Jayson Tatum just missed a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and the Boston Celtics held off a late comeback attempt by the Miami Heat in Sunday's 110-106 victory that extended their winning streak to four games.

Kristaps Porzingis added 25 points and nine rebounds to help Boston defeat Miami for the third time in as many meetings this season. The Heat ousted the Celtics in seven games in last season's Eastern Conference finals.

Miami had a two-game winning streak snapped and was playing without leading scorer Jimmy Butler, who is away from the team due to the death of a family member. The Heat also lost starting guard Terry Rozier to a knee injury in the third quarter.

Porzingis had 16 first-half points as Boston took a 59-50 lead into the break, and the Celtics were up by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and owned a seemingly comfortable 94-82 advantage with 9 1/2 minutes left to play.

The Heat then went on a 10-2 run to get back in it, however, and later cut their deficit to two when Tyler Herro drilled a 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining that trimmed Boston's lead to 106-104.

Miami came up empty on its next two possessions, though, and Porzingis and Tatum combined to go 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the late stages to put the game away.

Herro scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the Heat, who also received 22 points and 13 rebounds from Bam Adebayo.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander, Williams carry Thunder past Kings

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 38 points and Jalen Williams chipped in 32 as the Oklahoma City Thunder got back on track with a 127-113 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Both players had hot shooting performances to help the Thunder bounce back from consecutive road losses to Utah and Dallas and move a half-game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves for first place in the Western Conference.  Gilgeous-Alexander finished 15 of 26 from the field while adding seven assists, while Williams was 13 of 20 to go along with nine rebounds.

The duo also recorded 19 first-half points each, with Williams producing eight during a 12-0 run that turned a tied game into a 41-29 Oklahoma City lead four minutes into the second quarter.

Oklahoma City took a 67-57 advantage into half-time before pulling away further in the third quarter, building a lead as large as 24 points.

Sacramento's Domantas Sabonis recorded 21 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists for his 17th triple-double of the season, two more than Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić for the NBA lead. 

Malik Monk had 26 points off the bench for the Kings, who have now lost three of their last four games. De'Aaron Fox finished with 15 points but was held to 6-of-17 shooting.

 

Daniel Gafford felt he was "already part of the mold" after impressing on his Dallas Mavericks debut.

Gafford, who was acquired this week in a trade from the Washington Wizards, finished with 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in an emphatic 146-111 victory for Dallas over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

Luka Doncic led with 32 points, while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 25, as the Mavs - who sit eighth in the Western Conference - made it four straight wins.

"Playing with guys like Luka, Kyrie, all the other guys that were on the floor, it just felt like I was already part of the mold," said Gafford, who featured for only 17 minutes and was rested in the fourth quarter.

Mavs coach Jason Kidd was delighted with Gafford's display, as he became the second-highest scoring debutant while coming on from the bench in Dallas' history.

"What we've seen playing against Gafford is that he gets every offensive rebound," Kidd said.

"And I thought he did that for us. And we’re going to need that."

Reflecting on Dallas' display, Kidd added: "The pace was high. We didn't have to run anybody’s minutes up. And that was something that we talked about. A lot, a lot of good stuff."

The same could not be said for the Thunder, who lost for the second straight game and were 47-30 down by the end of the first quarter.

"They shot it well early, but that’s where some of the transition, like straight up fast break plays really hurt you," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.

"When you're giving up easy ones and they're making shots, then that's how the 47 can happen in the first quarter."

Anthony Edwards claimed the Minnesota Timberwolves were "playing eight-on-five" due to the "terrible" officiating in their win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the West.

The T-Wolves opened up a lead to the Thunder at the top of the conference courtesy of a 107-101 victory in which Edwards scored 27 points.

But rather than revel in that win, Edwards focused on the referees after the game, furious with one particular call that saw a potential foul go unpunished after he drove to the basket inside the final two minutes.

The former first overall pick accepted he would be punished for his comments but did not appear to care.

"I'm going to take the fine, because the refs did not give us no calls tonight," he told the television broadcast, adding to ESPN: "The refs were bad tonight. Yeah, they were terrible. We were playing eight-on-five."

Edwards could at least take comfort in the result, saying: "The cat got their tongue tonight, so it's all good. It's not fair, but it's all good."

The 22-year-old was not alone in taking issue with the officiating in the NBA on Monday as Anthony Davis argued Dillon Brooks should have been ejected in the Los Angeles Lakers' loss to the Houston Rockets.

Houston were already well on their way to a 135-119 win when Brooks tussled with LeBron James and left the Lakers superstar on the floor holding his face, while the same Rockets player appeared to shove Jarred Vanderbilt in the air before the LA man was himself ejected following an altercation between the pair.

"You take a hard foul," said Davis. "It's part of basketball.

"But you're just not going to blatantly push someone in their back when they have no control of their body in the air. I think he should have got ejected for that.

"And then obviously you know that him and Bron have their whatever, and from what I saw, it was just a blatant hit on LeBron to the face."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suns bounce back by handing Heat seventh straight loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monty Williams believes the Detroit Pistons proved they care for the team after a morale-boosting win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Pistons have endured a dismal campaign, only snapping a 28-game losing streak at the end of December.

Detroit have since won a further three games, with their most recent victory coming on Sunday, in a 120-104 defeat of the Western Conference-leading Thunder, who were on a five-game winning spin.

Jalen Duren starred with 22 points and a career-best 21 rebounds for the Pistons, and while they remain rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with the league's worst record (6-40), Detroit are showing they care, says Williams.

"I just think our guys care," he said. "We had every reason to make excuses, a back-to-back against the best team in the West, and our guys just competed."

Making the Pistons' win even more impressive was the fact that Cade Cunningham, their leading scorer, was out due to a lingering knee issue.

Cunningham played in a defeat to the Washington Wizards on Saturday, but Williams did not want to risk his star player.

"We felt like, on a back-to-back, if there was any level of concern, we didn't feel good putting him out there," Williams said.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault, meanwhile, reflected on a poor all-round showing from his team.

"I thought it was an energy thing in both directions," Daigneault said.

"They played with great energy, beat us to balls, played with intensity, and as the game wore on, we couldn't drum up that same energy. They obviously deserved to win today."

Jalen Duren scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons ended the Oklahoma City Thunder's five-game winning streak with a surprising 120-104 victory on Sunday.

Duren finished 9 of 13 from the field and added six assists to lead Detroit, which owns the NBA's worst record, to just its sixth win of the season. Jaden Ivey compiled 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a game the Pistons held out leading scorer Cade Cunningham for injury management reasons. 

The Thunder entered the contest with a half-game lead over Minnesota for first place in the Western Conference, but went just 4 of 14 from 3-point range in the second half while shooting 39.1 per cent overall over the final two quarters.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander paced Oklahoma City with 31 points, while Jalen Williams had 20 in the loss.

The Pistons never trailed after outscoring the Thunder 17-8 to close out the first half, turning a 53-53 tie into a 70-61 lead at the break.

Detroit stretched the margin to 14 points early in the third quarter, but Gilgeous-Alexander had six points during a 12-4 run that cut Oklahoma City's deficit to 87-84 with under 4 1/2 minutes left in the period.

That was as close as the Thunder got, however, as the Pistons countered with a 13-2 spurt to take a 100-86 lead into the fourth quarter. 

 

Magic rally past Suns despite Booker's 44 points

Paolo Banchero scored 26 points and the Orlando Magic dominated the fourth quarter to overcome another prolific scoring performance from Phoenix's Devin Booker and rally for a 113-98 win over the Suns.

Booker finished with 44 points two nights after dropping a season-high 62 on the Pacers in Saturday's loss at Indiana, but he and the Suns' shooting went cold down the stretch as they failed to hold on to a 10-point third-quarter lead.

After Kevin Durant's jumper put Phoenix up 92-89 with 10:10 remaining, the Suns went more than eight minutes without a field goal as the Magic took the game over with a 21-2 run. Phoenix missed 11 straight shot attempts and committed five turnovers before Keita Bates-Diop's layup with 1:56 left ended the drought.

The Suns went 5 of 18 from the field while being outscored by a 31-13 margin in the fourth quarter, and their four made 3-pointers in 14 attempts was a season low. 

Booker had 42 points through three quarters but managed just two made free throws in the final period, while Durant was held to 15 points after entering the contest averaging 28.8 per game for the season. 

Moritz Wagner had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and added 12 rebounds as the Magic ended a two-game losing streak and earned just their third win in their last 10 games.

 

Bey's late dunk puts Hawks over slumping Raptors

Saddiq Bey capped a 26-point night with a putback dunk with 1.3 seconds left that lifted the Atlanta Hawks to a thrilling 126-125 victory over the slumping Toronto Raptors.

Bey dunked home the rebound of teammate Trae Young's missed shot to put Atlanta ahead for good during a frantic final sequence that saw three lead changes in the final 30 seconds.

Toronto had taken a 125-124 edge after Gradey Dick stole Young's errant pass and fed Scottie Barnes for a breakaway dunk with 7.4 seconds remaining.

Bey added a season-high 13 rebounds and was one of four Atlanta starters to record double-doubles as the Hawks halted a four-game losing streak. Young finished with 30 points and 12 assists, Clint Capela had 19 points and 14 rebounds and Jalen Johnson recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Barnes had 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to help the Raptors battle back after trailing 115-108 with under 5 1/2 minutes left, but Toronto was ultimately dealt a fifth straight loss and ninth in 10 games.

Jordan Nwora scored a season-high 24 points off the bench to go along with nine rebounds and six assists for the Raptors, who were playing without three key players as forward RJ Barrett, guard Immanuel Quickley and centre Jakob Poeltl all sat out with injuries. 

 

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points and Jalen Williams added 27 and eight assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder snapped the Utah Jazz’s six-game winning streak on Thursday with a 134-129 victory.

Josh Giddey had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Carson Wallace added a season-high 16 points for the Thunder, who had 19 fast-break points and shot 55.8 percent from the field.

Williams shot 11 of 14 and has scored at least 25 points in three straight games.

Colin Sexton scored 31 points and Lauri Markkanen had 26 but Utah had a nine-game home winning streak stopped.

Sexton made three free throws and dunked with 68 seconds left to get the Jazz within 130-126 but Wallace drilled a 3-pointer to extend Oklahoma City’s lead.

Brunson leads Knicks past Wizards

Jalen Brunson had 41 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the New York Knicks got past the Washington Wizards, winning 113-107.

Brunson shot 14 of 27 from the field and scored 18 of the Knicks’ 21 points during a long stretch of the fourth quarter, as New York extended a one-point lead to 105-97 with 86 seconds to play.

Julius Randle added 21 points and Donte DiVincenzo and OG Anunoby each had 19 to help the Knicks improve to 8-2 since acquiring Anunoby from Toronto.

Jordan Poole scored 24 points for Washington, which has lost eight of nine.

Short-handed Pacers defeat Kings

Bennedict Mathurin scored 25 points and the undermanned Indiana Pacers held off the Sacramento Kings in a 126-121 victory.

T.J. McConnell had 20 points and 10 assists and Jalen Smith added 17 points with 13 rebounds as Indiana won for the 10th time in 13 games.

The Pacers were without newly acquired Pascal Siakam and are still missing fellow All-Star Tyrese Haliburton due to a strained left hamstring. Aaron Nesmith (shin) and Andrew Nembhard (back) were also out and Isaiah Jackson left in the first quarter after taking a hit to the head.

Kevin Huerter scored a career-high 31 points with seven 3-pointers for the Kings, losers of four in a row.

Chauncey Billups lamented a "perfect storm" as the Portland Trail Blazers fell to a 139-77 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

The 62-point margin of defeat was the joint-fifth largest in NBA history and marked a record victory for the Thunder in franchise history.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander registered 31 points at Paycom Center and Jalen Williams 21, while Josh Giddey had a triple-double.

"It was almost like a perfect storm, to be honest with you," Billups told reporters after the game. "Nothing really worked for us.

"I mean, this was, sheesh – not much really good to say about this one for us. 

"I thought that we generated some pretty good looks in the first half. The fact that we couldn't make pretty much anything deflated us."

Only once before have the Trail Blazers been on the end of a worse defeat – a 65-point loss to Indiana Pacers in 1998.

The victory for Oklahoma City was their third in a row, having also defeated the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards this week.

Coach Mark Daigneault was particularly pleased with how his side adapted after returning home in the early hours of the same day.

"I thought we cleared a couple hurdles tonight," Daigneault said. 

"The first one was the start of the game, how ready we were to play and the energy we were able to generate with a tough schedule.

"It's mind over matter. And then the other hurdle was playing with a lead. I thought we played pretty well with a lead, both ends of the floor."

Oklahoma City's previous record margin of victory was 45 points, which they registered twice in the 2012-13 season.

The 26-11 Thunder are level with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the Western Conference. Portland are 10-27 and are in 14th.

Bobby Portis and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined to score 20 straight points during a 25-0 run midway through the first half and the Milwaukee Bucks coasted to a 135-102 rout of the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Portis finished with 28 points and Antetokounmpo added 24 while both players had 12 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 21 points in his return to the Bucks’ lineup after missing a 132-116 loss to Utah on Monday for personal reasons.

Milwaukee led by as many as 43 points and its 75-38 lead at the break was the fourth-biggest halftime advantage in franchise history.

Payton Pritchard scored 21 points for the Celtics, who missed 16 of their first 17 3-point attempts and finished 9 of 34 from deep. Boston was back in action after beating Minnesota in overtime on Wednesday and looked fatigued.

The Celtics allowed their highest point total of the season and dropped their second straight road game.

Giddey leads Thunder to historic rout

Josh Giddey had a triple-double and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder matched the fifth-largest rout in NBA history, 139-77 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jalen Williams scored 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting and Giddey finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which was on the wrong end of the NBA’s biggest blowout, a 73-point loss to Memphis on Dec. 2, 2021.

The Thunder’s 62-point win shattered their previous record for victory margin of 45 points, set twice during the 2012-13 season.

Portland shot a dismal 27.7 percent from the field and suffered its second-worst loss, having fallen by 65 to Indiana on Feb. 27, 1998.

Irving’s big game lifts Mavericks

Kyrie Irving poured in a season-high 44 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 32 to lead the short-handed Dallas Mavericks to a 128-124 win over the New York Knicks.

Josh Green scored 18 points, the last coming on a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give Dallas a 124-120 lead. Irving and Hardaway combined to make four free throws in the final 11.1 seconds to seal the win.

Dallas superstar Luka Doncic sat out with an ankle injury and Dereck Lively II and Dante Exum also missed the game.

Julius Randle scored 32 points and Jalen Brunson had 30 for the Knicks, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since acquiring OG Anunoby from Toronto on Dec. 30.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 36 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the NBA-leading Boston Celtics, 127-123 on Tuesday for their fifth straight win.

Josh Giddey had 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Thunder, who have won eight of nine. During that stretch, they have beaten defending champion Denver twice, ended the Clippers’ nine-game win streak, beat West-leading Minnesota by 23 and now the Celtics.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 34 points and Jayson Tatum added 30 as Boston had a six-game winning streak snapped.

Oklahoma City opened a 108-90 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics rallied to cut the deficit to 121-119.

Giddey hit a pair of free throws with 12.1 seconds left to put the Thunder up 4 before Porzingis hit a deep shot in the left corner with 3.7 seconds left to make it a two-point game.

Gilgeous-Alexander sealed the victory with a pair of free throws with 2.8 to play.

Embiid leads 76ers in return

Joel Embiid tallied 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his return from a sprained right ankle to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Embiid, who missed all four games on the 76ers’ holiday road trip, was 10 of 20 from the field and notched his seventh career triple-double in the third quarter. He extended his franchise records with 15 straight 30-point games and 14 consecutive games of 30 points and 10 rebounds.

Tyrese Maxey had 21 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 16 for the 76ers, who have won three straight and seven of eight at home.

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 16 points and Andre Drummond had 11 with 17 rebounds.

Rozier helps Hornets snap 11-game skid

Terry Rozier scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter after missing a game due to illness as the Charlotte Hornets stopped an 11-game skid with a 111-104 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Rozier shot 13 of 24 from the field and handed out six assists, while Miles Bridges added 27 points for Charlotte, which played without rookie Brandon Miller (bruised left hip), LaMelo Ball (right ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (left calf strain), Mark Williams (bruised lower back) and Frank Ntilikina (left tibia fracture).

De’Aaron Fox scored 30 points for Sacramento and Domantas Sabonis had 23 with 19 rebounds for his 15th straight double-double, tied for the NBA’s longest streak this season.

The Oklahoma City Thunder condemned the Denver Nuggets to their heaviest defeat of the season but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still says the defending NBA champions are "the level that you want to get to".

The Nuggets fell to their second defeat by Thunder in the space of two weeks and ended their six-match winning streak after a 119-93 defeat in Denver.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 40 points – his fifth 40-plus game this season and four shy of his career-best set last season – for the Thunder and Chet Holmgren added 24.

A pair of defeats to Oklahoma are Denver's only two in their last 11 games, although Gilgeous-Alexander was quick to credit the Nuggets.

"It's not a fluke they won the championship," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "They're a really good team and we know that every night we play them.

"You get out of bed to play against teams like that knowing they're at the level that you want to get to."

Gilgeous-Alexander also went 14 of 20 from the field and made all 10 of his free-throw attempts.

"He was just cruising. He let the game come to him," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. "It never seemed like he was forcing. Played the right way throughout, made the right passes, and kept them honest.

"It's kind of routine at this point but he played a great game."

Holmgren scored the Thunder's first 10 points of the game and finished with 24, hitting all four attempts from three-point range, and had two blocks.

"He's a threat on the court in so many ways and him drawing that attention only makes it easier for the guys around him, including myself," Gilgeous-Alexander said of his Oklahoma teammate.

Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Nuggets, who were without Aaron Gordon for a second straight game due to hand and facial injuries sustained from dog bites.

Yet Jokic also committed seven turnovers, two shy of his career high.

"You've got to be clean with the ball, you can't play in a crowd," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of the turnovers.

"It's something they do to most teams, but you're not going to give yourself a chance to win when you allow them to play to their strength."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 of his 40 points in the second half to help the surging Oklahoma City Thunder pull away for an impressive 119-93 road win over the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Friday.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished 14 of 20 from the field and a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line to lead the upstart Thunder to their sixth win in seven games.

Oklahoma City, which last reached the playoffs in the 2019-20 season, is now 21-9 and percentage points ahead of Denver for second place in the Northwest Division.

Chet Holmgren added 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting for the Thunder, who outscored Denver by a 34-20 margin in the third quarter to turn a six-point half-time lead into a commanding 88-68 advantage.

The Nuggets had a six-game winning streak halted despite another efficient outing from Nikola Jokić, who made 9 of 10 field goal attempts while compiling 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. 

Jokic's primary teammates were off the mark, however. Jamal Murray missed 11 of 15 field goal attempts while being held to nine points, while Michael Porter Jr. was 4 of 12 and ended with 12 points.

Antetokounmpo, Lillard rally Bucks past Cavaliers

The Milwaukee Bucks got 34 points and 16 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and a big second half from Damian Lillard to rally for a 119-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a clash of the Central Division's top teams.

Lillard scored 24 of his 31 points after half-time to help Milwaukee overcome an early 15-point deficit and post its ninth win in 10 games. The Bucks extended their lead on second-place Cleveland to six games in the division.

The Cavaliers had won five of six coming in and got top scorer Donovan Mitchell back from a four-game absence, with the four-time All-Star registering 34 points and nine assists in his return. Cleveland also got a big effort from Jarrett Allen in defeat, as the centre amassed a career-high 30 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while finishing 15 of 17 from the field.

Cleveland owned a 50-35 lead midway through the second quarter before the Bucks closed the gap to 59-52 at the break. Milwaukee then opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run, then later put together an 11-0 spurt to claim an 88-73 advantage with under three minutes remaining in the period.

Both Antetokounmpo and Lillard had 14 points in the pivotal third quarter.

The Cavs were able to cut Milwaukee's lead to 115-111 inside the final minute, but didn't make a shot the rest of the way and the Bucks sealed the game with four late free throws.

Milwaukee finished 25 of 28 from the foul line, while Cleveland attempted just nine free throws on the night.

 

Wagner, Banchero lead Magic over Knicks

Franz Wagner had 32 points and Paolo Banchero added 29 as the Orlando Magic got back on track with a 117-108 victory over the New York Knicks.

Orlando bounced back from Wednesday's 20-point home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers behind strong performances from its two young stars. Wagner finished 11 of 19 from the field to go along with nine rebounds, while Banchero had 10 boards and scored 15 points in the second half.

Jalen Suggs contributed 21 points for the Magic, who never trailed after stringing together a 14-1 run in the second quarter that turned a 33-33 tie into a comfortable 47-34 lead.

The Knicks battled back behind Julius Randle, who finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, but could only get their deficit down to five points in the game's late stages.

Wagner helped Orlando hold on by recording 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.

Jalen Brunson had 20 points for New York, which has now lost two straight, but was held to 4-of-15 shooting from the field.

 

 

Kevin Durant registered a career-high 16 assists to go with 27 points and 10 rebounds in his 18th career triple-double on Wednesday, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 129-113 win over the Houston Rockets.

Durant shot 9 of 16 from the field and 3 of 7 from 3-point range as Phoenix snapped a three-game losing streak with it first road victory since Nov. 26.

Eric Gordon also scored 27 points in his first game back in Houston since being traded in February. He had 17 points in the Suns’ 43-point second quarter.

Alperen Sengun had 24 points and Jalen Green added 23 for the Rockets, who have lost four of six following a five-game winning streak.

Gilgeous-Alexander, Williams help Thunder win

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams scored 36 points apiece and Williams sank a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 129-120 victory over the New York Knicks.

Chet Holmgren added 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting as the Thunder followed Tuesday’s triumph over Western Conference-leading Minnesota with their fifth win in six games.

Williams scored 17 points on 6 of 7 from the field in the fourth quarter, including eight points and two 3s during a 10-2 run after the Knicks cut their deficit to five with 4:37 remaining.

Julius Randle had 25 points and Jalen Brunson added 24 for New York, which had won three of four.

Antetokounmpo, Bucks handle undermanned Nets

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled away for a 144-122 win over the short-handed Brooklyn Nets.

Khris Middleton added 27 points and 10 boards and Cameron Payne and Malik Beasley each hit five 3-pointers as the Bucks improved to 10-2 this month.

Milwaukee shot 23 of 51 from 3-point range and 58.4 percent (52 for 89) overall to bounce back from a Christmas Day loss to the Knicks.

The Nets rested three starters (Spencer Dinwiddie, Nic Claxton and Cam Johnson) and barely played two others one night after a victory in Detroit extended the Pistons’ losing streak an NBA-record 27.

LeBron James scored a season-high 40 points as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their four-game losing run against the Oklahoma City Thunder, then hailed a big win for a team which had found themselves in "desperate times".

The Lakers struggled for form in the aftermath of winning the inaugural NBA in-season tournament earlier this month, losing four in a row ahead of Saturday's trip to Paycom Center.

That slide led Anthony Davis to describe the game as a "must win" for the Lakers, and they held off a late Thunder resurgence to improve to 16-14 with a 129-120 triumph,

James was 13 of 20 from the field throughout a dominant performance, hitting five three-pointers without missing while also adding seven rebounds and seven assists.

Speaking after the game, the NBA's all-time leading scorer said: "We needed this win. We didn't want to end the road trip on a losing effort. 

"We came here on a tough back-to-back, started the game well then just lost energy, ran out of steam. 

"This was one of the first must-win games of the season for us. We understand how well this team had been playing, but we were able to play a really good game."

On his own 40-point haul, the 75th of his storied career, James said: "It helped us get this win versus a good team in the Western Conference, one that we really needed. 

"We were desperate for this win and desperate times call for desperate measures.

"To know I can go out and still make game-winning plays, can affect the game in multiple ways and can still close out a game in the fourth quarter when our team needed it… it's always a good feeling, for sure."

The Thunder had trailed by 26 points but cut that deficit to eight midway through the fourth quarter, only for James to score 11 points in the final four minutes and 30 seconds to get Los Angeles over the line.

The result dropped the Thunder to 18-9, though they still sit third in the Western Conference and coach Mark Daigneault expects them to learn from the defeat.

"They came out like a team that was desperate for a win," Daigneault said of the Lakers. "I didn't think we came out poor or sloppy or soft or anything like that.

"We just didn't amp it up to the level that we needed to, in that first half especially. We allowed them to get into a groove. 

"I thought that was really the game right there. So it's a good lesson for us."

Anthony Davis labelled Saturday's clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a "must win" for the skidding Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers lost for a fourth straight game as they went down 118-111 at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.

Their record since winning the NBA's inaugural in-season tournament is now 1-5.

And while there were green shoots of recovery against the Timberwolves, Davis knows the skid has to stop.

"It's the NBA season. There's going to be ups, there's going to be downs. Right now we're in that down period," said Davis, who finished with 31 points and eight rebounds.

"We've just got to continue to fight and continue to play hard. Play with some effort, some energy and we're treating Saturday as a must win.

"We've got to still buckle down and find ways to get wins.

"So after 30 [games], I think it's still tough to assess, but we know what we can be. We've shown what we can be. And we've shown that if we don't do the things we need to do to be successful then we're going to continue to be on this side of our record, which is losing."

The Lakers were without LeBron James, though the veteran is expected to be fit to face the Thunder, who are second in the Western Conference and beat the other Los Angeles team – the Clippers – on Thursday.

That snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Clippers, who lost 134-115.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points while Chet Holmgren nailed an innovative dunk off the backboard to propel the Thunder to a third straight win.

James Harden and Paul George chipped in with 23 points and 22 points respectively for the Clippers, who were without talisman Kawhi Leonard.

"Obviously, they’re a super talented group," Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Clippers. "A bunch Hall of Famers over there, and we knew what the task was waking up this morning."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged: "They did a good job of just attacking us.

"We couldn't get back, we couldn't get set, we couldn't get matched, and they took advantage of that early."

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