Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse admits the defending NBA champions "haven't played great all the time" during a franchise-record winning streak.

The Raptors rallied from 19 points down to beat the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and extend their run to 12 victories in a row.

Serge Ibaka – who scored the go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds left – and Kyle Lowry led the comeback as Toronto scored the final 11 points of the game in a 119-118 win.

Nurse described the Pacers' defense as "awesome" as he credited his own players for their fighting spirit.

"I guess that, and we've said this before during this win streak, we haven't played great all the time, but we keep finding a way and that's a heck of a characteristic to have," said Nurse.

"Tonight, we weren't very good, and they were very good, I give them credit. They were awesome. They were cutting and flying and moving and hustling and guarding and physical and all the things you can be. They were trying to knock us out and we wouldn't quite go away, and luckily we hung in there and pulled one off."

Ibaka credited Nurse for a timely pep talk after he struggled in the early stages, with the Raptors managing just 18 points in the second quarter.

"Nick told me in a timeout, 'Serge, keep shooting with confidence, just push the ball'. He gave me a lot of confidence," said Ibaka.

"We keep our composure during the game. We've been there before, even in playoffs, so we have that mindset of 'never give up'. We keep trusting each other and we don't point fingers. When things go bad, we stay together, and I think that's what makes us very special."

The Toronto Raptors set a franchise record with a 12th straight NBA win, while the Los Angeles Clippers were too good for the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Raptors continued their winning streak with a thrilling 119-118 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Serge Ibaka proved to be the hero with a go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining.

Ibaka finished with 30 points, while Kyle Lowry had a double-double of 32 points and 10 assists and Pascal Siakam poured in 25.

The Clippers also set a franchise record during their 128-111 win over Miami.

They hit 24 three-pointers, with Landry Shamet (six) and Paul George (five) leading the way.

George finished with 23 points and 10 assists, while Kawhi Leonard went five-of-13 from the field for his 14 points, to go with nine assists and seven rebounds.

Jokic stars as Young lifts Hawks

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double of 30 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the Denver Nuggets' 98-95 win against the Utah Jazz.

Trae Young starred for the Atlanta Hawks as his 38 points and 11 assists helped them past the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-120.

Andre Drummond had 31 points and 19 rebounds in the Detroit Pistons' 116-108 win over the Phoenix Suns.

 

Terrible Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are seriously struggling. Their loss to the Hawks was their 13th straight as they fell to 15-35.

 

Ibaka delivers

Ibaka stepped up when the Raptors needed him, hitting just his second three – from seven attempts – late against the Pacers.

Wednesday's results

Detroit Pistons 116-108 Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics 116-100 Orlando Magic
Brooklyn Nets 129-88 Golden State Warriors
Toronto Raptors 119-118 Indiana Pacers
Atlanta Hawks 127-120 Minnesota Timberwolves
Oklahoma City Thunder 109-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies 121-107 Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets 98-95 Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Clippers 128-111 Miami Heat

 

Rockets at Lakers

Two of the Western Conference's best teams go head-to-head at the Staples Center on Thursday as the Houston Rockets (32-18) visit the Los Angeles Lakers (38-11).

Andre Iguodala has reportedly got his desired move from the Memphis Grizzlies, who have apparently traded the veteran to the Miami Heat.

Iguodala, 36, is yet to play a single minute for the Grizzlies since joining the team from the Golden State Warriors ahead of the 2019-20 season.

The three-time NBA champion was criticised by his team-mate Dillon Brooks this week and was reportedly prepared to sit out the entire campaign if he was not traded.

But ESPN reported on Wednesday that Iguodala would be getting a move from Memphis, who have agreed to trade him to the Heat.

The report said Iguodala had agreed to the trade and a two-year, $30million extension with Miami.

Miami are enjoying a strong season and entered Wednesday with a 34-15 record and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Memphis, meanwhile, are 25-25 and eighth in the west.

Gregg Popovich quipped all you can do is "get good pictures" when LeBron James is in full flow after the Los Angeles Lakers superstar blew the San Antonio Spurs away on Tuesday.

James scored a game-high 36 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds in a resounding 129-102 victory for the Lakers at Staples Center.

The four-time NBA MVP was mobbed by his team-mates after landing a fifth three-pointer in the space of just three minutes during the fourth quarter.

Spurs coach Popovich had a short and sharp answer when asked what can be done when James is in that sort of form.

He said: "Make sure you get good pictures? We tried to prevent it. If we could prevent it, we would have."

Anthony Davis lapped up his team-mate's masterclass. 

"When the guy gets hot like that, it's always fun to watch him," said the forward.

He added of the impromptu Lakers celebration: "It wasn't the plan. We all just kind of ran over there and jumped on him."

Defeat for the Spurs came on the back of a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and DeMar DeRozan is concerned by the impact the defeats will have.

"As a competitor, it's what you want to play against," said DeRozan, who poured in 28 points.

"I don't look at it like it's being tough. It's part of the job, part of the game, and as a competitor you want to compete against the best. You worry about the toll afterwards."

Clint Capela is to join the Atlanta Hawks as part of an elaborate four-team trade deal involving 12 players, according to widespread reports.

The Houston Rockets will allow center Capela, 25, to move to the Hawks, with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets also involved in a complex series of swaps ahead of the trade deadline.

Robert Covington is another big name involved as he moves from the Timberwolves to the Rockets along with Jordan Bell as part of the NBA's most expansive trade for two decades, per ESPN.

The young Hawks side led by All-Star Trae Young is boosted by the additions of Capela and another center, the veteran Nene, who also moves from the Rockets.

Capela signed a five-year, $90million deal with the Rockets after the 2017-18 season, but the team have been eager to move his contract and appear keen to surround James Harden and Russell Westbrook with three-point threats as part of smaller line-ups. 

That seems to be the motivation behind landing Covington, with experienced forward PJ Tucker now set to be the regular at center as Bell, formerly of the Golden State Warriors, provides some backup.

Malik Beasley has joined the Timberwolves along with Jarred Vanderbilt, Evan Turner and Juan Hernangomez, with the team also collecting the Brooklyn Nets' 2020 first-round draft pick via Atlanta.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, end up with Houston's 2020 first-round draft pick along with quartet Gerald Green, Noah Vonleh, Keita Bates-Diop and Shabazz Napier.

Capela is averaging 13.9 points and 13.8 rebounds in 39 matches this season, while Covington is shooting at 43.5 per cent from the field, a career-high, as he averages 12.8 points from 29.4 minutes per game.

Further moves are expected before the trade deadline, which is on Thursday at 3pm ET.

It was Giannis Antetokounmpo who stole the show in New Orleans as he got the better of his much-hyped duel with Zion Williamson.

Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, 17 rebounds and six assists in a dominant display to guide the Milwaukee Bucks to a 120-108 road win over the Pelicans.

Williamson had his moments - an aggressive grab to take a rebound away from Antetokounmpo in the fourth quarter arguably the highlight - but was very much second best to the Bucks superstar.

The 19-year-old, who managed 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists, said: "I mean, he's a former MVP.

"It's like going up against any great player. Do as much as you can to slow him down.

"He's his own player; he brings his own style to the game. That's why he's Giannis."

Statistically, it was the worst night of Williamson's fledgling NBA career - he shot just 5-of-19 from the floor - with Antetokounmpo admitting the Bucks' defense had paid him special attention.

He said: "I think we put a lot of guys, a lot of different looks to him.

"I was guarding him, Brook [Lopez] was guarding him, Robin [Lopez] was guarding him, Pat [Connaughton] was guarding him. Just tried to make him guess, just tried to make it as tough as possible.

"You know he's gonna try to go left, try to overpower whoever's guarding him, try to go and finish strong. And the guys behind gotta be active, gotta make it as tough as possible."

Despite his struggles, however, Antetokounmpo also saw enough to suggest Williamson was a star in the making, adding: "He'll be a really good player for a lot of years to come.

"He's out there helping the team; he's competing as hard as possible. He's just gotta stay healthy, and he's gonna have a bright future."

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks past Zion Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans 120-108, while LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo put up 34 points and 17 rebounds as the Bucks improved to 43-7 for the season and 20-4 away from home.

The Bucks led by 19 points in the third quarter before withstanding a Pelicans rally in New Orleans on Tuesday.

Pelicans sensation and rookie Williamson scored 20 points – Brandon Ingram topscoring for New Orleans with 32 of his own.

James posted 19 of his 36 points in the final quarter as the Lakers topped the San Antonio Spurs 129-102 in Los Angeles.

Lakers superstar James hit a stunning five three-pointers in three fourth-quarter minutes to propel the hosts at Staples Center, where he added nine assists and seven rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

 

Harden stars as Rockets soar

James Harden had 40 points and 11 assists to guide the Houston Rockets to a 125-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets. The Rockets were without Russell Westbrook and Clint Capela – reportedly set to join the Atlanta Hawks – but they still extended their winning streak to three games.

Nikola Jokic's 29 points and 13 rebounds set the tone for the Denver Nuggets, who downed the Portland Trail Blazers 127-99.

 

Anthony struggles

Carmelo Anthony has been a fine addition for the Trail Blazers, however, the veteran endured a tough night in Denver. Anthony was 0 of five from the field and missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc for two points in 26 minutes.

Spurs star LaMarcus Aldridge also struggled. He finished with just seven points on three of 10 shooting in 30 minutes.

 

LeBron lights up LA

Sit back and enjoy this three-point burst by James.

 

Tuesday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 120-108 New Orleans Pelicans
Houston Rockets 125-110 Charlotte Hornets
Denver Nuggets 127-99 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Lakers 129-102 San Antonio Spurs

 

Heat at Clippers

After thrashing Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat travel to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The Jimmy Butler-led Heat (34-15) have won back-to-back games to be fourth in the east, while the Clippers (35-15) are second in the Western Conference.

Former NBA All-Star Slam Dunk champion Dwight Howard will participate in the competition for the first time in 11 years as the league revealed the fields for the three challenges.

Howard was memorably crowned champion during his time with the Orlando Magic in 2008, however, the Los Angeles Lakers center last featured in 2009.

The eight-time All-Star headlines the field for the Slam Dunk contest, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 15.

This is the first time the Slam Dunk event is being held in Chicago since 1998, when Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan famously outduelled the Atlanta Hawks' Dominique Wilkins.

Hamidou Diallo of the Oklahoma City Thunder won the contest last year.

Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris will defend his Three-Point Contest title, while Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum headlines the field for the Skills Challenge.

 

Skills Challenge (first event)

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Three-Point Contest (second event)

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
Devonte' Graham, Charlotte Hornets
Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Slam Dunk (third event)

Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat

Golden State Warriors point guard D'Angelo Russell insists he is utterly unfazed by rumours of a four-way trade that could see him join the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Russell only joined Golden State last year following a two-year spell with the Brooklyn Nets – his 2019 form earning him an All-Star selection as Victor Oladipo's replacement.

The 23-year-old has played nine of the Warriors' past 10 matches and was expected to return to the line-up on Wednesday against the Nets after a quadricep injury.

The Timberwolves are reportedly attempting to organise a multi-team trade with the hopes of eventually ensnaring Russell – and he seems open to all eventualities.

"I am comfortable with being uncomfortable," Russell said.

"A lot of teams want a point guard and I am bouncing around – why not put me in those talks and try to get me? I understand the business side and what is going on. It is nothing new.

"I can't lie and say I don't see it [the rumours]. I've got to answer questions about it. It is what it is.

"I'm here [Golden State] right now. [There's] no telling where I will be in the next few [years], so, wherever I go, my feet will be there."

Another move would see Russell link up with a fourth different team, having also represented the Los Angeles Lakers from 2015 to 2017.

While he accepts such a nomadic career can be "crazy", Russell is embracing the excitement.

"I tell myself I'm five years [in the league] going on 10," he added. "I don't know what 10 years is going to look like for me, but I am enjoying it. It has been a crazy career so far."

Steve Mills has left his role as New York Knicks president, admitting he was frustrated by failing to find the formula to deliver success.

The announcement of his exit from the post came from the Knicks on Tuesday, with general manager Scott Perry appointed to oversee basketball operations on an interim basis.

Having ended a 10-year stint with the franchise in 2009, Mills re-joined the Knicks in September 2013 as general manager before taking on the role of president four years later.

However, the Knicks have been unable to make the playoffs since. They sat 13th in the Eastern Conference this season with a 15-36 record at the time of his departure.

A statement from the Knicks said: "The New York Knicks today announce that Steve Mills will be leaving his position as president of the New York Knicks, effective immediately.

"The organisation will undertake an immediate search for a new team president. In the interim, Knicks general manager Scott Perry will oversee the Knicks basketball operations."

Mills thanked owner James Dolan for giving him the opportunity in the first place.

He said: "I will always be grateful to Jim for giving me the chance to represent this franchise and I'm disappointed we were unable to achieve success for New York."

The Knicks are owned by the Dolan-led Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), the organisation behind the eponymous midtown New York arena.

The NBA outfit and NHL team the New York Rangers, who like the Knicks play home matches at the famous venue, are poised to soon become part of a sporting division that breaks off MSG's entertainment business.

Mills previously held senior roles with MSG and looks set to return to a role within its new sporting set-up.

The Knicks' statement added: "It is anticipated that Steve Mills will be nominated to the board of the standalone sports company, following the completion of the proposed spin-off [of] the entertainment business, pending all necessary approvals, including by the MSG board."

Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of MSG, said: "Steve and I have come to the decision that it would be best for him to leave his role as president of the New York Knicks.

"We thank Steve for his many years of service to our organisation and look forward to continuing our relationship with him as part of our board."

Dillon Brooks says the departure of wantaway Memphis Grizzlies team-mate Andre Iguodala cannot come some enough.

Iguodala has not spent a minute on court for the Grizzlies following his arrival from the Golden State Warriors in the offseason.

The 36-year-old swingman could be on the move before Thursday's trade deadline, with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers said to be among the potential destinations for the veteran.

It has been reported the three-time NBA champion and 2015 Finals MVP could sit out the rest of the season if he does not get a switch away from Memphis.

Grizzlies shooting guard Brooks wants to see the back of Iguodala as soon as possible and go head-to-head with the 2012 All-Star to show him what he is missing.

He said: "A guy that's on our team doesn't want to be on our team.

"I can't wait until we find a way to trade him so we can play him, and I can show him what really Memphis is about."

He added: "Andre Iguodala is a great player. I feel like he's doing the right thing for his career, but we don't really care.

"It's not a distraction at all. I laugh at that type of stuff."

Brooks' team-mates Ja Morant and De'Anthony Melton seemingly backed his remarks when they were posted on Twitter.

Ben Simmons accused the Philadelphia 76ers of being "soft" after Jimmy Butler inspired the Miami Heat to a resounding 137-106 victory on Monday.

Butler was ruthless against his former team, finishing with 14 of 20 from the field, sinking two of two from the three-point line and all eight of his free throws in 29 minutes at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The 30-year-old's points tally of 38 was a season's best as the 76ers suffered their heaviest defeat of a three-game losing streak.

"We were soft," said Simmons, who had a game-high four turnovers. "The physicality side of things, we gotta step that up. That comes with experience, also just comes with personality.

"Don't get bullied. Fight over screens, get through screens. If you gotta knock somebody over, knock 'em over. If you gotta hit somebody in the face and knock 'em down so they don't score, hit 'em in the face."

"Our defense was poor," accepted 76ers coach Brett Brown. "When you create three turnovers for a game, it's just not a reflection of who we are.

"I think we're the third or the fourth-best defensive team in the NBA. And we weren't even close to that tonight."

Miami had only three turnovers throughout, a joint-lowest number for any side in the NBA this season, as they improved to 34-15.

"I'm never worried about offense," said Butler. "Hell, I'm never worried about defense. All I'm ever worried about is winning."

The Los Angeles Clippers edged the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA on Monday, while Jimmy Butler inspired the Miami Heat.

Facing his former team, Kawhi Leonard top-scored for the Clippers with 22 points in the 108-105 victory.

Paul George had a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds, to go with eight assists, in the Clippers' win.

LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points) and DeMar DeRozan (26) almost saw San Antonio to a surprise result.

Butler lifted the Miami Heat to a 137-106 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

He had 38 points and seven rebounds, while Goran Dragic contributed 24 points and six assists as Miami improved to 34-15 and left Philadelphia at 31-20.

Porzingis shines, Tatum tremendous

Kristaps Porzingis' 38 points and 12 rebounds helped the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks past the Indiana Pacers 112-103.

For the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

Jayson Tatum powered the Boston Celtics past the Atlanta Hawks 123-115 thanks to 28 points and seven rebounds.

Kevin Love's double-double of 33 points and 13 rebounds was not enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went down to the New York Knicks 139-134 after overtime.

 

Jackson, Doumbouya struggle

Reggie Jackson went one-of-16 from the field and Sekou Doumbouya was two-of-15 in the Detroit Pistons' 96-82 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

 

Young from deep

Trae Young hit a shot from the logo in the Hawks' loss to the Celtics. He finished with 34 points.

Monday's results

Orlando Magic 112-100 Charlotte Hornets
New York Knicks 139-134 Cleveland Cavaliers
Dallas Mavericks 112-103 Indiana Pacers
Golden State Warriors 125-117 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 123-115 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 119-97 Phoenix Suns
Miami Heat 137-106 Philadelphia 76ers
Memphis Grizzlies 96-82 Detroit Pistons
Sacramento Kings 113-109 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 108-105 San Antonio Spurs

 

Bucks at Pelicans

The high-flying Milwaukee Bucks (42-7) take on the New Orleans Pelicans (20-30) at the Smoothie King Center on Tuesday.

LeBron James revealed he decided to wear number two in the NBA All-Star Game in honour of Gianna Bryant and for his own daughter, Zhuri.

The tributes will continue for Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, during the All-Star Game later this month.

James' team will wear Gianna's number two, while Giannis Antetokounmpo's side will don the 24 Kobe made famous during his glittering NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers star James said he had been asked about which number he wanted his team to wear in Chicago on February 16.

"They asked me which number did I want to wear, the 24 or the two, for my team and I picked two," he told a news conference on Monday. "Giannis is going to wear 24 for their team."

Asked why he chose two, James replied: "Zhuri", referring to his five-year-old daughter.

James' Lakers are back at the Staples Center on Tuesday, hosting the San Antonio Spurs.

The three-time NBA champion said the Lakers needed to stick together during what would be an emotional season in the wake of Bryant's shock death.

"Every game is going to be emotional," James said.

"You're going to look up in the rafters, you're going to see that eight, that 24, you're going to see the decal on the floor.

"Every game is going to be emotional, but obviously time heals all, it's going to continue to help us every game, every day.

"We're going to continue to lean on each other, lean on the crowd, the crowd is going to lean on us and we've got to continue to push forward because that's what he'd want us to do."

Zion Williamson must not go prolonged stretches in the fourth quarter without touching the ball, fumed New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry after their 117-109 loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets triumphed at Toyota Center on Sunday, with James Harden pouring in 40 points as Houston came from behind in a fourth quarter that saw the Pelicans score just 16.

Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was making his sixth appearance in the league, having undergone right knee surgery in October.

The 19-year-old forward has quickly proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with, though, and logged 21 points and 10 rebounds against Houston.

However, Gentry was irate his team failed to find Williamson more regularly as they fell away in the final period and blamed himself.

"We didn't execute and we didn't do what we were supposed to do. That being said, Zion can't go four minutes without touching the basketball and that's on me," said Gentry.

"That's something that I've got to make sure that will never happen again. So I take responsibility for that. And if we're not gonna get it to him and not gonna execute, then we've got to have different people in the game. That's on me also."

Gentry denied the suggestion it was down to a lack of chemistry with Williamson still in the early stages of his rookie season, while also criticising the "absurd" and "ridiculous" total of 21 turnovers from his team.

"You've got to throw [Zion] the damn basketball, it has nothing to do with playing together or figuring it out," said Gentry.

"He has advantage and we've got to find a way to get him the basketball better, so I'm not buying the playing together or figuring out or anything like that. We have to have him have touches in the fourth quarter, if not there's no reason for us to have him in the game. And that's not going to happen either.

"I like our chances when he's got it down there because I think he's going to make the right play, and we didn't do that. You can't have 30 points off your turnovers and think you're going to beat a good basketball team.

"You can get away with it every now and then, but we're shooting 64 per cent for most of the first half and we're trailing in the game and so that just tells me that what we were doing as far as execution and turning the ball over is absurd, it is just ridiculous. It really was. It's as disappointed as I've been this year from the standpoint of doing what we're supposed to."

Harden was impressed by Williamson after his first game against the Duke product. Asked for his assessment of the Pelicans star, Harden told ESPN: "Beast.

"He's gonna be really good. This is only like his 10th game playing, he has a feel for the game, obviously he's strong, so he's gonna be great.

"He's really good. Very, very explosive. Athletic, as we all know. He has a good feel for the game."

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