning streak halted despite another efficient outing from Nikola Jokić, who made 9 of 10 field goal attempts while compiling 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. 

Jokic's primary teammates were off the mark, however. Jamal Murray missed 11 of 15 field goal attempts while being held to nine points, while Michael Porter Jr. was 4 of 12 and ended with 12 points.

Antetokounmpo, Lillard rally Bucks past Cavaliers

The Milwaukee Bucks got 34 points and 16 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and a big second half from Damian Lillard to rally for a 119-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a clash of the Central Division's top teams.

Lillard scored 24 of his 31 points after half-time to help Milwaukee overcome an early 15-point deficit and post its ninth win in 10 games. The Bucks extended their lead on second-place Cleveland to six games in the division.

The Cavaliers had won five of six coming in and got top scorer Donovan Mitchell back from a four-game absence, with the four-time All-Star registering 34 points and nine assists in his return. Cleveland also got a big effort from Jarrett Allen in defeat, as the centre amassed a career-high 30 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while finishing 15 of 17 from the field.

Cleveland owned a 50-35 lead midway through the second quarter before the Bucks closed the gap to 59-52 at the break. Milwaukee then opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run, then later put together an 11-0 spurt to claim an 88-73 advantage with under three minutes remaining in the period.

Both Antetokounmpo and Lillard had 14 points in the pivotal third quarter.

The Cavs were able to cut Milwaukee's lead to 115-111 inside the final minute, but didn't make a shot the rest of the way and the Bucks sealed the game with four late free throws.

Milwaukee finished 25 of 28 from the foul line, while Cleveland attempted just nine free throws on the night.

 

Wagner, Banchero lead Magic over Knicks

Franz Wagner had 32 points and Paolo Banchero added 29 as the Orlando Magic got back on track with a 117-108 victory over the New York Knicks.

Orlando bounced back from Wednesday's 20-point home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers behind strong performances from its two young stars. Wagner finished 11 of 19 from the field to go along with nine rebounds, while Banchero had 10 boards and scored 15 points in the second half.

Jalen Suggs contributed 21 points for the Magic, who never trailed after stringing together a 14-1 run in the second quarter that turned a 33-33 tie into a comfortable 47-34 lead.

The Knicks battled back behind Julius Randle, who finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, but could only get their deficit down to five points in the game's late stages.

Wagner helped Orlando hold on by recording 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.

Jalen Brunson had 20 points for New York, which has now lost two straight, but was held to 4-of-15 shooting from the field.

 

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without two star players for the next several weeks after announcing significant injuries to point guard Darius Garland and forward Evan Mobley on Friday.

Garland suffered a fractured jaw after colliding with Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis on Thursday. Garland finished the game, but a scan on Friday confirmed the injury. The 2021-22 All-Star selection will undergo a procedure to repair his jaw and will be re-evaluated in four weeks.

Mobley has missed Cleveland’s last four games, listed on the injury report with left knee soreness. The Cavs announced Friday that the third-year big man will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the knee and will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks.

Garland and Mobley have combined to score nearly 37 points per game this season, and their absence will place an even greater offensive burden on the shoulders of Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Caris LeVert.

The loss of two core players is a massive blow for a team off to a middling start this season.

After a disappointing first-round play-off exit to end last season, the Cavs opened this campaign 4-6. The team appeared to find its footing over the next few weeks, rising above .500, but Cleveland has dropped its last three games and sits at 13-12.

Garland was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft and is averaging 20.7 points – second on the team behind Mitchell – and 5.9 assists this season.

Mobley was the third overall pick in 2021 and immediately made a splash as an All-Rookie selection. He is scoring 16.0 points per game this season and is averaging career highs with 10.5 rebounds, 1.67 blocks and 57.3-percent shooting from the field.

Mobley is the Cavs’ best defender, and he was an All-Defensive Team selection last season.

LeBron James says he "will never forget" his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers after his 22 points helped the Los Angeles Lakers to defeat his former team on Saturday.

James has not always enjoyed an easy relationship with Cavaliers fans, acrimoniously leaving in 2010 after Cleveland drafted him back in 2003, controversially leaving for the Miami Heat.

Having won two NBA championship with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and won over the Cavaliers fans by helping them to a first ever title before departing again in 2018.

James went on to win a fourth NBA Championship with the Lakers, and he scored 22 points as his team went into Cleveland and took a 121-115 victory on Saturday.

The four-time MVP received a warm reception from the home crowd, and after the game he reflected on his "special" time with the Cavaliers, who play close to James' hometown of Akron, Ohio.

"It's just special," James said. "It's very special to be a kid from Akron.

"I grew up 30 miles south of here and to be able to be drafted here and spend my first seven years here and do some special things that the franchise had never seen.

"When I was drafted, I said I wanted to light this place up like Vegas. So I feel like I did a decent job of doing that when I was here for my 11 years.

"Stepping back on this floor is always a pretty cool feeling, looking up there and pretty much being a part of all of the banners in this arena. The one that sits in the middle was that [20]16 championship, so that's pretty cool.

"[I] spent 11 years here and being able to come back after my Miami stint and win a championship here for this franchise, for this city, I think it was a 52-year [title] drought or something like that in the city of Cleveland for any sports team, I think that was just something that I will never forget no matter how old I get. I'll always remember that moment."

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