James Harden and Ben Simmons both had triple-doubles as the Houston Rockets overcame the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Friday, while Anthony Davis shone for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rockets guard Harden posted 44 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to edge a scintillating showdown with 76ers star Simmons and guide Houston to a 118-108 win in Texas.

Simmons kept Philadelphia in touch with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, but Joel Embiid's 20 points on seven-of-17 shooting failed to match Rockets centre Clint Capela's 30 points and 14 rebounds.

The 76ers (23-14) have now lost four on the trot, all on the road, ahead of Monday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets (24-11) sit three places behind the Western Conference-leading Lakers, who downed the New Orleans Pelicans 123-113 at Staples Center.

Davis punished his former team, registering 46 points and 13 rebounds, while LeBron James had a double-double of 17 points and 15 assists.

 

Lillard back in form for Trail Blazers

Kept quiet in Wednesday's disappointing defeat to the New York Knicks, Damian Lillard bounced back to form in Washington.

Lillard had 35 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers snap a five-game losing streak in a 122-103 win over the Wizards, who had Isaiah Thomas ejected in the second minute for what was deemed a shove on an official.

Jimmy Butler's double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) proved in vain for the Miami Heat as they slipped to a 105-85 loss against the Orlando Magic.

Devin Booker passed 30 points for the fifth successive game to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 120-112 victory over the Knicks.

 

Trouble for Tatum

The Boston Celtics edged the Atlanta Hawks 109-106 despite having little support from Jayson Tatum, the 21-year-old going two-of-16 from the field while missing both of his three-point attempts.

 

Theis says no!

Daniel Theis produced a crucial late block on Atlanta guard Trae Young to see the Celtics home in Boston.

 

Friday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 123-113 New Orleans Pelicans
Orlando Magic 105-85 Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers 122-103 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 109-106 Atlanta Hawks
Houston Rockets 118-108 Philadelphia 76ers
Phoenix Suns 120-112 New York Knicks

 

Spurs at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has the chance to record an eighth double-double in as many outings when the Milwaukee Bucks (31-5) take on the San Antonio Spurs (14-19) on Saturday.

Anthony Davis warned the Los Angeles Lakers must be more ruthless after they made hard work of beating the Phoenix Suns on New Year's Day.

The Lakers made a brilliant start to 2020, bossing the Suns to open up a 74-41 half-time advantage at Staples Center.

Phoenix rallied in the second half and although the Western Conference leaders ran out 117-107 winners, Davis says there can be no repeat of their second-half showing.

"You can lose games like that, which is the worst feeling in the world," the forward said.

"You gotta be able to play the same way the entire four quarters. If we're going to continue to play like that then we’re going to lose games like that.

"We don't want to come in and blow a 36-point lead. … When we get leads like that we gotta make sure we continue to play the right way."

Davis added: "We started playing a lot of one-on-one, we completely stopped playing defense.

"They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds, attacking the basket. Nobody was getting open shots."

The Lakers are 27-7 following three consecutive victories and next face the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost in LeBron James' absence in the NBA on Sunday, while the Toronto Raptors rallied from 30 points down to beat the Dallas Mavericks.

James missed the clash with the Denver Nuggets due to a thoracic muscle strain and his absence hurt the Western Conference leaders in a 128-104 loss at Staples Center.

Anthony Davis played almost a lone hand for the Lakers (24-6), posting 32 points and 11 rebounds as he fought through a suspected knee problem sustained after an awkward fall in the third quarter.

Kyle Kuzma added 16 points on his return from an ankle injury but there was no stopping the Nuggets (20-8), who were inspired by Paul Millsap's 21 points and a double-double from Will Barton (14 points, 13 rebounds).

Defending champions the Raptors, meanwhile, set a franchise record with their incredible 110-107 win against the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks.

Kyle Lowry led the way with 32 points and 10 assists as Toronto (21-8) overturned a 30-point third-quarter deficit to record their largest-ever comeback victory.

 

Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

Giannis Antetokounmpo fell one assist short of a triple-double as his 18 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-89 rout of the Indiana Pacers, who were on a five-game winning streak before Sunday's contest.

Jayson Tatum put up a career-high 39 points on 15-of-29 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 119-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets to stay in touch with the Bucks.

Paul George endured an unhappy return to Oklahoma City as the Los Angeles Clippers, who rested Kawhi Leonard, led for three quarters before slipping to a 118-112 defeat to the Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, part of the trade that sent All-Star George to the Clippers, posted 32 points for the second time in a week.

 

Brogdon's rough Bucks reunion

Before facing the Bucks, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon said he would not have left Milwaukee had he been properly "valued". He gave his old team little cause for regret at Fiserv Forum, making five of 19 shots from the floor and going zero-for-four from three-point range.

 

Monk's massive dunk

Malik Monk provided a highlight for the Hornets with a huge dunk over Enes Kanter.

Sunday's results

Toronto Raptors 110-107 Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics 119-93 Charlotte Hornets
Oklahoma City Thunder 118-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Milwaukee Bucks 117-89 Indiana Pacers
Denver Nuggets 128-104 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Toronto will look to carry their momentum into Monday's important Eastern Conference encounter with the Pacers, who have a point to prove after falling well short against the Bucks.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James tipped their hats to Giannis Antetokounmpo after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The two teams went into the game at Fiserv Forum with NBA-leading 24-4 records and it was the Bucks who emerged triumphant, claiming a 111-104 victory.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 11 rebounds and made a career-best five three-pointers in a commanding display.

Davis, who sat out the defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday with an ankle sprain, played the entire second half and finished with a game-high 36 points.

Asked for his thoughts on Antetokounmpo's display, James simply gestured by tipping an imaginary hat, while Davis suggested there was little more the Lakers could have done to stop him.

"We tip our hats to him, man. I think we executed our game plan as far as him driving," said Davis.

"He did a good job of knocking down threes, he did a good job of finding guys and they made shots for him.

"You've got to tip your hat to him, he made five of them and they were all tough looks. Two were highly contested at the end of the shot clock, one was wide open, and I think the other two were dribble-up threes from the wing."

On his ankle injury, Davis added: "I just tried to play through it, I still felt it a little bit. I tried to keep going, battle through it a little bit and help my team win."

The Lakers trailed by 18 points at half-time and were unable to avoid succumbing to successive defeats for the first time this season at the end of a five-game road trip, despite James claiming a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

"We continue to build chemistry, we continue to build camaraderie," James said.

"Pretty much every time anyone does anything, we pretty much do it together on the road. Just kind of have that bunker mentality, that brotherhood when we hit the road."

Giannis Antetokounmpo said he is not supposed to be up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the Milwaukee Bucks star remained grounded following Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bucks claimed the best record in the NBA after reigning MVP Antetokounmpo inspired a 111-104 victory in the blockbuster showdown.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for the highly anticipated clash as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

Antetokounmpo upstaged James and Davis with his 34 points and 11 rebound, the Bucks moving top of the overall NBA standings.

"I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it's hard," Antetokounmpo said afterwards.

"You feel like, 'OK, what else?' But at the end of the day, I realise and my family realises that I'm not supposed to be here.

"I wasn't the number one pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn't supposed to be here.

"I'm not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I'm just happy that I'm here and happy that I'm going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that's what gives me joy."

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers against the Lakers, on eight attempts from beyond the arc.

"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said. "And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added: "I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it's part of our league, part of being a professional.

"But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body -- but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He's doing it. He's putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he's ours and excited about him and our future."

Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double led the Milwaukee Bucks past the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 and to the NBA's best record.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for Thursday's highly anticipated showdown as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

The blockbuster encounter also pitted reigning MVP Antetokounmpo against Lakers superstar LeBron James.

And the Bucks secured the league's best record thanks to Antetokounmpo, and his 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers for the Bucks, who used a 42-29 second quarter to move clear of the Lakers.

James finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but it was not enough for the visiting Lakers.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 10 rebounds after returning from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury.

 

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will return from a one-game absence to face the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday's NBA blockbuster showdown.

Davis sat out Tuesday's defeat to the Indiana Pacers due to a mild ankle sprain, leaving his availability for the Bucks clash in question.

However, the All-Star has overcome that ankle issue as the Western Conference-leading Lakers and Eastern Conference pacesetters the Bucks square off with matching 24-4 records.

Since teaming up with LeBron James at the Lakers, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

 

Anthony Davis is not ready to commit to the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of free agency, despite his stellar start to life at the Staples Center.

Davis has barely missed a beat since swapping the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers prior to the start of the NBA season, helping Los Angeles to a joint-NBA best 24-4 record.

But Davis is a free agent at the end of the campaign, and the six-time All-Star has previously talked up the "possibility" of joining hometown team the Chicago Bulls.

"I still look at it as we'll see what happens at the end of the season," Davis told ESPN.

"Obviously, the season's going great so far and I'm trying to stay in the moment and worry about that when the season's over. But I feel like we can do something special this year.

"With the team that we put together and the coaching staff that we have, I don't feel like no one can beat us but the Los Angeles Lakers.

"But when that time comes I'll think about it and see what's going on. But right now I'm trying to focus and win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers."

Since teaming up with LeBron James in Los Angeles, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Davis, though, is questionable for Thursday's blockbuster clash with the Milwaukee Bucks – who the Lakers are tied with for the best record in the league – due to a left ankle sprain.

"We'll see how the ankle feels and hopefully I'm able to play," Davis told The Dan Patrick Show.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks meet in a blockbuster clash between the NBA's two conference leaders on Thursday.

Holding the best records in the NBA at 24-4, the Western Conference-leading Lakers visit the Eastern Conference leaders at Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks and Lakers will meet just twice during the regular season and both encounters are shaping as must-watch matches.

With the help of Stats Perform data, we take a closer look at the two teams' starts to the season.

Matchup among the best

With a 48-8 combined win-loss record, this clash marks the seventh highest combined win percentage (.857) entering a game since 1970-71, with a minimum of 25 games played by both teams.

Milwaukee set up their record on the back of an 18-game winning streak that was only broken by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are also going into the game on the back of a defeat after losing to the Indiana Pacers.

They have embarked on two seven-game runs and a 10-match winning streak this season.

The Lakers and Bucks' 24-4 records are the equal 13th best through the first 28 games of an NBA season.

Bucks impressively cruising

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 31.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season, Milwaukee have dominated.

Their points/G differential of 12.9 is the highest in the NBA since 1970-71, currently standing greater than the 1971-72 Lakers (12.3) and 70-71 Bucks (12.3).

Both those Lakers and Bucks went on to win the NBA championship.

Milwaukee have claimed huge victories over the likes of the New York Knicks (132-88), Charlotte Hornets (137-96), Orlando Magic (123-91), Minnesota Timberwolves (134-106), Los Angeles Clippers (119-91) and Detroit Pistons (127-103) this season.

 

Lakers duo starring

As was expected, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have led the Lakers.

James is averaging 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, while Davis (27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists) is also delivering impressive numbers.

The pair are tracking to be among the best team-mate duos – to have played in 70 per cent of their team's games – since 1976-77, when it comes to most points plus assists plus rebounds.

James (43.9) and Davis (40.0) are fifth on the list at 83.9, with Houston Rockets pair James Harden (52.3) and Russell Westbrook (38.1) topping it at 90.4 after their performances this season.

LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel poured praise upon Anthony Davis after his 50-point display against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Davis reached 50 points in a game for the first time since joining the Lakers, leading the team to a 142-125 victory on Sunday.

With his star team-mate in such form, James suggested his role was fairly straightforward, with the four-time MVP contributing 13 assists to go with his 32 points.

"Just keep feeding him," James said of Davis. "He was efficient all night, getting the ball exactly where he wanted it - either near post, low post, perimeter.

"He can do it all, so it's our job to continue to give him the ball."

James is happy with how he and Davis are performing together, inspiring a 21-3 start to the season, but he was always confident the former New Orleans Pelicans star would be able to lead the Lakers.

"For me and AD, it starts with us," he said. "If we're on the same page, it makes it much easier for the rest of the ball club. That's both on and off the floor.

"We're just trying to lead by example, lead by our voices, lead by our play, and see where it takes us. It's been pretty good for us so far.

"[Davis] had to carry a franchise before, so I don't think it's anything that's foreign to him. The best thing about what it is today is that he has an opportunity to be great every night.

"No matter if he's making shots or not, it's just his presence alone. And us, as his team-mates, continue to make him comfortable. He's great. There's nothing more that you can say."

Davis was 20-for-29 from the field but did not need a single three-point shot to get to a half-century.

The 26-year-old also weighed in with seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block, leaving coach Vogel to marvel at his player.

"The first thing that sticks out to me was that he had four steals, a block and great defense all 39 minutes he was out there," Vogel said.

"To be able to perform on that end of the floor and anchor us and still go for 50 - with what I feel is an old-school smash-mouth way of getting 50: no threes, 20-for-29 and living at the free-throw line, post-ups, offensive rebounds, crashes, all those type of things - it's just an old-school performance.

"It's one for the ages."

Anthony Davis said it was "humbling" to join Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in producing a 50-point game for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Davis and the Lakers have been in outstanding form so far in the 2019-20 NBA season, and that continued on Sunday as the former New Orleans Pelicans star put up exactly 50 points in a 142-125 defeat of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The names of Bryant and James - the only other Lakers to achieve this feat in the past decade - were put to the 26-year-old in the locker room after.

Davis replied: "It means a lot. There are some greats who came through here, so to be in a class with guys like that - especially so early in my career, my first year here - is humbling.

"I'm definitely excited to be in that class."

Davis had 27 points by halftime and revealed he was then encouraged to go for 50 by his team-mates.

"I've had nights where I started off like that and ended up with like 30, didn't score in the second half," he said. "But the shot was feeling good tonight. We were very well rested.

"Going against another great big man in Karl-Anthony Towns, obviously you get up for some of those games. They're a team who are hungry, trying to get wins, and when you start off pretty hot from the floor, you just want the ball.

"It kept going in most of the times and my team-mates kept giving me the ball. They were saying I could get 50 so, at that point, you try to get 50.

"[They said it at] half-time. At that point, I'm not saying it was on my mind, because I'm still trying to play the right way, but I was definitely ultra-aggressive."

The Lakers improved to 21-3, four games clear of rivals the Los Angeles Clippers at the top of the West, and Davis says they are "in a rhythm".

"I feel like I'm in a rhythm," he said. "You've got to find your rhythm, and I feel, as a team, we've found our rhythm - that's how we're able to put up so many points.

"Obviously our defence has been really good and leads to a lot of open shots for us. Guys are able to see the ball go in the basket early, which helps us later in the game.

"I think the way that we approach the game now, knowing we've found our rhythm offensively, the whole team is playing at a high level."

LeBron James joked he is considering sneezing on Anthony Davis after his Los Angeles Lakers team-mate produced another outstanding performance in their win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

Davis, who joined the Lakers from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade in June, followed up 25 and 26-point performances in road wins against the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz with a 39-point showing as Los Angeles claimed a 136-113 victory in Portland.

The 2012 first overall pick's displays have been made all the more impressive by the fact he has produced such incredible form while battling an illness.

Speaking after their win at the Moda Center, James said of Davis: "You see what he did on this road trip being sick? And he is starting to feel a lot better and I don't quite like it. I might sneeze on him a couple of times."

The Lakers are in command at the top of the Western Conference having lost just three of their 23 games this season.

"We have our mind set on something special. In order to reach that goal we have to stay in the moment and go game by game," Davis added.

"We take every game personal. We want to go out there and be the best team."

For the 9-14 Blazers, the game was marred by an injury to Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn Achilles in the first quarter.

"You hate to see one of your team-mates go down to an injury like that, especially a starter, and somebody who is really a good person and having a great season, fitting in really well with our team, and a big part of what we do," Blazers star Damian Lillard said. 

"You just feel for him personally more than anything."

 

LeBron James hailed a "monster game" from Anthony Davis, who battled through illness to help the Los Angeles Lakers return to winning ways at the Denver Nuggets.

Davis required intravenous fluids at half-time of Tuesday's 105-96 road victory after being one of several Lakers players to suffer from flu-like symptoms.

The 26-year-old put on a fine all-round display, though, contributing 25 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers recovered from their loss to the Dallas Mavericks last time out.

James said Davis' contribution was just par for the course since he joined the Lakers in the offseason.

"He's been doing it all year," said James, who himself contributed 25 points, six rebounds and nine assists. "Playing through injuries, playing through illness like he did tonight. 

"[He's the] Defensive Player of the Year, and he showed tonight once again playing one-on-one versus 'Joker' [Nikola Jokic] in the post. 

"When there were switches, going on with Jamal Murray. He got stop after stop after stop. It was just a monster game for him."

For his part, Davis insists his illness had no bearing on the way he tried to play.

"I just tried to fight and do whatever I can to help the team win. I felt like I could give it a go, and I was able to contribute as much as I can and get the win," Davis said.

"[The sickness] didn't factor in. I was trying just to make the right play. Not trying to force anything. I think the shots that I had were good shots. But I was kind of overthinking it a little bit. 

"Not because of illness, but the way they were playing me. And then just trying to be aggressive in the second through fourth quarters. Just trying to get my team going, get them some looks and get myself some looks. 

"So, the illness didn't really play a big part that I thought it would, especially playing in Denver in the altitude."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel described Davis' performance as "something special".

"He just felt lousy the last two days. He comes in and has a Defensive Player of the Year type of performance," he said.

"He's guarding their two best players, Jokic, single coverage, everybody's staying home and Jamal Murray taking him to the basket and he's making defensive play after defensive play.

"And he was outstanding. For him to play through illness and have that kind of performance was something special."

Anthony Davis vowed the Los Angeles Lakers would not lose two straight NBA games after their run of 10 consecutive wins came to an emphatic halt on Sunday.

The Dallas Mavericks won 114-100 at Staples Center on the back of 27 points from in-form Luka Doncic.

That led Davis to describe the Lakers' defense as "terrible" but he joined LeBron James in adopting the mindset that the Lakers (17-3) would not allow themselves to drop two in a row for the rest of the season.

The loss to the Mavs (13-6) comes ahead of a difficult trip to face the Denver Nuggets (13-4), who hold an 8-2 record at home court, with other testing games road games against the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers to follow later this week.

The Lakers were dominated 16-9 in offensive rebounds against Dallas, much to the frustration of Davis.

"Our whole thing is we don't want to lose two in a row – ever," said Davis, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds, per ESPN.

"Our defense was terrible. We didn't rebound the basketball therefore we keep giving them second-chance points and they made us pay with threes.

"We know what we did wrong. It's one game. We beat ourselves with the rebounding and we need to do better."

Of the goal to go the rest of 2019-20 without losing back-to-back games, James said: "You don't know until you [strive for it].

"Realistic is the mindset. It's not about [accepting that] sometimes you lose games in a row. Just having that mindset and that approach."

Coach Frank Vogel acknowledged his team's challenge against the Nuggets on Tuesday would be greater than the one they faced against the Mavs.

"That's part of growing together, how you respond to losses," he said. "Playing in Denver is always tough. As well as they are playing this year, it's going to be even tougher. 

"I believe in our guys. If we play to our abilities, there's nobody we can't beat and nowhere we can't get a W."

As for Doncic, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle marvelled at a display that included 10 assists, nine rebounds and three steals, while the 20-year-old went 4-for-10 from three-point range.

"He hit a couple of hellacious shots," Carlisle said of Doncic. "There's just a small handful of guys in the whole world that can hit them. LeBron James is one of them. He's one of them. 

"Those step-back 30-footers, it's hard to describe how difficult the shot is, and how easy he makes it look."

LeBron James called for improvement after the Los Angeles Lakers saw their winning streak abruptly halted by the Dallas Mavericks.

Riding a 10-game winning run, the NBA-leading Lakers went down 114-100 to the Mavericks in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Despite Anthony Davis' double-double (27 points, 10 rebounds) and James' 25 points, the Lakers (17-3) fell to their third defeat of the season.

Reflecting on the loss, Lakers superstar James told reporters: "They pushed the tempo a lot more. They played with a better pace than us.

"A couple of calls when against us, which kind of changed the momentum of the game."

"We can play better," James added. "We obviously know they've played extremely well, especially on the road.

"We knew they wanted some get-back after we beat them on their floor, and they us on ours.

"They're a very good team. Very well coached. We just learn from our mistakes and the good things too."

Davis remained upbeat afterwards, saying: "It's one game. We're not going to get down over this loss. We know what type of team we are, we know now.

"We played well. And they beat us, but we beat ourselves with the rebounding, so we know what we've got to do better."

Meanwhile, Luka Doncic revelled in the Mavericks' win after scoring 21 of his 27 points in the second half.

"It's a great win that means a lot to us," Doncic said. "It shows that we can play against big teams, too. We just need to keep it rolling."

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