James Harden called the "perfect game" according to Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers after leading them to a 121-102 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their playoffs first round series.

Harden starred against his former franchise, scoring 23 points on seven-of-13 three-point shooting with 13 assists.

The Nets put attention into MVP candidate Joel Embiid throughout, restricting him to 26 points, but the 76ers stepped up elsewhere, making a franchise-record 21 three-pointers in a playoff game.

"James, I thought that was one of his best games as a 'catcher' where he was calling the perfect game," Rivers told reporters about Harden.

"He's in shape, he's healthy. He's confident in how we play. Last year, even when he was playing, he was like 'am I doing the right thing here?'. There was a lot of good there."

Rivers pointed out that the 76ers also generated 19 more shots than the Nets (89-70), while Harden acknowledged the Nets' tactics to limit Embiid's tactics but hailed his side's shooting, going at 48.8 per cent from beyond the arc. Fifteen of the 76ers' 21 triples were uncontested.

"I mean, he's the MVP," Harden said of Embiid. "So it's like, would you rather him score 40, or live with us making shots? Either way, it's fine. We'll be ready either way."

Embiid's 26 points came on seven-of-15 field-goal shooting with five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. The MVP contender was full of praise for Harden's impact.

"He's the best playmaker in the league, by far," Embiid said. "But we don't want him settling. I don't want him to fall in love with just that. We need him to be aggressive, and he was today.

"I think that's the key - not just being a playmaker, just being aggressive, going downhill and creating for himself and everyone else."

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks produced a statement win ahead of the playoffs led by Giannis Antetokounmpo as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 117-104 on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo scored 33 points with 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, bringing up his 31st 30-point double-double this season, as they improved to 56-22 at Fiserv Forum.

The win moves Milwaukee closer to clinching the Eastern Conference, with the Boston Celtics (54-24) in the second spot ahead of the 76ers (51-27) in third with four games to play.

Boston, who routed the Bucks 140-99 three nights ago, have the head-to-head tiebreaker on Milwaukee.

The Bucks shot at 57.5 per cent from the field, led by Antetokounmpo's 13-of-17 shooting, while Khris Middleton started strong for 19 points. Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis contributed 21, 18 and 18 points respectively.

Middleton's hot start fuelled the Bucks' 41-26 first-quarter lead and they never looked back, with the 76ers closing to within four points in the third period, before the Bucks pulled away again as Antetokounmpo scored the final seven points of that quarter.

MVP candidate Joel Embiid scored 28 points on 11-of-25 shooting from the field with nine rebounds and five assists.

Tyrese Maxey added a team-high 29 points with six-of-seven from beyond the arc. James Harden was contained to 11 points with six assists.

Thompson spurns game-winning attempt

Klay Thompson missed two game-winning three-point attempts in the final five seconds as the fast-finishing Golden State Warriors lost 112-110 to the Denver Nuggets without Nikola Jokic.

The Warriors had rallied from nine points down in the final two minutes to earn Thompson a three-point shot for victory from Stephen Curry's pass, but his initial attempt rimmed out, before a follow-up was blocked by Aaron Gordon.

Michael Porter Jr (29 points and 11 rebounds) and Jamal Murray (26 points and eight assists) impressed in Jokic's absence.

Thompson and Curry finished with 25 and 21 points each, with the former making five-of-16 from three-point range as Golden State shot nine-of-42 from beyond the arc as a team. Golden State fall to sixth with a 41-38 record with the Los Angeles Lakers right behind them.

LeBron matches Kidd for triple-doubles

Anthony Davis scored 40 points and LeBron James recorded a triple-double as the Lakers claimed their third straight win to boost their playoff hopes, downing the Houston Rockets 134-109.

James finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to draw level wit Jason Kidd in fourth overall (107) for most triple-doubles in NBA history. Russell Westbrook (198) has the most, ahead of Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138).

Davis scored 27 of his 40 points in the first half, with the Lakers improving their record to 40-38 to sit seventh in the West with four games to go. The fifth-placed Los Angeles Clippers (41-38) lost to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, with the two LA sides to meet on Wednesday.

The Dallas Mavericks' playoff hopes suffered another setback after James Harden inspired the Philadelphia 76ers' fourth-quarter charge on Wednesday.

The Mavs, who had lost seven of their previous 10 games coming into the contest, led 91-89 at three-quarter time at Wells Fargo Center before the home side rallied to triumph 116-108, clinching their 50th win of the season.

Harden provided the assists for all of Philadelphia's points during a 10-0 run that flipped the contest, condemning the Mavs to a 37-40 record and leaving them in danger of missing the playoffs and play-in tournament in the Western Conference. Dallas failed to score in the final 3:18 of the game.

Joel Embiid returned from a one-game, calf-injury-enforced absence to boost his MVP aspirations with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Harden had 15 points and 12 assists.

Harden's partnership with Embiid was on full show, with the pair holding the NBA's best single-season record over the past 25 years for assists by one player to another, averaging 4.8 per game, ahead of Sacramento Kings duo Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins (4.0 in the 2015-16 season).

For the Mavs, Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kyrie Irving added 23 points.

Philadelphia's 50th win from their 76th game of the campaign marks the fewest amount of games required to reach that mark in franchise history since 2001.

The 50-26 76ers are third in the East, behind the Milwaukee Bucks (55-21) and the Boston Celtics (52-24).

The Bucks routed the Indiana Pacers 149-136 led by Jrue Holiday's career-high 51 points and a Giannis Antetokounmpo triple-double.

Kings end NBA's longest playoff drought

Sacramento ended their 17-year playoffs wait, the longest drought in NBA history, thanks to a 120-80 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Kings pulled away with a lopsided 70-34 second half, led by Domantas Sabonis (15 points and 12 rebounds) and De'Aaron Fox (18 points and six assists), while Keegan Murray passed Donovan Mitchell for the most threes made by a rookie (188) in his 13 points.

Sacramento clinching their playoff spot came amid a chaotic night in the West, with Jalen Williams' buzzer-beating tip-in earning the 10th-placed Oklahoma City Thunder a 107-106 win over the Detroit Pistons. OKC occupy the final play-in spot.

Russell Westbrook scored 36 points as the fifth-placed Los Angeles Clippers ended the second-placed Memphis Grizzlies' seven-game winning streak with a 141-132 victory, while the taunts continued as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls 121-110.

Durant returns as Suns firm up fourth seed

Kevin Durant made his long-awaited home debut as he returned from a 10-game absence due to a sprained ankle, but he was rusty as the Phoenix Suns overcame the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-100.

Durant shot five-of-18 from the field for 16 points with eight rebounds and four assists. Devin Booker top-scored for the Suns with 29 points on eight-of-18 shooting from the field.

The 2014 MVP Durant shot two-of-four from three-point range, both in the fourth quarter, holding off the Timberwolves who drew level in the final period, with the win helping the Suns improve to 41-35 to sit fourth in the West.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers has no long-term injury concerns over James Harden and Joel Embiid, despite the latter sitting out the second half of Wednesday's 116-91 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Harden missed the game due to Achilles soreness, while MVP candidate Embiid played a season-low 16 minutes, scoring 12 points with seven rebounds and seven assists.

The 76ers were up 76-48 at half-time, completing a routine win, with Rivers stating Embiid's early exit was out of caution from a minor calf issue.

"We've gone in the playoffs two years in a row with injuries and we all know you don't win in the playoffs when your key guys aren't healthy," Rivers told reporters. "So we're going to do whatever we can to be healthy."

Rivers indicated he expected both Harden and Embiid to be available for Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

Embiid's half-time exit meant he snapped his 10-game streak of 30-point games, which was a franchise record.

The 76ers center said he initially injured his calf during Monday's 109-105 overtime loss to the Bulls and opted to take the cautious route when he felt some discomfort on Wednesday.

"We've already clinched the playoffs, it's all about making sure we're going to be healthy for them," Embiid said. "If it feels good, of course I want to play, but if it's not right, then we gone figure it out."

Harden had struggled in Monday's loss, shooting two-of-14 in 46 minutes for five points. Rivers said Harden felt some foot discomfort during that game, leading to the decision to rest him on Wednesday.

"No concerns," Rivers said. "It just flared up a couple times and we decided instead of doing the back-and-forth, the dance, let's just sit him down, get him rest and make sure he's right."

The 76ers are third in the Eastern Conference with a 49-23 record, battling it out with the second-placed Boston Celtics (50-23) for the second seed. The two rivals are due to meet in a crunch clash on April 4.

Stephen Curry's 50 points were not enough for the Golden State Warriors to avoid a ninth straight road loss going down 134-126 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

The Warriors' dreadful road record worsened to 7-27 across the season, with Kawhi Leonard top scoring for the Clippers with 30 points at Crypto.com Arena.

Curry piled on 21 points in the third quarter, shooting 20-of-28 from the field and eight-of-14 from three-point range, matching his season-high 50 points from the November 16 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The reigning Finals MVP is the only player in the NBA to score 50-plus points in a loss multiple times this season. All other players are 18-2 in 50-point games this season.

Curry, who turned 35 earlier this week, also tied Wilt Chamberlain on seven for the most 50-point games after turning 30-years-old, moving past Michael Jordan (six).

Golden State's latest defeat comes in the first game of a five-game road trip which may define their playoffs aspirations, with the Warriors in sixth in the Western Conference at 36-34, while the Clippers are fifth on 37-33.

The Clippers claimed their fourth straight win after an 0-5 start after the All-Star break.

Leonard led the way on 10-of-19 field shooting, while Paul George added 24 points including four triples and seven assists.

Jordan Poole provided the Warriors' next best output with 19 points off the bench, while Draymond Green received his 16th technical foul of the season, meaning he will cop a one-game suspension.

Sixers clinch sixth win in a row

Joel Embiid scored 36 points with 18 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers continued their momentum with their sixth straight win in a 118-109 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid had a charging call against him overturned with 4:12 remaining, which would have been his sixth foul, allowing him to play out the game and guide the 76ers home after the Cavs had led 96-95 in the last quarter.

James Harden added 28 points with 12 assists for Philadelphia, while Donovan Mitchell was kept to 21 points on nine-of-19 shooting, making only one-of-seven from beyond the arc.

In the Eastern Conference standings, the third-placed 76ers move to 46-22, just behind the second-placed Boston Celtics (48-22) who edged the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-102. The Cavs are fourth at 44-28.

Clutch Fox sinks Bulls on buzzer

De'Aaron Fox landed a go-ahead pull-up three-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to earn the Sacramento Kings' 117-114 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Fox finished with 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, making four-of-six three pointers including the game-winner under pressure from Ayo Dosunmu, after DeMar DeRozan tied the game at 114-all with a four-point play.

Domantas Sabonis managed a triple-double with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists for the Kings, who improved to 41-27 with the win in the race for second seed in the West.

Joel Embiid was hailed as the "MVP" and "big-time player" after holding his nerve to snatch a last-gasp victory for the Philadelphia 76ers over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Embiid landed the decisive basket with 1.1 seconds to go at Wells Fargo Center on Friday, securing a 120-119 triumph.

There were chants of 'MVP' from the crowd for the six-time NBA All-Star, who scored 39 points as the Sixers rallied from 21 points down in the first half to take their record for the season to 44-22.

James Harden, who finished with 19 points, said of his team-mate Embiid's game-winning moment: "Something that he works on every day. That's why he's MVP of the league this year."

Portland star Damian Lillard felt the Trail Blazers gave a great account of themselves and doffed his cap to Embiid.

"It was a good performance," Lillard said. "We played really well on both ends of the floor. The game felt good, just how we played on both sides.

"We were on a string defensively. Our presence on the ball. Our presence in the paint, and we gave ourselves a really good chance to win the game.

"They just made a big-time shot from a big-time player."

Philadelphia have won five of their six games this month and sit third in the Eastern Conference.

Head coach Doc Rivers: "It wasn't our night until 1.1 seconds, when you think about it. We stayed at it. We were looking for everything and just couldn't get going, man. We looked like we were in mud in the first half on both ends.

"That's a hell of a win for us because we didn't have a lot, and you could see it."

A 34-point haul for Anfernee Simons was in vain for the Trail Blazers, who slipped to 31-36.

James Harden was saluted for an "incredible" feat by coach Doc Rivers after becoming the first Philadelphia 76ers player to post 20 assists in a game twice in a season.

After scoring a personal season-high 38 points in the 147-143 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Harden made his next game one to remember, too.

He was not so prolific in the points column against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, with a modest 14 to his name, but 20 assists and nine rebounds helped to guide the Sixers to a 147-143 victory.

It followed his 21-assist game against the Los Angeles Clippers in December. These are the only 20-plus rebound games in 33-year-old Harden's career to date.

Joel Embiid led scorers with 42 points, while Tyrese Maxey (24 points) and Jalen McDaniels (20) also weighed in.

Rivers said of Harden's effort, amid a strong team display: "It's just incredible. The great thing about James overall is he pretty much doesn't turn the ball over a lot, makes smart plays.

"But his passing when he plays like tonight and the other night – the other night he had 30 and 10, tonight he had 14 and 20 – it just makes us so hard to beat with his ability to pass."

Looking at some of Harden's most audacious passing, Rivers said few in the NBA possessed comparable quality.

"Those passes are five-guys-in-the-league, maybe, passes," Rivers said.

Harden joked about Maxey failing to secure him a 21st assist late in the game, as Philadelphia (42-22) consolidated third spot in the Eastern Conference.

"Seriously man, what are we doing? I'm just playing," Harden said.

"But I'm just trying to make plays. Not really efficient scoring the basketball tonight but find other ways to put an impact on the game. I saw some different things, made some good passes and had one turnover and that's because Joel couldn't catch the basketball.

"All in all, I'm just happy to come out with the win."

Quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Harden reflected on twice getting to 20 assists in games this season. He leads the league with an average of 10.8 assists per game.

"It's an unbelievable franchise, man," Harden said. "They got so many great players that have put on a 76ers jersey. To be added to the list is one of those feelings."

 

Going over 40 for the 11th time this season 

Joel Embiid finishes with 42 PTS in the @sixers win on the road! pic.twitter.com/UddGffAIc9

— NBA (@NBA) March 7, 2023

Giannis Antetokounmpo is eager for the Milwaukee Bucks to learn from their winning-streak-ending loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Joel Embiid and James Harden led the charge as the 76ers overcame a 14-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to win 133-130 in Milwaukee on Saturday, snapping the Bucks' 16-game winning run.

Milwaukee went into the contest with the best record in the NBA but Embiid – whose three-pointer with 42 seconds left on the clock nudged the 76ers ahead – and Harden ensured the league's longest winning streak of the season came to a shuddering halt.

Embiid finished with 31 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to back up Harden's 38 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey added 26 points.

It was the first time two Philadelphia players finished with at 30 or more points and 10 or more assists in the same game since Hal Greer Wilt Chamberlain did so in October 1965.

Antetokounmpo now wants to see the Bucks respond.

"They went wherever they wanted to go, scoring from the paint, floaters, isos, offensive rebounds, free throws, threes," said Antetokounmpo, who had a double-double of 34 points and 13 rebounds.

"You name it. They were able to get everything.

"We've got to be able to play 48 minutes of good basketball, defend for 48 minutes. This is a good lesson for us.

"We did a good job the first three quarters. Obviously, the fourth quarter, a lot of free throws, they made some tough threes. 

"It was basically our game but they came out, they were aggressive, they moved the ball, got downhill to the paint."

For his part, Philadelphia talisman Embiid was not convinced he had the best of games at an individual level.

"I thought tonight I could have been better. I missed a lot of easy shots I usually make," he said.

The 76ers hold a 41-22 record for the season and pulled to within four games of the Bucks in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

"It's good, having these types of games, especially with our schedule the rest of the way," Embiid added.

"It's good for us, prepares us for the playoffs. It's good and bad. Good because you know you're able to do it, but it's also bad because you put yourself in that position [down 18].

"So maybe we should try to find a way to not put ourselves in those positions in the first place so we don't have to do it again."

Harden said: "Give ourselves a chance. That was the whole fourth quarter. I feel like they had us that entire game, and then, that fourth quarter, we came out with some pop.

"You find something that works and you try to stick with it. We found something late, in that fourth quarter, and we just stuck with it. We got some stops and things changed for us."

The longest winning streak of the season was snapped at 16 games after the Philadelphia 76ers came from behind on the road to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 133-130.

Milwaukee came into the contest boasting the best record in the NBA, and they appeared well on their way to making it 17 in a row after building a 99-85 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But the 76ers started the last period on a 16-2 run, and ended up scoring 48 in the quarter, finally taking a 127-125 lead with 42 seconds remaining following a Joel Embiid three-pointer.

It was a spectacular showing from Philadelphia's top three offensive options, and it was James Harden leading the way with 38 points on 11-of-26 shooting, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Embiid was terrific with 31 points (11-of-22 shooting) and an equal season-high 10 assists, and Tyrese Maxey continued to thrive since being reintroduced to the starting line-up, scoring 26 points on eight-of-12 shooting.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 34 points (nine-of-21 shooting) and 13 rebounds, but his seven turnovers were two more than the 76ers committed as an entire team.

With the win, the 76ers (41-22) pulled to within four games of the Bucks (45-18) in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Bam bullies the Hawks

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo was a destructive force on both ends as his side defeated the Atlanta Hawks 117-109 in front of a sold-out home crowd.

The two-time All-Star shot 10-of-12 from the field and the same from the free throw line for 30 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while also blocking two shots and snatching a steal.

Jimmy Butler continued to operate as the de facto point guard, dishing seven assists while only attempting eight field goals for his 15 points, 11 rebounds and two steals, while Tyler Herro poured in 20 points (eight-of-21 shooting) with five assists.

Miami are now just two games behind the flailing sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets as they seek to rise out of the Play-In Tournament placings.

VanVleet lifts the Raptors in overtime

Fred VanVleet hit big shots late as his Toronto Raptors emerged victorious 116-109 in overtime against the Washington Wizards.

VanVleet ended up with an equal game-high 10 assists to go with his 25 points (nine-of-16 shooting), and he hit a pair of three-pointers in the overtime period, while the Wizards could only muster four points as a team after regulation.

It was a game-winning showing off the bench for Gary Trent Jr, with 26 points (11-of-18 shooting), five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Delon Wright was a standout for Washington, tallying six steals to go with 18 points (six-of-10), seven assists and six rebounds.

Mikal Bridges scored a career-high 45 points in his third game for the Brooklyn Nets since his trade for Kevin Durant as they won 116-105 over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Nets had dropped four of their past five games since trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks, with the injured Durant following him out the exit door last week.

Bridges shot 17-of-24 from the field, making four-of-six from beyond the arc with eight rebounds and five assists.

The Nets became the first team in NBA history to have four players score 45 points or more in a single game in one season.

Cameron Johnson, who also joined the Nets from the Phoenix Suns alongside Bridges, added 18 points with three assists.

The Nets had trailed 56-52 at the main break, but Bridges broke the game open with 15 straight points.

Bridges finished the game with 17 points in the fourth quarter, comfortably eclipsing his previous career-best return of 34 points.

Bam Adebayo had 24 points with 13 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, while Max Strus scored 18 points as the Heat fell to 32-27.

The win lifted the Nets to 34-24, although Ben Simmons' woes continued with only two points, four rebounds and assists in 20 minutes.

Embiid brings up milestone amid double-double

Joel Embiid brought up his 10,000th career as he recorded a double-double as the Philadelphia 76ers won their fourth straight in a 118-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid finished with 29 points with 14 rebounds and five assists, while James Harden also managed a double-double with 19 points and 12 assists. Harden assisted and scored in 27 of 38 first-quarter points.

The 76ers led 63-38 at half-time, although Donovan Mitchell fought hard for the Cavaliers, scoring 25 second-half points, before finishing with 33.

LeBron returns as Lakers win

LeBron James scored 21 points on his return after three games out with a foot injury as the Los Angeles Lakers won 120-102 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 28 points with 10 rebounds and five assists as the Lakers improved to 27-32 to boost their playoff hopes, while D'Angelo Russell added 21 points. The Lakers never trailed after a 38-point opening quarter.

Brandon Ingram top scored for the Pelicans, still missing Zion Williamson, with 25 points, while Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points with 11 rebounds.

James Harden said he left the Brooklyn Nets "for a reason" after he and Joel Embiid starred in the Philadelphia 76ers' win over his former team, describing his time in Brooklyn as "frustrating".

Harden scored 29 points with six rebounds and six assists on his first appearance at Barclays Center since pushing for a trade to Philadelphia last year, helping the Sixers record a 101-98 win.

The 2018 NBA MVP and 10-time All-Star was criticised for his decision to seek a Nets exit just over a year after being acquired from the Houston Rockets.

Harden was keen to get a few things off his chest after Saturday's win over Brooklyn, who are working with a new-look roster after the recent departure of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Asked if he could have foreseen a situation where both of those stars followed him through the exit door, Harden said: "Yeah. I didn't just ask to leave for no reason. It wasn't right.

"I was in a really good place in Houston. Obviously, we didn't have a chance to win a championship, but I was comfortable. 

"So for me to up and leave my family, all the things I created there, to come to Brooklyn for a year and a half to try to just get up and leave, it was for a reason, you know what I mean?" 

Pushed on whether the Nets could have done anything to keep him, the guard added: "Yeah, there was. Like, a lot of things.

"But it was just a lot of dysfunction, clearly. A lot of internal things that I'm not going to ever say or put in the media or anything. That was one of the reasons why I chose to make my decision.

"But now, fast-forward to this date, I don't look like the crazy one. I don't look like the quitter or whatever the media want to call me. 

"I knew what was going on and I just decided, 'hey, I'm not built for this'. I don't want to deal with that. I want to play basketball and have fun and enjoy doing it. Fast-forward to today, they've got a whole new roster."

Asked to sum up his time in Brooklyn, Harden described it as "frustrating", bemoaning his lack of game-time alongside Durant and Irving after the trio only played 16 times together.

"The reason I made that decision to get out of my comfort zone, to leave Houston and do everything that I did to get out of there was to come in and play with KD and Kyrie," he said.

"That didn't happen as much as I would like to or probably the organisation wanted to. It was just something where I knew it wasn't going to change. I had to make an individual decision for the betterment of my family and my career

 "It's a lot of what-ifs when you play less than 20 games together. So it's a little bit frustrating, but it is what it is. Hopefully, everybody's in a good place now and we can move on."

Joel Embiid and James Harden led the Philadelphia 76ers to a hard-fought 101-98 win against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Saturday.

The Nets, now shorn of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, had to face another of their former stars in Harden, who had no problem showing them the kind of form he rarely displayed in Brooklyn on his first appearance there since leaving last year, scoring 29 points with six rebounds and six assists.

Embiid had an even better outing, with the Cameroonian finishing with 37 points and 13 rebounds, making 12 of his 18 field-goal attempts.

Mikal Bridges scored 23 on debut for Brooklyn after his arrival as part of the Durant deal with the Phoenix Suns, with fellow debutant Cam Johnson adding 12, while Joe Harris managed 18 points from just over 16 minutes on court.

The two players the Nets acquired as part of the Irving deal, Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie, struggled against the Sixers.

Finney-Smith made just two of his eight field-goal attempts, while Dinwiddie fared even worse with two from 10, and zero from four shots from beyond the arc.

Dinwiddie thought he had forced overtime at least when a three-pointer finally went in, but it was ruled out of time after a review as Philadelphia secured the victory.

 

Doncic and Irving outfoxed by De'Aaron

In their first outing together for the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic and Irving could not get the W as De'Aaron Fox helped the Sacramento Kings to an overtime victory.

Both Doncic and Irving spent more than 40 minutes on the court, scoring 27 and 28 points respectively in a tight game in which neither team ended a quarter with more than a two-point lead.

Fox particularly shone in the latter stages as he recorded 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including six free throws in the final 18.4 seconds to help seal a 133-128 win at Golden 1 Center.

Jokic makes history, Young's assist bonanza

Nikola Jokic became only the fifth player in NBA history to record 20+ triple-doubles in a single season as he led the Denver Nuggets to a 119-105 win at the Charlotte Hornets.

The two-time MVP scored 30 points, with 16 rebounds and 10 assists, while Trae Young also had a productive game as the Atlanta Hawks beat the San Antonio Spurs 125-106.

Young provided an impressive season-high 17 assists for his team to go with his 24 points to make it a 12-game losing streak for the Spurs, their longest since 1988-89 (13).

A much-changed Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a 109-103 victory against the Golden State Warriors, with Dennis Schroder top-scoring with 26 points, while the returning D'Angelo Russell added 15 and Anthony Davis recorded 16 rebounds.

James Harden has shrugged off any stress over his chances of making the All-Star Game, saying his numbers speak for themselves.

Harden had a double-double of 26 points and 10 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 105-94 on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old is a 10-time All-Star, but an 11th successive appearance in the mid-season exhibition game is not guaranteed.

Harden faces stiff competition from several other star names, including Sixers team-mate Joel Embiid, in the Eastern Conference to make the reserve list for the All-Star Game. There are seven spots available for each conference.

Yet Harden, who is averaging 21.4 points per game – Embiid, with 33.5, is the only Sixers player to boast more – 6.4 rebounds and 11 assists this season, believes he has done enough.

"If my name is called, great," Harden told reporters. "If not, there's bigger and better goals for the season.

"I'm not going to sit here and make a case. The numbers show it, our seed shows it."

The Sixers are third in the East with a 33-17 record, having won eight of their previous nine games.

Harden made three catch-and-shoot three-pointers against Orlando and was thrilled to thrive in an area where he has struggled.

"That's pretty exciting, I didn't want to do too much, just catch and shoot," he explained.

"You put the work in, I work on it every day. So opportunities are going to come whether it's Joel or dribble penetration."

Embiid added: "That's not something he was comfortable with, but he's gotten better over time and he's taking more and more.

"He needs to take more than he does, but it's a good step. He's getting better and he's knocking them down."

Embiid was marked tightly by the Magic's Franz Wagner, though still topped the scoring with 28 points, adding 11 rebounds and three assists.

"A really good young player," Embiid said of Wagner. "Obviously, you can tell he's competitive, as he kept attacking even though he was not getting the better of me.

"But I like him, a great talent and as a team, that's a pretty good team."

Sixers coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, saw scope for improvement. 

"I didn't think we played great, but we played good enough to win," he said. "We'll take that."

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.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers did not hide his frustration with certain elements of his team's play despite beating the Portland Trail Blazers 105-95 on Thursday.

The Sixers made it four wins on the bounce, all of which have been on the road, with Joel Embiid and James Harden playing key roles.

Embiid's 32 points made it the seventh game in a row he has reached at least 30, while Harden posted a triple-double of 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

The Sixers looked to be coasting at one stage, finding themselves 26 points to the good, but the Trail Blazers made life a little trickier towards the end.

Rivers' team got the job done as they improved to 29-16 in the East, behind only the Boston Celtic and Milwaukee Bucks, though he was certainly not completely satisfied.

He was particularly irritated by the Sixers' poor handling of the Trail Blazers' trapping, and he was not impressed by how spread out his players were.

Asked how they coped with respect to trapping, Rivers said: "Poorly, but we also took advantage of some of it as well.

"I didn't think trapping was that hard, our spacing was horrendous, and we're great at spacing most nights, but tonight we kept leaving two guys on the other end.

"I'm hoarse from yelling, just getting one to cut through and we basically didn't do it. We got away with three or four more than I thought they could've had. But that's easy to fix."

In letting Portland back into the contest somewhat in the second half, Rivers felt there was a hint of complacency in the Sixers' performance.

As such, he surmised they are still not at a stage where they can consider themselves anything more than a "good" team.

He added: "There's no lesson, the lesson is execute. I just thought we didn't.

"You get leads sometimes and they're hard, NBA leads shrink quickly and then you get complacent, and I think we did a little bit of that.

"But in that, one thing I like is we kept playing defense, and that's a good sign.

"I think we're good, and I think we can be really, really good. But we have work to do.

"We can't expect to come in and just show up and win, we have to go out and do something about it."

Nevertheless, with the likes of Embiid and Harden in their arsenal, the Sixers have the kind of star quality that can drag them through the mud even when they are not at their optimal level as a unit.

That is not lost on Embiid.

"I think from the beginning it was easy," he said of linking up with Harden, who joined from the Brooklyn Nets last February.

"When you've got two guys with high basketball IQs, you can figure it out everything easy.

"So, it's all about just playing off of each other. We've been doing a wonderful job of doing that."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.