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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suns resurgence continues

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

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

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

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

Pacers claim bragging rights over trade partner

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

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

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

Anthony Davis felt great on his return from a foot injury but concedes it was a "long five-and-a-half weeks" on the sidelines.

The All-Star returned for the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time since December 17 as they won 113-104 over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Davis, who had been sidelined with a fractured bone spur and stress reaction in his right foot, played 26 minutes off the bench in his return, scoring 21 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks.

The center had been in near career-best form prior to the injury, averaging 27.4 points per game as well as a career-high 12.1 rebounds, with his successful return a major boost for the Lakers who improved to 23-26 with Wednesday's win.

"I felt great. I felt good out on the floor," Davis told Spectrum Sportsnet after the game. "The foot feels fine. It was good to be out there with the guys battling. It was good because it was a close game. We really had to battle until the last four, five minutes, it was a good test for me going into this road trip.

"Overall, I'm happy to be back on the court with these guys. It's been a long five-and-a-half weeks, so it feels good to come back and get the win and ultimately be back out on the floor."

Davis checked into the game with 4:22 left in the first quarter, playing on a managed workload.

"Anytime you come back, that first game, that first practice whatever, you're always tender," Davis said. "You want to test it out, see how it feels in live action, in a real game where it matters.

"That's the ultimate test and for that first 30 seconds to a minute I wanted to see if I felt anything or if anything would flare up. When I didn’t feel anything, my mind was like, 'it's time to go'."

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham reassured that they were confident Davis has fully recovered from the issue, having endured numerous injuries in recent seasons.

"He's gone through some rigorous therapy, weight training, weight-bearing exercises, activity on the court - both individually and some group workouts," Ham told reporters prior to the game.

"We would save him from himself if we thought there was any type of threat or harm that he could do to himself.

"He had these boxes that he had to check, and he's checked all of them, so we feel comfortable with him appearing tonight."

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to receive a massive boost on the second night of their back-to-back on Wednesday as All-NBA center Anthony Davis returns against the San Antonio Spurs.

Davis has missed the past five-and-a-half weeks after hopping off the floor against the Denver Nuggets on December 16. It was subsequently revealed that he had suffered a fractured bone spur and a stress reaction in his right foot.

During the 20 games he spent on the sidelines, the Lakers have gone 10-10, bringing their overall record to 22-26 after Tuesday's loss to cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers. 

It leaves them with the third-worst record in the tightly bunched Western Conference, but they are only 2.5 games out of the six seed, which is currently occupied by the 25-24 Dallas Mavericks.

The return of Davis – reported by ESPN's Dave McMenamin – is seismic for Los Angeles. The 29-year-old franchise centerpiece was in the midst of his best statistical season in a Lakers uniform before his injury.

He is averaging 27.4 points per game – the most since one of his four All-NBA First Team seasons in 2017-18 – as well as a career-high 12.1 rebounds, which is only bettered by the Sacramento Kings' Domantas Sabonis (12.5).

Davis' eight seasons averaging at least two blocks per game is the most among active players, and he is on track to make it a ninth as his mark of 2.1 this season places him fifth in the league.

After the Spurs come to town, the Lakers head to Boston to take on the Celtics on Saturday, before continuing their tantalising road trip with games against the Brooklyn Nets and a visit to Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.

 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was emotional following his side's 144-113 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs in front of a record crowd.

Officially 68,323 people packed into the Alamodome for the special occasion to break the NBA attendance record, previously set at 62,046 when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played against the Atlanta Hawks at the Georgia Dome in 1998.

The Warriors had eight players score in double-figures, led by Jordan Poole with 25 points on eight-of-16 shooting with six assists, while Stephen Curry had 15 points in his first win with the team since December 10.

It was an even more special night for Kerr, who was a member of the Spurs' championship teams in 1999 and 2003, with the home side airing a video package dedicated to him before tip-off.

"First of all I want to say thank you to the Spurs for the incredible night," he said. "Just the presentation of the game was spectacular.

"For me, it was a little bit of a trip down memory lane. I got emotional before the game when they played the video and introduced me – to get an ovation from 68,000 fans gives you chills. This was a really special night, and the Spurs made it special. 

"I think the reason I was feeling the way I did, is I know how fortunate that I was to be a part of the Spurs, and to meet 'Pop', and [general manager] R.C [Buford], and play with Timmy [Duncan], and Manu [Ginobli], and David Robinson, and Avery [Johnson] and Sean [Elliot] – the whole group.

"Just to be part of this team, and this community here for five years of my life, and to be embraced by the fans, and my family to be embraced here – my kids spent a good chunk of their childhood here. 

"This is a special place, and tonight was a great display of how special the Spurs are, and how special San Antonio is."

Draymond Green compared the atmosphere to college basketball's Final Four, which is usually played in a similar sort of stadium.

"It was very fun," he said. "It was funny, I was saying to somebody at the beginning of the game that it feels like you're playing in the Final Four all over again. 

"To have that experience – you never think you're going to be able to experience that again. 

"I think this is a great thing that the Spurs organisation has done, and I'm happy that we were the game and the team that could be part of it."

Ja Morant "felt terrible" and knew he needed to act after a young Memphis Grizzlies fan had her signed basketball stolen.

Morant came good on Wednesday when he presented 11-year-old Ellie Hughes with a signed shirt and as of yet unreleased Nike Ja 1 shoes, saying he hoped it offset the pain she felt after the "unacceptable" swiping of her ball.

Youngster Hughes, who reports said has not missed a Grizzlies home game in six years, had been collecting signatures on a team ball.

It was taken during Monday's win over the San Antonio Spurs, which prompted Morant to act, knowing he could make the situation better.

He said: "Obviously I feel like I come from a good home with great parents, and it's pretty much something I love to do.

"You've touched a mighty heart like that, a big fan of the Grizzlies for years. It's moments like that, that mean the most to them, something they'll never forget, something they'll remember the rest of their life.

"It's not a lot of people who've got a game-worn signed Ja jersey and there's definitely not a lot of people who have signed Ja 1s.

"After seeing what happened to them on social media, I just felt terrible. Obviously it's been years she had that ball, and had the opportunity to get autographs of great players, and to have that taken away from her, I feel it was unacceptable.

"I tried to get in contact with the family, I reached out and offered them two of my courtside seats and told them after the game I would give them my jersey and shoes, so definitely a good feeling to have them there supporting us and see the smile on their face out there."

Morant was on top form as the Grizzlies toppled the Spurs again on Wednesday, scoring 38 points in a 135-129 win.

The Grizzlies are flying high, sitting second in the Western Conference with the same 28-13 record as leaders the Denver Nuggets.

Despite their strong season, Morant says there remains room for improvement, pointing to occasional "mental lapses" and saying Memphis "need to be a little more locked in and paying attention to detail".

"Fatigue can play a part," the 23-year-old added, demanding constant focus. "I feel like if we want to be a great team, no matter what, we have to do that day in and day out, for 48 minutes.

"That's pretty much really just the area I think we can get better."

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.

LeBron James scored 37 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 15 assists off the bench as the Los Angeles Lakers sneaked past the Sacramento Kings 136-134 on Saturday.

The win made it five straight victories for the Lakers, who were missing Anthony Davis (foot), as they improved to 19-21.

Dennis Schroder hit two free-throws with 3.1 seconds remaining before De'Aaron Fox missed a 43-foot attempt on the buzzer. Fox had squared the game up at 134-all with a 14-foot shot with 7.1 seconds remaining.

James' driving layup and one with 48 seconds left had earned the Lakers the lead which they never gave up.

The four-time NBA MVP scored 10 fourth-quarter points, shooting at 50 per cent for the game, finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Schroder added 27 points with four-of-five from three-point range, while Thomas Bryant added 29 points and 14 rebounds.

Westbrook played 34 minutes, making a strong contribution, becoming only the second player to reach 20 points, five rebounds and 15 assists off the bench since starters were first tracked in 1970-71.

Fox scored 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field, with Domantas Sabonis having 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Doncic triple-double in Mavs win

Luka Doncic had his ninth triple-double of the season with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 127-117.

Dallas raced to a 34-15 quarter-time lead with Christian Wood starring early to finish with 28 points, while exciting rookie Jaden Hardy scored 15 for the second straight time.

The Pels, playing without leading scorers Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum, were led by Jonas Valanciunas with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Tatum guides Celtics past Spurs

Jayson Tatum scored 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting as he lifted the Boston Celtics past the San Antonio Spurs 121-116.

Tatum scored a tiebreaking jumper with 33 seconds left, while Jaylen Brown added 29 points and Malcolm Brogdon contributed 23 off the bench.

The Spurs pushed the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics all game, with eight players scoring double digits for the home team, led by Zach Collins with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Donovan Mitchell shattered the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record with 71 points in his side's 145-134 home victory against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Cavaliers' previous record for most points in one game belongs to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who both had a 57-point game in a Cleveland uniform in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Mitchell also came through in a pivotal moment late in the fourth quarter to force overtime after being fouled with three seconds remaining, trailing by three. He made the first free throw, before missing the second and getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He went on to outscore the Bulls 13-4 by himself in the extra period, finishing 22-of-34 from the field, seven-of-15 from deep and 20-of-25 from the free throw line while adding 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Mitchell blew his own career-highs out of the water, having never previously scored more than 46 points in a regular season game, although he had games of 57 and 51 in the Utah Jazz's 2020 playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

He scored or assisted on 99 of the Cavaliers' 145 points – the second most all-time, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in 1962 where he contributed to 104 points.

Mitchell joins Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson and Devin Booker as the only players to reach the 70-point figure.

It overshadowed a terrific performance from Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting with four assists and four steals.

LeBron carries the Lakers in vintage display

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James willed his side to a 121-115 road win against the Charlotte Hornets with his second consecutive 40-point game.

After putting up a season-high 47 points his last time out against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, James almost matched it against Charlotte, scoring a game-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting with 11 rebounds and six assists.

He was the only Lakers player to score more than 18 points, as Thomas Bryant played strong supporting role with 18 points (nine-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers have now won three of their past four to improve to 16-21 – four games behind the Sacramento Kings (19-16) in the Western Conference's sixth seed.

Nets make it 12 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets own this season's longest winning streak after rattling off their 12th in a row with a 139-103 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn's two offensive centrepieces were both at the top of their game. Kevin Durant scored 25 points on wildly efficient 10-of-14 shooting with 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored his game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

The highlight of the game came when Irving crashed the offensive rebounds on a Yuta Watanabe miss, rising up for a surprising put-back dunk that sent the Barclays Center crowd into raptures.

Brooklyn are now 25-12 after beginning the season 1-5, and trail the Boston Celtics (26-11) by one game in the race for the league's best record.

Donovan Mitchell shattered the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record with 71 points in his side's 145-134 home victory against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Cavaliers' previous record for most points in one game belongs to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who both had a 57-point game in a Cleveland uniform in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Mitchell also came through in a pivotal moment late in the fourth quarter to force overtime after being fouled with three seconds remaining, trailing by three. He made the first free throw, before missing the second and getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He went on to outscore the Bulls 13-4 by himself in the extra period, finishing 22-of-34 from the field, seven-of-15 from deep and 20-of-25 from the free throw line while adding 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Mitchell blew his own career-highs out of the water, having never previously scored more than 46 points in a regular season game, although he had games of 57 and 51 in the Utah Jazz's 2020 playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

He scored or assisted on 99 of the Cavaliers' 145 points – the second most all-time, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in 1962 where he contributed to 104 points.

Mitchell joins Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson and Devin Booker as the only players to reach the 70-point figure.

It overshadowed a terrific performance from Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting with four assists and four steals.

LeBron carries the Lakers in vintage display

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James willed his side to a 121-115 road win against the Charlotte Hornets with his second consecutive 40-point game.

After putting up a season-high 47 points his last time out against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, James almost matched it against Charlotte, scoring a game-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting with 11 rebounds and six assists.

He was the only Lakers player to score more than 18 points, as Thomas Bryant played strong supporting role with 18 points (nine-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers have now won three of their past four to improve to 16-21 – four games behind the Sacramento Kings (19-16) in the Western Conference's sixth seed.

Nets make it 12 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets own this season's longest winning streak after rattling off their 12th in a row with a 139-103 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn's two offensive centrepieces were both at the top of their game. Kevin Durant scored 25 points on wildly efficient 10-of-14 shooting with 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored his game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

The highlight of the game came when Irving crashed the offensive rebounds on a Yuta Watanabe miss, rising up for a surprising put-back dunk that sent the Barclays Center crowd into raptures.

Brooklyn are now 25-12 after beginning the season 1-5, and trail the Boston Celtics (26-11) by one game in the race for the league's best record.

Jason Kidd hailed the "incredible" Luka Doncic for "bailing out" the Dallas Mavericks in their win over the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve.

The Slovenian superstar had his third 50-point game of the season as the Mavericks held on for a 126-125 road win to close out 2022 on a high note.

Having led by 17 points, it was a frantic closing minute for Dallas with Doncic typically at the centre of the action.

Tre Jones intentionally missed the second of two free-throw attempts after being fouled by Mavs forward Davis Bertans, but Doncic himself purposely missed a couple with only 1.5 seconds remaining in order to prevent the Spurs from having an opportunity to make a game-winning play.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was particularly impressed with that game management, saying: "Not easy to win here. 

"But, again, Luka was incredible. He bails us out again by missing the free throws. As much as he wanted to make those free throws down the stretch, [it was] so that they didn't have time to set up a play."

The records continue to rack up for Doncic, who had 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists when the Mavs defeated the New York Knicks in overtime on Tuesday.

His average of 35.1 points in the month of December represented the highest scoring average in any month in Dallas' franchise history, while he also became the first NBA player to have 250 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in a five-game span.

"It's incredible," said teammate Christian Wood. "In my seven years in the league, I've never seen anybody do what he's able to do. He's on an incredible run. 

"He's playing like an MVP. Clearly one of the best players in the league."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had, tongue-in-cheek, said Doncic would be kept under the 50-point mark.

With a smile on his face Doncic said that was not fuel for the fire, adding: "No, I just wanted to get a win."

Popovich himself talked up his team's performance despite narrowly falling short against Doncic.

"Yeah, we had a good team effort and individual effort on him, but he's an amazing player," Popovich said. "His IQ is off the charts. 

"So, we would rather win than lose like everybody else in the world, but [I'm] really proud of their effort and the way they just kept going even after we got down whatever it was."

The Mavericks start 2023 fourth in the Western Conference with a 21-16 record and begin the new year against the lowly Houston Rockets on Monday.

By contrast, the Spurs (12-24) have the second-worst record in the conference. They face the Brooklyn Nets next time out.

Luka Doncic scored more than 50 points for the third time in his past five games to carry the Dallas Mavericks to a 126-125 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Mavericks, which has coincided with a scintillating stretch of play from their Slovenian superstar.

Doncic scored 51 points against the Spurs on 18-of-29 shooting, adding nine assists, six rebounds and four steals. It came just four days after Doncic became the first player in NBA history to post a 60-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game in a dramatic comeback against the New York Knicks.

The 23-year-old, who has a Rookie of the Year and three All-NBA First Team selections from his first four seasons, is mounting a charge for his first MVP, and has put together arguably the best five-game stretch of his career.

In his past five games, Doncic is averaging 45.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists, and in the process he has overtaken Joel Embiid in the race for the scoring title, now at 34.2 points per game for the season.

Christian Wood was strong in a supporting role against the Spurs, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. In his eight appearances since finally being injected into the starting line-up, Wood is averaging 19.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 50.5 per cent from the field and 38.2 per cent from deep.

The Mavericks are now 21-16 and have jumped up to fourth place in the Western Conference.

Nets make it 11 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets remain the hottest team in the league after rattling off their 11th consecutive win, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 123-106.

Kyrie Irving led the way offensively with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while Kevin Durant was similarly efficient for his 23 points (nine-of-15). Defensively, Nic Claxton was the anchor, blocking six shots while also hitting six of his seven field goal attempts.

After starting the season 1-5, the Nets are now 24-12, and trail only the Boston Celtics (26-10) in the Eastern Conference.

Morant takes bragging rights in 2019 Draft showdown

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Zion Williamson over Ja Morant in the 2019 NBA Draft, and they received a glimpse at what could have been as Morant guided the Memphis Grizzlies to a 116-101 triumph.

Morant scored a game-high 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting, adding eight assists and two steals, while Wiliamson could only muster 20 points on six-of-16 shooting and a career-high nine turnovers.

Having only played in 18 of the Grizzlies' 34 games, Jaren Jackson Jr does not qualify for the official league leaderboards, but his six blocks against the Pelicans raised his average to 3.0, comfortably clear of league-leader Brook Lopez (2.6).

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau would not champion Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley's standout performances in Thursday's loss to the San Antonio Spurs, stressing his focus is on the whole team.

The duo posted 41 and 36 points respectively in their 122-115 defeat at AT&T Center, becoming the first pair of Knicks team-mates to score 35-plus points in the same game since 2008.

Their efforts, however, could not prevent a fifth consecutive loss for their team, whose eight-game win streak earlier this month is now firmly a thing of the past.

Thibodeau refused to be drawn on the standout efforts of his two players afterwards, instead reaffirming his immediate need is to figure out why his side have fallen out of form.

"I don't get wrapped up in the individual, I look at what the team does," he said. "That's the important thing, how you impact the team.

"We didn't play well. Numbers when you don't win don't mean anything to me. They hit us, and it was too little, too late at the end. We've got to figure it out."

With an 18-18 record following their difficult festive run, the Knicks will have a chance to resume a winning advantage when they face off with the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Thibodeau will hope to drill his side through the basics again before then, suggesting his team posted enough points to win their match before mistakes cost them.

"We scored 115 points, that's enough," he added. "That puts you in a position to win.

"Everyone is capable of playing defense, everyone is capable of rebounding, everyone is capable of taking care of the ball. If we do those things as a team, we can beat anybody."

Luka Doncic put up arguably the most gaudy stat-line of the season in the Dallas Mavericks' 126-121 home victory against the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Doncic ended up with 60 points on 21-of-31 shooting, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and a block in the virtuoso performance, and the Mavericks needed every bit of it to come back from a late deficit.

Trailing 112-103 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Dallas staged a miraculous recovery, but still needed some Luka magic to send the game to overtime.

With four seconds on the clock, trailing by three, Doncic was sent to the line for two free throws. He made the first, before intentionally missing the second, tracking down his own rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He scored seven of the Mavericks' 11 points in the overtime period to complete the comeback, finishing the game on a 23-9 run.

The win is Dallas' fourth in a row, and improves their record to 19-16 to sit seventh in the Western Conference.

Despite the loss for the Knicks – their fourth in a row – there were encouraging signs for the future of their backcourt. With Jalen Brunson missing his first game of the season due to a hip injury, Immanuel Quickley was handed the start. 

He had 11 of his 15 assists in the first half before struggling down the stretch as he was asked to play a game-high 51 minutes, while Quentin Grimes top-scored for New York with 33 points (12-of-25).

LeBron's Lakers get back on track

The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the winner's list after LeBron James led them to a 129-110 road win against the Orlando Magic.

Entering the contest on a four-game losing streak since the injury of Anthony Davis, James was terrific, scoring a team-high 28 points on 12-of-24 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists.

He was supported well by Davis' replacement in the starting lineup, with Thomas Bryant chipping in 21 points (eight-of-10 shooting) and 10 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook tied Detlef Schrempf's all-time record for triple-doubles off the bench with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Magic had won eight of their previous nine, but it was a tough outing for number one draft pick Paolo Banchero, scoring a career-low four points with five fouls in 22 minutes.

76ers waste incredible Embiid performance

The Philadelphia 76ers' winning streak has ended at eight games after a disappointing 116-111 loss to the Washington Wizards, despite Joel Embiid heroics.

Embiid, the back-to-back MVP runner-up, scored a game-high 48 points on 17-of-31 shooting, adding nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals to finish with a plus/minus of plus eight in his 36 minutes.

Unfortunately for Embiid, the 76ers were outscored by 13 in the 12 minutes he was on the bench, with Kristaps Porzingis' 24 points (seven-of-15), 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals leading the way for the Wizards.

The win may be coming at a cost, however, as All-Star Bradley Beal left in the fourth quarter after suffering a hamstring injury.

Both head coaches made sure to point out the superb play of C.J. McCollum after the New Orleans Pelicans' 126-117 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

McCollum scored a season-high 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting, adding nine assists, eight rebounds and two blocks in the absence of his max-contract teammates Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

It's the latest strong outing in McCollum's recent hot-streak, now averaging 31.5 points, 7.5 assists and six rebounds in his past four games.

It is in stark contrast to McCollum's early-season production, with the 31-year-old initially showing the warning signs of a decline. He is averaging 19.4 points – his lowest figure since the 2014-15 season – while his 42.0 field goal percentage is the lowest since his rookie year.

His renaissance has come at the perfect time, according to head coach Willie Green, who called his guard's performance "beautiful".

"It was great to see C.J. have a night like he did tonight," he said. "40 points, the nine assists were impressive, he rebounded the ball.

"We needed that type of production from him with the guys being out. It’s beautiful to watch when he’s on the floor and he’s scoring like he does.

"When guys are out, I think the beauty in what we're able to see is that all of our guys step up, and enjoy these moments, these opportunities. I've said it before, some people look at it as obstacles, but our guys relish these moments."

Pelicans backup center Willy Hernangomez said it is fun to see his teammate begin to find his groove.

"McCollum dominated the game from the very beginning," he said. "I'm happy for C.J. – he’s been really getting his rhythm back. 

"Today was a big game for him. I'm happy to see him making shots and making the right decision over and over."

Future Hall of Fame Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was also complimentary of McCollum, saying his team does not have the luxury of a player who can take over a game in that fashion.

"We’ll get down, figure it out, and then start playing," he said. "We don’t have somebody like a McCollum that’s going to come in and do what he did to us. 

"We made it a decent game at that point, and then he took over. He was great."

Having snapped a four-game losing streak, the Pelicans are now 19-12 and only a half-game behind the Phoenix Suns (19-11) and the Memphis Grizzlies (19-11) in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.

The New Orleans Pelicans will be without top offensive option Zion Williamson for Thursday's game against the San Antonio Spurs due to the league's health and safety protocols.

Williamson, 22, has been the Pelicans' leading scorer this season at 25.2 points per game, and after missing the entire 2021-22 campaign, he has suited up for 25 of his team's 30 games this time around.

He will miss his sixth game of the season after triggering the league's COVID-19 protocols, and with it being the first leg of a back-to-back, he will also likely miss Friday's road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Williamson has been one of the game's most dominant forces in December, raising his usage while fellow All-Star Brandon Ingram has also been out injured, having not played since November 25.

In his nine games in December, Williamson has averaged 28.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 62.2 per cent from the field. He is the only player this season shooting at least 60 per cent from the field (60.3) while averaging over 25 points per game.

In his absence, it will be up to C.J. McCollum to run the show against the Spurs. He is sporting his worst figures in points per game (18.7) since his second season in 2014-15, along with a career-worst field goal percentage of 41.5.

However, his 5.8 assists per game represent a career high, and he is beginning to find his scoring touch, with totals of 28, 27 and 31 in his past three outings.

As well as McCollum, it will be a golden opportunity for emerging wing Trey Murphy III, with last year's first-round draft pick having flashed intriguing potential in five 20-point games so far this season, having only posted two during his rookie campaign.

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