The Philadelphia 76ers supporters may have jeered Doc Rivers, but the Milwaukee Bucks coach took the hostile reception in his stride as his new team won big on Sunday.

Rivers was dismissed by the Sixers eight months ago following a disappointing end to a season in which Joel Embiid was named the NBA's MVP.

Yet Rivers came out smiling after his return to Philadelphia on Sunday, with the Bucks having run out 119-98 victors.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (30) and Damian Lillard (24) combined for 54 points as the Bucks followed up their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a statement victory over a rival in the East.

And while Rivers received a frosty reception, he was all smiles after the game.

"I didn't even hear it, to be honest. That means I was back at home," he quipped.

"It was awesome. Really. I had three good years here, not talking about basketball, just in life. I enjoyed my stay here and made friends for life here.

"The fans were good, too. There were a couple of hilarious comments. One guy told me that Larry David was looking for me to golf. I thought that was pretty funny."

Reflecting on his tenure in charge of the Sixers, Rivers added: "I'm happy with it overall, I just wish we could've gone further.

"I wish we could have had a chance to have Joel healthy in the playoffs.

"But overall, Joel became an MVP, and we established this team as a championship contender. That wasn't said the year before.

"You think about it, we had the James Harden trade, the Ben [Simmons] stuff. Some was under my control, some was out of my control, but overall, for me, if you don't win a title, you're never exactly happy. That's why we all do this."

The Bucks are 5-7 under Rivers, who replaced Adrian Griffin in January. Antetokounmpo, though, is relishing the challenge under his new coach.

"I love him," Antetokounmpo said. "It's been incredible playing for him. He just explains to me, what he wants from me.

"You respect him because he's been 25 years in the league. You've got to respect what he's done in the league, won a championship, won a lot of games, but when he comes in the locker room, he keeps it simple."

The Bucks are third in the East, four wins ahead of the 76ers with a 37-21 record.

"I thought we were consistent," Lillard said. "We got into the paint, we were willing to make the extra pass to find the open guy and we got quality looks.

"To play good offense you find quality shots and have a lot of mix. I thought that’s what we did."

Rivers added: "We had been putting such an emphasis on defense.

"The last few games we’ve been terrific. When you have Giannis on your team, if you can get stops and get him in transition, Giannis in transition is a problem for everybody."

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks held off the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves 112-107 on Friday in a matchup of NBA heavyweights.

Damian Lillard had 21 points, 10 assists and a season-high nine rebounds and Malik Beasley scored all 14 of his points in the third quarter as the Bucks improved to 4-10 under new coach Doc Rivers.

Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to draw the Wolves within 110-107 with 31 seconds left, but Lillard’s long jumper 22 seconds later sealed the win.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points with 14 rebounds and Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 19 boards for Minnesota, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Butler among 4 ejected in Heat’s win

Jimmy Butler was one of four players ejected after a fourth-quarter scuffle and the Miami Heat held off the New Orleans Pelicans, 106-95.

Butler had 23 points and nine rebounds and Bam Adebayo added 24 points for Miami, which snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak and made it seven consecutive wins over the Pelicans.

Also ejected for the melee were Heat reserve Thomas Bryant and Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall of the Pelicans.

Herb Jones scored 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 with 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which couldn’t overcome 37.5 percent shooting, including 7 of 32 from 3-point range.

Maxey leads 76ers over Cavaliers

Tyrese Maxey scored 24 points and Cam Payne added 16 off the bench to propel the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maxey came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of the Sixers’ final 20 points and assisted on a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield that put Philadelphia up by eight in the final minute.

Maxey was the only Sixer to make more than one basket in the fourth quarter and also added four rebounds and two assists.

Jarrett Allen had 24 points and Darius Garland added 20 and nine assists, but Cleveland had a six-game road winning streak stopped while losing for the third time in four games overall.

Giannis Antetokounmpo lauded Doc Rivers for bringing "high standards" to the Milwaukee Bucks after Monday's big win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Bucks ran out 112-95 winners over the reigning NBA champions, with Giannis finishing with a double-double of 36 points and 18 rebounds.

Milwaukee have won their last two games, after a three-game losing spin, and sit third in the Eastern Conference with a 35-19 record ahead of Tuesday's meeting with the Miami Heat.

While Rivers has not had the easiest of starts in charge since he replaced Adrian Griffin, the Bucks have now held successive opponents to under 100 points for the first time since 2021.

And Giannis credited the former Philadelphia 76ers coach for setting the standards high since his arrival.

"Guys are just being on the same page," Giannis said.

"Coach Doc is holding us to a high standard. He wants us to defend.

"He doesn't take lack of effort as an excuse. If you're on the floor, you've got to do your best."

The defensive organisation was particularly pleasing for Rivers.

"Just steady progress," he said. "Believing in your defense, trusting it, clarifying it, what we want to do.

"The more we can get our guys to know exactly what we're doing, they can play at full speed. That's what we're trying to do. Simplify, so we can play with fire."

Damian Lillard added: "I just think it's the accountability. When we're watching film, we're in our meetings, in practice, I think Doc and our entire staff, they're doing a great job of just calling everything out.

"They're challenging us in a lot of different ways. Our communication, how physical we are, how we carry ourselves as a group.

"Trying to find our identity. Who do we want to be? Who are we going to step like when we get on the floor? And I think we're just having a lot of carryover because there's so much conversation around it."

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Denver sit fourth in the West.

Recent acquisition Buddy Hield scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers held on late to end the Cleveland Cavaliers' nine-game winning streak with Monday's 123-121 victory.

Despite still being without injured reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, Philadelphia handed the red-hot Cavaliers just their second loss in their last 19 games behind hot-shooting efforts from Hield and Kelly Oubre Jr. 

Hield, making his third appearance since being acquired by the Sixers from the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, finished 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 9 of 13 overall from the field. Oubre hit 10 of his 14 field goal attempts while also collecting 24 points.

The win was Philadelphia's second straight following a 1-8 stretch from Jan. 25-Feb. 9, during which the team lost Embiid for an extended period due to a knee injury that required surgery.

Cleveland got 36 points and six assists from All-Star Donovan Mitchell and 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jarrett Allen, but couldn't match the Sixers down the stretch after taking a 102-100 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Hield scored the final eight points of a 13-2 run that gave Philadelphia a 113-104 advantage with 4:28 left to play, and the 76ers led 120-110 with 1:25 to go following an Oubre 3-pointer.

The Cavs responded with a 9-0 spurt to pull within 120-119 on Mitchell's 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, and had a chance to win at the buzzer when Darius Garland launched a 3-point shot that just missed the mark.

Garland ended with 21 points and nine assists, while Tyrese Maxey recorded 22 points and nine assists for Philadelphia.

Timberwolves dominate second half in rout of Clippers

The Minnesota Timberwolves got 24 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and a big third quarter to pull away for a 121-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and pad their lead atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Edwards added 23 points, 12 of which came during a dominant third quarter in which the Timberwolves outscored Los Angeles by a 40-19 margin.

Minnesota entered Monday's clash owning a slim half-game advantage on the Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, who were handed a 112-95 defeat by the Milwaukee Bucks, in the tightly bunched West standings. 

The Clippers kept it close until the latter stages of the third quarter, as the Timberwolves held a 70-69 edge with under five minutes left in the period.

Minnesota took over from there, as it closed out the quarter on a 19-3 run to take a commanding 89-72 lead into the fourth. Towns had eight points during the pivotal spurt.

The Timberwolves maintained a lead of 15 points or more throughout the final period en route to posting a second straight win and giving Los Angeles a second loss in its last three games.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the Clippers with 18 points each, while James Harden finished with 17 points and six assists. 

Bucks use defence to get past champion Nuggets

The Milwaukee Bucks got 36 points and 18 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and another strong performance from their much-maligned defence to hand the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets a 112-95 loss.

Milwaukee entered Monday's marquee matchup ranked 23rd in the NBA in scoring defence at 119.3 points allowed per game, but held the formidable Nuggets to their second-lowest shooting rate of the season at 38.3 per cent.

The Bucks have yielded under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season. Milwaukee lost five of its first six outings under new head coach Doc Rivers prior to Friday's 120-84 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.

Nikola Jokić amassed 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Denver's second and third-leading scorers on the season, were a combined 4 of 16 from the field, however.

Murray managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting before sitting out the second half due to inflammation in his lower legs.

The Bucks had built a comfortable 60-44 lead at that point as Antetokounmpo racked up 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting over the first two quarters. The Nuggets never got their deficit under 13 points the rest of the way and are now mired in a two-game losing streak.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo has full faith in new Milwaukee Bucks coach Doc Rivers despite his opening defeat to the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Rivers made his Bucks bow on the sideline in Denver after replacing first-year coach Adrian Griffin, but Milwaukee were beaten 113-107 by another of the NBA's best teams.

An NBA champion as coach of the Boston Celtics in 2008, Rivers is vastly experienced but is taking over a team in the middle of a season for the first time.

There will be an adjustment period, but that is something superstar Antetokounmpo is prepared for.

"He was great," the two-time MVP said of Rivers. "Everybody has to have patience. It's new – the way we play, the way we defend, it's going to take a while to get used to.

"We're slowly, slowly adjusting, changing a couple stuff. Coaching staff have got to have patience with the players; players have got to have patience with the coaching staff.

"But I feel like for the first game, it was good."

Indeed, for all the criticism of the Bucks' defense, Rivers felt the blame for the loss to the Nuggets lay with an offense led by Antetokounmpo and offseason signing Damian Lillard.

"I told our guys: anyone who told you that you couldn't play defense lied," Rivers said afterwards. "You proved that tonight. You competed tonight. Our half-court defense was excellent.

"I think tonight was an offensive loss. I didn't think we were crisp offensively.

"Dame and Giannis have played 40 games together in their life, Joker [Nikola Jokic] and [Jamal] Murray have played... you know?

"And if you looked at the game tonight, they had it going, our guys couldn't get it going, and that was the difference."

If not for Rivers' return to the coaching arena, the focus in this game would have been on a battle between Antetokounmpo and Jokic that the Nuggets center edged, finishing with a triple-double of 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.

"That's why I play, to play these kinds of games, to play under the pressure, to play tight games," Jokic said. "I like to play under those circumstances."

Anthony Edwards scored 27 points and helped spark a late run that propelled the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 107-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday in a clash of teams that had been tied for the Western Conference lead. 

Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gobert amassed 12 points and 18 rebounds as the Timberwolves bounced back from Saturday's one-point loss at Sacramento and dropped the Thunder to third place in the tightly bunched conference standings.

The Denver Nuggets moved a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City and remained a half-game behind Minnesota with Monday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Oklahoma City had erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to take a 97-96 lead on two Shai Gilgeous-Alexander free throws with 2:43 left, but Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to start a pivotal 9-0 spurt.

The Thunder would miss their next four shots as the Timberwolves began pulling away. Edwards followed McDaniels' trey with a running dunk and McDaniels scored on a tip-in before Towns capped the run with two free throws that put Minnesota up 105-97 with 15.5 seconds to go. 

Minnesota owned a 62-52 advantage nearing the midway mark of the third quarter before the Thunder seized momentum with an 11-0 run. Gilgeous-Alexander had six points and Jalen Williams scored the last five of the flurry, which gave Oklahoma City a 63-62 edge with five minutes left in the period.

The Thunder, who were coming off a stunning 120-104 loss to the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons on Sunday, received 37 points and eight assists from Gilgeous-Alexander and 20 points from Williams. 

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City's third-leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to just four points on 2-of-9 shooting, however, as the Timberwolves finished with a 46-34 point advantage in the paint.

Jokic has another triple-double as Nuggets spoil Rivers' debut with Bucks

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić posted his 14th triple-double of the season to power the Denver Nuggets to a 113-107 win over Milwaukee in Doc Rivers' first game as the Bucks' head coach.

Jokic compiled 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists to add to his league-leading triple-double count and help the defending NBA champions keep pace with first-place Minnesota in the West. The Nuggets have now won five of their last six games.

Rivers, who coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA title during the 2007-08 season, was hired shortly after the Bucks dismissed Adrian Griffin on Jan. 23 despite sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-13 record. Assistant Joe Prunty coached Milwaukee's last three games and went 2-1.

The veteran coach's tenure started off strong as the Bucks jumped out to a 24-11 lead midway through the first quarter, though the Nuggets ended the period on a 12-0 run to cut their deficit to 26-25 entering the second. 

Denver gradually asserted control and owned an 84-75 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks hit three straight 3-pointers during a 13-2 spurt that put them back ahead with under nine minutes to play.

The game remained tight until the Nuggets pulled away with an 8-0 run, which Murray capped with a jumper that gave Denver a 106-97 lead with 3:17 to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo paced Milwaukee with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting along with 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had 19 points and Damian Lillard finished with 18 in the loss. 

Suns bounce back by handing Heat seventh straight loss

The Phoenix Suns kept rolling behind a balanced attack and strong defence that resulted in a 118-105 victory over the reeling Miami Heat, the seventh consecutive loss for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Eric Gordon scored 23 points off the bench to lead six Phoenix players in double figures in a game the Suns led by as much as 28 points en route to stopping a two-game losing streak.

The Suns also got 22 points from Devin Booker and 20 from Kevin Durant, with both stars finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists each.

Miami went 14 of 36 from 3-point range but was stonewalled from inside the arc, shooting a subpar 39.6 per cent on 2-point attempts in this latest defeat. The Heat have lost seven straight for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 26 points and recent acquisition Terry Rozier had 21 in his fourth game with the Heat.

Miami shot just 35.4 per cent in the first half as the Suns built a 62-49 lead at the break, and its shooting woes continued as Phoenix extended the margin in the third quarter. 

Booker had 12 points and the Suns shot over 68 per cent for the period to open up a commanding 100-74 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard expressed their surprise at the firing of Bucks coach Adrian Griffin after Milwaukee won its first game since the decision.

There was a third triple-double in four games for Giannis as Milwaukee ended the Cleveland Cavaliers’ eight-game winning streak on Wednesday with a 126-116 home victory.

Antetokounmpo had 35 points, a season high-tying 18 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double this season. He came up one assist shy of having four consecutive triple-doubles after he had 31 points, 10 boards and nine assists in Saturday’s win at Detroit.

Joe Prunty served as Milwaukee’s interim head coach after Griffin was fired on Tuesday despite the Bucks leading the Central Division with a 30-13 record, putting them second in the Eastern Conference. The team was finalising negotiations with Doc Rivers to take over.

Lillard added 28 points and Khris Middleton had 24 for the Bucks, winners of six in seven, as Cleveland lost despite Donovan Mitchell scoring 23 points and Jarrett Allen having 21 and 12 assists.

Two-time MVP Giannis was not expecting the decision to fire first-year coach Griffin, but stressed he trusted the front office.

"Their job is to create the best team possible and the best atmosphere around the team possible that they believe gives us a better chance to win a championship," Giannis said to ESPN. 

"But yeah, I do think [firing coach Griffin] was a surprise.

"I've got to trust the front office, I've got to trust the ownership group that they consider the bigger picture. My job is to be the best version of myself, to lead this team out there and help win games."

Giannis had expressed concerns over the Bucks’ performances this season but stressed he had no personal issues with Griffin.

"I loved the guy, I invited him to my wedding," Antetokounmpo said. ""I was coached by him and we did very, very, very well.

"When somebody is being hired, the GM might come and ask, 'What do you think about that? What do you think about this?' or whatever and not just me – players and people that he trusts their advice. 

"But at times they make it seem like it's the players that are making the decision.

"For a coach like Griff, from Day 1, everything was about togetherness. He was always leading this group into the direction we set at the beginning of the year. 

"Him not being here, at the end of the day, we’re humans. It hurts everybody. But we’ve got to keep on moving forward. We have a goal in our head, which is to be the best basketball team that we can be."

Lillard had a similar view to Giannis that the news was unexpected, though has agreed the Bucks could be playing better.

"There's been a lot of expectations on our team," he said. "Things have been expected to look a certain way. We've had a bumpy road to our success, which is sometimes a part of the process. 

"I was surprised. But it's part of the game. People get traded, people get waived, people get fired, and that's never something you want to see."

The Bucks never trailed in a win which avenged their 40-point loss in Cleveland last week and the teams will play again on Friday.

"Our experience really worked in our favor in this situation,” added Lillard. "We have all experienced a lot of things.

"I think this was different for everybody, but we just understood we had a game tonight, and it was going to be a tough game against a really good team that kind of handled us the last time we played them."

Giannis Antetokounmpo notched his third triple-double in four games and the Milwaukee Bucks ended the Cleveland Cavaliers’ eight-game winning streak Wednesday with a 126-116 victory in their first game since the firing of coach Adrian Griffin.

Antetokounmpo had 35 points, a season high-tying 18 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double this season. He came up one assist shy of having four consecutive triple-doubles after he had 31 points, 10 boards and nine assists in Saturday’s win at Detroit.

Joe Prunty served as Milwaukee’s interim head coach after Griffin was fired on Tuesday despite the Bucks leading the Central Division with a 30-13 record. The team was finalising negotiations with Doc Rivers to take over.

Damian Lillard added 28 points and Khris Middleton had 24 for the Bucks, winners of six of seven.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with 23 points and Jarrett Allen had 21 and 12 assists.

 

Booker scores 46 for streaking Suns

Devin Booker scored 22 of his 46 points in the third quarter and the Phoenix Suns won their seventh straight game, 132-109 over the Dallas Mavericks.

Bradley Beal had 20 points and Kevin Durant added 12 and 10 rebounds as Phoenix matched its longest win streak of the season by turning a 16-point deficit in the second quarter into a 22-point lead after outscoring Dallas 43-20 in the third.

Luka Dončić tallied 34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists but didn’t get much help with All-Star sidekick Kyrie Irving out with a right thumb sprain.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander keeps Thunder hot

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 points, 10 assists and six rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled away for their fourth straight win, 140-114 over the San Antonio Spurs.

Aaron Wiggins scored 22 points and Chet Holmgren added 17 and nine rebounds as the Thunder remained tied with Minnesota atop the Northwest Division.

Victor Wembanyama had 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Spurs rookie faced off against Holmgren in a matchup of two of the top contenders for Rookie of the Year.

Damian Lillard said he had rediscovered his rhythm after his season-high 45 points helped the Milwaukee Bucks past the struggling Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

Lillard became the first player in Milwaukee history to finish a game with at least 40 points, 10 assists and five three-pointers as they opened their double-header in Detroit with a 141-135 success.

The guard's dominant performance came after he went seven of 20 shooting in a blowout defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, and coach Adrian Griffin was delighted with his response. 

"Dame was so great tonight, and he was competing on both sides of the ball," Griffin said after Saturday's win.

"I had no idea he had 45, but he's a rhythm player and he definitely got into a rhythm out there. He made big shots, and that's why he's on this team."

Lillard echoed his coach's sentiments, saying: "I knew it was an important game. I picked my spots. I moved the ball when I needed to move it. I attacked when I needed to attack.

"I've been slowly getting back to how I play more naturally and tonight was one of those nights."

Milwaukee were boosted by the return of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who added 31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists after missing the Cleveland game with a shoulder issue.

Antetokounmpo had chances to boost that tally, missing with 11 of 22 free-throw attempts, but Griffin was pleased with his overall contribution. 

"Giannis was big on both ends," Griffin said. "He got us some stops at the start of the second half and he was aggressive with the ball and getting to the rim. 

"When he draws fouls, he gets us to the bonus faster than a lot of teams, and that's invaluable."

The Bucks are now up to 29-13 after winning four of their last five games, ahead of another meeting with the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on Monday. 

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."

Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points and the streaking Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to a 135-95 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday.

Georges Niang shot 13 of 14 from the field and scored a career-high 33 points as the Cavaliers won their sixth straight and improved to 11-3 since they lost Darius Garland (broken jaw) and Evan Mobley (knee surgery) with injuries last month.

Antetokounmpo sat with a bruised right shoulder, an injury that sidelined him for the first time since Nov. 15.

Jarrett Allen notched his 10th consecutive double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland, which completed a perfect six-game homestand and now plays the next four on the road.

Damian Lillard led Milwaukee with 17 points on 7-of-20 shooting and Khris Middleton scored two points on 1 of 10 from the field.

 

Doncic shines in return but Davis, Russell lift Lakers

Anthony Davis came up an assist shy of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Luka Dončić’s triple-double in a 127-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Davis had 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting with 12 rebounds and nine assists, while D’Angelo Russell added 29 points with five 3-pointers.

LeBron James had 25 points, eight boards and eight assists as the Lakers won for the fourth time in six games.

Doncic had 33 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season after missing three games with a sprained right ankle.

 

Celtics handle Spurs

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and Jaylen Brown returned from a one-game absence with 21 as the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 117-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Jrue Holiday added 22 points and hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range as Boston improved to 20-0 at home, extending the franchise record.

Brown returned after sitting out a 105-96 victory over Toronto on Monday due to a hyperextended right knee. The Celtics played without Kristaps Porzingis (right knee inflammation) and Derrick White (left ankle sprain).

Victor Wembanyama scored 10 of his 27 points in the first quarter and Devin Vassell had 21 for the Western Conference-worst Spurs, who dropped their third straight since winning two in a row.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to see more urgency from the Milwaukee Bucks after suggesting "fear factor" inspired his team to a big victory over the Boston Celtics.

Antetokounmpo scored 24 points, including a brilliant dunk, and finished with 12 rebounds as the Bucks snapped out of their January slump with a dominant 135-102 win over Boston on Thursday.

The Bucks had lost four of their previous five games, though some well-timed days off and a good practice session helped them reset.

And while acknowledging the Bucks will not always be able to turn it on as they did against the Celtics, Antetokounmpo wants to see the same level of urgency and motivation in every game.

"There was a respect-slash-fear factor also that's very important for this team, that we have to go out there and play at our best today," Antetokounmpo said.

"There was more urgency. Losing four out of five games. We had to be better, to play better.

"We had a great practice, talked about what we could do better, and guys were more urgent. We were very assertive, defensively we were helping one another.

"The team has to be more urgent, we have to respect the other team. We have to do this every single night.

"There'll be nights we play bad, where the other team makes the shots, but having a good practice and a couple of days off, that helped."

Bobby Portis added 28 points to the Bucks' total, combining with Antetokounmpo to devastating effect in a 25-0 burst midway through the first half.

"I love the way we responded," said Bucks coach Adrian Griffin. "We responded like champions today."

The Celtics have lost two of their last three games, though still remain three wins ahead of the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings.

"We just didn't have it," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "That can happen from time to time."

Bobby Portis and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined to score 20 straight points during a 25-0 run midway through the first half and the Milwaukee Bucks coasted to a 135-102 rout of the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Portis finished with 28 points and Antetokounmpo added 24 while both players had 12 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 21 points in his return to the Bucks’ lineup after missing a 132-116 loss to Utah on Monday for personal reasons.

Milwaukee led by as many as 43 points and its 75-38 lead at the break was the fourth-biggest halftime advantage in franchise history.

Payton Pritchard scored 21 points for the Celtics, who missed 16 of their first 17 3-point attempts and finished 9 of 34 from deep. Boston was back in action after beating Minnesota in overtime on Wednesday and looked fatigued.

The Celtics allowed their highest point total of the season and dropped their second straight road game.

Giddey leads Thunder to historic rout

Josh Giddey had a triple-double and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder matched the fifth-largest rout in NBA history, 139-77 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jalen Williams scored 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting and Giddey finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which was on the wrong end of the NBA’s biggest blowout, a 73-point loss to Memphis on Dec. 2, 2021.

The Thunder’s 62-point win shattered their previous record for victory margin of 45 points, set twice during the 2012-13 season.

Portland shot a dismal 27.7 percent from the field and suffered its second-worst loss, having fallen by 65 to Indiana on Feb. 27, 1998.

Irving’s big game lifts Mavericks

Kyrie Irving poured in a season-high 44 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 32 to lead the short-handed Dallas Mavericks to a 128-124 win over the New York Knicks.

Josh Green scored 18 points, the last coming on a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give Dallas a 124-120 lead. Irving and Hardaway combined to make four free throws in the final 11.1 seconds to seal the win.

Dallas superstar Luka Doncic sat out with an ankle injury and Dereck Lively II and Dante Exum also missed the game.

Julius Randle scored 32 points and Jalen Brunson had 30 for the Knicks, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since acquiring OG Anunoby from Toronto on Dec. 30.

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted the Milwaukee Bucks must take criticism from fans on the chin after they lost for a fourth time in the space of five games.

The Bucks went down 132-116 to the Utah Jazz on Monday, as their January slump continued.

Milwaukee fans were far from happy with their team's display, as boos and jeers rang out following the defeat.

Despite finishing with a triple-double of 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, Antetokounmpo was unimpressed with his performance.

"I think we have great fans, but around the league, if you don't play hard and don't give everything for the team, there are times where you might get booed," he said.

"S***, I'd boo myself tonight too."

The only way forward for the Bucks now is to be unified, Antetokounmpo added.

He said: "You've got to stay together, that's it.

"If you try to go your way or do it yourself, it's not going to work.

"We've been in this position before. It's OK to be in this position, but then again, at the end of the day, we have to get better.

"We have to realise that we have to keep on doing the little things."

The Jazz ran away at the start of the fourth quarter, opening up a 15-point lead that the Bucks were unable to overturn despite a late rally.

"We flipped it a little bit as far as our energy and effort, and we made it a ballgame, but in the NBA you just can't dig yourself in a hole like that," Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said.

"And then you've got to play extremely hard and exert a lot of energy just to try to get back into the game."

The Indiana Pacers overcame a double-digit deficit and an injury to star point guard Tyrese Haliburton to rally for a thrilling 133-131 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics on Monday.

Indiana earned its seventh win in eight games despite trailing by 11 points in the third quarter and playing the entire second half without Haliburton, the team's top scorer who had to be carried off the court after slipping and straining his left hamstring late in the second quarter.

Bennedict Mathurin helped offset Haliburton's absence with 26 points off the bench, while Buddy Hield scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Pacers also withstand a season-high 40 points from Boston's Jaylen Brown.

Brown finished 17 of 26 from the field on a night the Celtics played without leading scorer Jayson Tatum due to a sore left ankle. Boston lost for only the second time in its last 10 games and was coming off a 118-101 home win over the Pacers on Saturday. 

The Celtics did hold a 74-63 lead early in the third quarter before Indiana put forth a 17-6 run to tie the game and later take a slim 103-101 edge into the fourth.

The game remained tight up until the very end, when Mathurin was fouled by Kristaps Porzingis on a 3-point try with 0.6 seconds on the clock. He made the first two free throws before deliberately missing the third and leaving the Celtics with not enough time to get a good shot off.

Fast start helps Jazz extend Bucks' slump

The Pacers closed the gap on first-place Milwaukee in the Central Division after the struggling Bucks were handed a 132-116 defeat by the visiting Utah Jazz.

Five Jazz players had at least 19 points and Utah led from nearly start-to-finish to deal Milwaukee a fourth loss in five games. The Bucks' lead over Indiana and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central is now down to 3 1/2 games.

Utah hit 11 3-pointers in the first quarter to take a 41-23 lead after 12 minutes, then shot 54.2 per cent in the second to build a commanding 77-46 half-time advantage. John Collins and Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 12 first-half points.

Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen each finished with 21 points for Utah, which had its lead reduced to seven points midway through the fourth quarter before pulling away again late.

Collins, Collin Sexton and Keyonte George all had 19 points in the Jazz's eighth win in 10 games, while Kris Dunn dished out 13 assists.

Milwaukee did get a 25-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist triple-double from Giannis Antetokounmpo on a night in which it played without fellow star Damian Lillard, who was away from the team due to a personal matter. 

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