The Phoenix Suns became the first team to secure a playoff spot with an impressive 111-90 defeat of the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

Devin Booker returned from a four-game absence to put up 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the leaders of the West toppled the top side in the East.

The Suns, who are 53-13 for the season, have now beaten all other 29 teams in the same season for the first time since 2006-07.

"I told the guys it was one of the best defensive performances I've ever seen," said Suns coach Monty Williams after watching his team concede just 35 points in the second half. "I've been around for a little bit."

Duncan Robinson was top scorer for Miami with 22, who led by 11 in the early stages before falling to just their third defeat in 15 games.

"They were first to the ball a lot," said Robinson. "They were the aggressor. Unacceptable."

 

The Milwaukee Bucks are now two games behind the Heat at the top of the Eastern Conference after beating the Atlanta Hawks 124-115, with Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double of 43 points and 12 rebounds firing them to a sixth-straight win.

Antetokounmpo finished 15-of-22 from the field to take his tally to 82 points in the space of 24 hours after his 39 in Tuesday's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"The things he does are not normal," said team-mate Bobby Portis. "It's fun to be his team-mate and fun to play alongside him."

Rockets stun Lakers in overtime

The Los Angeles Lakers lost for the ninth time in a row on the road, going down 139-130 in overtime against the Houston Rockets.

A triple-double from LeBron James and 30 points from Russell Westbrook were not enough as rookie Jalen Green hit a career-high 32 points for the Rockets.

"We have a really small margin of error this season and teams are making us pay," said James, whose run of consecutive 25-point games ended at 23. "I missed a lot of shots that I know I'm capable of making, have made throughout the course of the season and my career."

The Los Angeles Clippers snapped their two-game losing streak, beating the Washington Wizards 115-109, while the Utah Jazz improved to 41-24 with a comfortable 123-85 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bulls back on track, Beasley sets record

The Chicago Bulls ended a run of five consecutive losses, DeMar DeRozan scoring 36 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, in a 114-108 win over the Detroit Pistons.

It was a day to remember for Malik Beasley, who set a franchise record for three-pointers in the Minnesota Timberwolves' win at home over the Thunder.

Beasley landed 11 of his 17 attempts from beyond the arc as Minnesota, seventh in the West, made it six wins in a row.

The Boston Celtics continued their recent good form with a 115-101 win at the Charlotte Hornets, while the New York Knicks pulled off a fifth-straight road win over the Dallas Mavericks, Julius Randle scoring 26 points in a 107-77 blowout.

Gregg Popovich will have to wait for his NBA record 1,336th regular-season win as coach, the San Antonio Spurs falling 119-104 at home to the Toronto Raptors.

There were also wins for the Orlando Magic, who topped the New Orleans Pelicans 108-102, and the Denver Nuggets, who beat the Sacramento Kings 106-100 thanks to a 38-point double-double from Nikola Jokic.

The Philadelphia 76ers maintained their perfect record with James Harden in the side with a 121-106 win over the slumping Chicago Bulls on Monday.

Joel Embiid scored 43 points with 14 rebounds while Harden had 16 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists as the 76ers made it six wins from their past seven games.

The 76ers are also 5-0 with Harden in the side, while the Bulls have lost their past five games.

Embiid recorded his 10th 40-plus point game this season, along with his 10th game this season with 40 or more points and 10 or more rebounds. The 76ers center also had his fourth quarter for the season with at least 15 points and five rebounds, which is an NBA high.

For the Bulls, All-Star DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Zach LaVine added 24 points.

 

Jokic records 18th triple-double

Nikola Jokic backed up Sunday's 46-point haul with another triple-double as the Denver Nuggets defeated the short-handed Golden State Warriors 131-124. Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season by three-quarter time and finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. The Warriors, who rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the catch-up game, have lost nine of their past 11 games.

Luka Doncic scored 35 points, with 16 rebounds and seven assists in a tense game, where the All-Star received a technical foul, as the Dallas Mavericks won 111-103 over the Utah Jazz. Doncic's game marked his third this season where he has scored 35 or more points and 15 or more rebounds, with Oscar Robertson the only other guard to achieve the feat in a single season.

Victor Oladipo returned for the first time since April last year for the Miami Heat scoring 11 points in 15 minutes as they beat the Houston Rockets 123-106, while top draft pick Cade Cunningham (28 points and 10 assists) lifted the Detroit Pistons to an over-time win over the Atlanta Hawks 113-110.

 

Spurs equals record as Lakers slump

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tied Don Nelson's all-time NBA record for most coaching wins (1,335) as they won 117-110 over the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James. Russell Westbrook struggled in James' absence, with 17 points shooting five-of-14 from the field with five turnovers.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers says he pays no attention to the Eastern Conference standings after Saturday's loss left them three games behind the Miami Heat.

Rivers opted not to play 2018 MVP James Harden in the second game of their back-to-back as they went down 99-82 to the Eastern Conference-leading Heat.

Joel Embiid scored 22 points with 15 rebounds for the 76ers but was often double-teamed in Harden's absence, while Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro both contributed 21 points for the Heat.

The decision to leave out Harden was curious given the relative significance of the fixture with seedings in mind, with the Heat top of the east with a 43-22 record ahead of the second-placed 76ers at 39-24.

“I really don’t look at the standings,” Rivers said at the post-game news conference. “What do they matter? You have to win.

"I swear to God, after 82 [games], someone’s going to tap me and say ‘This is who you’re playing.’ ... You can only control what you can control. The other stuff is for everyone else to talk about."

The 76ers head coach clarified that Harden was left out due to managing a left hamstring complaint which was "nothing".

“It’s nothing, really,” Rivers said pre-game. “He’s just played a lot of games, he’s been out, and that’s about it really. There’s nothing to read into it.”

LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to end their four-game losing run with 56 points in a 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

James' 56-point haul was his most as a Laker and also meant he became the fourth player aged 37 or older to score 50 or more points in a game, alongside Michael Jordan (2001), Kobe Bryant (2016) and Jamal Crawford (2019).

The four-time NBA MVP made 19-of-31 from the field along with six-of-11 from beyond the arc, while he dished off three assists, including a key late pass for Carmelo Anthony's three-pointer. James also had 10 rebounds.

Russell Westbrook added 20 points for the Lakers, while Stephen Curry scored 30 points including four three-pointers for Golden State.

The result snaps the Lakers' skid and improves their record to 28-13, but it leaves the Warriors having lost four in a row, while they have only won twice in their past 10.

 

Harden absent as Heat move clear

Eastern Conference leaders Miami Heat made a statement with a 99-82 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers who were missing James Harden. The 76ers, playing on back-to-back nights, managed Harden's left hamstring complaint. Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler scored 21 points each as the Heat moved three games clear of the east's second-placed 76ers. Joel Embiid had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the 76ers.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 36 points with 15 rebounds and five assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves won 135-121 over the Portland Trail Blazers. Emerging star Anfernee Simons had 38 points for the Blazers.

Ja Morant scored 25 points with seven assists as the Memphis Grizzlies continued their strong run with a 124-96 win over the Orlando Magic. Desmond Bane added 24 points with 10-of-15 shooting.

 

Kings blew big lead against Mavs

The Sacramento Kings blew a 19-point lead as they lost 114-113 to the Dallas Mavericks who were without All-Star Luka Doncic with a toe strain. Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds left, while Spencer Dinwiddie scored a season-high 36 points. De'Aaron Fox had an equal career-high 44 points for the Kings.

Kevin Durant returned from injury with 31 points but the Brooklyn Nets' struggles continued with a 113-107 defeat to the Miami Heat.

Durant had missed the past 21 games due to an MCL sprain sustained on January 16, with the Nets going 5-16 in his absence, and they led by 16 points in the first half upon his return, but could not sustain it.

The 2014 NBA MVP had a three-point attempt with 57 seconds left which would have put the Nets in the lead but he missed and the Heat scored from the ensuing possession via Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo finished the game with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Tyler Herro came off the bench to contribute 27 points, four rebounds and eight assists.

Durant shot 10-of-21 from the field for his 31 points, including two three-pointers, with four rebounds and four assists.

The result leaves the Nets at 32-32 with a .500 record, while the Heat are top of the Eastern Conference with a 42-22 record.

 

Tatum leads Celtics final-quarter charge

The Boston Celtics continued their strong form as Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter in a 120-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant maintained his own hot streak, with 38 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

Luka Doncic produced a dominant display with 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors for the second time in five days, 122-113. Stephen Curry managed 21 points with nine assists for the Warriors who have lost seven of their past 10 games.

The Chicago Bulls suffered their third straight defeat with Trae Young scored 39 points with 13 assists as the Atlanta Hawks won 130-124.

 

Struggling Lakers beaten by Clippers

The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to their fourth consecutive loss going down to the Los Angeles Clippers 132-111 after being blown apart in a 40-18 third quarter. LeBron James shot eight-of-18 from the field for his 26 points with four turnovers, while Reggie Jackson scored 36 points for the Clippers.

Kevin Durant ominously said he will "only get better" after he scored 31 points on his return from a 21-game injury lay-off but that was not enough as the Brooklyn Nets lost 113-107 to the Miami Heat.

Brooklyn went 5-16 in Durant's absence, sliding from second in the Eastern Conference to eighth, after he sustained an MCL sprain on January 16.

The Nets led by as many as 16 points in the first half but the Heat fought back to win, with Durant playing 35 minutes on his return, scoring 31 points with four rebounds and four assists.

"I felt great. I'm only going to get better and get more comfortable out there," Durant said during his post-game news conference.

"Take more of the load out there too when I get more games under my belt. I felt solid."

The Nets were missing Kyrie Irving who is unable to play in home games at the Barclays Center due to the New York City vaccination rules, while recruit Ben Simmons is still yet to debut as he builds up his conditioning having not played all season.

Durant played alongside new signings Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and Goran Dragic in the starting line-up for the first time and admitted their cohesion may take time.

"It can take one game, it can take 20 games," he said. "It's a matter of getting out there and seeing what works for us.

"It's not like a certain formula that goes into how you know to build chemistry. It's an organic thing that happens naturally."

The Nets do not have time on their side, with the defeat leaving them at .500 with a 32-32 record having lost three in a row.

"It's to focus on the details every day," Durant said when asked what his short-term focus was. "Obviously winning basketball games, I don’t even need to say that, that's always the goals.

He added: "You've got to give Miami credit. There's no moral victories, but we look at the film, we know how we play, we know what we need to do to win."

Jrue Holiday insisted the Milwaukee Bucks cannot reflect on their dramatic win over the Miami Heat for too long.

Holiday came up with the game-winning lay-up as the Bucks edged out the Heat 120-119 on Wednesday, having trailed by 14 points heading into the final six minutes.

It capped a six-game home stretch in style, though Milwaukee now face tough matchups against the Chicago Bulls and the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns.

"We can't really dwell on this win," Holiday told reporters. "We accept it and we love it, but these games are not stopping."

Holiday had 25 points and 11 assists, though Giannis Antetokounmpo was Milwaukee's standout performer with double-double of 28 points and 17 rebounds, with the Greek adding a further five assists.

"We've done it before," Antetokounmpo said as the Bucks moved to 38-25 for the season.

"We did it against Boston. We were down 13 in the Christmas game and came back and won the game."

Coach Mike Budenholzer said: "The guys found a way. They'd do anything they could to keep them from putting it in.

"A lot of plays down the stretch, a lot of guys did things to contribute. The team just stuck to it tonight, played for 48, found a way to get a win against a tough team. A hell of an NBA game."

Antetokounmpo, however, was also involved in a contentious moment that kick-started Milwaukee's comeback.

The Bucks' talisman forced a jump ball against Jimmy Butler, which the Heat believed was worthy of a foul, though no such call came.

"I'm not going to go on a big rant about the officiating," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I'm just shocked. I'm shocked that wasn't a foul on Jimmy as we were trying to inbound.

"We certainly had some other opportunities to be able to close out the game, particularly when we were up four. That's just the way it goes.

"I just can't imagine from my vantage point how that wasn't a foul.

"We did enough for 47 minutes and change to put ourselves in position to win this game. We just couldn't close it out."

Antetokounmpo, of course, pleaded his innocence. 

He explained: "I was able to get my hands on the ball, and at the end of the day, when you want to win, things just happen. That's just instinct talking."

The Miami Heat have surged to the top of the Eastern Conference but will receive a stern test of their credentials on Wednesday when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Miami went 9-1 in February to take a two-game lead atop the East, capping a stunning month by routing the Chicago Bulls 112-99 on Monday.

Milwaukee sit two games further back but will be out to prove it is they who are the team to beat as the Bucks aim to successfully defend the NBA title.

The Bucks will not be facing a full-strength Heat team, with Kyle Lowry out for personal reasons and Victor Oladipo absent with a right knee injury.

Being slightly undermanned has not proven an issue for the Heat of late, yet it may be different against the Bucks and their two-time MVP.

Giannis Antetokounmpo used the month of February to deliver a scarcely needed reminder of why he is arguably the finest basketball player on the planet.

However, having made the NBA Finals two seasons ago, the Heat have shown they can deliver against top-tier opposition.

The Bucks, though, have been a thorn in Miami's side, sweeping them in the first round en route to the title last season, and this encounter may provide an insight into whether the Heat, who have won two out of their meetings with Milwaukee this season, can cause the defending champions serious problems in the postseason.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Miami Heat - Bam Adebayo

No player was more crucial to the Heat's scorching run in February than Adebayo. He led Miami with 22 points per game last month and was fifth in the league in average plus-minus with 12.6. Adebayo was tied 10th in steals per game (1.73) and defensive rebounds (8.2) and ended the month ninth in blocked shots per game (1.55), illustrating his substantial value on the defensive end.

Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Bucks have depth that gives them an excellent chance of repeating as champions but, when it comes to games against the elite, all eyes must be on Antetokounmpo.

He took his game to another level in February, averaging 51.3 points/assists/rebounds per game. Only Luka Doncic (53.8) fared better last month.

KEY BATTLE - Can Heat keep possession?

Miami have thrived this season despite often being lackadaisical in possession.

The Heat's turnover rate of 13.5 per cent is the fourth-highest in the NBA and they are facing a Bucks team whose rate of 12.1 per cent is superior to the league average of 12.5.

In other words, if the Heat want to stay hot against one of their main rivals in the East, they must flip the script and take better care of the ball.

HEAD TO HEAD

The Bucks are looking to continue a recent run of dominance in home games with the Heat, having won the last three meetings in Milwaukee.

All-Star Ja Morant scored a career-high 52 points including a massive dunk and a buzzer-beater as the Memphis Grizzlies won 118-105 over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Morant's 52-point haul was the second highest of the NBA season, behind only Trae Young who scored 56 points for the Atlanta Hawks against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 3.

The 22-year-old guard went 22-of-30 from the field including four-of-four from beyond the arc. Morant also hit a ridiculous half-time buzzer-bester after Steve Adams' full-court pass, catching and shooting in one motion.

Earlier in the second quarter, Morant produced a monster one-handed dunk over Spurs center Jakob Poeltl.

Morant's half-century follows up his career-best 46 points against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. It was also the first 50-point game in Grizzlies franchise history.

 

Bucks bounce back with Giannis starring

Reigning champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, had dropped four of their past five games but Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way as they bounced back with a 130-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Antetokounmpo scored 26 points with 16 rebounds, four blocks, two steals and six assists, with Bobby Portis adding 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Miami Heat took some ground in the race for top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 112-99 victory over the Chicago Bulls, with Tyler Herro contributing 20 points, six rebounds and five assists off the bench. DeMar DeRozan's 10-game run of 30-point games was halted, managing only 18 for the Bulls.

D'Angelo Russell's good run of scoring continued with 25 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves boosted their playoffs hopes by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-22, with Karl-Anthony Towns () draining a key late three-pointer.

 

Short-handed Nets blown away

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their 14th loss from their past 17 games, going down miserably 133-97 to the Toronto Raptors at home. Scottie Barnes dominated with 28 points, 16 rebounds and five steals for Toronto while the Nets, missing Kyrie Irving who is ineligible to play home games and head coach Steve Nash in protocols, had few winners

Kyrie Irving was cool under pressure as he scored a season-high 38 points in the Brooklyn Nets' impressive 126-123 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, missed a three-point attempt to send the game to over-time.

The Nets were missing key players Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons but produced a win that showcased their potential having lost 13 of their past 15 games.

New additions Seth Curry (19 points with four three-pointers) and Andre Drummond (17 points, 12 rebounds and five assists) supported Irving well, with the point guard crucial down the stretch from the stripe.

Bobby Portis scored a career-high eight three-pointers in his 30-point haul along with 12 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 25 points for the Bucks who have lost four of their past five.

 

Ja records career-high haul

All-Star Ja Morant scored a career-high 46 points, while Steven Adams had 12 points with a season-high 21 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Chicago Bulls 116-110. DeMar DeRozan extended his 30-point streak to 10 games with a 31-point haul as the Bulls' six-game win streak was halted.

Nikola Jokic closed to within five of Wilt Chamberlain's all-time triple-doubles record as the Denver Nuggets won 115-110 over the Sacramento Kings. Jokic had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for his 73rd career triple-double.

The Boston Celtics claimed their 11th win from their past 12 games with a 113-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons, while Trae Young dropped 41 points as the Atlanta Hawks won 127-100 against the Toronto Raptors.

 

Pop's record on hold

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will have to wait a few more days before he can tie the NBA record for regular-season victories after a 133-129 loss to the Miami Heat, with Bam Adebayo scoring a season-high 36 points. Popovich has 1,334 regular-season wins as Spurs coach, putting him one behind Don Nelson.

James Harden scored 27 points with 13 assists on his Philadelphia 76ers debut and formed a strong partnership with Joel Embiid in a 133-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Harden, who crossed from the Brooklyn Nets in an NBA Trade Deadline move earlier this month, almost registered a debut triple-double, with eight rebounds.

Embiid has been in irrepressible form this season, although there had been some concern Harden's arrival may blunt some of his offensive impact, but the center contributed 34 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

The new-look 76ers had immediate cohesion, scoring 65 points in the first half, before a 41-point final quarter with Tyrese Maxey finishing with 28 points while Harden also drained five three-pointers, shooting seven-of-12 from the field.

The 76ers recorded a season-high 19 three-pointers for the game, with head coach Doc Rivers admitting "that was pretty good" when asked post-game if Harden's debut could have gone any better.

 

Lakers fall to Clippers again

Terance Mann led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Clippers won a tight game with the Los Angeles Lakers 105-102, the sixth time in a row they have beaten their local rivals.

LeBron James top scored with 21 but was unable to stop the Clippers from taking charge in the closing moments, with Amir Coffey adding 12 of his 14 points for the night in the fourth quarter.

The San Antonio Spurs edged the Washington Wizards 157-153 in double over-time, with both teams setting season-highs in scoring. Spurs guard Dejounte Murray recorded a triple-double, although he missed potential winning shots in both regulation and the first over-time.

RJ Barrett scored 46 points including six three-pointers but the New York Knicks went down 115-110 to the Miami Heat, while Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points and Rudy Gobert had a double-double (14 points and 17 rebounds) as the Utah Jazz beat Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks 114-109.

 

Suns streak halted

The table-topping Phoenix Suns' eight-game winning streak came to an end, going down 117-102 to the lowly New Orleans Pelicans. Devin Booker top scored with 30 points for the Suns, who were without injured veteran guard Chris Paul. CJ McCollum scored 32 points for the Pels as he continues to thrive following his trade.

Joel Embiid had 42 points as he inspired the Philadelphia 76ers to a 123-120 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

With James Harden having arrived to bolster the 76ers' championship bid, but still missing due to a hamstring injury, Embiid served up a reminder of just how crucial he is with another supreme display on Thursday.

This time, it was reigning NBA champions the Bucks who were on the receiving end of a masterful showing from the 27-year-old, who also tallied up 14 rebounds and five assists.

The Bucks came close, though, and had their own MVP to thank for that – Giannis Antetokounmpo helping himself to a double-double of 32 points and 11 rebounds, while also contributing nine assists.

Embiid, fittingly, put Philadelphia ahead for good with a 10-foot shot in the final quarter. 

It marked a valuable return to form for the 76ers, who can enter the All-Star break on a high despite Tuesday's dismal 135-87 defeat to the Boston Celtics. They are third in the Eastern Conference with a 35-23 record, while the Bucks sit fifth (36-24).

Doncic downs Pelicans

Anything Embiid or Antetokounmpo can do, Luka Doncic is out to do it better.

The Dallas Mavericks star had 49 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in a 125-118 defeat of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Doncic has now had 45 points or more in three of his last four games for Dallas, who enter the break in fifth place in the West.

Nets back to losing ways

After snapping an 11-game losing streak with victories over the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets fell to a 117-103 reverse in Washington.

Rui Hachimura led the way for the Wizards with 20 points, as they moved to 2-2 for their series against the Nets this season.

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Houston Rockets to win for a third time in their last four games, while the Miami Heat were overtime winners over the Charlotte Hornets.

All-Star pair Devin Booker and Chris Paul led the way as the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-96 to make it six wins in a row.

Booker scored 26 points and Paul added 17 and 14 assists for the NBA-leading Suns, who have now won 17 of their past 18 games and are 47-10 for the season.

The Clippers had defeated the Golden State Warriors in their previous game and led the Suns 90-88 with six minutes to play at Footprint Center.

But Booker and Paul took control to give the hosts a slender lead and restricted their opponents to just one point in the final 2:53 to put another victory on the board.

Reflecting on a hard-fought win, Suns head coach Monty Williams said: "Our past experiences are helping us now, even the hurt that we felt last year is helping us now."

 


Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

The Milwaukee Bucks snapped a two-game losing run with a 128-119 victory over the Indiana Pacers thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's latest impressive showing.

Two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo scored 50 points on 17-of-21 shooting, with those 21 attempts the fourth-fewest in a 50-point game in NBA history.

It is the first time the 27-year-old, returning from an ankle injury that kept him out of the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, has hit 50 in the regular season since November 2019.

The Bucks improve to 36-23 for the season, with a winning percentage of .610, while the Pacers have now lost seven successive games.

Celtics continue strong form

The Boston Celtics eased to a 135-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers for their ninth win in a row, with Jaylen Brown scoring 26 of his 29 points in the first half.

They are now 11-1 across their last 12 games and have outscored opponents by 253 points – only the 1970-71 Bucks (+260) have a larger point differential over a 12-game span in NBA history.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Luka Doncic scored 21 points in the Dallas Mavericks' 107-99 win against the Miami Heat, while the Atlanta Hawks held off the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-116.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies recorded 126-120 and 121-109 victories over the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans respectively.

Kyrie Irving is holding out hope that New York City's vaccination mandate will eventually get overturned enabling him to play home games for the struggling Brooklyn Nets.

Irving scored 29 points, including 20 in the final quarter, as the Nets suffered their 11th straight defeat on Saturday, going down 115-111 to the Miami Heat.

The point guard will be unavailable for the Nets' next three games, as they are all at home at the Barclays Center where he cannot play due to his vaccination status.

"I still wish I could be out there at home," Irving told reporters after the game.

"Some people say it's as simple as, 'hey, go get this, go get the shot.' No, it's not as simple as that for me in my life, but ultimately still praying for a better outcome."

The defeat means the Nets slip perilously close to going below .500 with a 29-27 record.

Brooklyn also traded out James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers this week, while star forward Kevin Durant is still out injured. The Harden trade did mean the Nets landed Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond.

Irving said he felt no guilt for being unable to play home games as the Nets continued to slide.

"There's no guilt that I feel," Irving said. "I'm the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there.

"If I was anywhere else in another city then it probably wouldn't be the same circumstances. But because I'm there, we have [mayor] Eric Adams, we have the New York mandate, we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me. So you ask me these questions, I don't feel guilt.

"I'm just living my life as best I can just like everybody else that missed these last two years. I didn't have a plan in place while all this was going on, didn't know.

"The NBA and the NBPA made it very clear that there would be things that I would be able to do to work around this. And that's off the table. So you tell me if I'm just alone out here or do I have support from everybody else that's dealing with the same thing?"

The Philadelphia 76ers made a statement as Joel Embiid piled on a 40-point triple-double as they won 103-93 over the Cleveland Cavaliers without new acquisition James Harden on Saturday.

Embiid scored 40 points with 14 rebounds and 10 assists for the Sixers, who improve to 34-22. It was only Embiid's fourth career triple-double.

The Cameroonian center's points haul included a highlight-reel dunk, a one-handed throw-down over Jarrett Allen late in the first half.

Embiid also made four of five three-pointers, going at 50 per cent from the field, while he added three steals in an outstanding game as they wait on Harden to be cleared medically to debut.

 

Klay hits season-high

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 33 points, marking a major milestone in his recovery from long-term injury, as the Golden State Warriors won 117-115 over the Los Angeles Lakers. Thompson shot five-of-nine from beyond the arc, with Stephen Curry (24 points, five rebounds, eight assists) taking a backseat. LeBron James had 26 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers.

The Chicago Bulls, sitting second in the Eastern Conference, overcame a sluggish start as DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points with six rebounds and five assists, while Nikola Vucevic added 31 points and 15 rebounds in a 106-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luka Doncic scored 45 points with 15 rebounds and eight rebounds in a losing cause as the Dallas Mavericks went down 99-97 to the Los Angeles Clippers, while the table-topping Phoenix Suns won their fourth straight with a 132-105 win over the Orlando Magic led by Devin Booker's 26 points and Chris Paul's 15 assists.

 

Nets slump to 11th straight loss

Kyrie Irving led a late Brooklyn Nets charge that fell short as they went down 115-111 to the Miami Heat. Irving scored 29 points, including 20 in the final quarter, with five rebounds and five assists as the Nets slumped to their 11th straight defeat. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat who have won five in a row.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.