Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman made an encouraging return to competitive action on Sunday as his side defeated the San Antonio Spurs 86-85 at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Warriors fans did not have to wait long to see the number two overall pick from the 2020 NBA Draft make an impact, scoring the first points of the game when he got on the receiving end of a big alley-oop from Jonathan Kuminga 15 seconds into the contest.

Wiseman then blocked the Spurs' first shot attempt, gathered the rebound, and hit his first three-point attempt less than a minute later.

He had five points and two blocks in his first five-minute stint, and that would end up being his best stretch of play, with turnovers and fouls plaguing the rest of his game as he re-adjusted to the speed of NBA action.

Wiseman finished with 11 points on five-of-seven shooting, hitting the only three-pointer he attempted, but he also had seven personal fouls, three turnovers and only two rebounds in his 20 minutes, showing flaws that will hurt his chances of getting on the floor with the Warriors' real team if he can not clean it up.

Second-year Warrior Jonathan Kuminga was impressive, albeit inefficient, in a vastly expanded role. 

As his side's top offensive option, he scored a team-high 28 points with seven rebounds and four assists, but he shot 10-of-22 from the field, and had even worse showings from long range (one-of-seven) and the free throw line (seven-of-18). He also committed five turnovers and five fouls in 26 minutes.

The Spurs almost ended up pulling out the win after two clutch three-pointers from Blake Wesley – the 25th pick from this year's draft – that turned a 81-79 deficit with 1:30 to play into a 85-81 lead less than 30 seconds later. Wesley finished with a team-high 22 points on seven-of-20 shooting, hitting four-of-seven from three-point range.

The San Antonio Spurs appear committed to their rebuild after it was announced they plan to waive newly acquired forward Danilo Gallinari and withdraw their qualifying offer for Lonnie Walker IV.

Gallinari was brought over to the Spurs in this week's blockbuster trade, which sent Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks for Gallinari and three first-round draft picks.

The move to trade Murray – their 25-year-old point guard who was named an All-Star for the first time in 2022 – indicated a shift towards the future and a commitment to not being competitive for at least a season or two in order to maximise their draft equity.

Gallinari, at 33 years old, does not fit in with the Spurs' timeline and may not have had enough value to command any draft picks back as a trade chip, so the team have instead opted to buy out his contract – which had one more season and $21.5million remaining.

The move makes Gallinari an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can come to an agreement with any team who have cap space.

Walker, who was a first-round pick by the Spurs in 2018, averaged a career-high in points (12.2) and assists (2.2) this past season, but with plenty of young guard options remaining on the roster, San Antonio opted to withdraw their qualifying offer.

The qualifying offer meant Walker was a restricted free agent, giving the Spurs the option to match any offer tendered to him, which also restricts how many teams view it as a chase worth their time, as the expectation is often that the team will match them.

By withdrawing their qualifying offer, Walker is now an unrestricted free agent, able to choose his own path forward.

Walker is still only 23, so to allow him to walk indicates that he had no trade value at all and that the organisation have decided he is not part of their plans as they prepare for a couple of years near the bottom of the Western Conference.

The Atlanta Hawks have acquired All-Star guard Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Danilo Gallinari and three first-round picks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

As part of Wednesday's trade, the Spurs are receiving the Hawks' 2023 first-round pick, as well as first-rounders in 2025 and 2027. Atlanta and San Antonio are also swapping a draft pick in 2026. 

Murray enjoyed a breakout year in his fifth NBA season in 2021-22, averaging 21.1 points, 9.2 assists and 8.3 rebounds while being named to his first All-Star Game. The 25-year-old point guard joined LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Oscar Robertson as the only players to average 20+ points, 9+ assists and 8+ rebounds in a season. 

The addition of Murray, who has two years left on his current contract, gives Atlanta one of the more explosive backcourts in the league as he will team up with two-time All-Star Trae Young. 

The Spurs, meanwhile, look to be entering a rebuild by trading away their young All-Star for three first-round picks and the 33-year-old Gallinari. 

The sixth overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, Gallinari averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 66 games last season for the Hawks.  

The veteran from Italy struggled a bit from the perimeter after being one of the more dangerous three-point shooters during the previous few seasons.

After averaging 2.4 made three-pointers a game while shooting 41.5 per cent on threes from 2018-19 to 2020-21 – the seventh-best rate in the league among those with at least 600 three-point tries – Gallinari made an average of 1.7 three-pointers a game and shot 38.1 per cent from long range last season. 

It always feels somewhat presumptuous to talk about an NBA Draft in the immediate aftermath and judge who did well and who did not. Surely, we have to wait to see how things play out and whether players with immense potential are able to fulfil it?

However, what you can do is judge those who, on paper at least, seem to have struck gold and those who appeared to stumble through their Thursday evening and may well have come away disappointed with their haul.

The night started off delightfully chaotically as the Orlando Magic went against the widely predicted number one pick of Jabari Smith Jr and instead brought in Paolo Banchero.

Now the dust has settled after an interesting night, Stats Perform has taken a look at the potential winners and losers of the draft.

Winners

Houston Rockets

The Rockets could probably not believe their luck when the Magic decided to opt for Banchero. The Italian-American would have still been a fine first-round pick, but given the choice it seems like Houston would rather have taken Smith Jr, and they had the chance to do just that.

The youngster was a disruptive defender for Aubern, and clearly has sound fundamentals, a result no doubt of growing up in and around basketball, with his father Jabari Smith Sr a former NBA player himself.

Smith Jr averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists while shooting 42.9 per cent from the floor and 42 per cent from the three-point line in 2021-22, and should dovetail nicely with Alperen Sengun, a first-round pick from last year.

The Rockets also took Tari Eason, a breakout star at LSU, and TyTy Washington, a high-quality and versatile option who was expected to be picked up earlier in the night.

Detroit Pistons

A very similar moment of fortune fell for the Pistons as their top choice Jaden Ivey was surprisingly still available when it came to their number five pick, with the Sacramento Kings instead taking Keegan Murray.

In two seasons at Purdue, Ivey showed himself to be a top-five prospect with a well-rounded game, though questions persist about the consistency of his shooting. He averaged 17.3 points per game last season, though, with a field goal percentage of 46.0.

Detroit were also involved in a three-way trade with the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks. This ended with them procuring Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker in exchange for their 2025 first-round pick, having acquired it as part of the Jerami Grant trade to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in the week.

Walker is expected to be bought out of his contract and become a free agent, so it looks like sound dealing to essentially trade a first-round pick to get Duren through the door, who averaged 12.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Memphis Tigers last season.

San Antonio Spurs

Nothing outrageous from the Spurs, but on the face of it, they ended the night with three solid picks.

Jeremy Sochan became the first British player to be picked in NBA Draft in over 10 years. As a freshman at Baylor, Sochan averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game, making 47.4 per cent of his field goal attempts.

As that average suggests, one aspect to his game that could be improved is his shooting, but San Antonio's Chip Engelland is one of the best shooting coaches in the game and could well help the young man who was raised in Milton Keynes, England.

Malaki Branham looks a smart choice as the number 20 pick from Ohio State, with his one college season seeing him average 13.7 points on 49.8 per cent shooting, while Blake Wesley from Notre Dame also has the potential to also be a valuable arrival.

Losers

New York Knicks

After a poor season that felt like it would at least set them up for a productive draft, the Knicks appeared to overthink things at the draft, or underthink them depending on your viewpoint.

They decided to trade their number 11 pick for three future first-round picks, though none that really hold any value.

They managed to get Walker's contract out the door to the Pistons to free up some salary space, seemingly putting all their eggs in the Jalen Brunson basket, or potentially even Kyrie Irving. However, they only saved $9.2m from Walker's contract, which is not a lot considering they gave up one of their first-round picks. 

Who knows if it will pay off, but Knicks fans were almost certainly expecting more.

Washington Wizards

There was nothing particularly wrong with the picks from the Wizards, but as harsh as it may sound, they are in danger of becoming the NBA's dullest team.

A win percentage of 0.427 was down from 0.472 in 2020-21, and it felt like they might need to take a bit of a risk in the draft with their number 10 pick.

Johnny Davis is a fine player, averaging 19.7 points per game for the Wisconsin Badgers last year, the 25th highest in the college game, but someone like Duren could have been a roll of the dice for something to boost that win percentage sometime soon.

Who knows? It could be a sound strategy, but to be frank, it is a strategy that has not been working for the last few years in Washington.

Sacramento Kings

There is some sympathy with the situation the Kings were put in as the extremely obvious pick at four was Ivey, who had expressly said he did not want to go to Sacramento, so they went with Murray instead.

Murray is a fine prospect himself, and arguably a better fit than Ivey for the Kings, but the latter felt like an opportunity to at the very least have significant trade leverage.

Murray did average the fourth-highest points per game average last year with 23.5 for Iowa, while also adding 8.7 rebounds per game, so comes in as a promising addition.

Ivey will inevitably feel like the one who got away if he does what many think he will at Detroit, though, which could bring back memories of when Sacramento failed to take on Luka Doncic in 2018.

With the top three picks of the NBA Draft appearing to be Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero – likely in that order – the real fun begins with the Sacramento Kings at pick four.

The heavy favourite to be selected fourth overall is Purdue's Jaden Ivey, who projects as the top guard prospect in this year's class.

At 6ft 4in with tremendous athleticism, Ivey is a point guard that plays in a similar fashion to John Wall, although he is not the natural facilitator Wall is, leaning on his scoring and driving ability for his primary value.

Ivey was considered part of the top tier through early portions of the college basketball season until the three bigs elevated themselves further into their own conversation, but Ivey has been gaining so much steam throughout the pre-draft process that teams including the New York Knicks have reportedly been enquiring about trading up to the Kings' pick to select him.

 

Keegan Murray

After Ivey, the draft really opens up, although Iowa wing Keegan Murray will likely not fall outside of the top seven.

Murray is a 6ft 8in, highly skilled scorer who will be able to fill both forward spots in the NBA, and figures to be a player who will be able to create his own baskets in isolation situations.

He averaged 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during his sophomore season, and shot a terrific 55 per cent from the field and 39.8 per cent from three-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.

Defense is the question with Murray, but he has the size and athleticism to contribute on that end, while the team that drafts him will hope he can fill a similar role to Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton as a low-maintenance scorer who does not need to be the centrepiece of every play to stack up points, but can also take over if needed.

 

Shaedon Sharpe

The mystery man of this year's class is 6ft 5in wing Shaedon Sharpe, who did not play a single game this past season at the college level.

Sharpe was viewed as a potential top-five pick in next year's draft, but opted to expedite his process to turn professional as soon as possible, and he will be rewarded with a top-10 pick barring any unforeseen red flags.

Strongly built, athletic, long-armed wings with the ability to aggressively hit pull-up three-pointers and defend multiple positions are probably the most valuable archetype in the game right now, and Sharpe fits the billing.

With a game that resembles Paul George, Sharpe arguably has a ceiling as high as anybody in the class, but a lot of future NBA wings look like Paul George when their only footage is against high school kids.

 

Bennedict Mathurin

Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin also appears to be a lock for the top 10 after a dominant March Madness run that included a 30-point outburst in an overtime win in the Sweet 16, profiling as a high-level traditional shooting guard.

Clearly a score-first player, Mathurin – 6ft 6in with a 6ft 9in wingspan – will be able to defend opposing ones, twos and threes while his well-rounded offensive game should comfortably translate to an off-ball role at the next level.

Through his two seasons at Arizona, Mathurin shot 38 per cent from three on five attempts per game, including difficult, contested looks, while he also showed he can score at all three levels, and even dished seven assists with his 27 points in a key tournament win.

Maybe the safest pick outside of the top three, Mathurin will comfortably score in the teens as a rookie if he lands in a situation with minutes available. Think of him as a more athletic C.J. McCollum.

Dyson Daniels

Arguably the most unique guard in the class is Australian Dyson Daniels, who played with the G-League Ignite, and he also seems unlikely to fall out of the top 10.

Daniels was viewed as a decent prospect as a 6ft 5in combo guard who specialised in defense and lacked a jump shot – then he grew another three inches, cleaned up his jump shot and began assuming point guard responsibilities.

At 6ft 8in now with guard skills and elite defensive upside, Daniels is perhaps the hardest player in the class to find an NBA comparison for. He is so unselfish and pass-first that his play style resembles pure point guards like Tyus Jones or Monte Morris, but he is at least six inches taller and can realistically guard four positions.

Unlikely to ever become a true first option, Daniels is best served playing next to a primary scorer, making him an ideal fit with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers if they decide to use pick seven instead of trade it.

 

Ousmane Dieng

Speaking of late risers in the draft process, teams seem to be deciding that someone with the tools of France's Ousmane Dieng may have no business falling outside of the top 10.

Dieng, a massive wing measuring at 6ft 10in, showed some extremely interesting flashes of skill this past season as an 18-year-old playing with the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL.

Playing for a professional team, he was not given nearly the kind of leash as college prospects to show what they can do, averaging 15 minutes and three points through his first nine games.

But once he found his footing, it was clear he was a serious prospect, showing off sharp ball-handling and the ability to attack off the bounce in an 11-game stretch where he averaged 24 minutes and 14 points per game, scoring at least 17 points in five contests and shooting 20-of-56 from long range (35 per cent).

A.J. Griffin

The son of former NBA player and current Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, the only thing that can force A.J. Griffin to slide down draft boards is his injury history.

With essentially the perfect body for an NBA wing at 6ft 6in and 220 pounds with a seven-foot wingspan, Griffin is yet to turn 19 years old, and shot a blistering 44 per cent from long range on 4.4 attempts per game in his sole collegiate season.

If he can stay healthy, Griffin will be a solid starting wing at the bare minimum, with similar offensive upside to Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby and the defensive tools to guard at least three positions.

Teams will take a look at his medicals and decide if he is worth the risk, with multiple serious injuries during his high school career and more injury concerns during his one year at Duke.

The San Antonio Spurs will not be moving, says owner Peter J. Holt, staying in the city "por vida".

The Spurs moved from Dallas to San Antonio in 1973 and have remained there ever since, winning five NBA titles during Gregg Popovich's hugely successful tenure as coach.

However, fans have grown concerned by the latest rumours of potential relocation, ignited by the team's application to play two home games a season in Austin.

The Spurs reportedly defended the move, saying they want to expand their brand by hosting games at the Moody Center. Their G League team already play in Austin.

Holt sought to set the record straight on Tuesday, when the Spurs posted a statement from their owner on Twitter.

"Dear San Antonio," Holt wrote. "I love you. I love this city. A big city with a casual small-town feel and a great basketball team.

"I want to reassure you that the Spurs are in San Antonio to stay."

He added: "There are no Spurs without the city and the people of San Antonio. Your team, our team, together we are the silver and black.

"Spurs fans – we are here to stay. Por vida [for life]."

New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum called Wednesday's play-in tournament win against the San Antonio Spurs "the start of something special".

McCollum has been the star of the Pelicans since arriving in a mid-season trade, and it was no different against the Spurs, netting a game-high 32 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds.

The former Lehigh University standout has been averaging 23.3 points and 6.0 assists since the All-Star break and helped propel the Pelicans into the play-in tournament despite starting the season 1-12 from their first 13 games.

Speaking with post-game media, McCollum said it feels like something great is brewing in New Orleans.

"This is the start of something special, for sure," he said. 

"You see the energy. Feel the energy. My mother is in town – I have some family in town – when we go out to eat, you can feel the city is excited about basketball, as they should [be]. 

"There's a lot of talent here. We're playing the game the right way. It's going to be a lot of winning in our future."

McCollum went on to talk about how seriously the Pelicans were taking this game with their season on the line.

"I understood the magnitude of this game," he said. 

"The Spurs are always going to go on a run at some point. They are well-coached. They execute. They have a lot of great players who can shoot and score. 

"When you get a chance to get up double digits, you have to put the pedal to the metal and try to be aggressive… I try to be more aggressive in the playoffs, try to get downhill a little bit more."

Pelicans head coach Willie Green had nothing but praise for his star shooting guard.

"We just got the ball to him, and he made play after play, score after score," he said. 

"The rest of the guys started to feed off C.J. – he's been in these moments, he's played on the big stage. 

"It's no coincidence that he goes out and has the game that he has."

The Atlanta Hawks avoided elimination from the NBA Play-In Tournament on Wednesday, comfortably defeating the Charlotte Hornets 132-103, despite a poor shooting night from Trae Young.

The Hawks shot 52.1 per cent collectively even with Trae Young's eight-of-24 from the floor, with all five starters scoring in double-digits along with Bogdan Bogdanovic from the bench, who added 13 points.

Young started slow with three-of-13, matching LaMelo Ball for the first half, but was able to find his teammates early, particularly getting easy buckets for Clint Capela out of high pick-and-roll action.

Finishing with 31 assists for the night, the Hawks moved the ball fluidly in comparison to the Hornets, who could not generate clean looks on the way to 37.8 per cent shooting from the floor and 22 assists collectively.

Ball and Terry Rozier shot a combined 15-of-47, while the former went four-of-14 from three-point range despite eight assists and five rebounds.

Atlanta will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the winner earning a Playoff matchup against the Eastern Conference's first seed, the Miami Heat.

McCollum leads Pelicans past Spurs

C.J. McCollum was the star of the show as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 to earn a chance at the Western Conference eighth seed.

McCollum was on fire early, particularly in the second quarter, where he went a perfect six-for-six from the field to score 19 points in the period, on his way to final figures of 32 points (12-of-23 shooting), seven assists and six rebounds.

He was supported in style by Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, who combined for 49 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists, while rookie defensive sensation Herb Jones had two steals and two blocks.

Jones also did a great job on Spurs All-Star Dejounte Murray, holding him to five-of-19 shooting for his 16 points.

With the win, the Pelicans will play the Los Angeles Clippers in a game where the victor will earn a seven-game series against the Phoenix Suns in round one of the Playoffs.

 

Whatever you think about the sporting merit of the introduction of the Play-In tournament to last year's NBA season, there is no doubt it made things more interesting for the neutral.

The Golden State Warriors were surprisingly eliminated after defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Indiana Pacers were denied a playoff place by the Washington Wizards in 2021.

The format has returned for this season, and again, it promises to add all sorts of further intrigue to the playoff picture.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the mini tournament will take place from April 12-16. The teams that finished seventh and eighth play 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 playoffs, while the eighth seed will take on the Miami Heat. In the west, the seventh seed will go up against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the eighth seed will be paired with the Phoenix Suns.

With the regular season over after Sunday's final games, Stats Perform takes a look at the eight teams with one last chance to secure their place in the 2022 NBA playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Tuesday, April 12 – Brooklyn Nets (7th) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (8th) 

It has felt like a season of distractions in Brooklyn this season, be it James Harden's struggles, Kevin Durant's fitness or Kyrie Irving's vaccination status, and now the debut of Ben Simmons, which it seems may come in the playoffs, if they make it that is.

The Nets will be favourites, having won 12 of their last 17 and with Durant and Irving both in excellent form. KD is averaging 29.9 points per game (PPG), while Irving sits at 27.4.

The Cavaliers do not arrive in great form, losing eight of their last 11 games. Though they were victorious in their last outing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, the Bucks rested their starters, and Jrue Holiday only started to earn a foul and trigger a financial clause in his contract.

Darius Garland will be key if Cleveland are to stand a chance at Barclays Center, with the 22-year-old averaging 21.7 PPG.

Brooklyn have won three of their four meetings this season, including a 118-107 win at Barclays on Friday.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 13 – Atlanta Hawks (9th) vs Charlotte Hornets (10th)

All eyes will be on Trae Young as the 23-year-old looks to drag the Hawks into the playoffs, though it will take two big performances, even by his high standards.

Young averages 28.4 PPG this season, the joint-fifth highest in the league along with Luka Doncic, as well as 9.7 assists per game.

Atlanta have won seven of their last nine, including a 130-114 success at the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

For Charlotte, they will look to trio Miles Bridges, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier for inspiration, and have had a good end to the season themselves, winning 11 of their last 15.

They also beat the Hawks last month 116-106 in Charlotte, though each team has won two apiece of their four meetings through the campaign.

Western Conference:

Tuesday, April 12 – Minnesota Timberwolves (7th) vs Los Angeles Clippers (8th)

Despite the Timberwolves going into this one with home advantage, you would have to make the Clippers the favourites based on form and previous meetings.

Minnesota have lost six of their last 10, while the visitors arrive having won five of their last six.

The form of Karl-Anthony Towns, who is averaging 24.6 PPG this season, will be key for the hosts, as will that of Anthony Edwards, who scored a career-high 49 points in the recent win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Unsurprisingly, the Clippers have been a different prospect since the return of Paul George at the end of March, having lost eight of their previous 10 games before the 31-year-old came back, and winning six of seven since, albeit George only played in five of those games.

The Clippers have won three of their four meetings in the regular season, but the Timberwolves did win their last encounter in January. It should be noted that the team from Los Angeles won both games in Minnesota, though.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 13 – New Orleans Pelicans (9th) vs San Antonio Spurs (10th)

No team shows just how much the introduction of the Play-In tournament keeps seasons alive for a longer period than the Pelicans, who somehow have a shot at the postseason despite a disastrous start to their campaign.

Having lost 12 of their first 13 games, they are just two wins away from booking their place in the playoffs, and come into this one having won five of their last eight. 

Coach Willie Green will need CJ McCollum in top form, with the 30-year-old impressing since arriving from Portland earlier in the season, averaging 24.3 PPG since becoming a Pelican.

San Antonio recently won seven of eight games, but a slight wobble from the Spurs in the last few, losing their last three, may have thrown them off course at precisely the wrong time.

Like the Clippers, the Spurs could still be favourites despite being the away side, as they have won three of the four meetings between the two teams this season, including the most recent one in late March (107-103 in New Orleans).

The Boston Celtics secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference following their 139-110 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, the regular-season finale for both teams.

With the second seed in the Western Conference already secured, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins rested a number of starters including Ja Morant, Steven Adams, Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke were listed as questionable and while not ruled out, finished with DNPs.

Although the Celtics had a full complement in a game they needed to win, the weakened opposition did not cause tunnel vision, as they shared the ball to come up with 34 assists as a team.

Jayson Tatum came up with three of his own, along with 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting and nine rebounds to lead the way for the Celtics.

In an odd statistical quirk given the situation, the Grizz's John Konchar claimed the first triple-double of his career, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

Dubs find their groove to clinch third seed

The Golden State Warriors clinched the third seed in the Western Conference with their 128-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Klay Thompson made seven three-pointers and scored 41 points for the Warriors, who have impressively managed to close out the season without Stephen Curry on a five-game winning streak.

While Jordan Poole's 22 points off seven-of-16 shooting lightened the load, Jonathan Kuminga again scored a critical 18 points off the bench and gave the team important balance.

Doncic strains calf in Mavs win

Luka Doncic strained his left calf in the Dallas Mavericks' 130-120 win over the San Antonio Spurs, putting the Slovenian star's status in question for the playoffs.

The two-time All-Star would not have been eligible for what was ultimately a meaningless game – following the Warriors win - if the NBA did not rescind his 16th technical foul of the season, which he earned in the previous game against the Portland Trailblazers.

Doncic led Dallas with 26 points, nine assists and eight rebounds but sat the second half, with his ability to play against the Utah Jazz in the playoffs now in doubt.

Joel Embiid made his closing statement for the MVP award and all but wrapped up the NBA scoring title in the Philadelphia 76ers' 133-120 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Embiid put up monster numbers of 41 points, 20 rebounds and four assists, while going 14-of-17 from the floor and 11-of-15 from the free-throw line. It was the first time this NBA season that a player scored 40 points or more and had 20 or more rebounds in a game.

The 28-year-old is currently the league's scoring leader, averaging an astounding 30.6 points per game, just ahead of LeBron James' 30.3 and Kevin Durant's 30.1 points per game.

James Harden had 22 points and 14 assists for Philadelphia, who had a healthy spread of scorers with Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey both scoring 18 points, and Danny Green adding 15.

The Sixers remain in the hunt for the Eastern Conference's third seed with the win, moving to the same record as the Boston Celtics at 50-31, while the Milwaukee Bucks are second at 51-30.

A win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday combined with a Boston loss to the Memphis Grizzlies would move the Sixers into the third seed.

Morant makes timely return for Grizzlies

Ja Morant returned to action after a nine-game absence on Saturday night, as the Memphis Grizzlies secured a comfortable 141-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Morant finished with 21 points off seven-of-14 shooting, along with nine assists and four rebounds, while Jaren Jackson Jr. contributed a solid 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

The Grizzlies are set to finish second in the Western Conference, to face the winner of the 7-8 matchup in the play-in between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers.

Warriors continue winning run

The Golden State Warriors claimed their fourth consecutive victory despite an off shooting night from Jordan Poole, defeating the San Antonio Spurs on the road 100-94.

With Stephen Curry yet to return from injury and Klay Thompson rested, Poole had to take on more offensive responsibility and went three-of-19 from the floor in win.

A combined 30 points at nine-of-14 shooting off the bench from Jonathan Kuminga and Nemanja Bjelica was able to counteract it, along with 12 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists from Draymond Green.

Manu Ginobili will become a first-ballot inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, according to The Athletic.

Ginobili, who retired following the 2017-18 season, spent his entire 16-season NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014.

While he was a regular starter through his first few seasons with the Spurs – starting all 74 of his appearances during their 2005 championship season – Ginobili thrived in the 'sixth man' role after his third title.

In the highest scoring season of his career, Ginobili won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award and was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2008, averaging 19.5 points per game while primarily coming off the bench. 

He was also twice named an All-Star, in 2005, and in 2011, when he returned to the starting line-up for one season.

After 2011, Ginobili started just 10 of the 424 games he would play over the next seven seasons, but remained an all-important piece of the historic Spurs team to conquer LeBron James' Miami Heat in 2014.

As well as his NBA achievements, the Argentinian also collected a EuroLeague championship and EuroLeague Finals MVP in 2001 playing for Italian side Virtus Bologna, before eventually heading to the States.

He was also the best player on Argentina's 2004 Olympic team, which is the only team other than the United States to win Olympic gold since 1988.

Ginobili's jersey number has been retired by both the Spurs and the Argentine national team.

In what could be a Western Conference Finals preview, the Phoenix Suns came up big on the road with a 107-103 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

Between first and third in the West, there was a playoff atmosphere from the opening tip, and momentum swings throughout culminated with six lead changes in the final quarter.

Without the injured Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole put up 38 points on 11-of-21 shooting, but it was not enough as the Suns executed in the big moments.

Draymond Green tied the game with 2:21 remaining, converting a critical and-one after finishing through the contact from Jae Crowder.

The Warriors came up big defensively once again while in the bonus down the stretch, forcing a miss and foul from Devin Booker from the ensuing scramble for the rebound. Jordan Poole converted both from the line for a 101-100 lead with 39.8 seconds remaining.

Ultimately, Chris Paul managed to penetrate and collapse the defence in timely moments, adding eight assists to his 15 points, and all six of his field goals coming inside the arc.

Grizz secure second in the West

Meanwhile in the West, the Memphis Grizzlies secured the second seed on Wednesday, with a 112-11 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

With Ja Morant still watching on from the sidelines due to knee injury, Tyus Jones put up 25 points, while adding six assists and five rebounds.

While the Grizz clinched the second seed, the end to a four-game winning streak saw San Antonio fall half a game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the West's last play-in spot.

Heat fire up in Boston

The Miami Heat defeated on of their chief rivals for the Eastern Conference top seed, coming out with a big 106-98 road win over the Boston Celtics.

Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry combined for 47 points, while Bam Adebayo finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds to break a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Boston had their chance late trailing 102-98 but Jayson Tatum was called for an offensive foul and Marcus Smart was ejected in the fallout.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said his team needs to appreciate a decreased margin for error with Stephen Curry injured, after their 110-108 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Curry is in a race to return to the court before the playoffs begin in April, and the Warriors felt his absence, getting out-shot from long range by the 28-44 Spurs, currently 11th in the Western Conference.

The Warriors have been undermanned all season with their big-man stocks as James Wiseman, the second pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is yet to make his season debut.

Coach Kerr stressed this point, and pointed out that he did not feel like his team brought the requisite intensity before it was too late.

"We have to understand – and I told the guys this at half-time and after the game – that we're undermanned," he said.

"There's 11 games left now, and we're looking at the playoffs, and there's gotta be a sense of urgency. 

"There's gotta be a sense of competitive fight that we take to the other team from the very beginning of the game, and I did not see that until we were really late in the game.

"We were great in that fourth quarter, fighting like crazy, but we need to fight like crazy from the start."

Karl-Anthony Towns revealed he was just following coach Chris Finch's orders when he went out and hit 60 points in the Minnesota Timberwolves' win over the San Antonio Spurs.

While MVP rivals Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid collided in Philadelphia, Towns stole the spotlight with a stunning display, hitting a season-high points total in the Timberwolves' 149-139 triumph on Monday.

Towns' tally took him ahead of the efforts of Trae Young and LeBron James, who both scored 56 this season, while it was also a franchise record.

And the 26-year-old said he had asked Finch pre-game what was required of him, with the coach telling him to "go get 60".

He continued: "I told coach before the game, 'Hey listen, we need this win. I'll do whatever it takes. If I need to play 44, 48 minutes, I'll get it done.'

"That was kind of the mindset I came in [with]. I had to dominate. I had to be my best.

"So I just went out there, tried to be really aggressive."

Finch was understandably delighted with Towns' showing, with Gregg Popovich's Spurs unable to stop him.

"They were selling out to protect the rim with everything else we were trying to do," Finch said.

"He had the matchup, and they didn't have an answer for him. We definitely needed it, and he stepped up."

Popovich, who recently racked up a record 1,336th victory as a coach, also heaped praise on Towns.

"Karl was fantastic," Popovich said. "He drove it, he shot it. He always plays hard. He's a hell of a player. It's not like it was a surprise, but tonight he was special."

After reaching half-time with 24 points, Towns exploded into life after the break, scoring 32 of his side's 46 third-quarter points on his way to final shooting figures of 19-31 from the field, 7-11 from three and 15-16 from the line.

Towns, who is the first center to hit 60 points in a single NBA game since Shaquille O'Neal in March 2000, also grabbed a personal season-high of 17 rebounds.

He became the first player in the league's history to have 60 points, 60 per cent 3-point shooting and 15 rebounds in a single game, while only four centers had previously enjoyed a 60-point game.

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