LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, rebounds and assists respectively, in the Los Angeles Lakers' 140-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

James notched up his 10,000th assist during the second quarter, with a cross-court pass to Carmelo Anthony for an open three.

The Suns were dominant at home to the Lakers, though, putting up 48 points in the first quarter alone on their way to a commanding win.

Having already secured a playoff berth, despite losing at home to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, Phoenix faced conveniently light work heading into a road back-to-back this week.

Devin Booker continued to shoulder the burden without Chris Paul, putting up 30 points and 10 assists.

With the loss, meanwhile, the Lakers move to 29-38 and teeter dangerously close to touching distance for the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers, in the race for the final two Western Conference play-in spots.

Durant leads Nets with Irving in the building

Kevin Durant put up an individual season-high 53 points, including a game-breaking three to give the Brooklyn Nets a 110-107 win over the New York Knicks.

The shorthanded Nets were at least able to have Kyrie Irving in the building for the win, with New York mandates now enabling those unvaccinated for Covid-19 to spectate. However, the mandate still requires the vaccination for people who work there, meaning Irving is still unable to suit up.

At the end of the game, Irving walked off the Barclays Center floor arm-in-arm with Durant, who finished with nine assists and six rebounds to go with the 53 points - one point off his career-high.

Joel Embiid had his 30th 30-point game of the season as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Orlando Magic 116-114 in over-time. Embiid finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Tobias Harris came up with a crucial late three-pointer to finish with 26 points.

Ja Morant had a quiet game by his standards with 17 points, five rebounds and 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies improved to 47-22 with a 125-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

Doncic dagger propels Mavs to road win

The Dallas Mavericks claimed an impressive win on the road, edging the Boston Celtics 95-92 at the TD Garden. Despite leaving the floor with a hamstring scare in the first half, Luka Doncic’s fingerprints were all over the game’s dying moments - he hit the game-tying three-pointer with 1:21, before being called for fouling Marcus Smart on the potential tying three.

It was overturned on review however, and along with the win, Doncic put up 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. On a night where Kevin Garnett's No. 5 jersey was to be retired by the Celtics post-match, the Mavs moved to 42-26 for the year, half a game behind the Western Conference’s fourth-placed Utah Jazz.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant has questioned the logic behind New York’s current vaccine mandates, pushing for teammate Kyrie Irving to be eligible to play.

The unvaccinated Irving was able to attend the Barclays Center, but not play, for Brooklyn’s 110-107 win over the New York Knicks, where an imperious Durant scored a season-high 53 points.

Irving was also in attendance at the same building on Saturday, to watch his college team Duke lose the ACC Championship game.

“It [the New York mandate] is ridiculous,” Durant said after the game. “I don’t understand it at all. There’s a few people in our arena that’s unvaxxed, right? They lifted all of that in our arena, right? So I don’t get it. It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority."

New York’s mandates now allow spectators not to be unvaccinated, but still require employees working in the building to be vaccinated. This prompted Durant to speak in solidarity with Irving, with the 33-year-old specifically calling on New York City Mayor Eric Adams to pull the mandate back.

“Everybody is out here looking for attention and that’s what I feel the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon. He better,” Durant said.

“It just didn’t make any sense. There’s unvaxxed people in this building already. We got a guy who can come in the building. I guess, are they fearing our safety? I don’t get it.

“We’re all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season people didn’t understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you got to figure this out.”

LeBron James has labelled the mandate that continues to prevent Kyrie Irving from playing home games for the Brooklyn Nets as making "absolutely zero sense" after Irving was spotted in the crowd at Barclays Center on Sunday.

New York City mayor Eric Adams recently removed restrictions requiring proof of vaccination to enter establishments including bars, restaurants and sports arenas, but the mandate for private sector employees remains in place.

As a result, Irving – who is unvaccinated – is only able to attend home games as a spectator, which he did on Sunday as the Nets beat the New York Knicks 110-107, with reports suggesting he was expected to be a presence in the locker room as well.

The 29-year-old was also in attendance at Barclays on Saturday to take in Duke against Virginia Tech.

Los Angeles Lakers star James took to Twitter on Sunday to question the decision to allow someone who can be in the arena anyway to be on the court.

Quote tweeting a post asking that very question, James wrote: "FACTS FACTS FACTS!! It literally makes ABSOLUTELY ZERO SENSE!!! They say if common sense was common then we'd all have it. Ain't that the truth. #FreeKyrie".

Irving has played 18 games for the Nets this season, all on the road, averaging 25.9 points per game, and recently hit 50 in his team's win at the Charlotte Hornets.

The former Cleveland and Boston point guard said last week he believed Adams was on his side.

Adams said last week that allowing Irving to play home games "would send the wrong message" to the people of New York, despite wanting to see Irving win an NBA championship, thus ruling out an exemption.

"Shoutout Eric Adams, man," Irving told reporters after the Nets' loss to the Celtics last Sunday.

"It's not an easy job to be the mayor of New York City. And with COVID looming, the vaccination mandates, everything going on in our world, with this war in the Ukraine, and everybody feeling it across America, I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now trying to delegate whether or not one basketball player can come and play at home.

"I appreciate his comments and his stance. He knows where I stand, and I know one day we'll be able to break bread together and he'll be able to come to the games and hopefully we'll move past this time like it never happened in one sense.

"But, it's just the reality that it's been difficult on a lot of us in New York City and across the world. So, I know he's feeling it and I'm just grateful that he's on my side, as well as the [NBA] commissioner."

The Brooklyn Nets silenced the Philadelphia crowd that came to jeer Ben Simmons on his return to the Wells Fargo Center in a surprise blowout 129-100 win over the 76ers on Thursday.

Kevin Durant top scored with 25 points along with 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Seth Curry – who was also involved in last month's trade which saw Simmons and James Harden swapped sides – added 24 points with five steals.

Kyrie Irving landed five three-pointers for his 22 points along with five assists, while Harden endured a difficult night against his former teammates.

Harden only managed 11 points, shooting three-of-17 from the field, with six rebounds and five assists. Joel Embiid had 27 points with 12 rebounds for the 76ers.

Simmons did not play, sitting on the Nets bench and enduring boos, but his teammates did their best to silence the home crowd by opening up a 21-point half-time lead.

The win boosted the Nets' playoffs hopes, improving their record to 34-33, while the 76ers are third in the east with a 40-25 record.

 

Curry reaches milestone in GSW win

Stephen Curry reached 20,000 career NBA points as the Golden State Warriors reaffirmed their top three status in the west with a 113-102 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets, playing their fourth game in five days, led by 14 points in third quarter but fell away, with Nikola Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists) entering foul trouble.

Curry finished with a game-high 34 points including three three-pointers, shooting 11-of-21 from the field, while Jordan Poole drained two clutch triples in the final minute as the Warriors went on a late 13-0 run. 

The win makes it back-to-back victories for Golden State who improve to 45-22 after recent wobbly form, while the Nuggets are 40-27 with their four-game winning run ended. 

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he was happy to quiet the raucous Philadelphia crowd after downing the 76ers 129-100 on the road.

It was one of the most highly-anticipated regular season fixtures in some time after James Harden and Ben Simmons sensationally switched teams just weeks ago, with Philadelphia undefeated in five games with Harden in the lineup. 

With the game taking place in Philadelphia, Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving was allowed to play, with his inability to play in home games due to New York’s vaccine mandate reportedly a major factor in Harden’s desire to move on from the situation.

Durant said that the chants, particularly aimed at new Net Ben Simmons who had an acrimonious split with the 76ers, died down after Brooklyn took a 21-point lead into half-time.

"It was good to quiet them all down mid-way through the game," Durant told TNT. "It was very quiet towards the end – we ain’t hear no more Ben Simmons chants from the 76ers fans, there were more Nets fans here than anything."

Later on in the post-game news conference, Durant touched on the poor performance of his former teammate after Harden finished with 11 points, shooting 3-17 from the field.

"He relies a lot on the free throw line," Durant said. "Getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line gets him in rhythm, and we didn’t let him do that.

"He was three-of-17 – he was trying to get to the rim, but we were all there swarming.

"He hit a few open threes – but you know – when he’s getting to the rim, and getting downhill and to the free-throw line, that’s when they’re tough to stop, and we eliminated a lot of that stuff."

He sure is. pic.twitter.com/v4vOEI30UN

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022

While he downplayed the importance of a regular season game in March, Durant said the Nets were aware of the hostility that would meet Simmons, and that he was determined to make it a night to remember for his new teammate.

"I think all of us were [trying to quiet the crowd] – we look at Ben as our brother," he said.

"We knew this would be a hostile environment, and that he didn’t have the opportunity to play, so we wanted to come out there and get [the crowd] focused on the court, more-so than [Simmons].

"They were focused on the court tonight – it’s hard to chant at Ben Simmons when you’re losing by so much."

It is a return that calls for popcorn when the Brooklyn Nets head to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

A month after leaving the Nets for the Sixers, James Harden will have the opportunity to face his former team and show them what might have been.

The 32-year-old's time in Brooklyn was underwhelming to say the least, but he has taken to life in Philadelphia like a duck to water, with the Sixers winning all five games in which he has featured so far.

His partnership with Joel Embiid in particular has thrived, with the Cameroonian putting up 43 points and Harden making 14 assists in Monday's win against the Chicago Bulls.

Harden insists he is calm ahead of meeting his former teammates, saying: "I'm not nervous. It's basketball.

"I put the work in to go out there and just play my game and live with the results. Honestly, every game is a big game for us. We're fairly new. We got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we’re playing."

Meanwhile, another highly anticipated return won't quite be the same as Ben Simmons remains sidelined for the Nets but will reportedly be in attendance at Wells Fargo Center.

Another less discussed story will be Seth Curry, who has made an excellent start to life in Brooklyn since being a part of the trade that saw Harden and Simmons swap cities.

In 10 outings for the Nets, Curry has maintained his average of 15 points per game that he managed in 45 appearances with the Sixers this season, though he has gone three without reaching double figures so will want to put that right against his former team.

The Nets have lost four of their six clashes since the All-Star break and sit on an even record of 33-33, while the Sixers have won five of six in that time, and all three home games.

They have met three times already this season, of which Brooklyn have won two, though Philadelphia did come out on top in late December 110-102.

It promises to be a fun night in Philly, and whether it be cheering Harden or booing Simmons, Sixers fans will likely make themselves heard.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Philadelphia 76ers – James Harden

I mean… who else?

It's not just because of the overwhelming amount of narrative involved. Harden has been a success story so far in Philly and will want to put on a show on this night of all nights.

Of course, as the league leader for points per game (29.7), Embiid will likely be the main man as usual, but with an average of 24.6 points per game since joining the Sixers and a big point to prove here, expect Harden to be at the centre of things either way.

Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving

It's not very often that Irving isn't the centre of attention, but with the Harden/Simmons factor here you would think he might get a night away from the spotlight. 

Then again, if his form is anything to go by, maybe not.

Irving hit 50 points in Tuesday's win against the Charlotte Hornets and is averaging 26.2 points per game for the season, albeit while still missing several games due to vaccination rules.

KEY BATTLES – Nets must rely on experience

The cliche is that sport is a young person's game, but Brooklyn will be hoping that isn't true.

The Nets have the fourth-oldest average age of active roster in the league, and the second-highest percentage of points scored by players over 33 years old (40.8 per cent).

The Sixers are not exactly kids themselves but do have the 10th most points scored in the league by players under the age of 23 (15.5 per cent), mostly thanks to impressive 21-year-old Tyrese Maxey, who is averaging 17.6 points per game this season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

As mentioned, the Nets actually lead this season's head-to-head 2-1, although since the start of the 2016-17 season, the Sixers have won 14 and lost just eight of the 22 meetings between the two.

Kevin Durant hailed Kyrie Irving's season-high 50-point performance in the Brooklyn Nets' 132-121 win over the Charlotte Hornets as a "masterclass".

Durant took a backseat as the Nets point guard hit nine three-pointers, shooting at 79 per cent from the floor, making 15-of-19.

Irving became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, while he also became the second guard – behind Michal Jordan – in the league to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75 per cent or better from the floor.

"Everything he does is pure. It looked so easy tonight," Durant told reporters after the game. "I seen [sic] it in his eyes to start the game.

"He wanted to play better last game, so he came out tonight and wanted to impact the game from the start. He led us all night. It was an incredible performance.

“Younger players should watch this game and learn what it takes to score at that level. That was just a masterclass."

Nets head coach Steve Nash added to the praise of Irving, labelling him an "incredible player".

"He's incredible. He's a career-highlight reel every night," Nash said. "We have a special player on our hands. Overall, he's an incredible player and shot creator."

The result lifts Brooklyn to a 33-33 record, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference ahead of the final push for the playoffs, having won only four of their past 21 games.

Durant added: "It's always good to get a win. We definitely want to play better than we did in the second half.

"We know we're fighting for our lives every game to get into the playoffs or the play-in. It's good to get the W."

Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 50 points to help snap the Brooklyn Nets' four-game losing run with a 132-121 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.

Kevin Durant took a backseat to Irving's "master class", as the Nets point guard hit nine three-pointers, shooting at 79 percent from the floor, making 15-of-19.

Irving scored 30 points in the second half, with his Nets teammates contributing 33, helping them claim their fourth win from their past 21 games.

The 29-year-old became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, along with becoming the second guard – behind Michal Jordan - in NBA history to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75 percent or better from the floor.

Durant added 14 points with three rebounds and seven assists while Andre Drummond had 20 points with 14 rebounds.

 

Giannis stars as champions win fifth straight

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 39 points, shooting 13-of-19 including four-of-four from beyond the arc, as the Milwaukee Bucks crushed the Oklahoma City Thunder 142-115 for their fifth straight win. Khris Middleton added 25 points while Bobby Portis had 18 points with 14 rebounds.

Devin Booker was still out but the Phoenix Suns triumphed after a late Mikal Bridges block in a 102-99 win over the Orlando Magic. Deandre Ayton had 21 points with 19 rebounds for the Suns.

Ja Morant scored 24 points with eight rebounds and eight assists as the Memphis Grizzlies downed the New Orleans Pelicans 132-111, while Darius Garland became the fourth player in Cleveland Cavaliers history with 40 points and 10 assists in a game (41 and 13) as they won 127-124 over the Indiana Pacers.

 

Splash brothers shooting off

The Golden State Warriors' splash brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson only managed a combined three-of-15 from beyond the arc but they snapped their five-game skid with a 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Curry and Thompson finished with 15 and 20 points respectively, while Reggie Jackson struggled with two-of-14 shooting for the Clippers.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has confirmed Ben Simmons will be with the team on the bench for Thursday's return game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons is expected to receive a frosty reception from the 76ers fans at the Wells Fargo Center as he returns for the first time since last month's trade to the Nets.

The point guard had a major fallout with the 76ers after a nightmare playoffs period, leading to him requesting a trade and opting not to play all season until a trade was finalised in February.

Nash said Simmons, who is yet to debut for Brooklyn, will not play for the Nets on Thursday but will be in attendance with the team which he felt he needed to get out of the way.

"It's great," Nash told reporters prior to Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets.

"He's on our team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the whole Philly thing out of the way a little bit. Maybe it never goes away, but the first time it's always nice to kind of deal with it and move on."

He added: "I don't think he's naive to think he's not going to get some boos. I hope he enjoys it. It's a part of the game I miss."

Simmons has not played since his trade due to a back complaint which has hampered his ability to get reconditioned to game standard having not played all season.

Nash was not clear-cut on Simmons' likely debut, with the Australian still not cleared to practice.

"It's to be determined," Nash said. "I think he's progressing this week, but I don't know what that means as far as Saturday.

"He'll see us [Wednesday] in Philly. I don't think he's ready for 5-on-5 basketball but he's improving, working out, and he'll join us in Philly, and a few good days of rehab."

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers believes Ben Simmons deserves a tribute when the Brooklyn Nets visit on Thursday.

Simmons left the 76ers acrimoniously with a trade to the Nets after more than five years with Philadelphia.

The 25-year-old point guard endured a difficult 2021 playoffs leading to a fallout with the 76ers, demanding a trade and sitting out the first half of the season before the Nets move materialised. 

Simmons and 76ers center Joel Embiid fell out too, ramping up the tensions with the latter posting a cryptic Twitter update upon Simmons' exit last month.

“I do actually,” Rivers said when asked if Simmons deserved a tribute video upon his return. “Ben did a lot of good things here.

"It didn’t end well, right? Just like marriages and all kinds of other things that don’t end well but Ben did a lot of good things here.

"It’s funny, I don’t know if we are or not, but if we did, I’d have no issues with it.”

Simmons won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, had been a three-time All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member with the 76ers reaching the playoffs in all four of his seasons with the side.

The Australian is yet to debut for the Nets and unlikely to play on Thursday as he builds up his conditioning having not played all season at the 76ers but may attend the game with the team.

Rivers sarcastically added: "Our fans are so silent so I can't imagine anything happening."

Meanwhile, James Harden shrugged off any talk of nerves ahead of the match-up where he will face his former Nets teammates for the first time since last month's trade with Simmons.

"I'm not nervous, it's basketball," Harden told reporters after Monday's 121-106 win over the Chicago Bulls. "I've put the work in to just play my game and live with the results.

"Honestly every game is a big game for us. We're fairly new, we've got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we're playing."

Jayson Tatum was living in dreamland after his 54-point haul in the Boston Celtics' 126-120 victory over a Brooklyn Nets team boasting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

Durant and Irving teamed up for only the fourth time this season, but it was Tatum who took centre stage, shooting 16-of-30 from the field and eight-of-15 from beyond the arc.

His incredible display included 34 second-half points, with 18 coming during the final quarter as the Celtics overturned a one-point deficit.

While Durant put up 37 points in only his second game back from an MCL sprain, becoming the 23rd player to reach 25,000 career NBA points, Irving managed just 19 points with four rebounds and six rebounds.

And Tatum was thrilled to get the better of two stars of the game as the Celtics, for whom Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, improved to 39-27.

"As a competitor, night in, night out, but especially games like this, those matchups when you're [against] one of the better teams in the league with two of the best guys, just as a competitor, these are the kinds of moments that as a kid you dreamed about and looked forward to," he said.

"When those opportunities come, you try to make the most of it.

"Obviously, somebody like myself or [Brown] can have nights like this. And it's contagious when guys are hitting shots, spreading the wealth and making the extra pass, driving and kicking.

"Just getting those open looks and seeing them go in, it just opens everything up for us. We know how tough we can be on defense. When we kind of match that energy on offense, we'll really be special."

Team-mate Marcus Smart cited slight tweaks in Tatum's approach that had led to an upturn in his performances.

He said: "He stopped trying to force it, and making the right read, making the game easy for himself.

"Saving that energy and not trying to beat every double-team that comes his way and that's allowing him to do what he does at the end of games. He has the legs late in those fourth quarters to take over the games and that's what it's all about.

"When you are a great player, that's what it's about, having those legs in crunch time to be able to do that. The way you do that is getting everyone else involved, picking your spots wisely.

"He's doing a great job of that, him and Jaylen. They both are and that's the reason why we are doing what we are doing. That's good players that get us going on the offensive end, making sure we get great shots either for themselves or for their team-mates."

Jayson Tatum produced a dominant display with 54 points as the Boston Celtics won 126-120 over the Brooklyn Nets who had the rare partnership of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

Durant and Irving teamed up for only the fourth time this season but their presence would not deny Tatum's brilliance, shooting 16-of-30 from the field and eight-of-15 from beyond the arc.

Tatum, who scored 34 points in the second half, led the Celtics' late charge as they won after trailing by one point at the final change.

Durant scored 37 points in his second game back from an MCL sprain which kept him out since mid-January, becoming the 23rd player to reach 25,000 career NBA points.

Irving only managed 19 points with four rebounds and six rebounds for the Nets who slip to 32-33, while the Celtics have won 21 of their past 27 games to improve to 39-27.

 

Middleton scores season-high

Khris Middleton scored a season-high 44 points as Giannis Antetokounmpo took a back seat in the Milwaukee Bucks' 132-122 win over the Phoenix Suns, who were missing both Chris Paul (thumb) and Devin Booker (protocols). The Bucks, who have won four straight, stormed home with a 12-1 run over the last three minutes as Antetokounmpo got into foul trouble.

The Houston Rockets snapped their 12-game losing run with a shock 123-112 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, for whom Ja Morant scored 22 points with six assists. The Utah Jazz closed on Memphis in the west with a 116-103 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder as Bojan Bogdanovic hit a franchise-record 11 three-pointers for his 35 points.

Nikola Jokic scored 46 points, including 30 in the fourth quarter, as the Denver Nuggets won 138-130 over the New Orleans Pelicans in over-time. Jokic had 46 points plus 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the Nugs rallied after squandering a 21-point lead.

 

Allen injury sours Cavs win

The Cleveland Cavaliers won 104-96 over the Toronto Raptors but lost Jarrett Allen indefinitely to a suspected fractured finger. Rookie Evan Mobley had 20 points with 17 rebounds for the Cavs who are 37-27.

Kyrie Irving believes New York City mayor Eric Adams is "on my side" as the Brooklyn Nets' All-Star hopes he rolls back the city's vaccination mandate to permit him to play home games.

Irving contributed 19 points as the Nets went down 126-120 on the road to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

The 29-year-old has not been permitted to play any home games at Barclays Center this season due to New York City's vaccination mandate, although a recent change of mayorship offered Irving hope.

Adams said last week that allowing the point guard to play home games "would send the wrong message" to the people of New York, despite wanting to see Irving win an NBA championship, thus ruling out an exemption.

"Shoutout Eric Adams, man," Irving told reporters after the loss to the Celtics on Sunday, speaking publicly for the first time since Adams' comments.

"It's not an easy job to be the mayor of New York City. And with COVID looming, the vaccination mandates, everything going on in our world, with this war in the Ukraine, and everybody feeling it across America, I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now trying to delegate whether or not one basketball player can come and play at home. I appreciate his comments and his stance. He knows where I stand.

"And I know one day we'll be able to break bread together and he'll be able to come to the games and hopefully we'll move past this time like it never happened in our sense.

"But, it's just the reality that it's been difficult on a lot of us in New York City and across the world. So, I know he's feeling it and I'm just grateful that he's on my side, as well as the [NBA] commissioner."

Kevin Durant became just the 23rd player in all-time NBA history to reach 25,000 career points during the Brooklyn Nets' 126-120 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Durant, who also played for the Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors during his NBA career, scored a team-high 37 points for the Nets on Sunday.

The 2014 NBA MVP admitted the milestone was "pretty cool" but pointed out that it should be more, referring to injuries during his career.

"It's pretty cool," Durant told reporters after Sunday's loss. "I should be at 30 [thousand] right now, to be honest.

"But it's cool, it's cool to reach that milestone and be amongst the greats and I just got to keep pushing and keep going and see where I end up."

Durant is the seventh fastest player to achieve the feat, reaching 25,000 points in his 922nd game, behind Wilt Chamberlain (691), Michael Jordan (782), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (889), LeBron James (915), Oscar Robertson (917) and Jerry West (920).

Only James and Carmelo Anthony are active players who have also scored 25,000 NBA points.

Nets teammate Kyrie Irving added: "I told him in the locker room, 25,000 points, you're a savant. "You are an artist. You have clipped history. And will forever be remembered as a legend in our game.

"He's been doing it since he was 19, and there's a level of admiration I have for my best friend right there, and he just does it in ways that makes it look easy. And even when he takes six weeks off, it looks like he hasn't missed any time. And that level of work ethic that he puts in, it shows why he's as great as he is.

"For me, it motivates me to continue to get my game up and hopefully when I'm done with my career I could be sitting next to him and having 25,000 as well and look back and we just crack jokes on a few championships that we won together. So that's the goal at hand."

Kevin Durant returned from injury with 31 points but the Brooklyn Nets' struggles continued with a 113-107 defeat to the Miami Heat.

Durant had missed the past 21 games due to an MCL sprain sustained on January 16, with the Nets going 5-16 in his absence, and they led by 16 points in the first half upon his return, but could not sustain it.

The 2014 NBA MVP had a three-point attempt with 57 seconds left which would have put the Nets in the lead but he missed and the Heat scored from the ensuing possession via Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo finished the game with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Tyler Herro came off the bench to contribute 27 points, four rebounds and eight assists.

Durant shot 10-of-21 from the field for his 31 points, including two three-pointers, with four rebounds and four assists.

The result leaves the Nets at 32-32 with a .500 record, while the Heat are top of the Eastern Conference with a 42-22 record.

 

Tatum leads Celtics final-quarter charge

The Boston Celtics continued their strong form as Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter in a 120-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant maintained his own hot streak, with 38 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

Luka Doncic produced a dominant display with 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors for the second time in five days, 122-113. Stephen Curry managed 21 points with nine assists for the Warriors who have lost seven of their past 10 games.

The Chicago Bulls suffered their third straight defeat with Trae Young scored 39 points with 13 assists as the Atlanta Hawks won 130-124.

 

Struggling Lakers beaten by Clippers

The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to their fourth consecutive loss going down to the Los Angeles Clippers 132-111 after being blown apart in a 40-18 third quarter. LeBron James shot eight-of-18 from the field for his 26 points with four turnovers, while Reggie Jackson scored 36 points for the Clippers.

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