The Milwaukee Bucks need to make the most of their depth and harness the team's winning culture to keep winning without Eric Bledsoe, according to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Point guard Bledsoe will be out for two weeks with the right fibula avulsion fracture suffered in the Bucks' win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

Milwaukee claimed a 125-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers without Bledsoe on Saturday.

The Bucks have won 18 successive games, two shy of their franchise-record run of 20 set in 1971, taking them to 24-3.

Reigning league MVP Antetokounmpo believes they have the resources to thrive in Bledsoe's absence, also suggesting a lay-off of his own would not impact the team's playoff hopes.

"It's tough, one of the best players in the team, he's been playing amazing the whole season, obviously a big piece of the team," Antetokounmpo told reporters.

"We all wish Bled a fast recovery, come back healthy. This team will be exactly how it is right now when he gets back.

"We did it when Khris [Middleton] missed a lot of games - we were able to win games without him. We've got to do it without Bled, and if I ever miss games, they've got to do it without me.

"We've built a winning culture around the team and everybody knows what we've got to do when we step on the floor.

"This team is deep. We've got a deep team, it's insane. It doesn't matter if Bled isn't playing, I'm not playing - I think this team could be a playoff team, it could be a 50-win team.

"Khris, Bled, me, all the other guys, we're big pieces, big parts of this team. At the end of the day, if we miss games, other guys got to get the job done. So far we've been doing that."

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle does not expect Luka Doncic to play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday after suffering a right ankle sprain in their overtime defeat to the Miami Heat on Saturday.

Doncic played fewer than two minutes of the Mavericks' 122-118 loss to the Heat, which dropped them to a record of 17-8.

The Slovenian is enjoying a breakout second season that has him in the Most Valuable Player discussion. Doncic is averaging 29.3 points per game to go with 8.9 assists and 9.6 rebounds. 

However, he is now unlikely to square off against reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo when the Mavericks visit the Bucks, who lead the Eastern Conference after compiling 18 straight wins.

Speaking in a media conference, Carlisle said: "Luka has a right ankle sprain, we hope it's not serious, X-rays were negative."

The Mavericks trailed 73-50 at half-time but produced a stirring second-half fightback to force the extra five-minute period.

Asked what he said to his team in the interval with Doncic sidelined, Carlisle replied: "Don't have to say much, guys knew we were getting outplayed and outworked and we turned it around in the second half.

"We needed to make one more play or have one more ball bounce our way or get one more call.

"It's disappointing [Doncic's injury] but, next man up. Obviously we lose a guy that's a great player, we don't know for how long, and I don't expect him to play against Milwaukee, that's just an opinion that's not a media release or anything like that, but we've got to circle the wagons with the guys that we have and play like we did in the second half, pretty simple. "

The Milwaukee Bucks stretched their winning streak in the NBA to 18 on Saturday, while the Los Angeles Clippers suffered a surprise loss.

The Bucks cruised past the Cleveland Cavaliers 125-108 for an 18th straight win, which is the second longest streak in the team's history.

Milwaukee were once again led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 29 points in just 24 minutes.

The Clippers' four-game winning run came to an end in a 109-106 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls claimed just their 10th victory of the season thanks largely to 31 points from Zach LaVine.

Kawhi Leonard missed the encounter due to a knee injury.

Super Siakam, marvellous Memphis

Pascal Siakam's 30 points helped the Toronto Raptors past the Brooklyn Nets 110-102.

The Memphis Grizzlies went 48-of-84 from the field to claim a 128-111 victory over the Washington Wizards.

 

Doncic scare

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic suffered an ankle injury during the Dallas Mavericks' overtime loss to the Miami Heat.

He played less than two minutes in the defeat.

 

Murray's fine dunk

The Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray set up his own dunk by passing to himself off the backboard.

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 121-119 Phoenix Suns
Toronto Raptors 110-102 Brooklyn Nets
Chicago Bulls 109-106 Los Angeles Clippers
Memphis Grizzlies 128-111 Washington Wizards
Miami Heat 122-118 Dallas Mavericks
Milwaukee Bucks 125-108 Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Lakers at Hawks

The Los Angeles Lakers (23-3) will be eyeing a seventh straight win when they visit the Atlanta Hawks (6-20) on Sunday.

Doc Rivers says every play was for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and feels the star duo "came up big" to make Los Angeles Clippers history against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

George had 46 points and Leonard added 42 as they became the first Clippers team-mates to score over 40 in the same game, helping the team to a 124-117 win in Minneapolis.

The Clippers' run of four straight road victories has arrived at a key time, having previously been 3-6 away from Staples Center.

Their latest win took them to 20-7 overall for the season and came without key players Lou Williams (calf) and Patrick Beverley (concussion).

"That was great," coach Doc Rivers said after Friday's win was inspired by George and Leonard.

"We knew without Lou [that] every play was basically for those two guys. And they came up big."

George was involved the last time two team-mates scored over 40, doing it with Russell Westbrook at the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, but knew it was an impressive feat.

"It's special, two guys offensively," George said. "It's great when both guys can get it going.

"The thing about it is, we're dishing, finding each other, feeding each other. And then when we have moments to be aggressive, we're looking to get aggressive, attack, look for our shots. 

"I thought that was a good indication [of what we can do going forward]. Overall, we did a great job of just playing off one another, both looking to score and then finding plays to make our team-mates better as well."

Leonard was thrilled with the performance but insisted Clippers wins were more important than he and George replicating their high points totals in future games.

"It's great that we can have somebody else out there to help scoring the ball, making the game easier for myself," said last year's NBA Finals MVP.

"We got into our spots early, made shots. Paul carried us in that second half."

Asked if this was what he envisaged playing with George, Leonard said: "I didn't think that coming into the season. We just want to win a basketball game. 

"If it's me having 10 and him having 40 or vice-versa, or Lou Will is going or Trezz [Montrezl Harrell] or somebody else having a great game, that is what I envision. I just want to envision winning games.

"We're still trying to build our chemistry out there. We didn't close that third quarter too great. We [have] still got to improve."

Evan Fournier said the Orlando Magic felt like they lost to James Harden alone after he drained another 10 three-pointers in an emphatic Houston Rockets win.

The Rockets triumphed 130-107 on the road as Harden scored a team-record 10 baskets from behind the arc for the second consecutive game.

He finished with 54 points, passing 50 for the fourth time in his last seven games, and added seven assists, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals in a 36-minute performance that even had Magic fans applauding him.

Russell Westbrook had 23 points and Ben McLemore added 18 but it was Harden who was central to the Magic's thoughts.

"I feel like we lost against just him," the Magic's Evan Fournier said, per ESPN, after Friday's loss. 

"He's the MVP for a reason. We talked in pregame that he'll take shots, and we'll just live with the results. He did not miss, period."

Orlando coach Steve Clifford added of Harden: "When he's shooting over the top like that, I don't know what you can do."

Harden now has 2,152 career three-pointers and moved past Paul Pierce up to eight in the NBA all-time list.

Fournier had 27 points and Aaron Gordon added 21 but the Magic could not live with the Rockets' scoring power.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said: "When James is like that, it's hard for anybody to really beat us.

"No matter what kind of defense you are going to throw, we've got guys. We just shot the ball extremely well."

The Rockets have won six of their last eight to move to 17-8, good for fourth in the Western Conference.

LeBron James said being told he was "too passive" by his Los Angeles Lakers team-mates in a "reckless" first-half display fuelled him to raise his game in a 113-110 victory over the Miami Heat.

The Lakers inflicted a first home defeat of the NBA season on the Heat, but a 13th straight road win looked unlikely when they trailed by 14 points in the first half.

James dropped well short of his usual sky-high standards in that opening half, turning the ball over seven times and missing seven of his 11 shots.

The four-time MVP was transformed in the second half, though, finishing with 28 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds as the Western Conference leaders won a thriller to move to 23-3.

James revealed some frank words from his colleagues were justified.

"Well, we were down today because of me," he told ESPN. "I was reckless.

"My team-mates got on my ass. They told me you're playing too passive, thinking about the game way too much instead of reading and reacting and doing what you do. Anthony Davis got on me, Boogie Cousins got on me and they told me to just be me.

"So I was like, 'Thank God we have two halves in a basketball game,' where I can flush the first one, and then come back and try to help us win."

Davis also played a major part in the Lakers' turnaround, racking up 33 points and 10 rebounds. 

He said: "We knew it was going to be a dog fight, that's what it was tonight and the game was fun. These are the types of games we live for."

James Harden produced another 50-point performance in the NBA, while Giannis Antetokounmpo helped the Milwaukee Bucks extend their streak on Friday.

Harden made it back-to-back 50-point games in the Houston Rockets' 130-107 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Coming off a 55-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Harden had 54 in the win over Orlando.

The Bucks made it 17 straight wins by getting past the Memphis Grizzlies 127-114.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double of 37 points and 11 rebounds in the Bucks' latest victory.

Los Angeles' duos shine

LeBron James (28 points and 12 assists) and Anthony Davis (33 points and 10 rebounds) helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat 113-110.

The Los Angeles Clippers' stars also impressed. Paul George had 46 points and Kawhi Leonard 42 in a 124-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Philadelphia 76ers are 14-0 at home after Ben Simmons contributed 24 points and 11 assists in a 116-109 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Bad Bulls

The Chicago Bulls were woeful in an 83-73 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The Bulls went at just 30 per cent from the field, shooting 27-of-90.

 

Harden hot

Harden continued his irresistible form for the Rockets.

Friday's results

Houston Rockets 130-107 Orlando Magic
Philadelphia 76ers 116-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Lakers 113-110 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 110-100 Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets 83-73 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 127-114 Memphis Grizzlies
Utah Jazz 114-106 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers 124-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 103-101 Sacramento Kings

 

Pistons at Rockets

Can Detroit (10-15) stop Harden? The Rockets (17-8) host the Pistons on Saturday.

Luka Doncic won effusive praise from coach Rick Carlisle after starring in the Dallas Mavericks' 122-111 win over the Detroit Pistons.

The 20-year-old had a triple-double of 41 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in an NBA clash staged in Mexico City.

Doncic won over the crowd after the Slovenian addressed them in Spanish ahead of Thursday's match, then lit up the arena with a stellar display.

"Doncic was spectacular," Carlisle said in quotes reported by the Mavericks' official website. 

"I thought [Kristaps] Porzingis was great. Seth Curry off the bench was a microwave. That means when you dial it and push the button, it gets hot real fast."

Carlisle was particularly pleased the fans were treated to Doncic at his best.

"This is getting routine. He's doing this a lot," he said. 

"I'm happy for him and I'm happy for the people of Mexico City to be able to see a performance like this. It was a great individual performance.

"But I also liked the way he moved the ball and stayed within the team. He's a great individual talent, but he knows how to play with his team-mates.

"Some of his lob passes to Porzingis were breathtaking, spectacular."

The win moved the Mavericks to 17-7, third in the Western Conference.

Joel Embiid used criticism from Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley as fuel to produce a stunning display on Thursday.

The Philadelphia 76ers dished out a first home loss of the season to the Boston Celtics, with Embiid the star man.

He registered a double-double as the 76ers triumphed 115-109, ending the Celtics' 10-match winning run at TD Garden.

Embiid's eye-catching performance came after NBA legends O'Neal and Barkley suggested he was failing to live up to his promise.

"For them to say that I have the potential to be the best player in the world, and I haven't shown that, and I should let it be shown, that says a lot," Embiid said in quotes reported by ESPN.

"They've been there, they've done it, they're Hall of Famers, so it just shows me I have to play harder and like I can.

"I actually called Shaq [on Wednesday] - he thought I was mad at him. I was like, 'No, I understand what he was saying.'

"I've had a bad year so far. I've been kind of frustrated, just because you're not seeing the teamwork and you try to fit in with your new team-mates. Just be aggressive ... just go out there and just dominate.

"Whatever they said, I think it was good for me."

The Philadelphia 76ers handed the Boston Celtics their first home loss of the NBA season, while Luka Doncic starred once more on Thursday.

Joel Embiid had a double-double to see the 76ers past the Celtics 115-109, ending Boston's 10-match winning streak at TD Garden this season.

Embiid's 38 points and 13 rebounds lifted the 76ers, while Tobias Harris contributed 23 points.

Kemba Walker had a team-high 29 points for the Celtics, but he went eight-of-21 from the field.

Doncic's dominance continued during the Dallas Mavericks' 122-111 win over the Detroit Pistons.

The 20-year-old had a triple-double of 41 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in Mexico City.

Love the star for Cavs

Kevin Love's 30 points and 17 rebounds saw the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 117-109 overtime victory against the San Antonio Spurs, ending an eight-game losing streak.

The Celtics went down to the 76ers, but Enes Kanter had 20 points off the bench on 10-of-13 shooting.

Nikola Jokic's double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds powered the Denver Nuggets past the Portland Trail Blazers 114-99.

 

Griffin struggles

As Doncic starred for the Mavericks, Blake Griffin struggled for the Pistons. The forward was three-of-16 for just 10 points in 30 minutes.

 

Delightful Doncic

Doncic delivered a brilliant behind-the-back pass to Dwight Powell.

Thursday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 115-109 Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers 117-109 San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks 122-111 Detroit Pistons
Denver Nuggets 114-99 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Lakers at Heat

LeBron James will return to Miami once more when the Los Angeles Lakers (22-3) face the Heat (18-6) on Friday.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern underwent emergency surgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage on Thursday.

According to reports, the 77-year-old was taken to hospital after collapsing at a New York restaurant.

An NBA statement read: "NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern suffered a sudden brain haemorrhage earlier today for which he underwent emergency surgery.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with David and his family."

Stern spent 30 years in charge of the league before relinquishing the commissioner role to Adam Silver in 2014.

NBA Hall of Famer and former Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was among the well-wishers who shared messages of support on social media.

"Join Cookie and I in praying for my good friend who helped save my life, former NBA Commissioner David Stern," he wrote on Twitter.

"He suffered a brain haemorrhage and had to have emergency surgery."

Lakers shooting guard Danny Green posted: "Biggest prayers out to David Stern and the Stern Family....sad sad news, but we know he's a fighter and will make it through!"

Frank Vogel highlighted how well LeBron James "quarterbacks the action" for the Los Angeles Lakers after the team avoided a potentially damaging collapse in a road win over the Orlando Magic.

The Magic (11-13) recovered from 24 points behind to level Wednesday's match at 71-71 in the fourth quarter, but James had a hand in all 10 unanswered points the Lakers produced from there to regain control of the game.

James finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, his sixth triple-double of the season helping the Lakers to a key 96-87 win.

That improved the team to 22-3, Vogel's squad having won 15 of their last 16 games to sit level with the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA's best record.

Having surrendered such a big lead, going on to suffer a defeat would have come as a heavy blow to the Lakers, with Vogel quick to recognise James' impact in ensuring that did not happen.

"LeBron was great, especially down the stretch," Vogel said.

"He quarterbacks the action for us, keeping the lead at a healthy distance and making plays on the defensive end."

Team-mate Alex Caruso, who connected with a corner three assisted by James as part of that crucial 10-0 run, added: "He is the best in the world for a reason.

"Him just getting to the paint draws so many bodies that we're open on the backside. He creates a lot of attention so it's up to us to play off that and we did a good job."

James insisted it was a team game when asked about his starring performance.

He said: "Everyone is just playing their roles, buying into what the system is and trusting one another. That's what has got us off to a really good start. 

"We believe in each other and want each other to succeed. We trust what coach Vogel and the coaching staff's gameplan is every single night and we just try to execute that. 

"I assert my will when I step on the floor. It's all about just trying to make the right plays, the right passes, the right reads as a point guard on the team and do the right things defensively to help us win."

Anthony Davis recorded 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who had Jared Dudley ejected as he attempted to stand up for Dwight Howard when the teams were engaged in a fourth-quarter shoving match. 

James disagreed with the decision, adding to ESPN: "I mean, that's all it takes to get ejected? These days? Little shove?

"I've seen a lot more than that. But Duds will do whatever. He told you guys at media day his job is to come in here if somebody goes crazy, do something crazy to me or AD whoever on the team, he's going to be the muscle."

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was described as "Maximus coming back as the gladiator" by Doc Rivers as he made a triumphant return to the Toronto Raptors.

Leonard received his championship ring on his first match back in Toronto since opting to join the Clippers in free agency after he had inspired the Canadian franchise to their first NBA title.

The Raptors welcomed him back with a tribute video and he was greeted by former team-mates and coaches in the centre of the court, receiving a positive reception from the home crowd.

Leonard went on to score 23 points, adding six assists and five rebounds as the Clippers won 112-92 on Wednesday to move to 19-7, while the defending champion Raptors dropped to 16-8.

Clippers coach Rivers praised the Raptors for how they received Leonard and was certain the often-reserved NBA Finals MVP had been touched by the occasion.

"It's like Maximus coming back as the gladiator," Rivers said just before tip-off.

"He was the champion and just did everything honourably and the right way. I was joking earlier that would be a great intro."

After the victory, Rivers added: "Some players just don't let you in. But I can tell you that ovation, to him, was very heartfelt. There's no doubt about that. It meant a lot to him.

"I thought what the Raptors did overall - the video, the players coming out, all of them who played with him - that's the best that I've seen since I've been in the league.

"That's a really classy move by the organisation and then by the fans as well."

Kyle Lowry presented Leonard's ring and the two players shared a moment admiring the memento that contains over 640 diamonds.

"I was joking with him and just showing him that the ring was nice and like it was shining too bright – we were laughing," Leonard said, according to ESPN.

"Memories probably just ran through our heads. As far as winning a championship, it pretty much has come full circle now, being able to get the ring and see where the hard work came from.

"But it's more than that. It's just a journey. For me, as far as playing for the city, the chapter coming closed once I came over with the Clippers, but I still love the city.

"Those guys on the team, the players, the coaching staff, I still have love for them and wish them the best."

Asked about the video tribute and fans' reaction when he received his ring, Leonard said: "It was great, it was a great moment.

"They did a great job putting it together, having all the players out there that won with me, standing there and presenting the ring.

"It just kind of puts you back in those spots when you were on the floor, or the locker room talk going into the game, and after the game watching those highlights.

"It was a special season for us, for me and for the whole city and country. I'm just glad we were able to win. It was a blessing."

The Clippers lost Patrick Beverley to a concussion, while Pascal Siakam had a game-high 24 points for the Raptors, who have now lost four of their last five games.

Kawhi Leonard enjoyed a successful return to Toronto on Wednesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks' run continued and James Harden starred in the NBA.

Back in Toronto, where he won the NBA championship last season, Leonard helped the Los Angeles Clippers past the Raptors 112-92.

The star received a tribute video and finished with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Clippers improved to 19-7.

Top of the Eastern Conference, the Bucks clinched a 16th straight win by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 127-112.

Without Giannis Antetokounmpo (quad soreness), Milwaukee still cruised thanks to Eric Bledsoe's 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

Harden had 55 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter, to see the Houston Rockets past the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-110.

 

LeBron lifts Lakers, Graham shines

LeBron James' triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists saw the Los Angeles Lakers improve to 22-3 by beating the Orlando Magic 96-87.

Devonte' Graham starred for the Charlotte Hornets as his 40 points saw them past the Brooklyn Nets 113-108.

A double-double from Rudy Gobert (20 points and 16 rebounds) helped the Utah Jazz claim a 127-116 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

Warriors' woes

The Golden State Warriors (5-21) are the worst team in the NBA after losing to the New York Knicks (5-20). The Knicks ended a 10-game losing streak with a 124-122 overtime win.

 

Morant magic

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, the second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, produced a nice dunk in a win over the Phoenix Suns.

Wednesday's results

Houston Rockets 116-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers 122-117 Boston Celtics
Los Angeles Lakers 96-87 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Clippers 112-92 Toronto Raptors
Charlotte Hornets 113-108 Brooklyn Nets
Chicago Bulls 136-102 Atlanta Hawks
Utah Jazz 127-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 115-108 Phoenix Suns
Milwaukee Bucks 127-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Sacramento Kings 94-93 Oklahoma City Thunder
New York Knicks 124-122 Golden State Warriors

 

76ers at Celtics

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-7) have struggled on the road so far this season and face the Boston Celtics (17-6) at TD Garden on Thursday.

Kawhi Leonard is set to receive his championship ring from the Raptors on Wednesday, but he is still expecting boos from the home fans as he returns to Toronto for the first time since leaving for the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Leonard helped the Raptors claim their first NBA title last season, his sole campaign in Toronto, following a trade from the San Antonio Spurs.

He was named Finals MVP as the Raptors dethroned the Golden State Warriors in an absorbing series, defeating them 4-2.

However, Leonard elected not to re-sign with the Raptors on a long-term deal, opting instead to go back to his home city of Los Angeles and link up with Paul George.

It will be a night of celebration at Scotiabank Arena, but Leonard is not anticipating widespread acclaim.

"This is my first time back in the city since the parade. Obviously, those flashbacks come back driving back to the arena. Of course, it's a little different tonight," Leonard said.

"There will be some cheers but definitely I think more boos because they want to win the game. They're not going to be cheering for a player that's on the opposing team."

Leonard unveiled a thank you message for the city of Toronto on a New Balance billboard ahead of his reunion with the Raptors.

"[The fans] were amazing last year. They rolled with us through the ups and downs. We were down every series pretty much and they stuck through it with us," Leonard added. 

"They brought great energy to every game and it helped us. So that's my thank you to them."

Asked how much he considered staying with Toronto, he replied: "I gave it a big consideration. I took my time, I didn't hurry up and make a quick decision.

"I talked to the front office in detail. It was a hard choice to make."

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