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.

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.

 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merrill's hot shooting gives Cavaliers' eighth straight win

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

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

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

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

 

Zion Williamson delivered a season-high 36 points as the New Orleans Pelicans cooled off the NBA-leading Minnesota Timberwolves with a 121-107 victory on Monday.

CJ McCollum scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to help the Pelicans pull away and bounce back from Thursday's 44-point blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA In-Season Tournament semifinals.

Minnesota entered the matchup with a league-best 17-4 record and had won six consecutive games but played without leading scorer Anthony Edwards due to a hip pointer.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Mike Conley and Naz Reid all had 17 points for the Timberwolves, with Towns adding 12 rebounds. 

Minnesota never led in the second half, however, as the Pelicans ended the second quarter on a 12-3 run to take a 59-52 half-time lead.

New Orleans held a 90-86 advantage after three quarters, then opened the fourth on a 9-0 spurt capped by a McCollum 3-pointer to gain further separation.

The Pelicans also received 20 points from Brandon Ingram and 14 points and 13 rebounds from Jonas Valanciunas.

Bucks bounce back with overtime win over Bulls

Giannis Antetokounmpo compiled 32 points, 12 rebounds and six assists and the Milwaukee Bucks dominated the early stages of overtime to come through with a 133-129 win over the Chicago Bulls.

After Chicago rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to force overtime on DeMar DeRozan's jumper with 3.7 seconds left in regulation, the Bucks opened the extra session with an 8-1 run to build a 126-119 lead and never trailed thereafter.

Brook Lopez and Malik Beasley each had 19 points to help Milwaukee rebound from Thursday's loss to the Indiana Pacers in the NBA In-Season Tournament semfinals.

The Bulls had a four-game winning streak halted despite a monster performance from DeRozan, who put up 41 points and 11 assists. Coby White finished with a season-high 33 points in the loss.

Nuggets hold off Hawks to end three-game skid

Jamal Murray scored 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting and added nine rebounds to help the Denver Nuggets get back on track with a 129-122 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

The reigning NBA champions withstood a career-high 40 points from Atlanta's Bogdan Bogdanović and a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Hawks to stop a three-game losing streak. Nikola Jokić contributed 25 points and nine assists for Denver, while rookie Julian Strawther hit six 3-pointers while producing a career-high 22 points off the bench.

Bogdanovic had 13 of his points in the fourth quarter with Atlanta's leading scorer, Trae Young, out of the game after being ejected when arguing a no-foul call late in the third.

The Hawks trailed 100-86 at the time of Young's departure and were down by 20 points with under 10 minutes left before rallying late, as Bogdanovic led a 16-5 run that cut the Nuggets' lead to 126-122 with 30.5 seconds left.

Jokic hit two free throws on the ensuing possession, however, and Bogdanovic missed a pair of 3-point tries in the final seconds as the Hawks' bid came up short.

Young had 19 points and nine assists before exiting.

 

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 33 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to their seventh straight win, 104-101 in an In-Season Tournament game on Tuesday that featured three early ejections.

Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels were ejected after an altercation early in the first quarter.

Thompson and McDaniels became embroiled in a shoving match near midcourt following a Minnesota possession. Green rushed in and pulled Rudy Gobert away from behind with his arm around the center’s neck.

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

Towns also had 11 rebounds and Anthony Edwards scored 20 points for Minnesota, which defeated Golden State for the second time in three days following a 116-110 win on Sunday.

Brandin Podziemski had 23 points and Dario Saric added 21 for the Warriors, losers of three in a row.

Golden State was already without leading scorer Stephen Curry, who was ruled out with right knee soreness.

Nuggets keep Clippers winless with Harden

Nikola Jokić scored 32 points and just missed a triple-double as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 111-108 in an In-Season Tournament game.

Jokic had 16 rebounds, nine assists and made all 14 free-throw attempts, including two with 13 seconds left that helped thwart the Clippers’ comeback try.

Paul George matched a season high with 35 points and Harden had 21, as the Clippers lost their sixth in a row.

Haliburton stars as Pacers cool 76ers

Tyrese Haliburton had 33 points and 15 assists and Obi Toppin added 27 points to help the Indiana Pacers snap the Philadelphia 76ers’ eight-game winning streak, 132-126 in an In-Season Tournament game.

Myles Turner scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for Indiana, which has won four of five and bounced back from Sunday’s 137-126 loss to Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid scored 39 points and De’Anthony Melton had 30 as the 76ers suffered their first loss since a season-opening defeat at Milwaukee.

Haliburton was 11 of 18 from the field and 7 for 12 from 3-point range. He had 32 assists and no turnovers in two games against Philadelphia.

James Harden's anticipated first game as a Los Angeles Clipper ended in a loss, as the New York Knicks spoiled the former NBA MVP's debut with his new team with Monday's 111-97 win.

Julius Randle had 27 points and 10 rebounds and RJ Barrett added 26 points in his return from injury as the Knicks handed the star-studded Clippers their second straight defeat following a 3-1 start to the season.

Harden took the court for the first time since being traded to Los Angeles by the Philadelphia 76ers last week. The 10-time All-Star had 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting along with six assists as a part of a starting lineup that included three other accomplished veterans in Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

The dynamic guard scored five straight points late in the third quarter to give the Clippers a 76-73 lead, but the Knicks countered with a 16-3 run to take an 89-79 advantage with under 9 1/2 minutes left and never trailed thereafter.

Barrett scored 11 points in the fourth quarter after missing New York's previous two games with a sore left knee, while Mitchell Robinson finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds to help the Knicks snap a two-game losing streak.

 

Edwards sparks overtime win as Wolves hand Celtics first loss

Anthony Edwards scored eight of his 38 points in overtime as the Minnesota TImberwolves handed the Boston Celtics their first loss of the season with a 114-109 victory.

Edwards added nine rebounds and seven assists to help Minnesota overcome an off night from fellow star player Karl-Anthony Towns, who managed just seven points in 28 minutes before fouling out in overtime.

Jaden McDaniels hit a game-tying 3-pointer late in regulation and finished with 20 points for Minnesota, which also received 14 points and 12 rebounds from Rudy Gobert en route to its third straight win.

Boston entered the game as the NBA's lone remaining unbeaten team following a 5-0 start. The Celtics got 32 points and five steals from Jayson Tatum and 26 points from Jaylen Brown, but shot just 28.2 per cent from 3-point range as well as a season-low 39.1 per cent overall. 

The Celtics held a 105-103 lead after Tatum hit two free throws with 3:56 left in overtime, but Minnesota's Mike Conley buried a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession before Edwards capped a pivotal 9-0 run with three consecutive baskets that put the Timberwolves up for good at 112-105 with 1:30 remaining in the extra session.

 

Adebayo's triple-double propels Heat past Lakers

Bam Adebayo delivered a massive performance with 22 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Miami Heat overcame a late scoring drought to hold on for a 108-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Adebayo became the first Heat player to record a triple-double with at least 20 rebounds, and Miami received 28 points from Jimmy Butler and 22 from Tyler Herro to record its second straight win following a four-game losing streak.

The Heat prevailed despite nearly blowing a 10-point lead with four minutes to play and not making a field goal over the final 4:15 of the contest.

The Lakers scored the game's final nine points and had a chance to win in the final seconds, but Cam Reddish was off the mark with a jumper and Butler grabbed the rebound right before time expired.

LeBron James finished with 30 points on 13-of-23 points to pace the Lakers, while Austin Reaves just missed a triple-double after compiling 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Los Angeles has now dropped the first two outings of its current four-game road trip and played the entire fourth quarter without star forward Anthony Davis, who sustained a groin spasm during the game and was limited to nine points in 25 minutes. 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clutch Kawhi leads Clippers past Suns

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

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

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

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

Lakers down Grizzlies, Heat shock Bucks

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

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

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

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

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

Jimmy Butler once again rose to the occasion to lift the Miami Heat to a 102-91 win over the Chicago Bulls in Friday's play-in tournament.

The win means the Heat have earned the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round series against the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks.

Against the Bulls, Miami led narrowly at half-time courtesy of a sharpshooting performance from Max Strus, scoring 23 points across the first two quarters on the back of six made three-pointers.

Strus went on to finish with an equal game-high 31 points, shooting eight-of-16 from the field and seven-of-12 from deep, providing some offensive firepower beside Butler.

Butler also scored 31, shooting 11-of-24 from the field while adding five rebounds, three assists and two steals in his 43 minutes of action, making up for the fact that starting trio Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent combined for just 20 points on six-of-23 shooting.

DeMar DeRozan was strong for Chicago, scoring a team-high 26 points on nine-of-19 shooting while adding nine assists, but top option Zach LaVine struggled, shooting six-of-21 for his 15 points.

The result confirms the fourth consecutive postseason appearance for the Heat, where they will be looking for their third Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2020.

Towns delivers on both ends in Wolves win

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns produced one of his best games of the season to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-95 and earn a blockbuster first-round matchup against back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic.

Towns, who was only able to suit up for a career-low 29 games this regular season due to a four-month calf injury, scored a game-high 28 points (11-of-16 shooting), grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked a team-high three shots in a great two-way showing.

The Thunder were down all game, but after trimming the margin to 10 points in the third quarter, All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander copped a hard accidental elbow to the face from Rudy Gobert, and while he was able to return, he was nursing a brutal black eye the rest of the way.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished fourth in the NBA in scoring at 31.4 points per game, top-scored for Oklahoma City with 22, but shot a disappointing five-of-19 from the field. He was also the only guard in the league to average at least one steal and one block, and he had one steal with three blocks.

The Timberwolves will now get a chance to face the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round, and with Gobert and Towns, they are arguably the West's most equipped team to deal with Jokic from a size perspective.

LeBron James led the way as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit to clinch their playoffs spot with a 108-102 overtime win over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

James finished with 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting with 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, including sinking a crucial three-pointer to tie the game up 95-95 with 2:03 left in regulation time.

The four-time MVP drove to the basket and kicked out a pass to Denis Schroder to drain a potential game-winning three-pointer to put the Lakers up by three with 1.4 seconds left, only for Anthony Davis to foul Mike Conley on an ambitious three-point attempt.

The Timberwolves veteran guard showed composure to hit all three free-throws, sending the game to overtime but Minnesota were undone by four OT turnovers, totalling for 24 for the game. The Wolves also scored only 16 points after leading 86-79 at three-quarter time.

The Lakers, who were 25-30 at the trade deadline before shuffling their roster and storming into the play-in tournament, secure the seven seed and will face the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs first round.

Minnesota, who were missing the suspended Rudy Gobert and injured Jaden McDaniels, will take on the winner of the New Orleans Pelicans-Oklahoma City Thunder play-in game for the right to take the eight seed.

Veteran LA guard Schroder was excellent off the bench with 21 points from 32 minutes including shooting three-of-four from beyond the arc. Davis added 24 points with 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Conley was exceptional for the Timberwolves with 23 points, making six-of-eight from three-point range with four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 24 points with 11 rebounds and three blocks in Gobert's absence after the French center swung a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson during at timeout in their final regular season game, leading to a team-imposed suspension.

Anthony Edwards had a game to forget, shooting three-of-17 from the field and none-of-nine from three-point range for nine points with eight rebounds.

Hawks upset Heat to clinch seven seed

Quin Snyder's Atlanta Hawks clinched the Eastern Conference's seven seed and will face the Boston Celtics in the playoffs first round after overcoming the Miami Heat 116-105.

Hawks center Clint Capela was outstanding in the paint with 21 rebounds, including eight offensive rebounds, along with two blocks.

Trae Young scored a team-high 25 points on eight-of-18 shooting from the field, despite making only one-of-eight from three-point range, while Dejounte Murray added 18 points with three triples.

Atlanta opened up a 24-point second-quarter lead which was trimmed to 65-50 by half-time, but never relented despite the Heat closing within five in the third.

Kyle Lowry top scored for the Heat with 33 points with six-of-nine from beyond the arc along with four rebounds and five assists.

Tyler Herro added 26 points, while Jimmy Butler scored 21 points with four rebounds, nine assists, two steals and a block.

Atlanta got the edge in the key with 63-39 rebounds, including 22-6 on the offensive glass with 26-6 second-chance points led by Capela.

The Heat will take on the winner of Wednesday's Toronto Raptors-Chicago Bulls' play-in tournament game for the right to the East's eight seed.

The Los Angeles Clippers moved a step closer to securing a playoffs berth with a 136-125 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

The Clippers claimed a major advantage in the complicated race to avoid the play-in tournament in the Western Conference with Kawhi Leonard top scoring with 27 points.

Leonard shot seven-of-17 from the field for his 27 points with three triples, with eight rebounds and four assists, while Russell Westbrook added 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Norman Powell continued his strong form off the bench with 23 points for the Clippers who rallied back from a 70-64 half-time deficit on a 14-2 run early in the third quarter.

Kevin Knox II scored a game-high 30 points for the Blazers, shooting five-of-eight from three-point range.

The Clippers, who have won four of their past six games, are fifth in the West ahead of their final regular season game against the Phoenix Suns, who they will face in the playoffs first round if they hold fifth.

LA (43-38) can finish as low as seventh should they lose to the Suns, with the Golden State Warriors (43-38) taking on Portland, while the New Orleans Pelicans (42-39) can go ahead of them if they also beat the Minnesota Timberwolves as they own the tiebreaker against the Clippers.

Timberwolves rout Spurs to keep race alive

The Minnesota Timberwolves blew out the San Antonio Spurs 151-131, meaning the order of placings in the West's play-in tournament remains undecided.

Anthony Edwards scored 33 points in 25 minutes with Karl-Anthony Towns adding 22, with Spurs conceding their most points allowed in regulation time under coach Gregg Popovich.

The 41-40 Timberwolves are ninth in the West, but hold tiebreakers against the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, who are both 42-39, ahead of Sunday's final slate of games. The Wolves face the Pels, while the Lakers take on the Utah Jazz.

One seed Nuggets fall to fifth loss in six

The Denver Nuggets may be the number one seed in the West but they suffered their fifth loss from their past six games with a 118-114 defeat to the eliminated Jazz.

Denver's scratchy form ahead of the playoffs continued with Nikola Jokic shooting two-of-five from the field for six points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high and game-high 28 points with three-of-11 three-pointers as Utah snapped a four-game losing skid.

Karl-Anthony Towns marked his return to action with a Hollywood ending as a pair of last-gasp free throws handed the Minnesota Timberwolves a 125-124 win against the Atlanta Hawks.

With 3.6 seconds left on the clock, Towns had ice in his veins as he made both his shots to put Minnesota decisively ahead.

There was still time left for Atlanta's Saddiq Ben to be impeded by Taurean Prince, but a foul was not given, with a game official reportedly later saying that was an error.

That could have seen Towns denied his returning glory, having featured for the first time since November 28.

Sidelined by a calf strain for almost four months, the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft scored 22 points in his comeback game on 8-of-18 shooting.

"This is what movies is made of," Towns said in an on-court interview with Bally Sports. "Four months away, two free throws, don't worry about it, I got that!"

In a later press conference, the 27-year-old thanked coach Chris Finch for backing him.

Towns was the player fouled to set up the game-winning chance, trusting himself to get the job done.

"I was smiling a lot just in my mind," Towns said. "On the court I probably didn't show it, but even before I got the ball with seven seconds left I was smiling.

"I just had a good feeling that the game was going to go the way I wanted it to, so the play was immediately drawn up for me.

"Finch looked at me with everyone around and said, 'You're going to get the ball, and it's yours to take home'.

"So shout out to Finch having that confidence in me after 51 games [out of action] and all the things I've had to deal with."

Towns added: "When I went up there for two free throws I looked back and he was telling people, 'He ain't missing, I'm telling you that right now', and I just knew in my bones I wasn't going to miss.

"I've worked too hard on my game. I've been in those moments too many times.

"I got told I didn't have one fast heartbeat at all. I felt pretty confident, I felt pretty calm. I feel like I had that Jaden McDaniels demeanour up there, and I was just going up and making those shots."

The Golden State Warriors claimed rare back-to-back wins with Wednesday's 127-125 victory at the Dallas Mavericks but the game was marred by controversy after Kevon Looney's third-quarter uncontested dunk.

Stephen Curry scored 20 points with 13 assists as the reigning NBA champions secured consecutive wins on a road trip for the first time this season at American Airlines Center.

But the Mavs were left raging after Looney's uncontested dunk with 1:54 left in the third quarter from a Warriors inbound after a timeout, which Dallas had thought was their ball, meaning they subsequently lined up on the other half of the court.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban said they would contest the result of the game due to the incident which he labelled the "worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA" on Twitter.

Despite that, the Mavs could have won the game on merit, with Luka Doncic missing a two-point attempt under pressure from Draymond Green with 3.2 seconds left at 125-122.

That came after Curry's bounce-pass set up Green's three-point play, before the reigning NBA Finals MVP glided in for a two-point shot to open up the three-point buffer with 8.1 seconds to play.

Doncic, in his return after missing five games with a thigh injury, scored 30 points with seven rebounds and 17 assists. Doncic shot 11-of-27 from the field and six-of-10 from the stripe.

In Kyrie Irving's absence, 20-year-old guard Jaden Hardy was outstanding with six three-pointers in his 27 points.

The win is a major boost for Golden State's playoff hopes, moving to sixth in the West with a 38-36 record, while the Mavs drop to ninth with a 36-37 record, having lost five of their past seven games.

It was Golden State's first road win when trailing after the first quarter, having entered the game with a 0-20 record.

Morant and KAT make successful returns

Ja Morant made his successful return for the Memphis Grizzlies off the bench for the first time in his career as they won their fourth straight game, beating the Houston Rockets 130-125.

Morant returned after his NBA-imposed eight-game suspension with 17 points and five assists, receiving a standing ovation from the home fans upon his injection into the game.

Jaren Jackson Jr scored a season-high 37 points with 10 rebounds and Desmond Bane added 20 points as the Grizzlies clinched the Southwest division.

It was a night of returns as Karl-Anthony Towns was back for the first time since November due to a calf strain, scoring two game-winning free-throws with 3.6 seconds left as the Minnesota Timberwolves won 125-124 over the Atlanta Hawks.

Lakers stay right in playoff hunt

The Los Angeles Lakers ensured they remained firmly in the congested race for Western Conference playoff and play-in tournament spots with a 122-111 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Anthony Davis scored a team-high 27 points including 20 in the second half, with nine rebounds, while Austin Reaves backed up Sunday's 35-point game with 25 points and a career-high 11 assists.

Devin Booker scored 33 points on 11-of-16 field shooting with six rebounds but seven turnovers for the Suns, who remain fourth in the West but with a 38-34 record.

The Lakers move up to 10th, just behind the Mavs in ninth, with a 36-37 record and LeBron James not far from a return from injury.

Karl-Anthony Towns hopes to return the "very complete" player he was before his injury as he prepares to make his Minnesota Timberwolves comeback.

The forward suffered a serious calf strain on November 28 and has missed the last four months.

However, Towns was upgraded to questionable ahead of Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks and is planning to play.

The 27-year-old was averaging 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and a career-high 5.3 assists per game before his lay-off and felt he was in peak form.

With the T-Wolves ninth in the Western Conference but only a game behind the Golden State Warriors in sixth, Minnesota will need Towns back at that level.

"I'm super excited to get back out on the court and help my team, because these next nine games are super important," he told ESPN.

"I'm just trying to pick up where I left off. I was telling my dad: right before I got hurt, I felt the most complete as a player in my career.

"From the defensive end, from the offensive end, from a mental aspect, leadership aspect, I felt very complete."

Towns is confident he can immediately make an impact, highlighting the specific areas in which he believes he can provide the T-Wolves a boost.

"I don't feel like I lost the step. I actually gained steps, because I've been able to learn from a different aspect, in a way that I've never looked from just sitting on the sideline," he added.

"I think anytime I step on the court, I can make an impact. But specifically we've been struggling a lot right now with free throws, and I've always been a really good free throw shooter.

"I think that, shooting-wise, it's going to be great to add that kind of three-point component to us."

Page 1 of 3
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.