A grieving Kevin Durant inspired reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors to a 112-89 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

On the same day his childhood friend Cliff Dixon was shot to death in Atlanta, Durant posted 15 points and tallied six assists.

Warriors team-mate Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 15 points via four three-pointers during Golden State's 35-point third quarter on Thursday.

DeMarcus Cousins returned from an ankle injury scored put up 19 points and 1 rebounds, while Andrew Bogut – in his second spell with the Warriors after winning the 2015 championship – received a standing ovation in his first game back in Oakland.

The Pacers, who missed another chance to clinch a playoff spot, were led by Tyreke Evans' 20 points off the bench.

Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 34 points but the Utah Jazz still lost 117-114 to the Atlanta Hawks.

In the final moments, Mitchell missed a 22-foot three-point shot that would have tied the contest with 1.8 seconds remaining as the Hawks snapped the Jazz's five-game winning streak.

Trae Young led Atlanta's efforts with 23 points and 11 assists in a double-double display.

 

Walker lifts Hornets

Kemba Walker led the Charlotte Hornets to a 113-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a game-high 31 points. Walker was 10 of 22 from the field and made just one of his eight three-point attempts.  

The Washington Wizards lost 113-108 against the Denver Nuggets, but Bradley Beal finished with a game-high 25 points. On Denver's side, five players led with 15 points each.

The Detroit Pistons defeated the Phoenix Suns 118-98 thanks to Wayne Ellington's with 23 points.

 

Minnesota's bench, or lack thereof

The Timberwolves starting five all scored in the double-digits, but they needed some help from their bench, which never came. There was only one player to score 10 or more points in Gorgui Dieng while the rest of the subs struggled. Keita Bates-Diop and Jerryd Bayless scored just two points each.

Maximilian Kleber tallied just five points in the Dallas Mavericks' 116-100 defeat to the Sacramento Kings. He finished minus-21.

 

Beasley tees up Plumlee

The Nuggets held off the Wizards after entering the fourth quarter tied at 85-85, as Malik Beasley found Mason Plumlee near the rim.

Early in the Suns-Pistons contest, Mikal Bridges found Deandre Ayton, who slammed it down for the finish.

 

Thursday's results

Charlotte Hornets 113-106 Minnesota Timberwolves
Denver Nuggets 113-108 Washington Wizards
Atlanta Hawks 117-114 Utah Jazz
Detroit Pistons 118-98 Phoenix Suns
Sacramento Kings 116-100 Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors 112-89 Indiana Pacers

 

Thunder at Raptors

The Oklahoma City Thunder are holding on to their eighth seed with a comfortable gap between the Western Conference teams that are still trying to revive their seasons. But the Thunder have lost their stride as of late and will take a four-game losing skid to Toronto when they face the Raptors on Friday. The second-ranked team in the east have put together back-to-back wins, but will be without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, who will miss his second consecutive game due to a sprained right ankle.

Stephen Curry praised his Golden State Warriors team-mates for standing up in the absence of Kevin Durant in their 106-104 victory over the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors were without the 10-time NBA All-Star for the trip to the Toyota Center but the likes of Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins came to the fore in his absence.

Curry was also on form as the Warriors ended the Rockets' nine-game winning streak, the 31-year-old contributing 24 points, five assists and four rebounds.

But it was the team performance that particularly pleased Curry, given they were without the scoring ability of Durant.

"Understanding you are missing 28 points is tough," he said.

"But you got to do it by committee so myself, Klay and DeMarcus were being aggressive when we had the ball in our hands.

"Again, make or miss, we just tried to put pressure on them. Defensively was going to be the way we won this game.

"We weren't going to out score them, we had to buckle down and get stops and just try and control the tempo of the game as much as we could."

Kevin Durant will be "all right" after sustaining an ankle contusion in the Golden State Warriors' surprise loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, according to Steve Kerr.

Ten-time All-Star Durant landed on DeAndre Ayton's foot and rolled his right ankle in the fourth quarter of the 115-111 defeat at Oracle Arena, leaving the game and not returning.

Head coach Kerr was unsure whether the Warriors forward, who scored 25 points in 30 minutes, would require an MRI on the injury but did not sound overly concerned ahead of Wednesday's meeting with the in-form Houston Rockets.

"I think he's going to be all right. He had an ankle contusion, but I don't think it's bad. I talked to him briefly, he didn't seem to think it was too bad," said Kerr.

Phoenix's victory ended an 18-game losing streak against the Warriors, with star guard Devin Booker dropping 13 straight points in the fourth quarter en route to a total of 37.

It was the Warriors' fourth loss in their past six matches, but they still sit top of the Western Conference with a record of 45-21.

Kerr said: "The Suns were great. They've been through a tough season and they've played really well lately. They beat Milwaukee at home last week, so we knew they weren't going to be a pushover.

"They came in and kicked our butts. Good moment for them, great game for them, I'm happy for them, I know the frustration they've felt all year and it was the right outcome. They beat the crap out of us."

Stephen Curry contributed 18 points but was four-of-15 from three-point range and admitted Golden State feel "uncomfortable" as they seek a third straight championship.

"Let's not forget last year was way worse than this, way worse than this, with injuries and things like that. We have pretty much everybody healthy," said Curry.

"We talked about the things we need to get better at going into the playoffs and just haven't done it. It's an uncomfortable feeling, which I think we like right now.

"We're getting challenged, we're getting teams' best shots."

Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant suffered an ankle injury in a 115-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Durant went down with a right ankle contusion in the fourth quarter and left the court for the locker room shortly after. He did not return to the game.

He scored 25 points. He entered Sunday averaging 27.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

Golden State dropped to 45-21 in the loss, but still have the best record in the Western Conference.

Questions surrounding Durant's status could not come at a worse time as the Warriors will have to face a piping hot Rockets team in Houston on Wednesday.

Draymond Green and Kevin Durant both defended Golden State Warriors colleague DeMarcus Cousins after the reigning NBA champions bounced back in style on Friday.

The Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets, their rivals for the top seed in the Western Conference, 122-105 at Oracle Arena on Friday, recovering from a humiliating home loss to the Boston Celtics last time out.

The team's form – a 3-5 run coming into the Nuggets game – had led to criticism of Cousins, but he responded with a superb showing at both ends of the court, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds, six assists, six blocks and three steals in a 28-minute outing.

Klay Thompson also shone with 39 points, including nine three-pointers after his two-game injury absence, but it was the comments about Cousins, who did not speak to the media after the game, that had clearly affected his team-mates.

"I think it p***** him off," Green told reporters. "He's a competitor. He's one of those guys that's been misunderstood his whole career because he competes and he wears his emotions on his sleeve. 

"Everybody wants to talk s*** about DeMarcus' defense. I told y'all [after the Celtics game] we all hadn't played with energy - or at practice. Everybody wanna [say], 'It's a problem when DeMarcus is out there'.

"[We all] picked the energy up, all of a sudden no one is talking about DeMarcus' problems defensively. Now it's a good matchup for him. That's b******* to me.

"Everyone wants to single one guy out, but yet our entire team defense was horrible the last two weeks. Everybody picked that up playing better defense, and obviously he shined on that end as well."

Durant said: "I don't think you [the media] really know what defense means. You look at the numbers and the stats, and the blocks, and it's easy for you to say, 'Oh, DeMarcus had a great game'. If somebody else tells you he didn't play well, then that's what you'll write. 

"But I don't think anybody in our locker room is really blaming DeMarcus for anything. We all have our miscommunications out there, miscues out there, whatever you want to call it, but I don't think you guys had anything to do with [this win]."

The Warriors are now 45-20, with the Nuggets two games back at 43-22 heading into the closing stages of the regular season.

"Pride," added coach Steve Kerr. "Our guys have responded for the last five years to bad losses, to lulls, so it didn't surprise me at all that we came out with energy and passion.

"We're not going to just flip it all around in one night, but this was a great start to getting back on track and playing like ourselves."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James passed Hall of Famer Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

While Wednesday's feat is nothing to scoff at, our friends at Opta would like to remind everyone of a handful of other all-time leaderboards undergoing a makeover.

Here are five milestones to keep an eye out for in the final weeks of the NBA season:

 

Kevin Durant — Career 30-point games

Durant's next game with 30 or more points will be his 300th. The Golden State Warriors star would be the 14th NBA player to reach the milestone and the fifth-youngest player to hit the mark if he does it within the next three weeks (which seems likely).

1. Michael Jordan - 562
2. Wilt Chamberlain - 515
3. LeBron James - 442
4. Karl Malone - 435
5. Kobe Bryant - 431
6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 429
7. Oscar Robertson - 387
8. Jerry West - 350
9. Dominique Wilkins - 346
10. Allen Iverson - 345
11. Elgin Baylor - 343
12. Adrian Dantley - 314
13. Shaquille O'Neal - 313
14. Kevin Durant - 299
15. George Gervin - 297

 

Dirk Nowitzki — Career points

Nowitzki (31,364) needs 56 points to pass Wilt Chamberlain for the fifth-most all time and one more game played to pass John Stockton for the third-most all time.

The Dallas Mavericks veteran will surpass Stockton if he takes the floor on Friday against the Chicago Bulls. If he continues his scoring pace of 5.4 points per game, Nowitzki should pass Chamberlain on the scoring list away to the Miami Heat on March 28.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 38,387
2. Karl Malone - 36,928
3. Kobe Bryant - 33,643
4. LeBron James - 32,311
5. Michael Jordan - 32,292
6. Wilt Chamberlain - 31,419
7. Dirk Nowitzki - 31,364

 

Chris Paul — Career assists

Paul (9,050) needs only 12 assists to pass Isiah Thomas for the seventh most all time. The Houston Rockets star is averaging 8.3 per game, so expect him to move past Thomas on the road against the Mavericks on Sunday — that is if he does not have a vintage performance at home to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.

1. John Stockton - 15,806
2. Jason Kidd - 12,091
3. Steve Nash - 10,335
4. Mark Jackson - 10,334
5. Magic Johnson - 10,141
6. Oscar Robertson - 9,887
7. Isiah Thomas - 9,061
8. Chris Paul - 9,050
9. Gary Payton - 8,966
10. LeBron James - 8,584

 

James Harden — Career triple-doubles

Harden (41) needs three triple-doubles to move ahead of Fat Lever for the eighth most in league history.

However, Houston Rockets superstar Harden will never pass Lever for the best name in NBA history.

Larry Bird would be Harden's next target at 59 career triple-doubles.

 

Russell Westbrook — Career triple-doubles

Westbrook (129) requires 10 more triple-doubles to pass Magic Johnson for the second most in league history.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have 18 games remaining in the regular season, but let's remember what Westbrook has accomplished since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. He has made Johnson's number reachable this term and Oscar Robertson's league record of 181 firmly in play next season.

1. Oscar Robertson 181
2. Magic Johnson 138
3. Russell Westbrook 129
4. Jason Kidd 107
5. LeBron James 79
6. Wilt Chamberlain 78
7. Larry Bird 59
8. Fat Lever 43
9. James Harden 41
10. Bob Cousy 33

Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant thinks the Boston Celtics will turn it around.

Boston have lost five of their six games since the All-Star break but Durant told reporters on Monday he does not believe their struggles will last long.

Durant's Warriors will host the Celtics on Tuesday.

"They're right up there at the top," Durant said, via ESPN. "They've been losing a couple games, but they've got the top talent, some of the top talent on that team, so they'll be fine once the playoffs start."

The Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017-18 despite missing Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, who were both sidelined with injuries.

Both players are back in the lineup and the Celtics entered the season with high expectations. But, they are just 38-26 and in fifth place of the Eastern Conference standings.

"It's just the nature of the game," Durant said. "They've got a bunch of young players, they've got a couple veterans that have been through the struggle, so they're still trying to figure each other out.

"It takes more than just a half a year or a whole year to figure it out. They're just going to keep growing, so what you see right now is probably not the finished product."

Durant is averaging 27.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 2018-19.

The Warriors will enter the matchup against the Celtics with a Western Conference-leading 44-19 record.

Steve Kerr insisted the absence of Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant was no excuse for the Golden State Warriors' 103-96 defeat to the Orlando Magic.

The Warriors slumped to back-to-back losses at Amway Center on Thursday despite Stephen Curry's 33-point haul.

Durant missed his first match of the season as Kerr revealed he was "wiped out", while Iguodala played no part due to illness.

But the Warriors head coach said his side could not put their loss down to being without the influential duo.

"That is the NBA," said Kerr. "Everybody has missing players all the time.

"We've got to be ready to go no matter what."

Kerr conceded the defending champions only had themselves to blame for a lack of ruthlessness.

"I didn't think we executed particularly well, we had some open looks, but the ball has got to go in," he added.

"Steph is in there beating himself up a little bit, he knows he had a lot of open shots that didn't go.

"I thought Orlando did a better job of executing down the stretch."

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry admits his performance on his Charlotte homecoming was "kind of ugly", but is keen not to be too hung up on individual stats when the team wins.

Curry finished with 16 points, shooting five of 18 from the field and four of 14 from three-point range as the Warriors ran out 121-110 winners at the Charlotte Hornets.

The 30-year-old, back in Charlotte a little over a week after playing at the Spectrum Center in the All-Star Game, recognised he did not have his best performance but is keen to ensure the focus is on the collective.

"It is what it is. We had nights like that before. You obviously want to shoot the lights out when you're here because it's my one time coming here," Curry said. 

"From the All-Star game to this, I think I'm a collective, like, eight for 31 or something like that from three and so not great. 

"But I enjoy the atmosphere. Try to do little things to help my team win and not get caught up in the stats when we're winning games." 

The six-time All-Star gave credit to his team-mates for stepping up and making big plays while he struggled to sink his shots, praising center DeMarcus Cousins, forward Kevin Durant, guard Klay Thompson and forward Draymond Green for how well they played.

"Tonight was kind of ugly at times. I didn't shoot the ball well, but everybody can shoot it," he added. 

"DeMarcus was unbelievable tonight. KD made huge plays, especially in the first half to keep us afloat. Klay was efficient tonight. Draymond with an overall game and our bench guys contributed all night and so just understanding again, our bounce back has to be solid like it has been before."

Head coach Steve Kerr says it is easy to understand why Curry, who grew up in Charlotte and played three seasons at Davidson University before Golden State selected him with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft, had an off night.

"It's never easy coming back to your hometown, especially if you're somebody like Steph who is like the mayor here," Kerr said. 

"Everybody knows him in the stands and so I don't know. He's so dynamic, he's so talented but everyone has a game once in a while where things don't go exactly to plan and tonight was one of those games for Steph." 

Durant felt it was fine margins that prevented Curry from putting up bigger numbers.

"Obviously, we know how important it is for him to come back home and for his friends and family and he definitely wanted to play well," he said. 

"I thought he had some shots that looked good that just didn’t fall. That’s the name of the game sometimes."

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is confident the ankle injury he suffered against the Houston Rockets will not force him to miss any games.

The three-time All-Star sustained a left ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of the Warriors' 118-112 loss to the James Harden-less Rockets when he stepped on the foot of team-mate DeMarcus Cousins, and Green did not return for the closing stages.

He explained that he had been troubled by an ankle problem earlier in the game but does not expect to be on the sidelines for long.

Asked if he thought the issue would force him to miss games, Green told reporters: "No, I don't. But we'll see how it feels tomorrow.

"Head in for some treatment before the flight, see how it goes.

"I had already sprained the same ankle in the first quarter so when I stepped on DeMarcus' foot it just reaggravated the same sprain.

"It was painful. But I'll be alright, I'll be fine."

The Warriors, bidding for a third straight NBA title this season, have now lost each of the three games they have played against Houston this season.

Yet, given they are still leading the way in the Western Conference, Kevin Durant was relaxed about Green's injury and the rest of the regular season.

"I mean, he'll be back for the playoffs," he added.

"That's the only thing we worry about here, right?"

Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant had it out for Sacramento Kings rookie Marvin Bagley III in the first half of Thursday's game.

The 10-time All-Star blocked five of Bagley's shots in the first half, although these could be subject to change upon further review as some may have been steals.

The rookie still managed to have success in the half as he scored 16 points on six-of-14 shooting, but Durant was all over him for much of the game.

At least for Bagley, he did not get the treatment Buddy Hield did when Durant sent a lay-up on a fast break into the seats for his sixth block of the first 24 minutes.

Durant's career high is seven blocks. He is averaging 1.1 this season.

The five blocks on Bagley are the most he has ever had on a single player in his career.

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving labelled free agency speculation generated from a video with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant as "bull****".

Irving was seen talking to Durant in the tunnel at the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte last week, prompting rumours the pair could team up with the New York Knicks next season.

Both Irving and Durant can become free agents at the end of the current campaign and the pair have been linked to the Knicks.

Celtics star Irving was noticeably agitated when answering questions about his discussion with Durant.

"It's my life, right?" Irving told reporters on Wednesday. "It's two people talking, having a conversation. If this was the real world, would it be anybody else's business? It's a video of somebody assuming what we're talking about. So why would I care about it? Why are you asking me those type of questions?"

"C'mon man, you do it for the likes and clicks, everybody does," Irving added. "Everybody wants to hear me talk like this. Everybody wants to actually talk about bull****. video though? To pour water on [speculation]? Makes no sense. It's not real life. Not real."

"That's where we started the conversation, what I do in my life is my business," he continued. "So it's none of yours, none of anybody's business, right? So it's a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting?"

The Celtics have had an up-and-down season and entered the All-Star break fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 37-21 record. 

Irving addressed the team's inconsistency, telling ESPN: "It's been a trying year for us. We basically have a bunch of young men in our locker room who feel like they're capable of doing a lot more than they're doing. And that's OK, but there's a maturing that you have to have. There's a professionalism that you have to showcase every single day, and that's what the great ones do.

"I initially didn't play the minutes I wanted to play. I'm 26 years old, heading into my prime, like, why do I have to wait for anybody? [Terry Rozier] played in the playoffs. He did extremely well. Coming back, that's a natural competition that me and him have.

"It is what it is. No one wants to say it, but I will. You know, [Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum], all these guys, it's part of their growth. When you have winning in mind, you've gotta understand that. You gotta do what it takes, but you gotta understand your team-mates."

Kevin Durant vowed to keep adding to his collection of individual prizes after being named the NBA All-Star Game's MVP for a second time.

The Golden State Warriors star racked up 31 points with seven rebounds and two assists to inspire Team LeBron to a 178-164 victory over Team Giannis on Sunday.

Durant, who also won the award in 2012, has now scored 30 or more points in four different All-Star games - an NBA record.

"It's all sweet to me. It's hard to rank, everything's special," he said.

"It's cool to be out there with some of the best players to have ever played the game and to win MVP in front of my family and friends was pretty sweet. I'll just try to keep racking them up I guess.

"As a veteran now, coming back and winning another MVP is cool to put into the trophy case."

And Durant paid tribute to Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki, who perhaps featured in his final All-Star Game amid rumours that this season - his 21st in the NBA - will be his last.

"He is one of those guys where you see him have a tough game three and bounce back in game four," Durant said.

"That shows character, that shows what he's about. So, to grind against Dirk for a couple of years in the playoffs, battling against him in the Western Conference all these years has been a treat.

"He's somebody that's unguardable and created a shot that really can't be blocked.

"His legacy is going to live forever as a baller."

Team LeBron did not get off to a great start, but came back to claim a 178-164 victory over Team Giannis in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team were motivated, but Team LeBron's late game run was too much to handle.

Kevin Durant took home his second All-Star Game MVP with 31 points.

Here are three takeaways from the final event of All-Star weekend.

 

Giannis is ready to take the league by storm

Although the Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the NBA and Antetokounmpo is a frontrunner for MVP, Team LeBron were considered the favourite in this contest.

Antetokounmpo responded to the critics with a plethora of dunks. His most impressive one came on an unorthodox bounce pass from Stephen Curry.

Antetokounmpo even managed to rattle a pair of three-pointers home en route to his 38 points and 11 rebounds on 17-of-23 shooting. 

 

Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade still have gas in the tank

Nowitzki and Wade played limited minutes in the game, but still showed bursts of the talent that helped them become legends.

Nowitzki connected on all three of his field goal attempts, and all of them were three-pointers.

Meanwhile, Wade notched his 13th All-Star appearance and got to throw one last lob to his good friend James.

Wade finished with seven points on two-of-four shooting.

 

Three points are better than two

As always, the All-Star Game featured basketball's best shooters. When it came down to it, long-range marksmen were what won the game.

Despite trailing by 13 points at the half and battling against a deficit of 20 plus, Team LeBron used the deep ball to secure the victory.

James' squad shot 90 three-pointers, which was 13 more than the opposition. It connected on 35 of those attempts and 11 different players contributed at least one made three-pointer.

Six total players hit five or more three-pointers in the contest, the most ever in an All-Star Game.

Kevin Durant led Team LeBron to a 178-164 win over Team Giannis and was rewarded with his second career All-Star MVP award.

The Golden State Warriors forward was 10-of-15 shooting from the field and made six of his nine three-point attempts. He tallied a team-high 31 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the victory on Sunday.

"This is definitely going to give me some bragging rights," Durant said, as he will now get ready to return to the Warriors, where he plays alongside fellow All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

This was Durant's 10th All-Star appearance. He has scored 30-plus points in four different All-Star games, which is the most in history.

Durant also took home the All-Star MVP in 2012.

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