Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was reinstated by the NBA from his suspension on Saturday after he missed 12 games following an incident with Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic on Dec. 12.

The league said Green “demonstrated his commitment to conforming his conduct to standards of NBA players” during his suspension, which began Dec. 14. He has met with a counselor as well as had multiple joint meetings with representatives of the league, the Warriors and the National Basketball Players Association.

Those meetings, the league added, will continue throughout the season.

While Green is eligible to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, he is expected to need approximately a week to ramp up for a return to the court.

Green was suspended for the fifth time in his career earlier this season for putting Minnesota center Rudy Gobert in a headlock during an In-Season Tournament matchup.

Green was given a five-game suspension as the NBA cited past infractions in relation to the punishment.

The 12-year veteran is averaging 9.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 15 games this season.

 

The NBA has suspended Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green indefinitely.

The league announced the suspension on Wednesday, saying Green "will be required to meet certain league and team conditions before he returns to play."

The penalty comes less than 24 hours after Green was ejected for hitting Jusuf Nurkic in the Warriors' 119-116 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. The incident occurred in the third quarter when the two got tangled up, and Green struck Nurkic in the face. He received a Flagrant 2 foul on the play, and was promptly ejected for the 18th time in his career.

This marks Green's second suspension of the season after he was given a five-game ban by the NBA for putting Minnesota Timberwolves Rudy Gobert in a headlock on November 14.

Operations chief Joe Dumars said Green's "repeated history of unsportsmanlike acts" were considered in determining the severity of the penalty.

The suspension begins immediately.

 

The Milwaukee Bucks got big performances from their two brightest stars in a 131-124 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday to clinch a quarterfinal spot in the In-Season Tournament.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and Damian Lillard added 32 to help the Bucks win East Group B with a 4-0 record.

Milwaukee will host wild-card New York on either Dec. 4 or 5, with East Group C winner Boston going to Group A winner Indiana for the other quarterfinal before the Final Four in Las Vegas.

Miami, which was without second-leading scorer Jimmy Butler, dropped its second straight following a 9-1 stretch.

Bam Adebayo scored 31 points and Kyle Lowry had 21, including a 3-pointer with 3:25 remaining to put the Heat up 118-115.

The Bucks, though, finished on a 16-6 run, going 5 for 6 from the field and 5 for 5 from the line. Lillard made two free throws with 63 seconds to play to help put it out of reach.

Milwaukee lost forward Pat Connaughton to a sprained right ankle in the second quarter.

Kings rally past Warriors to advance

Malik Monk sank a fadeaway with 7 seconds remaining and the Sacramento Kings rallied from 11 down in the fourth quarter for a 124-123 win over the Golden State Warriors.

De’Aaron Fox scored 29 points and Monk and Kevin Huerter each added 21 for the Kings, who won their group with a 4-0 record and will host New Orleans next week in the quarterfinals.

Sacramento needed a win or a loss by 11 points or fewer to advance but erased a 21-point deficit to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins led the Warriors with 29 points apiece, but Golden State dropped to 2-8 in its last 10 games.

Timberwolves star Edwards injured in win

Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks as the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame an injury to star guard Anthony Edwards in a 106-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the In-Season Tournament.

Edwards had 12 of his 21 points in the third quarter before landing hard on his right side during a dunk attempt and leaving with a bruised right hip.

Coach Chris Finch had no more details on the injury or whether Edwards would miss time.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting but his 37-foot try at the buzzer, his only 3-point attempt of the night, was well off the mark.

Reserve Troy Brown Jr. scored 17 points and Naz Reid added 15 for Minnesota, which improved the West’s best record to 12-4.

Rudy Gobert ridiculed Draymond Green's "clown behaviour" after the Golden State Warriors forward was ejected against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Green, Klay Thompson and Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels were ejected after an altercation early in the first quarter of Tuesday's in-season tournament game, which the Timberwolves won 104-101.

Thompson and McDaniels became embroiled in a shoving match. Green rushed in and pulled Rudy Gobert away from behind with his arm around the center's neck.

Thompson's jersey was ripped during the scuffle, which led to Green's second ejection of the season and two free throws by Gobert.

The Warriors were without talisman Stephen Curry, who did not play due to right knee soreness, and Gobert suggested that Green finds a way to be ejected when his teammate is not playing.

"I went to try to disconnect the situation between Jaden and Klay, and then I just felt someone grabbing me," Gobert said.

"My first thought was, I'm not going to fight, I need to be in this game to help my team. So I showed the ref I had my hands up and I just waited until the situation was over. Nothing more than that. It wasn't really enough of a choke for me to sleep. I just kept my hands up and waited until it was over.

"It's kind of funny because before the game I was telling myself Steph is not playing, so I know Draymond is going to try to get ejected. Every time Steph doesn't play, he doesn't want to play without his guy Steph, so he's doing anything to get ejected. It's all good.

"Just clown behaviour. I'm proud of myself for being the bigger man, again and again. It doesn't even deserve me putting my hands on him.

"My team needed me tonight, so I wanted to keep my cool and not make the situation worse. I do hope the league is going to do what needs to be done, because that's just clown behaviour. There's not much to say, it's clown behaviour."

Explaining his altercation with Thompson, McDaniels said: "I was just trying to crash for a rebound and he kind of grabbed my collar. I was just trying to defend myself and get him off me.

"The rest is what it is. I knew before that there was some chitter-chatter going back and forth. I didn't take it seriously. I was just laughing. I guess it was a bigger deal to him."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr offered a different opinion, saying: "There is no way Klay should have been ejected. That was ridiculous.

"I was upset about that. As far as the Draymond piece of it, Rudy had his hands on Klay's neck. That's why Draymond went after Rudy."

Tuesday's loss was the Warriors' second defeat in a row to the Timberwolves, who have now won their last seven games. Golden State, meanwhile, have lost five of their last six.

Kerr, though, did have some positive news on Curry's status.

"Nothing alarming," Kerr said of the Curry's injury. "He is day-to-day and we will see. If he misses another game or two, it's not going to be anything long-term."

Rudy Gobert ridiculed Draymond Green's "clown behaviour" after the Golden State Warriors forward was ejected against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Green, Klay Thompson and Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels were ejected after an altercation early in the first quarter of Tuesday's in-season tournament game, which the Timberwolves won 104-101.

Thompson and McDaniels became embroiled in a shoving match. Green rushed in and pulled Rudy Gobert away from behind with his arm around the center's neck.

Thompson's jersey was ripped during the scuffle, which led to Green's second ejection of the season and two free throws by Gobert.

The Warriors were without talisman Stephen Curry, who did not play due to right knee soreness, and Gobert suggested that Green finds a way to be ejected when his teammate is not playing.

"I went to try to disconnect the situation between Jaden and Klay, and then I just felt someone grabbing me," Gobert said.

"My first thought was, I'm not going to fight, I need to be in this game to help my team. So I showed the ref I had my hands up and I just waited until the situation was over. Nothing more than that. It wasn't really enough of a choke for me to sleep. I just kept my hands up and waited until it was over.

"It's kind of funny because before the game I was telling myself Steph is not playing, so I know Draymond is going to try to get ejected. Every time Steph doesn't play, he doesn't want to play without his guy Steph, so he's doing anything to get ejected. It's all good.

"Just clown behaviour. I'm proud of myself for being the bigger man, again and again. It doesn't even deserve me putting my hands on him.

"My team needed me tonight, so I wanted to keep my cool and not make the situation worse. I do hope the league is going to do what needs to be done, because that's just clown behaviour. There's not much to say, it's clown behaviour."

Explaining his altercation with Thompson, McDaniels said: "I was just trying to crash for a rebound and he kind of grabbed my collar. I was just trying to defend myself and get him off me.

"The rest is what it is. I knew before that there was some chitter-chatter going back and forth. I didn't take it seriously. I was just laughing. I guess it was a bigger deal to him."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr offered a different opinion, saying: "There is no way Klay should have been ejected. That was ridiculous.

"I was upset about that. As far as the Draymond piece of it, Rudy had his hands on Klay's neck. That's why Draymond went after Rudy."

Tuesday's loss was the Warriors' second defeat in a row to the Timberwolves, who have now won their last seven games. Golden State, meanwhile, have lost five of their last six.

Kerr, though, did have some positive news on Curry's status.

"Nothing alarming," Kerr said of the Curry's injury. "He is day-to-day and we will see. If he misses another game or two, it's not going to be anything long-term."

Victor Wembanyama will be a "real, real problem" in the NBA, so says Rudy Gobert.

Top draft pick Wembanyama has been earning plenty of plaudits from big names around the NBA in the early weeks of his maiden season with the San Antonio Spurs.

The 19-year-old is averaging 19.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, though he could not lift the Spurs to victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

It was Gobert's Wolves who ran out 177-110 winners in the first in-season tournament game for both teams.

And Gobert believes his fellow Frenchman is already proving just how good he could be.

"I think his positioning is way ahead of the positioning of a rookie," Gobert said.

"You can tell that he is well coached and also that he is studying the game. That will only get better throughout the year. He's already affecting [shots], he's already getting in people's minds a bit defensively.

"He's going to be a real, real problem. He's already a problem, but I think he's going to be a real, real problem really soon.

"I'm really happy and proud of the way he's evolving and his progression.

"He's a competitor. He's a winner. All those things that, like I said, the way he works, his mindset, the way he studies the game. You add that to obviously the unique physical tools that he has. And I don't think we're going to see something like that for a while."

Indeed, Gobert thinks it is hard to know just how good Wembanyama might turn out to be.

"His approach, his dedication, the work that he puts in, the work he put in the last three months since the draft is paying off," Gobert said.

"I saw a big difference between summer league and preseason. You can tell he was in the gym, and not just in the gym, but he was doing the right thing.

"It's hard to imagine what [he's] going to be [like] after a couple years of working like he's doing. I can't even imagine how he's going to evolve."

Gobert and Wembanyama swapped jerseys after the game, which the latter finished with 29 points and nine rebounds.

"It feels special," Wembanyama said of his first matchup against Gobert.

"I know every night there's going to be one or two guys who are special to play against. But even more, it's someone that over the years has tried to take care of me and teach me some stuff. It was even more special and challenging."

Nikola Jokic recorded a double-double while Jamal Murray top scored as the Denver Nuggets re-discovered their form with a dominant 109-80 blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

The Western Conference top seed Nuggets had gone 7-8 in their final 15 regular-season games, but snapped back into form in Game 1 of their first round playoffs series at Ball Arena.

Denver pulled away with a 32-14 third quarter, highlighted by five three-pointers.

Murray top scored with 24 points, making four-of-10 from three-point range, with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Michael Porter Jr also made four triples in his 18 points with 11 rebounds.

Porter Jr's game was capped by a hammer jam late in the first half as the Nuggets started to pull clear.

Jokic scored 13 points on six-of-12 shooting with 14 rebounds, including five offensive rebounds, and six assists.

Despite his modest stats, the Serbian center was influential in the first half with a no-look pass for Bruce Brown's three-pointer along with a classy spin to glide past Rudy Gobert in the lane.

The Timberwolves were no match for the top seed with Karl-Anthony Towns, who was the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year in Jokic's rookie season, struggling for 11 points on five-of-15 shooting.

Former NBA Draft top overall pick Anthony Edwards only managed 18 points with five assists, while veteran point guard Mike Conley had eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

Clutch Kawhi leads Clippers past Suns

Kawhi Leonard came up clutch with two late three-pointers among his 38 points while Russell Westbrook made a critical block as the Los Angeles Clippers won 115-110 over the Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers put together three straight three-pointers in three plays in the final three minutes, including two from Leonard before kicking out a pass to Eric Gordon to make it 109-103 with 1:33 left.

With Suns cut it back to one point but Westbrook blocked Devin Booker with before making two free-throws to seal the win. Westbrook shot three-of-19 but never stopped, finishing with 10 rebounds including five in offense and eight assists.

Leonard went 13-of-24 from the field with three triples along with five rebounds and five assists, while Gordon added 19 with Paul George still out injured. Kevin Durant top scored for Phoenix with 27 points and 11 assists while Booker had 26 points and Chris Paul added 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Lakers down Grizzlies, Heat shock Bucks

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed an early road win 128-112 over the Memphis Grizzlies with Ja Morant suffering a fourth-quarter hand injury to throw their first round series wide open.

Rui Hachimura scored a playoff career-best 29 points with 21 in the second half as the Lakers rallied back from a 65-59 half-time deficit, pulling clear late after Morant exited with 5:48 remaining at 105-101.

Morant was kept to 18 points with six rebounds, while Jaren Jackson Jr had 31 points with five rebounds and two blocks.

LeBron James had 21 points and 11 rebounds with two steals and three blocks, while Anthony Davis contributed 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Lakers guard Austin Reaves added 23 points.

Eastern Conference eight seed Miami Heat pulled off an upset 130-117 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks who lost Giannis Antetokounmpo to a lower back contusion before half-time. The Heat lost Tyler Herro to a broken hand but Jimmy Butler stepped up with 35 points and 11 assists.

Rudy Gobert has been suspended by the Minnesota Timberwolves for Tuesday's play-in game against the Los Angeles Lakers for throwing a punch at team-mate Kyle Anderson during an argument in a team huddle during a timeout.

The Timberwolves announced the one-game suspension of the 10-year veteran on Monday.

The incident occurred in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans, when Gobert got into a heated exchange with Anderson and hit him in the upper chest.

Gobert was escorted off the court and sent home by the team at half-time.

Trailing by 12 points at the time of the altercation, Minnesota ended up rallying for a 113-108 win to secure eighth place in the Western Conference.

As the No. 8 seed, the Timberwolves will have two opportunities to win a play-in game and earn a playoff berth.

If Minnesota win at Los Angeles, they will clinch the No. 7 seed and face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.

If they lose, however, the Timberwolves will return home Friday to host the winner of the Pelicans-Oklahoma City Thunder game for a chance at the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Denver Nuggets.

In addition to facing the Lakers without their top rim protector in Gobert, Minnesota will also be without Jaden McDaniels after he sustained a broken wrist from punching a wall in the tunnel that leads to the locker room on Sunday.

Acquired from the Utah Jazz in blockbuster trade last summer, the 30-year-old Gobert averaged 13.4 points, a team-leading 11.6 rebounds and 1.36 blocks (the 12th-most in the NBA) in 70 games in his first season with the Timberwolves.

The NBA regular season has come to a close, which means the postseason is on the horizon to excite fans with its unpredictability and drama.

First, though, the play-in format returns for its third season and promises to once again add all sorts of further intrigue to the playoff picture.

The mini tournament takes place over April 11-14, with the teams that finished seventh and eighth playing one another to determine the seventh playoff seed from their respective conference, while the loser of that game gets a chance to secure the eighth seed when they host the winner of a game between the ninth and 10th seeds.

Therefore, the teams that finish seventh or eighth only need to win one game to advance to the playoffs, while those in ninth and 10th must win two.

Whoever clinches the seventh seed in the East will face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, while the eighth seed will take on the Milwaukee Bucks. In the West, the seventh seed will go up against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the eighth seed will be paired with the Denver Nuggets.

Stats Perform previews the eight teams looking to secure their place in the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Tuesday, April 11 – Miami Heat (7th) vs Atlanta Hawks (8th) 

One of these teams has made the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the last three seasons, although that trend appears unlikely to continue this year.

After starting the season 2-5, the Heat soon recovered some sort of form without threatening to repeat the performances that saw them clinch the top seed in the East the previous year. They at least strung together a solid run over December and January, going 19-11, to boost their playoff hopes.

The Heat will be favourites in this matchup, having gone 4-1 in April and 3-1 against the Hawks this season, including winning back-to-back games in Miami in early March.

The trio of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro will be key, with all three scoring over 20 points per game in the regular season.

Opponents Atlanta went 7-3 to start the season, but their form dipped towards the end of 2022, before picking up again in January.

Trae Young, the star of their 2021 run, will be hoping to lead his team back to the playoffs, having averaged 26.2 points and 10.2 assists in the regular season, and the Heat's ability to stop him could be the key in this one.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 12 – Toronto Raptors (9th) vs Chicago Bulls (10th)

The Raptors have done well to reach this stage after a poor first half to the campaign, starting 16-23, but an improvement in 2023 saw them end level with the Hawks with an even .500 record.

Pascal Siakam averaged 24.2 points from his 71 games in the regular season, while Fred VanVleet (19.3) will also be required to lend a hand.

Chicago, who ended with a 40-42 record, will look to the pairing of Zach LaVine (24.8) and DeMar DeRozan (24.5) for inspiration after a promising end to the regular season on an 11-6 run.

The Raptors were 2-1 against the Bulls this season, including winning their most recent meeting in Toronto in late February on the back of a fourth-quarter fightback.

This promises to be another intriguing encounter.

Western Conference:

Tuesday, April 11 – Los Angeles Lakers (7th) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (8th)

This has been a fascinating season for the Lakers, who looked down and out but recovered to such an extent they ended up disappointed they had to settle for a play-in spot.

LeBron James and co. started 0-5 and then 2-10 as the word "crisis" was tossed about by all and sundry.

However, a subsequent run of 8-2 propelled them into a season few could have imagined in early November, while they also finished the year strongly on a 9-2 run.

James (28.9 points) and Anthony Davis (25.9) have each had injury issues, playing just 55 and 56 games respectively, but they have crucially found form and fitness at this crucial stage in the season.

 

The Timberwolves also have talent but come into this with a bit of a cloud over them after the fracas between big-trade flop Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson in their final game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Minnesota started 2-0 against the Lakers this season, but Davis had 38 points and 17 rebounds in a big win when the teams met less than two weeks ago.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 12 – New Orleans Pelicans (9th) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (10th)

The biggest story around this one centres on who will not be there, as Zion Williamson continues to sit on the sideline with a hamstring injury.

The Pelicans' star man averaged 26.0 points this season but played only 29 games and none since January 2.

Updates from New Orleans have remained vague, although Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has spoken of a "best possible outcome" that would "maybe" see Williamson in practice around the first round. Again, "if everything lined up perfectly".

That means Brandon Ingram will be required to carry the scoring burden for now, a task he warmed up for in fine style with a 42-point return against the Timberwolves on Sunday.

The Thunder will look to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to lead them into the postseason, with the 24-year-old averaging 31.4 points this year, the fourth-most in the league.

New Orleans were 3-1 against OKC this season, but the Thunder won their last game in March with Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 35 – albeit the Pelicans were without Ingram as well as Williamson.

Rudy Gobert apologised to Kyle Anderson, his other Minnesota Timberwolves team-mates and supporters after punching Anderson during a chaotic win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Timberwolves triumphed 113-108 on Sunday but the victory was marred by an inexplicable confrontation between Gobert and Anderson.

After an animated discussion on the sidelines in the second quarter, Gobert aimed a jab at the chest of Anderson and was removed from the team for the remainder of the game.

Gobert was taken to the locker room and the Timberwolves were quick to inform their center had been sent home for his "unacceptable" actions, which Minnesota said will be handled "internally".

The 30-year-old took to Twitter after the game to smooth things over with Anderson and express his apologies to those involved with the Timberwolves.

"Emotions got the best of me today. I should not have reacted the way I did regardless of what was said," Gobert wrote. 

"I want to apologise to the fans, the organisation and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that I truly love and respect as a team-mate."

The Minnesota embarrassment was compounded as Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels reportedly also suffered a broken right hand after punching a wall at half-time.

The Timberwolves will travel to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first game of the Western Conference play-in tournament.

If they lose, Minnesota will have another chance to qualify for the playoffs by beating the winner of the nine versus 10 matchup between the Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LeBron James implored the Los Angeles Lakers to "stay on edge" for their play-in tournament game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

The Lakers fell short of their goal of making the playoffs after a poor start to the season, despite Sunday's 128-117 win over the Utah Jazz.

James' side had rallied back from their early-season troubles to finish seventh in the West with a 43-39 record, but are in the box seat to make the playoffs via the play-in with home court advantage.

"For us, it's just good that we don't need to travel. We've travelled a lot lately," James told reporters.

"It's good that we get to stay here, but we shouldn't be comfortable. We have to stay on edge and get ready for the game."

The Lakers, who were NBA champions in 2020, missed the playoffs altogether in 2022 after being eliminated in the first round in 2021. The NBA playoffs proper commence on Saturday.

"Obviously it's different because usually in the postseason you have multiple days of prep for a team, but you literally have one day to prep," James said. "You're kind of locked in on everything that needs to be done."

The short turnaround may not suit the Lakers, who have seen veterans James and Anthony Davis miss plenty of games this season with injury.

"Be efficient with how we spend our non-game days," Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. "Make sure they're getting the proper treatment between now and Tuesday.

"But they're aware, man. These stakes are high and a lot of times, I don't want to call it pressure, but the challenges of guys knowing what's at stake can weigh on them a little bit. But here we are, we know what's in front of us."

The Lakers' play-in opponents, Minnesota, have their own issues after Rudy Gobert attempted to punch teammate Kyle Anderson during a second-quarter timeout in their 113-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Gobert was dismissed by the team for the rest of the game and could have a suspension imposed on him by the Wolves.

The Wolves center apologised on Twitter, when he wrote: "Emotions got the best of me today. I should not have reacted the way i did regardless of what was said. I wanna apologize to the fans, the organisation and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that i truly love and respect as a teammate."

Jaden McDaniels also hurt his hand punching a wall in frustration during the game, with sources claiming an X-ray has revealed a season-ending fracture.

The Los Angeles Clippers secured the five seed in the Western Conference after rallying from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns 119-114 on Sunday.

Norman Powell, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook scored 29, 25 and 25 points respectively for the Clippers, who held off the Golden State Warriors for the five seed, meaning LA will take on the Suns again in the playoffs first round.

Leonard scored the Clippers' final eight points of the game among 12 in the fourth quarter, shooting 11-of-21 from the field, with 15 rebounds and six assists.

Powell continued his fine form off the bench, shooting 12-of-22 for his 29 points with five rebounds, while Westbrook made two three-pointers in his 25 points with seven rebounds and nine assists.

Phoenix sat starters Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton for the game.

Despite that, the Suns put up a good fight, with guard Saben Lee having 25 points with 10 assists, shooting three-of-eight from beyond the arc.

Warriors hit NBA record, LeBron lifts Lakers

Stephen Curry made five three-pointers and shot nine-of-15 for 26 points as the Golden State Warriors routed the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 157-101.

The Warriors could have jumped the Clippers into the five seed if LA lost, but the reigning champions will settle for the six seed, meaning they will take on the Sacramento Kings in the first round.

Curry only played 22 minutes along with Klay Thompson, who scored 20 points, with Golden State piling on an NBA record 55 first-quarter points. Jordan Poole added 21 points including four-of-five triples in 17 minutes and Moses Moody contributed 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting in 29 minutes.

That meant the Los Angeles Lakers finished seventh in the West despite LeBron James scoring eight three-pointers among 36 points in a 128-117 win over the Utah Jazz.

The Lakers will face the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in tournament, with the winner to face the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs first round.

Wolves win amid Gobert and McDaniels drama

The Timberwolves jumped the New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in seeding for eighth with a 113-108 victory, but it was a game full of drama with Rudy Gobert throwing a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson during a timeout.

Gobert was dismissed for the rest of the game after the second-quarter incident, while top perimeter defender Jaden McDaniels broke his right hand after hitting a wall in frustration.

Despite all that, Anthony Edwards led the Wolves to victory with 26 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and four blocks, while Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points with eight rebounds.

Brandon Ingram scored 42 points for the Pelicans, who could have finished as high as fifth, but will instead face the Oklahoma City Thunder in a play-in tournament elimination game.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert was sent home after punching teammate Kyle Anderson in a timeout during Sunday's chaotic 113-108 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

After an animated discussion on the sidelines in the second quarter, Gobert aimed a jab at the chest of Anderson and was removed from the team for the remainder of the game.

Gobert was taken to the locker room and it was swiftly made public that his involvement was over.

In a statement, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said after the game: "We made the decision to send Rudy Gobert home after the incident in the second quarter.

"His behaviour on the bench was unacceptable and we will continue handling the situation internally."

Gobert's teammate Jaden McDaniels also failed to last the distance in Sunday's game, with reports claiming he broke his right hand when punching a wall at half-time.

The Timberwolves will travel to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first game of the Western Conference play-in tournament, and if they lose, they will have another chance to qualify for the playoffs by beating the winner of the nine versus 10 matchup between the Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Rudy Gobert says the Minnesota Timberwolves will continue treating "every game like it is our last" after strengthening their playoff hopes with a fourth victory in a row.

The Wolves beat the Sacramento Kings 119-115 on Monday to add to recent wins over the New York Knicks, the Atlanta Haws and the Golden State Warriors.

They are now 39-27 for the season and climbed above the Warriors into the Western Conference's sixth seed with their latest triumph.

After turning their season around over the past week or so, Gobert is eager for his side to keep their winning streak alive.

"We have the talent and personnel to be able to beat anybody on any given night," said Gobert, who controlled the paint with 16 points (five-of-nine), 16 rebounds and two blocks.

"It's really out of urgency and consistency. We play every game like it's our last and we play every game like there's no tomorrow. That's the mindset that we need."

Minnesota were without Karl-Anthony Towns but had seven players score at least 14 points each in a well-rounded effort at Golden 1 Center.

Jaden McDaniels led the Wolves in scoring with 20 points (eight-of-15 shooting), while Kyle Anderson had a game-high 11 assists.

"These guys really like each other and love playing with each other," coach Chris Finch said. "They have lifted their game with the games being so big."

 

The defeat for Sacramento meant they were unable to officially end the longest playoff drought in NBA history in front of their success-starved fans.

Having missed the chance to clinch a first playoff berth since 2006 on their own patch, the Kings will now look to do so when they travel to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Sacramento guard De'Aaron Fox said: "The guys wanted to clinch a playoff spot at home and wanted to share it with our fans.

"But at the end of the day, regardless of where we do it, I think people are going to be appreciative and people are going to love it."

The Timberwolves are back in action of Wednesday at the Phoenix Suns.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough as the fast-finishing Dallas Mavericks lost 124-121 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Irving and Luka Doncic (33 points) combined for 69 points for the Mavs, who trailed 100-82 at three-quarter time and rallied from a 26-point deficit.

The Mavs point guard, however, lost the ball to Taurean Prince with an errant pass on the final possession, denying Dallas getting a shot away to tie the game after a disrupted play where he exchanged passes with Doncic.

Irving's 26-point fourth quarter was the highest scoring quarter of his career, finishing the game on 15-of-23 shooting with four-of-nine from beyond the arc, along with five rebounds and six assists.

Doncic had 12 rebounds and six assists with his 33 points, while Christian Wood added 24 points off the bench.

For the triumphant Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards scored a team-high 32 points with five rebounds, while Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

The defeat means the Mavs have lost both games Doncic and Irving have played together since the latter's trade from the Brooklyn Nets last week.

Lillard leads long-range Blazers blitz over Lakers

Damien Lillard scored 40 points as the Portland Trail Blazers hit 23 three-pointers in a 127-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were missing LeBron James for the third straight game with a sore left ankle.

The Blazers' 23 triples were a season-best, while they broke their first-half franchise record with 17 three-pointers. Lillard led the way from range, making eight-of-14 three-point attempts.

Malik Beasley came off the bench to top score for the Lakers with 22 points, including six three-pointers, while Anthony Davis scored 19 points with 20 rebounds and three blocks.

Mitchell stars as Spurs lose 13th straight

Donovan Mitchell scored 41 points with five three-pointers as the Cleveland Cavaliers condemned the San Antonio Spurs to a joint franchise record 13th straight defeat.

The Cavs won 117-109 led by Mitchell with Jarrett Allen adding 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, securing their seventh successive victory to improve their record to 38-22.

The loss leaves San Antonio with a 14-44 record, with their run of defeats marking their worst since the 1988-89 season.

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