The return of Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis remains weeks away, but he will reportedly take the next step in his rehabilitation process in the coming days.

Davis has missed the past 13 games due to an injured right foot, dealing with a bone spur fracturing off his navicular bone as well as a stress reaction.

Before he hopped off the floor during the Lakers' December 16 win against the Denver Nuggets, Davis was having his best season in a Los Angeles jersey.

He is averaging 27.4 points and a career-high 12.1 rebounds, while shooting a career-best 59.4 per cent from the field and being one of four players averaging at least two blocks per game (2.1).

A report on Monday from ESPN's Dave McMenamin states Davis "plans to begin the ramp-up process to return to play when the team returns to Los Angeles this week".

The ramp-up process will involve aquatic pool workouts and running on an altered-gravity treadmill to keep most of the weight off the big-man's foot as it continues to heal.

It is believed the ramp-up process will take at least a couple of weeks before the Lakers begin to pinpoint a return date.

Los Angeles lost four of their first five games with Davis sidelined, but an incredible stretch of play from LeBron James ignited a run of six wins from seven prior to Monday's loss against the Nuggets, where James was sitting out for rest reasons.

They began the season 2-10, but have recovered to 19-22 and now sit only 1.5 games behind local rivals the Los Angeles Clippers (21-21), who occupy the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

The Boston Celtics rode another impressive performance from MVP candidate Jayson Tatum to a 107-99 home win against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, improving their league-best record to 29-12.

Boston also boast a 16-5 home record, and while they have been the NBA's best offense for most of this season, it was their defense getting the job done against the Bulls.

After holding their opponent to under 100 points only four times from their first 37 games this season, the Celtics have now accomplished the feat in two of their past three outings.

While part of the Bulls' offensive issues boiled down to DeMar DeRozan leaving with a quadriceps strain, the Celtics were also able to hold the red-hot Zach Lavine to 40 per cent shooting (10-of-24), despite his otherwise impressive figures of 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Jayson Tatum was clearly the Celtics' best player, scoring a game-high 32 points on 10-of-21 shooting with eight rebounds and seven assists, while Grant Williams chipped in 20 points (eight-of-15 shooting) and eight rebounds off the bench.

Tatum's 30.8 points per game has him sitting fifth in the league, while his field goal percentage of 47.2 is the highest since his rookie year (47.5 per cent).

The loss for the Bulls snaps a three-game winning streak, and leaves them 10th in the Eastern Conference at 19-22.

Nuggets remain top of the West

The Denver Nuggets had no issue dealing with the visiting and LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers, defending home court with a 122-109 triumph.

It was another playmaking masterclass from reigning back-to-back MVP and arguably the greatest playmaking center in the history of the sport, with Nikola Jokic dishing a game-high 16 assists, grabbing 11 rebounds and finishing a perfect five-of-five from the field for his 14 points. 

He handed lead-scoring duties to Jamal Murray for the night, and he delivered with a season-high 34 points on 13-of-29 shooting, leaving the Nuggets tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the top seed in the West at 27-13.

Russell Westbrook continues to build his case for Sixth Man of the Year, contributing 25 points (10-of-21 shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists off the Lakers' bench.

Brunson heroics not enough for the Knicks

New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 44 points as his side went down 111-107 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Brunson shot 15-of-30 from the field, hitting all 10 of his free throws, but a 38-point final quarter from the Bucks saw them claw back from a deficit that reached 17 points in the third period.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was solid by his standards with 22 points (six-of-15 shooting), 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while offseason signing Joe Ingles impressed off the bench with 17 points (six-of-14 shooting) and five assists.

LeBron James will not feature for the Los Angeles Lakers in their game at the Denver Nuggets on Monday after being listed as out with ankle soreness.

James has been in excellent form for the Lakers as they continue to recover from a desperate start to the season that saw them lose 10 of their first 12 games.

The 38-year-old is averaging 29.1 points per game, along with 8.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists, as the Lakers have improved from 2-10 to 19-21, including winning their last five.

They have averaged 125.8 points per game during that win streak, last winning five in a row while averaging at least 125 points in the 1987-88 season.

After scoring a combined 90 in wins at the Atlanta Hawks (47) and Charlotte Hornets (43), James missed the victory against his former team the Miami Heat on Wednesday with an ankle problem, before returning to score 25 against the Hawks on Friday and 37 against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

However, the Lakers listed their star man – the Western Conference Player of the Week – as out again ahead of Monday's clash in Denver, citing left ankle soreness.

James is 20-20 against the Nuggets. He does not have a career losing record against any team.

LeBron James has expressed his frustration at the lack of trade movement for the Los Angeles Lakers following the 136-134 victory against the Sacramento Kings.

A fifth consecutive win saw the Lakers improve to 19-21, a game back of the 10th seed Utah Jazz, who occupy what would be the final place in the Western Conference play-in tournament.

That is still well below the expectations that surround James and the Lakers franchise, and their inactivity in the market has raised eyebrows, as has the apparent reluctance to trade the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks that some feel can be used to improve the roster.

With the February 9 trade deadline on the horizon, James made it clear his patience on the matter is waning, telling the Athletic: "I play the game. I worry about who's in the locker room. I can't do nobody else's job.

"Listen, you guys know. It's not rocket science. I'm doing what's best for my guys in the locker room. That's all I can worry about.

"Y'all know what the f*** should be happening. I don't need to talk."

The Lakers were reportedly considering trading Russell Westbrook and both first-rounders to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield but elected to wait for a deal that would have a greater impact upon the team.

Despite the loss of key players and poor early-season form, the Lakers sit just two wins off sixth place and are 7.5 games adrift of Western Conference leaders the Denver Nuggets.

The Los Angeles Lakers are "trending in the right direction" after beating the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, according to coach Darvin Ham.

An awful start to the season saw them lose 10 of their first 12 games, but the Lakers' form has evened out and their 136-134 win over the Kings made it five victories in a row to move them on to 19-21 for the campaign.

LeBron James posted 37 points as well as eight rebounds and seven assists as the visitors secured their latest win at Golden 1 Center.

Ham pointed to his team's struggles earlier in the season – including two defeats to the Kings – as partly responsible for their recent upturn, saying after the game the Lakers are "trending in the right direction and learning from our mistakes." 

He added: "A couple of months back we'd have lost a game like this, and back then sitting here with you guys in post-game pressers telling you as much as it hurt, we need to go through this process, we need to learn, trial by fire.

"All those experiences are causing us to be more conscious on offense, not just throwing away possessions late in the game.

"At the end of the day, everything we have gone through this season I think has been a huge education for us."

Thomas Bryant, who scored 29 points along with claiming 14 rebounds, also praised his team-mates for their resilience.

"It says a lot about the confidence, the strong resiliency that we try and bring each and every night out," the former Washington Wizards center said.

"I know each and every last one of those guys are proud of each other out there."

LeBron James scored 37 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 15 assists off the bench as the Los Angeles Lakers sneaked past the Sacramento Kings 136-134 on Saturday.

The win made it five straight victories for the Lakers, who were missing Anthony Davis (foot), as they improved to 19-21.

Dennis Schroder hit two free-throws with 3.1 seconds remaining before De'Aaron Fox missed a 43-foot attempt on the buzzer. Fox had squared the game up at 134-all with a 14-foot shot with 7.1 seconds remaining.

James' driving layup and one with 48 seconds left had earned the Lakers the lead which they never gave up.

The four-time NBA MVP scored 10 fourth-quarter points, shooting at 50 per cent for the game, finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Schroder added 27 points with four-of-five from three-point range, while Thomas Bryant added 29 points and 14 rebounds.

Westbrook played 34 minutes, making a strong contribution, becoming only the second player to reach 20 points, five rebounds and 15 assists off the bench since starters were first tracked in 1970-71.

Fox scored 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field, with Domantas Sabonis having 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Doncic triple-double in Mavs win

Luka Doncic had his ninth triple-double of the season with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 127-117.

Dallas raced to a 34-15 quarter-time lead with Christian Wood starring early to finish with 28 points, while exciting rookie Jaden Hardy scored 15 for the second straight time.

The Pels, playing without leading scorers Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum, were led by Jonas Valanciunas with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Tatum guides Celtics past Spurs

Jayson Tatum scored 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting as he lifted the Boston Celtics past the San Antonio Spurs 121-116.

Tatum scored a tiebreaking jumper with 33 seconds left, while Jaylen Brown added 29 points and Malcolm Brogdon contributed 23 off the bench.

The Spurs pushed the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics all game, with eight players scoring double digits for the home team, led by Zach Collins with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

LeBron James claimed it does not feel right to match records when it comes in "a losing effort".

James is averaging 28.9 points per game this season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and amassed 25 points in Friday's 130-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

That victory made it four wins on the bounce for the Lakers, who have begun a bounce back from a dismal streak of one win in six.

But the Lakers remain 12th in the Western Conference with an 18-21 record for the season.

James, who turned 38 last month, is closing in on the all-time regular-season points record, held by former Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who accumulated 38,387 across a long career.

Yet James is not interested in achievements if they come when the team are struggling.

"I want to win. [The losing is] not sitting well with me," James told ESPN.

"I don't like having accomplishments, and it don't feel right, when it comes in a losing effort.

"We sit here right now as a franchise and as a team that's below .500. We've been playing some good basketball as of late, but we want to and I want to win at the highest level.

"Breaking records or setting records or passing greats in a losing effort has never been a DNA of mine."

James was instrumental for the Lakers against the Hawks, adding 10 assists and seven rebounds to his tally of points.

Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn also impressed for the Lakers, who were depleted by injuries. Indeed, James himself had only just recovered from illness.

Westbrook said: "There are going to be times where guys go down, unfortunately, and we have a group of guys that have just been preparing themselves for when it's their moment to play and play well.

"[It] seems like we've been hitting a good stride of figuring that out."

Coach Darvin Ham said: "It's motivating them to step their games up. They know I'll put anybody out there, and if they're playing the right way, they'll play a significant amount of minutes."

Zach Lavine torched the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night to deliver a 126-112 road win for the Chicago Bulls.

Lavine finished two points off his season-high with 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, and he made history with his marksmanship from long range.

He hit 11 of his 13 three-point attempts (84.6 per cent), joining Stephen Curry as the only players in NBA history to hit at least 11 three-pointers in a game at over 80 per cent efficiency.

Over his past five games, Lavine is averaging 27.6 points while shooting 54.8 per cent from the field, 55.3 per cent from deep and 96.2 per cent at the free throw line.

Against the 76ers, Lavine was supported well by third-year forward and former top-five draft pick Patrick Williams, who scored 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting with six rebounds. 

It is the latest impressive sign from Williams, who had his best game of the season on Wednesday with 22 points (six-of-eight shooting), seven rebounds and two steals in an upset win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 76ers were without franchise centrepiece Joel Embiid, and James Harden put together a poor performance, finishing four-of-17 from the field for his 17 points and 11 assists.

Chicago have won seven of their past 10 to improve their record to 18-21 – two games behind the Eastern Conference's eight seed, currently occupied by the Miami Heat (20-19).

Lakers win fourth on the trot

LeBron James was at his playmaking best in the Los Angeles Lakers' 130-114 victory on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.

James had 17 points and 10 assists at three-quarter time, and after the Hawks cut the margin to 10 points early in the last period, James responded by scoring eight of the Lakers' next 10 points to put the game to bed.

He shot 10-of-19 for his 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with another triple-double off the bench, posting 18 points (seven-of-14), 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Nuggets take top spot in the West

The Denver Nuggets (26-13) are now alone atop the Western Conference standings after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-108.

It is the Nuggets' ninth win from their past 11 fixtures, and they were once again carried by reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Jokic averaged 29.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.1 assists during the month of December as he continues to build a case to become the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird from 1984-86.

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his second triple-double of the season as the Milwaukee Bucks blew a 21-point second-half lead before rallying for a 104-101 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo finished the game with 30 points on seven-of-18 shooting, making 15-of-21 from the free-throw line, along with a season-high 21 rebounds and 10 assists with one block.

The dominant display came in the second game of a back-to-back after his 55-point performance against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. Antetokounmpo is the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 to drop 200-plus points, 80-plus rebounds and 30-plus assists over a five-game span.

The Greek forward drove to the basket and laid off a crucial assist for Grayson Allen's go-ahead triple with 11.6 seconds remaining in OT.

Allen had earlier given up a flagrant 1 foul on a four-point play as Gary Trent Jr shot a three-pointer to make it 97-92 with 29.1 seconds remaining. Trent also nailed a 27-foot three-point jumpshot to tie the game at 97-97 sending it to OT.

The Raptors were plagued by poor OT shooting as Antetokounmpo set up Allen twice to clinch the game.

Milwaukee had led 90-69 with 3:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, before Toronto's 28-7 run was sparked by Fred VanVleet, who finished with 28 points and 12 assists along with Trent Jr with 22 points for the game. Scottie Barnes had 19 points for the game, all after three-quarter time.

Brook Lopez had 19 rebounds with nine points for the Bucks, who were missing Jrue Holiday (non-COVID illness) and Khris Middleton (knee).

The result improves the Bucks' record to 25-13 and second in the Eastern Conference, while the Raptors are 12th with a 16-22 record.

Nets winning run ended by Bulls

The Brooklyn Nets' 12-game winning streak was ended by the Chicago Bulls 121-112 despite Kevin Durant's 44 points.

Durant shot 15-of-22 from the field, including five-of-10 from three-point range, but the Bulls had a rounded team effort with all five starters reaching double digits, led by Patrick Williams and DeMar DeRozan, who both scored 22 points with seven rebounds.

Center Nikola Vucevic had 21 points with 13 rebounds, helping the Bulls go on an 8-0 fourth-quarter run when Durant was rested, with Ayo Dosunmu laying down a big dunk for 106-95 with 6:46 left.

Schroder leads short-handed Lakers to victory

Dennis Schroder led the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers past the Miami Heat 112-109 with 14 of his season-high 32 points coming in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers, without LeBron James (non-COVID illness) and Anthony Davis (foot), were also helped by Russell Westbrook with 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds off the bench. Thomas Bryant also scored 21 points.

LA fought back from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit, despite Bam Adebayo's 30 points and 13 rebounds, along with Jimmy Butler contributing 27 points.

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James will miss the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Miami Heat on Wednesday due to a non-COVID-related illness.

James is fresh from back-to-back 40-point games for the Lakers, including scoring 47 points on his 38th birthday against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Lakers forward has stepped up during Anthony Davis' absence due to a foot injury, averaging 31.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.0 assists through December.

James is averaging 29.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists across the season for the Lakers, who are 16-21.

Damar Hamlin had the American sporting community rooting for him after the Buffalo Bills safety suffered an on-field cardiac arrest, as team-mate Josh Allen pleaded: "Please pray for our brother."

Hamlin was in a critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, having collapsed during Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter, and after briefly returning to his feet, he slumped to the ground.

He was administered CPR on the field, before being loaded into a waiting ambulance and rushed away.

Amid harrowing scenes, the game was suspended while the Bengals were leading 7-3 with 5:58 remaining in the first period.

Allen led the call for prayer for Hamlin, with well-wishers from across sport, entertainment and politics also sending thoughts and best wishes.

Former Chargers and Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote on Twitter: "Damar Hamlin represents every one of us and every team-mate we've ever had.

"I've never met him, but I know him as a member of our brotherhood. My family and I pray for him and his family as he recovers. God be with him."

Michael Vick and Patrick Mahomes also said they were praying for Hamlin, the latter adding: "Please be okay man."

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill added: "Praying for Damar Hamlin, his family and everyone in Buffalo... no words for a situation like this."

The NFL said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar, his family and the Buffalo Bills."

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt said: "The game is not important. Damar Hamlin’s life is important. Please be ok. Please."

From basketball, the NBA said: "The entire NBA family's thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin, his family and the NFL community."

That was reflected in post-game comments from a number of leading stars after Monday's NBA action, with Lakers superstar LeBron James saying: "My thoughts and super prayers goes up to the skies above for that kid's family, for him, for that brotherhood of the NFL and everybody a part of the NFL family."

James said it was "definitely the right call" to abandon the game for the night.

He said of the incident: "It was a terrible thing to see and I wish nothing but the best for that kid, for the city of Buffalo, for the franchise of the Bills and like I said, for the rest of the NFL as well and also the Bengals that was there and playing in that game."

Klay Thompson, from the Golden State Warriors, added: "As athletes, sometimes the game can overshadow us as individuals or people.

"On behalf of the organisation, we wish him the best. We're keeping him in our prayers and hoping for the best possible outcome. He's a tremendous person and it's bigger than the sport."

Hollywood actor Ben Stiller, a big sports fan, wrote: "Sending good thoughts and prayers to Damar Hamlin and his family."

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said: "Our prayers are with Damar Hamlin."

Amid the focus on Hamlin's plight, there was a surge in donations to a Christmas fundraiser the Bills star organised in 2020, to raise money to buy toys for children hit hard by the pandemic.

The fundraiser's target had been $2,500, but its running tally passed $3million by the early hours of Tuesday.

LeBron James' ability to take care of himself allows the Los Angeles Lakers to still rely on the 38-year-old, says coach Darvin Ham.

Having managed 47 points in Friday's win at the Atlanta Hawks, James scored 43 in the Lakers' 121-115 victory against the Charlotte Hornets, becoming the first player beyond the age of 38 to score 40 or more in consecutive games since Michael Jordan.

James, who also recorded 11 rebounds and six assists at Spectrum Center in almost 40 minutes on court, turned 38 on Friday.

"I just want to ride him," Ham said after the win. "And he allows you to do that because he takes such great care of himself. So, it's a great luxury to have."

James has been in impressive form of late, averaging 34.5 points from his last 11 games. He insisted his consistency is unrelated to carrying more pressure following the recent injury to Anthony Davis, though his form also improved last season when Davis was sidelined.

"Last year is last year," James said when it was put to him. "Obviously, I found a good groove last year. But this year is this year, as well. I feel really good in every facet of my game."

Austin Reaves, who scored 15 points with six rebounds and seven assists in just over 22 minutes of action, also paid tribute to James' conditioning.

"It's incredible," Reaves said. "To see him at his age... the stuff that he does, the way that he moves, the contact that he endures in a full game and just the way that his body has held up this whole time, it's super impressive.

"But it's a testament to what he does on a daily basis. He's always the first one in the training room, the first one taking care of his body and also getting the work in as well. So, to say the least, I'm happy to be on his team."

Donovan Mitchell shattered the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record with 71 points in his side's 145-134 home victory against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Cavaliers' previous record for most points in one game belongs to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who both had a 57-point game in a Cleveland uniform in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Mitchell also came through in a pivotal moment late in the fourth quarter to force overtime after being fouled with three seconds remaining, trailing by three. He made the first free throw, before missing the second and getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He went on to outscore the Bulls 13-4 by himself in the extra period, finishing 22-of-34 from the field, seven-of-15 from deep and 20-of-25 from the free throw line while adding 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Mitchell blew his own career-highs out of the water, having never previously scored more than 46 points in a regular season game, although he had games of 57 and 51 in the Utah Jazz's 2020 playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

He scored or assisted on 99 of the Cavaliers' 145 points – the second most all-time, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in 1962 where he contributed to 104 points.

Mitchell joins Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson and Devin Booker as the only players to reach the 70-point figure.

It overshadowed a terrific performance from Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting with four assists and four steals.

LeBron carries the Lakers in vintage display

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James willed his side to a 121-115 road win against the Charlotte Hornets with his second consecutive 40-point game.

After putting up a season-high 47 points his last time out against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, James almost matched it against Charlotte, scoring a game-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting with 11 rebounds and six assists.

He was the only Lakers player to score more than 18 points, as Thomas Bryant played strong supporting role with 18 points (nine-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers have now won three of their past four to improve to 16-21 – four games behind the Sacramento Kings (19-16) in the Western Conference's sixth seed.

Nets make it 12 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets own this season's longest winning streak after rattling off their 12th in a row with a 139-103 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn's two offensive centrepieces were both at the top of their game. Kevin Durant scored 25 points on wildly efficient 10-of-14 shooting with 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored his game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

The highlight of the game came when Irving crashed the offensive rebounds on a Yuta Watanabe miss, rising up for a surprising put-back dunk that sent the Barclays Center crowd into raptures.

Brooklyn are now 25-12 after beginning the season 1-5, and trail the Boston Celtics (26-11) by one game in the race for the league's best record.

Donovan Mitchell shattered the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record with 71 points in his side's 145-134 home victory against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Cavaliers' previous record for most points in one game belongs to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who both had a 57-point game in a Cleveland uniform in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Mitchell also came through in a pivotal moment late in the fourth quarter to force overtime after being fouled with three seconds remaining, trailing by three. He made the first free throw, before missing the second and getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He went on to outscore the Bulls 13-4 by himself in the extra period, finishing 22-of-34 from the field, seven-of-15 from deep and 20-of-25 from the free throw line while adding 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Mitchell blew his own career-highs out of the water, having never previously scored more than 46 points in a regular season game, although he had games of 57 and 51 in the Utah Jazz's 2020 playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

He scored or assisted on 99 of the Cavaliers' 145 points – the second most all-time, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in 1962 where he contributed to 104 points.

Mitchell joins Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson and Devin Booker as the only players to reach the 70-point figure.

It overshadowed a terrific performance from Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting with four assists and four steals.

LeBron carries the Lakers in vintage display

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James willed his side to a 121-115 road win against the Charlotte Hornets with his second consecutive 40-point game.

After putting up a season-high 47 points his last time out against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, James almost matched it against Charlotte, scoring a game-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting with 11 rebounds and six assists.

He was the only Lakers player to score more than 18 points, as Thomas Bryant played strong supporting role with 18 points (nine-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers have now won three of their past four to improve to 16-21 – four games behind the Sacramento Kings (19-16) in the Western Conference's sixth seed.

Nets make it 12 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets own this season's longest winning streak after rattling off their 12th in a row with a 139-103 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn's two offensive centrepieces were both at the top of their game. Kevin Durant scored 25 points on wildly efficient 10-of-14 shooting with 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored his game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

The highlight of the game came when Irving crashed the offensive rebounds on a Yuta Watanabe miss, rising up for a surprising put-back dunk that sent the Barclays Center crowd into raptures.

Brooklyn are now 25-12 after beginning the season 1-5, and trail the Boston Celtics (26-11) by one game in the race for the league's best record.

LeBron James thought he could become "one of the greatest players" in NBA history as a teenager after the Los Angeles Lakers man enjoyed a birthday game to remember.

The superstar forward celebrated his 38th birthday in style with a mammoth 47-point performance to steer his side to a 130-121 comeback win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

In his 20th season now, James continues to build upon a legacy that already includes four championships, four MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals, among other accolades.

Reflecting on his time in the NBA, he put himself into the shoes of his younger self and spoke of the ambition he had two decades ago to prove he could thrive in the sport.

"I feel better than [I felt at] 18," James said. "I didn't know what I could become at 18.

"But I just knew if I continued to put in the work, I continued to be true to the game, then I could be one of the greatest players to ever play this game.

"I just always believed that. There are times when I'm on the floor where I do feel like a kid again. That's for sure."

James' dominant performance, which also included 10 rebounds and nine assists at State Farm Arena, continued to showcase his age-defying skills on the court.

He is the third-oldest active player in the NBA right now, behind Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala, and he sees no reason why he cannot play on further.

"[I have got to] make sure my mind stays fresh, and my body, more importantly," he added. "As long as I keep my mind fresh, my body will follow."

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