Donovan Mitchell said he was "tired" of losing in the first round of the NBA Playoffs after his 39-point haul dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.

The Cavs were on the brink of an early exit as they trailed the Orlando Magic by 18 points in Game 7, only for Mitchell to turn the contest on its head with a stunning third quarter.

Mitchell outscored the entire Orlando team by two points in the third, when he poured in 17 of his 39 points.

Darius Garland then scored 10 points to help Cleveland pull clear in the fourth as they claimed a 106-94 victory, winning a playoff series without LeBron James for the first time since 1993.

Mitchell, who has been playing through a lingering knee injury for much of the season, says postseason success has always been the aim since his 2022 trade from the Utah Jazz.   

"I'm tired of losing in the first round. You work too hard, we work too hard," Mitchell said. "That was my mindset, just to be in attack mode. 

"I'm battling through what I'm battling through, but I could battle through it and figure it out or rehab it for the next three or four months. That's where I'm at mentally.

"We didn't make the group we made just to come in and win the first round. We accomplished one goal, now we have to do it again. That's the mindset. 

"When they traded for me, it wasn't just to win a first-round series, it was to continue to push and move forward. I think that's where all of our heads are at."

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Mitchell: "He's the guy that can pull everybody along, not just with his skill but in spirit as well. 

"When you see your team-mate, a guy you care about playing that way, you don't want to let that guy down so you go out and do whatever you can to help that guy.

"We talk about how everybody has their style and their piece of leadership here and that's how Don leads, by being special in the moment. His team-mates want to be a part of it."

Trailing by 18 points in Game 7, the Cleveland Cavaliers' season appeared to be over. Donovan Mitchell, however, had other ideas.

Mitchell scored 39 points to help rally the Cavaliers to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Fouth-seeded Cleveland, who won their first playoff series since 2018, will now face the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Tuesday's series opener.

The Cavaliers won their first playoff series without LeBron James since 1993, though it looked like they were heading for a second straight first-round exit as they found themselves trailing 49-31 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Cavs cut it to 10 at half-time, and Mitchell helped Cleveland complete the comeback with a sensational third quarter.

After finishing with 50 points in Friday's 103-96 Game 6 loss, Mitchell had two more points than the entire Magic team in the third, scoring 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting as Cleveland outscored Orlando 33-15 to take a 76-68 lead into the fourth.

The Magic stayed within striking distance throughout the first half of the final period until Darius Garland finally found his shot.

Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the final six minutes of the game, a stretch that began with a made 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by 11 points.

The Magic only connected on 3-of-15 3-point attempts after half-time and made just 4-of-24 shots (16.7 per cent) in the pivotal third quarter.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 38 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds but Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined for just 16 points on 3-of-28 shooting.

At 21 years and 175 days old, Banchero became the second-youngest player in NBA history to have at least 35 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game. The only player younger was Magic Johnson (20 years, 276 days) on May 16, 1980.

Caris LeVert added 15 off the bench for the Cavaliers, while Evan Mobley had 11 points and a playoff career-high 16 boards.

Cleveland again played without All-Star centre Jarrett Allen, who sat out the final three games of the series due to a rib contusion.

He averaged 17 points and 13.8 rebounds in the series' first four games, and his status for Game 1 in Boston is uncertain.

Trailing by 18 points in Game 7, the Cleveland Cavaliers' season appeared to be over.

Donovan Mitchell, however, then took over.

Mitchell scored 39 points to help rally the Cavaliers to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Fouth-seeded Cleveland, which won its first play-off series since 2018, will now face the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Tuesday's series opener.

 

The Cavaliers won their first play-off series without LeBron James since 1993, though it looked like the team was headed to a second straight first-round exit as Cleveland found itself trailing 49-31 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Cavs cut it to 10 at half-time, and Mitchell helped Cleveland complete the comeback with a sensational third quarter.

After finishing with 50 points in Friday's 103-96 Game 6 loss, Mitchell had two more points than the entire Magic team in the third, scoring 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting as Cleveland outscored Orlando 33-15 to take a 76-68 lead into the fourth.

The Magic stayed within striking distance throughout the first half of the final period until Darius Garland finally found his shot.

Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the final six minutes of the game, a stretch that began with a made 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by 11 points.

The Magic only connected on 3-of-15 3-point attempts after half-time and made just 4-of-24 shots (16.7 per cent) in the pivotal third quarter.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 38 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds but Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined for just 16 points on 3-of-28 shooting.

At 21 years and 175 days old, Banchero became the second-youngest player in NBA history to have at least 35 points and 15 rebounds in a play-off game. The only player younger was Magic Johnson (20 years, 276 days) on May 16, 1980.

Caris LeVert added 15 off the bench for the Cavaliers, while Evan Mobley had 11 points and a play-off career-high 16 boards.

Cleveland again played without All-Star centre Jarrett Allen, who sat out the final three games of the series due to a rib contusion.

He averaged 17 points and 13.8 rebounds in the series' first four games, and his status for Game 1 in Boston is uncertain.

The Orlando Magic survived a "special" Donovan Mitchell showing to overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers and force Game 7 in the NBA Playoffs.

Mitchell posted 50 points but that was not enough for the Cavaliers, who will have home advantage on Sunday in the winner-takes-all decider after their 103-96 loss in Game 6.

Mitchell's half-century haul tied for the second most in a loss in a potential series clincher in NBA history, according to ESPN.

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley was quick to heap praise on Mitchell as Orlando edged through to a series decider.

"He was going, but the other guys didn't have it going as much," Mosley said. "No one overreacted [to Mitchell]. He's a special, special player.

"To be able to have 50 and only make three 3s, that's very special. But our ability not to overreact or panic to what was happening because we continued to share it, move it, trust each other."

Mitchell scored all his team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3s.

The Cavaliers star fell one point shy of matching the franchise playoff scoring record set by LeBron James, who had 51 in May 2018 against Golden State in the NBA Finals.

"We missed shots. Mine went in, but if it's not 50 maybe it's 60 or whatever it is," Mitchell said. "Maybe it's 30-10-10, whatever the game calls for. It is what it is.

"We didn't win the game. If I had 20 more, we would be up 20 more. Whatever the game calls for, it's my job to figure it out."

Cleveland won Games 1, 2 and 5 but Mitchell says previous encounters will be meaningless come the decider.

"All of the stuff you've done for six games all goes out the window," Mitchell said. "It's all about desperation and will.

"It's going to be just like tonight – find ways to continually be relentless. I have no doubt that we'll show up."

Franz Wagner had 26 points and Jalen Suggs added 22 for the Magic, who have not won a series for 14 years.

"Anything they have done to try and throw us off our game, knock us off balance, we've responded to it," Suggs said.

"We didn't want to end it here, and I think we all found comfort in that – in understanding how much pressure, you can call it, is on this game. But it was just another game for all of us."

Kyrie Irving scored 28 of his 30 points in the second half and Luka Dončić added 28 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Los Angeles Clippers, 114-101, to advance to the Western Conference semifinals on Friday.

The fifth-seeded Mavericks beat the Clippers for the first time in three first-round tries over the last five seasons and will open the West semis at top-seeded Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Paul George had 18 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden added 16 points and 13 assists but was 5 of 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range as Los Angeles was eliminated in the first round for the second straight season.

Irving was limited to two points in the first half but shot 10 of 13 from the floor after halftime and gave the Mavs their biggest lead at 106-82 with a flashy four-point play with 5:38 remaining.

Dallas broke a 52-52 halftime tie by outscoring Los Angeles 35-20 in the third quarter and were never seriously threatened thereafter.

P.J. Washington had 14 points with four 3s and Daniel Gafford contributed 13 points with several emphatic baskets down low.

Magic survive Mitchell’s 50 to force Game 7

Paolo Banchero scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Orlando Magic overcame Donovan Mitchell’s 50 points in a 103-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to force Game 7 in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Banchero carried the Magic to their biggest win in years and hit a 3-pointer with 3:39 left to put Orlando ahead for good, 92-89.

Franz Wagner had 26 points and Jalen Suggs added 22 with six 3s for the Magic, who are seeking their first series win in 14 years.

Game 7 is Sunday in Cleveland, where the Cavs won Games 1, 2 and 5, compared to seven straight road playoff losses dating to a LeBron James-led Game 7 victory at Boston in the 2018 Eastern Conference finals.

Mitchell scored all his team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3s. He fell one point shy of matching the franchise playoff scoring record set by James, who had 51 on May 31, 2018, against Golden State in the NBA Finals.

Darius Garland scored 21 points and Max Strus (10) was the only other Cav in double figures. Cleveland shot 7 of 28 from 3-point range and was outscored 22-5 from the free throw line.

The Denver Nuggets are on the brink of sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers after opening up a 3-0 lead in the teams' first-round series on Thursday, registering their 11th straight win against them.

Aaron Gordon had a playoff career-high 29 points and added 15 rebounds, while Nikola Jokic was just short of a triple-double with 24 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists as Denver clinched a 112-105 win.

Having squandered a big lead in Game 2, the Lakers failed to respond at home as the Nuggets began the second half with a 24-10 run to pull away from their hosts. Los Angeles failed to get closer than eight points in the fourth. 

LeBron James had 26 points, six rebounds and nine assists, while Anthony Davis had 33 points and 15 rebounds, but Los Angeles were let down by their shooting from the field.

They shot just 5 of 27 from the floor, missing with 15 of their first 16 3-point attempts. 

Game 4 takes place at Crypto.com Arena on Saturday, with the Lakers needing to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a 0-3 playoff deficit to keep James' 21st season alive. 

A small group of home fans showed their displeasure with head coach Darvin Ham after the loss, staying behind to chant, "fire Darvin" as the rest of the crowd filtered out.

Embiid's half-century takes Knicks-Sixers to 2-1

Joel Embiid's huge 50-point haul breathed fresh life into the Philadelphia 76ers' series with the New York Knicks, bringing the Sixers back to 2-1 after two road losses to start the playoffs.

The 76ers triumphed 125-114 as Embiid became the first player in playoff history to score 50 points on fewer than 20 shots in a game, going 13 of 19 from the floor and making 19 of 21 free throws.

Philadelphia were three down at the half but produced a huge third quarter, Embiid dragging his team into a 98-85 lead with four 3s in that period.

Tyrese Maxey supported Embiid with 25 points and seven assists, after the NBA admitted the officials missed a foul on him in the closing stages of the Sixers' controversial Game 2 loss.

Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 39 points and 13 assists while Josh Hart tacked on 20 points, but Donte DiVincenzo only had five after hitting the decisive 3-pointer in Game 2.

Cavs suffer worst playoff loss as Magic hit back

The Orlando Magic also hit back after losing the first two games of their first-round series, dealing the Cleveland Cavaliers the heaviest loss in their playoff history on Thursday.

Taking the series back to Kia Center after a pair of road losses, Orlando recorded a 121-83 win behind Paolo Banchero's 31 points, with Jalen Suggs adding 24 for the fifth seeds in the East.

Orlando led by as many as 43 points in the fourth quarter before ultimately settling for a 38-point margin. The Cavs' previous worst playoff loss was a 36-point defeat to the Washington Wizards in 2008.

Franz Wagner tacked on 16 points and eight assists for Orlando, who now have the chance to level the series at home in Game 4 on Sunday.

Cleveland had four players in double figures but none managed more than the 15 put up by both Jarrett Allen and Caris Levert, the visitors shooting a miserable 8 of 34 (23.5 per cent) from the floor. 

Donte DiVincenzo's go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds left highlighted a furious late rally that propelled the New York Knicks to a crucial 104-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Monday's Game 2 of an Eastern Conference quarter-finals series. 

Down 101-96 in the final minute, the second-seeded Knicks scored the game's final eight points to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Philadelphia for Thursday's Game 3.

DiVincenzo finished with 19 points and Jalen Brunson had 24 along with eight rebounds and six assists for New York, which also got a big effort from center Isaiah Hartenstein to overcome a 10-point deficit late in the first half.

Hartenstein scored all 14 of his points in the second half on 7-of-7 shooting while helping the Knicks contain 76ers' star Joel Embiid. The reigning NBA MVP managed 34 points and 10 rebounds, but made good on just 12 of 29 field goal attempts and missed a potential tying 3-point try at the buzzer.

Tyrese Maxey ended just shy of a triple-double for seventh-seeded Philadelphia, as he compiled 35 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

The Sixers trailed 90-82 early in the fourth quarter before outscoring New York 19-6 over a seven-minute stretch to pull ahead late. Maxey's jumper with 2:22 to go gave Philadelphia a 97-96 edge, and the All-Star buried a 3-pointer shortly afterward to extend the lead to four entering the final minute.

Brunson gave New York some life with a 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 101-99, and after Maxey turned it over on the ensuing possession, DiVincenzo knocked down a 26-footer on a second-chance attempt to send the Knicks in front.

Maxey then couldn't get a contested layup to fall with 6.6 seconds left, and New York's OG Anunoby was fouled after grabbing the rebound before making both free throws ahead of Embiid's game-ending miss. 

Nuggets rally from 20 points down to stun Lakers in Game 2

The Denver Nuggets also took a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference series with the Los Angeles Lakers after overcoming a 20-point second-half deficit to rally for a stunning 101-99 win.

Jamal Murray capped Denver's improbable comeback by hitting a game-winning 15-foot jumper with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.

Murray scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and Nikola Jokić had 15 points after half-time to also spark the defending NBA champions. Jokic ended the night with a 27-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

Anthony Davis finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who appeared on the verge of sending the series back to Los Angeles all tied up after opening up a 68–48 lead two minutes into the third quarter.

Second-seeded Denver trailed 74-55 near the midway point of the third before getting back in it with a 10-0 run. The Nuggets later went on a 10-1 spurt to pull within 83-81 on Murray's layup with 6:45 remaining.

Murray was later fouled with 57.6 seconds left and made both free throws to forge a 97-97 tie. LeBron James answered with a layup on the ensuing possession to put Los Angeles back ahead, but Murray sunk a step-back jumper with 30 seconds remaining to even the score once again.

James then misfired on a 3-point try and the Nuggets secured the rebound before getting the ball to Murray, who knocked down the game-winner right before the buzzer sounded with Davis contesting the shot.

James had 26 points and 12 rebounds, while D'Angelo Russell netted 23 points for the Lakers while going 7 of 11 from 3-point range.

Game 3 will take place Thursday night.

Cavaliers shut down Magic again to take 2-0 series lead

Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points and Jarrett Allen led another strong defensive effort for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who took a 2-0 lead in their first-round series against the Orlando Magic by recording a 96-86 win.

After holding the Magic under 33 per cent shooting in Saturday's series opener, fourth-seeded Cleveland forced 17 turnovers and limited No. 5 seed Orlando to a 36.2 per cent rate from the field to move within two wins of advancing.

Allen particularly made his presence felt by corralling 20 rebounds along with three blocks and two steals. The standout center also contributed 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Evan Mobley added 17 points and Darius Garland had 15 in a game the Cavaliers never trailed while taking control early by building a 30-18 lead after one quarter.

Cleveland's margin grew as high as 17 points in the second quarter as the Magic continued to struggle to score, and Mitchell registered 19 of his points in the first half to help send the Cavs into the break owning a 58-44 advantage.

Orlando never seriously threatened in the second half and will now attempt to reverse momentum when it returns home to host Game 3 on Thursday. 

Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 21 points and Franz Wagner had 18 for Orlando, though all but one of those points came during the first half.

 

Joel Embiid shook off an apparent injury to finish with 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and the Philadelphia 76ers extended their winning streak to seven with a 125-113 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Embiid had 21 points, nine boards and seven assists in the first 17 minutes but appeared to land awkwardly on his left knee late in the first half. He limped to midcourt and gave up on the play.

After coach Nick Nurse called timeout, Embiid went straight to the locker room. But he returned for the second half and promptly hit a 3-pointer on his first touch of the third quarter.

Orlando, Indiana and Philadelphia are all 46-35 after the Pacers lost to Cleveland and are fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.

Franz Wagner scored 24 points and Paolo Banchero added 22 for Orlando, which dropped its third straight game. The Magic can win the Southeast Division with a victory over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Spurs rally to stun Nuggets

Devonte’ Graham scored on a floater in the lane with 0.9 seconds remaining and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 23-point deficit for a 121-120 win over the Denver Nuggets, who may have suffered a potentially damaging loss.

The loss dropped Denver out of sole possession of first place in the Western Conference and into a tie with Minnesota and Oklahoma City. After tiebreakers, the Timberwolves are first, the Thunder and second and the Nuggets are third heading into the final day of the regular season on Sunday.

Victor Wembanyama had 34 points and 12 rebounds for the West-worst Spurs, who trailed 76-53 early in the third quarter and were still down 17 early in the fourth.

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić had 22 and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, who close the regular season Sunday at Memphis.

Thunder handle depleted Bucks

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder boosted their chances at capturing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 125-107 win over the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks.

Chet Holmgren had 22 points and nine rebounds and Aaron Wiggins added 19 points for the Thunder, who won their fourth straight and ended the night tied for the top seed in the West after Denver lost to San Antonio and Minnesota beat Atlanta.

Milwaukee played without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (strained left calf) and All-Star Damian Lillard (sore left adductor) and dropped into a tie with the Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the East. The Bucks can still finish second with a win at Orlando on Sunday or a New York loss to Chicago.

Stephen Curry believes overcoming Draymond Green's ejection to clinch a 103-91 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday said much about the Golden State Warriors' character.

Green was ejected for the fourth time this season just four minutes into Wednesday's game at Kia Center, being called for two technical fouls in a matter of moments.

The forward reacted angrily to Curry being pulled up for a shooting foul and continued to remonstrate with the officials after his first technical, with a second being called soon afterwards.

Green's exit left his team-mates in a tough situation, but they rallied to make it back-to-back wins as Curry scored 17 points in support of Andrew Wiggins (23).   

"Nothing is guaranteed in this league," Curry said after the game. "The way that we went out and competed, the way the season is going, that's the way you see how your back is against the wall. 

"I don't know how many people would have picked us in this kind of game, a back-to-back setting, down two starters, and we found a way to fight to get a win."

The Warriors are now up to 38-34 as they battle for a Play-In spot, but Curry says they cannot afford to keep losing Green if they are to make the postseason.

Green is the first player to be tossed four times in a single NBA season since Kevin Durant walked five times in 2017-18, while he is the only player with multiple first-quarter dismissals in a season over the last 20 years.

He had been on his best behaviour after missing 12 games through suspension for striking Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December, and Curry knows his team-mate needs to remain on the right side of the line. 

"We need him. He knows that. We all know that," Curry said of Green. "So whatever we need to do to keep him on the floor and available, that's what's got to happen. 

"Especially at this point in the year. It was a tough way to start the game. We know how important this part of the season is in our ability to get into a rhythm and secure a Play-In opportunity.

"We don't want to give ourselves self-inflicted wounds. We all care. We all are passionate about the game and our chances to have something to play for down the stretch. 

"You give everything you've got to this game. That's the emotion."

The Warriors round off a testing five-game road stretch in the coming days, facing the Charlotte Hornets on Friday before taking on the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Nikola Jokić had 35 points and 16 rebounds and Michael Porter Jr. scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Denver Nuggets to a 113-109 win over the undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in a matchup of Western Conference heavyweights.

Jamal Murray had 18 points and 11 assists and Aaron Gordon added 14 with 11 rebounds as the Nuggets won for the sixth time in seven games to move within percentage points of idle Oklahoma City for the West lead.

Denver blew an 18-point lead in less than 12 minutes but Jokic hit a 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining and sank a floater with 44 seconds to go for a 109-103 lead.

Mike Conley’s 3 with 12 seconds made it a two-point game, but the Nuggets sank four free throws down the stretch and Anthony Edwards missed a potential tying 3 from the wing at the buzzer.

Edwards had 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and Jaden McDaniels contributed 26 points for the Wolves, who had won three straight.

Minnesota played at home for the first time in 15 days and was without its top three big men - Karl-Anthony Towns (knee), Rudy Gobert (ribs) and Naz Reid (head).

Green drops 42 for surging Rockets

Jalen Green matched a career high with 42 points and the Houston Rockets defeated the Washington Wizards, 137-114, for their sixth consecutive win.

Green scored 15 points in the third quarter and finished with 10 rebounds. He previously scored 42 points against Minnesota on Jan. 23, 2023.

Amen Thompson scored 25 points and Jabari Smith Jr. added 18 with 14 rebounds for Houston, which moved within 2 ½ games of Golden State for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

Justin Champagnie and Jules Bernard scored 16 points apiece for the league-worst Wizards, who lost their fifth straight.

Magic roll past Hornets

Cole Anthony scored 17 of his 21 points in the second quarter and Jalen Suggs added 19 points to lead the Orlando Magic to their fourth straight win, 112-92 over the Charlotte Hornets.

Paolo Banchero and Moritz Wagner each scored 13 points for the Magic, who led 67-32 at halftime and won their ninth in 11 games to extend their lead over second-place Miami in the Southeast Division.

Orlando clinched at least a play-in berth in the Eastern Conference and secured just its second non-losing season since 2011-12.

Brandon Miller had 21 points and fellow rookie Vasilije Micic added 20 as Charlotte lost its third straight and dropped to 2-10 in its past 12 games.

Joel Embiid set a Philadelphia 76ers' franchise record with 70 points in a dominant performance that powered the Eastern Conference contenders to a 133-123 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Embiid broke Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's team single-game record that had stood for over 56 years while also setting a season high with 18 rebounds. The reigning NBA MVP finished 24 of 41 from the field and 21 of 23 from the foul line.

Chamberlain's previous franchise record of 68 points took place against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 16, 1967.

Embiid began his historic night with 24 points in the first quarter and had 34 by half-time, though the 76ers held a slim 62-58 lead at the intermission.

The superstar centre didn't let up in the third quarter, as he recorded 25 points for the period to help Philadelphia pull away for its sixth straight victory.

Kelly Oubre Jr. capped a 12-4 run with a 3-point play with 6:38 left in the third to stretch the lead to 85-72, and the Sixers maintained a double-digit advantage for nearly the entire rest of the way.

Embiid re-entered the game midway through the fourth quarter and hit the 70-point mark with a steal and layup with 1:41 remaining.

Victor Wembanyama had an impressive game of his own in Embiid's shadow, as the Spurs' rookie sensation posted 33 points and seven rebounds in just 28 minutes.

Devin Vassell added 22 points for San Antonio, which had snapped a four-game losing streak with Saturday's 131-127 win over the Washington Wizards.

Timberwolves lose to Hornets despite Towns' team-record 62 points

Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns had a prolific record-setting performance of his own Monday, though his 62 points still weren't enough to prevent the Timberwolves from a stunning 128-125 home loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets, currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, overcame an 18-point deficit late in the third quarter to shock the Western-leading Timberwolves and win for the second time in three games.

Towns made 10 of 15 attempts from 3-point range and ended 21 of 35 overall from the field to surpass his own Timberwolves' single-game record of 60 points, set against San Antonio on March 14, 2022.

The three-time All-Star had 58 points through three quarters as Minnesota owned a seemingly comfortable 107-92 lead, but the Hornets hit five 3-pointers while opening the fourth on a 21-7 run to quickly pull to within one.

Minnesota was clinging to a 121-120 edge with 3 1/2 minutes left before Charlotte scored six straight points, capped by Brandon Miller's jumper off a LaMelo Ball steal that gave the Hornets a 126-121 advantage with two minutes to play.

Miller scored seven of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, while Miles Bridges had 28 points for the Hornets and Ball compiled 18 points and 13 assists. 

The Timberwolves have lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season, previously doing so from Jan. 1-3.

Merrill's hot shooting gives Cavaliers' eighth straight win

The Cleveland Cavaliers remained the league's hottest team by rolling to a 126-99 rout of the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to eight games.

Sam Merrill went 8 of 13 from 3-point range to lead Cleveland with 26 points, while Donovan Mitchell had 25 points along with 13 assists in a game the Cavs never trailed and were up by as many as 36 points.

Merrill scored 20 of his points in the first half as Cleveland cruised to a 72-47 lead at half-time. The Cavaliers shot 59.5 per cent for the first two quarters and 59.1 per cent in the third to move into the fourth holding a commanding 107-74 advantage.

Paolo Banchero led the struggling Magic with 18 points and Franz Wagner added 17. Orlando has now lost nine of its last 13 games and is 7-14 since Dec. 15.

 

Tyrese Haliburton tallied 31 points and 12 assists and the Indiana Pacers erupted for 47 points in the third quarter to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 142-130 for their fifth straight win on Wednesday.

Bennedict Mathurin added 16 points and Obi Toppin and Bruce Brown each added 15 as Indiana beat Central-leading Milwaukee for the second time in three days and improved to 4-1 in the season series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Damian Lillard had 23 points with five assists. Milwaukee has lost two straight for the first time since Nov. 9 and 11.

The Pacers entered the third quarter trailing 68-66 but went on a 21-6 run – capped by Haliburton’s 3-pointer – and opened a 113-97 lead after the period.

The Bucks couldn’t get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Surging Clippers cool Suns

Paul George scored 33 points and Kawhi Leonard added 30 as the Los Angeles Clippers won their fourth straight game, 131-122 over the Phoenix Suns.

James Harden had 22 points and 11 assists to help the Clippers improve to 13-2 in their last 15 games.

Devin Booker scored 35 points on 11-of-15 shooting and Bradley Beal added 21 but just 7 of 20 and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

Kevin Durant missed his second straight game due to soreness in his right hamstring and the Suns had a four-game winning streak stopped.

Kings outlast Magic in double overtime

Malik Monk and Keegan Murray hit 3-pointers in the second overtime and the Sacramento Kings overcame a franchise-record 25 3-pointers by the Orlando Magic in a 138-135 win.

Monk finished with season highs of 37 points and seven 3-pointers and Murray had 31 points on 14-of-22 shooting with 11 rebounds. Domantas Sabonis notched his seventh triple-double of the season with 22 points, 23 rebounds and 12 assists.

Paolo Banchero scored a career-high 43 points with six 3-pointers to lead Orlando but missed a potential tying 3 at the final buzzer.

Jalen Suggs added 24 points, including six 3s, for the Magic.

Stephen Curry scored 36 points in an impressive display as the Golden State Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak with a 121-115 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Coach Steve Kerr praised Curry for an "amazing" performance on Tuesday as Golden State improved to 16-17 with a much-needed home win.

The Warriors had lost consecutive games to the Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks until Curry intervened with a big night which included some crucial plays in the fourth quarter.

Curry also had six assists and four steals, while Jonathan Kuminga scored 19 points and Klay Thompson added 15 for the Warriors.

"Steph was amazing," said Kerr. "But Steph is always amazing. Even when he doesn't score 36 points.

"Just the attention he draws defensively, what he does to an opposing defense, the way he opens up the floor, he's a remarkable player.

"He really got himself going on a night when we needed it."

The Warriors will host the Nuggets on Thursday as their seven-game homestand continues, with Chris Paul relieved to get back to winning ways ahead of that clash with the defending NBA champions.

"It was huge, we have been struggling to get wins," said Paul.

"It is hard to win in this league. That team [Orlando] is a young team, well coached. They've been playing hard all season long, so this was a good win for us."

The Magic are on the road against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and are fifth in the Eastern Conference after the loss to Golden State.

Paolo Banchero had 27 points and 12 rebounds with Franz Wagner adding 25 points, but Orlando fell to 19-14 on the season and 7-10 in road games.

"They have an elite shot maker and Hall of Fame player in Steph Curry – that is what we got," said coach Jamahl Mosley.

The Detroit Pistons suffered their 25th straight loss – one short of the NBA single season record – as Kelly Olynyk scored 25 points to lead the short-handed Utah Jazz to a 119-111 victory on Thursday.

Detroit missed nine of 10 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and was 9 of 31 overall from long range as it remained winless since Oct. 28.

The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers share the record at 26, which the Pistons will try to avoid Saturday in Brooklyn. The 76ers hold the overall mark of 28, a skid that started in 2014-15 and carried over into 2015-16.

Collin Sexton scored 19 points and Ochai Agbaji added 18 for the Jazz, who played without four of their top seven scorers – Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Keyonte George and Talen Horton-Tucker – on the second night of a back-to-back after losing at Cleveland on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo propels Bucks to 6th straight win

Giannis Antetokoumpo tallied 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Milwaukee Bucks completed a perfect six-game homestand with a 118-114 win over the Orlando Magic.

Damian Lillard added 24 points and eight assists for the Bucks, who have won 15 straight games at Fiserv Forum. That’s the Bucks’ longest single-season home win streak since they opened 18-0 at home in 1991-92.

Franz Wagner scored 29 points and Paolo Banchero had 23 for the Magic, who have lost four in a row.

Thunder snap Clippers’ 9-game streak

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 31 points and Chet Holmgren gave the Thunder the lead for good with a dunk he threw off the backboard to himself, and Oklahoma City ended the Los Angeles Clippers’ nine-game winning streak, 134-115.

Holmgren’s flashy jam with 8:43 left in the third quarter gave the Thunder a 74-73 lead and sparked a decisive 13-0 run.

Holmgren finished with 23 points and Lu Dort added 21 for Oklahoma City, which has won three straight and five of six.

James Harden scored 23 points and Paul George had 22 for the Clippers, who played without leading scorer Kawhi Leonard due to a bruised right hip.

The Boston Celtics completed a five-game homestand Sunday just like they started it over a week ago - with a win.

The Celtics pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Magic 114-97 to improve their NBA-best home record to 14-0.

The only better home start in franchise history came from the 1957-58 club, which won its first 17 games in Boston.

It was the fifth straight victory for the Celtics, as they improved to 20-5 to move a half-game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the league's best record.

 

Jaylen Brown scored 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter for Boston, which used a 20-3 run over a six-minute stretch in the final period to put the game away.

Brown hit five of the Celtics' 17 3-pointers, while Jayson Tatum was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and finished with 23 points.

Boston now embarks on a four-game California trip before returning home to host the Detroit Pistons on December 28.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 36 points and 10 rebounds, but the only other Magic player to score in double figures was Jalen Suggs, who added 13 points.

Orlando (16-9) failed to reach triple digits for just the second time all season in losing for the fourth time in six games following a nine-game winning streak.

 

Pelicans drill franchise-record 22 3-pointers in rout of Spurs

The New Orleans Pelicans missed the first two 3-point shots they attempted in the opening minutes against the San Antonio Spurs.

They didn't miss too many more after that.

The Pelicans set a franchise record with 22 3-pointers in an emphatic 146-110 win over the San Antonio Spurs for their fourth straight victory.

After missing those first two 3-point tries, New Orleans (16-11) connected on 22 of 40 shots from beyond the arc the rest of the way and led by as much as 40 points to send the Spurs to their 19th loss in 20 games.

CJ McCollum led the Pelicans with 29 points while going 6-of-7 from 3-point range and Brandon Ingram added 26 points and made 5-of-7 3-point tries.

 

Victor Wembanyama was the lone bright spot for the Spurs (4-21), who lost by more than 35 points for the third time this season.

Wembanyama had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his eighth consecutive double-double - the longest stretch by a teenager, surpassing the previous NBA record set by Dwight Howard in 2005.

 

Antetokounmpo passes Abdul-Jabbar to become Bucks' career rebounding leader in win over Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo became the Bucks' all-time leader in yet another statistic in Milwaukee's 128-119 win over the Houston Rockets.

Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds to surpass Kareerm Abdul-Jabbar to become the franchise's career rebounding leader.

Antetokounmpo moved past Abdul-Jabbar midway through the fourth quarter when he grabbed Tari Eason's missed shot for his 14th board of the game, giving him 7,162 rebounds with the Bucks.

The two-time NBA MVP is also the Bucks' all-time leader in points and assists, and is now one of just four players in league history to lead a franchise in points, rebounds and assists, joining Michael Jordan (Chicago), LeBron James (Cleveland) and Kevin Garnett (Minnesota).

 

Damian Lillard had game highs of 39 points and 11 assists and Khris Middleton scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for Milwaukee, which pulled away for its fourth straight win. It also marked the 13th straight home win for the Bucks, who improved to 14-1 in Milwaukee.

Houston (13-10), meanwhile, saw its five-game winning streak come to an end as it dropped to 2-9 on the road.

Fred VanVleet led the Rockets with 22 points and six assists, while Alperen Sengun added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

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