Didier Drogba has a target on his back as Chelsea youngster Armando Broja seeks to surpass his celebrated achievements.

Broja is enjoying a productive loan spell at Vitesse in the Eredivisie, with nine goals in 20 league outings making him the top-scoring teenager in Europe's top 10 leagues - the top flights in the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Belgium and Greece in addition to the established big five under UEFA's country coefficients.

The 19-year-old made his Chelsea debut last March, coming off the bench in a 4-0 win over Everton.

He hopes it will prove to be the start of a memorable career at Stamford Bridge, with hotshot Drogba the man he is aiming to eclipse.

"Nine goals and two assists is good but I am never satisfied," the Albania international told Goal. "I want to get more goals and assists to keep tallying them up.

"I have played over 1,000 minutes and I have 11 goal contributions. It is not bad but I want more goals and assists. I want to do more."

Broja explained how seeing the likes of Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard as he was coming up through the youth system at Chelsea provided inspiration.

And it is the Ivorian forward whose footsteps he wants to follow, with Drogba having scored 104 Premier League goals for the club, putting him second behind Lampard (147).

He said: "I was like: 'Wow! That's Frank Lampard, Drogba or John Terry right in front of me' when I would see them around.

"I loved to take pictures with them because I wanted to be them. I wanted to be in their shoes at the top level.

"Now I am approaching the age they were when they were playing, I want to try and surpass Drogba. It might not be easy, but that's my mentality and how I am feeling."

Broja's next chance to impress is in Tuesday's KNVB Beker semi-final against VVV-Venlo and, should he help his side into the final, he will doubtless want to emulate Drogba's exploits in showpiece matches.

Drogba scored nine goals in 10 finals for Chelsea, while in 2007 he became the first player to net the decisive effort in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals in the same season.

The powerful forward also made his presence felt on the European stage, scoring a club-record 36 Champions League goal to underline the scale of the challenge Broja has set himself.

Joel Embiid felt he "dominated" Myles Turner once more as he boosted his Defensive Player of the Year hopes in the Philadelphia 76ers' win against the Indiana Pacers.

Embiid posted 24 points, five assists and 13 rebounds – all on the defensive end – as the Sixers raced to a 130-114 victory, improving to 23-12 at the top of the East.

It was a fourth defeat in a row for the Pacers and a punishing night for center Turner, who had promised to "step up to the challenge" of taking on MVP contender Embiid.

Turner is now 4-7 against Embiid in their career regular-season matchups, only once surpassing 11 points – his contribution on Monday – across those 11 games (25 points in March 2018).

By contrast, Embiid has averaged 28 points against the Pacers and enjoyed two of his 12 career 40-point games in meetings with Turner.

"He's a great player and I have a lot of respect for him," Embiid said of Turner, who joined the NBA the year before him.

"I say this respectfully: that's a matchup that I have dominated since I got to the league."

While Embiid looks to be going toe-to-toe with LeBron James for the MVP award, he says a DPOY challenge is also on the cards.

Rudy Gobert is widely considered the leading candidate for the outstanding Utah Jazz, topping the charts for defensive rebounds with 9.9 per game, Turner has been mooted as an alternative.

He has a sublime 3.4 blocks per game – well clear of second-placed Gobert's 2.8 – but could not live with Embiid, who averages 9.2 defensive rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals.

"[Turner] is a great defender," Embiid said. "He leads the league in blocks, he should be up there for Defensive Player of the Year, and that's also one of my goals.

"In those types of matchups, that's where you've got to take advantage. Especially if I have my eyes set on being the Defensive Player of the Year."

Manchester United should target Harry Kane or Erling Haaland to fill their central striking berth, according to club great Mark Hughes. 

United are the Premier League's top scorers this season with 53 goals, but they have struggled to break down the defences of some of the competition's best sides. 

The Red Devils' 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was the fourth consecutive goalless draw they have played out against other "big six" opposition, while they have not scored in any of their past six meetings with these teams.

Edinson Cavani was brought in on a free transfer earlier in the season and has largely impressed in the central position up front, but the Uruguay international is 34 and not a viable long-term option. 

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have all been tried in the middle of a front three this season, but Hughes – who enjoyed spells at Old Trafford between 1980-1986 and 1988-1995 – is not convinced any of them are entirely comfortable there. 

And he thinks Tottenham's Kane and Borussia Dortmund's Haaland are the calibre of player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should set his sights on. 

"I've seen United lots and they have good quality at the top end of the pitch. Rashford and Greenwood are highly thought of," he told Sky Sports.

"For me, they needed the Cavani of five years ago when he was in his pomp; they've probably got him at the wrong time. 

"He's still an outstanding centre forward. When I see him in this team, I just think he gives them a bit more focus. He gives them the confidence to play it into his feet and things happen around him. 

"With Martial as well, they [him, Rashford and Greenwood] all want to play in any position other than down the middle. Rashford prefers to be on the left-hand side, Martial prefers to be on the left. Greenwood prefers the right-hand side. 

"They've all been tried down the middle but you sense not one of them wants to be there. So, they need to get someone with the quality to play down the middle and give them that focus."

Asked if Kane or Haaland were the answer to United's problem in that position, Hughes responded: "They're the type of player they need to be in the market for. 

"How accessible or how much ability United will have in the transfer market to get those players, who knows, because there are a lot of clubs that would covet them."

Vinicius Junior salvaged a point for Real Madrid late on in Monday's 1-1 draw at home to Real Sociedad, though the result does little to alleviate the pressure ahead of this weekend's potentially vital derby clash with Atletico Madrid. 

Zinedine Zidane's men looked to be heading towards a defeat that could have delivered a devastating psychological blow ahead of arguably their biggest game of the season, but Vinicius spared them near the end. 

The hosts had the better of the first half and should have led when Mariano Diaz – again deputising for the injured Karim Benzema – inexplicably hit the frame of the goal, and La Real were emboldened by that as Portu gave them the lead with 55 minutes played. 

That looked destined to be the winner and potentially the goal that ended Madrid's dwindling title hopes, yet Vinicius got them back on level terms with a minute left, albeit they still end the matchweek a further two points adrift of leaders Atletico.

Madrid somehow failed to take the lead in the 23rd minute, as Mariano nodded Lucas Vazquez's chipped cross against the crossbar from point-blank range, with Marco Asensio hammering agonisingly wide a few seconds later. 

La Real goalkeeper Alex Remiro then proceeded to frustrate the hosts, first blocking a Ferland Mendy effort with his foot before parrying Luka Modric's attempt just before the interval. 

The champions were made to rue their profligacy early in the second period, La Real working the ball well to Nacho Monreal on the left and his inch-perfect cross was met by a wonderful Portu header that picked out the top-far corner. 

They should have made it 2-0 soon after but Alexander Isak could not reach Portu's squared pass, and Madrid subsequently wasted a glorious chance of their own – Casemiro heading off target. 

Madrid did eventually restore parity as Vinicius turned in Vazquez's low cross in the dying stages. Still, they remain five points adrift of Atletico having also played a game more. 

Alex Smith will need to find a new home if he wants to carry on playing as the Washington Football Team reportedly plan to release the quarterback.  

Smith's return to action from a gruesome leg injury was one of the feel-good stories of the 2020 NFL season; the 36-year-old was named Comeback Player of the Year by the Associated Press after throwing for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions.  

However, according to a report by NFL Network duo Ian Rapoport and Kim Jones, Washington are expected to part ways with the player in the coming days. 

His career had previously appeared in serious jeopardy after he suffered a compound fracture of his right leg during a game against the Houston Texans in November 2018. Following initial surgery, Smith developed necrotising fasciitis – a rare but serious bacterial infection – and sepsis.  

After a total of 17 operations and having avoided the need for the leg to be amputated, he went through a lengthy and arduous rehabilitation regime before returning to the active roster last year.  

Smith was called to duty when Washington starter Kyle Allen was hurt in the Week 5 game against the Los Angeles Rams. His family were there to witness him play again too, though it proved to be a tough outing: he was sacked six times while completing nine of his 17 pass attempts for 37 yards in a 30-10 defeat.  

Allen resumed starting duties before a serious ankle injury against the New York Giants in Week 9 put an end to his campaign. Smith again stepped in, throwing for one score and three interceptions in a 23-20 defeat. There were career-high numbers for passing attempts (55), completions (38) and yards (390) the following week in a loss to the Detroit Lions, at which stage the franchise had a 2-7 record.  

Yet Smith celebrated a first win as a starter in 754 days against the Cincinnati Bengals, the first of five in a row for Washington under his stewardship as they rallied to clinch the NFC East title.  

A calf issue denied him the chance to play in the Wild Card playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though. Taylor Heinicke started instead and, having done well in his limited opportunities under head coach Ron Rivera, was handed a new two-year deal in February.  

Smith - who previously played for the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs - will seemingly not be back for the 2021 season. 

Juventus' players still believe they can claim a 10th consecutive Serie A title this season, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo. 

The Bianconeri are 10 points behind leaders Inter, although they have a game in hand on Antonio Conte's side.

That comes at home to Spezia on Tuesday, with Juve looking to address a worrying run of form which has seen them win just once in their past five games across all competitions. 

They have, however, won their five most recent top-flight matches at the Allianz Stadium, scoring at least two goals in each of them (14 in total) and keeping a clean sheet in the past three. 

Despite the gap to Inter, Conte insists his side have not given up hope of sealing yet another Scudetto. 

"I wouldn't say we can chase the Scudetto if I didn't know that the team thinks so too," he told a media conference on Monday. 

"I know the lads believe it, they train well and want to go back to winning the title and this makes me feel comfortable.

"We don't look at who is above us or behind us, we concentrate on ourselves. The goal must remain the same. There are many games and as long as there's room to recover, we will be there.

"The initial goal was to win them all, we know we lost a few points, but that is in the past. We have to look to the future and the future is Spezia."

Juve have won 21 of their past 23 Serie A home matches against promoted sides, keeping 14 clean sheets in the process.

They face a spirited Spezia side, though, with only Inter (14) gaining more points from a losing position than Vincenzo Italiano's men (nine) in Serie A this season. Seven of those came in away matches, which is the joint-most alongside Benevento. 

And Pirlo knows his side will have to be at their best to claim all three points. 

"Spezia are proving to be up for Serie A, having a great championship," the Juve boss added. "They have achieved great results against the big teams too. It will be a difficult match.

"It will be an important match for us and we must continue to fight for the Scudetto. We will have to play an intense game from the first minute.

"We know we have been caught on four occasions, but each match was different. We have analysed the mistakes made and we will try to avoid repeating them."

The past week in the NBA saw the Brooklyn Nets do something they hadn't previously done since February 9... lose a game.

Brooklyn's defeat to the Dallas Mavericks gave a boost to their rivals for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, headed by the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Milwaukee Bucks, another of those competitors, enjoyed a superb week with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo unsurprisingly coming to the fore.

Meanwhile, out west, Devin Booker strung together a series of performances that justified his place in the All-Star game.

By contrast, two players significantly more familiar with that contest suffered dips in form.

Here we take a look at some of the best and worst performers across the past week, aided by Stats Perform data.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Bucks are firmly back in contention for the top seed in the East after stretching their winning run to five games, with three of those victories coming in the past week.

Antetokounmpo was predictably pivotal to their success, tallying over 30 points in each matchup to extend his streak to four games in that regard.

He finished the week with back-to-back double-doubles against the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 36 points in the latter game.

His points per game average jumped from 28.37 to 37, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks sending a message that they are still very much a contender for the title.

Devin Booker

The All-Star snub who was later added as a replacement showed why he deserves his place in the showcase this past week.

Booker averaged 33 points across the Phoenix Suns' three games, an impressive improvement on his previous season-long average of 24.28.

He capped it in stunning fashion, dropping 43 in the win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, which saw him go 15 for 26 from the field.

At 22-11, the Suns will loom as a dangerous playoff team should he continue that kind of form.

James Harden

Brooklyn may have finally seen their eight-game winning streak come to an end, but it was a positive week for Harden individually.

Absent the other two members of the Nets' big three, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Harden could not prevent them from falling to defeat to the Mavericks.

However, he was more prolific from beyond the arc this past week, averaging 4.67 made threes having entered the week putting up 3.08 per game.

Harden is converting threes at the highest rate of his career. He is shooting 39.7 per cent from beyond the arc and 41.8 per cent since his trade to Brooklyn from the Houston Rockets.

But he is attempting only 8.2 a game, the fewest since the 2015-16 season (8.0). If he continues to shoot more from deep and maintains his consistency in converting those attempts, a loaded Nets team will have yet another dimension.

GOING COLD...

Paul George

An up-and-down week for the Clippers started brilliantly for George, who racked up 30 points in a win over the Washington Wizards, going six of seven from three-point range.

But he tailed off thereafter, following up two 13-point efforts against the Memphis Grizzlies with a mediocre 16-point display in the loss to the Bucks.

His points per game average fell from 24.36 entering the week to 18 over the past seven days, and the Clippers will need a lot more from him if they are to earn a top-two seed in the West.

Terry Rozier

The man known as 'Scary Terry' did little to terrify opponents over the past week.

Rozier entered the week averaging a career-high 21.15 points per game but that dipped to 13.5 over the four games the Charlotte Hornets contested in the last seven days.

He put up 24 points in a loss to the Golden State Warriors but could not manage more than 12 in his other three outings.

Still averaging 20.2 a game for the season, the Hornets will want Rozier to deliver the kind of performance he did against Golden State consistently as they seek a first playoff berth since 2015-16.

Stephen Curry

Among the players to suffer the biggest decline in three-point shooting this past week was the man most consider the greatest shooter of all time.

Curry had been converting 5.03 three-pointers a game for the season but hit on an average of 3.25 a game as the Warriors won three of four last week.

He still enjoyed a 37-point outing against the New York Knicks, scoring seven triples in that triumph, but was one for 11 from deep versus the Indiana Pacers and two for seven in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, with Curry experiencing a season in which he is averaging his highest points per game tally (29.5) since his unanimous MVP season of 2015-16 (30.1), the smart money says he will soon return to form from beyond the arc.

Another one bites the dust, as Queen once sang, with the latest weekend of Premier League action coming and going in the seeming blink of an eye.

There was controversy involving Brighton and Hove Albion's goal that never was thanks to referee Lee Mason in West Brom's win against the Seagulls – the Baggies' past five home wins have now been overseen by five different managers (Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, Darren Moore, Alan Pardew, Tony Pulis).

Liverpool finally returned to winning ways in the Premier League by triumphing 2-0 at Sheffield United, becoming just the second side to rack up 7,000 top-flight goals in English football along the way (Merseyside rivals Everton being the other team to reach such a landmark).

And there were convincing wins for Tottenham and Arsenal against Burnley and Leicester City respectively.

But here are a few of the quirkier bits you might not have spotted, with a little help from the folks at Opta.
 

Raise your bat, Pep – 200 not out for Guardiola

For those of you not paying attention at the back, Manchester City are looking pretty unstoppable right now.

Saturday's 2-1 triumph over a West Ham side in decent nick themselves means the runaway Premier League leaders have racked up a mind-boggling 20 straight wins in all competitions.

For boss Pep Guardiola, it represented a 200th victory across all comps in only his 273rd match in charge of the Citizens, comfortably the best record by a manager of an English top-flight side to reach that landmark.

Jose Mourinho (Chelsea - 309 games), Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool - 333), Don Revie (Leeds United - 344), Bob Paisley (Liverpool - 351) make up the top five.

Fewer clean sheets than a one-star hotel in Newcastle-Wolves

Once upon a time, Newcastle United were the great entertainers of the Premier League – particularly in the revered 'Keegan years'. 

Nowadays, the goals don't flow quite as freely under Steve Bruce but their 1-1 draw against Wolves produced a fact more in keeping with the history of those Halcyon days. 

Both teams have scored in each of the 12 Premier League games they have played against each other - the most played fixture in the competition with neither side keeping a clean sheet.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo also oversaw his 102nd Premier League game at Wolves, overtaking Mick McCarthy (101) as the most matches in charge of the club in the competition.

Rare blanks in Chelsea-Man Utd but Red Devils' away-day joy continues

Chelsea' goalless draw at home to Manchester United on Sunday wasn't exactly one to remember.

The reverse clash also finished without a goal, marking only the second time this fixture had produced two 0-0 draws in a campaign – the other coming way back in 1921-22.

For the Red Devils, though, the draw means they are unbeaten in 20 away league matches (W13 D7), a run that coincidentally started in the corresponding fixture last term.

It is the joint-fifth longest run without an away defeat in top-flight history. Arsenal (27 and 23), Liverpool (21) and Nottingham Forest (21) have all boasted longer streaks.

LeBron James feels the Los Angeles Lakers are finding their rhythm without Anthony Davis after a comfortable 117-91 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

Davis is averaging 22.5 points, three assists and 8.4 rebounds this season, as well as 1.8 blocks, 1.3 steals and two turnovers per game.

However, he has been absent since sustaining a calf injury on February 14 and the Lakers had lost five of six without Davis prior to winning their past two.

Against the Warriors, six Lakers players reached double figures, with James putting up 19 and able to play a season-low 24 minutes such was their dominance.

"When you lose a mega piece like AD, it's going to take some time offensively and defensively how we want to play, what's going to be our rhythm," James said after his 1,300th regular-season game. 

"The last couple of games we've done a good job of trying to say, 'This is where we're going to have the ball, this is where we'll be effective, this is where we need to run'. Guys are just staying ready."

This season the Lakers are trying to repeat the championship success they enjoyed in the disrupted 2019-20 campaign.

Opposition coach Steve Kerr knows a thing or two about repeats, having won three straight with the Chicago Bulls as a player – he individually won four in a row having then joined the San Antonio Spurs – while the Warriors won three in four seasons, including going back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.

Kerr suggested the unusual circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic meant this season might be the toughest ever to try to complete a repeat – a notion James felt might have some merit.

"It's been extremely tough, you literally have to self-motivate yourself every single day," he added.

"We're playing every other day, if not back-to-backs, there's not much down time so you have to motivate yourself. 

"Us and Sac [the Sacramento Kings] and the Clips [the Los Angeles Clippers] and Golden State, we don't have the luxury of having fans right now. 

"I've been watching a lot of games of late, and there's been 1,500, 2,000 fans, whatever the case may be, and it gives you an extra boost. 

"I'm just waiting, hopefully sooner rather than later we can have fans here in California, especially here at Staples. 

"It's very challenging, got to have the self-discipline, self-motivation and have trust in your team-mates to know you'll get the energy."

The Lakers are second in the West following their win and now have a 24-11 record for the season.

Stephen Curry believes opponents play harder against the Golden State Warriors due to their past success, with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers getting the better of them on Sunday.

Prior to a 2019-20 campaign that was wrecked by injuries, the Warriors had reached the NBA Finals in five consecutive seasons.

On four of those occasions they met James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and won three titles. Golden State swept the Cavs in 2017-18 shortly before James left for the Lakers.

James and LA made the most of Golden State's tough year last time out as they claimed the championship - the four-time MVP's fourth ring - but Curry believes there is still tension when the Warriors meet their old foe.

A threat again as Curry averages 29.5 points per game - fourth-most in the league - Golden State fell to 19-16 and eighth in the West with a 117-91 defeat to the Lakers.

Curry scored only 16 points, by far his lowest return in the whole of February, while LA were already 20 points clear after a first quarter in which the Warriors shot 8-of-22 from the field and 2-of-11 from three as their opponents went to the free-throw line 16 times.

The superstar guard suggested the Lakers were motivated to beat Golden State, but he also acknowledged his team had to show more.

Curry said: "Draymond [Green] said it a little bit at halftime - we have to remember, even when we're playing well, when we've won three in a row, teams still want to beat us and beat us bad.

"They still have a lot of memories from the last five, six years.

"A lot of that is that you have to - against the really good teams, with the discipline that separates a good team from a great team - show up.

"We've done a great job of not fouling teams, and then you get the best defense in the league set with possessions and easy points. They thrived off that and they brought a bit more energy in the first quarter.

"Those little things that we can control - we can't control makes and misses every night - you can control being defensively smart, not fouling, you can control your energy and your effort and your competitiveness.

"We've done a really good job of that and then tonight we didn't have any of it, and it shows in the score."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone insisted he loves "rebellious" players after praising Joao Felix's angry goal celebration.

Joao Felix – a club-record €126million signing in 2019 – came off the bench in the second half to seal a 2-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday as Atletico put their LaLiga title charge back on track.

The Portugal international looked unimpressed after scoring in the 69th minute – Joao Felix gesturing and shouting towards the Atletico bench – following Alfonso Pedraza's own goal.

Asked about the celebration, Simeone told reporters post-match:  "You'll have to ask him.

"He scored a great goal. He came on and did well in the second half... I love it when players rebel, when they look to be strong. We need him to be, he's an important player for us."

Simeone added: "I'll ask him in the next training session, and then I'll see if I tell you.

"I love it when players show pride. How long had it been since Joao scored? If players are rebellious, give them to me!"

Simeone, meanwhile, earned a place in Atletico's history books with Sunday's win over Villarreal.

The Argentine coach enjoyed his 308th victory in charge of the Spanish club – matching Luis Aragones as the Atletico head coach with the highest number of victories in all competitions.

Simeone's latest win came in his 512th match at the helm. Aragones, the only man to take charge of more games, reached 308 victories in 612 matches at a rate of 50.3 per cent.

"You know what this game is like," Simeone said when asked about the feat. "From tomorrow [Monday] we will start to live off what we do in the derby [against Real Madrid]. 

"It is an important victory, one does not stop to think about passing or not passing Luis, who is surely very happy about this moment of Atletico.

"We have a lot of things to improve and hopefully this week we can present a better version."

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo relishes going up against the best in the world, saying it feels like "greatness" after taking down Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers in a rallying display.

Antetokounmpo posted 36 points, including 17 in the final quarter, and 14 rebounds as the Bucks outlasted the Clippers 105-100 in NBA action on Sunday.

Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo fuelled a game-closing 9-0 run to help extend Milwaukee's winning streak to five games.

Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player with 35-plus points in four consecutive games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973 as Leonard and fellow All-Star Paul George struggled during the closing stages.

Leonard (25 points and nine rebounds) and George (16 points) went cold in the final quarter for the Clippers, combining to shoot three-for-15 and scoring just six points as the visitors were scoreless over the last four minutes of the game.

"It was individual pride," Antetokounmpo said of taking on the All-Star duo. "It is pride. It is an ego thing. Personally, I love that going down the stretch.

"I feel like it's greatness. When you go against the best in the world down the stretch and you are trying to get a stop and they are trying to score on you to win the game, it's greatness developing at that moment."

After dropping five straight games, the Bucks are now riding a winning streak in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks (21-13) are one game adrift of leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (22-12) in the east.

"When we lost five, a lot of people were panicking," Antetokounmpo said. "Now, we win five and no one is talking about it. That is how it goes.

"Being able to get out of it, snap out of it ... that is what matters. This is important ... it's not over. We are not done yet. We might go again on a seven-game losing streak, 10. Hopefully not. I don't want to put it out in the universe. [But] there is no panic."

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks rallied past the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 in NBA action on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo posted 36 points – 17 in the final quarter – 14 rebounds and five assists for the Bucks, who used a game-closing 9-0 run to extend their winning streak to five games.

Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player with 35-plus points in four consecutive games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973.

Meanwhile, LeBron James appeared in his 1,300th regular-season game as defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers eased past the Golden State Warriors 117-91.

James scored 19 points in his milestone game – the four-time NBA champion becoming the 23rd player in league history to appear in that many regular-season contests.

 

Beal stars again

Bradley Beal put on a show with 46 points for the Washington Wizards, who still narrowly lost 111-110 to the Boston Celtics. In his last three games in Boston, Beal has tallied 44, 41 and 46 points. According to Stats Perform, he is the first player to score 40-plus points in three successive road games against the Celtics since Abdul-Jabbar between 1970 and 1971.

The Memphis Grizzlies crushed the Houston Rockets 133-84. On February 1, the Grizzlies won at the San Antonio Spurs by 31 points while they humbled the Rockets by 49 on Sunday. They are the second team in NBA history to have two 30-plus point road wins in the same state in the same month, according to Stats Perform. The other team was the Washington Bullets (now known as the Wizards) in 1968.

Devin Booker recorded 43 points, while Deandre Ayton (22 points and 10 rebounds) and Chris Paul (11 points and 15 assists) contributed double-doubles in the Phoenix Suns' 118-99 success away to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.

John Collins' 34-point, 10-rebound double-double was not enough for the Atlanta Hawks, who went down 109-99 to the Miami Heat.

P.J. Washington's 42 points helped the Charlotte Hornets edge the Sacramento Kings 127-126. Sacramento led by eight points with just over a minute remaining before Charlotte rallied at the death.

 

Rockets crash as Clippers capitulate

The Rockets have suffered 11 consecutive defeats after being embarrassed by the Grizzlies. Houston are now riding their longest losing streak since a 15-game skid in 2001.

All-Star pair Kawhi Leonard (25 points and nine rebounds) and Paul George went cold in the final quarter for the Clippers. Leonard and George combined to shoot three-for-15 and scored just six points in the fourth period against the Bucks. The Clippers were scoreless over the final four minutes of the game.

 

Giannis with the slam!

It was a masterclass in Milwaukee, where Antetokounmpo flexed his muscles with a monster dunk during the closing stages.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 117-91 Golden State Warriors
Memphis Grizzlies 133-84 Houston Rockets
Miami Heat 109-99 Atlanta Hawks
New York Knicks 109-90 Detroit Pistons
Boston Celtics 111-110 Washington Wizards
Milwaukee Bucks 105-100 Los Angeles Clippers
Charlotte Hornets 127-126 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 118-99 Minnesota Timberwolves
Chicago Bulls-Toronto Raptors (postponed)

 

Nets at Spurs

After their eight-game winning streak came to an end in the absence of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Saturday, the high-flying Brooklyn Nets (22-13) will look to bounce back against the Spurs (17-12) on Monday.

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini said the club are weighing up whether to sign Fikayo Tomori permanently from Premier League giants Chelsea.

Tomori has impressed since arriving on loan in January, the 23-year-old's impact highlighted by his starting berth at the expense of captain Alessio Romagnoli in Milan's 2-1 win over Roma on Sunday.

Milan have an option to buy Tomori at the end of the season – the fee reportedly in the region of £25million (€28m).

Asked about Tomori's future prior to Milan's Serie A victory away to Roma, Maldini told Sky Sport Italia: "Tomori is a good talent and we have a buy-option clause.

"The price is very high. AC Milan will decide at the end of this season and we will discuss it with Chelsea's board."

"Fortunately, I work for a club that has an effect on players. When AC Milan call, the players always listen," Maldini added.

"Fikayo is a player with particular characteristics, pace and intensity, so we thought he could be a good reinforcement for this second half of the season.

"Naturally, Romagnoli isn't happy, no player is when he doesn't play. However, Milan are 17 points better off than last season, we're second despite having more commitments and many injuries, so squad rotation is necessary and Alessio has played pretty much every game."

Tomori partnered Simon Kjaer in Milan's defence as second-placed Milan stayed within four points of leaders Inter after 24 matches.

Franck Kessie and Ante Rebic scored for Milan, while Tomori had an early goal ruled out for offside.

Tomori had a team-high six clearances and two blocks, while he attempted the most passes (60) with an accuracy of 88.3 per cent at the heart of Milan's defence.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli hailed Englishman Tomori post-match: "I expected this performance, because Tomori played a derby a couple of days after joining us, so he's been at this level from the start.

"I still believe it's the collective that allows the individual to perform and all together we won a very important match.

"Roma have players with a lot of pace and quality in attack, so we knew that we were taking a risk, but we also recovered more balls in the opposition half – finally – and were therefore more dangerous in attack.

"It's about weighing up the costs and benefits of an approach, and this approach is giving us more benefits."

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