Paul George admitted he did not want to leave the Los Angeles Clippers, but felt his hand was forced when he was offered a "disrespectful" first contract extension offer.

Last week, George signed a four-year maximum contract reportedly worth $212million for the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, the nine-time All-Star's move happened after he failed to come to an agreement with the Clippers over a new contract.

"I never wanted to leave L.A.," George said on his podcast, 'Podcast P with Paul George'.

"L.A. is home, this is where I wanted to finish at, and I wanted to work as hard as possible to win one in L.A.

"That was the goal, to be here and be committed to L.A. As it played out though, the first initial deal was, I thought, kind of disrespectful.

"In all of this, no hard feelings, no love lost...it's a business. So, the first initial deal was like two years, 60. So I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa.

"That's crazy! I'm like, 'Naw, I'm not signing that'."

The Clippers gave Kawhi Leonard a three-year $150million extension, something George said they refused to give him if he had a no-trade clause attached.

"Then I hear wind of what they're going to give Kawhi, so I'm like, 'Just give me what Kawhi got'," George added. "'Y'all view us the same. We came here together; we want to finish this s*** together.'

"Y'all give him that, give me that. They didn't want to do that."

The guard, who played 74 regular-season games – his most since being traded to Los Angeles before the 2019-20 season – acknowledged his link-up with Leonard did not quite go as planned but had hoped to build on it in the future.

"We couldn't remain healthy as a unit," George said. "But I thought I did enough to earn that [three-year, $150-million deal with a no-trade clause].

"They didn't want to do it. So, it was just a stalemate. Ultimately it was like, all right, that ship has sailed.

"I love Steve [Ballmer], I love Lawrence [Frank], but at that point, it didn't even feel right to come back with that type of energy and be comfortable playing back in L.A."

Joel Embiid lauded the Philadelphia 76ers' planning as impressive "on paper" as he hailed a "fantastic" potential trio with Paul George and Tyrese Maxey.

Philadelphia signed nine-time All-Star George on a four-year maximum contract reportedly worth $212 million last week.

George is expected to help the 76ers contend for the Eastern Conference title next season after Philadelphia suffered a first-round playoff loss to the New York Knicks this year.

Maxey is coming off a breakout year, too, averaging a career-high 25.9 points per game en route to winning the NBA's Most Improved Player Award.

"I think as far as the fit, it looks amazing," Embiid told ESPN. "It is great, when you got a player that posts up, you need to have willing shooters and guys that are not afraid to pull the trigger.

"PG, great shooter, 40%, 45 catch and shoot; Tyrese, we know great shooter, off the dribble, catch-and-shoot.

"On paper, and as far as the fit, it looks fantastic because you got both guys that can play off the ball, and they can play on ball and they're great shooters and they can handle the ball, and then you also got me."

The three 76ers star will be aiming to help Philadelphia improve upon a No. 7 finish in the Eastern Conference standings last season.

Embiid wants to create a new era with his side, though warned it will not all be straightforward.

"It feels like you're starting from scratch," he said. "And I know there's going to be a lot of growing pains. But you just got to stick it together.

"The goal is always to win a championship, but it just doesn't happen overnight.

"Hopefully, it doesn't take us as much time as it should when you're trying to bring everybody on the same page and making sure everybody knows their role and what they have to do to achieve that goal.

"But we're going to do the best job possible."

Having watched James Harden demand a trade last year, and Maxey still as an unknown quantity, the optimism now around Philadelphia proved to Embiid that patience is key.

"I'd be lying to say that patience wasn't tested," Embiid added. "Because I'm at the point where there's no awards, there's no regular season or no All-NBA or All-Stars is going to change the way my legacy is.

"Well, there's a few things that can change it, but the main one is the championship. So when you start thinking about what you want to be remembered as, you want to be remembered as someone that's won.

"When you are presented with a plan, sometimes it goes wrong, sometimes it goes right. We've still got long way to go. On paper it looks great. But we still got to go on the court and make it work."

Paul George has agreed to a four-year, $212million maximum contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The deal, which was reported Monday by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, can't officially be signed until the NBA's moratorium on signings is lifted on Saturday.

The move to Philadelphia was reported by multiple sources Sunday after George informed the Los Angeles Clippers his plans to leave the team after five seasons. The nine-time All-Star declined a $48.7 million player option for the 2024-25 season on Saturday.

The addition of George to a 76ers team which already includes 2022-23 NBA MVP Joel Embiid and fellow All-Star Tyrese Maxey, now makes Philadelphia a serious contender to compete with the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics for Eastern Conference supremacy. The 76ers also reached a deal with Maxey on Monday, giving the sharpshooter a five-year, $204million maxim contract extension.

 

Philadelphia has found post-season success to be elusive in recent seasons, as the 76ers have reached the play-offs in seven straight years but have failed to advance beyond the second round during that period.

Los Angeles, which had a Big Three of its own in George, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden, also has a history of setbacks in the play-offs, losing in the first round each of the past two years while missing the post-season entirely in 2021-22.

The Clippers acquired George from Oklahoma City in July 2019 by orchestrating a blockbuster trade in which they gave the Thunder five first-round picks as well as future All-Star Shai GIlgeous-Alexander. Leonard signed with Los Angeles that same summer to help turn the Clippers into one of the Western Conference's more consistently successful teams, though their winning ways often did not extend to the post-season.

George often battled injuries - his 74 games played this past season were his most in any of his five seasons in Los Angeles - but maintained an elite level of play when healthy. The 34-year-old averaged 23 points, six rebounds and 4.5 assists per game during his tenure with the Clippers while shooting just under 40 per cent from 3-point range.

Paul George has informed the Los Angeles Clippers he will be joining another team, with the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly the leading candidate to land the coveted free agent.

The Clippers released a statement Sunday saying they were informed by George and his representatives of his plans to leave the team after five seasons. The nine-time All-Star declined a $48.7 million player option for the 2024-25 season on Saturday.

According to The Athletic, George will meet with the 76ers on Sunday night and is expected to make a decision shortly thereafter, with no other teams believed to be involved in the bidding for the veteran forward.

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the Clippers announced. "Paul is a tremendous talent and an elite two-way player. We feel fortunate for the five years we spent with him.

We negotiated for months with Paul and his representative on a contract that would make sense for both sides, and we were left far apart. The gap was significant. We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract. We explored an opt-in and trade scenario, but it would have left us in a similar position under the new CBA, with very little asset value to justify the restrictions.

“We will miss Paul. At the same time, we’re excited by the opportunities we’ve now been afforded, including greater flexibility under the new CBA.

ESPN reports George was seeking a four-year extension and the Clippers were unwilling to budge beyond a contract similar to the three-year, $152 million deal the team awarded to fellow star Kawhi Leonard in January.

The Clippers acquired George from Oklahoma City in July 2019 by orchestrating a blockbuster trade in which they gave the Thunder five first-round picks as well as future All-Star Shai GIlgeous-Alexander. Leonard signed with Los Angeles that same summer to help turn the Clippers into one of the Western Conference's more consistently successful teams, though their winning ways often did not extend to the post-season.

Los Angeles reached the West finals during the 2021 play-offs but was ousted in six games by the Phoenix Suns, and the Clippers have not advanced past the first round in any of the last three seasons.

George often battled injuries - his 74 games played this past season were his most in any of his five seasons in Los Angeles - but maintained an elite level of play when healthy. The 34-year-old averaged 23 points, six rebounds and 4.5 assists per game during his tenure with the Clippers while shooting just under 40 per cent from 3-point range.

Armed with ample cap space, the 76ers are well positioned to make a big splash this off-season and potentially pair George with two other All-Stars, 2022-23 NBA MVP Joel Embiid and sharpshooter Tyrese Maxey, in an effort to challenge reigning NBA champion Boston in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia has also found post-season success to be elusive in recent seasons, as the 76ers have reached the play-offs in seven straight years but have failed to advance beyond the second round during that period.

 

Luka Doncic hailed Kyrie Irving's performance against the Los Angeles Clippers as "unbelievable" after the Dallas Mavericks progressed in the playoffs.

Irving starred with 30 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Mavs won 114-101 on Friday to seal a 4-2 series victory.

Eight-time All-Star Irving scored 28 points in the second half to propel the Mavs to victory, leaving teammate Doncic, who finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists, in awe.

"I would say unbelievable," Doncic said of Irving's display.

"So it's even more special, but just to have the guy like that on your team, it's a pleasure.

"Just working with him, just playing with him, it's a pleasure no matter what. He's always positive energy, always. Not even one second of negative energy, which helps a lot, helps everybody and we're so happy to have him."

Across the series, Irving averaged 26.5 points and 51.4 per cent shooting.

"He doesn't force anything," Mavs forward Derrick Jones Jr. added of Irving, who joined Dallas from the Brooklyn Nets in 2023.

"He lets the game come to him and he knows the perfect moments where he should be more ultra-aggressive."

A bullish Irving said: "I just got to get there to that point to be able to be ready to have the other team submit.

"One of the hardest things to do as a competitor is to have your opponent concede or submit. And I do want to take this time to give a respectful shoutout and also show my respect to the Clippers organisation and the players. It's always fun."

Clippers star Paul George bowed to Irving's imperious performance.

"You give someone like Kai those looks, that basket gets bigger and bigger," he said.

"I thought that was really all he needed to see. Everything else was a playground for him."

The Mavs will face the Oklahoma City Thunder for a place in the Conference finals.

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.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 29 points and the Golden State Warriors won their season-high sixth straight game, 133-110 over the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis had a career-high 20 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Warriors, who made it 13 straight wins against the Rockets since a loss on Feb. 20, 2020, and tightened its grip on 10th place in the Western Conference.

Thompson scored 21 points in the first half with five 3-pointers to help Golden State take a 65-50 lead into the break.

The Warriors held a 16-point lead after three quarters and were up 20 with just under four minutes left when coach Steve Kerr cleared his bench.

Jabari Smith Jr. scored 24 points for the Rockets, who dropped their third straight following an 11-game winning streak.

Knicks rally past Kings to end skid

D had 35 points and 11 assists and Josh Hart added a season-high 31 points as the New York Knicks overcame a 21-point deficit in a 120-109 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Hart shot 14 of 19 from the field, had nine rebounds and eight assists and Donte DiVincenzo scored 21 points to help New York snap a three-game skid and tie Orlando for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

De’Aaron Fox had 29 points, seven boards and seven assists for the Kings, who failed in a bid to tie New Orleans and Phoenix for sixth in the West.

Sacramento raced to a 46-25 lead while making 19 of its first 28 shots, but the Knicks responded with a 16-2 to get back in it.

Clippers hold off Nuggets

Paul George had 28 points and Ivica Zubac scored the final six points for the Los Angeles Clippers in a 102-100 win over the Denver Nuggets.

James Harden tallied 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds and Zubac finished with 14 points and 15 boards as the Clippers snapped a five-game home skid despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard, who sat out his second straight game with a sore right knee.  

Nikola Jokić notched his 24th triple-double of the season with 36 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Nuggets couldn’t come all the way back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and dropped one-half game behind Minnesota for the Western Conference lead.

De'Andre Hunter scored 24 points, including a game-sealing 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left, and the Atlanta Hawks roared back from a 30-point deficit to hand the NBA-leading Boston Celtics a shocking 120-118 loss on Monday.

The Hawks trailed 68-38 with under 4 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter before Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanović and Dejounte Murray keyed an improbable second-half rally. Bogdanovic scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, while Murray recorded 11 of his 19 points after half-time and ended the night with 15 assists.

In a back-and-forth fourth quarter that saw seven lead changes, Bogdanovic buried a 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining to give Atlanta a 115-114 edge. Jaylen Brown scored on the ensuing possession to put Boston back ahead, but Murray drove the lane and scored with one minute to go for a 117–116 Hawks' lead.

After Brown misfired on a 3-point try, Hunter knocked down a 26-foot jumper with time winding down to secure Atlanta's second consecutive victory and end the Celtics' nine-game winning streak.

Jayson Tatum racked up 37 points and eight rebounds for Boston, with 23 of those points coming in the first half as the Celtics built a 74-56 advantage at the intermission.

Atlanta outscored the Celtics by a 34-22 margin in the third quarter to cut its deficit to 96-90 entering the fourth, then opened the final period on a 7-0 run to move ahead.

Brown finished with 24 points and Kristaps Porzingis totalled 17 for Boston.

Red-hot Rockets pull away from Blazers to win ninth straight

Jalen Green scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half to help the resurgent Houston Rockets extend their winning streak to nine games with a 110-92 victory over the downtrodden Portland Trail Blazers.

Houston's run is the franchise's longest sequence of consecutive wins since a nine-game streak from Feb. 23-March 11, 2019. The hot stretch has moved the Rockets, a team which has missed the play-offs in each of the last three seasons, within a half-game of the Golden State Warriors for the final spot in the Western Conference's play-in tournament.

The Rockets prevailed despite forward Jabari Smith serving a one-game suspension for fighting with Utah Jazz guard Kris Dunn on Saturday. Jock Landale made his first start of the season in Smith's place and contributed 17 points and nine rebounds.

Rebuilding Portland was dealt a seventh straight loss but did own a 64-55 lead after Scoot Henderson hit a 3-pointer with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter. The Rockets then reversed momentum by scoring 25 of the game's next 29 points and never trailed thereafter.

Green tallied 12 points during the game-changing run, which Aaron Holiday capped with a 3-pointer that gave the Rockets an 80-68 advantage near the end of the third quarter.

Dalano Banton led the Blazers with 28 points and 11 assists off the bench, while Henderson finished with 15 points. 

Siakam helps Pacers extend Clippers' slump

Pascal Siakam scored 31 points and the Indiana Pacers dominated the early stages of the fourth quarter to hand the struggling Los Angeles Clippers a 133-116 loss.

Indiana also received 24 points from Myles Turner and 21 from Tyrese Haliburton, who added nine assists to help the Pacers move to 6-1 over their last seven road games.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has now lost five straight at home and suffered its sixth defeat in its last nine overall outings despite Russell Westbrook's return from a 12-game absence caused by a broken hand.

Westbrook tallied 14 points and seven assists in just 18 minutes, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George each had 26 points for the Clippers.

Haliburton's 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half staked Indiana to a 65-62 lead at the break, and the Pacers later extended their margin to double digits before Leonard's jumper near the end of the third quarter brought the Clippers within 97-89 entering the fourth.

The Pacers were on fire during the final period, however, as they shot 68.2 per cent from the field for the quarter. Indiana began the fourth with eight straight points to take a 105-89 lead, and Siakam had the final five points of a 15-5 run later on that stretched the Pacers' advantage to 122-99 with six minutes to play.

Paul George insists the Los Angeles Clippers are not focusing on what the New Orleans Pelicans are doing as they battle it out for the Western Conference fourth seed.

The Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-117 on Friday, while the soaring Pelicans have won eight of their last 10 games.

Los Angeles are a game-and-a-half ahead of the Pelicans in the race for the No.4 seed.

But George, who led the Clippers with 31 points, is paying little attention to New Orleans' form.

"We're not looking at them," George said.

"It's more about us. We've got to play well and we're in the driver's seat. So it's more about us."

With the Clippers holding a large lead in the final quarter, coach Tyronn Lue was able to rest George and fellow star Kawhi Leonard, who added 22 points.

Lue said: "I just want us to lock in and be healthy."

The West is tough anyway, no matter who we play or where you play. Whether you start at home, start on the road, it's going to be tough.

"So it doesn't really bother me or phase me in any way. We've just got to be healthy."

Lue will be buoyed, then, by the impending return of Russell Westbrook. 

He has been out for three weeks since he underwent surgery on a fractured hand.

Westbrook, though, is expected to return to action next week.

The Los Angeles Clippers need to discover their identity, so said Paul George after a loss to the Atlanta Hawks made it four defeats from five games.

Los Angeles slipped to a 110-93 defeat to the Hawks on Sunday, leaving them just one game ahead of the surging New Orleans Pelicans in the tussle for the number four seed in the Western Conference.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 28 points while George added 26, though James Harden contributed just nine, albeit while laying on as many assists.

But the Clippers' veterans did not have enough to drag Tyronn Lue's team over the line.

When asked if the Clippers were resembling a team of stars who though they could switch their game on at ease, George replied: "I mean that's what we're appearing to look like, which is not good.

"We want to be a team that's consistent and we want to establish an identity. I've always spoken about having an identity and I think it's extremely important.

"Right now, I don't think we have an identity."

Leonard suggested the Clippers' mentality has to change.

"It's between the ears with us," he said. "We've got to go out and do it.

"Just seeing what we want to do. That's it. What type of team we want to be.

"If everybody's saying they want to be one of the last teams standing, then we got to go out and do it."

Coach Lue is searching for answers.

"When they do it, it works," he said. "When you have so much talent and you have guys that can do it so easily, they don't understand that your talent is great, but the talent's got to be for the team as well.

"Maybe it's me. Maybe I've got to do something a little different to make sure that we're doing what we're supposed to do. [But] I'll never really overreact because I know we're a good team. 

"If you want to win, I know what it looks like. I've been there, I've seen it."

Zion Williamson scored 34 points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 112-104 win over the slumping Los Angeles Clippers on Friday that tightened the race for the Western Conference's No. 4 seed.

The surging Pelicans moved within two games of Los Angeles for fourth place in the conference and improved to 14-5 since Jan. 31, tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets for the best record in the West over that span. 

Los Angeles was dealt a third loss in four games despite 26 points from Paul George and 23 from Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers played a second straight game without starting point guard James Harden due to a left shoulder strain.

Williamson recorded 16 of his points during a dominant third quarter in which he went 7 of 7 from the field. The star forward closed out the period with a layup that snapped an 80-80 tie and ignited a 12-3 run that put the Pelicans ahead for good.

Trey Murphy and Naji Marshall each had 3-pointers during the spurt, which Murphy capped with an alley-oop dunk that gave New Orleans a 92-83 lead with 10:24 remaining.

Leonard's hook shot with two minutes left brought the Clippers within 107-102, but Los Angeles came up empty on its next three possessions as New Orleans scored the next five points to put the game out of reach. 

The Clippers trailed by 11 points early in the third quarter before putting together a 12-3 run that trimmed the Pelicans' lead to 65-63 with five minutes left in the period.

Heat handle Pistons to end four-game skid

Bam Adebayo recorded 22 points and nine rebounds to help the Miami Heat end a four-game losing streak with a 108-95 win over the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Terry Rozier scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half as Miami pulled away in the final two quarters to get back on track and remain 2 1/2 games behind first-place Orlando in the Southeast Division. The Magic also won on Friday, earning a 113-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

After Adebayo's floater in the closing seconds gave Miami a 56-54 lead at the half, the Heat dominated the final six minutes of the third quarter to stretch their advantage.

Miami broke things open with a 15-0 run, which began with six straight points from Rozier and ended with three consecutive 3-pointers by Duncan Robinson. The last of those baskets increased the margin to 83-65 with 2:29 to go in the third quarter.

The Heat maintained a double-digit cushion over the entire fourth quarter to end Detroit's modest two-game winning streak.

Simone Fontecchio led the Pistons, who own the NBA's second-worst record at 12-54, with 24 points. Jalen Duren compiled 15 points and 17 rebounds in the loss.

Jokic outduels Wembanyama, Nuggets top Spurs to stay hot

Nikola Jokić put up 31 points as the Denver Nuggets continued their strong recent stretch with a 117-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in a game played in the Texas capital of Austin.

Jokic finished 13 of 19 from the field while adding seven rebounds and five assists to outshine Spurs rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama, who was held to 17 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Jamal Murray accumulated 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to help Denver improve to 11-1 since the All-Star break. The defending NBA champions have won five straight games.

Jokic and the Nuggets imposed their will early on, as Denver closed out the first quarter on an 18-4 run to take a commanding 37-18 lead into the second. The two-time NBA MVP finished the period with 15 points.

The Spurs shot 60 per cent in the second quarter to close the gap to 58-49 at half-time, and got Denver's lead down to four when Zach Collins' jumper with 16.7 seconds left in the third quarter made the score 83-79.

Denver's Justin Holiday ended the third with a 3-pointer, however, and had another during a 9-1 run in the fourth that put the Nuggets up 101-84 with seven minutes to play.

The game drew a crowd of 16,223, the largest attended sporting event in the history of Austin's Moody Center.

 

 

Damian Lillard poured in 41 points and helped lead a fourth-quarter rally as the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence and remained unbeaten since the All-Star break with Monday's 113-106 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Despite Antetokounmpo sitting out with left Achilles tendinitis, the Bucks moved to 6-0 following the break behind Lillard and Bobby Portis, who scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter after Milwaukee trailed by as many as 15 in the third.

Portis added a season-high 16 rebounds for Milwaukee, which took the lead for good with a 15-0 run that erased a 96-90 deficit with under 5 1/2 minutes left.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Lillard and Patrick Beverley began the spurt, which Portis capped with four consecutive points that gave Milwaukee a 105-96 advantage with under two minutes to go. 

The Clippers, who shot just 35 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to Milwaukee's 61.9 per cent, never got closer than five points down the rest of the way.

Los Angeles owned a 74-59 lead just past the midway point of the third quarter, but the Bucks scored the period's final five points and pulled to within 81-73 entering the fourth on Malik Beasley's triple in the final seconds.

The Clippers, who were coming off Sunday's 89-88 road win over the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves, got 29 points each from Paul George and James Harden. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points, but was held to one in the fourth quarter while going 0 for 4 from the field.

Lakers continue surge, knock Thunder out of first in West

It was a better night for Los Angeles' other team, as the Lakers continued their recent strong play by knocking the Oklahoma City Thunder out of first place in the Western Conference with a 116-104 victory.

D'Angelo Russell recorded 26 points and Anthony Davis had 24 along with 12 rebounds as the Lakers improved to 10-4 since Feb. 1. Los Angeles currently stands in ninth place in the West but is now just two games behind the sixth-place Phoenix Suns, with the top six teams guaranteed a first-round play-off series.

The Thunder, who were coming off a 118-110 win over Phoenix on Sunday, shot just 39.4 per cent and fell a half-game behind Minnesota for the West's top spot after the Timberwolves registered a 119-114 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 20 points but finished 5 of 13 from the field.

The Lakers seized control with a 12-0 run to build a 37-27 lead with seven minutes left in the second quarter, and went into the break owning a 52-43 advantage behind 10 points from Russell and Austin Reaves. 

Davis then took over in the third quarter, as the All-Star forward netted 15 points in the period as Los Angeles stretched its lead to 89-72 entering the fourth. 

The Lakers' margin grew to as much as 25 points in the final quarter before the Thunder scored the game's final 13 points with the outcome already determined.

Bulls stun Kings with furious late comeback

Coby White put up a career-high 37 points and helped ignite a big second-half comeback that carried the Chicago Bulls to a stunning 113-109 road win over the Sacramento Kings.

Chicago trailed by 22 points late in the third quarter before outscoring the Kings by a 36-18 margin in the fourth to deal Sacramento a third loss in four games. DeMar DeRozan had 19 of his 33 points in the final period, while White tallied 24 of his points in the second half.

After closing out the third quarter on a 10-2 run to cut their deficit to 91-77, the Bulls continued to chip away in the fourth. They outscored the Kings by an 18-5 count over the final 5 1/2 minutes and held Sacramento without a point over the last 2:20.

White's layup off a Sacramento turnover tied the contest at 109-109 with 1:32 left, and after the Kings gave the ball away on their next possession as well, White again drove the lane and scored to put Chicago ahead with 47.6 seconds to go.

The Bulls would miss their next two shots, but got a late offensive rebound before DeRozan was able to seal the victory with two free throws with 3.5 seconds left.

De'Aaron Fox led the Kings with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a two-game absence, while Domantas Sabonis grabbed 21 rebounds to go along with 18 points before fouling out with 2:57 remaining.

 

 

 

Recent acquisition Buddy Hield scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers held on late to end the Cleveland Cavaliers' nine-game winning streak with Monday's 123-121 victory.

Despite still being without injured reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, Philadelphia handed the red-hot Cavaliers just their second loss in their last 19 games behind hot-shooting efforts from Hield and Kelly Oubre Jr. 

Hield, making his third appearance since being acquired by the Sixers from the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, finished 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 9 of 13 overall from the field. Oubre hit 10 of his 14 field goal attempts while also collecting 24 points.

The win was Philadelphia's second straight following a 1-8 stretch from Jan. 25-Feb. 9, during which the team lost Embiid for an extended period due to a knee injury that required surgery.

Cleveland got 36 points and six assists from All-Star Donovan Mitchell and 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jarrett Allen, but couldn't match the Sixers down the stretch after taking a 102-100 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Hield scored the final eight points of a 13-2 run that gave Philadelphia a 113-104 advantage with 4:28 left to play, and the 76ers led 120-110 with 1:25 to go following an Oubre 3-pointer.

The Cavs responded with a 9-0 spurt to pull within 120-119 on Mitchell's 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, and had a chance to win at the buzzer when Darius Garland launched a 3-point shot that just missed the mark.

Garland ended with 21 points and nine assists, while Tyrese Maxey recorded 22 points and nine assists for Philadelphia.

Timberwolves dominate second half in rout of Clippers

The Minnesota Timberwolves got 24 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and a big third quarter to pull away for a 121-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and pad their lead atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Edwards added 23 points, 12 of which came during a dominant third quarter in which the Timberwolves outscored Los Angeles by a 40-19 margin.

Minnesota entered Monday's clash owning a slim half-game advantage on the Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, who were handed a 112-95 defeat by the Milwaukee Bucks, in the tightly bunched West standings. 

The Clippers kept it close until the latter stages of the third quarter, as the Timberwolves held a 70-69 edge with under five minutes left in the period.

Minnesota took over from there, as it closed out the quarter on a 19-3 run to take a commanding 89-72 lead into the fourth. Towns had eight points during the pivotal spurt.

The Timberwolves maintained a lead of 15 points or more throughout the final period en route to posting a second straight win and giving Los Angeles a second loss in its last three games.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the Clippers with 18 points each, while James Harden finished with 17 points and six assists. 

Bucks use defence to get past champion Nuggets

The Milwaukee Bucks got 36 points and 18 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and another strong performance from their much-maligned defence to hand the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets a 112-95 loss.

Milwaukee entered Monday's marquee matchup ranked 23rd in the NBA in scoring defence at 119.3 points allowed per game, but held the formidable Nuggets to their second-lowest shooting rate of the season at 38.3 per cent.

The Bucks have yielded under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season. Milwaukee lost five of its first six outings under new head coach Doc Rivers prior to Friday's 120-84 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.

Nikola Jokić amassed 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Denver's second and third-leading scorers on the season, were a combined 4 of 16 from the field, however.

Murray managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting before sitting out the second half due to inflammation in his lower legs.

The Bucks had built a comfortable 60-44 lead at that point as Antetokounmpo racked up 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting over the first two quarters. The Nuggets never got their deficit under 13 points the rest of the way and are now mired in a two-game losing streak.

 

Luka Dončić scored a franchise-record 73 points to tie for the fourth-most in NBA history in the Dallas Mavericks’ 148-143 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Doncic surpassed his previous career high of 60 points after scoring a team-record 41 in the first half.

He joined Wilt Chamberlain and David Thompson as players to score 73 points. Chamberlain, who owns the NBA record with 100 points, also had a 78 and a 73-point game, while Kobe Bryant scored 81 on Jan. 22, 2006.

Doncic shot 25 of 33 from the field, was 8 of 13 from 3-point range and made 15 of 16 free throws. He also had 10 rebounds and seven assists in 44 ½ minutes.

No other player has ever had as many points, rebounds and assists in the same game as Doncic did.

His milestone game came in his original NBA home, at least for a few minutes. Doncic was drafted by the Hawks with the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 before having his draft rights traded to Dallas for Young with the No. 5 pick and a 2019 first-round pick used to select Cam Reddish.

Josh Green had 21 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only other Dallas player in double figures with 13 points. The Mavericks snapped a three-game skid and sent the Hawks to their fourth straight loss.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 30 points and Jalen Johnson added 25.

Pacers rally to spoil Booker’s big night

Obi Toppin snapped a tie on a putback with 3.4 seconds remaining and the Indiana Pacers overcame Devin Booker’s 62 points in a 133-131 win, snapping the Phoenix Suns’ seven-game winning streak.

Booker scored 50 or more points for the second time this season and seventh time in his career, falling eight shy of matching his career-high 70 set at Boston on March 24, 2017.

Pascal Siakam scored 31 points and Toppin finished with 23 and 11 rebounds to help Indiana win its second straight without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The Pacers fell behind 54-37 in the second quarter but whittled the deficit down to 80-70 at halftime. They trailed 114-105 entering the fourth but tied it twice in the final 90 seconds before Toppin’s basket won it.

Harden powers Clippers past Raptors

James Harden had 22 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his 75th career triple-double to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to their fourth straight win, 127-107 over the Toronto Raptors.

Harden, who notched his first triple-double this season, ranks eighth all-time in that category. He has at least 20 points and 10 assists in each of his last three games.

Paul George scored 21 points and Russell Westbrook added 20 as the Clippers won for the 12th time in 14 games.

Scottie Barnes scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Raptors, who lost their fourth straight and ninth in 11 games.

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.

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