After a gruelling 82-game regular season, April is usually an exciting time for NBA players and fans.

This time of year is typically headlined by playoff basketball, but the coronavirus pandemic has brought the NBA and sport to a standstill globally.

The NBA has been suspended since March 11 – halting the regular season and putting the playoffs on ice amid COVID-19 as the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers vie for supremacy.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

Having simulated the rest of the regular season to produce projected final standings, the goal was to see how the postseason would pan out too.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-court advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The winners receive a victory in the race for the Larry O'Brien Trophy – this was done for every game in the playoffs. So, here are the results…

 

BUCKS, LAKERS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND

Like last season, the Bucks earned the best regular-season record heading into the postseason. Milwaukee swept the Detroit Pistons in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2019 and the Bucks match that feat this year, albeit against the Orlando Magic. After one-point wins in the first two games, Milwaukee cruise into the Conference semi-finals – winning 112-106 and 113-93.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13, Western Conference pacesetters the Lakers blitz the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0 – highlighted by a 118-89 blowout in Game 2. The Los Angeles Clippers faded at the end of the regular season as they dropped down into the fourth seed, but the Lakers' neighbours prove too good for the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook had one foot in the second round but the Houston Rockets – who ended the regular season on a 15-3 run to claim the third seed – lose four straight games to the Utah Jazz in the west. Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks – back in the playoffs following a three-season absence – win three games in a row to take down the second-seeded Denver Nuggets 4-2.

For the second time in three years, the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat meet in the east's first round and the latter prevail 4-2 as Jimmy Butler has the last laugh against his former team. The Boston Celtics also see off the Indiana Pacers by the same scoreline.

No Kawhi Leonard, no worries for defending champions the Toronto Raptors, who only drop one game in a comprehensive 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

LEBRON MATCHES EARLIEST PLAYOFF EXIT

Hopes were high for LeBron James but the Lakers are upstaged by cross-town rivals the Clippers in six games. The Lakers level the series at 2-2 but the Clippers reel off back-to-back victories in a matchup where the margin does not drop below 10 points. It equals the earliest exit of James' playoff career, having reached the Finals in each of his past eight trips to the postseason.

Staying in the Western Conference and the Mavericks advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 – when they won the title – by rallying past the Utah Jazz. After dropping the first two games, Dallas win four on the bounce. The Mavericks' run, however, ends at the hands of the Clippers just shy of the NBA Finals, edged 4-3.

The Bucks fell short of a trip to the big dance last season, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee get the job done this time around by topping the Heat and Raptors in the east. A 130-96 Game 1 rout sets the tone for the Bucks, who beat Miami inside six games.

The Raptors are no match for the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing 4-1. Toronto's exit snaps a streak of four straight seasons in which the defending champions returned to the Finals the following year. The last team to win the title and then not reach the showpiece series the following season were the San Antonio Spurs, who claimed the championship in 2014.

 

CLIPPERS MAKE HISTORY BUT FALL TO BUCKS

It is a landmark moment for the Clippers, who feature in the NBA Finals for the first time in their history. In the four major US sports – NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL – the Clippers are the oldest franchise that have never progressed to the championship round, having played their first NBA game in 1970.

However, the Bucks spoil the party as they end the longest title drought in the NBA courtesy of a 4-2 triumph on the biggest stage. The Golden State Warriors held the record for the longest gap between championships – 40 years – but Milwaukee reign supreme for the first time since 1971, ending their 49-year wait.

Milwaukee and Los Angeles split the opening two games before the Bucks win two on the bounce to eventually claim a second NBA crown. Milwaukee's success also continues a common theme in the league, with five of the past eight champions having boasted the best regular-season record and won the title in the same year.

Now is typically the time when the grind of the NBA's regular season is winding down and 16 teams start to gear up for the playoffs.

However, the coronavirus pandemic brought the league to a halt in March, delaying the best period of the campaign considerably.

With every team having at least 15 games left to play, the postseason picture is far from being completed.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team in the Western Conference to have secured their place in the playoffs, where the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are also guaranteed to feature due to their performances in the East.

With only the Golden State Warriors out of contention, 25 teams still have a mathematical chance of keeping their seasons alive.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

The goal was to simulate how the regular season would pan out if all outstanding games were played now, producing the final standings in both conferences.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-field advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The victors get another win to their season total – this was done for every remaining game in the regular season. So, without further ado, let's find out the results...

 

NO BUCKING THE TREND

Unsurprisingly the Bucks hang on to the one seed in the Eastern Conference, with our model predicting they will go 13-4 in their remaining fixtures to finish with a 66-16 record.

Despite Milwaukee matching their best regular-season performance in history to book a first-round clash in the playoffs with the Orlando Magic, there was one hiccup for reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team-mates – a shock 111-110 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the only change to the top eight from the current standings, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Indiana Pacers to the five seed, meaning they draw the Miami Heat in the first round of the postseason for the second time in three years. The Pacers must take on the Celtics as a consequence.

The Brooklyn Nets (39-43) and Magic (38-44) advance despite having losing records – it is the first time since 1988 that more than one team under .500 made the playoffs. The Raptors await the Nets in the first round.

At the foot of the East is the Detroit Pistons, who closed out the season on a 4-12 run to finish with a 24-58 record.

In our simulation the Raptors claimed a 152-96 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Only 12 matches in NBA history have seen a bigger margin of victory.

CLIPPERS FADE, WARRIORS THE WORST

The Lakers hold off the competition to top the Western Conference and at 64-18 claim their best record since the Kobe Bryant era. Their reward is a first-round meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies.

For the Los Angeles Clippers it is a different story. They fall victim to strong finishes from the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets and slip to fourth, pitting Paul George - and Chris Paul - against his former team the Oklahoma City Thunder in round one.

The Nuggets take second and get the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs after losing just one of their final 17 games, while the Rockets go 15-3 to get the three seed. Awaiting Mike D'Antoni's team in the postseason is the Utah Jazz, who slipped to sixth after going 8-10 down the stretch.

The Grizzlies ensure New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson's first playoff appearance will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest, while the Portland Trail Blazers miss the postseason for the first time since 2013.

A 22-60 record means the Warriors finish the regular season with the worst record in the NBA.

 

GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR SUNS, WIZARDS

While the final standings were taken from the first simulation, the outcome of the regular season was simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in the playoffs.

The resulting data suggests the Grizzlies defied the odds by reaching the postseason, having only done so in 41.1 per cent of the simulations.

The Magic and Nets both had a success rate above 99 per cent, while the Washington Wizards (0.05 per cent) and the Phoenix Suns (0.04 per cent) are the biggest outsiders.

In addition to the Warriors, the model did not project the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Hawks or Cavaliers making the postseason once.

A NEW DYNASTY?

The Stats Perform AI team also used the predicted final standings to simulate the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to find out which team received the first overall pick.

There was finally some good news for Warriors fans, with Golden State drawn first.

With Stephen Curry back from injury and Klay Thompson set to return next season, the No.1 pick would put Steve Kerr's team in a good position to challenge in the playoffs again.

The Hawks jump up to third in our simulation, while the Bulls have to settle for the seventh pick for the fourth consecutive year.

After taking Williamson first overall in 2019, the Pelicans get the final lottery selection here.

Full lottery results:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Detroit Pistons
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New York Knicks
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Charlotte Hornets
9. Phoenix Suns
10. San Antonio Spurs
11. Sacramento Kings
12. Washington Wizards
13. Portland Trail Blazers
14. New Orleans Pelicans

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Andrew Drummond reached the quarter-finals of the NBA 2K20 charity tournament on Sunday.

With the NBA postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a charity tournament has been put together to raise money in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament will receive $100,000 to give to charity, and Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant – the top seed – was a high-profile casualty on Friday.

Fifth seed Booker defeated Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets 85-75 in the opening round, while sixth seed Drummond crushed former Golden State Warriors center DaMarcus Cousins 101-49.

Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards topped Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell 74-71 and Los Angeles Clippers center Montrezl Harrell eased past Indiana Pacers star Domantas Sabonis 73-51.

The quarters are now set, with Harrell to meet Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., who stunned Durant on Friday.

Booker will play Hachimura, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young takes on Suns center Deandre Ayton and Drummond goes head-to-head against Clippers guard Patrick Beverley.

The tournament – being aired on ESPN – will continue on Tuesday and conclude on Saturday.

A pair of Los Angeles Lakers players have tested positive for coronavirus, the NBA franchise announced on Thursday.

The Lakers did not release the names of the players, though they did say the pair are currently asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of the team's physician.

Lakers physicians and public health officials recommended testing for COVID-19 after four Brooklyn Nets players contracted the virus – Los Angeles played the Nets on March 10.

"All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team," the statement read.

"The health and well-being of our players, our organisation, our fans, and all those potentially impacted by this situation is paramount. As always, we appreciate the support of our fans, family and friends, and wish everyone affected by this virus a speedy recovery."

It comes after the Philadelphia 76ers announced that three members of the organisation tested positive for coronavirus, while the Denver Nuggets confirmed one case.

Coronavirus continues to disrupt sport – including the NBA – across the globe as countries try to contain COVID-19.

Globally, more than 10,000 people have died from almost 245,000 cases.

There have been over 205 deaths in the United States, with at least 13,700 cases.

Joel Embiid starred on his return from injury for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Wednesday in the final games before the season was suspended due to coronavirus fears.

Back from a shoulder injury suffered last month, Embiid lifted the 76ers past the Detroit Pistons 124-106.

Embiid finished with a double-double of 30 points and 14 rebounds, while Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Christian Wood poured in a career-high 32 points for the Pistons.

The Charlotte Hornets produced an upset by beating the Miami Heat 109-98.

Devonte' Graham starred with 30 points for the Hornets, who had five players manage double-digits in points.

 

Randle shines, Marjanovic marvellous

Julius Randle's 33 points and 11 rebounds helped the New York Knicks edge the Atlanta Hawks 136-131 after overtime.

Trae Young contributed 42 points and 11 assists for the Hawks.

Boban Marjanovic starred for the Dallas Mavericks, posting 31 points and 17 rebounds in a 113-97 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Season suspended

The Utah Jazz's clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed just before tip-off.

It was later revealed a Jazz player tested positive to coronavirus, leading to the NBA deciding to suspend its season.

The New Orleans Pelicans-Sacramento Kings clash also did not go ahead.

 

Scott soars

Mike Scott delivered a huge dunk during the 76ers' win.

Wednesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 124-106 Detroit Pistons
New York Knicks 136-131 Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets 109-98 Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks 113-97 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz v Oklahoma City Thunder postponed
New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings postponed

The Houston Rockets' losing streak continued in the NBA, while the Golden State Warriors claimed a win on Saturday.

The Rockets slumped to a third straight loss with a 108-99 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.

James Harden had a triple-double of 30 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, but added 10 turnovers as Russell Westbrook missed the clash.

All five of the Hornets' starters managed double-digits in points, led by Terry Rozier's 24.

Even with Stephen Curry missing due to the flu, the Warriors upset the Philadelphia 76ers 118-114.

Damion Lee's 24 points helped the Warriors to just their 15th win of the season.

 

Wonderful Valanciunas, Love leads Cavs

Jonas Valanciunas' double-double of 27 points and 17 rebounds saw the Memphis Grizzlies past the Atlanta Hawks 118-101.

Kevin Love's 27 points helped the Cleveland Cavaliers upset the Denver Nuggets 104-102.

The Utah Jazz were too good for the Detroit Pistons 111-105 thanks to a 32-point haul from Bojan Bogdanovic.

Rockets struggle

With Westbrook sidelined, Houston needed a greater contribution from their starters. But three of them – Danuel House Jr., P.J. Tucker and Ben McLemore – went a combined three-of-12 from the field.

 

Morant magic

Ja Morant (24 points) helped the Grizzlies to their win.

Saturday's results

Charlotte Hornets 108-99 Houston Rockets
Utah Jazz 111-105 Detroit Pistons
Cleveland Cavaliers 104-102 Denver Nuggets
Memphis Grizzlies 118-101 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 118-114 Philadelphia 76ers
Sacramento Kings 123-111 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Lakers at Clippers

The Staples Center will host another blockbuster on Sunday. After beating the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers (48-13) face the Clippers (43-19).

Stephen Curry returned from injury in the Golden State Warriors' loss to the Toronto Raptors, while Kawhi Leonard again led the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

Curry played his first game since October, returning from a hand injury in the Warriors' 121-113 loss to the Raptors.

The two-time NBA MVP finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 27 minutes.

But the Warriors were beaten again in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, which were also won by the Raptors, as Normal Powell poured in 37 points and Toronto clinched a playoff spot.

Leonard's 25 points helped the Clippers extend their winning streak to six by beating the Houston Rockets 120-105.

The Rockets went seven-of-42 from three-point range, with James Harden (16 points) missing all eight of his attempts.

 

Jokic leads the way as Harris lifts 76ers

Nikola Jokic's 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists guided the Denver Nuggets past the Charlotte Hornets 114-112.

Tobias Harris contributed a double-double of 28 points and 14 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers' 125-108 win over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Rockets off target

Harden and Russell Westbrook (29 points and 15 rebounds) combined to go 15-of-44 from the field in Houston's loss.

 

Welcome back, Stephen

Curry hit an amazing long-range three during the second quarter against the Raptors.

Thursday's results

Denver Nuggets 114-112 Charlotte Hornets
Los Angeles Clippers 120-105 Houston Rockets
Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Sacramento Kings
Toronto Raptors 121-113 Golden State Warriors

 

Bucks at Lakers

The Staples Center plays host to a blockbuster on Friday. The Los Angeles Lakers (47-13) and Milwaukee Bucks (53-9) have the best records in the NBA heading into the clash.

The Los Angeles Lakers powered past the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, while Caris LeVert starred for the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James had double-doubles in the Lakers' 120-107 win over the 76ers.

Davis was 13-of-19 from the field for his 37 points, and 13 rebounds, while James had 22 points and 14 assists.

LeVert produced a career-high 51 points as the Nets upset the Boston Celtics 129-120 after overtime.

The 25-year-old scored 26 points in the fourth quarter and 11 in OT as the Nets came from behind after trailing by 17 through three quarters.

Jaylen Brown had 22 points for Boston, while Kemba Walker finished with 21 but went six-of-16 from the field.

 

Cool Kawhi, Zion stars in Pelicans' loss

Kawhi Leonard's 25 points and eight rebounds helped the Los Angeles Clippers past the Oklahoma City Thunder 109-94.

Zion Williamson had 25 points and eight rebounds, but the New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 139-134.

Pascal Siakam (33 points) and Kyle Lowry (28) starred in the Toronto Raptors' 123-114 win over the Phoenix Suns.

 

Lee struggles

The Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets 116-100, but Damion Lee went one-of-nine from the field for just four points in 33 minutes.

 

LeBron from the logo

James hit a long-range three during the Lakers' win.

Tuesday's results

San Antonio Spurs 104-103 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 129-120 Boston Celtics
Minnesota Timberwolves 139-134 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Clippers 109-94 Oklahoma City Thunder
Golden State Warriors 116-100 Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors 123-114 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers 120-107 Philadelphia 76ers
Sacramento Kings 133-126 Washington Wizards

 

Pacers at Bucks

Flying with a 52-9 record, the Milwaukee Bucks host the Indiana Pacers (37-24) on Wednesday.

LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers past the New Orleans Pelicans, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was in spectacular form in the NBA on Sunday.

James' triple-double of 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds helped the Lakers bounce back from their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies with a 122-114 victory over the Pelicans.

Zion Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, delivered one of the best performances of his young career with a career-high 35 points and seven rebounds.

Without Anthony Davis (knee), the Lakers had six players finish with double-digits in points, including Kyle Kuzma (20).

Antetokounmpo powered the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks past the Charlotte Hornets 93-85.

The 2019 NBA MVP finished with 41 points, 20 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 52-8.

 

Leonard lifts Clippers, Jokic shines

Kawhi Leonard's 30 points helped the Los Angeles Clippers to a 136-130 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Shake Milton had a game-high 39 points for the 76ers in the absence of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson.

Nikola Jokic's triple-double of 23 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists guided the Denver Nuggets past defending champions the Toronto Raptors 133-118.

The Dallas Mavericks crushed the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-91 as Kristaps Porzingis contributed 38 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Bad Bridges, Biyombo

Miles Bridges (seven points in 35 minutes) and Bismack Biyombo (eight points in 22 minutes) combined to go five-of-21 from the field in the Hornets' loss.

 

LeBron, Zion put on a show

James and Williamson thrilled during the Lakers' win over the Pelicans.

Sunday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 93-85 Charlotte Hornets
Dallas Mavericks 111-91 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 136-130 Philadelphia 76ers
Denver Nuggets 133-118 Toronto Raptors
Sacramento Kings 106-100 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Lakers 122-114 New Orleans Pelicans
Washington Wizards 124-110 Golden State Warriors

 

Bucks at Heat

The Bucks (52-8) will aim for a seventh straight win when they face the Heat (38-22) in Miami on Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks humbled the Oklahoma City Thunder 133-86.

The Bucks showed no mercy as they handed the Thunder their worst loss of the season – a 47-point defeat in Milwaukee on Friday.

Bucks star and reigning MVP Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points and 13 rebounds at home to the streaking Thunder.

The Thunder had won five straight games, but Oklahoma City were no match for the devastating Bucks – who made a season-high 21 three-pointers as they improved to 51-8.

Chris Paul posted 18 points for the Thunder (37-23), while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11) was the only other player in double-digits.

Paul George recorded 24 points and Kawhi Leonard added 19 as the Los Angeles Clippers eased past Western Conference rivals the Denver Nuggets 132-103.

It was the Clippers' 40th win of the season as Doc Rivers' team reigned supreme at Staples Center.

 

Williamson stays hot

Zion Williamson became the first player in NBA history to record 20-plus points in 10 straight games before the age of 20. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie finished with 24 points in the 116-104 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Luka Doncic celebrated his 21st birthday on Friday and the Dallas Mavericks star put up 23 points and 10 assists. However, Doncic – playing with an aching thumb – did not have a memorable birthday as the Mavs lost 126-118 at the Miami Heat.

A first career triple-double from Aaron Gordon (17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists) inspired the Orlando Magic to a 136-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Terrence Ross had a season-high 33 points.

It was another big performance from Bradley Beal. The Washington Wizards guard had 42 points and 10 assists in his team's 129-119 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

Derrick Rose's 31 points helped the Detroit Pistons snap a seven-game skid by topping the Phoenix Suns 113-111.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points and collected a career-high 25 rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies' 104-101 defeat against the Sacramento Kings.

 

McCaw goes scoreless

Patrick McCaw is a three-time NBA champion – twice with the Golden State Warriors and once with the Toronto Raptors – but he did not look like one on Friday. The 24-year-old did not score a point in Toronto's shock 99-96 loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets. He was 0 of six from the field, while he missed both of his three-point attempts in 20 minutes.

Dallas' Dorian Finney-Smith also struggled. Finney-Smith played 27 minutes, going 0 of four from the field and the same from beyond the arc for just three points as a starter.

 

Spider man!

Donovan Mitchell hammered home the slam against the Wizards. He ended the game with 30 points.

 

Friday's results

Orlando Magic 136-125 Minnesota Timberwolves
Atlanta Hawks 141-118 Brooklyn Nets
Charlotte Hornets 99-96 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat 126-118 Dallas Mavericks
Sacramento Kings 104-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Milwaukee Bucks 133-86 Oklahoma City Thunder
New Orleans Pelicans 116-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons 113-111 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 129-119 Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets XX-XX Los Angeles Clippers

 

Rockets at Celtics

James Harden and the Houston Rockets (38-20) travel to the Boston Celtics on Saturday, riding a five-game winning streak. The Celtics (41-17) have won back-to-back games.

LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a sixth straight win, while the Milwaukee Bucks secured their 50th victory of the NBA season.

James posted a season-high 40 points in the Lakers' 118-109 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Anthony Davis had a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds, while James went 17-of-27 from the field while also contributing eight rebounds and six assists.

The top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson poured in 29 points for the Pelicans.

In a battle between the Eastern Conference's top two, the Bucks were too good for the Toronto Raptors 108-97.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists as Milwaukee improved to 50-8.

 

Terrific Tatum, super Sabonis

Jayson Tatum lifted the Boston Celtics past the Portland Trail Blazers 118-106 with 36 points, going eight-of-12 from three-point range.

Domantas Sabonis' 21 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists helped the Indiana Pacers thrash the Charlotte Hornets 119-80.

Zach LaVine's 41 points were not enough for the Chicago Bulls, who were edged by the Oklahoma City Thunder 124-122.

 

Horrible Hornets

Charlotte are now 3-7 in their past 10 after the heavy loss to the Pacers. Terry Rozier went two-of-13 from the field for five points in 26 minutes.

 

LeBron, Caruso combine

Alex Caruso delivered a pass through his legs for James to dunk home.

Tuesday's results

Indiana Pacers 119-80 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 108-97 Toronto Raptors
Oklahoma City Thunder 124-122 Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets 115-98 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Lakers 118-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Boston Celtics 118-106 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 112-94 Golden State Warriors

 

Celtics at Jazz

The Celtics (40-17) look for back-to-back wins when they visit the Utah Jazz (36-21) on Wednesday.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers came out on top 114-112 against Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the NBA on Sunday.

James nailed a fallaway jump shot with 30 seconds remaining as the Lakers prevailed, despite Tatum's 41 points at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"I had been setting him [Tatum] up all night with the back-down to the drop step to the baseline," James said. "I figured he would sit on it, thinking I would try it again, so I just went to my back-down, gave a little Dream Shake to the baseline and was able to open up the middle and get my fadeaway."

Lakers superstar James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Western Conference leaders, who extended their winning streak to five games as Celtics great Bill Russell watched from the sideline.

Anthony Davis posted 32 points and 13 rebounds, while the Celtics played without Kemba Walker (left knee soreness) for the second straight game.

The Milwaukee Bucks did not play on Sunday but the NBA leaders still made history thanks to the Chicago Bulls.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks became the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff spot after the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards.

The Bucks secured a postseason berth through 56 games on February 23, topping the Golden State Warriors' record – set on February 25 in 2017 after 58 appearances.

 

Zion stars in San Francisco

Zion Williamson flexed his muscles with 28 points and seven rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans soared past the lowly Golden State Warriors 115-101. Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 23 points in the final quarter.

A career-high 53 points from Bradley Beal were not enough for the Wizards, who went down 126-117 to the Bulls. Coby White's 33 points saw him join Michael Jordan as the only Bulls rookies with 30 or more points in successive games.

Double-doubles from Serge Ibaka (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Kyle Lowry (16 points, 11 assists) inspired defending champions the Toronto Raptors to a 127-81 demolition of the Indiana Pacers.

A 131-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs was memorable for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Oklahoma City's largest victory margin ever against the Spurs. Chris Paul (12 points, 10 assists), Steven Adams (21 points, 14 rebounds) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22 points, 13 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Thunder.

 

Spurs struggle

San Antonio had a night to forget away to the Thunder. The Spurs were just 36.9 per cent from the field, making just 38 of 103 shots. Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both struggled. Aldridge was three of 10 from the field and he missed all five three-point attempts for eight points. Meanwhile, DeRozan was four of 12 for 11 points.

 

Zion with the slam!

The 2019 number one pick and Pelicans rookie provided another highlight against the Warriors.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets 128-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors 127-81 Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls 126-117 Washington Wizards
Oklahoma City Thunder 131-103 San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans 115-101 Golden State Warriors
Portland Trail Blazers 107-104 Detroit Pistons

 

Hawks at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers (35-22) are expected to be without injured All-Star Ben Simmons for Monday's visit of the Atlanta Hawks (17-41). Simmons hurt his back in the loss away to the NBA-leading Bucks. Awful on the road, the 76ers – currently fifth in the Eastern Conference – boast the best home record in the league at 26-2.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis starred as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 in the NBA.

James posted 32 points and Davis scored 28 points and tallied 14 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a fourth consecutive victory on Friday.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers used a 32-19 second quarter to see off the Grizzlies at Staples Center.

Luka Doncic, meanwhile, produced another big performance as the Dallas Mavericks won 122-106 at the Orlando Magic.

All-Star Doncic finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavericks on the road.

Maxi Kleber added a career-high 26 points off the bench, while Kristaps Porzingis contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Magic were led by Nikola Vucevic's 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Evan Fournier's 28 points.

 

Celtics quartet star

Boston Celtics quartet Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Daniel Theis all scored 25 or more points in the team's 127-117 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The last time four starters scored 25-plus points in a game was in 2006.

Pascal Siakam put up 37 points and 12 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors topped the Phoenix Suns 118-101 for their 16th win in 17 games.

Chris Paul's 29 points and Steve Adam's double-double of 19 points and 17 rebounds led the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Denver Nuggets 113-101.

Zion Williamson recorded 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting as the New Orleans Pelicans trumped the Portland Trail Blazers 128-115.

 

Smith struggles in DC

The Washington Wizards lost 113-108 to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Ish Smith struggled. The Wizards guard played 30 minutes, shooting just two of 12 from the field and one of five from three-point range for five points.

 

Beal pulverises Drummond

Wizards star Bradley Beal dunked on Andre Drummond in merciless fashion.

 

Friday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 117-105 Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Pelicans 128-115 Portland Trail Blazers
Cleveland Cavaliers 113-108 Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks 122-106 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 118-101 Phoenix Suns
Oklahoma City Thunder 113-101 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 106-98 New York Knicks
Boston Celtics 127-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 113-104 Utah Jazz

 

76ers at Bucks

The Philadelphia 76ers will have to overcome their worrying road woes if they are to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Philadelphia – fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 35-21 record – are 9-19 away from home but have won four straight in the NBA.

LeBron James insists the Los Angeles Lakers are not thinking about locking down the top seed in the Western Conference after taking a four-game lead over the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers claimed a 120-116 overtime victory against the Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Wednesday, with James putting up 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds to send his team into the All-Star break on the back of an important triumph.

While he would relish having home-court advantage in a first postseason with the Los Angeles franchise, the 16-time All-Star claims there has been no discussion about their potential seeding within the team.

"We don't talk about it. At the end of the day I think every Western Conference team that will make the playoffs can win on someone else's floor," said James.

"For us, we would love to play in front of our home fans as much as we can. We love being there with our Laker faithful.

"But at the end of the day, you go out and play each and every game like it's its own game. You can't worry about what could happen the following day. You can only live in the present."

He added: "We are where we need to be. We'll come back off the break and get ready for the final stretch of the regular season.

"You don't put too much into it. You understand you played some good basketball along the way, played some not good basketball. But you want to continue to get better and continue to trust the process.

"We look forward to when we get back, getting back on the floor and see how far we'll continue to grow."

The Lakers have not made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season and James thought the win over the Nuggets provided a taster of what is to come.

"Every opportunity we get to play in a close game against a tough opponent, it's a learning experience for all of us," he said.

"It prepares us for a postseason game where it's going to be back and forth, back and forth. I thought tonight was a playoff atmosphere, the teams being number one and number two in the Western Conference, jockeying for position."

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