Anthony Davis is not giving up hope of the Los Angeles Lakers making the playoffs despite a damaging defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Former Pelican Davis returned from injury, alongside LeBron James, but his 23 points and 12 rebounds could not rescue the Lakers from a 114-111 loss.

It leaves the Lakers still in 11th place and now three games back on the ninth-placed Pelicans. Crucially, the San Antonio Spurs, in the final play-in berth in 10th, have a full game advantage over LA.

The standings do not make for pretty reading for the Lakers, and Kendrick Perkins – Davis' former Pelicans team-mate – declared on Twitter after the game New Orleans had "put the Lakers out of their misery".

Davis still has belief, though, and insists it is not merely blind "hope", even if the Lakers have lost five in a row and have only five games remaining.

"Our mindset is to go 5-0 in these games and let the chips fall where they may," Davis said.

"We dropped this one, but we've got five left to try to control what we can control, and hopefully things fall in our favour.

"I think there is a lot of belief. We know what we're playing for. We know the position that we're in. We know we're playing against some top teams. So, I think we have to believe.

"I don't think it's hope. We don't play off hope and 'let's hope we win this game'. We have belief and I believe.

"We've got to go out and get it done. It's that simple. We have to win these games and we have to have that approach."

LeBron James acknowledged the Los Angeles Lakers lost a "must-win" game at home to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday but insisted their season is not over yet.

The Lakers, who are 11th in the West, went down 114-111 to the ninth-placed Pelicans. With the San Antonio Spurs also winning in 10th, LA fell a full game outside the play-in tournament.

It was a fifth defeat in a row for the Lakers and came despite the team hurrying James and Anthony Davis back from injuries.

James scored 38 points in a mammoth 40-minute shift, yet an air ball from three-point range at the buzzer sealed the loss.

Afterwards, the four-time MVP – still in pole position for the scoring title with 30.3 points per game – was understandably disheartened.

"The big picture is that it pretty much was a must-win for us," James said, "and we didn't get the job done.

"We had great opportunities throughout the night, and we didn't make enough plays down the stretch. So that's the big picture.

"It just feels like you can't catch a break. No matter what's going on on the floor, it just feels like the ball bounces the other way, the ball doesn't always bounce in our favour, or a call doesn't go in our favour.

"It's just like when it rains, it pours for our year. It's just the way it's been going."

However, he added: "Until it says we're eliminated, it doesn't. Until that moment, we'll know what our destiny is, but right now, we don't. So we keep pushing forward."

If the season ended today, the Los Angeles Lakers would not even make the play-in tournament after a painful 114-111 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The loss moves the Lakers' record to 31-46, and 4-16 in their past 20 games.

The Lakers built this game up as a must-win, re-inserting Anthony Davis to the line-up from a lengthy absence and LeBron James from an ankle sprain, but ultimately could not get stops down the stretch.

James was terrific, scoring 38 points on 13-23 shooting, while Davis was also strong, scoring 23 points (eight-of-17 shooting) to go with 12 rebounds and six assists. During Davis' 37 minutes on the floor, the Lakers were plus four.

But the Pelicans' duo of C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram would not be denied, as McCollum led the way with 32 points (12-of-23 shooting), while Ingram chipped in with an efficient 29 on 10-of-17 shooting to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Lakers' five remaining games are at home against the Denver Nuggets, away at the Phoenix Suns, away at the Golden State Warriors, at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and away against the Nuggets.

The San Antonio Spurs currently lead the race for the 10 seed by one game.

 

Fill-in Grizzlies fill it up

Another game without Ja Morant, and another win for the Memphis Grizzlies as they got the better of the full-strength Phoenix Suns 122-114.

As well as Morant, Memphis was without center Steven Adams, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaren Jackson Jr and emerging shooting guard Desmond Bane, but in front of their home fans the replacement Grizzlies were up to the task.

Dillon Brooks top-scored for the Grizzlies with 30 points (11-of-28 shooting) and seven assists, while Devin Booker had 41 points on 17-of-28 shooting for the Suns.

Memphis are now 20-2 in games Morant has missed.

 

Celtics win a shootout, Covington goes bananas 

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both surpassed 30 points in the Boston Celtics' 128-123 win against the Indiana Pacers.

Tatum finished with 31 on 10-of-24 shooting, while Brown had 32 on 12-of-18, but the Celtics had to withstand a sharpshooting display from Tyrese Haliburton, who had 30 points on 10-of-11 shooting, including six-of-six from long range.

Meanwhile, Robert Covington played the game of his life as his Los Angeles Clippers beat an undermanned Milwaukee Bucks side 153-119.

Covington finished with 43 points, going 11-of-18 from three-point range, setting a new franchise record for threes made in a game, beating J.J. Redick and Caron Butler's previous joint-record of nine.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel felt his team's struggles in their defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans reflected a "disjointed" season after they lost 114-111 in a "playoff game".

The Lakers were beaten despite strong performances from their two biggest stars, as LeBron James racked up 38 points and eight rebounds while Anthony Davis returned from injury with 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes.

C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram combined for 61 points for the Pelicans, who are now almost assured of their place in the play-in tournament.

The Lakers' play-in tournament chances took a massive hit with the loss – which moved their record to 4-16 in their past 20 games – sitting one game behind the San Antonio Spurs in the race for the 10 seed, with a difficult remaining schedule.

Speaking with post-game media, Vogel said he had no choice but to play James and Davis for extended minutes and cut down the rotation.

 "I think potentially [they were affected by fatigue down the stretch], but this was a playoff-mindset type of game, so those guys want to be in there," he said.

"We're communicating constantly throughout the game. I think both of them would say [they did not play too many minutes] – it's a playoff game, you got to be in there, you've got to compete. 

"This was a playoff game for us, so you use the roster however you see fit, given that matchup.

"C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram as a tandem, and with [Jonas] Valanciunas, those three guys are as good as just about any three you can put together in the league. That's why they're one of the hottest teams in the league.

"It's why we liked what Avery [Bradley] could bring to the table, and using Dwight [Howard] on Jonas as much as possible, but the guys who fell out of the rotation [including Talen Horton-Tucker and Austin Reaves] was just due to matchup."

Vogel felt the Lakers' issues scoring down the stretch were a microcosm of their campaign.

"I think it's the nature of the disjointed season that we've had – these guys haven't been on the floor in six weeks together," he said.

"We played last night – it was a tough travel situation getting in late and having to play an important game today, we just fell short. Those are the little things that are the difference between winning and losing.

"I won't look at [10th seed] San Antonio at all – obviously we'll find out what their scores look like, but our focus has to be on what we can control, and that's winning the next game."

If the season ended today, the Los Angeles Lakers would not even make the play-in tournament after a painful 114-111 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The loss moves the Lakers' record to 31-46, and 4-16 in their past 20 games.

The Lakers built this game up as a must-win, re-inserting Anthony Davis to the line-up from a lengthy absence and LeBron James from an ankle sprain, but ultimately could not get stops down the stretch.

James was terrific, scoring 38 points on 13-23 shooting, while Davis was also strong, scoring 23 points (eight-of-17 shooting) to go with 12 rebounds and six assists. During Davis' 37 minutes on the floor, the Lakers were plus four.

But the Pelicans duo of C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram would not be denied, as McCollum led the way with 32 points (12-of-23 shooting), while Ingram chipped in with an efficient 29 on 10-of-17 shooting to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Lakers' five remaining games are at home against the Denver Nuggets, away at the Phoenix Suns, away at the Golden State Warriors, at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and away against the Nuggets.

The San Antonio Spurs currently lead the race for the 10 seed by one game.

 

Fill-in Grizzlies fill it up

Another game without Ja Morant, and another win for the Memphis Grizzlies as they got the better of the full-strength Phoenix Suns 122-114.

As well as Morant, Memphis was without center Steven Adams, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaren Jackson Jr and emerging shooting guard Desmond Bane, but in front of their home fans the replacement Grizzlies were up to the task.

Dillon Brooks top-scored for the Grizzlies with 30 points (11-of-28 shooting) and seven assists, while Devin Booker had 41 points on 17-of-28 shooting for the Suns.

Memphis are now 20-2 in games Morant has missed.

 

Celtics win a shoot-out, Covington goes bananas 

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both surpassed 30 points in the Boston Celtics' 128-123 win against the Indiana Pacers.

Tatum finished with 31 on 10-of-24 shooting, while Brown had 32 on 12-of-18, but the Celtics had to withstand a sharpshooting display from Tyrese Haliburton, who had 30 points on 10-of-11 shooting, including six-of-six from long range.

Meanwhile, Robert Covington played the game of his life as his Los Angeles Clippers beat an undermanned Milwaukee Bucks side 153-119.

Covington finished with 43 points, going 11-of-18 from three-point range, setting a new franchise record for threes made in a game, beating J.J. Redick and Caron Butler's previous joint-record of nine.

After a hard-fought seven-game series in last year's NBA playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets added another chapter to their recent rivalry with an overtime thriller.

The Bucks ended up coming out on top 120-119 thanks to a mammoth performance from two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, finishing with 44 points on 14-of-21 shooting to go with 14 rebounds and six assists.

It was not just the raw numbers for Antetokounmpo, but the situations where he delivered, hitting a crucial step-back three to tie the game at 110-110 with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

Down 118-119 with three seconds left in overtime, Antetokounmpo was fouled, and connected on both free throws to give the Bucks the lead and the win.

Jrue Holiday was crucial for the reigning champions, claiming six steals to go with his 19 points (six-of-18 shooting), eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Durant was terrific for the Nets, scoring 26 points on 10-of-21 from the field (three-of-six from long range) and also dishing out 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 25 points (nine-of-22 from the field) with five assists.


DeRozan's 50-piece leads comeback

The Chicago Bulls came back from an 11-point deficit with 4:58 remaining in regulation to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 135-130 in overtime.

After DeMar DeRozan hit three free throws in the final five seconds to tie the game and force overtime, the Clippers were forced to contest the extra period without star Paul George, who had hit his minutes restriction as he returns from a long-term elbow injury.

DeRozan went on to score 50 points on 17-of-26 shooting, while highly-regarded second-year forward Patrick Williams caught the eye coming off the bench, scoring 10 points without missing a shot while adding 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Cunningham shows class

Number one pick from this year's rookie class, Cade Cunningham, showed why he is viewed as a future star in this league as he led his Detroit Pistons to a 102-94 upset against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cunningham was Detroit's best player, finishing with 27 points (12-of-20 shooting) to go with six assists and four steals and the Pistons out-scored the 76ers 29-15 in the final frame.

Joel Embiid was not to blame for the 76ers struggles, scoring 37 points on 11-of-19 shooting with 15 rebounds.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel slammed his side's performance in Tuesday's 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks as they slipped out of the play-in spots.

The Lakers, who were without LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (foot), slumped to 11th spot in the Western Conference with a 31-44 record.

In the race for the final play-in spot in the west, the Lakers are behind the San Antonio Spurs, who have the same record but are ahead on the tie-breaker.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 37 points in the Mavs defeat where Luka Doncic (34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists) recorded a triple-double.

Vogel labelled the performance as "not good enough in any way" and refused to be drawn into discussing their slide outside the play-in positions.

"The standings are the results," Vogel told reporters. "We have to keep our focus on the process and the work and the things that are going to lead to our next win. That's the only place that our focus will be."

He added: "We always learn from every game. It won't be any different despite the huge deficit in this game."

James has been outstanding on an individual level this season, leading the NBA for points per game at 30.1 ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.9) and Joel Embiid (29.9).

The four-time MVP's absence was felt against the Mavericks, with the Lakers slipping to 4-13 since the All-Star Break.

"With those guys [James and Davis] out, we're at a talent deficit, so the focus and execution has to make up for it," Vogel said.

"This is just the latest dose of adversity that this year's team has faced. We've been playing some really good basketball of late.

"When you lose Bron, okay, you have to adjust yet again throughout a season of setbacks. We have to find footing. We didn’t find it in the second half the other night and we certainly didn't find it."

Giannis Antetokounmpo came up with a game-winning block on Joel Embiid after scoring 40 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' crucial 118-116 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo rose to block Embiid's attempt to level the scores with less than two seconds left on the clock, with head coach Mike Budenholzer labelling it "special".

The Greek superstar finished with 40 points on 66 per cent shooting with 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

The Bucks win is significant in the race for Eastern Conference seeds, moving Milwaukee (47-28) into second behind the Miami Heat (48-28), while the 76ers (46-29) slip to fourth.

Khris Middleton added 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Jrue Holiday contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

Embiid finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, while James Harden had 32 points making four-of-10 from beyond the arc, with five rebounds and nine assists.

 

George returns in Clippers comeback win

Paul George marked his first game since December 22 with 34 points including six three-pointers as the Los Angeles Clippers fought back from 25 points down to win 121-115 over the Utah Jazz who have lost five in a row. The Clippers finished the game on a 34-12 run.

Kevin Durant scored 41 points with 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks while Kyrie Irving managed 24 points in his second home appearance as the Brooklyn Nets won 130-123 over the Detroit Pistons.

The Chicago Bulls found some form after winning only four of their past 15 games with an important 107-94 win over the Washington Wizards led by DeMar DeRozan with 32 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

 

Lakers slide continues

The Los Angeles Lakers' struggles continued with a heavy 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks as Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. The Mavs led by as much as 37 points. The Lakers, who were without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are 31-44 and slip to 11th out of the west's play-in spots.

LeBron James was ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday with an ankle injury. 

The news was first reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania. 

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron had been listed as doubtful after rolling his left ankle in the 116-108 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. 

The 37-year-old did not practice on Monday and the decision was subsequently taken for him to sit out the matchup at the American Airlines Center. 

Anthony Davis had also been listed as doubtful after he on Monday came through his first full practice session since suffering a foot injury on February 16. 

The Lakers (31-43) went into the Mavs (46-29) game 10th in the Western Conference and hold a half-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs for the final play-in spot.

Playing a role in managing LeBron James' legacy has contributed to this being the toughest season Frank Vogel has experienced as an NBA coach. 

The Los Angeles Lakers have significantly underperformed in 2021-22 and sit 10th in the Western Conference – the final play-in spot – with eight regular season games to play. 

Injuries have limited Anthony Davis to just 37 appearances, while LeBron James has missed 19 games and they have only played together 21 times. Russell Westbrook has also struggled to show why LA paid such a high price to acquire him from the Washington Wizards. 

The Lakers were considered one of the favourites to win the championship this season but are in very real danger of missing out on the playoffs entirely. 

Although Davis, who has been out with a foot injury since February 16, was a full participant in Monday's practice, James sat out due to an ankle injury sustained in Sunday's defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans – a game in which the Lakers blew a 23-point lead. 

Vogel felt the injury situation was typical of the team's season and cited having a part to play in ensuring James enjoys a strong finish to his career as a factor in making it so tough for him to navigate. 

Asked if it had been his hardest year as a coach, Vogel replied: "I would say probably, just because of the expectations we've had. 

"We've had too many really difficult nights and I think there's an element of being a part of managing LeBron's legacy in these final years of his career. 

"You wanna just give him the best opportunity to have team success throughout that, so when we haven't won at the level that we wanted to it's been challenging. And the losses have been heavier. But we've been able to continue to mend and rebuild our team psyche and keep a belief in what we can be. Obviously this last injury [to James] hurts that. 

"But we had a good day today. We came in and we got really positive feedback and work on our film session, had a live practice session which we haven't had in quite some time, and hopefully we can still get a W tomorrow [Tuesday, against the Dallas Mavericks] and finish strong." 

Anthony Davis completed his first full practice since sustaining a foot injury last month and is listed as doubtful for Tuesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks. 

Lakers star Davis went down with three minutes remaining in the second quarter of the 106-101 victory over the Utah Jazz on February 16 and has not played since. 

Los Angeles have gone 4-12 in their 16 games since then but head coach Frank Vogel revealed Davis is nearing a return to the floor – though he expects it to take him some time to get back up to speed. 

"Positive sign. He went through full practice. Did all of our drill work and some live scrimmaging," said Vogel. 

"We're at a point now where it's really about how he responds to that and the level of soreness he has coming out of his first live work. He'll also be listed as doubtful for tomorrow. 

"He's got to get his legs under him – that's the biggest thing. When you have a foot injury like this it's not as easy to do all your running and stay in shape like if you had a wrist injury or something like that, so that's definitely going to take time. 

"And because of that you have to be more cautious with the return to play. Because if you throw him out there and he doesn't have his wind, then the injury becomes compromised or you overcompensate in some way and you don't want that. 

"So there's definitely going to be a stretch here when we get him back where he's still getting his legs under him." 

LeBron James, who was absent for two of the games Davis missed, is also doubtful to face the Mavericks due to a left ankle injury sustained in the 116-108 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, which saw the Lakers blow a 23-point lead. 

"He definitely has some swelling from the ankle sprain and we'll list him as doubtful tomorrow. He stayed back from practice today to get some treatment on it," said Vogel. 

Davis and James have only played together 21 times this season and Vogel said it was typical of the campaign that the wait to pair them may be prolonged by the latter's injury. 

"It's been that type of year. Definitely snakebitten with trying to get those guys on the floor together. I think it's 17 or 18 games for the season [that James has missed] and it looks like it could be more than that now," said Vogel. 

"It's out of our control. It's unfortunate, but we have to lock in and again, like we've done all season, shift our identity on the floor with regard to who's in and who's out." 

The Lakers are 31-43 on the season and occupy the final play-in spot in the Western Conference with eight regular-season games remaining.

After scoring 11 points in the first quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' 116-108 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, LeBron James suffered an ankle injury early in the second term that he called "horrible".

James ended up staying in the game, and went on to score 39 points on 14-of-27 shooting, but he admitted after the game that it was more serious than he hoped.

After scoring 69 points in the first half, the Lakers were a different side after the break, scoring just 39 points over the final two quarters while the Pelicans scored 41 in the third quarter alone.

Speaking to post-game media, James said he would have "probably not" finished the game if he did not feel it was a crucial fixture for his side.

"I have no idea how I finished the game after watching the replay, it was pretty nasty," he said.

"I lost all explosiveness… a lot of my game was on the perimeter after that. It's horrible right now.

"From the time that I turned my ankle I felt a sharp pain run up my leg and get hot, and I've been there with ankle sprains before, but I didn't want to come out of the game.

"I understood how big of a game it was for us."

James was blunt when describing how it felt to come up short in a game that was built up as a near must-win internally.

"It feels like sh** – excuse my language, but that's what it feels like," he said.

"I came in with the mindset understanding that it was a playoff-type atmosphere with playoff implications.

"We also have a lot of guys in our ball club who haven't played in playoff games as well… [New Orleans] have guys who have been in the postseason.

"It feels like a wasted opportunity."

Also speaking with post-game media, head coach Frank Vogel preached urgency as the playoffs rapidly approach.

"Time's running out on us – we came out with the proper urgency for this game, but weren't able to close it," he said.

"It's over, this game is over, and we have to turn the page to the next one.

"It's not good – it hurts, this was a big game – but we have to regroup and find a way to beat Dallas and get some wins down the stretch here."

On James' injury, Vogel said it was a brave effort to stick it out until the end.

"It's tough – it has been that kind of season, and [James] was in an incredible groove when it happened," he said.

"Credit to him for toughing it out – you could see that he was limited on it somewhat the rest of the way, but he battled through it."

After some results fell their way, the new Eastern Conference one seed Philadelphia 76ers went head-to-head with the Western Conference one seed Phoenix Suns in a potential NBA Finals preview.

Unfortunately for the 76ers, their time on top was short-lived as the Suns' 114-104 home win sent the away side toppling down to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.

MVP favourite Joel Embiid was enormous for the 76ers, scoring 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting to go with 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, but it was not enough to beat a Phoenix team that has now won 61 games this season – one short of their franchise record of 62 set in 1992-93 and 2004-05.

For the Suns, Devin Booker was the star, scoring an efficient 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting (three-of-five from long range), while Chris Paul dished out 14 assists to go with his 19 points.

As a team, Phoenix shot over 51 per cent from the field, and 48 per cent from three-point range.

 

Boston takes the one seed – for now

As Philadelphia fell from the top spot, the Boston Celtics took the opportunity to assume the position atop the Eastern Conference musical chairs, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-112.

Boston's two centrepieces were both at the top of their game, with Jayson Tatum scoring 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting and dishing six assists, while Jaylen Brown had 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting with his 10 rebounds.

Boston, Philadelphia, the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks are all separated by just a half-game in a four-way race for the one seed and home-court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs.

 

Lakers lose again despite LeBron heroics

As has become a theme this season, a terrific LeBron James performance was not enough to carry the Los Angeles Lakers to victory, going down 116-108 to the New Orleans Pelicans.

James had 39 points on 14-of-27 shooting, including seven-of-13 from long range, to go with nine rebounds and five assists in the loss.

In his first game back from a 10-match absence due to injury, Brandon Ingram was the man for the Pelicans, scoring 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists, while rookie sensation Herb Jones claimed six steals.

LeBron James is deserving of MVP consideration but the Los Angeles Lakers' 31-42 record will work against him according to head coach Frank Vogel.

The four-time MVP has had an outstanding season for the Lakers, averaging a career-high 30.0 points per game, which is also the best in the NBA this season ahead of Joel Embiid (29.8) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.7).

James has played 54 of the Lakers' 73 games, shooting at 52 per cent from the field while averaging 8.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks.

The 37-year-old, however, has single-handedly carried the Lakers, who are 10th in the Western Conference and scrapping to make the Play-In Tournament.

"He is as deserving for MVP consideration as anybody in the league," Vogel told reporters on Friday.

"I know how the voting goes - the team with the best record or top couple of records usually gets most of those considerations, so the win-loss record definitely would probably hurt him.

"But you can't tell me that anybody has played a better season than LeBron James has this year."

Embiid, whose Philadelphia 76ers are 45-27, and Nikola Jokic, whose Denver Nuggets are 43-31, are the current favourites for the MVP, with James believed to be behind the likes of Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan and Devin Booker.

The 76ers center is averaging 29.8 points with 48 per cent shooting from the field along with 11.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists this season.

Reigning MVP Jokic is averaging 26.2 points at 57 per cent shooting with 13.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists and has had a league-high 18 triple-doubles.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving delivered big performances, but the Memphis Grizzlies were unstoppable in the first half on the way to a 132-120 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving finished with 43 points (15-of-27 shooting, six-of-11 from three) and eight assists, while Durant posted figures of 35 points (12-of-28 shooting, 10-of-10 from the free-throw line) with 11 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals.

But the Grizzlies would not be denied in front of their home fans, clicking on all cylinders early to jump out to a 76-62 half-time lead.

It was yet another stunning showing without MVP candidate Ja Morant who missed again through injury, with seven Grizzlies scoring double figures to pick up the slack.

Desmond Bane (eight-of-17 shooting) and De'Anthony Melton (eight-of-13 shooting) led the way with 23 points each, while Jaren Jackson Jr swatted away four shots as he continued his charge for Defensive Player of the Year.

With the win, the Grizzlies moved to 50-23 for the year, and an incredible 15-2 in games Morant has missed.

 

Warriors 'punk' the Heat

A day after Draymond Green said his Golden State Warriors were being "punked" in recent losses, they responded in style, beating the Miami Heat 118-104 without Green and injured star Stephen Curry.

In a game where Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler had to be physically separated from coach Erik Spoelstra during a time-out, the Miami defence simply could not get stops in the second half as tempers flared.

Jordan Poole shone yet again for the Warriors, scoring 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting, going three-of-seven from long range, while rookie Jonathan Kuminga, All-Star Andrew Wiggins and bench player Damion Lee chipped in with 22 points each.


Ayton and the Suns shine in Minnesota, Davion dominates

A 42-point fourth quarter capped off a terrific 125-116 comeback win for the Phoenix Suns on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Trailing 64-51 at the halfway stage and by five at three-quarter time, the Suns got 11 points from centre Deandre Ayton down the stretch to cap off a big 35-point (15-of-24 shooting), 14-rebound performance.

Devin Booker controlled the contest for the Suns, scoring 28 points on only 15 field goal attempts, going 13-of-16 from the free throw line while also dishing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, rookie top-10 pick Davion Mitchell starred in the Sacramento Kings' 110-109 away win against the Indiana Pacers, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and collecting seven assists in arguably his best game as a professional.

Joel Embiid scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks for the Philadelphia 76ers in their 126-121 win over a Los Angeles Lakers side who were without LeBron James.

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