The Phoenix Suns celebrated a franchise-record 18th consecutive win after taking down the lowly Detroit Pistons 114-103 in the NBA on Thursday.

Phoenix – who reached last season's NBA Finals – eclipsed the 17-game record set during the 2006-07 campaign, despite the absence of All-Star Devin Booker.

Leading scorer Booker sat out for the first time this season after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's win over the Golden State Warriors, however, the Suns were still too good for the Pistons.

The NBA-leading Suns – who improved to 19-3 – were fuelled by 19 points apiece from Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne, while Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 12 points and 12 assists.

Phoenix also celebrated back-to-back wins over Detroit for the first time since 2014.

Jerami Grant put up a game-high 34 points for the Pistons, who have lost eight straight games for their worst skid since 2017-18.

 

Grizzlies in historic humbling

The Memphis Grizzlies broke the record for the largest victory in NBA history after humiliating the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder 152-79. Memphis surpassed the 1991 Cleveland Cavaliers (68 points) for the largest winning margin thanks to their 73-point demolition. The Grizzlies were without star Ja Morant. According to Stats Perform, 152 is the most points in NBA history by a team missing a player who was leading the team in total points and assists entering the game.

 

DeMar DeRozan (34 points), Zach LaVine (27 points) and Nikola Vucevic (27 points) combined to lead the Chicago Bulls past the New York Knicks 119-115. Julius Randle's double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds was not enough for the Knicks.

 

Milwaukee's streak over as Giannis sits out

Giannis Antetokounmpo was held out by the Milwaukee Bucks due to a calf problem. In his absence, the defending champions lost 97-93 at the Toronto Raptors as their eight-game winning run was halted. Milwaukee shot just 37.6 per cent from the field.

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.

The Golden State Warriors continue to set the pace in the NBA after Stephen Curry fuelled the league-leading franchise to a 105-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Curry put up a game-high 33 points and the red-hot Warriors celebrated their eighth consecutive victory on Sunday.

The two-time MVP also had six assists, six steals and five rebounds as the Warriors improved to 18-2 this season.

Golden State had 19 steals in total at Staples Center, where Paul George (30 points) and the Clippers shot just 40 per cent from the field.

The Warriors have held their opponents to under 50 per cent shooting in all 20 games this season – Golden State have the best defensive rating and opponent field goal percentage in 2021-22.

 

 

Lakers win grudge match

The Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the lowly Detroit Pistons 110-106 as the two teams renewed hostilities for the first time since LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart were ejected following a melee. James had struck Stewart in the face – drawing blood, sparking wild scenes as the Pistons big man repeatedly charged at the Lakers superstar on November 21. On Sunday, James scored 33 points and tallied nine assists to help the Lakers. Anthony Davis (24 points and 10 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (25 points and nine rebounds) also contributed in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks eased past the Indiana Pacers 118-100 for their seventh successive victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a day out with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Tatum overshadows Celtics triumph

The Boston Celtics left Canada with a 109-97 win against the Toronto Raptors, but it was a miserable outing for All-Star Jayson Tatum. While he had 10 assists and seven rebounds, Tatum finished with just eight points on two-of-16 shooting in a team-high 38 minutes. He also recorded four turnovers.

The Phoenix Suns are closing in on a franchise record after celebrating a 15th successive win with a 118-97 victory against the New York Knicks in the NBA.

Last season's Finals runners-up, the Suns are two victories away from equalling their all-time consecutive win streak of 17 games thanks to Friday's triumph – Phoenix won 17 straight games in 2006-07.

Devin Booker fuelled the red-hot Suns with 32 points at Madison Square Garden, Chris Paul (14 points and 10 assists) and Deandre Ayton (14 points and 13 rebounds) contributed double-doubles on the road.

Reigning Western Conference champions the Suns boast a 16-3 record this season, a mark only bettered by rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2).

 

 

Warriors win again

The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games by topping the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while the two-time MVP surpassed Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Draymond Green put up 12 points and 12 assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost a wild game against the Sacramento Kings, outlasted 141-137 following triple overtime. Not even Russell Westbrook's triple-double (29 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) or LeBron James' 30 points and 11 assists could lift the Lakers in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Nikola Jokic-less Denver Nuggets 120-109 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 24 points and 13 rebounds. By topping the depleted Nuggets, the Bucks made it six straight victories.

 

Jazz stunned in Salt Lake City

The lowly New Orleans Pelicans shocked the Utah Jazz 98-97 courtesy of Devonte' Graham's go-ahead three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining on the road.

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the struggling Detroit Pistons 107-96, but it was a rough outing for star Paul George, who was just five-for-19 shooting in a 12-point display. Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham, meanwhile, finished with 10 points having made only three of his 13 shots from the field.

The NBA Rookie of the Year award won't be handed out for quite a while but if the first month of the season is any indication, voters are going to have plenty of options to choose from.

With teams having played roughly the first quarter of the season, this seems a good time to look at how some of the top draft picks are faring as they navigate their first campaign at the highest level of basketball.

 

Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

After a dreadful start, including missing the first four games due to a sprained ankle, Cunningham has looked more like a player worthy of being a top overall draft pick. In his first three games, Cunningham averaged just 8.7 points on seven-of-39 shooting (17.9 per cent) while misfiring on 20 of 21 from three-point range. He's been far more effective the past six games, scoring 14.7 per contest on 36.3 percent from the field (33 of 91). It's highly unlikely that someone with Cunningham's ability will only shoot the 33.9 percent he's at now. This is, after all, a player who shot 40 percent on three-pointers in his one college season.

His shot selection will improve as he becomes more familiar with the pro game and learns defender's tendencies. Getting to the free throw line would also help improve his offensive efficiency since he's only averaging 1.9 free throws per game, though he is shooting 88 percent (22 of 25). There is inherent pressure with being the first player selected and Cunningham will have to carry that weight throughout his career. But because the former Oklahoma State star has a high basketball IQ and can rebound and distribute at a high level, he doesn't need to pile up points to affect a game's outcome.

The Pistons also are clearly in rebuild mode now, so wins are secondary, giving the well-rounded Cunningham plenty of minutes and opportunities to learn on the job.

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Much like Cunningham, Green has the advantage of playing for a 2-16 Rockets team that have absolutely no expectations and are in a full-on rebuild for the foreseeable future. Green ranks third in minutes (555) among rookies and leads all first-year players in field goal attempts (228) and three-point attempts (115), so he's clearly not lacking for opportunities or touches.

Like many rookie score-first guards, the super athletic Green has faced his share of struggles and mostly from an efficiency standpoint. He's only shooting 38.2 from the field and 27.8 from behind the arc while dishing out 2.3 assists per game. While his overall numbers aren't eye-popping, Green has shown flashes of what he can and likely will become. Chief among them is a 30-point, 11-for-18 performance – eight for 10 from three-point range – in a loss to the Celtics on October 24.

He also had 24 points on nine-for-15 shooting with five three-pointers, five rebounds and five assists in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on November 2. A case can be made that Green is right where he should be after his first 18 games when compared to other rookie guards who have gone onto All-Star status.

Zach LaVine, for example, averaged 8.1 points on 42.2 percent shooting in his first 18 games, while Bradley Beal averaged 11.9 points on 35.9 percent from the field during that same span. Green still has three quarters of the season left to improve and there's no reason to think someone with his skill and athleticism won't as he becomes accustomed to the pro game.

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Off to the best one-month start of any 2021-22 rookie, Mobley suffered a sprained right elbow in a loss to the Boston Celtics on November 15 and is expected to miss multiple weeks. While his momentum was stalled, the seven-footer shouldn't have a problem picking up where he left off upon his return to Cleveland's line-up.

If the Rookie of the Year award was being handed out in November, Mobley might have the best chance to take home the hardware as he's been equally impressive at both ends of the court. His offense has been better than expected with 14.6 points on 49.4 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds and has even made eight of 26 from three-point range. He was tied for fourth in the NBA with 32 dunks through November 16 and has shown rare positional versatility.

There were questions about his offensive ability coming out of college but those have been answered and there's little doubt that Mobley is on his way to becoming a scoring force for years to come. A stellar defensive player at USC, Mobley has continued that path in his NBA career, flashing outstanding timing and discipline in rim protection. He leads all rookies with 1.60 blocks per game and his 24 total blocks were the second most by any Cavaliers player through the first 15 games of a career (Hot Rod Williams, 30 in 1986).

Mobley's injury has clearly left a huge void and the Cavs have been unable to compensate. They rank 26th in the league since November 17 in scoring defence (112.5) and have lost all four games without him following a surprising 9-6 start to the season.

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

Mobley's biggest challenger for the coveted one-month rookie award would be Barnes, who leads this rookie class in scoring (14.8), rebounding (8.4) and minutes per game (35.1) while ranking second in field goal percentage (48.6).

The Raptors' small forward is something of a Swiss Army knife with a well-rounded game and a tantalising set of tools. Barnes adjusted to the NBA very quickly, becoming just the second player (Shaquille O'Neal) since 1985-86 to accumulate at least 170 points and 85 rebounds while shooting 50 percent or better in his first 10 career games. Barnes' 212 points through 13 games were the most by any player in Raptors history and that's a franchise that drafted Vince Carter, Damon Stoudamire and Chris Bosh.

Besides Barnes' ability to score, rebound and pass, he's also excelling on the defensive end, often tasked with guarding the best player on the opposing team regardless of size. He's already been matched up against seven-foot Mo Bamba, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, James Harden and even some point guards. Barnes also has proven to be an adept ballhandler, which is a huge advantage when going up against other bigs.

Perhaps the only aspect of Barnes' game that is lacking is his three-point shooting, as he's only attempted 19 from long range and made five. The ability to stretch the court with deeper shots would make every other part of his offensive arsenal even more effective.

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder

By most accounts, the best pure passer in this draft class was point guard Giddey. A little more than a month into his NBA career and nobody would debate that. Giddey seems like a good bet to lead all rookies in assists, as he's totalled 105 thus far with the Sacramento Kings' Davion Mitchell ranking second with 68. But it's the Australian's all-around game that has the rebuilding Thunder looking very smart for nabbing him with the sixth overall pick.

Besides scoring 10.8 points per game, the six-foot-seven playmaker is third among first-year players with 7.3 rebounds and leads all rookies with 101 defensive boards. Giddey's performance in the first month has him among some elite company. With 105 assists and 131 rebounds in his first 18 games, he joins LeBron James and LaMelo Ball as the only teenagers to reach 100 in both in their first 20 NBA games. Giddey, who turned 19 last month, seems likely to record a triple-double soon after coming close on several occasions already.

After averaging 9.0 points on 37.1 percent shooting in his first 13 games, Giddey has heated up with 15.4 per game on 47.8 percent from the field in his last five games. Scoring is a bonus when it comes to Giddey, who has run the offense with the calm of a veteran and helped the Thunder be far more competitive than most expected.

The Los Angeles Lakers were without suspended superstar LeBron James and not even a Russell Westbrook triple-double could fuel the title hopefuls as they were beaten 106-100 by the New York Knicks.

James was not on the court because of a ban handed down – the first of his illustrious career – for his ejection against the Detroit Pistons, the four-time NBA champion struck Isaiah Stewart in the face and drew blood, sparking a melee.

Since James joined the Lakers in 2018, the team had been averaging 113.0 points and with a winning percentage of 64.6 when he plays heading into the matchup, while averaging 107.4 points with a 39.7 winning percentage when he does not.

In his absence, former MVP Westbrook had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists but the Lakers still lost on the road against the Knicks on Tuesday.

Westbrook posted 18 points in the third quarter to tie the game after the Lakers (9-10) had fallen in a 25-point hole, however, the Knicks recovered to beat the storied franchise for the ninth time in 11 games.

Anthony Davis put a pre-game illness aside to battle for 20 points, six rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes.

Julius Randle inspired the Knicks (10-8) with 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, while Evan Fournier contributed a team-high 26 points.

 

 

Porzingis achieves career first as Mavs win

For the first time in his career, Kristaps Porzingis (30 points) scored 20 or more points in seven straight games after helping the Dallas Mavericks trump the Los Angeles Clippers 112-104 in over-time.

 

Denver's slide continues as Jokic sits out again

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic missed his third straight game due to a right wrist sprain and the Denver Nuggets went down 119-100 to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Nuggets have lost five consecutive games – their worst run since a five-game skid in January 2017.

The number one pick in the NBA Draft, it is safe to say Cade Cunningham's rookie season has been a baptism of fire. The first-year Pistons teenager has been criticised for his performances. In a 100-92 loss to the Miami Heat, he was just two-of-10 shooting – making one of seven three-pointers – for six points in 29 minutes, while he had four turnovers.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he was surprised by the NBA's decision to ban superstar team-mate LeBron James for the elbow that sparked wild scenes against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

James jostled with Pistons center Isaiah Stewart at a free throw, with the four-time MVP's left elbow connecting with the latter's face, leaving him bleeding from his right eye and incensed.

Stewart initially appeared calm but lost control, repeatedly charging at James for retribution on court, having to be restrained by team-mates and coaches in Detroit's 121-116 defeat.

The Pistons big man was handed a two-game suspension for his actions, but James was also slapped with a one-game ban for the first time in his illustrious 19-year NBA career after "recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation".

"I was surprised," Davis told reporters after the Lakers went down 106-100 to the New York Knicks without James on Tuesday.

"I didn't think he was gonna get suspended. I don't think anyone thought he was gonna be suspended to be honest.

"It was an accident. He accidentally hit him in the face. The report came out and said his hit to the face caused an incident. He can't control how a guy is going to react.

"Guys get hit in the face all the time, we're saying that caused the incident? I get hit in my face, I probably won't hit anyone. If I go off and do all that, does the other guy get suspended? It was strange but nothing we can do about it."

Davis had his own drama on Tuesday, making a mad dash to arrive at Madison Square Garden less than an hour before tip-off due to illness, playing 34 minutes for 20 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Davis seemed a "little bit drained" although the NBA champion refused to blame that for the defeat which left the franchise 9-10.

"I don't use my illness as an excuse," Davis said. "I go out there and give it my all. I think we were tied in the fourth. we missed some shots."

After the Lakers fell short despite Russell Westbrook's triple-double, Davis added: "I just woke up not feeling well. Headache, flu symptoms, coughing, fever, body aching, everything. I was in my hotel waiting for my fever to break.

"It was a low-grade fever. I couldn't leave until my fever broke. My fever broke, got in the car and shot straight here. [I arrived] 46-48 minutes from the game clock. I got in and did as much as I can treatment wise, got dressed, went out to play."

LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart have both been handed suspensions following their chaotic confrontation during the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. 

Four-time NBA champion James received a one-game ban for "recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation" at Little Caesars Arena, ruling him out of the Lakers' game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. 

Stewart was left bloodied after being caught in the face by James when jostling for position on a free throw. He reacted angrily and attempted to pursue the 36-year-old on multiple occasions, with a large-scale brawl ensuing on the court.

Stewart was suspended for two games without pay "for escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing … James in an unsportsmanlike manner". 

Both players were ejected following the incident in the third quarter of the Pistons' 121-116 loss to the Lakers. 

Anthony Davis defended Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James after his ejection in the wild win over the Detroit Pistons, insisting the NBA superstar is not a "dirty dog".

James was ejected for an elbow to Pistons center Isaiah Stewart's eye, which was deemed a flagrant 2 foul, with the incident setting off a wild brawl in the Lakers' rallying 121-116 victory.

Stewart, who was also tossed from the game, was left bloodied from his right eye and incensed, repeatedly attempting to charge at James, having to be restrained and escorted off the court by coaches and team-mates amid chaotic scenes.

James and Stewart had jostled for position for a rebound from Jerami Grant's free throw early in the third quarter, when the four-time MVP's left elbow struck the Pistons big man's eye.

"Everyone in the league knows LeBron's not a dirty guy," said Davis, led the Lakers' comeback with 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. "As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and said 'my bad, I ain't try to do it'.

"I don't know what [Stewart] was trying to do. I know nobody on our team, one through to 15, was having it. We wanted to protect our brother.

"I've never in 10 years seen a player try to do that... It was uncalled for. You got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn't on purpose.

"We weren't going to allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do. We just wanted to get the win for him."

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident but went on to win behind Davis' big performance on the road.

Davis became the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) was important down the stretch too, with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter alone, as the Lakers dominated with a 37-17 final quarter.

Amid the chaos of the brawl, Westbrook received a technical foul which left him dumb-founded post-game, stating he was an easy target for the referees.

"I didn't know I had a tech… woah, that's interesting," Westbrook told reporters. "For being Russell, I guess? I don’t know why but whatever.

"They had to put it on somebody. I'm an easy person to put s*** on. Why not me?"

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hailed his side's response to the incident, reeling in the Pistons' game-high 17-point lead to claim a win that helped the championship-chasing franchise improve to 9-9 for the season.

"To me, it's one of those things that can change the momentum of your season," Vogel said. "To see guys rally around a team-mate that just got ejected like that in a strange circumstance.

"We played with incredible guts, started the fourth quarter down by 15. That's the determination that this team is going to need. That's how hard we've got to play to get Ws. "That's a heck of a win for us."

The Los Angeles Lakers overturned a 17-point deficit and a chaotic third-quarter brawl which led to LeBron James' ejection to trump the lowly Detroit Pistons 121-116.

James was ejected after an elbow to the eye of Pistons center Isaiah Jackson, who reacted angrily, leading to a wild melee in Detroit on Sunday.

Jackson repeatedly charged at James and had to be restrained by team-mates and coaches. Both players were ejected, with the latter's elbow deemed a flagrant 2 foul.

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident early in the third quarter, before Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis led a rally on the road.

Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds in a final period dominated by the visiting Lakers 37-17.

Davis had 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals – the star becoming the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

James, in his second game back after an abdominal injury laid him off for two and a half weeks, played 21 minutes for 10 points and five assists before his ejection as the Lakers improved to 9-0 for the season.

Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham registered his first career triple-double for the Pistons with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Suns maintain hot streak

The Phoenix Suns recorded their 12th straight win as Cam Johnson had a career-high and game-high 22 points off the bench, including four triples in a 126-97 rout of the Denver Nuggets, who were without MVP Nikola Jokic (shoulder) for the second successive game. Chris Paul (nine points and 10 assists) has had 47 games with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers since entering the league in 2006. He has the most such games since 1985.

Paul George hauled the Los Angeles Clippers past the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks 97-91 with 29 points and six assists. The Mavs were still without Luka Doncic (knee/ankle).

DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points in the Chicago Bulls' 109-103 victory over the New York Knicks. Julius Randle posted 34 points for the beaten Knicks, who led entering the final quarter.

 

Mild Curry returns

Stephen Curry returned from a minor hip issue but was well down on his usual output with only 12 points, making two of 10 field-goal attempts and one of six beyond the arc in the Golden State Warriors' 119-104 triumph over the Toronto Raptors.

Anthony Davis defended Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James after his ejection in the wild win over the Detroit Pistons, insisting the NBA superstar is not a "dirty dog".

James was ejected for an elbow to Pistons center Isaiah Stewart's eye, which was deemed a flagrant 2 foul, with the incident setting off a wild brawl in the Lakers' rallying 121-116 victory.

Stewart, who was also tossed from the game, was left bloodied from his right eye and incensed, repeatedly attempting to charge at James, having to be restrained and escorted off the court by coaches and team-mates amid chaotic scenes.

James and Stewart had jostled for position for a rebound from Jerami Grant's free throw early in the third quarter, when the four-time MVP's left elbow struck the Pistons big man's eye.

"Everyone in the league knows LeBron's not a dirty dog," said Davis, led the Lakers' comeback with 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. "As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and said 'my bad, I ain't try to do it'.

"I don't know what [Stewart] was trying to do. I know nobody on our team, one through to 15, was having it. We wanted to protect our brother.

"I've never in 10 years seen a player try to do that... It was uncalled for. You got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn't on purpose.

"We weren't going to allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do. We just wanted to get the win for him."

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident but went on to win behind Davis' big performance on the road.

Davis became the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) was important down the stretch too, with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter alone, as the Lakers dominated with a 37-17 final quarter.

Amid the chaos of the brawl, Westbrook received a technical foul which left him dumb-founded post-game, stating he was an easy target for the referees.

"I didn't know I had a tech… woah, that's interesting," Westbrook told reporters. "For being Russell, I guess? I don’t know why but whatever.

"They had to put it on somebody. I'm an easy person to put s*** on. Why not me?"

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hailed his side's response to the incident, reeling in the Pistons' game-high 17-point lead to claim a win that helped the championship-chasing franchise improve to 9-9 for the season.

"To me, it's one of those things that can change the momentum of your season," Vogel said. "To see guys rally around a team-mate that just got ejected like that in a strange circumstance.

"We played with incredible guts, started the fourth quarter down by 15. That's the determination that this team is going to need. That's how hard we've got to play to get Ws. "That's a heck of a win for us."

LeBron James was ejected after elbowing Isaiah Stewart amid wild scenes as scuffles broke out in Sunday's clash between the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers.

Stewart was left bloodied and incensed by the elbow, repeatedly running at Lakers superstar James in the wake of the incident, having to be separated by team-mates and coaches.

James was tossed from the game for a flagrant foul 2, along with Stewart as part of the incident which escalated out of control in Detroit, where Lakers star Russell Westbrook was hit with a technical.

It occurred early in the third quarter when James and Stewart jostled for position upon Jerami Grant's second free throw as the Pistons led 78-66.

James' left elbow struck Stewart in his right eye, with the Pistons center initially approaching the four-time MVP with relative calmness, before boiling over and refusing to leave the court with retribution on his mind.

Stewart would not relent, repeatedly charging at James and was eventually ushered off the court, although he broke free down the tunnel, creating further concern.

After the incident and upon consultation with replays, the referees opted to eject four-time NBA champion James for the elbow.

James had scored 10 points on four-of-seven shooting from the field, to go with five assists, one rebound and two assists in 21 minutes.

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.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says winning without Stephen Curry was "huge" but offered no update on the two-time MVP's return.

Curry missed Friday's 105-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons having admitted he was nursing a hip contusion after Thursday's 104-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers where he shot 40 points.

The 33-year-old point guard has been in MVP-like form this season, averaging 29.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game.

Curry has shot at 41.9 percent from three-point range and averaging a career-high 5.7 three-point attempts made per game.

Curry was joined by Draymond Green on the sidelines against the Pistons, with Andre Igoudala, Otto Porter, Klay Thompson and James Wiseman already unavailable, yet Golden State claimed the win to move to 14-2.

Guard Jordan Poole top scored in Curry's absence with 32 points including four triples, while center Andrew Wiggins contributed 27 points.

"It is a huge win," Kerr said at the post-game news conference. "To win without Steph, Draymond, Andre, Otto and obviously Klay and James are out, so many guys to come in here and really get contributions from everybody.

"I think we're 6-1 now on the road, it's a great sign. I think we've got guys who know how to step up when they need to.

"Wigs and Jordan, knowing they had to score some points for us tonight and be the focal point offensively, they both stepped up."

The Warriors return home for Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors, although Kerr did not confirm if Curry or Green would play.

"We'll see. We'll see," Kerr said. "We have tomorrow off. The guys who are injured [will] come in and get treatment tomorrow and then we have a five o'clock game, so no shoot-around Sunday.

"We'll see how everyone is doing on Sunday."

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