Mikal Bridges scored a career-high 45 points in his third game for the Brooklyn Nets since his trade for Kevin Durant as they won 116-105 over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Nets had dropped four of their past five games since trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks, with the injured Durant following him out the exit door last week.

Bridges shot 17-of-24 from the field, making four-of-six from beyond the arc with eight rebounds and five assists.

The Nets became the first team in NBA history to have four players score 45 points or more in a single game in one season.

Cameron Johnson, who also joined the Nets from the Phoenix Suns alongside Bridges, added 18 points with three assists.

The Nets had trailed 56-52 at the main break, but Bridges broke the game open with 15 straight points.

Bridges finished the game with 17 points in the fourth quarter, comfortably eclipsing his previous career-best return of 34 points.

Bam Adebayo had 24 points with 13 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, while Max Strus scored 18 points as the Heat fell to 32-27.

The win lifted the Nets to 34-24, although Ben Simmons' woes continued with only two points, four rebounds and assists in 20 minutes.

Embiid brings up milestone amid double-double

Joel Embiid brought up his 10,000th career as he recorded a double-double as the Philadelphia 76ers won their fourth straight in a 118-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid finished with 29 points with 14 rebounds and five assists, while James Harden also managed a double-double with 19 points and 12 assists. Harden assisted and scored in 27 of 38 first-quarter points.

The 76ers led 63-38 at half-time, although Donovan Mitchell fought hard for the Cavaliers, scoring 25 second-half points, before finishing with 33.

LeBron returns as Lakers win

LeBron James scored 21 points on his return after three games out with a foot injury as the Los Angeles Lakers won 120-102 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 28 points with 10 rebounds and five assists as the Lakers improved to 27-32 to boost their playoff hopes, while D'Angelo Russell added 21 points. The Lakers never trailed after a 38-point opening quarter.

Brandon Ingram top scored for the Pelicans, still missing Zion Williamson, with 25 points, while Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points with 11 rebounds.

James Harden said he left the Brooklyn Nets "for a reason" after he and Joel Embiid starred in the Philadelphia 76ers' win over his former team, describing his time in Brooklyn as "frustrating".

Harden scored 29 points with six rebounds and six assists on his first appearance at Barclays Center since pushing for a trade to Philadelphia last year, helping the Sixers record a 101-98 win.

The 2018 NBA MVP and 10-time All-Star was criticised for his decision to seek a Nets exit just over a year after being acquired from the Houston Rockets.

Harden was keen to get a few things off his chest after Saturday's win over Brooklyn, who are working with a new-look roster after the recent departure of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Asked if he could have foreseen a situation where both of those stars followed him through the exit door, Harden said: "Yeah. I didn't just ask to leave for no reason. It wasn't right.

"I was in a really good place in Houston. Obviously, we didn't have a chance to win a championship, but I was comfortable. 

"So for me to up and leave my family, all the things I created there, to come to Brooklyn for a year and a half to try to just get up and leave, it was for a reason, you know what I mean?" 

Pushed on whether the Nets could have done anything to keep him, the guard added: "Yeah, there was. Like, a lot of things.

"But it was just a lot of dysfunction, clearly. A lot of internal things that I'm not going to ever say or put in the media or anything. That was one of the reasons why I chose to make my decision.

"But now, fast-forward to this date, I don't look like the crazy one. I don't look like the quitter or whatever the media want to call me. 

"I knew what was going on and I just decided, 'hey, I'm not built for this'. I don't want to deal with that. I want to play basketball and have fun and enjoy doing it. Fast-forward to today, they've got a whole new roster."

Asked to sum up his time in Brooklyn, Harden described it as "frustrating", bemoaning his lack of game-time alongside Durant and Irving after the trio only played 16 times together.

"The reason I made that decision to get out of my comfort zone, to leave Houston and do everything that I did to get out of there was to come in and play with KD and Kyrie," he said.

"That didn't happen as much as I would like to or probably the organisation wanted to. It was just something where I knew it wasn't going to change. I had to make an individual decision for the betterment of my family and my career

 "It's a lot of what-ifs when you play less than 20 games together. So it's a little bit frustrating, but it is what it is. Hopefully, everybody's in a good place now and we can move on."

Joel Embiid and James Harden led the Philadelphia 76ers to a hard-fought 101-98 win against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Saturday.

The Nets, now shorn of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, had to face another of their former stars in Harden, who had no problem showing them the kind of form he rarely displayed in Brooklyn on his first appearance there since leaving last year, scoring 29 points with six rebounds and six assists.

Embiid had an even better outing, with the Cameroonian finishing with 37 points and 13 rebounds, making 12 of his 18 field-goal attempts.

Mikal Bridges scored 23 on debut for Brooklyn after his arrival as part of the Durant deal with the Phoenix Suns, with fellow debutant Cam Johnson adding 12, while Joe Harris managed 18 points from just over 16 minutes on court.

The two players the Nets acquired as part of the Irving deal, Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie, struggled against the Sixers.

Finney-Smith made just two of his eight field-goal attempts, while Dinwiddie fared even worse with two from 10, and zero from four shots from beyond the arc.

Dinwiddie thought he had forced overtime at least when a three-pointer finally went in, but it was ruled out of time after a review as Philadelphia secured the victory.

 

Doncic and Irving outfoxed by De'Aaron

In their first outing together for the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic and Irving could not get the W as De'Aaron Fox helped the Sacramento Kings to an overtime victory.

Both Doncic and Irving spent more than 40 minutes on the court, scoring 27 and 28 points respectively in a tight game in which neither team ended a quarter with more than a two-point lead.

Fox particularly shone in the latter stages as he recorded 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including six free throws in the final 18.4 seconds to help seal a 133-128 win at Golden 1 Center.

Jokic makes history, Young's assist bonanza

Nikola Jokic became only the fifth player in NBA history to record 20+ triple-doubles in a single season as he led the Denver Nuggets to a 119-105 win at the Charlotte Hornets.

The two-time MVP scored 30 points, with 16 rebounds and 10 assists, while Trae Young also had a productive game as the Atlanta Hawks beat the San Antonio Spurs 125-106.

Young provided an impressive season-high 17 assists for his team to go with his 24 points to make it a 12-game losing streak for the Spurs, their longest since 1988-89 (13).

A much-changed Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a 109-103 victory against the Golden State Warriors, with Dennis Schroder top-scoring with 26 points, while the returning D'Angelo Russell added 15 and Anthony Davis recorded 16 rebounds.

Friday marked two games with Kyrie Irving in the line-up, and two wins for the Dallas Mavericks as they beat the Sacramento Kings 122-114 on the road.

Irving – who was acquired before the trade deadline in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks – led the Mavericks in scoring for the second game in a row as superstar Luka Doncic continues to recover from a heel injury.

He had 25 points against the Kings on five-of-14 shooting, hitting all 12 of his free throws, while also tying his season-high with 10 assists.

Irving was supported strongly by 22-year-old emerging Australian Josh Green, who chipped in 17 points on seven-of-12 shooting and a season-high seven assists, and rookie Jaden Hardy hit four of his five three-point attempts off the bench.

The Mavericks had been flailing without Doncic, having lost the first six games he missed this season, but they have now won three in a row during his current absence.

For the Kings, De'Aaron Fox was terrific with a game-high 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting, adding six rebounds and five assists, while All-Star selection Domantas Sabonis had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

With the victory, the Mavericks are now 31-26, sitting fourth in the Western Conference, while the 31-24 Kings are third.

Giannis accomplishes feat not seen since Wilt

The Milwaukee Bucks are the hottest team in the NBA and collected their 10th consecutive win with a 119-106 triumph against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 35 points (13-of-25 shooting), eight rebounds, six assists and two steals, giving him a total of 373 points during the 10-game winning streak. That is the most points by one player during a 10-game winning streak since Wilt Chamberlain's 416 during his rookie season in 1959-60.

At 39-17, the Bucks are just one game behind the 40-16 Boston Celtics in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and the league.

Embiid dominates the Knicks

Joel Embiid was unstoppable as his Philadelphia 76ers defended home court 119-108 against the visiting New York Knicks.

Embiid scored a game-high 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting, and his field goal percentage of 77.8 set a new season-high. He also added 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.

James Harden delivered, dishing a game-high 12 assists to go with his 20 points (seven-of-17) and eight rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey exploded for 27 points (nine-of-16) off the bench.

The 76ers (35-19) climbed up to third place in the East, while the Knicks (30-27) occupy the seventh seed.

Kyrie Irving got off to a winning start as the Dallas Mavericks fought out a 110-104 win at the home of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Fresh from his trade from the Brooklyn Nets, Irving shot a team-high 24 points on debut for Dallas.

The Mavs were without Luka Doncic, but the addition of Irving to their ranks meant they had sufficient firepower to overcome the Clippers and rise to fourth in the Western Conference.

Tim Hardaway Jr. weighed in with 19 points, six assists and five rebounds, and his three-pointer with 26.8 seconds remaining effectively slammed the door shut on the prospect of a late Clippers fightback.

It meant Norman Powell's 24-point game off the bench for the Clippers came in vain.

Celtics sink Sixers but suffer Brown blow

Behind 19-of-35 shooting from three-point range, the injury-hit Boston Celtics had too much for the Philadelphia 76ers, with the Eastern Conference leaders scoring a 106-99 win.

Despite Joel Embiid scoring a game-high 28 points and James Harden weighing in with a 26-point game and 11 assists, the 76ers were sunk by a Boston side who had six players in double figures, led by Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon who both hit 19 points.

Worryingly, Jaylen Brown suffered what the Celtics described as a "facial contusion" when banging into team-mate Jayson Tatum as both went after a rebound in the closing stages of the second quarter.

It forced Brown out of the game and could see him sidelined for an extended spell, with reports claiming he suffered a fracture. That came as a fresh blow to a Celtics side who came into the game without starters Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Robert Williams.

Brown's injury meant he and Tatum combined for only 16 points. Tatum managed just 12 points but added nine assists and eight rebounds.

It ended the double act's streak of 55 straight regular-season games combining for 40 or more points in games played together. That was the longest streak by a pair of team-mates in the NBA since a 60-game run from the 76ers' Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer from 1965 to 1966.

Lillard heroics see Blazers blunt Warriors

Damian Lillard's triple-double helped the Portland Trail Blazers see off the Golden State Warriors, who were again without the injured Stephen Curry.

In Curry's continuing absence, Jordan Poole weighed in with 38 points and Klay Thompson collected a 31-point haul, but reigning NBA champions Golden State went down 125-122 at Moda Center.

Lillard finished with 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a game that was locked at 95-95 heading to the fourth quarter.

Doc Rivers was frustrated by the Philadelphia 76ers' second unit after his side gave up a big lead against the New York Knicks.

The Sixers went down 108-97 in New York on Sunday, despite taking a 21-point lead in the first quarter.

Philadelphia's advantage was cut to just two by halftime, and although they restored a three-point cushion heading into the final quarter, they could not hold out.

Having seen his team surrender a 21-point lead for the second game in a week, coach Rivers bemoaned the play of those he had to call on from the bench.

"I thought our second unit came in and struggled," Rivers told reporters.

"This is the second time that has happened. The same thing happened in Orlando.

"Both times, we were scoring too easy. The second group comes in and thinks this is an offensive game and they didn't see the reason the first group got the lead was because of defense."

Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and James Harden started and each posted double-doubles for the 76ers, yet Tyrese Maxey was the only substitute to get into double figures for points (12).

In contrast, the Knicks bench accounted for 37 points, with Evan Fournier putting up 17 of them.

Rivers did, however, insist it was "not just a bench loss".

"We've been good at that. Just because one half doesn't work, you don't vacate the unit," he said.

"That's what guys do who lose a lot. So they didn't play well, though honestly, I didn't think that's why we lost the game.

"I hate that the numbers look like it was the bench: it was everybody. This was a team loss and I made that clear.

"We'll sit and look and we'll see minus-24 and plus-34s, our stars were in some of that too when Fournier was making those shots, and so I just thought it was a team loss. I thought it was more mental and emotional than just playing basketball.

"I thought we were just not strong. Mentally, I thought they were the mentally tougher team and they deserve to win."

Embiid, who led the game with 31 points, 14 rebounds and three assists, added: "It's never easy.

"A 20-point lead in the NBA, that's nothing. Any team can come back and that's what they did tonight."

The New York Knicks stormed home with a 32-18 final period to defeat the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 on Sunday,

The Knicks were on the second night of a back-to-back, coming off a disappointing overtime loss at home against the Los Angeles Clippers, but they steadied the ship to avoid a fourth loss from their past five.

Point guard Jalen Brunson finished with 21 points on six-of-16 shooting with seven assists and five rebounds, while All-Star team-mate Julius Randle posted 24 points (eight-of-19), nine rebounds and seven assists.

They were solid, but inefficient, shooting a combined 40 per cent from the field while both finished with a plus/minus figure in the negatives.

What won the game for the Knicks was their production off the bench. Evan Fournier scored a season-high 17 points (six-of-11), Deuce McBride added 14 points (three-of-eight), and the pair combined to shoot eight-of-14 from long range, while both posting a plus/minus of plus 28 or better.

Backup center Isaiah Hartenstein was similarly impactful, snatching an equal season-high 14 rebounds in his fourth consecutive appearance with at least 10 boards.

MVP candidate Joel Embiid was respectable for the 76ers, finishing six-of-16 from the field, but he still produced 31 points and 14 rebounds after shooting 18-of-19 from the free throw line.

With the win, the Knicks improved their record to 29-26, and they now sit just a half-game back from the six seed in the Eastern Conference.

Balanced Raptors overcome Morant-less Grizzlies

With Ja Morant out injured, the Memphis Grizzlies were unable to protect their lead down the stretch, going down 106-103 at home against the Toronto Raptors.

The Grizzlies led by 15 points late in the third quarter, before the Raptors closed the show on a 40-22 run.

Seven of the eight Raptors to play finished with between 10 and 19 points, with Pascal Siakam's 19 points on seven-of-17 shooting leading the scoring, while Scottie Barnes was a menace defensively as he had two steals and two blocks to go with his 16 points and seven rebounds.

Desmond Bane (26 points and four steals) and Jaren Jackson Jr (18 points and four blocks) were the bright spots for the Grizzlies, who at 32-21 are now four-and-a-half games behind the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets.

Cavs starters light up the Pacers

The Cleveland Cavaliers' starting-five shot a blistering 58.7 per cent from the field as they blew out the Indiana Pacers 122-103 on the road.

Donovan Mitchell had 19 points on six-of-18 shooting, but he was the only Cleveland starter to hit less than half his shots as Darius Garland (eight-of-13), Evan Mobley (seven-of-12), Jarrett Allen (nine-of-11) and Isaac Okoro (seven-of-nine) combined to shoot 68.8 per cent.

Newly extended Pacers center Myles Turner had strong production in the losing effort, finishing with 27 points (nine-of-18), 10 rebounds and three blocks.

The Philadelphia 76ers have now won nine of their past 10 games after Joel Embiid overpowered the San Antonio Spurs in a 137-125 road victory on Friday.

Embiid, who is leading the league in scoring at 33.5 points per game, put together what seemed like an effortless 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also added 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

His 1.1 steals per game this season are tied for his career-high, while Embiid is also one of six players averaging at least one steal and one block per game, joining Anthony Davis, Kristaps Porzingis, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jaden McDaniels and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The 76ers took control of the game with a 47-point second quarter, jumping ahead by 12 at half-time, and the margin never got any closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Embiid was supported well by Tyrese Maxey off the bench with 25 points (eight-of-15 shooting) in 27 minutes, while James Harden finished with 16 points (four-of-10) and eight assists.

For the Spurs, it was an impressive showing from first-round rookie Malaki Branham as he scored a career-high 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, just two days after setting a career-high of 22 points (nine-of-13) against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

With the win, the 76ers improved to 34-17 – the fourth-best record in the NBA.

Suns resurgence continues

The Phoenix Suns (28-26) have climbed back into the Western Conference's top-six after a strong 106-94 road win against the league-leading Boston Celtics (37-16).

Phoenix's season was on life support a couple of weeks ago as they collected only two wins from a 14-game stretch while both Devin Booker and Chris Paul sat out with injuries, but Paul's return has ignited a 7-2 run from their past nine.

Against the Celtics, Paul led both teams with a game-high eight assists to go with 15 points (six-of-15) and six rebounds, while Mikal Bridges's 25 points on nine-of-20 shooting led the Suns in scoring.

It was a night to forget for Celtics MVP candidate Jayson Tatum, shooting just three-of-15 from the field.

Pacers claim bragging rights over trade partner

In a clash between All-Stars who swapped places last season, it was Buddy Hield leading the Indiana Pacers to a 107-104 home win against the Sacramento Kings.

These teams engaged in one of the biggest trades of the 2021-22 campaign when the Pacers sent Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings for point guard Tyrese Haliburton and Hield, with Sabonis and Haliburton both earning All-Star nods this season on their new teams.

But it was Hield rising to the occasion against his former side, scoring a team-high 21 points on eight-of-15 shooting while also collecting his third double-double of the season with 10 rebounds, and his six assists were his most since October.

Former MVP James Harden and Atlanta Hawks franchise player Trae Young were among those to miss out on All-Star selection after the Eastern Conference reserves were announced on Thursday.

The starters had already been named a week ago, with Brooklyn Nets tandem Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant being joined by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell and Boston Celtics MVP candidate Jayson Tatum on the East team, captained by Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

After being a surprise omission from the starters, Philadelphia 76ers back-to-back MVP runner-up Joel Embiid headlined the reserves, where he will be joined by Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, New York Knicks big-man Julius Randle, Chicago Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan, Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday and Indiana Pacers rising star Tyrese Haliburton.

It is the sixth consecutive All-Star selection for Embiid, the sixth overall for DeRozan, while it will be the second time for Adebayo, Brown, Randle and Holiday – with Holiday having to wait 10 years between drinks after his first selection in 2013.

Haliburton was the only first-time All-Star in the East, and he had to beat out some serious names to earn the honour.

The Pacers point guard is averaging career-highs in points (20.2) and assists (10.2) after being traded from the Sacramento Kings at last season's trade deadline, while his 1.8 steals per game has him sitting fourth in the league.

His 10.2 assists per game trails only Harden (11.0), while Harden is also averaging more points (21.4), rebounds (6.4 to 4.0) and owns a superior record. Harden – who had made 10 consecutive All-Star Games prior to this season – is 23-11 in his 34 contests entering Thursday, while Haliburton's Pacers are 22-18 in his 40 appearances.

The 76ers are the only of the East's top-four teams to not send two players to All-Star Weekend.

Meanwhile, Young's Hawks also sit two places above the Pacers in the standings with a 26-26 record. With 27.0 points and 9.9 assists per game, Young joins Harden and back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic as the only players in the league averaging at least 21 points and nine assists.

James Harden has shrugged off any stress over his chances of making the All-Star Game, saying his numbers speak for themselves.

Harden had a double-double of 26 points and 10 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 105-94 on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old is a 10-time All-Star, but an 11th successive appearance in the mid-season exhibition game is not guaranteed.

Harden faces stiff competition from several other star names, including Sixers team-mate Joel Embiid, in the Eastern Conference to make the reserve list for the All-Star Game. There are seven spots available for each conference.

Yet Harden, who is averaging 21.4 points per game – Embiid, with 33.5, is the only Sixers player to boast more – 6.4 rebounds and 11 assists this season, believes he has done enough.

"If my name is called, great," Harden told reporters. "If not, there's bigger and better goals for the season.

"I'm not going to sit here and make a case. The numbers show it, our seed shows it."

The Sixers are third in the East with a 33-17 record, having won eight of their previous nine games.

Harden made three catch-and-shoot three-pointers against Orlando and was thrilled to thrive in an area where he has struggled.

"That's pretty exciting, I didn't want to do too much, just catch and shoot," he explained.

"You put the work in, I work on it every day. So opportunities are going to come whether it's Joel or dribble penetration."

Embiid added: "That's not something he was comfortable with, but he's gotten better over time and he's taking more and more.

"He needs to take more than he does, but it's a good step. He's getting better and he's knocking them down."

Embiid was marked tightly by the Magic's Franz Wagner, though still topped the scoring with 28 points, adding 11 rebounds and three assists.

"A really good young player," Embiid said of Wagner. "Obviously, you can tell he's competitive, as he kept attacking even though he was not getting the better of me.

"But I like him, a great talent and as a team, that's a pretty good team."

Sixers coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, saw scope for improvement. 

"I didn't think we played great, but we played good enough to win," he said. "We'll take that."

The Brooklyn Nets fell to their worst loss in nine years after a hugely one-sided first quarter teed the Boston Celtics up for a 139-96 win.

The Nets had lost their previous two games against the Celtics this year, but this was by some margin the worst of the lot.

A 43-point loss was the Nets' heaviest since losing by 44 against the Portland Trail Blazers in February 2014.

Brooklyn never gave themselves a chance after being outscored by 30 in the first quarter, shooting one of 12 from the field to start as shot after shot went in at the other end.

The Nets' 23.1 per cent three-point shooting over the game stood in stark contrast to the Celtics' 48.1 per cent as Jayson Tatum (31 points) and Jaylen Brown (26 points) made seven threes apiece.

The pair were the first Boston team-mates to each make seven threes in the same game in franchise history, and the huge lead even allowed them to sit the fourth quarter.

Former Celtic Kyrie Irving was one of seven from beyond the arc on his way to 20 points and a plus/minus of minus-31.

No let-up from Lillard

Another big performance from Damian Lillard saw Portland rally to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-112.

Lillard scored 42 points, including a stunning seven-point play early in the third quarter, along with his 10 assists and eight rebounds.

The point guard has now topped 30 points in five straight games as the Blazers have gone 4-1 and 11 of 13 games going back to early January.

Swift revenge for Sixers

The Philadelphia 76ers had suffered a shock loss in their previous game at home to the Orlando Magic two days earlier, but a rematch went according to plan.

Joel Embiid, the bright spot in that loss, was again influential with 28 points and 11 rebounds in a 105-94 win.

Markelle Fultz, Embiid's former Sixers team-mate, had celebrated victory on his first return to Philadelphia and again tried to lift the Magic in this loss, finishing with a team-high 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting.

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."

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