Zach LaVine scored 30 second-half points as the Chicago Bulls rallied from a 19-point deficit to eliminate the Toronto Raptors 109-105 in Wednesday's play-in tournament game.

The Bulls' victory sees them advance to the final play-in game against the Miami Heat on Friday, with the winner to take the eight seed and a playoffs first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Chicago became the first 10th-place team to win a play-in game, but they did it the hard way, trailing by 16 with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

LaVine starred as they stormed home with a 37-24 fourth quarter, after the Bulls guard added 17 points in the third to cut the margin to nine points at the final change.

LaVine finished with a game-high 39 points on 12-of-22 shooting with six rebounds and three assists, while DeMar DeRozan added 23 points with seven rebounds and two blocks.

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam scored points with nine rebounds and six assists, with Fred VanVleet adding 26 points with seven three-pointers along with 12 rebounds and eight assists. VanVleet's 26 points included a half-time buzzer-beater from half court.

The Raptors were not helped by 50 per cent free-throw shooting, having to endure persistent and timed screams from DeRozan's daughter Diar upon each attempt throughout the game.

After trailing for most of the game, the Bulls went ahead on Patrick Beverley's three-pointer with 5:07 remaining.

Toronto's free-throw woes haunted them when Siakam spurned the chance to square the game up with 12.0 seconds left after Alex Caruso's foul when he missed two of three attempts.

Siakam had made it a one-point game with a driving dunk with 19.1 seconds remaining before the composed LaVine drained two free-throws.

Giddey and SGA lift OKC past Pels

A youthful Oklahoma City Thunder line-up showed maturity to progress past the New Orleans Pelicans 123-118 led by Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who rebounded after a quiet first half.

OKC advanced to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Friday's play-in tournament game with the winner to take on the Denver Nuggets, while the Pelicans' season is over.

Gilgeous-Alexander only had seven first-half points but finished with a game-high 32 on 11-of-22 shooting, making eight-of-eight free-throws including a series down the stretch.

Australian guard Giddey had a near triple-double with 31 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Lu Dort added 27 points with four three-pointers.

Brandon Ingram top scored with 30 points, including a three-pointer to make it 119-118 with 4.1 seconds remaining, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

Herb Jones threw an out-of-bounds pass for CJ McCollum when the Pels were set for a three-point attempt to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left, allowing OKC to insure the win from the free-throw line.

OKC became the second 10th-place team to win a play-in game, following on from the Bulls achieving that earlier on Wednesday.

The NBA regular season has come to a close, which means the postseason is on the horizon to excite fans with its unpredictability and drama.

First, though, the play-in format returns for its third season and promises to once again add all sorts of further intrigue to the playoff picture.

The mini tournament takes place over April 11-14, with the teams that finished seventh and eighth playing 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 first round of the playoffs, while the eighth seed will take on the Milwaukee Bucks. In the West, the seventh seed will go up against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the eighth seed will be paired with the Denver Nuggets.

Stats Perform previews the eight teams looking to secure their place in the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Tuesday, April 11 – Miami Heat (7th) vs Atlanta Hawks (8th) 

One of these teams has made the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the last three seasons, although that trend appears unlikely to continue this year.

After starting the season 2-5, the Heat soon recovered some sort of form without threatening to repeat the performances that saw them clinch the top seed in the East the previous year. They at least strung together a solid run over December and January, going 19-11, to boost their playoff hopes.

The Heat will be favourites in this matchup, having gone 4-1 in April and 3-1 against the Hawks this season, including winning back-to-back games in Miami in early March.

The trio of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro will be key, with all three scoring over 20 points per game in the regular season.

Opponents Atlanta went 7-3 to start the season, but their form dipped towards the end of 2022, before picking up again in January.

Trae Young, the star of their 2021 run, will be hoping to lead his team back to the playoffs, having averaged 26.2 points and 10.2 assists in the regular season, and the Heat's ability to stop him could be the key in this one.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 12 – Toronto Raptors (9th) vs Chicago Bulls (10th)

The Raptors have done well to reach this stage after a poor first half to the campaign, starting 16-23, but an improvement in 2023 saw them end level with the Hawks with an even .500 record.

Pascal Siakam averaged 24.2 points from his 71 games in the regular season, while Fred VanVleet (19.3) will also be required to lend a hand.

Chicago, who ended with a 40-42 record, will look to the pairing of Zach LaVine (24.8) and DeMar DeRozan (24.5) for inspiration after a promising end to the regular season on an 11-6 run.

The Raptors were 2-1 against the Bulls this season, including winning their most recent meeting in Toronto in late February on the back of a fourth-quarter fightback.

This promises to be another intriguing encounter.

Western Conference:

Tuesday, April 11 – Los Angeles Lakers (7th) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (8th)

This has been a fascinating season for the Lakers, who looked down and out but recovered to such an extent they ended up disappointed they had to settle for a play-in spot.

LeBron James and co. started 0-5 and then 2-10 as the word "crisis" was tossed about by all and sundry.

However, a subsequent run of 8-2 propelled them into a season few could have imagined in early November, while they also finished the year strongly on a 9-2 run.

James (28.9 points) and Anthony Davis (25.9) have each had injury issues, playing just 55 and 56 games respectively, but they have crucially found form and fitness at this crucial stage in the season.

 

The Timberwolves also have talent but come into this with a bit of a cloud over them after the fracas between big-trade flop Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson in their final game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Minnesota started 2-0 against the Lakers this season, but Davis had 38 points and 17 rebounds in a big win when the teams met less than two weeks ago.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 12 – New Orleans Pelicans (9th) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (10th)

The biggest story around this one centres on who will not be there, as Zion Williamson continues to sit on the sideline with a hamstring injury.

The Pelicans' star man averaged 26.0 points this season but played only 29 games and none since January 2.

Updates from New Orleans have remained vague, although Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has spoken of a "best possible outcome" that would "maybe" see Williamson in practice around the first round. Again, "if everything lined up perfectly".

That means Brandon Ingram will be required to carry the scoring burden for now, a task he warmed up for in fine style with a 42-point return against the Timberwolves on Sunday.

The Thunder will look to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to lead them into the postseason, with the 24-year-old averaging 31.4 points this year, the fourth-most in the league.

New Orleans were 3-1 against OKC this season, but the Thunder won their last game in March with Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 35 – albeit the Pelicans were without Ingram as well as Williamson.

Philadelphia 76ers center and MVP hopeful Joel Embiid put together arguably his best game of the season on Tuesday to deliver a 103-101 home win against the Boston Celtics.

Embiid put up 52 points – over half of his team's total and the third-most in his career – while shooting a remarkable 20-of-25 from the field. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, dished six assists and blocked two shots in his 39 minutes.

The 29-year-old, who has finished as the runner-up in the past two MVP votes, had never scored more than 50 points in a game prior to this season, but he has done so three times this campaign, highlighted by a 59-point, 11-rebound, eight-assist, seven-block showing against the Utah Jazz in November.

Against the Celtics, Embiid was supported in style by James Harden as the 76ers' second star chipped in 20 points (seven-of-17 shooting) and 10 assists with no turnovers. It was only his second game this season without a turnover.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were left short-handed as All-Star Jaylen Brown was ruled out in the hours leading up to tip-off, and Jayson Tatum was disappointing in his highly anticipated showdown against Embiid, delivering just 19 points on seven-of-20 shooting with six rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Tatum had a plus/minus of minus 13 in his 38 minutes, meaning Boston were plus 11 in the 10 minutes he was on the bench.

LeBron lifts the Lakers in overtime

The Los Angeles Lakers have now won seven of their past eight fixtures after a 135-133 overtime victory on the road against the Utah Jazz.

It was a mediocre offensive showing from the red-hot Anthony Davis as he shot just seven-of-16 from the field and seven-of-12 from the free throw line for his 21 points, but he added 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.

Instead it was LeBron James coming through for the Lakers, producing his best game since the All-Star break with 37 points (14-of-27 shooting), six assists and five rebounds. Austin Reaves stepped up in D'Angelo Russell's absence, contributing 28 points (eight-of-13) and six assists in an equal team-high 42 minutes.

The win improved the Lakers' record to 41-38, leaving them tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the sixth-best record in the West – with the Lakers and Clippers to face off on Wednesday.

Warriors stay out of the play-in

The Golden State Warriors were at risk of being leapfrogged by the Lakers and falling into the play-in tournament placings, before coming from behind to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 136-125.

It was the Thunder leading 106-102 heading into the fourth quarter, but with Klay Thompson missing through injury, Jordan Poole stepped up as the Warriors' hero.

Poole scored 18 points in the fourth quarter while the Thunder scored 19 as a team, with the fourth-year guard finishing with 30 points (eight-of-19 shooting). 

Stephen Curry was just as good, dropping a game-high 34 points (11-of-25), while Most Improved Player candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 points (11-of-17) and seven assists for the Thunder.

The win means the Warriors have jumped the Clippers into the fifth seed with just two games remaining, while the Thunder's loss keeps the Dallas Mavericks alive, with just a half-game separating the 10th and 11th seeds.

Nikola Jokic recorded his 28th triple-double of the season as the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets rediscovered some form with a 108-102 road victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

The Nuggets had lost five of their past six games, but improved to 48-24 with the triumph, maintaining a sizeable buffer at the top of the West from the second-placed Sacramento Kings (43-27).

Serbian center Jokic starred with 22 points on nine-of-12 shooting with 17 rebounds and 10 assists, while Michael Porter scored a team-high 28 points with five-of-nine three-point attempts.

Jamal Murray added 25 points, nailing all four of his attempts from beyond the arc, and he posted 20 of his haul in the opening quarter as Denver got a fast start to lead 33-21 at the first break.

The Nuggets were coasting to victory with a 91-71 lead at three-quarter time before the Nets rallied in the fourth, with Porter settling the game with one of his five triples.

The defeat dents Brooklyn's aspirations to claim a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference, falling to 39-32, marginally ahead of the seventh-placed Miami Heat (39-34).

Mikal Bridges top scored for the home side with 23 points on eight-of-18 shooting from the field, while Nic Claxton chipped in 19 points and eight rebounds.

Giannis records triple-double in Bucks win

The Milwaukee Bucks stormed past the Toronto Raptors 118-111 on a 29-16 fourth-quarter charge as Giannis Antetokounmpo brought up his 33d career triple-double.

Antetokounmpo finished with 22 points on 100 per cent shooting from the field with 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Brook Lopez added a team-high 26 points with Khris Middleton scoring 20.

Lopez scored 17 of his 26 points in the final period, including the first eight of the quarter, with the Bucks going on a game-changing 15-2 run. The NBA-best Bucks are now 51-20.

SGA leads OKC past Suns

Shai Gilgeous-Alezander scored 40 points, came up clutch down the stretch and garnered M-V-P chants as the Oklahoma City Thunder boosted their play-in hopes with a 124-120 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Gilgeous-Thunder hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to hold off the Suns, who had Devin Booker score 46 points, including 30 in the second half, having led 69-57 at half-time. Chris Paul scored 14 points with 13 assists.

OKC (35-36) have four wins from their past five games to stay in the play-in hunt, thanks in large part to Gilgeous-Alexander's perfect 11-of-11 free throws in the second half, while Luguentz Dort added 20 points.

Friday marked two games with Kyrie Irving in the line-up, and two wins for the Dallas Mavericks as they beat the Sacramento Kings 122-114 on the road.

Irving – who was acquired before the trade deadline in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks – led the Mavericks in scoring for the second game in a row as superstar Luka Doncic continues to recover from a heel injury.

He had 25 points against the Kings on five-of-14 shooting, hitting all 12 of his free throws, while also tying his season-high with 10 assists.

Irving was supported strongly by 22-year-old emerging Australian Josh Green, who chipped in 17 points on seven-of-12 shooting and a season-high seven assists, and rookie Jaden Hardy hit four of his five three-point attempts off the bench.

The Mavericks had been flailing without Doncic, having lost the first six games he missed this season, but they have now won three in a row during his current absence.

For the Kings, De'Aaron Fox was terrific with a game-high 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting, adding six rebounds and five assists, while All-Star selection Domantas Sabonis had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

With the victory, the Mavericks are now 31-26, sitting fourth in the Western Conference, while the 31-24 Kings are third.

Giannis accomplishes feat not seen since Wilt

The Milwaukee Bucks are the hottest team in the NBA and collected their 10th consecutive win with a 119-106 triumph against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 35 points (13-of-25 shooting), eight rebounds, six assists and two steals, giving him a total of 373 points during the 10-game winning streak. That is the most points by one player during a 10-game winning streak since Wilt Chamberlain's 416 during his rookie season in 1959-60.

At 39-17, the Bucks are just one game behind the 40-16 Boston Celtics in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and the league.

Embiid dominates the Knicks

Joel Embiid was unstoppable as his Philadelphia 76ers defended home court 119-108 against the visiting New York Knicks.

Embiid scored a game-high 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting, and his field goal percentage of 77.8 set a new season-high. He also added 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.

James Harden delivered, dishing a game-high 12 assists to go with his 20 points (seven-of-17) and eight rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey exploded for 27 points (nine-of-16) off the bench.

The 76ers (35-19) climbed up to third place in the East, while the Knicks (30-27) occupy the seventh seed.

Luka Doncic produced yet another spectacular performance on Monday as he carried the Dallas Mavericks with 53 points in a 111-105 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

The 23-year-old Slovenian returned to the lineup after missing the Mavericks' loss against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, and he looked on track for a big one from the jump.

Doncic scored 24 of Dallas' 30 points in the first quarter, but the team found themselves trailing at half-time as the rest of the Mavericks struggled on the offensive end.

By the end of the third frame, Dallas trailed by one as Doncic had 45 points and none of his team-mates had more than eight, but the Mavericks were able to hold the Pistons to 21 points in the final period to pull out the narrow victory.

Doncic shot 17-of-24 from the field for his 53 points – the second-most he has ever scored in an NBA game – while adding eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. He had 41 points more than his closest team-mate, Spencer Dinwiddie with 12.

It was the fifth time in his career Doncic has reached 50 points, and the fourth since December 23, after posting games of 50, 51 and 60 points in the last nine days of 2022.

With the win, the Mavericks improved their record to 27-25, sitting sixth in the Western Conference, while the Pistons are dead last in the East at 13-39.

Curry brings the thunder to OKC

Stephen Curry was at his best in the Golden State Warriors' 128-120 road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading both teams in points and assists.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP finished with 38 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while also dishing 12 assists and snatching eight rebounds in a masterful display.

He was supported well by 'Splash Brother' Klay Thompson, who chipped in 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, as the duo combined to hit 14-of-28 from three-point range.

They locked horns with the Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who maintained the fifth-best scoring average in the league (30.9 per game) by scoring 31 on 10-of-24 shooting with seven assists and three blocks.

Banchero shines in Fultz's return to Philly

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz posted his first double-double of the season as the former number one overall pick made a winning return to Philadelphia.

In his first road game against the Philadelphia 76ers since being traded from the franchise in 2019, Fultz finished with 12 points and 10 assists, helping to ignite a 77-47 second-half demolition on the way to a 119-109 upset win.

The star for the Magic was their other top overall pick, as rookie Paolo Banchero scored a team-high 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

Joel Embiid was terrific for the 76ers, dropping 30 points (11-of-20), 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, but his scoring average for the season dropped to 33.6. He still leads the league, but Doncic (33.4) is hot on his tail.

The Splash Brothers found their range as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 64 points including 10 three-pointers in the Golden State Warriors' 129-117 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Curry top scored with 35 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field, making four-of-eight from beyond the arc, with seven rebounds, 11 assists and two steals at Chase Center.

Thompson finished with 29 points but nailed six-of-14 three-point attempts, along with eight rebounds.

Donte DiVincenzo made another strong impression off the bench, playing 33 minutes for 12 points with two-of-five three-pointers and 11 assists.

As a team, Golden State shot at 55.6 per cent from the field (50-of-90), while they had 40 assists compared to Toronto's 24.

The win improves the Warriors' home record to 19-6, while they nudge over .500 with a 25-24 overall record to move up seventh in the Western Conference.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet scored a team-high 28 points on five-of-10 three-point shooting with 10 assists, while Scottie Barnes chipped in with 24 points.

Giannis dominates as Middleton comeback continues

Giannis Antetokounmpo held off another Indiana Pacers' late charge as the Milwaukee Bucks won 141-131 fuelled by the Greek's 41 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

Antetokounmpo made five-of-eight free-throws in the final four minutes as the Bucks held on. Jrue Holiday contributed 20 points with nine rebounds and nine assists.

Khris Middleton continued his gradual return to full fitness, scoring 17 points in 15 minutes off the bench, while Myles Turner top scored for Indiana with 24 points.

SGA racks them up again for OKC

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded his fourth straight 30-point game as the Oklahoma City Thunder down the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-100 after scores were locked at three-quarter time.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 35 points, with eight assists and five rebounds for OKC, who won for the sixth time in eight games to improve to 24-25.

The Cavs were without Donovan Mitchell due to a groin injury, with Darius Garland starring for them with 31 points and 13 assists.

Meanwhile, Ja Morant recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the Memphis Grizzlies' 111-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plays the game at his own pace, according to Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault after his star player helped them break the Denver Nuggets' winning streak.

Denver had put together nine victories in a row, and were unbeaten in 16 at home before the Thunder overcame them 101-99 at Ball Arena on Sunday.

Gilgeous-Alexander led the way as he scored 34 points, with five rebounds and five assists as OKC made it five wins from six games and moved onto 23-24 for the season.

The decisive basket came from Gilgeous-Alexander with 9.2 seconds remaining and Daigneault praised the Canada international guard's composure under pressure.

"He's got some poise in those situations," Daigneault said of the 24-year-old. "The game slows down for him. He's got great confidence and he's always at his pace, even in the most pressure situations."

It was the first time in over a month that the Thunder had limited an opponent to under 100 points, and Daigneault paid tribute to the Nuggets – who were again without Nikola Jokic due to a hamstring issue – and his team's ability to get past them.

"I thought we did a really good job, played really good situational basketball down the stretch of the game," he said. "Denver were really good honestly, we especially had a hard time getting anything going offensively, but the guys stuck together.

"That's a tough place to play and it was a grind, so I was really pleased with the guys tonight."

Gilgeous-Alexander is one of just five players in the league to average more than 30 points per game this season (30.7), and he believes OKC are only going to improve.

"We're getting better," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "And we're in it more often, we've played a lot of close games for a few years now and we're just going to keep getting better in those moments... really trying to get better from our mistakes in every moment we're in."

The Golden State Warriors blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead at home as the Brooklyn Nets prevailed 120-116 after 38 points from Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

The Nets outscored the Warriors 22-6 after the reigning NBA champions had led by 12 with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Irving scored a game-high 38 points, making five-of-seven three-point attempts, with seven rebounds and nine assists. Irving's performance was his third 30-point game in his past four.

Nic Claxton added a career-high 24 points with 15 rebounds and three blocks, while Ben Simmons contributed a game-high 11 assists. Royce O'Neale, who had 16 points, scored a go-ahead three-pointer with 27.1 seconds remaining.

Stephen Curry top scored for Golden State with 26 points, making four-of-eight from beyond the arc, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

Jonathan Kuminga added 20 points off the bench, while center Draymond Green had 11 rebounds and seven assists.

The Warriors' home loss means their record at the Chase Center falls to 17-6, having managed 3-2 on their recent road trip where they have struggled throughout this season.

Lakers complete stunning second-half turnaround

LeBron James scored 37 points with 11 rebounds while Thomas Bryant added 31 points as the Los Angeles Lakers stormed home for a 121-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers had trailed 71-46 at halftime after the Blazers put up 45 second-quarter points, but rallied in a remarkable second-half turnaround to improve to 22-25.

Bryant had 14 rebounds to go with his 31 points, while Dennis Schroder contributed 24 points. Anfernee Simons scored 31 points for Portland, with Damian Lillard adding 24.

OKC snap Nuggets' win streak

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit an eight-footer with 9.2 seconds remaining to end the Denver Nuggets' nine-game win streak as the Oklahoma City Thunder won 101-99. 

The Nuggets were without back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic for the second straight game with tightness in his left hamstring, with Jamal Murray top scoring in his absence with 26 points and nine assists. Murray missed an attempt on the buzzer to force overtime.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished the game with 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting with five rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Josh Giddey added 18 points and nine rebounds. The result also ended Denver's 17th game win streak at home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LeBron's Lakers get back on track

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

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

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

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

76ers waste incredible Embiid performance

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

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

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

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

Damian Lillard wrote his name into his franchise's record books on Monday as he surpassed Hall-of-Famer Clyde Drexler to become the Portland Trail Blazers' new all-time leading scorer.

He entered the contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder trailing by just 20 points, and he crossed that mark with a three-pointer late in the third quarter on his way to 28 points on nine-of-17 shooting.

Lillard is also the franchise leader for career points per game at 24.7, meaning he reached the 18,040 point figure in 137 fewer games than Drexler, who sported a career average of 20.8 per game.

Speaking after the game, Lillard said how despite being largely unbothered by individual accomplishments, this is one he has had his eye on.

"It's a great feeling to reach the top," he said. "It's been a goal of mine, and the list has so many players, great history of our organization, so to finally be number one is a special accomplishment that I'm proud of.

"Even during the game tonight, I wasn't playing focused on getting to the record. I was playing the game just trying to win. I knew it would happen eventually."

In a statement, Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin paid tribute to his star player.

"Damian's commitment to Portland is now incapsulated with this prestigious career milestone," he said. "His dedication, humility and hard work have been pillars for his path to this very moment.

"On behalf of the organization, we would like to congratulate Damian on this great achievement and look forward to many more."

It is one of many franchise records Lillard will likely claim by the end of his stint in Portland, already owning the record for three-pointers with 2229 – almost 1000 more than C.J. McCollum in second-place (1297) – as well as made free throws (4047).

He is also only 460 assists away from Terry Porter's franchise record (5319), and at his current career average of 6.7 per game, Lillard will reach that mark in another 69 contests.

While it was all about Lillard for Portland, the Thunder rained on his parade as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drained a game-winning buzzer-beater to cap his 35-point night, including 24 in the second half.

Gilgeous-Alexander is the league's third-leading scorer this season at 31.3 points per game, and is the current favourite for Most Improved Player.

Kyrie Irving's game-winner gave the Brooklyn Nets their fifth win in a row, and ninth from their past 10, after defeating the Toronto Raptors 119-116.

Irving was terrific on the offensive end, scoring a team-high 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting, with five assists and only one turnover. 

His big moment came after Scottie Barnes' two free throws tied the game at 116-116 with eight seconds to play, and after a smart foul from Fred VanVleet, the Nets had the ball out of bounds with just three seconds to find a shot.

But that would be all Irving would need, taking a few dribbles to his right before pulling it back for a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

Kevin Durant was at his efficient best, shooting 10-of-15 from the field for his 28 points, while Ben Simmons finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.

It was the second consecutive strong outing from VanVleet in a loss, scoring 39 points on 14-of-24 shooting just two days after scoring 39 on 13-of-25 shooting against the Sacramento Kings.

The Nets began the season 1-5, but have recovered strongly to 18-12 and now occupy the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference through 30 games.

Embiid improves league-leading scoring average

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid scored a game-high 34 points in Friday's 118-106 win against the Golden State Warriors.

Embiid entered the game averaging 33.4 points per game – the best figure in the league – and improved it ever-so-slightly to 33.5 as he shot 11-of-23 from the field, adding 13 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks.

He is narrowly ahead of Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic in second (33.0 points per game), with Embiid currently on track for the scoring title, and perhaps even league MVP, having finished runner-up in each of the past two seasons.

Edwards and the Timberwolves fight off SGA

The Minnesota Timberwolves had to deal with the third-leading scorer in the NBA, but got the job done thanks to a mature performance from franchise centerpiece Anthony Edwards.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, averaging 31.0 points per game, scored a game-high 35 on 11-of-23 shooting, with seven rebounds and five assists, but none of his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates scored more than 14 in the 112-110 loss.

For the Timberwolves, Edwards played a strong team game as he shot at least 50 per cent from the field (eight-of-16) and from three-point range (two-of-three) for his 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

He was supported in fine fashion by Naz Reid, who finished one point away from his career-high with 28, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.

The Boston Celtics kept their terrific season rolling on Monday when they utilised a dominant third quarter to defeat the Toronto Raptors 116-110 away from home.

Boston were led by Jayson Tatum, who finished with 31 points on 11-of-24 shooting, hitting five of his 10 three-point attempts while adding 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in his 39 minutes. He helped his side outscore the Raptors 35-18 in the third period, turning around a six-point deficit at halftime.

The 24-year-old is enjoying the best season of his career, averaging a career-high 30.7 points per game while shooting a career-best 48.1 per cent from the field, all while attempting a career-high 9.3 three-pointers per game.

Tatum was supported well by running-mate Jaylen Brown, who chipped in 22 points (nine-of-22 shooting), eight rebounds and eight assists, while reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart posted 18 points (seven-of-14) and seven assists.

While the Celtics were the best defensive team in the league this past season when they went to the NBA Finals, this campaign it has been all about their offense.

Scoring 120 points per 100 possessions, they are two-and-a-half points clear of the second-ranked Phoenix Suns (117.5), and they are getting it done by shooting a league-best 40.2 per cent from the three-point line.

Their win against the Raptors was their 21st game with at least 110 points, helping them to a league-best record of 20-5, while no other team has more than 17 wins.

Harden's rough return to Houston

Playing against his former team, James Harden returned for the Philadelphia 76ers after five weeks on the sidelines, but had a rough outing in a 132-123 double-overtime loss to the Houston Rockets.

Harden, who won the 2017-18 league MVP while playing for the Rockets, scored 21 points, dished seven assists, snagged four rebounds and plucked two steals, but he shot a dismal four-of-19 from the field.

His step-back three-pointer tied the game at 108-108 with 90 seconds remaining in regulation, ultimately forcing overtime, before back-to-back MVP runner-up Joel Embiid fouled out in the first extra period, leaving the 76ers short-handed for the second overtime.

Last year's second overall draft pick Jalen Green was strong for the Rockets, scoring 27 points on nine-of-20 shooting with seven assists, while this year's third overall pick Jabari Smith Jr added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander carries the Thunder

Arguably the breakout star of the season so far, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the best player on the floor yet again in a 121-114 win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.

The 24-year-old is currently third in the NBA in scoring at 31.1 points per game, and that figure got a bump after he put up 35 points against the Hawks, hitting 10-of-22 from the field and all 15 of his free throws.

Of the four other players averaging at least 30 points per game this season (Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum) none are attempting fewer than Gilgeous-Alexanders 3.0 three-pointers per game, and none are shooting better than his 92.4 per cent from the free throw line.

Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry piled on the points as the Golden State Warriors improved to a 12-11 record with a 120-101 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Wiggins scored a season-high 36 points on 14-of-19 field shooting with a joint career-high eight three-pointers, including three in a row in the third quarter at the Chase Center.

Curry added 30 points, including eight triples, as well as providing 10 assists for Golden State, who have won five of their past six games.

Jordan Poole, who came into the starting line-up for Klay Thompson who was rested, also had 21 points with five three-pointers. Center Kevon Looney had 12 rebounds with nine points.

The Warriors shot 25-of-52 from three-point range as a team, compared to the Rockets who went at 10.7 per cent from beyond the arc, making three-of-28 attempts.

Golden State became the second team in NBA history to make 20 three-pointers in four of five games.

Gobert ejected in Timberwolves defeat

Rudy Gobert was ejected for deliberately tripping Kenrich Williams as the Minnesota Timberwolves were beaten 135-128 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The French center was given a flagrant 2 foul and ejected in the second quarter when he tangled with Williams, appearing to sweep a leg out while on the ground, seeing his unbalanced opponent tumble.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander top scored for OKC with 33 points and six assists, while for the Timberwolves, who were already without Karl-Anthony Towns (calf), D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards scored 27 and 26 points respectively.

Short-handed Bucks down Hornets

The Milwaukee Bucks overcame the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo due to left knee soreness as they moved to 16-6 with a 105-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

The Bucks, who are second in the Eastern Conference, were also without Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday but Bobby Portis (20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists) stepped up.

Jordan Nwora added 17 points, while Brook Lopez (14 points including three three-pointers and six rebounds) and Jevon Carter (14 points and six assists) were strong contributors.

Stephen Curry scored 50 points but could not prevent the Golden State Warriors' winless road run from extending to eight games after a 130-119 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

The defeat means the Warriors are 0-8 on the road this season, and slump to 6-9 in the 2022-23 campaign, which is a tie for fourth worst 15-game start to a season by an NBA champion.

Golden State's 0-8 road start is the worst ever by a defending champion in NBA history. The eight-defeat run is also a tie for third for longest road losing streak by a defending champion in their title-defense season.

The Warriors' defense was an issue once again, having allowed 124.3 points per game on the road this season which is the worst in the NBA. The Warriors' opponents have scored 120 or more points six times in 15 games this season.

The Suns improved to 9-5, with point guard Cameron Payne top scoring with 29 points including six three-pointers alongside Devin Booker with 27 points. Mikal Bridges added 23 points with five triples along with eight rebounds and nine assists.

Phoenix, who were without Cameron Johnson (knee), Chris Paul (heel) and Jae Crowder, knocked down a season-high 21 three-pointers, which is the most allowed by the Warriors this season, shooting at 52.5 per cent from beyond the arc.

Curry posted 50 points on 17-of-28 field shooting with seven-of-11 from three-point range with nine rebounds and six assists. Klay Thompson added 19 points but the Warriors' bench combined for only 17 points.

Celtics extend winning run to eight games

The short-handed Boston Celtics secured their eighth straight win with a 126-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks where seven players scored double digits for the winners.

Jayson Tatum had a career-high six assists in the first quarter and finished the game with 19 points, with seven rebounds and eight assists, while Jaylen Brown top scored for Boston with 22 points. Derrick White dished off 10 assists and Al Horford hauled down 11 rebounds.

During the Celtics' eight-game win streak, they have the NBA's best offensive efficiency (123.2), three-point field goals made (16.4) and assists-turnovers ratio (2.3).

SGA comes up clutch again for OKC

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored an equal career-high 42 points, including draining a last-gasp three-pointer to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Washington Wizards 121-120.

Bradley Beal had hit a two-pointer to put the Wizards up 120-118 with 6.1 seconds left, but Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 19 points in the third quarter, had time to hit a step-back triple with 1.1 seconds remaining.

Over the last two seasons, Gilgeous-Alexander has scored four go-ahead or game-tying field goals in the final five seconds, which is more than any other player in the NBA. Nine players have two.

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