Bam Adebayo compiled 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Miami Heat overcame the absence of several key players to record a 121-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday and extend their winning streak to four games.

Miami moved a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic for first place in the Southeast Division despite missing two of its stars in Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, as well as starting point guard Terry Rozier. Herro and Rozier sat out due to injuries, while Butler was serving a one-game suspension for his role in an on-court altercation in the Heat's win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Rookie Jaime Jaquez helped fill the void by producing 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and the Heat also got key contributions from reserves Kevin Love and Haywood Highsmith.

Love poured in 19 points in just 15 minutes, while Highsmith scored 15 first-half points to help Miami take a 65-62 lead into the break.

Jaquez then put up 13 points during a dominant third quarter in which the Heat outscored Sacramento by a 36-19 margin. Miami took the lead for good with a 10-2 run that snapped a 71-71 tie, then later scored the final 10 points of the period to build a commanding 101-81 advantage entering the fourth.

The Kings had a three-game winning streak snapped despite Domantas Sabonis registering his league-leading 21st triple-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

Keegan Murray led Sacramento, which was coming off a 16-point road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, with 28 points. De'Aaron Fox finished with 27 in the loss.

Barnes' triple-double powers Raptors past Pacers

Scottie Barnes recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 130-122 win over the weary Indiana Pacers.

Toronto also received big efforts from RJ Barrett and rookie Gradey Dick en route to its season-high third consecutive win. Barrett delivered 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while Dick had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and finished 7 of 9 from the field while making all four of his 3-point attempts.

Playing for the second straight night, the Pacers had a three-game winning streak snapped despite Bennedict Mathurin matching a career-high with 34 points to go along with nine rebounds. Former Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists in his second meeting with his ex-team since being traded to Indiana on Jan. 17.

The Pacers got an off night from leading scorer Tyrese Haliburton, however, as the All-Star guard misfired on nine of 11 shot attempts while being held to nine points.

Indiana did manage to battle back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit, however, to tie the game at 102-102 with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

The Raptors then regained control with a 13-2 run, which Dick started and finished with 3-pointers, to take a 115-104 lead with 6:21 remaining.

Indiana closed the gap to four points entering the final three minutes, but a jumper by Toronto's Gary Trent Jr. followed by a Barrett 3-pointer helped end any comeback hopes.

Hart's late basket lifts Knicks over Pistons

Josh Hart scored the go-ahead layup with 2.8 seconds left as the New York Knicks held off a determined upset bid from the Detroit Pistons and came away with a controversial 113-111 victory.

The Pistons fought back from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to take a 111-110 lead on former Knick Quentin Grimes' layup with 37.3 seconds remaining. New York's Jalen Brunson misfired on a 3-point try on the ensuing possession, but Detroit's Ausar Thompson had the ball stolen away after colliding with the Knicks' Donte DiVincenzo to set up Hart's basket off a feed from Brunson.

Hart missed the free throw for a potential three-point play, but the Knicks collared the rebound and Hart was fouled again with 1.3 seconds left. He made 1 of 2 from the line to prevent a potentially damaging home loss to a Detroit team with an NBA-worst 8-49 record.

Game officials acknowledged afterward that a loose-ball foul should have been called on DiVincenzo during the collision that preceded Hart's basket.

Brunson finished with 35 points and 12 assists and Hart had 23 points and eight rebounds as the playoff-hopeful Knicks won for the second time in three outings following a four-game losing streak. DiVincenzo contributed 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

Detroit was dealt a sixth straight loss despite Cade Cunningham's 32 points and eight assists and an 11-point, 16-rebound effort from Jalen Duren. 

The teams were facing one another for the first time since collaborating on a six-player trade on Feb. 8 that sent veterans Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks to New York, with Grimes among the return pieces to the Pistons.

Grimes finished with 14 points while Bogdanovic recorded 13 points and six rebounds off the bench. 

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks held off the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves 112-107 on Friday in a matchup of NBA heavyweights.

Damian Lillard had 21 points, 10 assists and a season-high nine rebounds and Malik Beasley scored all 14 of his points in the third quarter as the Bucks improved to 4-10 under new coach Doc Rivers.

Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to draw the Wolves within 110-107 with 31 seconds left, but Lillard’s long jumper 22 seconds later sealed the win.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points with 14 rebounds and Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 19 boards for Minnesota, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Butler among 4 ejected in Heat’s win

Jimmy Butler was one of four players ejected after a fourth-quarter scuffle and the Miami Heat held off the New Orleans Pelicans, 106-95.

Butler had 23 points and nine rebounds and Bam Adebayo added 24 points for Miami, which snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak and made it seven consecutive wins over the Pelicans.

Also ejected for the melee were Heat reserve Thomas Bryant and Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall of the Pelicans.

Herb Jones scored 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 with 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which couldn’t overcome 37.5 percent shooting, including 7 of 32 from 3-point range.

Maxey leads 76ers over Cavaliers

Tyrese Maxey scored 24 points and Cam Payne added 16 off the bench to propel the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maxey came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of the Sixers’ final 20 points and assisted on a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield that put Philadelphia up by eight in the final minute.

Maxey was the only Sixer to make more than one basket in the fourth quarter and also added four rebounds and two assists.

Jarrett Allen had 24 points and Darius Garland added 20 and nine assists, but Cleveland had a six-game road winning streak stopped while losing for the third time in four games overall.

The Golden State Warriors and coach Steve Kerr have agreed to a two-year, $35 million contract extension that will make him the highest-paid coach in NBA history, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday.

The new deal will pay Kerr, who has guided the Warriors to four NBA championships, $17.5 million a year.

His current deal was set to expire at the end of this season.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich makes more annually, according to sources, but he also serves as the team’s president. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra signed an eight-year extension that pays him approximately $15 million a season.

Kerr, 58, is in his 10th season as coach of the Warriors and holds a career regular season record of 501-264 and is 99-41 in the playoffs. He won his 500th game last week to become the fifth-fastest coach to do so in history.

Bam Adebayo will start in Sunday's All-Star game for the first time having replaced the injured Joel Embiid.

Reigning MVP Embiid was originally slated to start at center for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but the Philadelphia 76ers man will miss the game because of a knee injury.

Adebayo initially made the reserve team having averaged 20.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the Miami Heat so far this season, but has now been chosen as Embiid's deputee by Eastern Conference coach Doc Rivers.

Adebayo was also selected as a reserve team member in 2020, winning the skills competition that year, but this will be the first time he has made the starting line-up.

The former Kentucky Wildcat will become the seventh Heat player to be an All-Star starter and the first since Dwyane Wade eight years ago.

Adebayo's Heat currently sit at 30-25, in the play-in spots at seventh in the East having reached the NBA finals from the play-in positions last season.

Joe Mazzulla was proud of the Boston Celtics' "late-game execution" in Sunday's 110-106 win over the Miami Heat.

The Celtics had to withstand a late push from the Heat as they held on to win a fourth straight game.

Boston, who beat the Heat by 33 points on the road in January, lead the NBA with a 41-12 record. Miami, meanwhile, are eighth in the Eastern Conference.

And though the Celtics ultimately had to defend late on, they have now won all three meetings with the Heat this season, with their sole loss coming in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season.

"Late-game execution, you've got to set the table," Mazzulla said of his team's display. "I think our guys did that.

"Just the intensity. Just the physicality. I enjoy watching physicality with poise, and I thought our guys had that throughout tonight. You obviously need to rise to the occasion."

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, Kristaps Porzingis finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Jaylen Brown added 20 points and nine rebounds.

"Today was fun, we have a lot of history with this team," Tatum said.

"Last time we came here we smacked them, so we knew it would be a closer game.

"They came to play and we enjoy being part of games like that. Everybody's being competitive."

Bam Adebayo scored 22 points for the Heat, who were without Jimmy Buttler after he was granted leave following the death of a family member.

"It's tough to see guys like that go down," said Duncan Robinson, who finished with 15 points. 

"And then Jimmy dealing with what he's dealing with is unfortunate, to put it lightly."

The Heat have won four of their last six games, and Erik Spoelstra put this defeat down to many factors going against them.

"I thought our group showed a tremendous amount of grit in that second half," Spoelstra said.

"There were a lot of things that weren't necessarily going our way, including the injuries. To really fight and claw back and get this game on the ropes, it's a credit to how hard guys were playing."

Tyronn Lue and Kawhi Leonard both hailed the Los Angeles Clippers' mindset after a hard-fought 103-95 win over the Miami Heat.

The Clippers won for an eighth time in nine games as they moved to 33-15, and kept hold of third place in a fiercely contested Western Conference.

Leonard's double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds led the Clippers, while James Harden contributed 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

"It's just having that mindset that we're going to try to win every game," Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said as his team improved to 25-5 since the start of December.

"I give guys credit. They've been doing that. We have a lot of talent.

"We have a lot of guys willing to sacrifice to do whatever it takes to win, and that's what we did."

Leonard suggested the Clippers were not at their very best, but still managed to get the job done.

"You get those mental blocks at this stage but we've been staying afloat," he said.

"Appreciate everybody coming out and playing and staying locked-in. Those are the things that I'm happy about."

The Heat, meanwhile, have lost eight of their last 10 outings. They have scored less than 100 points on 12 occasions this season.

"We have to figure out how to make it flow," Bam Adebayo said. "You have to make it flow or it's not going to work. We've been in worse situations."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra added: "There are some things offensively you can do with better pace and better intention.

"That's not exclusive to us. And we'll work on that and we'll get better."

Anthony Edwards scored 27 points and helped spark a late run that propelled the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 107-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday in a clash of teams that had been tied for the Western Conference lead. 

Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gobert amassed 12 points and 18 rebounds as the Timberwolves bounced back from Saturday's one-point loss at Sacramento and dropped the Thunder to third place in the tightly bunched conference standings.

The Denver Nuggets moved a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City and remained a half-game behind Minnesota with Monday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Oklahoma City had erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to take a 97-96 lead on two Shai Gilgeous-Alexander free throws with 2:43 left, but Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to start a pivotal 9-0 spurt.

The Thunder would miss their next four shots as the Timberwolves began pulling away. Edwards followed McDaniels' trey with a running dunk and McDaniels scored on a tip-in before Towns capped the run with two free throws that put Minnesota up 105-97 with 15.5 seconds to go. 

Minnesota owned a 62-52 advantage nearing the midway mark of the third quarter before the Thunder seized momentum with an 11-0 run. Gilgeous-Alexander had six points and Jalen Williams scored the last five of the flurry, which gave Oklahoma City a 63-62 edge with five minutes left in the period.

The Thunder, who were coming off a stunning 120-104 loss to the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons on Sunday, received 37 points and eight assists from Gilgeous-Alexander and 20 points from Williams. 

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City's third-leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to just four points on 2-of-9 shooting, however, as the Timberwolves finished with a 46-34 point advantage in the paint.

Jokic has another triple-double as Nuggets spoil Rivers' debut with Bucks

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić posted his 14th triple-double of the season to power the Denver Nuggets to a 113-107 win over Milwaukee in Doc Rivers' first game as the Bucks' head coach.

Jokic compiled 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists to add to his league-leading triple-double count and help the defending NBA champions keep pace with first-place Minnesota in the West. The Nuggets have now won five of their last six games.

Rivers, who coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA title during the 2007-08 season, was hired shortly after the Bucks dismissed Adrian Griffin on Jan. 23 despite sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-13 record. Assistant Joe Prunty coached Milwaukee's last three games and went 2-1.

The veteran coach's tenure started off strong as the Bucks jumped out to a 24-11 lead midway through the first quarter, though the Nuggets ended the period on a 12-0 run to cut their deficit to 26-25 entering the second. 

Denver gradually asserted control and owned an 84-75 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks hit three straight 3-pointers during a 13-2 spurt that put them back ahead with under nine minutes to play.

The game remained tight until the Nuggets pulled away with an 8-0 run, which Murray capped with a jumper that gave Denver a 106-97 lead with 3:17 to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo paced Milwaukee with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting along with 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had 19 points and Damian Lillard finished with 18 in the loss. 

Suns bounce back by handing Heat seventh straight loss

The Phoenix Suns kept rolling behind a balanced attack and strong defence that resulted in a 118-105 victory over the reeling Miami Heat, the seventh consecutive loss for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Eric Gordon scored 23 points off the bench to lead six Phoenix players in double figures in a game the Suns led by as much as 28 points en route to stopping a two-game losing streak.

The Suns also got 22 points from Devin Booker and 20 from Kevin Durant, with both stars finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists each.

Miami went 14 of 36 from 3-point range but was stonewalled from inside the arc, shooting a subpar 39.6 per cent on 2-point attempts in this latest defeat. The Heat have lost seven straight for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 26 points and recent acquisition Terry Rozier had 21 in his fourth game with the Heat.

Miami shot just 35.4 per cent in the first half as the Suns built a 62-49 lead at the break, and its shooting woes continued as Phoenix extended the margin in the third quarter. 

Booker had 12 points and the Suns shot over 68 per cent for the period to open up a commanding 100-74 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle described Pascal Siakam's performance as "tremendous" after he notched his first triple-double in 15 months to help end the Philadelphia 76ers' six-game winning run.

Philadelphia arrived at Gainbridge Fieldhouse looking to close the gap on the Eastern Conference leaders, the Boston Celtics, with a seventh straight win. However, Siakam took centre-stage in a 134-122 home victory.

Siakam finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double with Indiana, who never trailed at any point in the game.

The victory came on the same night as Tyrese Haliburton was announced as a first-time All-Star starter, and just three days after reigning MVP Joel Embiid had a 76ers-record 70 points in a win over the San Antonio Spurs.

"We made it our kind of game," Pacers coach Carlisle said after seeing his team improve to 25-20.

"Siakam was obviously tremendous, the sixth triple-double of his career, his first, obviously, with the Pacers. When you have a power forward get a triple-double, it's pretty special."

The Pacers were without Haliburton as he missed another game due to a niggling hamstring injury, but they made light of his absence by racing into a 17-point lead within the first half.

Siakam's display was central to that, and Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse also heaped praise on the two-time All-Star, saying: "He was good, he was very good

"He got going early and when he does that, you're going to see him play really, really well. 

We got to him kind of late on some double teams and there was nobody there to rotate out, which is why he had such a big assist number."

The 76ers were made to pay for their slip-up as the league-leading Celtics beat the Miami Heat 143-110, avenging their defeat to the same team in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

Jayson Tatum led seven Celtics in double figures with 26 points as Boston improved to 35-10, but head coach Joe Mazzulla warned the victory will be proven redundant if they don't reach the same level in the postseason.

"This game was really good, but it means nothing at all in the grand scheme of things if we don't take the lessons that we need to and apply it to the next game," Mazzulla said. 

"So, we'll enjoy it until we get to the plane and then it's onto the next one."

Anthony Davis told the Los Angeles Lakers their season could "go south" quickly without immediate improvement after their latest loss to the Miami Heat.

The Lakers are 2-8 in their last 10 games after the Heat won 110-96 at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday, led by Tyler Herro scoring 21 points as all eight Miami players hit double figures.

After a tough December, this was the first game of a run that will see LA play 11 of its next 12 at home but it did not provide an immediate reversal of fortunes.

The Lakers are now 17-18 on the season and have suffered a dramatic dip to No. 10 in the Western Conference standings since winning the NBA Cup.

Another home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday will give them a chance to bounce back.

"We just got to compete, play hard and go out with a mindset of a must-win mentality, and hopefully that can propel us over to get back to .500 on Friday and then kind of put a streak together at home," Davis said, per ESPN. 

"I mean, we have been a really good home team thus far, and we got an opportunity to continue to build on that. But if we play how we played tonight, then it's going to go south for us really bad.

"It is a little bit of everything right now and if we keep on this trend, it’s not going to be good for us. It is kind of obvious that we have got to figure it out sooner than later.

"They threw a zone in, and they just dared us to make shots, and we didn't. Kind of took us out of our thing, but 10 turnovers in the first quarter was kind of a recipe for disaster."

Davis had a game-high 29 points as well as 17 rebounds and five blocks, but also had a team-high five turnovers. 

Austin Reaves had 24 points and eight assists in the losing effort, while LeBron James was restricted to a season-low 12 points.

"We're losing and anytime you lose, the vibe should be off, you know?" Reaves said about the low mood in the Lakers' locker room.

"If I went in and the vibe wasn't off after the rough stretch that we've had, then I'd be concerned. That's really it. I don't expect for us to be happy with how we've played. So, until we figure that out, you know, the vibe should be off. 

"We got to win games. When I say the vibe is off, it's not like we don't like each other. It's we're losing. But I don't want to get that twisted on us not liking each other. Everybody in the locker room gets along."

Miami won despite being without Jimmy Buttler, but the Lakers have also contended with injuries over recent weeks and had Rui Hachimura and D'Angelo Russell missing for this one.

Coach Darvin Ham feels constant changes to his lineup have played a major role in the team’s struggles, but also told his players they must perform better to end the slump.

"No stone shall go unturned and we are here to explore whatever we can to right the ship," he said.

"We can't find any consistency until we get healthy. It's as simple as that. We've got to get healthy. When you're dealing with different guys being in and out of the lineup that frequently, it's damn near impossible to find a rhythm. That's just being real.

"But it's a little bit of everything right now. We're not executing. That team [Miami] played harder than us, executed better than us, more physical than us. We got outworked. If we keep on this train, it's not going to be good for us.

"We got to attack and be more competitive, but we need guys to step up and play better. 

"The reason we signed them is because we know what they can do. And so you got to come with that confidence each and every night and you got to fight through it. 

"Things not going your way, you can't ball up in the corner somewhere and go cry about it. You got to step up and try to see how you can best assist your team in being successful."

Miami faces the Phoenix Suns on Friday to end their five-game road trip. The Heat are 20-14 for the season and 11-8 on the road so far, putting them fourth in the Eastern Conference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julius Randle had 39 points and nine rebounds, OG Anunoby made a strong debut with his new team and the New York Knicks earned a 112-106 win over the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday to end a three-game losing streak. 

Anunoby was traded to the Knicks from the Toronto Raptors on Saturday and met his new teammates for the first time on Sunday.

Despite needing some occasional help to navigate coach Tom Thibodeau’s system, Anunoby finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and pulled down six rebounds.

Randle finished 14 for 24 from the field and made nine of 13 free throws for New York, which trailed by nine points after one quarter before outscoring Minnesota by a 38-17 margin in the second to build a 61-49 half-time lead.

Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves, who had a two-game winning streak halted, with 35 points. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 29 for Minnesota, while Rudy Gobert grabbed 15 rebounds to go along with 10 points.

Bench propels Pacers as Bucks' home winning streak ends

Tyrese Haliburton finished just short of a triple-double as the Indiana Pacers put an end to the Milwaukee Bucks' 15-game home winning streak with a 122-113 victory over their Central Division rival.

Haliburton compiled 26 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to lead Indiana, which trailed by 15 points late in the third quarter to tie the game at 101-101 with under six minutes left.

The Pacers then embarked on an 8-0 run, with T.J. McConnell scoring six points during the spurt, to take the lead for good. 

McConnell had 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Pacers to a fourth straight win. He finished with 16 points off the bench, while Bennedict Mathurin had 25 along with a career-high 13 rebounds. 

With Mathurin and McConnell leading the way, Indiana's bench outscored Milwaukee's reserves by a 70-16 margin.

The Central-leading Bucks were dealt their first defeat at Fiserv Forum since Oct. 29 despite Giannis Antetokounmpo's 30-point, 18-rebound, 11-assist triple-double.

Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton had 21 points each for Milwaukee, though Bucks star guard Damian Lillard struggled with a 3-of-16 shooting night while being held to 13 points.

Leonard returns to help Clippers top Heat

Kawhi Leonard returned from a four-game absence to score 24 points and help the Los Angeles Clippers stay hot with a 121-104 win over the Miami Heat.

Paul George added 23 points and Norman Powell had 22 on 9-of-11 shooting to aid in the Clippers' third straight victory and 12th in 14 games. 

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

Los Angeles outscored the Heat by a 32-17 margin over the final 9 1/2 minutes of the first half to take a 59-58 edge at the break. Leonard, who had been sidelined by a hip contusion, had 13 second-quarter points to spark the comeback. 

George then scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Clippers extended their lead to 95-85 entering the fourth.

Bam Adebayo paced Miami with 21 points and 15 rebounds. The Heat have now dropped two straight following a four-game winning streak. 

 

Jaime Jaquez Jr. enjoyed a "special" Christmas Day as he stepped up in Jimmy Butler's absence, scoring a career-high 31 points for the Miami Heat as they overcame the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler was ruled out for a third straight game with a calf injury, but Miami maintained their 100 per cent record in those contests with a 119-113 victory at Kaseya Center.

The Sixers – who were themselves without Joel Embiid due to a sprained ankle – erased a 21-point Miami lead in the third quarter, but Jaquez scored 10 of his points in the fourth to put the visitors away.

That made the 22-year-old the first rookie to manage at least 25 points and 10 rebounds on December 25 since Patrick Ewing for the New York Knicks in 1985, and he was delighted to see his hard work pay off on the big stage.

"It's definitely special," Jaquez said. "Great to get a win, a career night, on Christmas... I grew up watching these games. 

"To be able to play and have a career night, I just go back to all the hard work, late nights in the gym, just preparing for moments like this."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who is now 9-0 on Christmas, said of Jaquez's performance: "I don't think I called one play for him tonight, literally. 

"I mean, they were in his zone most of the second half. But throughout the rest of the course of the game, I definitely did not call one play for him. 

"He did it with offensive rebounding, transitions, cuts, timely threes, just a lot of plays in between, so you don't really think that it's a 30-point game."

Tyrese Maxey endured a difficult outing for the Sixers, shooting 4-for-20 and finishing with just 12 points, well down on his season average of 25.9.

The star guard lamented his poor shooting as he said of the Miami defense: "They did the normal stuff that I see when I'm out there without Joel.

"The blitzing, the hard showing, but for the most part, I got some really good looks and some shots that I make I don't know, four or five times out of 10. So I guess it was just one of those days."

Joel Embiid shook off an ankle injury to finish with 31 points and 10 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 121-111 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Embiid scored all 31 points after landing awkwardly trying to block a shot with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter.

He recorded at least 30 points and 10 rebounds for the 13th straight game, the longest in the NBA since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 16 consecutive games in 1971-72. Embiid has scored 30 or more in 14 games in a row, the most in the NBA since James Harden’s 32-game run in 2018-19.

Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey each scored 33 points, marking just the second time in franchise history three players have scored 30-plus points in a game. The other was in 1961 when Dick Barnett, Hal Greer and Dolph Schayes did it for the Syracuse Nationals.

Philadelphia has won eight of nine overall and six straight meetings with Toronto.

Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 31 points.

Young makes history in Hawks’ loss

Trae Young had his sixth straight game with at least 30 points and 10 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Miami Heat got 30 points from Tyler Herro in a 122-113 victory.

Young finished with 30 points and 13 assists for his sixth consecutive game with at least 30 and 10. That ties the second-longest such streak in NBA history, one that only Oscar Robertson has topped.

Robertson had such a streak twice – a six-game stretch in January 1964, then a seven-game run spanning December to January 1965.

Duncan Robinson had 21 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 19 for the Heat, who overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter.

Sabonis has triple-double to lift Kings

Domantas Sabonis had 28 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season as the Sacramento Kings rolled to a 120-105 win over the short-handed Phoenix Suns.

De’Aaron Fox added 23 points and broke Mike Bibby's Sacramento-era assists record in the third quarter.

Kevin Durant scored 28 points and Devin Booker contributed 24 for the Suns, who have lost four of five to fall to .500 (14-14).

Phoenix played without Bradley Beal (ankle), Josh Okogie (hip strain) and Jusuf Nurkic (personal).  

Giannis Antetokounmpo said playing with Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton was "like heaven" after the trio combined to guide the Milwaukee Bucks to the quarterfinals of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament.

The Bucks moved to 13-5 for the season and 4-0 in East Group B for the In-Season Tournament with Tuesday's 131-124 win over the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center.

Milwaukee found themselves down 118-115 with three minutes and 25 seconds to play, but they finished on a 16-6 run to tee up a home game in the last eight, with Antetokounmpo leading the way with 33 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The two-time MVP was ably supported by Lillard, who posted 32 points and nine assists, and Middleton, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. 

After the game, Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin revealed Antetokounmpo had suggested feeding the ball to Middleton more often, and the star forward said doing so made Milwaukee less predictable.

"It's great, for me it's like heaven when you have two guys that can create their own shots, and I don't have to make something happen," Antetokounmpo said.

"It's great. My whole career it's been that way, and now also we have Khris and Dame that can do that. It makes the game easier for everybody. 

"Them breaking down the defenses is great, but if they can't, they can give the ball to me and I'll spread it to the corners or play one-on-one.

"Offensively, I think guys got to the spots and were able to execute, a few pick and rolls with Dame as the ball handler, a few pick and rolls with Khris as the ball handler… it was great. 

"I think it helps the flow of our offense when it doesn't always have to be Dame and Giannis, then we can play from there.

"I feel like that's where we are, all playing as a team, the energy is better, everybody has more touches of the ball, I think we can be more effective that way."

The Heat were made to pay for the absence of Jimmy Butler, who missed the game with an ankle sprain after averaging 37.6 points as Miami eliminated Milwaukee from the playoffs last season.

Bam Adebayo scored 31 points for Miami, with Kyle Lowry adding 21 and Josh Richardson contributing 20, and head coach Erik Spoelstra was broadly pleased with their display, despite the result.

"I felt like we played a very good basketball game," Spoelstra said. "A very good offensive game, in particular."

Now 10-8 for the campaign and eliminated from the In-Season Tournament, Miami will look to halt their three-game losing streak when they face the Indiana Pacers in a home double-header later this week. 

The Milwaukee Bucks got big performances from their two brightest stars in a 131-124 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday to clinch a quarterfinal spot in the In-Season Tournament.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and Damian Lillard added 32 to help the Bucks win East Group B with a 4-0 record.

Milwaukee will host wild-card New York on either Dec. 4 or 5, with East Group C winner Boston going to Group A winner Indiana for the other quarterfinal before the Final Four in Las Vegas.

Miami, which was without second-leading scorer Jimmy Butler, dropped its second straight following a 9-1 stretch.

Bam Adebayo scored 31 points and Kyle Lowry had 21, including a 3-pointer with 3:25 remaining to put the Heat up 118-115.

The Bucks, though, finished on a 16-6 run, going 5 for 6 from the field and 5 for 5 from the line. Lillard made two free throws with 63 seconds to play to help put it out of reach.

Milwaukee lost forward Pat Connaughton to a sprained right ankle in the second quarter.

Kings rally past Warriors to advance

Malik Monk sank a fadeaway with 7 seconds remaining and the Sacramento Kings rallied from 11 down in the fourth quarter for a 124-123 win over the Golden State Warriors.

De’Aaron Fox scored 29 points and Monk and Kevin Huerter each added 21 for the Kings, who won their group with a 4-0 record and will host New Orleans next week in the quarterfinals.

Sacramento needed a win or a loss by 11 points or fewer to advance but erased a 21-point deficit to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins led the Warriors with 29 points apiece, but Golden State dropped to 2-8 in its last 10 games.

Timberwolves star Edwards injured in win

Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks as the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame an injury to star guard Anthony Edwards in a 106-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the In-Season Tournament.

Edwards had 12 of his 21 points in the third quarter before landing hard on his right side during a dunk attempt and leaving with a bruised right hip.

Coach Chris Finch had no more details on the injury or whether Edwards would miss time.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting but his 37-foot try at the buzzer, his only 3-point attempt of the night, was well off the mark.

Reserve Troy Brown Jr. scored 17 points and Naz Reid added 15 for Minnesota, which improved the West’s best record to 12-4.

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