Luka Doncic produced yet another spectacular performance on Monday as he carried the Dallas Mavericks with 53 points in a 111-105 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

The 23-year-old Slovenian returned to the lineup after missing the Mavericks' loss against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, and he looked on track for a big one from the jump.

Doncic scored 24 of Dallas' 30 points in the first quarter, but the team found themselves trailing at half-time as the rest of the Mavericks struggled on the offensive end.

By the end of the third frame, Dallas trailed by one as Doncic had 45 points and none of his team-mates had more than eight, but the Mavericks were able to hold the Pistons to 21 points in the final period to pull out the narrow victory.

Doncic shot 17-of-24 from the field for his 53 points – the second-most he has ever scored in an NBA game – while adding eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. He had 41 points more than his closest team-mate, Spencer Dinwiddie with 12.

It was the fifth time in his career Doncic has reached 50 points, and the fourth since December 23, after posting games of 50, 51 and 60 points in the last nine days of 2022.

With the win, the Mavericks improved their record to 27-25, sitting sixth in the Western Conference, while the Pistons are dead last in the East at 13-39.

Curry brings the thunder to OKC

Stephen Curry was at his best in the Golden State Warriors' 128-120 road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading both teams in points and assists.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP finished with 38 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while also dishing 12 assists and snatching eight rebounds in a masterful display.

He was supported well by 'Splash Brother' Klay Thompson, who chipped in 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, as the duo combined to hit 14-of-28 from three-point range.

They locked horns with the Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who maintained the fifth-best scoring average in the league (30.9 per game) by scoring 31 on 10-of-24 shooting with seven assists and three blocks.

Banchero shines in Fultz's return to Philly

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz posted his first double-double of the season as the former number one overall pick made a winning return to Philadelphia.

In his first road game against the Philadelphia 76ers since being traded from the franchise in 2019, Fultz finished with 12 points and 10 assists, helping to ignite a 77-47 second-half demolition on the way to a 119-109 upset win.

The star for the Magic was their other top overall pick, as rookie Paolo Banchero scored a team-high 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

Joel Embiid was terrific for the 76ers, dropping 30 points (11-of-20), 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, but his scoring average for the season dropped to 33.6. He still leads the league, but Doncic (33.4) is hot on his tail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid have both been fined $25,000 in separate on-court incidents from Wednesday's game, the NBA announced on Friday.

Reigning NBA Finals MVP Curry was fined for "throwing his mouthpiece into the spectator stands" during Wednesday's 122-120 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Curry was ejected for the act, which came out of frustration after not receiving a pass from Golden State Warriors team-mate Jordan Poole, occurring with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.

It was the third ejection of Curry's career, all involving his mouthpiece, having thrown it at a referee in 2017.

"He knows he can't make that mistake again," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game.

Philadelphia 76ers center Embiid was fined for "making an obscene gesture on the playing court" during their 137-133 win over the Brooklyn Nets, where Ben Simmons returned to face his former side at a wound-up Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.

The incident occurred when Embiid celebrated making a layup and earning a foul shot by emulating a gesture made by WWE wrestlers Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

Nets forward Kevin Durant, who was watching from afar due to an MCL sprain, described the act as a "trash celebration" on Twitter at the time.

Joel Embiid found the experience of facing Ben Simmons for the first time no different to any other night as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Brooklyn Nets in a thriller.

Embiid came up against his former team-mate Simmons for the first time at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday and the 76ers came out on top, winning 137-133.

Simmons was traded to the Nets almost a year ago in a deal that saw James Harden make the move to Philadelphia.

Three-time All-Star point guard Simmons scored 12 points, claimed five rebounds and provided five assists as the Nets slipped to 29-18.

Embiid finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds for a 76ers side that have won six games in a row and sit second in the Eastern Conference at 31-16 behind the Boston Celtics (35-14).

Asked how it felt doing battle with Simmons for the first time, he replied: "Nothing. Just like every single night, [I am trying to] just freaking kill whoever is in front of me.

"My mentality is always about scoring. If I get doubled, make the right pass, but if I get played one-on-one, or I see an opportunity to go score, I'm going to go score."

Doc Rivers, the 76ers head coach, said: "The first play, Ben is guarding Joel and it was like it was a party.

"It was hilarious. That's when I turned to our coaches and said, 'This is a boxing crowd tonight. They want to see them drop the basketball, turn and duke it out. And [Simmons and Embiid] went at each other, which is fun and good."

Despite another win, Rivers felt his players could have handled the occasion better.

He added: "I thought the team overall did. We got caught up in all the c*** going on tonight.

"There was a lot of chippiness, and that's good, but play above it, stay above it. Keep playing. I didn't think we did that."

Stephen Curry was ejected for throwing his mouthpiece before Jordan Poole scored a last-second layup as the Golden State Warriors narrowly beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-120 on Wednesday.

Curry was ejected with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter  with the Warriors up by two for unsportsmanlike conduct, having thrown his mouthpiece in frustration after Poole opted not to pass to him, before missing a three-point attempt.

But Golden State kept their composure without their NBA Finals MVP, with Klay Thompson draining a clutch three-pointer with 14.1 seconds left, before Ja Morant dished off for a Brandon Clarke dunk to square it up with 6.3 seconds remaining.

Poole got redemption for his role in Curry's ejection, when he got free to land a left-handed layup from Donte DiVincenzo's inbound to decide the game at Chase Center.

Curry finished with 34 points with four-of-eight three-point shooting, while Klay Thompson hit five-of-10 triples in his 24 points.

Draymond Green had 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks, while Poole added 21 points with seven assists.

Morant posted 29 points for the Grizzlies, making two-of-seven from beyond the arc with 12 assists and two steals. Desmond Bane managed 20 points but went four-of-six from the stripe.

The result lifts the Warriors up to ninth in the Western Conference with a 24-24 record, while the Grizzlies are 31-17 and second in the west.

Simmons booed as 76ers down Nets

Ben Simmons was booed throughout on his return to Wells Fargo Center as the Philadelphia 76ers edged the Brooklyn Nets 137-133 to clinch their sixth straight win.

James Harden starred against his former side with 23 points, three rebounds and seven assists, making two three-pointers and a driving layup in the final four minutes. Tyrese Maxey added 27 points off the bench and Joel Embiid had 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Seth Curry had a season-high 32 points including seven triples, Kyrie Irving added 30 points with 10 assists, while Ben Simmons was scoreless in the first half from only one shot but finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Lillard shoots 60 in Blazers win

Damian Lillard scored 60 points, the second-most by a single player in a game this season, as the Portland Trail Blazers won 134-124 over the Utah Jazz.

Lillard shot nine-of-15 from three-point range including six of those in the first half, recording his fourth career 60-point game, matching Michael Jordan and James Harden for the third most overall.

The Blazers guard scored five triples in the second quarter, which he has done 16 times in any quarter in his career, which is the second most by any player in the last 25 seasons. Jazz power forward Lauri Markkanen scored 24 points with four rebounds.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers did not hide his frustration with certain elements of his team's play despite beating the Portland Trail Blazers 105-95 on Thursday.

The Sixers made it four wins on the bounce, all of which have been on the road, with Joel Embiid and James Harden playing key roles.

Embiid's 32 points made it the seventh game in a row he has reached at least 30, while Harden posted a triple-double of 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

The Sixers looked to be coasting at one stage, finding themselves 26 points to the good, but the Trail Blazers made life a little trickier towards the end.

Rivers' team got the job done as they improved to 29-16 in the East, behind only the Boston Celtic and Milwaukee Bucks, though he was certainly not completely satisfied.

He was particularly irritated by the Sixers' poor handling of the Trail Blazers' trapping, and he was not impressed by how spread out his players were.

Asked how they coped with respect to trapping, Rivers said: "Poorly, but we also took advantage of some of it as well.

"I didn't think trapping was that hard, our spacing was horrendous, and we're great at spacing most nights, but tonight we kept leaving two guys on the other end.

"I'm hoarse from yelling, just getting one to cut through and we basically didn't do it. We got away with three or four more than I thought they could've had. But that's easy to fix."

In letting Portland back into the contest somewhat in the second half, Rivers felt there was a hint of complacency in the Sixers' performance.

As such, he surmised they are still not at a stage where they can consider themselves anything more than a "good" team.

He added: "There's no lesson, the lesson is execute. I just thought we didn't.

"You get leads sometimes and they're hard, NBA leads shrink quickly and then you get complacent, and I think we did a little bit of that.

"But in that, one thing I like is we kept playing defense, and that's a good sign.

"I think we're good, and I think we can be really, really good. But we have work to do.

"We can't expect to come in and just show up and win, we have to go out and do something about it."

Nevertheless, with the likes of Embiid and Harden in their arsenal, the Sixers have the kind of star quality that can drag them through the mud even when they are not at their optimal level as a unit.

That is not lost on Embiid.

"I think from the beginning it was easy," he said of linking up with Harden, who joined from the Brooklyn Nets last February.

"When you've got two guys with high basketball IQs, you can figure it out everything easy.

"So, it's all about just playing off of each other. We've been doing a wonderful job of doing that."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday delivers for the Giannis-less Bucks

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

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

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

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

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

Embiid bullies the Clippers

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

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

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

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

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham labelled LeBron James as "phenomenal" after scoring his 38,000th NBA career point, while the four-time MVP refused to discuss the milestone after another loss.

The Lakers slumped to a 19-24 record with Sunday's 113-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers where Russell Westbrook failed to get a clear shot or pass away on the final play.

Earlier, James made history in the first quarter by bringing up his 38,000th career point, joining only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with that milestone.

James is on track to usurp Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA record of 38,387 points next month, although he would not be drawn on that after the game.

Instead, Ham offered praise for James, who finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

"I thought Bron was phenomenal," Ham told reporters. "Really playing downhill. Playing the right way, running off the ball.

"Really finding guys as well. I thought he was really, really good."

James' performance was his 525th career 30-point game, while he is averaging 35.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists across the past six games.

The 38-year-old was not in a reflective mood after the game, ignoring the 38,000-point milestone for concern about a disappointing loss.

"We got a stop, gave ourselves a chance to win the game and we didn't," James said about the final play.

"It's just frustrating, getting in those positions and not being able to come away with the victory."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jokic sinks late three to clinch Nugs win

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

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

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

Lillard leads Blazers past Mavs missing Doncic

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

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

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

Ja Morant scored 23 points including an incredible one-handed dunk of the year candidate to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to their ninth straight win, 130-112 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Morant drove forward, reached back with his right arm and launched a massive dunk with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter over Jalen Smith to open up a 20-point lead.

The Grizzlies guard finished the game with 23 points on seven-of-17 shooting from the field, with 10 assists and three rebounds.

Morant is averaging 28.7 points per game during the Grizzlies' nine-game win streak.

Desmond Bane was solid as always, going five-of-11 from three-point range in his team-high 25 points.

The victory means Memphis are tied with the Denver Nuggets at 29-13 for the best record in the Western Conference. The win was the Grizzlies' fourth straight on the road.

The Pacers, missing Tyrese Haliburton, were led by Chris Duarte with 25 points despite a hand concern.

Embiid seals Sixers victory over Jazz

Joel Embiid's jumper with 5.7 seconds remaining clinched a 118-117 victory for the Philadelphia 76ers over the Utah Jazz.

Embiid finished the game with 31 points on nine-of-18 shooting from the field with two three-pointers, seven rebounds and two blocks, while James Harden added 30 points and 11 assists.

Utah trailed for most of the game but hit the lead at 115-114 with 33 seconds left, with Jordan Clarkson scoring 38 points with nine rebounds.

Doncic kept to season low as Blazers fire

Luka Doncic was kept to a season-low 15 points as Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 136-119 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Doncic was benched with seven minutes to go by Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, in a game where the Blazers snapped a five-game losing run, having led 71-56 at half-time.

Lillard was exceptional with 36 points on 11-of-20 shooting with four three-pointers and 10 assists, while center Jusuf Nurkic added 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Jayson Tatum recorded his 17th double-double of the season as the short-handed Boston Celtics won 109-98 over the Brooklyn Nets in their first game with the injured Kevin Durant on Thursday.

Tatum top scored for Boston with 20 points on seven-of-22 shooting from the field, making two-of-10 from three-point range, with 11 rebounds and five assists.

The Celtics small forward notched his fifth assist with a pass for Derrick White's three-pointer with 1:12 remaining in the fourth to put the dagger in and seal the win.

The victory is Boston's fifth straight win, while it improves their NBA-best road record to 14-7.

The Celtics are 7-0 from the second game of back-to-backs this season, and they achieved that without Jaylen Brown (adductor) who had scored 41 on Wednesday.

Marcus Short added 16 points, while White drained four triples in his 15-point haul. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 16 off the bench.

Kyrie Irving had a game-high 24 points for the Nets, who went 5-16 without Durant during a month-and-a-half stint on the sidelines last season.

Ben Simmons scored zero points from three shots, marking his second scoreless game of his season and career. However, he did have a season-high 13 assists, while T.J. Warren scored 20 points off the bench.

Giddey up as OKC down 76ers

James Harden recorded 15 assists for the sixth time this season but the Philadelphia 76ers were beaten 133-114 at home by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his outstanding season with 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Josh Giddey added 20 points and eight assists for OKC, who fought back from a third-quarter deficit to lead by 16 at the final change.

Harden had 24 points with six rebounds and 15 assists, with Joel Embiid scoring 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds.

Doncic triple-double in Mavs' 2OT win

Luka Doncic scored game-tying three-pointers at the end of regulation and the first overtime before the Dallas Mavericks triumphed 119-115 in a physical double OT clash over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doncic, who went 16 minutes without a basket at one point, finished the game with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, while Christian Wood came up clutch protecting the rim late with 24 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

LeBron James tried valiantly for the Lakers with 24 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists with two steals, while Russell Westbrook added 28 points off the bench, including two crucial free-throws at the end of regulation .

The Miami Heat broke the NBA record for most free throws in a game without a miss as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-111 at home on Tuesday.

With starters Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry all out due to various injuries, Jimmy Butler was tasked with leading the offense, and he was aggressive from the jump.

He scored only six of his 17 field goal attempts, but finished with a game-high 35 points after going a perfect 23-of-23 from the free throw line. In doing so, he finished one free throw behind James Harden (24-of-24 in December 2019) for the most in one game without a miss.

Butler was not alone in his marksmanship from the line, with his team-mates also combining to shoot 17-of-17, setting the new team record for 40 free throws without a miss.

The Heat star also added seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and three blocks in a spectacular two-way performance, while Victor Oladipo chipped in 19 points (seven-of-16 shooting) with four rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench.

For the Thunder, Josh Giddey collected his second triple-double of the season with 18 points (eight-of-18), 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Miami are now 22-20, and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid and Harden dominate the Pistons

The stars of the Philadelphia 76ers made light work of the visiting Detroit Pistons, with Joel Embiid and James Harden both enjoying big nights in a 147-116 victory.

Embiid had 36 points (12-of-20 shooting), 11 rebounds and two blocks in just 24 minutes, while Harden posted a strong triple-double with 16 points (six-of-seven shooting), 15 assists and 12 rebounds.

The 76ers have won five of their past six outings to improve their record to 25-15, placing them fifth in the East, 3.5 games behind the league-leading Boston Celtics (29-12).

Mitchell heroics not enough for the Cavaliers

Donovan Mitchell was a man on a mission in his first road game against the Utah Jazz since being traded in the offseason, but the Cleveland Cavaliers ultimately went down 116-114.

Mitchell scored a game-high 46 points on 14-of-27 shooting with six assists, five rebounds and three steals, but his team could not stop the duo of Jordan Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen.

Clarkson top-scored for Utah with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while Markkanen continued to build a case for Most Improved Player as he put up 25 points (six-of-18) and 16 rebounds.

Doc Rivers compared James Harden's showing against the Detroit Pistons to something akin to prime Magic Johnson.

Harden finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 123-111 win for the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

In the process, Harden surpassed 24,000 career regular-season points, becoming the 27th player to hit that landmark.

And Rivers believes Harden deserves to be compared to the very best.

"I hate to you use this example, but when he's playing like this, it's like having a scoring Magic Johnson on the floor," Rivers told reporters. 

"When he runs our team with this kind of pace and he scores and gets assists, we're really good."

The Sixers needed others to step up in the absence of Joel Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey also delivered alongside Harden, scoring 23 points.

"Our defense was pretty good, we took care of the ball and I think everyone competed hard," Maxey said.

"Even someone like Paul Reed comes in and gets nine points and eight offensive rebounds. He plays with so much energy that the other team can't keep up."

Philadelphia are 24-15 for the season and sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, which is propped up by the 11-32 Pistons.

"That's a team playing for a championship and we shot ourselves in the foot," said a frustrated Pistons coach Dwane Casey. 

"We had 22 turnovers – the same number we had in the last game against them. We can't give them points like that."

Kevin Durant went down injured before Royce O'Neale scored the game-winning two-pointer with 3.2 seconds left as the Brooklyn Nets edged the Miami Heat 102-101 on Sunday.

Durant exited late in the third quarter with a right knee issue after Jimmy Butler fell on him, but the Nets did enough without him to improve to 27-13 overall and second spot in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn have won 18 of their last 20 games.

Butler put the Heat ahead 101-100 with a dunk with 1:12 remaining, but O'Neale had the final say with a putback after Kyrie Irving had missed a 30-foot three-point attempt.

Irving top scored for Brooklyn with 28 points, including six-of-15 from three-point range with six assists, while Nic Claxton contributed strongly again with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

Durant managed 17 points on five-of-11 shooting from the field with five rebounds in his 30 minutes on the court.

Butler top-scored for the Heat with 26 points, but shot nine-of-21 from the field with two turnovers, while Tyler Herro finished with 24 points before limping off late.

Bam Adebayo was also limited by a right-hand contusion, scoring 10 points with eight rebounds.

Harden records triple-double in 76ers win

James Harden recorded a triple-double and became the 27th NBA player with 24,000 career points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons 123-111.

Harden finished with 20 points on seven-of-14 shooting, including three-of-five from beyond the arc, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Tyrese Maxey also came to the fore for the Joel Embiid-less 76ers, while Pistons guard Killian Hayes had a game-high 26 points, with four three-pointers.

Suns slump to sixth straight loss

The Cleveland Cavaliers consigned the short-handed Phoenix Suns to their sixth straight defeat with a 112-98 victory as Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland scored 22 points each.

Mitchell, who scored a season-high 71 points in last weeks' OT win over the Chicago Bulls, made seven-of-12 from the field, while Garland dished off seven assists in a fine display.

The Suns were missing their backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker but were within one point at three-quarter time before fading.

Duane Washington top scored for Phoenix in 25 minutes off the bench with 25 points including five triples.

Zach Lavine torched the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night to deliver a 126-112 road win for the Chicago Bulls.

Lavine finished two points off his season-high with 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, and he made history with his marksmanship from long range.

He hit 11 of his 13 three-point attempts (84.6 per cent), joining Stephen Curry as the only players in NBA history to hit at least 11 three-pointers in a game at over 80 per cent efficiency.

Over his past five games, Lavine is averaging 27.6 points while shooting 54.8 per cent from the field, 55.3 per cent from deep and 96.2 per cent at the free throw line.

Against the 76ers, Lavine was supported well by third-year forward and former top-five draft pick Patrick Williams, who scored 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting with six rebounds. 

It is the latest impressive sign from Williams, who had his best game of the season on Wednesday with 22 points (six-of-eight shooting), seven rebounds and two steals in an upset win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 76ers were without franchise centrepiece Joel Embiid, and James Harden put together a poor performance, finishing four-of-17 from the field for his 17 points and 11 assists.

Chicago have won seven of their past 10 to improve their record to 18-21 – two games behind the Eastern Conference's eight seed, currently occupied by the Miami Heat (20-19).

Lakers win fourth on the trot

LeBron James was at his playmaking best in the Los Angeles Lakers' 130-114 victory on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.

James had 17 points and 10 assists at three-quarter time, and after the Hawks cut the margin to 10 points early in the last period, James responded by scoring eight of the Lakers' next 10 points to put the game to bed.

He shot 10-of-19 for his 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with another triple-double off the bench, posting 18 points (seven-of-14), 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Nuggets take top spot in the West

The Denver Nuggets (26-13) are now alone atop the Western Conference standings after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-108.

It is the Nuggets' ninth win from their past 11 fixtures, and they were once again carried by reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Jokic averaged 29.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.1 assists during the month of December as he continues to build a case to become the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird from 1984-86.

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