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. 

 

Luka Dončić scored a franchise-record 73 points to tie for the fourth-most in NBA history in the Dallas Mavericks’ 148-143 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Doncic surpassed his previous career high of 60 points after scoring a team-record 41 in the first half.

He joined Wilt Chamberlain and David Thompson as players to score 73 points. Chamberlain, who owns the NBA record with 100 points, also had a 78 and a 73-point game, while Kobe Bryant scored 81 on Jan. 22, 2006.

Doncic shot 25 of 33 from the field, was 8 of 13 from 3-point range and made 15 of 16 free throws. He also had 10 rebounds and seven assists in 44 ½ minutes.

No other player has ever had as many points, rebounds and assists in the same game as Doncic did.

His milestone game came in his original NBA home, at least for a few minutes. Doncic was drafted by the Hawks with the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 before having his draft rights traded to Dallas for Young with the No. 5 pick and a 2019 first-round pick used to select Cam Reddish.

Josh Green had 21 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only other Dallas player in double figures with 13 points. The Mavericks snapped a three-game skid and sent the Hawks to their fourth straight loss.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 30 points and Jalen Johnson added 25.

Pacers rally to spoil Booker’s big night

Obi Toppin snapped a tie on a putback with 3.4 seconds remaining and the Indiana Pacers overcame Devin Booker’s 62 points in a 133-131 win, snapping the Phoenix Suns’ seven-game winning streak.

Booker scored 50 or more points for the second time this season and seventh time in his career, falling eight shy of matching his career-high 70 set at Boston on March 24, 2017.

Pascal Siakam scored 31 points and Toppin finished with 23 and 11 rebounds to help Indiana win its second straight without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The Pacers fell behind 54-37 in the second quarter but whittled the deficit down to 80-70 at halftime. They trailed 114-105 entering the fourth but tied it twice in the final 90 seconds before Toppin’s basket won it.

Harden powers Clippers past Raptors

James Harden had 22 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his 75th career triple-double to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to their fourth straight win, 127-107 over the Toronto Raptors.

Harden, who notched his first triple-double this season, ranks eighth all-time in that category. He has at least 20 points and 10 assists in each of his last three games.

Paul George scored 21 points and Russell Westbrook added 20 as the Clippers won for the 12th time in 14 games.

Scottie Barnes scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Raptors, who lost their fourth straight and ninth in 11 games.

James Harden is wholly satisfied with life at the Los Angeles Clippers and is hoping to see the key players in the team stick together in the coming seasons.

The Clippers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-117 on Tuesday, winning nine of their last 11 games.

Paul George scored a season-high 38 points, while Harden and Kawhi Leonard chipped in with 16 points each.

Leonard this month signed a new three-year contract, reportedly worth $153million. However, that is less than he would have been eligible for, and Leonard claimed he took a lower offer in order to help the Clippers keep their other stars, like Harden and George.

For his part, Harden is extremely happy with his new team, and like Leonard, hopes to keep the core of the side together for years to come.

"I thought the same thing last year, last team I was on," Harden said when asked if he would like to see out his playing days with the Clippers. "That's why I did all those sacrifices.

"But I'm here, home. We have an opportunity. I want to be able to keep the core together for a few years and I haven't had those opportunities the last few years. So things are going well and I'm happy."

Leonard believes the majority of the Clippers lineup are planning on staying with the team next season.

"With the conversation that I have with them about it, I think for the most part everybody is coming back," he said.

"So with me signing an extension, I think it gives us a chance to sign both of those players."

The Clippers sit fourth in the Western Conference with a 26-14 record.

They found themselves 79-77 down at the end of the third quarter against the Thunder, but they lodged a comeback in the fourth.

Coach Tyronn Lue said: "We responded well. To hold onto the lead and make our own run says a lot about our team."

Tyrese Haliburton tallied 31 points and 12 assists and the Indiana Pacers erupted for 47 points in the third quarter to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 142-130 for their fifth straight win on Wednesday.

Bennedict Mathurin added 16 points and Obi Toppin and Bruce Brown each added 15 as Indiana beat Central-leading Milwaukee for the second time in three days and improved to 4-1 in the season series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Damian Lillard had 23 points with five assists. Milwaukee has lost two straight for the first time since Nov. 9 and 11.

The Pacers entered the third quarter trailing 68-66 but went on a 21-6 run – capped by Haliburton’s 3-pointer – and opened a 113-97 lead after the period.

The Bucks couldn’t get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Surging Clippers cool Suns

Paul George scored 33 points and Kawhi Leonard added 30 as the Los Angeles Clippers won their fourth straight game, 131-122 over the Phoenix Suns.

James Harden had 22 points and 11 assists to help the Clippers improve to 13-2 in their last 15 games.

Devin Booker scored 35 points on 11-of-15 shooting and Bradley Beal added 21 but just 7 of 20 and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

Kevin Durant missed his second straight game due to soreness in his right hamstring and the Suns had a four-game winning streak stopped.

Kings outlast Magic in double overtime

Malik Monk and Keegan Murray hit 3-pointers in the second overtime and the Sacramento Kings overcame a franchise-record 25 3-pointers by the Orlando Magic in a 138-135 win.

Monk finished with season highs of 37 points and seven 3-pointers and Murray had 31 points on 14-of-22 shooting with 11 rebounds. Domantas Sabonis notched his seventh triple-double of the season with 22 points, 23 rebounds and 12 assists.

Paolo Banchero scored a career-high 43 points with six 3-pointers to lead Orlando but missed a potential tying 3 at the final buzzer.

Jalen Suggs added 24 points, including six 3s, for the Magic.

Paul George and James Harden were relieved to see Kawhi Leonard return from a four-game absence and help the Los Angeles Clippers stay hot with a win over the Miami Heat.

Leonard scored 24 points to pass 13,000 for his NBA career as the Clippers won 121-104 against the short-handed Heat on Monday.

George added 23 points, Norman Powell had 22 on 9-of-11 shooting while James Harden scored 15 points and provided 10 assists to aid in the Clippers' third straight victory and 12th in 14 games. 

"You see the performance," Harden said about the return of Leonard, who had been sidelined by a hip contusion.

"Both ends of the ball, just elite. Shotmaking, defensively just being active, creating opportunities in transition. We needed that, for him to get well and get better. We missed him."

George feels Leonard adds so much more than his statistical production.

"He does all the little intangible stuff – it's just so reliable," said George.

"It's great to have 2 back in the lineup. He missed a little over a week and it was going to take a little time for him to catch his rhythm, but I thought he did and looked like himself."

Miami, playing without six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and a few other key contributors due to injuries, held a 35-23 lead after one quarter and was up by as much as 14 points in the second before the Clippers began battling back.

Los Angeles outscored the Heat by a 32-17 margin over the final 9 1/2 minutes of the first half to take a 59-58 edge at the break. Leonard had 13 second-quarter points to spark the comeback and George then scored 12 points in the third as the Clippers extended their lead to 95-85 entering the fourth.

The Clippers have continued to find a way to win since their six-game losing streak in November.

"It is better when you try to figure it out winning than trying to figure out losing and that is what was happening earlier [in the season]," added Harden.

"Every single game, we are trying to find ways to win games. Then towards the end of the season we’ll understand what we’re really good at and what we are not."

Los Angeles is now 20-12 for the season, fourth in the Western Conference ahead of Wednesday's road game against the Phoenix Suns, who have won four straight games.

Bradley Beal scored 21 points as the surging Suns beat the Portland Trail Blazers 109-88, even with Kevin Durant sidelined by right hamstring tightness.

As for the Heat, they will stay in Los Angeles before playing the Lakers on Wednesday.

Bam Adebayo paced Miami with 21 points and 15 rebounds but the Heat have now dropped two straight following a four-game winning streak and are fifth in the Eastern Conference.

The Detroit Pistons suffered their 25th straight loss – one short of the NBA single season record – as Kelly Olynyk scored 25 points to lead the short-handed Utah Jazz to a 119-111 victory on Thursday.

Detroit missed nine of 10 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and was 9 of 31 overall from long range as it remained winless since Oct. 28.

The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers share the record at 26, which the Pistons will try to avoid Saturday in Brooklyn. The 76ers hold the overall mark of 28, a skid that started in 2014-15 and carried over into 2015-16.

Collin Sexton scored 19 points and Ochai Agbaji added 18 for the Jazz, who played without four of their top seven scorers – Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Keyonte George and Talen Horton-Tucker – on the second night of a back-to-back after losing at Cleveland on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo propels Bucks to 6th straight win

Giannis Antetokoumpo tallied 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Milwaukee Bucks completed a perfect six-game homestand with a 118-114 win over the Orlando Magic.

Damian Lillard added 24 points and eight assists for the Bucks, who have won 15 straight games at Fiserv Forum. That’s the Bucks’ longest single-season home win streak since they opened 18-0 at home in 1991-92.

Franz Wagner scored 29 points and Paolo Banchero had 23 for the Magic, who have lost four in a row.

Thunder snap Clippers’ 9-game streak

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 31 points and Chet Holmgren gave the Thunder the lead for good with a dunk he threw off the backboard to himself, and Oklahoma City ended the Los Angeles Clippers’ nine-game winning streak, 134-115.

Holmgren’s flashy jam with 8:43 left in the third quarter gave the Thunder a 74-73 lead and sparked a decisive 13-0 run.

Holmgren finished with 23 points and Lu Dort added 21 for Oklahoma City, which has won three straight and five of six.

James Harden scored 23 points and Paul George had 22 for the Clippers, who played without leading scorer Kawhi Leonard due to a bruised right hip.

Rick Carlisle lamented an "ugly" performance from the Indiana Pacers after his team lost to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Pacers went down 151-127 to the Clippers on Monday, suffering a fourth straight defeat.

Since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the final of the NBA's in-season tournament, Indiana have won just one game, with that victory coming against the struggling Detroit Pistons.

And Carlisle pointed to a mentality shift being required if the Pacers are to turn things around.

"Tonight was ugly. It's just something that's not acceptable," he said after the Clippers game.

"I don't care how talented they are, or anything else, we just allowed them to really do whatever they wanted to do. I've got to take responsibility for not having these guys ready to play.

"We've got a huge target on our back because of winning some games in the tournament. The Pacers aren't sneaking up on anybody.

"But our mindset, if it's shifted to just simply trying to outscore teams and away from any kind of emphasis defensively, that's got to stop. If it means massive lineup changes, then that's what will happen."

"We're missing some of our best defenders right now, that doesn't help. But it's not a valid excuse. We're making a lot of mistakes, and we just need to do it better and we need to do it harder."

Carlisle did, however, refuse to accept full responsibility for the slump, putting the onus on the Pacers' star players.

"Our best players have to understand and they have to believe that the little things are important," he added.

"That concentration and focus are extremely important. And so when the best players believe it, they preach it and it becomes gospel. It can't just be the coach."

Tyrese Haliburton, who managed just eight points, echoed Carlisle's sentiment, saying: "I think that we got to where we were by just playing harder than people. And we’re not doing that right now. So the switch has to flip here, pretty quick."

While the Pacers are on a skid, the Clippers are in fine form, having now won their last eight games. It is the team's longest winning streak since a 10-game run in the 2015-16 season.

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden ran the Pacers ragged, with the latter scoring 18 of his game-leading 35 points in the fourth quarter.

"It was fun to watch," Leonard, who had 28 points, said of Harden's fourth-quarter charge.

"We're not trying to play the score. We're trying to win the quarters. And even if we have 20 points, we've still got to do our jobs and be efficient."

Harden, who also added nine assists, said: "We're playing very, very well right now, so we just have to stay consistent in what we do. Every game is a new challenge for us as a unit.

"We're figuring it out, we're coming together, our chemistry is building game by game. There's a long way to go but we're definitely headed in the right direction."

James Harden scored a season-high 35 points to lead the scorching Los Angeles Clippers to an eighth consecutive win with Monday's 151-127 blowout of the Indiana Pacers.

Kawhi Leonard added 28 points and Paul George had 27 as the Clippers' two other stars also had big nights to keep the league's hottest team rolling. Harden chipped in nine assists as well, while Ivica Zubac compiled an 18-point, 16-rebound double-double.

The Clippers took control with a 10-0 second-quarter run that gave them a 67-57 lead with under 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half, then headed into the break with a 77-66 advantage.

Los Angeles then outscored the Pacers by a 37-28 margin in the third quarter to stretch the margin further, and Harden ended any hopes of an Indiana comeback by putting up 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the fourth.

The Pacers lost their fourth straight game despite a career-high 34 points from Bennedict Mathurin. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana's leading scorer for the season, dished out 11 assists but was held to eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. 

Nuggets blow out Mavericks in clash of West contenders

Jamal Murray scored 22 points, Aaron Gordon tied a season high with 21, and the Denver Nuggets cruised to a 130-104 win over the short-handed Dallas Mavericks in a showdown between two of the Western Conference's top teams.

The defending NBA champion Nuggets shot 56.3 per cent from the field and led from start to finish en route to a fourth victory in five games. Reggie Jackson delivered 20 points off the bench on 9-of-12 shooting, while Gordon finished 7 of 9 and Murray was perfect on four attempts from 3-point range.

Dallas got 38 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists from Luka Dončić, but couldn't overcome the absence of fellow star Kyrie Irving as well as key contributors Josh Green and Dereck Lively and lost for the second time in three games.

Gordon had 16 first-half points as the Nuggets took a 68-59 lead into the break, then extended their advantage to 20 points after a 10-0 run late in the third quarter put the Mavericks at a 94-74 deficit.

Denver then rested its entire starting lineup in the fourth quarter while building a lead as large as 36 points.

Bulls continue surge, snap 76ers' six-game winning streak

Coby White racked up 24 points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the Chicago Bulls continued their recent hot play and cooled off the Philadelphia 76ers with a 108-104 victory.

Chicago has now won six of its last nine games following a 5-14 start despite two-time All-Star Zach LaVine being sidelined by a foot injury. Nikola Vucevic had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who had a 12-point lead after three quarters reduced to one late before holding on.

The 76ers had a six-game winning streak halted despite another huge performance from Joel Embiid, who totalled 40 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. 

Tyrese Maxey added 29 points and eight assists, but no other Philadelphia player managed more than eight points.

White had 16 first-half points as Chicago took a 55-44 lead into the break. Chicago was up 81-69 entering the fourth quarter before the 76ers rallied late to pull within 105-104 on a Maxey 3-pointer with 33.2 seconds left.

Embiid misfired on two shots afterward, though, and Chicago's DeMar DeRozan sealed the game by making three of four free throws in the final stages.

 

James Harden had 28 points and 15 assists and Kawhi Leonard added 27 points to send the Los Angeles Clippers to their sixth straight victory, 121-113 over the slumping Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Harden, who also had seven rebounds, became the 24th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points on a driving layup late in the third quarter.

Norman Powell scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, who played without Paul George but won for the 11th time in 14 games.

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 30 points with eight 3-pointers as Golden State went 0-3 on its road trip and has lost 12 of 16.

 

Reid, Towns lead Wolves past Mavericks

Naz Reid scored 19 of his season-high 27 points in the first half and the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame an early 15-point deficit in a 119-101 win over the Dallas Mavericks in a matchup of division leaders.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points and a season-best 17 rebounds for the Wolves, who have won seven of eight to tie Boston for the NBA’s best record (18-5).

Luka Dončić tallied 39 points and 13 assists, but Dallas had a four-game winning streak stopped. He scored at least 30 points for the ninth consecutive game, averaging 35.1 during that span.

 

Celtics continue home dominance

Jayson Tatum scored 27 points and Jaylen Brown added 22 as the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 116-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kristaps Porzingis had 18 points and Jrue Holiday contributed 14 to help the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics move to 12-0 at home this season.

The Cavaliers got 31 points from Donovan Mitchell and 26 from Caris LeVert in their third straight loss.

Boston’s lead was cut to three entering the fourth quarter, but Tatum sparked a quick spurt with a fadeaway and a 3-pointer to make it 101-91 with 8 ½ minutes left.

Kawhi Leonard impressed again as the Los Angeles Clippers won their fourth straight NBA game on Monday.

The Clippers held off the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 132-127 to record their ninth win in their last 12 games, a nice recovery from their six-game losing streak at the start of November.

Leonard now has 75 points in his last two games after scoring a team-high 34 against Portland.

There were also key contributions from Paul George (20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) and James Harden (20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists).

Portland – playing without Deandre Ayton and Malcolm Brogdon – suffered a fourth straight loss despite a career-high 38 points from Anfernee Simons.

Asked about Leonard, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said: "The biggest thing is health and finally getting his rhythm with PG and James starting."

Los Angeles had a 14-point lead late in the first quarter but ultimately had to work hard for the victory.

The Blazers twice held a one-point lead in the closing stages of the fourth quarter having hit a season-high 19 3-pointers in the game.

"I knew it was going to be a tough game for us," added Lue, whose team are now 12-10, eighth in the Western Conference.

"Defensively, we couldn't get stops. They scored every way."

The Clippers are immediately back in action on Tuesday at home against the Sacramento Kings (13-8) to complete a back-to-back.

Leonard had a season-high 41 points in their previous win against the Utah Jazz.

"Offensively the team is in a good rhythm and that is all I care about," Leonard said.

"The ball found me and I made shots. I have played a lot of minutes over the last few games but sometimes you have to. When your best players play longer, you’ll most likely get the win.

"It is about knowing what we are doing and having clarity, using our experience, not being complacent.

"There is still a lot we’re lacking. On defense we didn't play that well. They are a team with great defenders who can turn you over a lot so we were focused on screening hard."

Harden echoed Leonard's view that there is still plenty of work to do.

"We take what the defense gives us, figure it out and attack," he said.

"If you share the ball, you get good results, but it wasn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. We don't have the luxury of overlooking opponents."

After the Los Angeles Clippers fought back from 22 points down for an improbable win over the Golden State Warriors, James Harden said it must serve as a turning point in their difficult season.

The Clippers were staring at back-to-back losses to their neighbours at 70-48 down in the third quarter, just one day after suffering a 120-114 defeat against the same opponents at Chase Center.

However, the Clippers outscored the Warriors 65-42 the rest of the way, with Paul George sinking a decisive three-pointer in the final 10 seconds as they claimed a 113-112 victory.

The Clippers, who have alternated between defeat and victory in their last six games, are now 9-10 after a troubled start to 2023-24.

Former NBA MVP Harden believes he is now beginning to strike up an understanding with fellow stars George and Kawhi Leonard, and he hopes the Clippers can kick on from here.

"Wow, 22…. we don't want to keep going up and down," Harden said when he was made aware of the size of the Warriors' lead. 

"We want to be consistent. I told [George] and [Leonard] before the game, 'let's catch our rhythm'. Let's be good, like we're going to be later in the season. Let's start it now."

George finished with a game-high 25 points, also adding six rebounds and six assists, while Harden and Leonard finished with 21 and 20 points respectively.

"It's big," Leonard said of the win. "We've been trying to be consistent. 

"We are getting better, but very slowly… You know, with how things have been going, it feels great to pull out a win."

Ty Lue enthused "that's what it should look like" after the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Sacramento Kings 131-117 on Wednesday.

The Clippers have yet to fully gel since the arrival of James Harden in a blockbuster trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, but they bounced back from a loss to the Denver Nuggets in style.

Kawhi Leonard and Harden combined for 60 points, with the latter providing six assists, as the Clippers eased to a victory that took them 10th in the Western Conference.

"That's what it should look like, guys," Lue said. "That's what it should look like right there. Now, we've got to duplicate it again and again and again."

Harden finished with 26 points, and nailed five of his eight 3-pointer attempts.

"I think James just wanted to prove to y'all that he is James Harden. And so he can do that on a nightly basis," added Lue.

Harden said: "I live in the real world, where I control what I can control, focus on what I got to do every single day and that's all I can control."

One consistent performer so far for the Clippers has been Kawhi Leonard, who has played in all 17 games this season.

"I mean it was years trying to get through that wall," Leonard said.

"I've been dealing with this right knee injury for a while, since 2016-17, even going through the Raptors' [championship] run, that being my first year going so far [in the playoffs with knee issues], just put another toll on it.

"Now I feel good coming out of games and I don't feel anything. So just want to keep going and that's my goal is just to stay healthy and the rest will play itself out."

Next up for the Clippers is a meeting with the Golden State Warriors, who are one place below them in the West.

James Harden says he is feeling "close to myself" after hitting a clutch three to help the Los Angeles Clippers to victory on Friday.

His best game yet as a Clipper saw him record 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as his new team took a 106-100 win over the Houston Rockets, who Harden played for between 2012 and 2021.

Harden had previously struggled to make an impact in Los Angeles, losing all five games he had played for the Clippers before Friday's win, in which the 34-year-old made eight of his 11 shots, including the vital three at the end.

Harden believes he is getting back to his former self, saying: "I'm getting real close.

"I'm getting close to myself. Every game I feel like I'm improving."

Russell Westbrook played just 17 minutes in the victory, his fewest since joining the Clippers prior to the All-Star break last season, with head coach Tyronn Lue revealing after the game that Westbrook had requested to come off the bench as the sixth man to help the team end their losing run.

"He wanted to do that, which [is] an ultimate sacrifice for a guy of his caliber," Lue told reporters. "For things he's done in this league, the things he's done for this team.

"So shout out to Russ for wanting to do that. It's a huge part of what we've talked about, just sacrificing wanting to win at a high level."

Paul George also appreciated Westbrook's sacrifice, explaining: "It's tough with his energy and obviously there's a ton of chemistry there.

"We've always played well off one another, but it just takes a lot for his sacrifice and what he did for us going forward to try new things out. [I] can't say enough on the character of Russ and his leadership."

De’Aaron Fox scored 16 of his season-high 43 points in the fourth quarter and the Sacramento Kings won their fifth straight, 129-120 over the San Antonio Spurs to remain perfect in the In-Season Tournament on Friday.

Domantas Sabonis had 28 points and Malik Monk added 20 as the Kings won their fourth in a row in San Antonio and moved to 2-0 in the West Group C standings of the tournament.

Victor Wembanyama had 27 points on 12-of-26 shooting and nine rebounds after scoring a season-low eight points in Tuesday’s loss at Oklahoma City.

Zach Collins scored 28 points and Keldon Johnson contributed 20, but the Spurs lost their seventh straight and dropped to 0-3 in the in-season tournament.

Durant stars as Suns beat Jazz

Kevin Durant scored 38 points and came up just shy of a triple-double and Devin Booker had 24 points and 15 assists to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 131-128 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Durant had nine rebounds and nine assists and scored at least 25 points for the 11th straight game, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Durant’s 3-pointer gave Phoenix a 124-115 lead before Utah rallied to get within one in the final minute. He struck again with his sixth 3 of the game with 18 seconds to play.

Jordan Clarkson had a season-high 37 points for Utah and Lauri Markkanen added 21.

Harden hits key 3-pointer as Clippers snap skid

James Harden drilled a tiebreaking 3-pointer while getting fouled with six seconds remaining and the Los Angeles Clippers ended a six-game losing streak with a 106-100 win over the Houston Rockets.

Harden sank a 26-footer from atop the key and completed the rare four-point play to seal his first win since joining the Clippers, who had lost their last five games since acquiring the superstar.

Kawhi Leonard added two free throws in the final second and finished with 26 points, while Harden added 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Alperen Sengun scored 23 points for the Rockets, whose six-game win streak was stopped after allowing Los Angeles to close the game on a 12-1 run.

Paul George was frustrated with the officiating crew as the Los Angeles Clippers’ losing streak continued at the Denver Nuggets.

James Harden is still waiting for his first win in a Clippers jersey despite the team putting in an improved performance, losing 111-108 in a competitive NBA In-Season Tournament game on Tuesday.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists for the hosts, who held off the Clippers despite George scoring 35 points, tying his season high as Harden added 21.

Los Angeles has lost five straight games with Harden since acquiring him last month. They are 0-6 on the road this season, 0-2 in the tournament and 3-7 overall.

The Nuggets took 32 free throws compared to the Clippers' 24 with Jokic making all 14 of his free-throw attempts.

George went to the line five times, which he felt was nowhere near enough, and was whistled for a technical foul for arguing with the referees shortly before halftime.

"We played great," George said, per ESPN. "It's tough, the adversity of playing against the extra three [officials]. 

"I thought they were awful. But, [against the] defending champs, we [were able to] to play better and there's a lot to be positive about. 

"I'm not one for moral victories, but I thought we showed more of a sign of a team that's close to getting it over the hump."

George, who also had seven rebounds, was asked to elaborate on his comments on the refs.

He added: "It was bad. Five free throws is very disrespectful on this night. So many times I got hit on layups, 3-pointers, it was constant.

"Jump shots, getting hit, smacked on the forearm. I mean, it was poor, a poor job. They [are] calling something on one end, they got to call it on the other.

"But, again, we [have] got to be able to beat these guys on their floor and not rely on that."

Harden sank three of his eight 3-point attempts as the Clippers produced their best performance since his arrival.

"I kept reiterating, I didn’t have a training camp or a preseason, so kind of learning on the fly," Harden said.

"Also getting myself into James Harden shape. This was definitely another step in the right direction and just keep improving."

The Nuggets' Reggie Jackson thinks it is only a matter of time until the Clippers put it all together.

"They’re still figuring it out," he said about George, Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook. 

"You can see it, they’ve got a lot of talents that overlap. When you have superstars, superstars can do a lot of things. They gave us a great punch."

Denver is 9-2 for the season, 7-0 at home and 2-0 in the tournament, even with point guard Jamal Murray still out with a hamstring injury.

Both teams are back in action on Friday with the Clippers hosting the Houston Rockets while the Nuggets are on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans.

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