Jacque Vaughn will continue challenging Ben Simmons to answer his responsibilities after another disappointing outing saw him ejected in the Brooklyn Nets' loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Simmons was sent from the game for arguing with referee Eric Lewis having played just 18 minutes, as the Nets continued to struggle in the injury-enforced absence of Kevin Durant in a 117-112 loss – their fourth defeat in a row.

In his previous outing, Simmons had put up his first triple-double for the Nets in Tuesday's defeat to the San Antonio Spurs, but a season of ups-and-downs went on in Phoenix, where he spent most of the game contending with foul trouble.

Averaging just 7.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists this campaign, the Nets need more from a player who has All-Star pedigree.

Vaughn is determined to spark more consistency in Simmons, who arrived last February as part of a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We need him to be productive, and that is without the fouls," Vaughn said. "That is helping us rebound the basketball. That is playing with poise and composure. That is pushing the pace for us.

"So unfortunately when you're a really good basketball player, your list is long and so are the responsibilities. And hopefully, we'll continue to ask of those things and challenge him and challenge this group to be able to answer those long lists."

For his part, Simmons felt the decisions given against him lacked consistency.

"I don't want to say nothing because I ain't trying to get another fine," he said.

"I think if you're going to call the game like that, then you've got to be consistent. I think it's been like that all year. If you're going to call a moving back, then you've got to be consistent [on] both ends. Same with the holding."

Team-mate Kyrie Irving remains confident in Simmons' ability to contribute to the Nets' cause but urged him to control his emotions going forward as the season reaches an important stretch towards the playoffs.

"Same thing we've been doing is just give him a ton of confidence," Irving said when asked how the team can help Simmons get going. 

"But also knowing that he's mature enough to handle himself. He's a very talented basketball player, and we could name all the superlatives, but we need him in the game and I think he understands that, especially during this stretch we're going to need him in every game.

"I've gotten ejected before only once in my career. Tempers flare, you disagree with the refs, but the big picture is the most important thing, and on this team, I think Ben realises that. But tonight, just his emotions got the best of him."

The latest defeat leaves the Nets fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 27-17 record.

Jayson Tatum grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds during the Boston Celtics' 121-118 overtime victory against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

It was a gritty all-round performance from Tatum as he also finished with 34 points, six assists and three steals, imposing his will on the game despite shooting an inefficient nine-of-27 from the field and committing seven turnovers.

Like Tatum, his All-Star team-mate Jaylen Brown also shot just 33 per cent from the field (six-of-18), but veteran center Al Horford picked up the slack, scoring 20 points on eight-of-13 shooting while adding 10 rebounds and three blocks.

As was a theme on the night, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry struggled from the field, shooting nine-of-25 for his 29 points, supplementing his outing with seven assists, four steals, four rebounds and two blocks. Klay Thompson (eight-of-16) and Jordan Poole (10-of-25) chipped in 24 points each.

With the win, the Celtics improved their league-leading record to 34-12, while the Warriors fell under .500 at 22-23, including a horrific 5-17 record on the road.

Russell leads late Timberwolves comeback

Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell nearly scored as many points as the entire Toronto Raptors team in the fourth quarter of a 128-126 comeback win.

Russell had 16 in the last period – including 14 in a row for the Timberwolves – while the Raptors could only muster 17 points, allowing the home side to claw back from what was a 14-point margin with 10 minutes remaining.

The former All-Star finished with 25 points on eight-of-15 shooting, adding six assists and two steals, while role-player Kyle Anderson continued to flourish in his expanded minutes with 20 points (eight-of-nine), 10 rebounds and six assists.

Suns snap losing run with Nets win

In the battle of two short-handed teams, the Phoenix Suns ended their three-game losing streak in a nail-biting 117-112 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

The Suns were up by 24 at one point, but Kyrie Irving got hot in the fourth quarter to finish with 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, for the Nets who were without Kevin Durant.

Deandre Ayton stepped up for Phoenix, missing Devin Booker and Chris Paul, with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Mikal Bridges added 28. Cam Johnson added 19 points on his return from injury.

Bones Hyland spoke of building "championship habits" and hailed the latest Nikola Jokic masterclass after the Denver Nuggets savaged the Phoenix Suns at Ball Arena.

A 12th straight home victory for Denver, and a fourth successive win overall, kept the team top of the Western Conference, with the 126-97 margin reflecting a strong night's work.

Jokic fell just short of a 12th triple-double of the season, finishing with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, with Hyland contributing 21 for the Nuggets.

Hyland said of Jokic, who is making a strong case for a third MVP in a row: "Everybody in the world knows when he gets the ball and you go for a rebound, he's the greatest passer in the world, so when he gets the ball we just run.

"Ninety per cent of the time he's gonna make the right pass so when he's got it we run."

Hyland added after Wednesday's rout, according to the Denver Post: "I was really just feeling it. The basket felt like it was really wide. It was like shooting a rock into the ocean."

Speaking to Altitude TV in an on-court interview, Hyland said: "It's a night when we're playing our game.

"We've got a lot of dynamic players on our team, a lot of good shooters, so it's proving it in the season. We've got to focus on what we've got to focus on, build championship habits and just come out here and get a win."

Guard Murray suffered a left ankle problem late in the game, but coach Michael Malone does not expect him to miss any games.

Malone was impressed with the team's efforts and called for them to sustain a high level.

"Your home court has to have an advantage," Malone said. "Our fans have been terrific, and I just love how we’re playing. Once again, a good defensive performance that leads to our offense.

"We had 24 fast break points tonight to their six, we had 30 assists to only 11 turnovers. But the beginning of that is when we defend, and everything just flows from there.

"So hopefully we can continue to protect this home court at a high level through the regular season and into the playoffs."

Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 41 points and Jayson Tatum added 31 as the Boston Celtics claimed their fourth successive win with a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Brown recorded his first double-double in a half in his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while he added another 18 points in the third quarter.

The Celtics guard shot 15-of-21 from the field with three-of-six from three-point range along with 12 rebounds for the game.

Tatum went 10-of-22 from the field with 10 rebounds and four assists, with Malcolm Brogdon adding 20 points off the bench.

The game marked the seventh time this season that Brown and Tatum have scored at least 30 points each, which is joint for the most before February by two players from the same team in the last 40 seasons.

The other duos to have managed that are Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in 2018-19 and Denver's Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe in 1983-84.

The result improves the Celtics to 30-12 overall and 17-5 at the TD Garden, while the Pelicans lose ground on the top two in the west, falling to 25-17.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 points for the Pels, marking the first time in his career he had 20-plus points in a first half in consecutive games.

Jokic falls short of triple-double as Nuggets triumph

Nikola Jokic fell one assist short of a 12th triple-double of the season as the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets claimed their fourth straight win, 126-97 over the Phoenix Suns.

The reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Jokic finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, including a brilliant first-quarter look-away fling to Aaron Gordon.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, although he picked up an ankle complaint, while Bones Hyland contributed 21 for the Nuggets, who have claimed 11 wins in a row at home, along with winning 14 of their past 17.

Grizzlies secure eighth straight win

Ja Morant led the way as the Memphis Grizzlies secured an eighth consecutive victory to keep pressure on the Nuggets at the top of the west with a 135-129 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Morant scored 21 points in the first half, finishing the game with 38 along with five rebounds and four assists.

The Grizzlies guard also produced a big dunk over Jakob Poeltl in the third quarter, while his put-back with 24.1 seconds left in the fourth sealed the victory.

Klay Thompson suggested the Golden State Warriors paid the price for thinking "we'd just get the dub" as Stephen Curry returned from injury against the Phoenix Suns.

Curry missed 11 games with a shoulder injury but was back in the lineup on Tuesday alongside Andrew Wiggins, who had returned in the Warriors' previous outing after 15 games on the sideline.

However, the Suns defeated the NBA champions 125-113 after building a big halftime lead.

Complacency was an issue, according to Thompson, whose 29 points led Golden State.

"I think with Steph and [Wiggins] back, we probably relaxed a bit more than we should have," he said.

"We thought with them showing up, we'd just get the dub."

The loss was the Warriors' third in a row after a run of five straight wins appeared to have got their season back on track.

At the halfway mark in the campaign, Golden State are eighth in the West with a losing 20-21 record.

"We've been talking about it for a long time," said Curry. "Eventually, you have to do it or else time runs out.

"We have 41 games to figure it out – or else we won't."

There was at least cause for optimism in the fourth quarter, in which Curry, playing with a shooting sleeve on his left arm, scored 16 of his 24 points.

"It's hit or miss with how much rust you will have and how close you can get to the speed of the game," Curry explained. "The first quarter, it felt good just to be out there, running with our guys.

"I felt like I got stronger as the game went on. In the fourth, the intensity of the game picked up. We were playing very desperately trying to come back and make some plays. I felt like myself again."

Coach Steve Kerr added: "I'm hoping that fourth quarter was the team that I have come to know and love and recognise.

"But we have to show in the first quarter, not in the fourth quarter."

The Golden State Warriors will receive some handy reinforcements on Tuesday as future Hall-of-Famer Stephen Curry prepares to return from an 11-game absence.

Curry has not played since suffering a left shoulder subluxation against the Indiana Pacers on December 14, and after dropping three of the first four games without their two-time MVP, they steadied the ship and went 6-5.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP is averaging 30.0 points, 6.8 assists and a career-high 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting a blistering 43.4 per cent on a gaudy 11.6 three-point attempts per contest.

After starting the season 3-7, the Warriors have recovered to 20-20, and should be at close to full strength when they take on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday following the return of starting wing Andrew Wiggins on Saturday.

The Warriors currently occupy the seventh seed in the congested Western Conference, only one game behind the fifth-seeded Sacramento Kings (20-18), but also only a half-game ahead of the 10th-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (19-20).

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.

New York Knicks All-Star Julius Randle believes his side are figuring things out defensively after smothering the Phoenix Suns 102-83 on Monday.

The Knicks began the season shaky on the defensive end, posting the seventh-worst defensive rating in the league during their 16 games in November, giving up 115.1 points per 100 possessions.

They were a different team in December, limiting teams to 108.2 points per 100 possessions for the third-best defense, and that included a five-game losing streak at the end of the month where they conceded at least 113 points in each defeat.

But after getting back on the right track with a 108-88 victory against the Houston Rockets on New Year's Eve, the Knicks held their second consecutive opponent under 90 points for the second time this season, illustrating how imposing they can be on that end of the floor when they are switched on.

Their back-to-back defensive masterclasses have boosted the Knicks to the eighth-ranked defense for the season, with every team ahead of them essentially already pencilled into the playoffs.

Against the Suns, Randle received MVP chants from the Madison Square Garden crowd as he led the way with a game-high 28 points (seven-of-18 shooting), a game-high 16 rebounds and an equal team-high six assists.

It was a great way to start January after he put up terrific figures of 28.3 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 47.8 per cent shooting in December, rediscovering the form that made him an All-Star in the 2020-21 season.

Speaking to the media after the game, the man who has endured his fair share of criticism from Knicks fans said "it's good to be on the good side of The Garden", before breaking down what has been behind their strong form.

"Defensively, we had to get back to our ways," Randle said. "When we won eight in a row, the defensive end was big for us. We feel that rhythm and chemistry coming back on that end."

Randle also spoke about how the addition of point guard Jalen Brunson in the offseason has helped his game.

"Honestly, it’s a lot easier [to score this season]," he said. "I attributed a lot of that to Jalen [Brunson], obviously.

"Also [Immanuel Quickley], and our guards… I’m not having to work as hard to get buckets or score. So, the game is a lot easier on my body."

When asked if he has put any thought into a potential return to All-Star Weekend, Randle said he is hoping to get another chance to share that experience with his loved ones.

"Obviously, you work hard to put yourself in a position to do that," he said. "So it would be amazing [to play in the All-Star Game]. 

"I love it. Not necessarily for me, obviously it is great, but I love it to be able to experience it with my family because they’re the ones that really make the true sacrifice, and have led me to dedicate myself to the game the way I’ve been able to do in the summers, and night-in, night-out.

"So I love to be able to let them enjoy it and see the rewards of it and stuff like that, that’s why it’s important. But for me, whatever the team needs night-in and night-out – whatever it is – I just want to help the team."

Devin Booker will miss at least four weeks of action after suffering a groin strain.

The Phoenix Suns star pulled up just four minutes into the 128-125 overtime defeat to the Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day.

Booker had missed the previous three games with groin soreness, and he appeared to suffer a recurrence early on at Ball Arena before leaving the court.

The Suns confirmed on Wednesday that Booker will miss at least four weeks, at which time he will undergo further evaluation.

The 26-year-old has been in fine form this season, averaging a career-high 27.1 points per game, and he scored 58 points against the New Orleans Pelicans in his previous appearance prior to the brief cameo against the Nuggets.

Booker will have to wait to surpass Steve Nash to claim top spot for franchise three-pointers, needing to add just seven more to his current total of 1,045.

Devin Booker suffered a recurrence of his groin problem in the Phoenix Suns' overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day.

The shooting guard had sat out his team's last three games with soreness, missing a win over the Los Angeles Lakers and defeats to the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies.

Any hope of a smooth comeback was dashed early in the first quarter against Denver after Booker's groin injury flared up, forcing him out of an eventual 128-125 overtime loss on Sunday after clocking just over four minutes on court.

The three-time All-Star needs just seven more three-pointers to pass Steve Nash for first place on the Suns' all-time franchise list, having scored 1,045 in his career with them to date.

In Booker's absence, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul posted a combined 39 points to take the Suns within a whisker of victory, only to come up short at the end.

Nikola Jokic proved best-in-show for the Nuggets again, with 41 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists as Denver notched 77 points after the half-time interval.

Return trips to the Grizzlies and the Wizards are next on the agenda for the 19-15 Suns, before they close out 2022 with a visit to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

It's that time of year, which will warm the hearts of most but possibly send a chill down the spines of Denver Nuggets fans.

Denver are 1-6 (.143) all-time on Christmas Day, the second-worst record among active franchises, and they come up against last season's Western Conference top seeds this year.

Coach Michael Malone will be confident of providing a rare moment of Christmas cheer to their fans against the Phoenix Suns, though, with his team in excellent form heading into Sunday.

The Nuggets lead the Western Conference, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies at 20-11, and have picked up victories in six of their last seven.

Friday's 120-107 win against the Portland Trail Blazers was a good example of what has been Denver's strength this season, with Nikola Jokic leading the way with 29 points but also being ably backed up by the other four starters each scoring 13 or more.

The Suns have the fifth-best record in Christmas Day games at 12-7 (.632) and have also won each of their last two meetings with Denver.

However, Monty Williams' men have not been able to follow up their impressive 64-18 regular season record from last year, now 19-14 to sit fourth in the West.

A 125-100 defeat to the Grizzlies on Friday was chastening enough without the six losses from the prior nine games; five of those seven defeats have been by double-figures.

They have missed the influence of Devin Booker in their last three games, absent with a groin strain since he put up 58 points against the New Orleans Pelicans, and it remains to be seen if the man averaging 28.0 points per game this season will be back on Sunday.

The future looks bright for the Suns, with Mat Ishbia recently agreeing to a record $4billion purchase of the franchise, but their immediate target is to get back on track, starting by trying to dampen Denver's Christmas spirit even further.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul

Should he play, Booker will of course provide a significant boost for Phoenix, but if he is missing again, Williams will need someone to step up in his absence, which has not happened in their last two games.

The experienced Paul made a big contribution in the recent win over the Lakers, yet he has otherwise not been putting up his usual numbers this season. His plus/minus of 1.7 is well down on last year's 7.1, but if the 37-year-old can find his best form at Christmas, it could go a long way against a strong opponent.

Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic

The back-to-back league MVP keeps putting up numbers to compare with the greats of the game. In the recent win against the Charlotte Hornets, Jokic became the first man to finish a game with at least 40 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.

The Serbian star is averaging 24.9 points per game this season, as well as 10.9 rebounds and a career-best 9.3 assists.

KEY BATTLE – Nuggets' efficiency could decide contest

Denver are very good at putting the basketball through the hoop, which is quite helpful.

No team have a better success rate from beyond the arc than the Nuggets (38.9 per cent) this season, although no team have had fewer than their 923 attempts. Only the Sacramento Kings (943) have allowed fewer three-point attempts than the Suns (996).

The Nuggets are also second in the league for field-goal percentage, with their 50.6 per cent only behind the Brooklyn Nets (50.8).

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Phoenix won their last encounter in March, 140-130 at Ball Arena, which was their 100th victory against Denver in the regular season.

The Nuggets have only 85 wins against the Suns, with the last coming in October 2021, but they have won 18 of the last 23 clashes between the teams.

Billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia has agreed to the record $4billion purchase of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury from owner Robert Sarver.

Ishbia and Sarver announced the deal, which ends the latter's tumultuous tenure as owner, in respective statements on Tuesday. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the staggering figure, pointing to the deal being expected to be finalised in the near future.

Sarver had announced in September that would sell both franchises, having been fined by the NBA the maximum $10million with a one-year suspension following an independent investigation that found he "engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards".

The deal, that will see Ishbia buy the majority stake of both franchises, exceeds the previous NBA record of $2.35billion when Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.

United Wholesale Mortgage president and CEO Ishbia has been pursuing ownership of NBA and NFL teams in recent times.

"I am extremely excited to be the next governor of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury," Ishbia said in a statement. "Both teams have an incredibly dynamic fan base and I have loved experiencing the energy of the Valley over the last few months."

Sarver's tenure at the Suns dated back to 2004, with Ishbia's acquisition including all of his interest along with a portion of minority partners.

"Mat is the right leader to build on franchise legacies of winning and community support and shepherd the Suns and Mercury into the next era," Sarver said in his statement.

Chris Paul told Patrick Beverley to "just play basketball, man" after the latter's celebration that appeared to make fun of the 37-year-old's height during the Los Angeles Lakers' defeat to the Phoenix Suns.

Beverley was fouled by Paul while scoring a layup before placing his hand just above the floor, seeming to imply his opponent was not tall enough to deal with him.

It was a questionable time for Beverley to make such a gesture as Phoenix were comfortably leading the game, while he himself had otherwise struggled compared to fellow veteran Paul's impressive showing.

After the Suns completed a 130-104 win on Monday, Paul dismissed the celebration, saying: "You can't pay attention to that stuff. That ain't new. He ain't come up with it. But just play basketball, man."

Paul recorded 28 points, with eight assists and four rebounds, compared to Beverley's nine points, three assists and one rebound as the Suns strolled to a routine win against a depleted Lakers side.

Coach Darvin Ham was without Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves due to injury, and it showed as the Lakers could not keep up with their opponents at Footprint Center.

Ham did, though, defend Beverley's actions, saying: "Pat is Pat. He wears his feelings on his sleeve. I think everybody is getting a little too uptight with guys celebrating.

"Obviously, there's sportsmanship issues, and you have to be respectful of your opponent. I get that. And I think for the most part, we are. But I don't want to see the league get to a place where players can't have natural enthusiasm.

"The passion and emotion that's involved with this game, and the trash talking, as long as no one is disrespecting another person's family or spouse or kids or anything like that, I think it's fodder. It's fun fodder, man."

Devin Booker credited his determination to get out of a recent "slump" for his electric performance in the Phoenix Suns' win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

The Suns trailed by 24 points at one stage at Footprint Center, before surging back to win 118-114, with Booker's incessant shooting a key feature.

The 26-year-old scored 58 points, making 21 of 35 field goal attempts, six of 12 from beyond the arc and 10 of 15 from the foul line.

Booker had not topped 20 points in his previous five games but was determined to be the difference against New Orleans.

"I was just making shots, man," he said after the win. "I've been in a bit of a slump and just gotta keep shooting. That's what I live by. I was put in the right situations to make the right plays.

"I usually just want to make the right play every time, but once I get it going a little bit, you know shooting over a hand, it is the right play."

At one point, Booker scored 25 consecutive points for Phoenix to bring the deficit down to just one midway through the fourth quarter.

Monty Williams was understandably impressed with Booker, claiming he as his coach was "the only person that could've stopped him tonight... by taking him out the game".

Chris Paul, who himself scored 18 along with eight assists and five rebounds, praised Booker for rising to the challenge as the Pelicans sought to slow him.

"I don't take it for granted," Paul said. "I know how hard it is. Having games similar to that, not 58, but when you've just got it going like that and you just want the ball and you know every time you're going to make it a play.

"So, I appreciate it, because I know how hard it is to consistently do that when everybody on the court knows you're going to get the ball."

Devin Booker reached 12,000 career points with a season-high 58 points as the Phoenix Suns rallied from a 24-point deficit with a hard-fought 118-114 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

Booker, who returned from a hamstring issue in Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers which ended the Suns' five-game losing run, made 21-of-35 attempts from the field, including shooting six-of-12 from beyond the arc.

The Suns guard's haul was the second most by a player in a single game this NBA season, behind only Joel Embiid with 59 points last month against the Utah Jazz.

Booker, 26, also became the sixth youngest player in NBA history to reach 12,000 career points, behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady.

The Suns had trailed 83-59 with 7:14 left in the third quarter, coming after the Pelicans had beaten them twice last week.

Booker had five rebounds and five assists along with his 58 points, while Chris Paul added 18 points with five rebounds and eight assists.

Zion Williamson scored 30 points with nine assists for the Pels, while C.J. McCollum added 27 points with eight assists.

Cavs hang on for OT win over Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks spurned three late go-ahead opportunities, including Christian Wood's 30-foot buzzer-beating attempt as the Cleveland Cavaliers got home 100-99 in overtime.

Jarrett Allen's dunk with 2:01 remaining in overtime was the final score, with Donovan Mitchell scoring 25 points for the victorious Cavs, who improved to 20-11. Jarrett Allen had eight points with 15 rebounds.

Kemba Walker top scored with 32 points for the Mavs, who were missing Luka Doncic (quad), while Wood scored 26 points, including five triples, but he missed the crucial late one.

Kawhi finds groove with season-high

Kawhi Leonard scored a season-high 31 points as the Los Angeles Clippers fought back from a three-quarter time deficit to win 102-93 over the Washington Wizards.

Leonard, who has been working back slowly after missing last season with an ACL injury, played a season-high 31 minutes, shooting 12-of-26 with nine rebounds.

Luke Kennard came off the bench to add a season-high 20 points with four three-pointers as the Clippers rallied from a 75-72 three-quarter time deficit.

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