Reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid scored 21 points in his 2023-24 preseason debut to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 120-106 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Embiid shot just 3 of 12 from the field, but went 14 of 15 from the free-throw line in the 76ers' final tune-up prior to Thursday's season opener against the Bucks in Milwaukee. The star center added five rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes.

Starting in place of the disgruntled James Harden, De'Anthony Melton contributed a game-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting to aid in the 76ers' victory. Tyrese Maxey chipped in 12 assists and three steals along with 15 points.

Harden's status for the regular season remains in question after the 2017-18 NBA MVP did not show up for team practices earlier this week. Harden requested a trade in the summer due to his displeasure over not receiving a contract extension.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 19 points and 10 assists but shot just 5 of 16 from the floor. The Hawks open their season on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.

The Bucks will also enter their showdown with the 76ers off a win, as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points and Damian Lillard had 19 in Milwaukee's 124-116 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Desmond Bane shot 5 of 9 from 3-point range and put up 24 points for Memphis, which begins its season Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans as star guard Ja Morant begins a 25-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league. 

Elsewhere on the NBA's final night of preseason games, Kyrie Irving posted a 17-point, 11-assist double-double as the Dallas Mavericks earned a 114-104 win over the Detroit Pistons. 

The Mavericks rested Luka Doncic as they prepared for Wednesday's anticipated visit to San Antonio to take on the Spurs in Victor Wembanayama's official NBA debut. Josh Green started in Doncic's place and recorded 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a 4-of-5 performance from 3-point range. 

In Houston, rookie Amen Thompson compiled 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help the Rockets to a 110-104 win over the Miami Heat.

Thompson, the No. 4 pick in this year's draft, will make his regular-season debut Wednesday when the Rockets visit the Orlando Magic.

Fred VanVleet and Jalen Green added 20 points for Houston, which also received 16 points and 12 rebounds from Alperen Sengun.

In Toronto, the Raptors completed a 4-0 preseason with a 134-98 rout of the Washington Wizards behind Scottie Barnes' 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. 

Pascal Siakam finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Toronto's final game before Wednesday's opener against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves. 

 

Damian Lillard scored 14 points in his first appearance in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform to help his new team to a 108-97 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Lillard added three assists and three steals in 22 minutes in his first NBA game for any team other than the Portland Trail Blazers, who traded the seven-time All-Star guard to Milwaukee on Sept. 27.

The 33-year-old spent 11 seasons with Portland and finished his tenure with a franchise-record 19,376 points, while his 5,151 assists rank second in team history.

Lillard requested a trade from the rebuilding Trail Blazers in July and was eventually sent to the Bucks, where he joined two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and a well-stocked veteran roster in a deal that has Milwaukee the preseason favourite to win the Eastern Conference.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and grabbed eight rebounds in a game Milwaukee never trailed in the second half against a Lakers team playing without a resting LeBron James.

Anthony Davis paced Los Angeles, which also played without 2023 postseason star Austin Reaves, with 16 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes. The eight-team All-Star added five assists. 

 

Damian Lillard has posted an emotional farewell to the Portland Trail Blazers after joining the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 33-year-old point guard, who has spent his entire 11-year career with the Blazers, officially requested his trade out of Portland earlier this summer.

Lillard, whose 32.2 points average last season was the third highest in the NBA, told the Blazers’ fans on X, formerly known as Twitter: “I want to start off by saying this isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you later.

“My words have always been from the heart when it comes to you Rip City. I consider you my home as well as many of my family members and that won’t change.

“I’ve built my entire adulthood here and made so many friends that I will never forget.

“The moments on the basketball court as great as they have been don’t even compare to the experience I’ve had with all of you.

“The way you embraced me from day one gave me no choice but to reciprocate the love a thousand times and I don’t regret it one bit.”

Lillard, a seven-time All-Star and named among the NBA’s 75 greatest players of all-time in 2021, was traded to the Bucks on Wednesday as part of a three-team deal with the Phoenix Suns.

Lillard will team up with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo at the Bucks, who were quickly installed as favourites to win the NBA title next season.

Damian Lillard will be tasked with helping the Milwaukee Bucks return to the top of the NBA after his trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Star guard Lillard signed for the Bucks on Wednesday in a three-way trade – which also included the Phoenix Suns – that saw Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara on the move too.

Lillard leaves Portland after 11 years with the Trail Blazers. He is a seven-time All-Star and enjoyed a career-best season in 2022-23, averaging 32.2 points and 7.3 assists, though he did sit out the final month of the season due to injury.

Now, the Bucks – the 2021 NBA Champions – will be hoping that Lillard can combine with two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to push them towards another title, following a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Miami Heat in last season's playoffs.

Fast Fact

Despite missing the last 10 games of the season, Lillard (1,866) was Portland's highest points scorer last term by over 500, with Anfernee Simons next best for the Trail Blazers with 1,306.

Lillard a difference-maker

"His character, competitiveness, talent and experience complement our group and gives us the best chance to win at the very highest level as we create new memories together," Bucks general manager Jon Horst said of Lillard.

So, does Lillard have what it takes to make the difference for the Bucks?

Lillard leaves Portland as a franchise great. He ranks first in team history in points and three-pointers and second in assists. Including the playoffs, he had 17 games with 50+ points for the Blazers. All other players in franchise history have only combined for seven 50-point games. He is a big-game player, and he should help ease the burden on Antetokounmpo.

Damian Lillard finally has a new team, though it's not the one the NBA world had been expecting.

The Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to send their franchise icon to the Milwaukee Bucks in a blockbuster three-team trade that also involves fellow star players Jrue Holiday and Deandre Ayton, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Portland will receive Holiday from the Bucks and Ayton and rookie Toumani Camara from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Lillard, a seven-time All-Star who requested a trade this summer with the Trail Blazers in a rebuild.

The Blazers will also get Milwaukee's unprotected 2029 first-round pick as well as the right to swap first-round selections with the Bucks in 2028 and 2030.

Phoenix will receive veteran center Jusuf Nurkic and forwards Nassir Little and Keon Johnson from Portland, as well as guard Grayson Allen from Milwaukee.

Lillard had expressed a preference to be dealt to the Miami Heat, but the Blazers were unable to work out a trade to his desired destination that would satisfy their requirements for multiple draft picks and young players to add to their young core of rookie point guard Scoot Henderson and second-year wing Shaedon Sharpe.

The 33-year-old will instead be joining the team that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, but was dealt a stunning loss by the eighth-seeded Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Lillard joins two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time All-Star Khris Middleton and first team All-Defensive Team centre Brook Lopez as the nucleus of a Bucks squad that will be considered one of the favourites in the East after finishing 58-24 last season.

The trade, which is still awaiting league approval, also ends the 11-year tenure for arguably the most popular player in Trail Blazers' history. Lillard leaves Portland as the franchise's all-time leader in points (19,376) and three-point field goals (2,387), while his 5,151 assists rank second in team history.

Lillard is also coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game and matched a personal best by shooting 46.3 per cent from the field, though a calf injury limited him to 58 games and he did not play after March 22.

The Blazers' season didn't go nearly as well, as they finished 13th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record. Lillard's displeasure over the team's poor finish, plus its decision to keep its first-round draft picks instead of moving them for a win-now player, prompted him to formally issue a trade request in July.

Holiday, who earned a second career All-Star nod in 2022-23, could be on the move again soon, as ESPN reports Portland is expected to field trade offers for the 33-year-old point guard after taking Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft.

The 25-year-old Ayton figures to remain part of the Blazers' long-range plans with three seasons left on a four-year, $133 million extension he signed in 2022. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game last season and has averaged a double-double in each of his five NBA seasons.

Phoenix gets a ready-made replacement for Ayton in Nurkic in addition to building needed depth to its star-laden core of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and offseason pickup Bradley Beal.

Nurkic averaged 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds while starting 52 games for Portland last season. 

Khris Middleton is not getting caught up in speculation surrounding team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is uncertain over his Milwaukee Bucks future.

Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP, has recently cast doubt on whether he will be staying with the Bucks.

The 28-year-old has made it clear that he wants to win another championship, having helped the Bucks to glory in 2021.

But Middleton is staying focused on his preparations for the new season, instead of paying too much attention to the talk around the Bucks' star man.

"I think it's kind of business as usual either way," Middleton told ESPN.

"It doesn't affect me personally. I don't think it affects us as a team. I think this is something he said almost every year he's come up in contract extension talks.

"We always want him back for sure. Let's be for sure and let everyone know that. We want this guy to come back because he's one of the best players in the world.

"He's one of the best players in franchise history. So when he says things like that, I think he just wants to challenge the team, the organisation, to keep putting us in a position to win championships."

Middleton believes Antetokounmpo's comments are about keeping the pressure on, for both himself and the team.

"But I think it's just something that he just wants to keep putting pressure on everybody. That's himself also," Middleton added.

"He's not just pointing a finger at everybody else saying, 'You guys have to do this for me'.

"I think he's putting that pressure on himself to be better, to come in and be great every year. So there's no pressure on, there's no added pressure when he says that to us as a team, or me as a person, that I have to be better."

The Bucks won their fifth straight division title last season, yet lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, resulting in the departure of head coach Mike Budenholzer.

The Milwaukee Bucks are finalising a deal to make Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin the franchise’s next head coach, multiple media outlets reported on Saturday.

He will replace Mike Budenholzer after his five-year stint in Milwaukee ended with the top-seeded Bucks losing to the Miami Heat 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

Griffin, who spent the last four seasons as an assistant in Toronto, takes over a team that finished the season with an NBA-best 58-24 record and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

According to ESPN, Bucks talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo met with each of the three finalists – Griffin, former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson – before general manager Jon Horst made his final decision.

Griffin began his coaching career in Milwaukee, where he was an assistant under Scott Skiles from 2008-10. He was also an assistant with the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder before joining the Raptors' staff.

The 48-year-old won an NBA title in 2019 with the Raptors after Toronto eliminated Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals.

Griffin played for five franchises during his nine-year career on the court and was a part of the Dallas Mavericks' run to the Finals in 2006.

Replacing Budenholzer with Griffin is likely just the first move in a key offseason for the Bucks.

Antetokounmpo has two years left on his deal but will be eligible for a contract extension in September.

Brook Lopez is a free agent, and Khris Middleton could also test the market if he declines his $40.4 million player option for next season.

The Milwaukee Bucks have fired head coach Mike Budenholzer after another promising season ended in an early playoff exit.

The Bucks announced the end of Budenholzer's tenure a week after they were eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat in a first-playoff series.

Budenholzer compiled a 271-120 regular-season record with the Bucks and helped lead Milwaukee to the NBA title in 2021, but each of his four other seasons ended in playoff disappointment.

"The decision to make this change was very difficult," Bucks general manager Jon Horst said on Thursday. 

"Bud helped lead our team for five incredible seasons, to the Bucks' first title in 50 years, and into an era of sustained success. We are grateful for the culture of winning and leadership that Bud helped create in Milwaukee.

"This is an opportunity for us to refocus and reenergize our efforts as we continue building toward our next championship season."

Deciding Budenholzer's fate became more complicated when one of the coach's brothers died in a traffic accident before Game 4 – a factor that was made public after the Bucks were eliminated.

Budenholzer had long faced rumours of his dismissal.

The team's 2021 championship run held those rumours at bay for two years, but this season's stunning exit after a league-best 58-24 regular-season record spelled the end.

Playing with an injured Giannis Antetokounmpo, the top-seeded Bucks blew fourth-quarter leads in Games 4 and 5 against the No. 8 seed Miami, while players and Budenholzer himself admitted afterward that tactical errors played a role.

After the series-ending overtime loss, Antetokounmpo said the team should have made defensive adjustments against Jimmy Butler, who averaged 37.6 points across the matchups.

Stubbornness and inflexibility were frequent criticisms of Budenholzer throughout his tenure in Milwaukee, especially in the postseason.

In stints with the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks, Budenholzer has a career 484-317 record (.604 winning percentage) and a 56-48 (.538) mark in the playoffs.

A crestfallen Giannis Antetokounmpo declared "there's no failure in sports" after the Milwaukee Bucks were consigned to a stunning first-round playoff exit by the Miami Heat.

The Heat won Game 5 128-126 in overtime at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday to take the series 4-1. 

Inspired by Jimmy Butler, who scored 42 points, Miami became the sixth number eight seed to beat a top seed and the first since the Philadelphia 76ers in 2012.

The Heat were two points down with 2.1 seconds to go, prompting Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout and draw up a play that Butler did not feel was the right approach, so his coach changed his mind.

That paid off when Gabe Vincent threw a pass to Butler, who tied up the game to force overtime and the Heat went on to eliminate the Bucks.

Bucks superstar Antetokounmpo, who scored 38 points and took 20 rebounds, dismissed talk of the team being a failure this season.

"There's no failure in sports," he said. "There's good days, bad days. Some days you're able to be successful. Some days you're not. Some days it's your turn.

"Some days it's not your turn. That's what sports is about. You don't always win.

"It’s not a failure, it's steps to success. There's always steps to it. You work towards a goal. Michael Jordan played 15 years, won six championships. The other nine years was a failure? No."

Spoelstra lavished praise on Butler after he stepped up once again to make a huge impact.

"He’s desperate and urgent and maniacal and sometimes psychotic about the will to try to win," Spoelstra said of Butler.

"He'll make everybody in the building feel it. That's why he is us and we are him. That's the way we operate as well."

Jimmy Butler delivered another clutch display with 42 points including a dramatic game-tying shot to send Game 5 to overtime before the Miami Heat eliminated the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 128-126 on Wednesday.

The OT victory at Fiserv Forum meant the Heat completed a shock 4-1 first round series triumph, becoming the sixth eight seed to beat a top seed and the first in more than a decade, dating back to 2012.

The Heat launched another fourth-quarter rally led by Butler, similar to Game 4, fighting back from a 102-86 three-quarter time deficit.

Butler scored 14 fourth-quarter points including a game-tying three-pointer with 2:11 left, along an incredible falling alley oop layup from Gabe Vincent's inbound with time almost expiring to send the game to OT.

Miami went ahead early in OT and did not surrender their lead, although the Bucks spurned the final possession as the clock expired with Grayson Allen unable to get a shot away.

Butler finished with 42 points on 17-of-33 shooting with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Kevin Love made five triples with 12 rebounds, while Gabe Vincent added 22 points and Bam Adebayo had a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points with 20 rebounds and Khris Middleton shot four-of-10 from three-point range in his 33 points.

Road Warriors take lead in series

The Golden State Warriors claimed a rare road win at the right time, as they claimed a 3-2 series lead over the Sacramento Kings with a 123-116 victory.

Stephen Curry scored 31 points on 12-of-25 shooting, making only two-of-10 from beyond the arc, coming up with a patient three-point play to ice the game with 22.4 seconds left.

The Kings had closed within one point at 111-110 with 4:14 left, with Malik Monk getting hot to finish with 21 points after being scoreless midway through the third. De'Aaron Fox scored a team-high 24 points on nine-of-25 shooting with seven rebounds and nine assists but six turnovers.

Klay Thompson went five-of-11 from three-point range in his 25 points, while Draymond Green scored 20-plus points for the first time since Christmas 2019 with 21 points off the bench.

Grizzlies stay alive, Knicks progress

Desmond Bane and Ja Morant starred as the Memphis Grizzlies stayed alive in the playoffs with a 116-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers after a strong first half.

The Grizzlies led by as much as 17 points in the first half and while the Lakers closed the gap, Memphis pulled away again led by Bane's 33 points with four three-pointers, while Morant added 31 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Xavier Tillman did a brilliant defensive job on LeBron James who was kept to 15 points on five-of-17 shooting, going scoreless in the fourth quarter. Anthony Davis had 31 points and 19 rebounds. The Lakers lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 in LA.

The New York Knicks advanced into the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals with a 106-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers rounding out a 4-1 series win, their first series triumph since 2013.

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler scored the fourth-most points in NBA playoff history as he led a remarkable 119-114 comeback win in Monday's Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The win in front of Miami's home fans gave the Heat a 3-1 series lead against the league's top overall seed, and it was on the back of a spectacular 56-point explosion by Butler.

Butler had 35 points through three quarters as his Heat trailed 89-78 heading into the last period, but after the Bucks jumped ahead 101-89 with just over six minutes remaining, Miami came roaring back.

The Heat put together a 13-0 run from that point to stick their nose in front, setting up Butler to carry his team home.

Butler, a six-time All-Star, put up 21 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 56 all up, shooting 19-of-28 from the field, three-of-eight from deep and 15-of-18 from the free throw line to set a new Miami playoff franchise record.

His 56 points is tied with Charles Barkley (1994), Michael Jordan (1992) and Wilt Chamberlain (1962) for the fourth-most ever in a playoff game, trailing only Donovan Mitchell's 57 (2020), Elgin Baylor's 61 (1962) and MJ's 63 (1986).

No other Miami player scored more than Bam Adebayo's 15 points (six-of-16 shooting), although Caleb Martin provided a crucial spark off the bench with 12 points (four-of-five), nine rebounds and two steals.

For the Bucks, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was terrific in his return from a two-game absence, putting together a big triple-double with 26 points (12-of-22), 13 assists, 10 rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Brook Lopez was also immense, with the Defensive Player of the Year candidate contributing a team-high 36 points (13-of-23), 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

The Bucks will look to keep their season alive back in Milwaukee for Game 5, and if they can take that, they will head back to Miami for Game 6, with a chance to earn a Game 7 at home.

LeBron sets new career high in overtime win

LeBron James is somehow still setting career-highs in year 20, snatching down a personal-best 20 rebounds as he carried the Los Angeles Lakers to a 115-108 home win in Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

James had never secured more than 19 rebounds in a game before – regular season or playoffs – but he had five offensive rebounds to go with 15 on the defensive end, and his Lakers needed every bit of his efforts.

Trailing 104-102 with six seconds remaining, James was the one to nail the game-tying layup and send the contest to overtime, and he would drain the dagger in the extra period as well with a three-point play against Grizzlies rival Dillon Brooks to jump ahead 113-108 with less than 30 seconds on the clock.

The four-time NBA Finals MVP finished with 22 points on eight-of-18 shooting, dishing seven assists and blocking two shots, and he played a team-high 45 minutes.

James had no choice but to produce given how poorly his star team-mate Anthony Davis played on the offensive end, finishing with just 12 points on four-of-13 shooting, and he only had seven points at the conclusion of regulation, although his 14 rebounds and five blocks were important.

Desmond Bane was the offensive focal point for the Grizzlies, scoring a game-high 36 points on 13-of-29 shooting, while Ja Morant was clearly hampered by his injured shooting hand, finishing eight-of-24 from the field for his 19 points, seven assists and three steals.

The Grizzlies will attempt to keep the series alive when the series heads back to Memphis for Game 5, now trailing 3-1.

The Milwaukee Bucks will receive a huge boost for Monday's Game 4 against the Miami Heat as two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo returns from a two-game injury absence.

Antetokounmpo missed Game 2 and Game 3 after suffering a hard fall early in Game 1, resulting in a back contusion.

After dropping the series opener, the Bucks responded with an emphatic Game 2 victory at home to tie things up, before the Heat jumped ahead 2-1 with their Game 3 triumph in Miami.

Antetokounmpo finished the regular season top-five in both scoring (31.1 points per game) and rebounding (11.8 rebounds per game), and his return will be an enormous boost for the Bucks, who posted the best record in the league at 58-24.

Speaking before Monday's game, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer declared his star "ready to go".

"We'll keep our eyes on him like we do really all our guys, but there's been nothing put on him from medical or anything like that," he said.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra responded to the news by saying it will be a significantly tougher test with Antetokounmpo in the line-up, but he wants the Bucks at full strength.

"You can do all the prep behind the scenes but [Antetokounmpo] is going to bring it at a different level of physicality and force than what we can cover in a practice," he said.

"We have great respect for him and what he can do... when you get in the playoffs, you want everybody available."

Victor Oladipo will miss the remainder of the playoffs after the Miami Heat announced he tore the patellar tendon in his left knee in Saturday's 121-99 Game 3 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Heat on Saturday claimed a surprise 2-1 lead in their first-round series against the Eastern Conference top seed, but the victory was soured by Oladipo's exit with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter.

Oladipo went down on a drive to the bucket following a foul from Bobby Portis, immediately clutching his left knee with an ominous look on his face, before being assisted off the court, sparking major fears for the injury-cursed guard.

"An MRI has revealed that Victor Oladipo suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. He will miss the remainder of the postseason," the Heat announced on Sunday.

The blow comes after Oladipo only played 79 games across the previous three seasons due to a run of injuries.

Oladipo played 42 regular season games this season, averaging 10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

He joins Heat shooting guard Tyler Herro on the sidelines after he broke his right hand in Game 1, ruling him out of the series.

Heat star Jimmy Butler had an injury scare in Game 3, sitting out the last quarter with a bruised glute, but head coach Erik Spoelstra declared he should be available for Game 4 in Miami on Monday.

The Miami Heat will wait on scan results on a worrying knee injury to Victor Oladipo that soured Saturday's 121-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of their first round series.

Oladipo went down on a drive to the bucket following a foul from Bobby Portis with 3:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, immediately clutching his left knee with an ominous look on his face.

The injury-cursed Heat guard was eventually assisted off the court by Miami's coaching staff, including head coach Erik Spoelstra, with the home court crowd cheering him out.

"We'll just have to see," Spoelstra said. "I feel like throwing up right now, but I don't know what the prognosis is. I want to stay positive on this, and we'll just see what happens."

Oladipo was restricted to only eight games in the 2021-22 season due to injury and only 33 during the 2020-21 campaign across three teams.

The injury soured a win that saw the Eastern Conference eight seed go 2-1 up with home court advantage for Game 4 against the top-seeded Bucks.

"It was a great win, but when you see a player go down like that and particularly a player like Vic, who has gone through so much in the last three years - I don't know what it is right now, so I don't want to jump the gun on anything," Spoelstra said. "But that's definitely not a good feeling to see."

The Bucks-Heat series has been riddled with injuries, with Giannis Antetokounmpo (bruised lower back) and Tyler Herro (broken hand) both unavailable for Game 3.

The Heat's injury concerns got worse with top scorer Jimmy Butler taking a hard fall in the third quarter and exiting the game with a bruised glute after 30 points in 28 minutes.

"He went back to the locker room and said, 'Hey, just give me a couple minutes, I'll be ready to go,'" Spoelstra said.

"I was going to insert him back into the game if it broke 15, but the second unit all night long gave us a tremendous boost."

The Bucks missed MVP candidate Antetokounmpo, shooting 44.7 per cent from the field and gifting 18 turnovers, while Miami scored 46 points in the paint compared to Milwaukee's 36.

"We'll continue to monitor him through the day tomorrow, through the day the next day," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters pre-game about Antetokounmpo's status.

"He's not in a place where he can go, so we'll just continue to monitor and work with him and hope for the best."

Anthony Davis bounced back while LeBron James scored 25 points as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed a 2-1 first-round series lead with a 111-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Ja Morant returned from a hand injury for the Grizzlies, scoring a game-high 45 points, including 22 in a row for his team in the fourth quarter at Crypto.com Arena.

But the damage was done early, as the Grizzlies shot three-of-25 in the first quarter as the Lakers raced to a 35-9 lead.

Dillon Brooks was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul early in the third quarter following a hit to James' midsection, following tension between the pair after the former's comments after Game 2.

James put that aside to score 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting with nine rebounds, while Davis scored a team-high 31 points with 17 rebounds and three blocks.

The Grizzlies scored the final 10 points of the second quarter to close to 53-37 at half-time but were not helped by Brooks' ejection with 11:43 left in the third.

The Lakers kept Memphis at arm's length for most of the game, although Morant's remarkable fourth-quarter scoring run offered hope, getting within 10 points after a three-pointer with 2:54 left.

Jaren Jackson Jr lost the battle against Davis, contributing 13 points with five rebounds while Desmond Bane was kept to 18 points on three-of-seven three-point shooting. Morant made six-of-10 three-pointers, with 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Heat upset Bucks but left with injury worries

The Miami Heat claimed a 2-1 series lead with a 121-99 victory over the Eastern Conference top seed Milwaukee Bucks who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a bruised lower back again.

But the excitement for the Heat was quelled by a worrying knee injury suffered late by Victor Oladipo, while Jimmy Butler battled a sore glute.

Butler top scored for Miami with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting in 28 minutes. Duncan Robinson, on his 29th birthday, added 20 points on five-of-six three-point shooting.

Milwaukee shot at 44.7 per cent from the field, giving up 18 turnovers. Khris Middleton top scored with 23 points and six assists but was guilty for five turnovers.

Nets swept again, Suns go 3-1 up

The Brooklyn Nets suffered a first-round series sweep for the second straight year after the Philadelphia 76ers triumphed 96-88 in Game 4 despite the absence of Joel Embiid.

Tobias Harris scored a game-high 25 points with 12 rebounds, while James Harden had 17 points on four-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds and 11 assists. Embiid was out due to sprained right knee.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie managed a team-high 20 points and Nic Claxton had 19 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks.

The Phoenix Suns took a 3-1 lead in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers with a 112-100 win headlined by Kevin Durant's 31 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Devin Booker's 30 points.

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