Victor Wembanyama wants victories, not individual feats, after he joined Michael Jordan in the NBA record books.

Wembanyama became just the second NBA rookie, after Jamaal Tinsley in 2001, to post at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in a single game. He is just the second player to have five blocks and as many steals in successive games, after the great Jordan.

However, his efforts proved fruitless for the San Antonio Spurs, who lost 113-108 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Wembanyama finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks. He is just the 15th player in the NBA to record a 5x5.

But for the overall number one draft pick, wins are the priority.

"To me, it's secondary," Wembanyama said. "Hopefully in the future, and think this is a good performance, but as of today, I can't be satisfied with a loss."

LeBron James returned from injury to score 30 points for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis had 28 points and 13 rebounds.

"Of course it was challenging [going against] one of the best duos in the league," Wembanyama said of facing two of the NBA's star players.

"But still, I think it's a lot of teams we beat if we play this way.

"But I think it came down to maturity at the end because each and every one of us was making a mistake each of the times.

"Little mistakes, missing a layup, turning the ball over. We went down, we went back to down four, down seven multiple times and that's when we did mistakes. So yeah, it's maturity."

Even though the Spurs have lost 10 of their last 11 games, James believes the sky truly is the limit for Wembanyama.

"He doesn't have a ceiling," James said.

"He can do whatever he wants to do with his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems like he puts in the work. Just from the outside looking in, I'm not with him on a day-to-day basis, but I said a long time ago how special he was, and it's literally that simple.

"There are guys in our league that you have to account for any time you get around the rim or around the perimeter in our league history, and he sits right at the top of it, [if not] around the top, with all the greats.

"He's one of them to have like a stellar rookie season. Guys that have come in and [dominated]. But, it's, can you sustain it? We've had guys that have come in and [have] just been really damn [good]."

The Lakers returned to winning ways following their loss to the Golden State Warriors, but coach Darvin Ham was not entirely satisfied with the performance.

"You want your team to constantly look within and try to make plays and force the other team to put you in uncomfortable positions," Ham said.

"Not you put yourself in those uncomfortable positions, whether it's not sprinting back in transition or allowing teams to get two or three offensive rebounds. Or, you know, fouling because we're not in position because we're not doing our work early. And then going down the other end and not trusting the execution.

"We've got a bunch of weapons, but they're useless if we don't do the little things, sprinting hard when we get the ball in transition, not turning it over, maintaining spacing, making sure we get hits on screens to create an advantage and making the simple, easy play."

The Golden State Warriors and coach Steve Kerr have agreed to a two-year, $35 million contract extension that will make him the highest-paid coach in NBA history, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday.

The new deal will pay Kerr, who has guided the Warriors to four NBA championships, $17.5 million a year.

His current deal was set to expire at the end of this season.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich makes more annually, according to sources, but he also serves as the team’s president. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra signed an eight-year extension that pays him approximately $15 million a season.

Kerr, 58, is in his 10th season as coach of the Warriors and holds a career regular season record of 501-264 and is 99-41 in the playoffs. He won his 500th game last week to become the fifth-fastest coach to do so in history.

Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said teams must learn how to get to grips with Victor Wembanyama after the number one draft pick excelled in a win for the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs ran out 122-99 winners over the Raptors on Monday.

Wembanyama starred with a triple-double, entering the NBA record books in the process.

With a triple-double of 27 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks and five assists.

The 20-year-old became just the fifth player to record a triple-double that includes 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks and five assists since 1973-74, when blocks became an official statistic.

Wembanyama joined Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson and Ralph Sampson on that exclusive list, and Raptors boss Rajakovic believes teams will have to adapt to the rookie's stature in skill in the years to come.

"Wembanyama is the player who's going to play in this league for the next 15 years. We need to figure out how to attack and how to play against him," Rajakovic said.

"Definitely a player who's unique with his size and shot-blocking ability. We've got to do a much better job of figuring out how to play against that."

"I felt great today," Wembanyama said after becoming the fourth San Antonio player to record 10 blocks in a game. 

"Great rhythm, started the game strong. I guess it's just the NBA, you know. We've got ups and downs in terms of shape, and today was an up day."

"He did a little bit of everything," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Wembanyama, who leads the league in blocked shots, and is now the first rookie with 150 blocks, 150 assists and 50 steals in a season since Tim Duncan in 1997-98.

"Obviously he's an all-around, talented player. He's got a great feel for the game and it shows in a variety of ways, whether it's passing or making decisions, blocking shots."

The Los Angeles Clippers must be able to replicate their regular-season form in the playoffs if they are to prove themselves as the real deal, so says Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard led the Clippers with 26 points in a blowout 115-96 victory over the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Saturday.

That marked the Clippers' fifth straight win, as they improved to a league-best 22-4 run since the start of December.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue labelled the road trip to Boston, who dealt his team a 145-108 defeat back in December, as a "measuring stick".

By any measurement, their response was emphatic, but Leonard has urged his teammates to remember that it is the postseason that really matters.

"I'm happy that we were able to come in and give the Celtics a loss," Leonard said.

"But it really doesn't mean nothing until you get to the playoffs and you're doing the things we did tonight – executing, making shots, playing good defense.

"It's good that we had carryover from last night coming from Toronto and winning these back-to-back games. But you got to just keep getting better as the year goes on."

James Harden, meanwhile, cited Saturday's display as the Clippers' best performance of the season.

"Against a team that was playing really, really well, especially at home, we've still got some ways to go, but this is a good test for us," he said.

Lue added: "The guys were pretty motivated. When they came to L.A., they did us pretty bad. So, the guys were locked in.

"Just a measuring stick against a great team. We just wanted to kind of see where we're at. We had that on our mind."

The Clippers are third in the Western Conference, two wins behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, who suffered a surprise defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.

Victor Wembanyama starred with 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs - rooted to the bottom of the West - clinched a 113-112 victory.

"This is the best win we've had," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team trailed by 15 points before hitting back.

Wembanyama added: "It is definitely a good one and I think tonight we have to feel proud about what we did and get used to the feeling so we can repeat it."

Devin Vassell, who led the Spurs with 25 points, said: "I think we're just growing and maturing.

"There would be times where teams go on a run and we put our heads down and almost get defeated already. Basketball is a game of runs. So right now, we've just been sticking with it. We've been playing 48 minutes."

Joel Embiid praised his teammates and reflected on a memorable night after setting a Philadelphia 76ers' franchise record with 70 points in a dominant performance against the San Antonio Spurs.

Embiid powered the Eastern Conference contenders to a 133-123 win on Monday, breaking Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's team single-game record that had stood for over 56 years while also setting a season high with 18 rebounds. 

The reigning NBA MVP finished 24 of 41 from the field and 21 of 23 from the foul line.

Chamberlain's previous franchise record of 68 points took place against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 16, 1967.

"Obviously, Wilt accomplished everything in the history of this league and basketball in general," Embiid said, per ESPN. "So to be in the same conversation, that's pretty cool.

"It was just a great night.

"I had it going. I mentioned a few times, a lot of teammates are extremely unselfish and they just kept giving me the ball, and I just finished it."

Embiid began his historic night with 24 points in the first quarter and had 34 by half-time, though the 76ers held a slim 62-58 lead at the intermission.

The superstar centre didn't let up in the third quarter, as he recorded 25 points for the period to help Philadelphia pull away for its sixth straight victory.

There was a prospect of Embiid being rested for the remainder of the game if the Sixers built a big lead, but the Spurs kept it close enough for him to re-enter midway through the fourth quarter to a huge reception from the fans.

He hit the 70-point mark with a steal and layup with 1:41 remaining.

"The game was still pretty close," Embiid said. "Felt like I needed to go back in. Once I got back in, I was like, 'There’s my chance. Might as well go and do it'.

"The only thing I told my teammates was please just don't force it. Let's just play basketball. If I'm open, pass it, if I'm not, make sure you make the right play.

"I feel like when you take 40 shots, obviously, you are supposed to have a big night.

"I was actually mad at myself, because I missed a lot of easy shots that I've been making all season. A lot of easy pull-ups.

"But when you're shooting that many shots, which I never thought I would be taking that many shots in my life, you're obviously going to make some, and you're going to have a big night."

The crowd were desperate for Embiid to take the record, urging him to shoot at every opportunity and he smiled as he recalled the fans booing Danuel House Jr. for taking an open corner 3.

He added: "It's unfortunate Danuel House got booed for [making the right play]! We were just trying to play the right way and make the right plays. 

"Obviously I made shots and they found me a lot."

Victor Wembanyama had an impressive game of his own in Embiid's shadow, as the Spurs' rookie sensation posted 33 points and seven rebounds in just 28 minutes.

Embiid is now averaging 36.1 points this season – better than he posted in his MVP-winning campaign.

Coach Nick Nurse realised something special was in the works early in the third quarter.

"The time that it kind of hit me, I thought, was the start of the third," he said. 

"I think he had a bucket and an and-1, like in the first minute. I was like, 'Wait a minute, he's already got like 37, 38, something like that'. I was like, 'Geez, that's a lot, with a whole half to go!'

"Obviously, he can score in so many ways, just his sheer size gets him a lot of stuff around the basket, gets him a lot of free throws.

"The shooting touch is the skill part. The way he moves, the skill he has, the size he is. If he gets motivated like that, anything can happen."

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey had 18 points and eight assists in support of Embiid.

"He's great," Maxey said about Embiid. "I keep telling everybody, we cannot take this for granted. 

"Not just as teammates, not as an organization, but as fans – even if you are not a fan of Philadelphia, if you're just a fan of basketball, you can't take Jo for granted, man. What he's doing right now is special. 

"He's not just doing it off layups, he's not doing it off just 3s. He's doing it off every single thing. He's making free throws. He's doing so much out there.

"And you know, the kicker is he's on the other end, he's anchoring the defense as well. He's not taking any nights off on defense.

"We appreciate him, and everybody else should appreciate him, as well."

Joel Embiid set a new Philadelphia 76ers scoring record after plundering 70 points in a 133-123 victory over San Antonio Spurs.

Embiid, who had 34 points to his name by half-time, is just the ninth player in NBA history to reach 70 points in a single game.

The 29-year-old forward’s feat came 18 years to the day since Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game for the Los Angeles Lakers – the second highest in NBA history.

Embiid told the NBA’s official website: “From the time I started playing, Kobe was my guy. He’s the reason why I started playing basketball.

“It’s funny, on the same night, he got 81 and that was my favourite player.”

Although he bettered the Sixers’ previous best of 68, held by Wilt Chamberlain, Embiid remains some distance short of Chamberlain’s remarkable NBA record of 100 points in a single game set in 1962 when playing for the Philadelphia Warriors.

Embiid’s feat came on the same night as Karl-Anthony Towns set a new Minnesota Timberwolves high of 62 points in a 128-125 defeat by Charlotte Hornets.

Joel Embiid set a Philadelphia 76ers' franchise record with 70 points in a dominant performance that powered the Eastern Conference contenders to a 133-123 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Embiid broke Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's team single-game record that had stood for over 56 years while also setting a season high with 18 rebounds. The reigning NBA MVP finished 24 of 41 from the field and 21 of 23 from the foul line.

Chamberlain's previous franchise record of 68 points took place against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 16, 1967.

Embiid began his historic night with 24 points in the first quarter and had 34 by half-time, though the 76ers held a slim 62-58 lead at the intermission.

The superstar centre didn't let up in the third quarter, as he recorded 25 points for the period to help Philadelphia pull away for its sixth straight victory.

Kelly Oubre Jr. capped a 12-4 run with a 3-point play with 6:38 left in the third to stretch the lead to 85-72, and the Sixers maintained a double-digit advantage for nearly the entire rest of the way.

Embiid re-entered the game midway through the fourth quarter and hit the 70-point mark with a steal and layup with 1:41 remaining.

Victor Wembanyama had an impressive game of his own in Embiid's shadow, as the Spurs' rookie sensation posted 33 points and seven rebounds in just 28 minutes.

Devin Vassell added 22 points for San Antonio, which had snapped a four-game losing streak with Saturday's 131-127 win over the Washington Wizards.

Timberwolves lose to Hornets despite Towns' team-record 62 points

Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns had a prolific record-setting performance of his own Monday, though his 62 points still weren't enough to prevent the Timberwolves from a stunning 128-125 home loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets, currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, overcame an 18-point deficit late in the third quarter to shock the Western-leading Timberwolves and win for the second time in three games.

Towns made 10 of 15 attempts from 3-point range and ended 21 of 35 overall from the field to surpass his own Timberwolves' single-game record of 60 points, set against San Antonio on March 14, 2022.

The three-time All-Star had 58 points through three quarters as Minnesota owned a seemingly comfortable 107-92 lead, but the Hornets hit five 3-pointers while opening the fourth on a 21-7 run to quickly pull to within one.

Minnesota was clinging to a 121-120 edge with 3 1/2 minutes left before Charlotte scored six straight points, capped by Brandon Miller's jumper off a LaMelo Ball steal that gave the Hornets a 126-121 advantage with two minutes to play.

Miller scored seven of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, while Miles Bridges had 28 points for the Hornets and Ball compiled 18 points and 13 assists. 

The Timberwolves have lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season, previously doing so from Jan. 1-3.

Merrill's hot shooting gives Cavaliers' eighth straight win

The Cleveland Cavaliers remained the league's hottest team by rolling to a 126-99 rout of the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to eight games.

Sam Merrill went 8 of 13 from 3-point range to lead Cleveland with 26 points, while Donovan Mitchell had 25 points along with 13 assists in a game the Cavs never trailed and were up by as many as 36 points.

Merrill scored 20 of his points in the first half as Cleveland cruised to a 72-47 lead at half-time. The Cavaliers shot 59.5 per cent for the first two quarters and 59.1 per cent in the third to move into the fourth holding a commanding 107-74 advantage.

Paolo Banchero led the struggling Magic with 18 points and Franz Wagner added 17. Orlando has now lost nine of its last 13 games and is 7-14 since Dec. 15.

 

The Milwaukee Bucks expect to have Giannis Antetokounmpo back on the court soon, but coach Adrian Griffin wants his team to learn from their humbling defeat without the two-time former MVP.

Antetokounmpo sat out Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and saw the Bucks beaten 135-95 in his absence.

The superstar forward had played in each of Milwaukee's previous 29 games, although he was also on the injury report before Sunday's overtime win against the Sacramento Kings, scoring 27 points towards his seasonal average of 31.2 points per game.

While taking on an in-form Cavaliers team without Antetokounmpo was always likely to be a tough ask, Griffin offered the Bucks no excuses.

Indeed, he was particularly dismayed by the way in which Cleveland were allowed to race into a 22-2 lead less than halfway through the first quarter. Donovan Mitchell scored 12 of those 22 points on his way to 31 for the night.

"[It was a] tough night collectively," said Griffin, "but we've got to find the energy from the jump – especially being short-handed.

"You have to learn from this, because you can't allow this to happen again, especially at the start of the game.

"Before we looked up, we were down 20. We would literally come down and just shoot."

A big loss for the 28-13 Bucks allowed the 32-9 Boston Celtics to pull further clear at the top of the Eastern Conference, 117-98 victors over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs' number one overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama scored 27 in his first game in Boston, but he was more impressed by the Celtics.

"Everybody can hoop on that team," said the French rookie. "Everyone's a threat on the court.

"But at the same time, they all know their roles, and they're all willing to share the ball, from the most important franchise guys to the role players.

"Everybody is ready to compete and to make the sacrifices."

Victor Wembanyama was delighted to make a "statement" with his first NBA triple-double on Wednesday, having helped the San Antonio Spurs past the Detroit Pistons with a dominant display.

Last year's number one draft pick finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists at Little Caesars Arena as the Spurs ended a five-game losing streak with a 130-108 win over their struggling opponents.

In doing so, Wembanyama – at the age of 20 years and six days – became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double with no turnovers since turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78, surpassing Andre Iguodala, who did so aged 21 years and 54 days in 2005.

Wembanyama's achievement was made all the more impressive by the fact he played just 21 minutes and two seconds overall, the second-fewest minutes needed for a triple-double in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55).

The Frenchman was under a minute away from the outright record, with Russell Westbrook having recorded a triple-double in 20 minutes and 17 seconds for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2014, against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Speaking after the win, Wembanyama said of his landmark performance: "Doing it in a win is everything, of course. I didn't know it was the second-fastest in NBA history. 

"It matters to me. I'm not the type to talk for nothing. This is the kind of statement we want to make as a team, and this is the type of statement I want to make as a player."

The Pistons were one of the teams who had hoped to recruit Wembanyama, with Detroit having failed to secure the first overall draft pick despite finishing with the league's worst record last year.

Asked about Detroit's previous interest in him, Wembanyama said: "It's weird to imagine a different future and what could have been."

Detroit also have the worst record in the NBA this season, sitting at 3-35 after losing six straight games. Their current losing run started after a win over the Toronto Raptors in late December, which itself halted a joint-record 28-game losing streak.

Pistons coach Monty Williams was unimpressed after a poor first quarter set the tone for another disappointing outing, saying: "The focus and discipline wasn't there.

"There's nobody to look at other than me, not having guys ready to play."

Jayson Tatum scored 26 of his season high-tying 45 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 127-120 victory Wednesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jaylen Brown added 35 points and 11 rebounds to help the Celtics improve to 18-0 at home for the first time in franchise history. They have won 25 consecutive regular-season home games, dating back to last March.

Anthony Edwards scored 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 with 13 rebounds for the Western Conference-leading Timberwolves, who trail only Boston overall.

Tatum scored the game’s final nine points after Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s 3-pointer with 2:44 left in overtime gave Minnesota a 120-118 lead.

Tatum made a pair of free throws, a driving layup and sank a 3-pointer to make it 125-120 with 51 seconds to play. His two free throws with 13 seconds remaining capped the scoring.

Wembanyama has triple-double in Spurs’ win

Victor Wembanyama notched his first NBA triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 130-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of two of the league’s worst teams.

Wembanyama achieved the milestone in just 21 minutes, going 6 of 16 from the field while missing all four of his 3-point attempts.

In NBA history, only Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in fewer minutes (20) for Oklahoma City in 2014.

San Antonio had eight players score in double figures, including Keldon Johnson (17) and Devin Vassell (16), to snap a five-game slide.

Jalen Duren had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who dropped their sixth in a row since breaking their NBA record-tying 28-game losing streak.

Pelicans start fast in win over Warriors

Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and nine rebounds and Zion Williamson added 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 141-105 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The Pelicans had eight players score in double digits in their sixth win in seven games. They scored 46 points in the first quarter and led by 25 midway through the second.

Moses Moody scored 21 points off the bench for the Warriors, who have lost six of eight.

Golden State's 36-point loss was its largest at home since a 37-point defeat to San Antonio on March 26, 2007. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo hailed Victor Wembanyama after edging his first battle with the rookie on Thursday, declaring: "I've never seen anything like him".

Antetokounmpo finished with 44 points as the Milwaukee Bucks clinched a 125-121 win at the end of a back-and-forth affair against the San Antonio Spurs, snapping a two-game losing streak.

In Antetokounmpo's first NBA meeting with Wembanyama, the number one draft pick gave the Spurs a late chance to get back into the game by swatting the ball away from the Bucks star and teeing up Tre Jones for a missed three-pointer.

The rookie ended a game featuring several highlight plays with 27 points and nine rebounds, leaving Antetokounmpo impressed. 

"He's special," Antetokounmpo said of Wembanyama. "He's going to be an extremely good player. He plays the right way. He plays to win. I've never seen anything like him.

"The sky is the limit as long as you work hard, keep having a positive attitude. Everything he dreams of is going to happen for him."

Wembanyama, meanwhile, said he had learned a lot from facing Antetokounmpo, a player he has long admired.

"It's always extra motivation and I know I'm a competitor," Wembanyama said. "I want to go at everyone and be the bad guy on the court. So it was a great matchup.

"I'm trying to gain knowledge from as many great players as there are. Giannis is one of the players I've watched the most. 

"The way he uses his body, he makes 100 per cent of what he can do with his body. That's something I look up to. He's a player I know pretty well."

Thursday's defeat saw San Antonio slip to 5-29 for the season, but after a game in which neither team led by more than five points in the fourth quarter, Wembanyama chose to remain upbeat.

"It's promising," Wembanyama said. "That's the first thing coach [Gregg Popovich] told us coming back in the locker room. 

"We had some moments in the game where everything seemed to work. I could feel the crowd believing in us and getting going. Some of this was satisfying tonight."

The Golden State Warriors were on the verge of beating the Denver Nuggets for the first time in nearly two years.

Nikola Jokic had other ideas.

Jokic hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a 130-127 win over the Warriors on Thursday to cap an 18-point, fourth-quarter comeback.

Jokic's improbable 3 came from just inside of half-court and over the outstretched arms of Warriors centre Kevon Looney.

Jokic, who had just tied the game with 26 seconds left on a short jumper, finished with 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Aaron Gordon sparked Denver's furious rally, scoring 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, as the defending champions won for the eighth time in nine games.

The Nuggets (25-11) also extended their winning streak over the Warriors to six games dating to a loss in the 2022 play-offs.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 30 points but also committed a costly turnover late, with Jamal Murray stealing the ball from him with four seconds remaining to set up Jokic's winner.

The Warriors (16-18) lost for the third time in four games following a five-game winning streak.

Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Wembanyama, Spurs

Victor Wembanyama sent the San Antonio Spurs fans into a frenzy with a huge 3-pointer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo promptly silenced the crowd with a 3-point play of his own.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a 125-121 win at San Antonio to snap a two-game losing streak.

The first NBA meeting between Antetokounmpo and Wembanyama was a back-and-forth affair in which neither team led by more five points in the final quarter.

Wembanyama tied the game at 121 on a 3-pointer with 1:09 remaining, but the Bucks responded on their next trip down the court, as Antetokounmpo put Milwaukee ahead on a driving dunk and added a free throw after being fouled.

Antetokounmpo also had 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Bucks (25-10), who got back in the win column after being swept in a home-and-home series with the Indiana Pacers.

Damian Lillard scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and chipped in 10 assists.

Wembanyama blocked Lillard's layup attempt right before his 3-pointer, and later blocked an attempted dunk by Antetokounmpo with less than 30 seconds remaining. But on the Spurs' next possession, Tre Jones missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

Wembanyama finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, while Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 34 points.

The Spurs (5-29) lost their fourth in a row and for the ninth time in the last 10 games.

The Golden State Warriors were on the verge of beating the Denver Nuggets for the first time in nearly two years.

Nikola Jokic had other ideas.

Jokic hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a 130-127 win over the Warriors on Thursday to cap an 18-point, fourth-quarter comeback.

Jokic's improbable 3 came from just inside of half-court and over the outstretched arms of Warriors centre Kevon Looney.

Jokic, who had just tied the game with 26 second left on a short jumper, finished with 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Aaron Gordon sparked Denver's furious rally, scoring 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, as the defending champions won for the eighth time in nine games.

The Nuggets (25-11) also extended their winning streak over the Warriors to six games dating to a loss in the 2022 play-offs.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 30 points but also committed a costly turnover late, with Jamal Murray stealing the ball from him with four seconds remaining to set up Jokic's winner.

The Warriors (16-18) lost for the third time in four games following a five-game winning streak.

Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Wembanyama, Spurs

Victor Wembanyama sent the San Antonio Spurs fans into a frenzy with a huge 3-pointer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo promptly silenced the crowd with a 3-point play of his own.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a 125-121 win at San Antonio to snap a two-game losing streak.

The first NBA meeting between Antetokounmpo and Wembanyama was a back-and-forth affair in which neither team led by more five points in the final quarter.

Wembanyama tied the game at 121 on a 3-pointer with 1:09 remaining, but the Bucks responded on their next trip down the court, as Antetokounmpo put Milwaukee ahead on a driving dunk and added a free throw after being fouled.

Antetokounmpo also had 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Bucks (25-10), who got back in the win column after being swept in a home-and-home series with the Indiana Pacers.

Damian Lillard scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and chipped in 10 assists.

Wembanyama blocked Lillard's layup attempt right before his 3-pointer, and later blocked an attempted dunk by Antetokounmpo with less than 30 seconds remaining. But on the Spurs next possession, Tre Jones missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

Wembanyama finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, while Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 34 points.

The Spurs (5-29) lost their fourth in a row and for the ninth time in the last 10 games.

Victor Wembanyama and Gregg Popovich accepted the San Antonio Spurs had been unable to live with an NBA championship contender after Sunday's 134-101 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics.

The league-leading Celtics improved to 26-6 with a dominant performance to round off 2023 at Frost Bank Center, extending their winning streak to six games.

Boston never trailed at any point as Jayson Tatum led six visiting players in double figures with his 25-point haul, while Jaylen Brown added 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

Rookie Wembanyama had 21 points and seven rebounds for the hosts, but it was not enough to stop them sliding to 5-27 with a seventh defeat in the space of eight games.

While Wembanyama said the Celtics were simply too good on the night, he believes the Spurs will have learned something from the defeat.

"I can feel that compared to the past years, they have something extra this year," Wembanyama said of Joe Mazzulla's Celtics team.

"Of course, it’s difficult to play against them and it is a good challenge. But I think we learned today."

San Antonio coach Popovich concurred, saying: "They are a championship-calibre team, that's what they are out there for, that's their goal, and they proved it once again.

"Joe does a great job with them. They've got good talent, obviously, all-star talent; and they've got the grit. 

"They've got the execution and are getting better all the time. That's a tough challenge at this particular time for our group."

Boston closed out the month of December with a 12-2 record and were able to rest their starters for much of the fourth quarter, having led by as many as 37 points at one stage. 

"We got stops," Mazzulla said. "I thought we were really good at doing both, protecting the paint and getting out to contest, which allowed us to get out in transition. 

"I think our secondary transition, we did a good job of recognising where the mismatch was and getting to it fast and playing together as a team through it."

San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama would play every week if the choice was his but respects the minutes restriction imposed as coach Gregg Popovich continues to be cautious.

Number one draft pick Wembanyama suffered a "freak" ankle injury in an incident involving a ballboy in a pre-game warm-up before the 144-119 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks last week.

The 19-year-old stepped on a ballboy's foot after a driving layup, subsequently rolling his injured right ankle, but returned to action on Thursday before sitting out of Friday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

San Antonio listed Wembanyama as out due to resting, despite the priority being protecting his ankle, as the Trail Blazers triumphed 134-128.

"He's got a minutes restriction and he can't play back-to-backs for a couple of weeks until they take another picture and check out his foot again," Spurs coach Popovich said.

"When we sat him in Dallas, he wasn't happy, but I'm glad he wasn't happy.

"He's a competitor. All these guys at this level, they didn't get here by being noncompetitive. So, he'd rather be playing. It frustrates him more than anything."

Wembanyama had 30 points, six rebounds, six assists and seven blocks in 24 minutes on Thursday against Portland, becoming the third rookie with 30 points, five assists and five blocks in a game and joining Spurs Hall of Famers David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

The future NBA star remains content to respect the medical staff's mandated advice, despite his wishes to feature on the court every game.

"We communicate a lot with the medical staff and I've made it clear that I want them to sit me out," Wembanyama said.

"I'm going to trust them if they want me to sit out, but only if I really need to.

"If they force me pretty much. If it was up to me, I'd play every game. But I respect my role. They're professionals. I'm a professional. I try to do my job the best I can."

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