The NBA banned a number of acquaintances of Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Ja Morant from attending the team's home games following a postgame incident that occurred last week. 

According to a report from The Athletic, members of Morant’s group reportedly confronted representatives of the Indiana Pacers' travelling party following the Grizzlies' 112-100 win over Indiana in Memphis on January 29.

The report states that a red laser coming from an SUV that was believed to be carrying Morant was pointed towards Pacers players and coaches as they made their way to the team bus, and witnesses told NBA investigators they feared the laser was attached to a gun.

A league spokesman said a resulting investigation found no evidence of any weapons present, but confirmed to The Athletic that multiple people have been prohibited from attending Grizzlies’ home games following the probe.

"NBA security and league investigators conducted an investigation interviewing numerous eyewitnesses and reviewing video surveillance following allegations made by the Indiana Pacers organisation regarding a postgame incident on January 29," the league said in a statement.

"While we substantiated that a postgame situation arose that was confrontational, based on interviews and other evidence gathered, we could not corroborate that any individual threatened others with a weapon.

"Certain individuals involved in the postgame situation and a related matter during the game that night have been subsequently banned from attending games in the arena. If additional information becomes available related to the postgame situation, the league office will conduct a further review."

Morant, who was named to his second straight All-Star Game earlier this week, tweeted Sunday that his brother was barred from FedEx Forum for a year as a result of the investigation. The standout point guard received no league discipline.

"Did a investigation [and] seen they were cappin,” Morant tweeted. "Still let a article come out to paint this negative image on me and my fam, and banned my brother from home games for a year. Unbelievable."

Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters prior to Sunday's game against Toronto that the team cooperated fully with the NBA's investigation, though he did not comment on any specific details of the situation.

"That was addressed internally. We're aware of the investigation of the NBA," he said. "They did a full investigation, we were fully compliant with it and I think they came out with a statement saying nothing was corroborated or found.

"That’s what I know and that’s all I’m going to comment on."

The Western Conference All-Star reserves included three first-time selections, headlined by Most Improved Player candidates Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lauri Markkanen.

The reserves announcement on Thursday followed the starter reveal a week earlier, where Los Angeles Lakers megastar LeBron James was named captain of the West team.

He will be joined by Dallas Mavericks MVP candidate Luka Doncic, New Orleans Pelicans powerhouse Zion Williamson, reigning back-to-back MVP of the Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic, and Golden State Warriors icon Stephen Curry.

The Memphis Grizzlies are the only top-two team in either conference to not have a starter, but they will still send two players to All-Star Weekend with Ja Morant heading back for his second and Defensive Player of the Year favourite Jaren Jackson Jr earning his first appearance.

Jackson is leading the NBA with 3.3 blocks per game, while his 4.3 combined blocks and steals is well clear of the second-placed Nic Claxton (2.6 blocks, 0.7 steals) and Anthony Davis (2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals).

He is joined by fellow first-time selections Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Utah Jazz's key offseason trade acquisition Lauri Markkanen.

At 30.8 points per game, Gilgeous-Alexander sits fifth in the league, while boasting elite efficiency splits of 50.5 per cent from the field, 35.9 per cent from three and 91 per cent from the free throw line. He is also the only guard averaging at least one block per game (1.1), and is the only player in the league averaging at least 1.5 steals (1.7) and a block.

While Gilgeous-Alexander's trajectory had been pointing up, Markkanen's rise has been more of a surprise. 

Having never previously scored more than 18.7 points per game or shot better than 48 per cent from the field, the star of Finland's international team is now up to 24.9 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 52.1 per cent from the field and a blistering 43.4 per cent from deep.

Also earning a spot in the West reserves was Los Angeles Clippers wing Paul George –  who leads all reserves this year with his eighth selection – as well as Portland Trail Blazers' all-time leading scorer Damian Lillard with his seventh.

The Sacramento Kings were campaigning for two All-Stars due to their impressive position third in the West, but they had to settle for just center Domantas Sabonis after point guard De'Aaron Fox was arguably the conference's biggest snub.

Fox is leading the team in scoring at 24.3 points per game and is also enjoying his first season shooting above 50 per cent from the field, while Sabonis is leading the league in rebounding at 12.4 per game to go with his 18.8 points (61.5 per cent shooting) and 7.1 assists.

Other than Jokic (10.0 assists per game), Sabonis is the only other interior player in the league averaging at least seven assists.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was an unstoppable force on the offensive end as his Milwaukee Bucks collected a 135-110 home victory against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 50 points on 20-of-26 shooting, hitting three of his four attempts from downtown while adding 13 rebounds and four assists.

It was the sixth time in the Greek superstar's career that he had reached 50 points, and the second time this month after setting a new career-high with 55 points against the Washington Wizards on January 3. Antetokoumpo is averaging a career-high 31.7 points per game, placing him third in the league.

The contest got out of hand early as the Bucks jumped out to a 37-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, with Antetokounmpo scoring 16 of his side's first 21 points.

Fans were treated to a shootout in the third period as the two teams scored 44 points each, but the undermanned Pelicans did not have the firepower to keep up, with not a single player from the away team reaching 20 points.

With the victory, the Bucks improved their record to 33-17 – the fourth-best in the league – while the Pelicans dropped their eighth in a row to slip to 26-25, occupying the eighth seed in the West.

Grizzlies storm home in comeback win

Ja Morant posted his second consecutive triple-double to lift his Memphis Grizzlies to a stirring 112-100 comeback win at home against the Indiana Pacers.

Morant dished 15 assists in his second-highest tally of the season to go along with 27 points (nine-of-21 shooting), 10 rebounds and two steals.

The Grizzlies needed every bit of his heroics as they found themselves trailing by 16 early in the third quarter, before finishing the game on a 60-32 run as they won the third period 30-17 and the last 32-21.

Memphis are now 32-18, and the only Western Conference side within six games of the top-seeded Denver Nuggets (34-16).

Rozier ignites Hornets upset

The Charlotte Hornets have now won four of their past six after an upset 122-117 triumph against the visiting Miami Heat.

Terry Rozier was the star of the show, scoring a game-high 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds, while 24-year-old former lottery pick P.J. Washington showed promising signs on his way to 27 points (11-of-19), six rebounds and five assists.

Jimmy Butler was terrific for the Heat, shooting 11-of-14 from the field for his 28 points, seven rebounds and three steals, but it was Miami's defense that was the issue, allowing Charlotte to shoot 54 per cent overall.

The Splash Brothers found their range as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 64 points including 10 three-pointers in the Golden State Warriors' 129-117 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Curry top scored with 35 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field, making four-of-eight from beyond the arc, with seven rebounds, 11 assists and two steals at Chase Center.

Thompson finished with 29 points but nailed six-of-14 three-point attempts, along with eight rebounds.

Donte DiVincenzo made another strong impression off the bench, playing 33 minutes for 12 points with two-of-five three-pointers and 11 assists.

As a team, Golden State shot at 55.6 per cent from the field (50-of-90), while they had 40 assists compared to Toronto's 24.

The win improves the Warriors' home record to 19-6, while they nudge over .500 with a 25-24 overall record to move up seventh in the Western Conference.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet scored a team-high 28 points on five-of-10 three-point shooting with 10 assists, while Scottie Barnes chipped in with 24 points.

Giannis dominates as Middleton comeback continues

Giannis Antetokounmpo held off another Indiana Pacers' late charge as the Milwaukee Bucks won 141-131 fuelled by the Greek's 41 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

Antetokounmpo made five-of-eight free-throws in the final four minutes as the Bucks held on. Jrue Holiday contributed 20 points with nine rebounds and nine assists.

Khris Middleton continued his gradual return to full fitness, scoring 17 points in 15 minutes off the bench, while Myles Turner top scored for Indiana with 24 points.

SGA racks them up again for OKC

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded his fourth straight 30-point game as the Oklahoma City Thunder down the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-100 after scores were locked at three-quarter time.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 35 points, with eight assists and five rebounds for OKC, who won for the sixth time in eight games to improve to 24-25.

The Cavs were without Donovan Mitchell due to a groin injury, with Darius Garland starring for them with 31 points and 13 assists.

Meanwhile, Ja Morant recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the Memphis Grizzlies' 111-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Stephen Curry was ejected for throwing his mouthpiece before Jordan Poole scored a last-second layup as the Golden State Warriors narrowly beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-120 on Wednesday.

Curry was ejected with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter  with the Warriors up by two for unsportsmanlike conduct, having thrown his mouthpiece in frustration after Poole opted not to pass to him, before missing a three-point attempt.

But Golden State kept their composure without their NBA Finals MVP, with Klay Thompson draining a clutch three-pointer with 14.1 seconds left, before Ja Morant dished off for a Brandon Clarke dunk to square it up with 6.3 seconds remaining.

Poole got redemption for his role in Curry's ejection, when he got free to land a left-handed layup from Donte DiVincenzo's inbound to decide the game at Chase Center.

Curry finished with 34 points with four-of-eight three-point shooting, while Klay Thompson hit five-of-10 triples in his 24 points.

Draymond Green had 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks, while Poole added 21 points with seven assists.

Morant posted 29 points for the Grizzlies, making two-of-seven from beyond the arc with 12 assists and two steals. Desmond Bane managed 20 points but went four-of-six from the stripe.

The result lifts the Warriors up to ninth in the Western Conference with a 24-24 record, while the Grizzlies are 31-17 and second in the west.

Simmons booed as 76ers down Nets

Ben Simmons was booed throughout on his return to Wells Fargo Center as the Philadelphia 76ers edged the Brooklyn Nets 137-133 to clinch their sixth straight win.

James Harden starred against his former side with 23 points, three rebounds and seven assists, making two three-pointers and a driving layup in the final four minutes. Tyrese Maxey added 27 points off the bench and Joel Embiid had 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Seth Curry had a season-high 32 points including seven triples, Kyrie Irving added 30 points with 10 assists, while Ben Simmons was scoreless in the first half from only one shot but finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Lillard shoots 60 in Blazers win

Damian Lillard scored 60 points, the second-most by a single player in a game this season, as the Portland Trail Blazers won 134-124 over the Utah Jazz.

Lillard shot nine-of-15 from three-point range including six of those in the first half, recording his fourth career 60-point game, matching Michael Jordan and James Harden for the third most overall.

The Blazers guard scored five triples in the second quarter, which he has done 16 times in any quarter in his career, which is the second most by any player in the last 25 seasons. Jazz power forward Lauri Markkanen scored 24 points with four rebounds.

The Memphis Grizzlies' achieved a franchise record 11th straight win with Desmond Bane and Ja Morant starring in a thrilling 115-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Darius Garland had a three-point shot on the buzzer blocked by Dillon Brooks, after Steven Adams tipped in with 16 seconds left after Morant's miss.

Bane top scored for the Grizzlies with 25 points, including five-of-eight three-point shooting. Morant added 24 points with eight assists for Memphis, who improved to 31-13, along with 20-3 at home.

Morant had spent time in the locker room in the first quarter after copping a knee to his neck, but re-entered the game in the second quarter.

Game-winner Adams scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, while Jaren Jackson Jr had an excellent all-round game with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four blocks.

Memphis also managed an 11th consecutive game with 115 or more points.

The Cavs were missing Donovan Mitchell due to a groin strain, with Garland top scoring with 24 points on five-of-11 three-point shooting along with 14 assists.

Caris LeVert added 23 points with four rebounds and six assists, with power forward Evan Mobley scoring 18 points and bringing down 15 rebounds with two blocks. The Cavs are now 28-18.

Trae downs Doncic as Hawks win fourth straight

The Atlanta Hawks continued their run of momentum with their fourth straight win in a 130-122 victory over Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks.

Dejounte Murray scored 30 points, making four-of-six three-pointers, while John Collins added 19 along with 18 from Trae Young plus 12 assists, as the Hawks secured a season-best four-game winning streak to move above .500 at 23-22.

Doncic, who was traded as a top-five pick for Young at the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 30 points for the Mavs, but only 11 after quarter-time, while he gave up seven turnovers.

Jokic adds another franchise record in Nuggets win

Nikola Jokic recorded his 14th triple-double of the season as he surpassed Alex English for the most assists in franchise history in the Denver Nuggets' 122-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The MVP candidate finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, going past English's 3,680-assist franchise record with a dime for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Jamal Murray added 28 points for the Nuggets, who secured their eighth straight win and 15th successive victory at home to remain top in the west, at 32-13.

The Memphis Grizzlies will get a chance to tie their longest winning streak in franchise history when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Monday's 30-point demolition of the Phoenix Suns extended the Grizzlies' streak to 10, and they are now one victory away from tying the 11-game streak from the 2014-15 campaign starring Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, which was matched last season.

Over their last 10 fixtures, the Grizzlies have been a juggernaut on both ends of the court, scoring 119.9 points per 100 possessions to sit third in offensive rating, while also boasting the best defense in the NBA, allowing just 106.5.

Meanwhile, the team the Grizzlies overtook to snatch top spot in the defensive rankings was the Cavaliers, who still sit second for the season.

Another key indicator for the true contenders is net rating – which measures how much better a team's offensive rating is compared to their defense – and both of these sides have excelled through the first half of the season. The Grizzlies sit second overall with a net rating of 5.8, while the Cavaliers are third at 4.7.

Two very similar teams, both the Cavaliers and the Grizzlies utilise two defensive anchors in their starting line-up, leaning away from the more prevalent "small ball" roster constructions seen around the league.

For the Grizzlies, Steven Adams is arguably the strongest rebounder in the league while Jaren Jackson Jr leads the NBA in blocks per game at 3.3. On the Cavaliers' side, All-Star Jarrett Allen and defensive prodigy Evan Mobley roam the interior.

While these sides are almost identical defensively, the way they attack on offense, particularly through their star players, could decide their fate.

Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is, without a doubt, one of the best guards in league history when it comes to finishing at the rim. He is averaging five makes per game within five feet of the basket – the only guard in the league to do so – while converting at a terrific 61 per cent clip.

The problem with that is how well both of these teams protect the basket, as it creates the question of what happens when an unstoppable force – Morant – meets an immovable object – the rim protection of Allen and Mobley.

On the other hand, the combination of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell for the Cavaliers are far more malleable with the way they create their offense.

Garland excels in 'floater range' from five-to-nine feet away from the hoop, sitting 15th in the league with 1.3 makes per game at an efficient 50 per cent, while Mitchell provides the long-range assault.

Mitchell is averaging 3.1 makes per game on deep threes (greater than 25 feet), which trails only the Golden State Warriors' Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry (3.8) and Klay Thompson (3.2).

It should be a mouthwatering clash between the league's best two defensive teams, who both have all their young stars healthy and ready to go as they look to strengthen their playoff positions.

 

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS 

Cleveland Cavaliers – Jarrett Allen

It is no secret that Morant is the driving force behind the Grizzlies' success, and for him to dominate games, he needs to control the paint.

Allen is the Cavaliers' primary rim protector and will be tasked with preventing Morant from producing more of his highlight-reel finishes, and if he can turn Morant into a jump-shooter for the night, Cleveland will consider that a massive win.

Memphis Grizzlies – Desmond Bane

Desmond Bane is the perfect counterbalance to Morant, providing the Grizzlies with a dynamic shooting threat who holds the defense's attention at all times.

Through three seasons, Bane owns a ridiculous career three-point percentage of 43.3. It is not just a strong number, it is the seventh-best career figure of all-time, and places him in the absolute top echelon of shooters in today's game.

If he can hit a couple early and force the Cavaliers' defense to divert some of their attention away from Morant, Bane could open up everything for the Grizzlies' offense.

KEY BATTLE – Can the Cavaliers figure out how to win on the road?

Heading into this contest, both the Grizzlies (19-3) and the Cavaliers (19-4) sit top-three in the NBA's best home records.

The Grizzlies will get the honour of hosting this time, leaving the Cavs as the underdogs as they try to figure out what is behind their disappointing 9-13 record away from home this campaign.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

This will be the first time this season these two teams meet, although the Grizzlies have won each of the past three matchups.

The Cavaliers defeated the Grizzlies once during Morant's rookie season in 2019, but the former Rookie of the Year has not lost to them since.

With a victory against the Indiana Pacers safely secured, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was able to gush over his stunning dunk during the contest.

The move, with just over four minutes left in the third quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, saw Morant cut in from the right before leaping over Jalen Smith and slamming in a spectacular dunk that had his team-mates and even opposition fans left in visible awe.

The Grizzlies went on to win 130-112 to make it nine victories in a row, and Morant – who ended with 23 points, 10 assists and three rebounds – agreed the dunk was the best of his career so far.

"Yeah, easy," he said. "It's what everybody has been waiting for. I finally made it."

Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett were among those to react on Twitter to Morant's effort, with the latter exclaiming: "When we look back on Ja's in game dunk highlights when it's all said and done it's gonna be up there with some of the greatest ever."

Desmond Bane, who top-scored for the visitors with 25 points, also acknowledged the effort of his team-mate, saying: "I ain't seen nothing like that one. That's probably going to go down as dunk of the year."

Memphis' win streak has taken them to 29-13 as they fight with the Denver Nuggets for superiority in the Western Conference, though coach Taylor Jenkins acknowledged his team is "not playing perfect basketball."

He was, though, happy to see the Grizzlies "finding different ways to win," adding: "Whether we're playing with a lead or playing from behind. Each game has presented a different challenge for us and our guys have stayed the course.''

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was clearly impressed by their performance, saying: "[The Grizzlies may] very well may be the best team on the planet right now.''

Ja Morant scored 23 points including an incredible one-handed dunk of the year candidate to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to their ninth straight win, 130-112 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Morant drove forward, reached back with his right arm and launched a massive dunk with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter over Jalen Smith to open up a 20-point lead.

The Grizzlies guard finished the game with 23 points on seven-of-17 shooting from the field, with 10 assists and three rebounds.

Morant is averaging 28.7 points per game during the Grizzlies' nine-game win streak.

Desmond Bane was solid as always, going five-of-11 from three-point range in his team-high 25 points.

The victory means Memphis are tied with the Denver Nuggets at 29-13 for the best record in the Western Conference. The win was the Grizzlies' fourth straight on the road.

The Pacers, missing Tyrese Haliburton, were led by Chris Duarte with 25 points despite a hand concern.

Embiid seals Sixers victory over Jazz

Joel Embiid's jumper with 5.7 seconds remaining clinched a 118-117 victory for the Philadelphia 76ers over the Utah Jazz.

Embiid finished the game with 31 points on nine-of-18 shooting from the field with two three-pointers, seven rebounds and two blocks, while James Harden added 30 points and 11 assists.

Utah trailed for most of the game but hit the lead at 115-114 with 33 seconds left, with Jordan Clarkson scoring 38 points with nine rebounds.

Doncic kept to season low as Blazers fire

Luka Doncic was kept to a season-low 15 points as Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 136-119 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Doncic was benched with seven minutes to go by Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, in a game where the Blazers snapped a five-game losing run, having led 71-56 at half-time.

Lillard was exceptional with 36 points on 11-of-20 shooting with four three-pointers and 10 assists, while center Jusuf Nurkic added 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Ja Morant "felt terrible" and knew he needed to act after a young Memphis Grizzlies fan had her signed basketball stolen.

Morant came good on Wednesday when he presented 11-year-old Ellie Hughes with a signed shirt and as of yet unreleased Nike Ja 1 shoes, saying he hoped it offset the pain she felt after the "unacceptable" swiping of her ball.

Youngster Hughes, who reports said has not missed a Grizzlies home game in six years, had been collecting signatures on a team ball.

It was taken during Monday's win over the San Antonio Spurs, which prompted Morant to act, knowing he could make the situation better.

He said: "Obviously I feel like I come from a good home with great parents, and it's pretty much something I love to do.

"You've touched a mighty heart like that, a big fan of the Grizzlies for years. It's moments like that, that mean the most to them, something they'll never forget, something they'll remember the rest of their life.

"It's not a lot of people who've got a game-worn signed Ja jersey and there's definitely not a lot of people who have signed Ja 1s.

"After seeing what happened to them on social media, I just felt terrible. Obviously it's been years she had that ball, and had the opportunity to get autographs of great players, and to have that taken away from her, I feel it was unacceptable.

"I tried to get in contact with the family, I reached out and offered them two of my courtside seats and told them after the game I would give them my jersey and shoes, so definitely a good feeling to have them there supporting us and see the smile on their face out there."

Morant was on top form as the Grizzlies toppled the Spurs again on Wednesday, scoring 38 points in a 135-129 win.

The Grizzlies are flying high, sitting second in the Western Conference with the same 28-13 record as leaders the Denver Nuggets.

Despite their strong season, Morant says there remains room for improvement, pointing to occasional "mental lapses" and saying Memphis "need to be a little more locked in and paying attention to detail".

"Fatigue can play a part," the 23-year-old added, demanding constant focus. "I feel like if we want to be a great team, no matter what, we have to do that day in and day out, for 48 minutes.

"That's pretty much really just the area I think we can get better."

Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 41 points and Jayson Tatum added 31 as the Boston Celtics claimed their fourth successive win with a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Brown recorded his first double-double in a half in his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while he added another 18 points in the third quarter.

The Celtics guard shot 15-of-21 from the field with three-of-six from three-point range along with 12 rebounds for the game.

Tatum went 10-of-22 from the field with 10 rebounds and four assists, with Malcolm Brogdon adding 20 points off the bench.

The game marked the seventh time this season that Brown and Tatum have scored at least 30 points each, which is joint for the most before February by two players from the same team in the last 40 seasons.

The other duos to have managed that are Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in 2018-19 and Denver's Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe in 1983-84.

The result improves the Celtics to 30-12 overall and 17-5 at the TD Garden, while the Pelicans lose ground on the top two in the west, falling to 25-17.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 points for the Pels, marking the first time in his career he had 20-plus points in a first half in consecutive games.

Jokic falls short of triple-double as Nuggets triumph

Nikola Jokic fell one assist short of a 12th triple-double of the season as the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets claimed their fourth straight win, 126-97 over the Phoenix Suns.

The reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Jokic finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, including a brilliant first-quarter look-away fling to Aaron Gordon.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, although he picked up an ankle complaint, while Bones Hyland contributed 21 for the Nuggets, who have claimed 11 wins in a row at home, along with winning 14 of their past 17.

Grizzlies secure eighth straight win

Ja Morant led the way as the Memphis Grizzlies secured an eighth consecutive victory to keep pressure on the Nuggets at the top of the west with a 135-129 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Morant scored 21 points in the first half, finishing the game with 38 along with five rebounds and four assists.

The Grizzlies guard also produced a big dunk over Jakob Poeltl in the third quarter, while his put-back with 24.1 seconds left in the fourth sealed the victory.

Jayson Tatum registered his second career triple-double as the Boston Celtics ended the Dallas Mavericks' seven-game winning streak with a 124-95 victory on Thursday.

Tatum finished the game with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists plus one steal and two blocks. The MVP candidate shot eight-of-22 from the field and two-of-eight from beyond the arc, scoring 11-of-12 from the stripe.

The Celtics improved to 27-12 with their merciless display, which comes amid a tough stretch for the Eastern Conference leaders, who had dropped seven of their past 12 games, including giving up 150 points last game to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luka Doncic was kept to only 23 points for the Mavs, after a five-game run averaging 44.5 points. Doncic, who shot none-of-six from three-point range, was benched in the fourth quarter amid the blowout.

Tatum also struggled from beyond the arc, but Marcus Smart made up for it with four-of-nine triples in his 15 points, while Malcolm Brogdon hit three-of-five three-pointers in his 15 points off the bench.

Jaylen Brown scored 19 points with two three-pointers with seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Nuggets rout Clippers despite Jokic being quiet

The Denver Nuggets re-claimed top spot in the Western Conference with a 122-91 domination of the Los Angeles Clippers, who slumped to their fourth straight defeat.

The Nuggets, who secured their 10th straight home win, prevailed without a great contribution from MVP Nikola Jokic, who managed 12 points with six rebounds and nine assists.

Jamal Murray top scored with 18 points, including four three-pointers for Denver, who led by as much as 43 points. The Clippers shuffled their deck ahead of a back-to-back with Kawhi Leonard scoring six points in 18 minutes.

The Nuggets lead the west with a 25-13 record ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, also 25-13, who won 123-115 over the Orlando Magic with Ja Morant scoring 32 points.

Lauri's career-high ends Jazz's five-game skid

Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high 49 points as the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 131-114 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Markkanen posted 18 points in the first quarter on his way to the equal 15th highest single-game scoring performance this season.

The Finnish forward sparked a 14-0 fourth-quarter run which put the game to bed. Jalen Green scored 30 points for Houston, while Kevin Porter Jr added 23.

Ja Morant was almost unstoppable in the Memphis Grizzlies' 118-108 victory against the visiting Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Morant was the game's top-scorer with 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding eight rebounds and five assists in an encouraging performance during what has been a relatively inefficient period for the Grizzlies star.

After posting a career-high field goal percentage of 49.3 this past season – earning a Most Improved Player trophy in the process – Morant's percentage has plummeted to 45.5 this campaign, while his true shooting percentage is also a mediocre 54.9 per cent.

Despite his dip in efficiency, Morant's 27.0 points per game has him 13th in the league, and he joins Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Nikola Jokic as the only players averaging at least 25 points and eight assists.

Morant was supported well by center Steven Adams, who tied his career-high with 23 rebounds. He has reached 23 rebounds once before – back in 2018 when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, also against the Kings.

Grizzlies big Jaren Jackson Jr blocked three shots, and his 3.2 blocks per game is the best figure in the league, although he does not currently qualify for the official league leaderboards due to only playing in 19 of his side's 36 games.

The win is the Grizzlies' third in a row, improving their record to 23-13 – only a half-game behind the Denver Nuggets in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Nuggets retain top spot

The Nuggets had to defeat the Boston Celtics to hold onto the top spot in the West, and they did just that, defending home court with a 123-111 triumph.

It was another showcase for reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, leading his team in scoring (30), rebounds (12) and assists (12) for his ninth triple-double in 32 games this season.

Jokic has somehow managed to reach new heights in his quest to become the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird (1984-86), posting career-highs in assists per game (9.5) and true shooting percentage (68.6).

Kuzma collects triple-double in Wizards win

Kyle Kuzma and Rui Hachimura led the way in the Washington Wizards' 118-95 win against an undermanned Milwaukee Bucks team.

The Bucks were missing Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, and did not have the firepower to keep up with a Wizards side that shot 53.2 per cent from the field.

Former top-10 draft pick Hachimura scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting off the bench, while Kuzma had his first triple-double of the season with 10 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists.

After losing 10 games in a row earlier in the season, the Wizards are now on a five-game winning streak to improve their record to 17-21.

Luka Doncic scored more than 50 points for the third time in his past five games to carry the Dallas Mavericks to a 126-125 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Mavericks, which has coincided with a scintillating stretch of play from their Slovenian superstar.

Doncic scored 51 points against the Spurs on 18-of-29 shooting, adding nine assists, six rebounds and four steals. It came just four days after Doncic became the first player in NBA history to post a 60-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game in a dramatic comeback against the New York Knicks.

The 23-year-old, who has a Rookie of the Year and three All-NBA First Team selections from his first four seasons, is mounting a charge for his first MVP, and has put together arguably the best five-game stretch of his career.

In his past five games, Doncic is averaging 45.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists, and in the process he has overtaken Joel Embiid in the race for the scoring title, now at 34.2 points per game for the season.

Christian Wood was strong in a supporting role against the Spurs, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. In his eight appearances since finally being injected into the starting line-up, Wood is averaging 19.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 50.5 per cent from the field and 38.2 per cent from deep.

The Mavericks are now 21-16 and have jumped up to fourth place in the Western Conference.

Nets make it 11 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets remain the hottest team in the league after rattling off their 11th consecutive win, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 123-106.

Kyrie Irving led the way offensively with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while Kevin Durant was similarly efficient for his 23 points (nine-of-15). Defensively, Nic Claxton was the anchor, blocking six shots while also hitting six of his seven field goal attempts.

After starting the season 1-5, the Nets are now 24-12, and trail only the Boston Celtics (26-10) in the Eastern Conference.

Morant takes bragging rights in 2019 Draft showdown

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Zion Williamson over Ja Morant in the 2019 NBA Draft, and they received a glimpse at what could have been as Morant guided the Memphis Grizzlies to a 116-101 triumph.

Morant scored a game-high 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting, adding eight assists and two steals, while Wiliamson could only muster 20 points on six-of-16 shooting and a career-high nine turnovers.

Having only played in 18 of the Grizzlies' 34 games, Jaren Jackson Jr does not qualify for the official league leaderboards, but his six blocks against the Pelicans raised his average to 3.0, comfortably clear of league-leader Brook Lopez (2.6).

The New York Knicks extended their winning run to eight games to shoot into playoffs contention while they compounded the Golden State Warriors' road woes with a 132-94 rout on Tuesday.

The reigning champions, missing 2022 NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry for a third straight game with a shoulder injury, slumped to 3-15 on the road this season, sitting 15-17 overall.

Offseason Knicks addition Jalen Brunson scored 21 points with five assists, while Immanuel Quickley top scored off the bench with 22 points. Julius Randle had 15 points with 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Knicks, who never trailed in the blowout win, had six players reach double-digit scores, with the 38-point triumph their largest margin of victory in the last two seasons.

The victory also means the Knicks boast the longest active win streak in the NBA, having conceded an NBA-best 97.8 points per game during the streak.

The Knicks, who had not beaten the Warriors at home for almost a decade, hit 11 triples in the first half, finishing the game with 17-of-40 three-point shooting, led by Quickley with five.

Jordan Poole scored a team-high 26 points for the Curry-less Warriors, who had James Wiseman play 22 minutes, scoring four points with three rebounds.

The Knicks improved to 18-13 overall to sit sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Markkanen shoots Jazz past Pistons

Seven-foot Finnish power forward Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high nine three-pointers in his 38-point haul as the Utah Jazz won 126-111 over the Detroit Pistons.

Jordan Clarkson had 12 points within 1:51 of gametime but it was Markkanen who stole the show, matching his career-high points output.

The game was the Jazz's third in four evenings, with Malik Beasley adding 17 points off the bench while Clarkson finished with 21. Jarred Vanderbilt had 18 points with 13 rebounds.

Nuggets take over in the west

The Denver Nuggets moved into top spot in the Western Conference with a 105-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies led by another Nikola Jokic triple-double.

The back-to-back NBA MVP recorded his sixth triple-double of the season, putting on a brilliant passing display, with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Nuggets (19-11) defense kept the Grizzlies to 44.4 per cent shooting and only 19.2 per cent from beyond the arc, with Ja Morant top scoring for Memphis with 35 points along with 10 assists.

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