LeBron James was the biggest story in sports on Tuesday as he became the NBA's all-time scoring leader, but the Oklahoma City Thunder got the last laugh.

James reached the legendary record late in the third quarter, with a turnaround jump shot from the free throw line bringing up his 36th point of the game, and his 38,388th regular season point overall to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 39-year-old record.

But it was the Thunder leading 104-99 at the time of the basket, and it would be the Thunder coming away with the 133-130 victory.

Oklahoma City were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who remains one of seven players this season averaging at least 30 points per game (30.8) after scoring an even 30 on nine-of-17 shooting, adding eight assists and two steals.

Rookie wing Jalen Williams was terrific with 25 points (10-of-19 shooting), seven rebounds and six steals, while point guard Josh Giddey added 20 points (10-of-19), six assists and five rebounds.

James ended up scoring a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and three steals, while Russell Westbrook put together one of his better performances this season with 27 points (10-of-19), eight assists and two steals.

With the win, the Thunder improved their record to 26-28 to sit 11th in the Western Conference, although things are so tightly bunched that they are only 2.5 games back from the six seed. 

The Lakers fell to 25-30, and are four games back from the Dallas Mavericks in the six seed.

Thomas makes history as Booker returns for Phoenix

Brooklyn Nets rising star Cam Thomas became the youngest player to ever score 40 points in three consecutive games, but Devin Booker's return lifted the Phoenix Suns to a 116-112 win.

After scoring a career-high 44 points against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, and then following it with another career-high of 47 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Thomas dropped 43 against the Suns.

He shot 11-of-23 from the field – his worst shooting performance in this three-game run – but boosted his tally by going 18-of-20 from the free throw line.

But the return of Devin Booker after 21 games and six weeks on the sideline provided a jolt in the arm for the Suns, contributing 19 points on six-of-15 shooting with six assists in 26 minutes, while Deandre Ayton dominated the action with 35 points (14-of-18) and 15 rebounds.

Another Jokic masterclass blows away the Timberwolves

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic showed exactly why he is the favourite to make it a three-peat with a dominant performance in the Denver Nuggets' 146-112 blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jokic had 17 points on eight-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds and 10 assists by half-time, and he did not attempt a field goal in the second half, finishing with 20 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.

He has a chance to become the first center in NBA history to average a triple-double if he can maintain his current figures of 24.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.2 assists, while Michael Porter Jr carried the scoring load against Minnesota, pouring in 30 on 11-of-15 shooting.

Cam Thomas starred off the bench as the depleted Brooklyn Nets came from behind to defeat the Washington Wizards 125-123 on Saturday.

Already without Ben Simmons and talisman Kevin Durant, the Nets were dealt a further blow when Kyrie Irving was ruled out due to a calf problem.

Irving's injury came just a day after news broke of his wish to leave the Nets, with the point guard having handed in a trade request.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics star was not in attendance at the Barclays Center, though that decision was a joint one with the team's management.

A bleak end to the week looked set to be compounded as the Warriors held a healthy 23-point lead, yet the Nets fought back partly thanks to Thomas' efforts.

He scored a career-high, game-leading 44 points, while Edmond Sumner chipped in with 29 as the Wizards – who lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday – became the first team in the past 25 seasons to throw away 20+ point leads on consecutive days.

Kristaps Porzingis top scored for the Wizards with 38 points.

James gets closer but Pelicans end losing streak

LeBron James is now just 36 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing NBA record, yet his efforts were not enough for the Los Angeles Lakers against the New Orleans Pelicans.

James added 27 more points to his total on Saturday, though the Lakers lost 131-126 to a Pelicans team that had suffered 10 straight defeats.

While Anthony Davis was the Lakers' standout performer with a double-double of 34 points and 14 rebounds, Brandon Ingram's 35-point haul led the Pelicans, who moved onto .500 for the season.

Curry concern for Warriors

Stephen Curry scored 21 points, added six rebounds and provided seven assists but hobbled out of the Golden State Warriors' 119-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Curry must now await results of an MRI scan, which is set to take place on Sunday, to determine the severity of the issue.

Reigning NBA champions Golden State nevertheless got the job done without him in the final quarter, getting over the line against a Dallas side missing their star man Luka Doncic.

Draymond Green's 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists were crucial, with Spencer Dinwiddie's game-high 25 points not enough for the Mavs, who have lost seven in 11.

Nuggets tie with Celtics

The Boston Celtics lost for the fourth time in six games on Friday and the Denver Nuggets capitalised to tie level as joint-NBA leaders.

Denver beat the Atlanta Hawks 128-108, with Nikola Jokic (14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists) claiming his 18th triple-double of the season while Jamal Murray turned on the style with his season-best tally of 41 points.

The Nuggets are now tied with the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics on 37-16 for the season and have won 19 of their last 20 home games.

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and his staff will take charge of LeBron James' team in this season's All-Star Game.

The game will be played in Salt Lake City on February 19, with LeBron's team taking on a side headed up by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

A victory for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday ensured the Nuggets will top the Western Conference by the end of play on Sunday, two weeks before the game, meaning Malone's coaching staff are assured of their roles in the exhibition event.

It is the second time in his career that Malone will coach in the All-Star Game, after he oversaw a 178-164 victory for Team LeBron over Team Giannis in 2019. Joe Mazzulla, interim coach of the Boston Celtics, is to take charge of Team Giannis.

The Nuggets still have eight games to play before the All-Star break, however, starting with a clash against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, and Malone warned against any complacency.

He said: "I say it every year and I told our players this. There's some teams that are dying for the All-Star break and can't wait to go to Cancun.

"No, we are keeping our eyes on the prize and we have to make sure we play all the way to the break."

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has been selected as a starter, though the two-time reigning NBA MVP might not be coached by Malone, who will have to wait until the day of the game to find out his full roster when James drafts his side.

Joel Embiid made it clear he is only concerned about winning a championship after dominating in the Philadelphia 76ers' 126-119 victory against reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

Embiid – who has finished runner-up in each of the past two MVP votes – was spectacular on Saturday, finishing with a game-high 47 points on 18-of-31 shooting, a game-high 18 rebounds and equal game-highs with three steals and two blocks.

He outplayed Jokic, who still posted a terrific stat line of 24 points (eight-of-12 shooting), nine assists and eight rebounds, but his seven turnovers were the third-most he has had in a game this season,

It continued a remarkable campaign for Embiid, improving his league-leading scoring average to a career-high 33.8 per game, while also shooting a career-best 53.2 per cent from the field. He is shooting a career-best 86.1 per cent from the free throw line while leading the league at 10.0 made free throws per game.

When asked after the win if he feels he should be the MVP, Embiid said he is no longer concerned about the award.

"I don't know, that's up to you guys to decide," he said. "Like I told you, I'm done arguing for myself. It's all out there.

"But the focus is on winning. As long as we win, I know everything is going to take care of itself. If we keep winning, and everyone stays healthy, I've got a better chance of going out there and winning a championship."

Embiid also had his streak of five consecutive selections as an All-Star starter snapped this past week as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum claimed the three frontcourt spots in the East.

He said he feels that is an indication that he is "not well-liked", but he is not bothered by it.

"I'm used to it," he said. "It's not the first time. I think it's more of a motivation to go out and win the whole thing – that's the only way I'm probably going to get that respect.

"I was not surprised, I think it's well documented that I'm not well-liked. That's cool. I don't know if it's because I troll a lot or that I guess I'm an a****** – but it's cool. 

"I keep being me, I keep being an a******, and I keep trolling, and if people don't like it, that's their problem. But like I said, it all goes back to winning."

The 28-year-old believes winning would cure everything, and that the current 76ers roster – with a healthy James Harden – has the balance required to go all the way.

"You've got James Harden, obviously he's been playing great basketball," he said. "You've got Tyrese Maxey, Tobias has been great, P.J. Tucker... we've got a group that fits with each other.

"We'll find that out in the postseason. But I think as far as the fit, you've got everything. Everybody fits with each other, we've got shooters, we've got defenders, and we've got James Harden. So I think we've got a good chance."

The 76ers are now 32-16, sitting second in the Eastern Conference while owning the third-best record in the league.

LeBron James is set to tie the record for the most All-Star Game appearances in NBA history after being announced as one of the two team captains on Thursday.

James, who will match Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he suits up for his 19th All-Star Game in Salt Lake City next month, will be joined by Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo as the captains. 

In a league-first, the captains will draft their reserves live in the lead-up to tip-off, as opposed to previous years when the draft was conducted via a pre-recorded segment and aired weeks before the game.

While most of the expected names were announced as starters – including reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and Golden State Warriors icon Stephen Curry – there were also some surprises.

The two head-scratchers were New Orleans Pelicans franchise player Zion Williamson and controversial Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

Williamson is averaging the highest points per game figure (26.0) for any player shooting at least 60 per cent from the field this season, but has only played in 29 of the Pelicans' 49 games so far. He is also scheduled to miss at least two more weeks, meaning he will have only played in roughly half of the possible games by the time All-Star Weekend arrives.

Meanwhile, Irving has a stronger case as he averages 26.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists, but his addition as a starter in the East means relegating reigning scoring champion and back-to-back MVP runner-up Joel Embiid to the bench.

After James' 19th appearance, the next-most among the starters belongs to Kevin Durant, who has missed some time with injury in his own right but was playing at an MVP level prior to earn his 13th All-Star nod. Curry will play in his ninth edition, while Irving now has eight and Antetokounmpo has made seven consecutive.

The full list of starters includes:

Western Conference 

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

Eastern Conference

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic will miss his third game from the past four due to a tight left hamstring when the Denver Nuggets face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Jokic returned with a triple-double including the game-winner in Tuesday's 98-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans after missing two games with the same hamstring issue.

The Serbian center is averaging 25.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.9 assists this season, putting him in contention to be first player to win three MVPs in a row since Larry Bird (1984-86).

Jokic's absence comes as the Western Conference-leading Nuggets (34-14) take on the Bucks (30-17), who are third in the Eastern Conference.

The Nuggets will also be without Jamal Murray (left knee), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (sprained right wrist) and Michael Porter Jr. (personal reasons) for the game.

Bobby Portis will be absent for Milwaukee due to right MCL and right ankle sprains, with the injuries to be reevaluated in two weeks.

Portis sustained the injuries in Monday's 150-130 win over the Detroit Pistons where both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton returned after injuries.

LeBron James scored 46 points but the Los Angeles Clippers continued their recent dominance over the Los Angeles Lakers with a 133-115 victory on Tuesday.

The Clippers have now won 10 straight against the Lakers and are 36-9 in recent seasons. The win moves the Clippers up to fifth spot in the west with a 26-24 record, while the Lakers are 22-26 and 13th in the west.

Paul George top scored for the Clippers, who made 19 three-pointers at 50 per cent as a team, leading the way with 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting while adding nine rebounds and four assists.

Kawhi Leonard chipped in 25 points with nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks as the Clippers found form with a third straight win, and they could receive further reinforcements soon as Luke Kennard (calf) and John Wall (abdominal strain) close in on returns.

James was exceptional for the Lakers, shooting 16-of-29 from the field with nine-of-14 triples, along with eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block.

The four-time NBA MVP's 46-point haul moves him to within 177 of tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record at 38,387.

James appeared set for a 50-point game, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, before the Clippers put the game to bed on an 8-0 run and send James to the bench for good with five minutes remaining.

Another triple-double as Jokic calls game

Nikola Jokic scored the game-winner with 16.2 seconds left as he recorded his 15th triple-double of the season in the Denver Nuggets' 99-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jokic and Jamal Murray were disconnected down the stretch before linking up for the crucial two-pointer, capping the Serbian's game with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, adding further weight to his claims for a third straight MVP, which would be the first occurrence since Larry Bird from 1984-86.

Murray added 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting with seven assists for Denver, while C.J. McCollum top scored for the Pels with 20 points, but he went zero-of-eight from three-point range.

Celtics suffer back-to-back defeats

The short-handed Miami Heat fought back from 14 points down to inflict back-to-back defeats on the Boston Celtics with a 98-95 victory.

Bam Adebayo top scored with 30 points and 15 rebounds for Miami, who were without Jimmy Butler due to a back injury. The Heat squared the game up at 87-87 in the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, before going on to win their sixth straight game at home.

Jayson Tatum, who scored 31 points with 14 rebounds, threw a pass that was intercepted by Tyler Herro in the final minute, before Payton Pritchard missed a desperation three-point attempt on the buzzer.

The Golden State Warriors blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead at home as the Brooklyn Nets prevailed 120-116 after 38 points from Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

The Nets outscored the Warriors 22-6 after the reigning NBA champions had led by 12 with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Irving scored a game-high 38 points, making five-of-seven three-point attempts, with seven rebounds and nine assists. Irving's performance was his third 30-point game in his past four.

Nic Claxton added a career-high 24 points with 15 rebounds and three blocks, while Ben Simmons contributed a game-high 11 assists. Royce O'Neale, who had 16 points, scored a go-ahead three-pointer with 27.1 seconds remaining.

Stephen Curry top scored for Golden State with 26 points, making four-of-eight from beyond the arc, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

Jonathan Kuminga added 20 points off the bench, while center Draymond Green had 11 rebounds and seven assists.

The Warriors' home loss means their record at the Chase Center falls to 17-6, having managed 3-2 on their recent road trip where they have struggled throughout this season.

Lakers complete stunning second-half turnaround

LeBron James scored 37 points with 11 rebounds while Thomas Bryant added 31 points as the Los Angeles Lakers stormed home for a 121-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers had trailed 71-46 at halftime after the Blazers put up 45 second-quarter points, but rallied in a remarkable second-half turnaround to improve to 22-25.

Bryant had 14 rebounds to go with his 31 points, while Dennis Schroder contributed 24 points. Anfernee Simons scored 31 points for Portland, with Damian Lillard adding 24.

OKC snap Nuggets' win streak

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit an eight-footer with 9.2 seconds remaining to end the Denver Nuggets' nine-game win streak as the Oklahoma City Thunder won 101-99. 

The Nuggets were without back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic for the second straight game with tightness in his left hamstring, with Jamal Murray top scoring in his absence with 26 points and nine assists. Murray missed an attempt on the buzzer to force overtime.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished the game with 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting with five rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Josh Giddey added 18 points and nine rebounds. The result also ended Denver's 17th game win streak at home.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray collected the first triple-double of his career as he filled in as his side's top option during Friday's 134-111 home victory against the Indiana Pacers.

The Nuggets were without reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic for the fifth time this season as he sat out with hamstring tightness, allowing Murray to slide in as the primary initiator in what was Denver's ninth consecutive win.

Murray made the most of his opportunity, producing a Jokic-like performance as he attempted only eight field goal attempts on his way to 17 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

He was not alone as the Nuggets shot 61 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from three-point range, with Aaron Gordon also dominating on his way to 28 points (11-of-15 shooting), six assists and five rebounds. 

Michael Porter Jr chipped in 19 points (eight-of-14 shooting) and eight rebounds, while Bruce Brown was everywhere on his way to 17 points (seven-of-11), five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block.

As a team, the Nuggets finished with 38 assists, which was just four away from the league's best total this season, which was set at 42 by the Brooklyn Nets in December.

Speaking after the game, Murray joked he would have more triple-doubles if he did not play with Jokic.

"He steals a lot of my triple-doubles," he said. "It was nice to finally get one on the board.

"I was just playing our game, playing aggressive. We were just having fun out there, the ball was hopping."

Fill-in head coach David Adelman – who is 3-0 while standing in for Michael Malone – spoke about how Murray's game changes with Jokic out of the team.

"I think sometimes you have to [take into consideration] that Jamal plays with Nikola – his job is to score," he said. "The facilitating has gotten better, but we're a unique team in that sense.

"Our guards are out there to cut, move, make plays and score baskets off Nikola, but there are nights where the coverage is what it is and he takes advantage of it.

"We've talked a lot about Aaron Gordon being a possible All-Star – we're the number one team in the West – if Jamal Murray is not in the conversation, then you don't value winning.

"All three of those guys have been so consistent throughout the year, they deserve the accolades they're getting."

The Nuggets are now 33-13, and sit one-and-a-half games clear atop the Western Conference.

Nikola Jokic wants to be remembered as a "really good team player" after making franchise history in the Denver Nuggets' 122-118 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The two-time reigning NBA MVP contributed 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds as the Nuggets improved to 32-13 on the season to sit top of the Western Conference.

Jokic now has 3,686 career assists, surpassing the tally of Alex English who had 3,679 in Nuggets colours. Moreover, he has reached his tally in 568 games as opposed to English's 837.

English himself paid tribute to Jokic's achievement, intimating he foresees a third MVP accolade in the near future, posting on Twitter: "I knew that eventually my all-time assist record would be broken. I'm honored to see that it's 2 time, I mean 3 time MVP of the NBA do it. Congrats big fella."

Jokic was typically humble when asked what it meant to earn a piece of Nuggets history.

"When you have a lot of assists, it just shows that you're a good team player," he said.

"That's something I want to be. I want everybody to remember me as a guy who was a really good team player."

Team-mate Jamal Murray, who nailed a game-tying three-pointer with a little over two minutes remaining, then hit the bucket that put the Nuggets into a lead they did not let go of, said of Jokic: "We clapped a little bit. That's a lot of passes. That's pretty impressive."

The Nuggets are next in action against the Indiana Pacers, who are 23-23 and ninth in the Eastern Conference, on Friday.

The Memphis Grizzlies' achieved a franchise record 11th straight win with Desmond Bane and Ja Morant starring in a thrilling 115-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Darius Garland had a three-point shot on the buzzer blocked by Dillon Brooks, after Steven Adams tipped in with 16 seconds left after Morant's miss.

Bane top scored for the Grizzlies with 25 points, including five-of-eight three-point shooting. Morant added 24 points with eight assists for Memphis, who improved to 31-13, along with 20-3 at home.

Morant had spent time in the locker room in the first quarter after copping a knee to his neck, but re-entered the game in the second quarter.

Game-winner Adams scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, while Jaren Jackson Jr had an excellent all-round game with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four blocks.

Memphis also managed an 11th consecutive game with 115 or more points.

The Cavs were missing Donovan Mitchell due to a groin strain, with Garland top scoring with 24 points on five-of-11 three-point shooting along with 14 assists.

Caris LeVert added 23 points with four rebounds and six assists, with power forward Evan Mobley scoring 18 points and bringing down 15 rebounds with two blocks. The Cavs are now 28-18.

Trae downs Doncic as Hawks win fourth straight

The Atlanta Hawks continued their run of momentum with their fourth straight win in a 130-122 victory over Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks.

Dejounte Murray scored 30 points, making four-of-six three-pointers, while John Collins added 19 along with 18 from Trae Young plus 12 assists, as the Hawks secured a season-best four-game winning streak to move above .500 at 23-22.

Doncic, who was traded as a top-five pick for Young at the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 30 points for the Mavs, but only 11 after quarter-time, while he gave up seven turnovers.

Jokic adds another franchise record in Nuggets win

Nikola Jokic recorded his 14th triple-double of the season as he surpassed Alex English for the most assists in franchise history in the Denver Nuggets' 122-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The MVP candidate finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, going past English's 3,680-assist franchise record with a dime for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Jamal Murray added 28 points for the Nuggets, who secured their eighth straight win and 15th successive victory at home to remain top in the west, at 32-13.

Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic took another step towards a third consecutive MVP after dominating the Portland Trail Blazers in a 122-113 victory on Tuesday.

Jokic was unstoppable offensively, finishing with 36 points on 13-of-14 shooting while adding 12 rebounds and 10 assists. 

In doing so, he became the first player in NBA history to record multiple 35-point triple-doubles while shooting at least 90 per cent from the field. Hall-of-Famer Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player with even one such game.

Jokic was supported well by Michael Porter Jr, who scored 23 points on nine-of-13 shooting, while Jamal Murray chipped in 17 points (six-of-15), seven assists, five rebounds and two steals.

For the Blazers, it was another spectacular showing from the franchise's all-time scoring leader as Damian Lillard had a game-high 44 points on 12-of-20 shooting with eight assists.

It continued a blistering run of form for Lillard, who is averaging a league-leading 39 points per game across his past six outings, although Portland have only been able to convert his stellar play into two wins from six.

With the victory, the Nuggets are now alone atop the Western Conference with a record of 31-13, which the Memphis Grizzlies can tie if they can secure their 11th consecutive win when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Holiday delivers for the Giannis-less Bucks

Jrue Holiday has set a new season-high points total in back-to-back games after putting up 37 in the Milwaukee Bucks' 130-122 triumph at home against the Toronto Raptors.

Holiday scored a season-high 35 on Monday against the Indiana Pacers in the first leg of the Bucks' back-to-back, and he followed it up with 37 against the Raptors.

He shot 16-of-26 from the field while adding seven assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block, and Fred VanVleet was just as good for Toronto.

VanVleet tied his season-high by scoring 39 points on 15-of-28 shooting, with nine rebounds and seven assists.

The Bucks are now 29-16 and occupy the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid bullies the Clippers

Joel Embiid was too big and too strong on his way to a game-high 41 points in the Philadelphia 76ers' 120-110 road win against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Embiid shot 12-of-22 from the field and 15-of-18 from the free throw line while adding nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks in a comprehensive performance.

Tobias Harris was sharp in a supporting role, snatching five steals in the first half while scoring 20 points on efficient eight-of-12 shooting.

For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard made it five consecutive games with at least 24 points and a steal as he begins to recapture his All-NBA form following a string of injuries.

LeBron James became the second player to 38,000 career NBA points before Russell Westbrook's failed final play as the Los Angeles Lakers lost 113-112 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

With the Sixers leading by one point, Westbrook rebounded after Joel Embiid missed a two-point shot with 16 seconds remaining, opting to advance the ball, rather than take a timeout, before failing to get a clean shot or pass away as the clock expired under defense from Embiid and Georges Niang.

The finish took some gloss off James' significant achievement, reaching the 38,000 career points mark in the first quarter, before finishing the game with 35 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Only one player in NBA history has more career points than James and that is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387. James is on track to surpass Abdul-Jabbar next month.

The game was tight throughout, with Embiid top scoring for the Sixers with 35 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the field with two three-pointers. Embiid also had 11 rebounds and four assists. James Harden contributed 24 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists.

Westbrook played 34 minutes of the bench with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists but four turnovers. That marked Westbrook's 198th career triple-double.

Jokic sinks late three to clinch Nugs win

Back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokic landed a step-back three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to secure the Denver Nuggets a 119-116 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Jokic finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season, with the Nugs clinching their 13th straight home win to remain top of the Western Conference.

Aaron Gordon added 25 points with eight rebounds and five assists, while Jamal Murray delivered 18 points with three three-pointers and seven assists.

Lillard leads Blazers past Mavs missing Doncic

Damian Lillard backed up with 40 points for the Portland Trail Blazers to complete a two-game back-to-back sweep of the Dallas Mavericks, 140-123.

Lillard shot 10-of-17 from the field and four-of-nine from three-point range with six assists for the Blazers, who had lost five in a row prior to the two games against Dallas.

The Mavs rested Luka Doncic after his season-low 15 points in Saturday's game, having starred in Thursday's double overtime win over the Lakers.

Bones Hyland spoke of building "championship habits" and hailed the latest Nikola Jokic masterclass after the Denver Nuggets savaged the Phoenix Suns at Ball Arena.

A 12th straight home victory for Denver, and a fourth successive win overall, kept the team top of the Western Conference, with the 126-97 margin reflecting a strong night's work.

Jokic fell just short of a 12th triple-double of the season, finishing with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, with Hyland contributing 21 for the Nuggets.

Hyland said of Jokic, who is making a strong case for a third MVP in a row: "Everybody in the world knows when he gets the ball and you go for a rebound, he's the greatest passer in the world, so when he gets the ball we just run.

"Ninety per cent of the time he's gonna make the right pass so when he's got it we run."

Hyland added after Wednesday's rout, according to the Denver Post: "I was really just feeling it. The basket felt like it was really wide. It was like shooting a rock into the ocean."

Speaking to Altitude TV in an on-court interview, Hyland said: "It's a night when we're playing our game.

"We've got a lot of dynamic players on our team, a lot of good shooters, so it's proving it in the season. We've got to focus on what we've got to focus on, build championship habits and just come out here and get a win."

Guard Murray suffered a left ankle problem late in the game, but coach Michael Malone does not expect him to miss any games.

Malone was impressed with the team's efforts and called for them to sustain a high level.

"Your home court has to have an advantage," Malone said. "Our fans have been terrific, and I just love how we’re playing. Once again, a good defensive performance that leads to our offense.

"We had 24 fast break points tonight to their six, we had 30 assists to only 11 turnovers. But the beginning of that is when we defend, and everything just flows from there.

"So hopefully we can continue to protect this home court at a high level through the regular season and into the playoffs."

Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 41 points and Jayson Tatum added 31 as the Boston Celtics claimed their fourth successive win with a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Brown recorded his first double-double in a half in his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while he added another 18 points in the third quarter.

The Celtics guard shot 15-of-21 from the field with three-of-six from three-point range along with 12 rebounds for the game.

Tatum went 10-of-22 from the field with 10 rebounds and four assists, with Malcolm Brogdon adding 20 points off the bench.

The game marked the seventh time this season that Brown and Tatum have scored at least 30 points each, which is joint for the most before February by two players from the same team in the last 40 seasons.

The other duos to have managed that are Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in 2018-19 and Denver's Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe in 1983-84.

The result improves the Celtics to 30-12 overall and 17-5 at the TD Garden, while the Pelicans lose ground on the top two in the west, falling to 25-17.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 points for the Pels, marking the first time in his career he had 20-plus points in a first half in consecutive games.

Jokic falls short of triple-double as Nuggets triumph

Nikola Jokic fell one assist short of a 12th triple-double of the season as the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets claimed their fourth straight win, 126-97 over the Phoenix Suns.

The reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Jokic finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, including a brilliant first-quarter look-away fling to Aaron Gordon.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, although he picked up an ankle complaint, while Bones Hyland contributed 21 for the Nuggets, who have claimed 11 wins in a row at home, along with winning 14 of their past 17.

Grizzlies secure eighth straight win

Ja Morant led the way as the Memphis Grizzlies secured an eighth consecutive victory to keep pressure on the Nuggets at the top of the west with a 135-129 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Morant scored 21 points in the first half, finishing the game with 38 along with five rebounds and four assists.

The Grizzlies guard also produced a big dunk over Jakob Poeltl in the third quarter, while his put-back with 24.1 seconds left in the fourth sealed the victory.

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