Stephen Curry's 35 points were not enough for the Golden State Warriors, while the Houston Rockets started the post-James Harden era with a win.

Curry was 14-of-23 from the field and five-of-11 from three-point range, but the Warriors fell to the Denver Nuggets 114-104 on Thursday.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dominated with a triple-double of 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

Denver had seven players in double-digits for points as they improved to 6-6 – the same record the Warriors now hold.

After trading Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the Rockets recorded a 109-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Christian Wood had a double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who were without John Wall (knee).

 

Milton magical for Sixers, Boucher lifts Raptors

Shake Milton had 31 points off the bench in the Philadelphia 76ers' 125-108 win over the Miami Heat. He was 11-of-15 from the field and three-of-four from three-points range.

Ben Simmons notched a triple-double of 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the 76ers. Only Oscar Robertson (75 games) and Magic Johnson (190 games) have reached 30 career triple-doubles quicker than Simmons (228).

Chris Boucher had 25 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to help the Toronto Raptors beat the Charlotte Hornets 111-108.

A huge game from Domantas Sabonis (23 points and 15 rebounds) saw the Indiana Pacers past the Portland Trail Blazers 111-87.

After another four blocks and one steal, Pacers center Myles Turner reached 50 blocks and 18 steals through 12 games. He is the first player to have at least that many blocks and steals through his first 12 games of a season since David Robinson in 1992-93, as per Stats Perform.

 

Job done for 76ers despite Embiid struggles

Joel Embiid has enjoyed a superb start to the season, but the 76ers star struggled against Miami. He was three-of-eight from the field for just nine points in 23 minutes.

 

Bridges brilliance

Miles Bridges produced a huge dunk during the Hornets' loss to the Raptors. He finished with 12 points.

Thursday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors 111-108 Charlotte Hornets
Houston Rockets 109-105 San Antonio Spurs
Indiana Pacers 111-87 Portland Trail Blazers
Denver Nuggets 114-104 Golden State Warriors

 

Pelicans at Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers (10-3) are riding a four-game winning streak ahead of hosting the New Orleans Pelicans (4-6) on Friday. LeBron James is averaging 24.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game to begin the campaign.

Joel Embiid was the headline act as the Philadelphia 76ers held on to beat the Miami Heat 137-134 in overtime, while NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers won again.

Embiid went berserk with a 45-point, 16-rebound double-double, and a career-high five steals and four assists, in a dominant performance to help the 76ers past the shorthanded Heat in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The three-time All-Star had 10 points in the first half before carrying the 76ers with a stellar third quarter and clutch buckets in OT against the Heat, who were missing the likes of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

Embiid sent the game into overtime with a pull-up jumper 4.3 seconds from the end in the fourth period, while Dakota Mathias' only basket of the game – a go-ahead three-pointer with 26.1 seconds remaining – ensured the 76ers prevailed.

Philadelphia's Embiid became the first 76ers player with 45 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists in a game in franchise history since 1973-74, while he became the first NBA player with those stats since 1983-84.

In Houston, LeBron James starred as the in-form Lakers took down the Rockets for the second time in three days, winning 117-100.

James posted a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists to help the Lakers improve to 9-3 atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Davis contributed 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Lakers.

 

Green sets career high

Danny Green had a game to remember for the 76ers. He set a new career high with nine three-pointers against the Heat. It also tied a franchise record for the most three-pointers in a game, joining Dana Barros in 1995. The two-time NBA champion finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant flexed his muscles again, scoring 34 points, tallying 13 assists and grabbing nine rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets trumped the Denver Nuggets 122-116. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets.

 

Harden – out of shape and out of sorts

James Harden's uninspiring start to the season continued amid ongoing trade rumours. The former MVP – looking out of shape – made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes.

Rudy Gobert got paid in the offseason, signing a stunning contract in excess of $200million. He was far from convincing in the Utah Jazz's 117-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the 2020 All-Star collected 10 rebounds, he finished with just four points on two-of-seven shooting from the field in 25 minutes. Gobert also had two turnovers.

 

LeBron trolls Rockets

As a four-time champion and NBA MVP, James has faith in his ability. The Lakers superstar took it to another level when he nailed a no-look three-pointer against the Rockets.

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 137-134 Miami Heat (OT)
Brooklyn Nets 122-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 117-87 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-100 Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs 112-102 Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers 104-95 Golden State Warriors
Boston Celtics-Chicago Bulls (postponed)

 

Nets at Knicks

Bragging rights will be on the line when the New York Knicks (5-6) host city rivals the Brooklyn Nets (6-6) on Wednesday.

Stephen Curry may have endured the worst shooting performance of his NBA career, but he felt the Golden State Warriors took a step in the right direction against the Toronto Raptors.

Although two-time MVP Curry was 2-of-16 from the floor for 11 points, the Warriors still managed to secure a 106-105 victory over the Raptors at Chase Center on Sunday.

It was the Golden State guard's poorest shooting display in a game when he attempted more than four shots, his previous worst having been going 2-of-15 for four points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Christmas Day in 2010.

The lacklustre performance followed on from Curry scoring nine three-pointers in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday – his 26th game with as many makes from beyond the arc.

Asked if before the season he thought he would be able to be as inaccurate as he was against the Raptors and still end up on the winning team, Curry replied with a grin: "Well, I never thought I'd go 2-of-16. So, I never even thought about that."

However, he felt the Warriors improving to 6-4 showed they are on the right path after a difficult start to the season.

"It means we're moving in the right direction," said Curry, who still managed to contribute nine rebounds and six assists.

"My offense, I expect it to be there every night. And obviously with how teams are defending night to night, being able to figure that out, but in terms of us having confidence across the board no matter who's out on the floor, I like where we're at right now in terms of guys stepping up, staying within ourselves, spotting different ways to execute on that end of the floor.

"But forget my shooting, we don't win a game like this without our defense taking strides in the right direction. We all understood that and that definitely won us the game with how ugly it was on the offensive end."

Curry does not expect there to be any long-term impact from one sub-par outing on the offensive end.

"I've shot 0-for-11 one time and 1-for-10 and all everywhere in between," Curry said. "So mostly it's just keep shooting, and eventually it will find its way.

"I think you kind of have to stay engaged on the other parts of the game, obviously defensively, trying to get rebounds, be a decoy sometimes if necessary.

"There's a lot of different ways that you can still be impactful if you're not shooting, but at the end of the day, just keep shooting. I'm not worried about that. At all."

Head coach Steve Kerr added: "I think we have enough talent, enough weapons to overcome a bad shooting performance, so I don't even know that I need to say anything.

"If it happens, these guys all look at the box score, they know what's going on. And they know by this time that the key to our team is our defense. And we were very good defensively again, so we're absolutely heading in a good direction."

Anthony Davis led the way as defending NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers continued their fine form with a 120-102 win over James Harden's Houston Rockets.

Davis, who sat out on Friday due to a groin strain, returned to score 27 points in Sunday's victory against the Rockets in Houston.

LeBron James posted 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds as the Lakers won for the sixth time in seven games.

"[Tonight] was just A.D. being A.D. and just having him back in the line-up gives us a whole other dynamic both offensively and defensively," James said after the Lakers led by as many as 27 points.

Former MVP Harden finished with 20 points, while Rockets team-mate Christian Wood had 23 of his own.

It was a feisty game in Houston, where the Lakers' Markieff Morris and Rockets big man DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected in the opening half, while there were also five technical fouls and two flagrant fouls.

Kawhi Leonard reached a milestone after the Los Angeles Clippers held on to beat the Chicago Bulls 130-127.

Clippers star Leonard put up a season-high 35 points, including seven three-pointers, four assists and three steals to reach 10,000 career points.

Paul George contributed 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers, who snapped a run of back-to-back losses.

The Bulls were led by Zach LaVine's season-high 45 points away to the Clippers in Los Angeles.

 

Durant stars on return

Back on the court following a three-game absence, Kevin Durant scored 36 points and collected 11 rebounds, but the slumping Brooklyn Nets still lost 129-116 at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander inspired the Thunder with 31 points.

Julius Randle's double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds was not enough to lift the New York Knicks, who went down 114-89 to the Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic (22 points and 10 rebounds) propelled the Nuggets with a double-double of his own.

 

Curry struggles

While the Golden State Warriors trumped the struggling Toronto Raptors 106-105, Stephen Curry was uncharacteristically poor. Curry was just two-of-16 from the field, while he made only one of his 10 three-point attempts for 11 points in 38 minutes.

 

LeBron, the sniper!

James produced a moment of magic to unleash Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a stunning left-handed pass from deep.

Sunday's results

Utah Jazz 96-86 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Clippers 130-127 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 129-116 Brooklyn Nets
Denver Nuggets 114-89 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 120-102 Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves 96-88 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 106-105 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat-Boston Celtics (postponed)

 

76ers at Hawks

The high-flying Philadelphia 76ers (7-3) visit the Atlanta Hawks (4-5) on Monday. Doc Rivers and the 76ers are set to welcome back All-Star Joel Embiid, but Ben Simmons is expected to miss out after a depleted Philadelphia side – ravaged by coronavirus and injuries – lost to the Nuggets.

Steph Curry had Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and team-mate Eric Paschall purring about his game-changing impact in the comeback win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Golden State trailed 85-63 deep into the third quarter at Chase Center on Friday and looked set for a second straight loss to the Clippers, only for a 52-20 surge to see them emerge 115-105 winners.

Curry was the driving force behind that recovery, finishing with 38 points and 11 assists.

He was 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-14 from three-point range in the win, and now averages 30.6 points through nine games this season.

His efforts in triggering the recovery - 33 of Curry's points came when the Warriors were trailing - were at once exhilarating but also exactly what Kerr knows his star man can produce.

Kerr said. "It's just who Steph is. He's been doing this for many, many years and it's one of the reasons he's a two-time MVP and he's a phenomenal basketball player.

"Usually with Steph when he has a tough game he bounces back [in] the next one. That's part of his character, part of his competitiveness. He found something out there, he found some openings, and got himself going."

That "tough game" for Curry came in the 108-101 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday, when he had a season-low 13 points.

This time it was a different story, and Paschall, in his second season in the NBA, was thrilled to be able to share a court with a red-hot Curry.

"Sometimes I've gotta remember that I'm his team-mate," Paschall said. "I'm so used to watching it on TV.

"Sometimes I gotta remember like, 'Hey, hold on. You're playing with Steph'. But sometimes you do want to sit there and watch, I’m not going to lie. It's very entertaining.

"I get a front-row seat so I'm not complaining."

Curry exited early in the fourth quarter before returning to finish the job.

He explained how there had been some confusion about how prominent a role he would play in that final period, after misunderstanding a message from associate head coach Mike Brown.

"Me and Mike Brown, he told me at the end of the third quarter break ... he said something like he was going to give me a minute and I didn't hear what he said after that," Curry said.

"I thought I was coming out for a minute and was going to play 10 or 11 minutes in the fourth because I had a roll on.

"But he said, 'You're going to keep playing, I’ll give you possession for a minute and then take you out'."

When Curry stepped off the court after that minute, momentum was all with the Warriors. By the time he returned, they were ahead, a remarkable victory incoming.

Kawhi Leonard warned the Los Angeles Clippers "have to change" after they were made to pay by the Golden State Warriors for another second-half capitulation on Friday.

The Clippers held a commanding 85-63 lead with just over three minutes of the third quarter remaining at Chase Center, but slumped to a 115-105 defeat.

Steph Curry was their chief tormentor, scoring half of his 38 points in the third quarter to leave the Clippers 6-4 in the NBA Western Conference.

The Clippers have lost eight games when leading by at least 15 points since the start of last season, according to ESPN, letting more advantages by such a margin slip than any other team in that period.

Four-time NBA All-Star Leonard, who scored 24 points, said such collapses are unacceptable and must be addressed.

The small forward declared: "We just have to change, pretty much. We've got to change it. We've got to get better."

He added: "I'm not about to tell you what we're doing in the locker room. It's locker room talk."

Leonard felt the Clippers made it far too easy for the Warriors (5-4) to storm back and secure what appeared to be such an unlikely victory when they were so far behind.

"Our third quarter was terrible as far as defense. Them able to get easy looks, coming down just laying up the ball with no one there. Steph Curry did a few times." said Leonard.

"In that third quarter, just guys coming down and getting either open looks or just walking to the basket and laying up the ball."

Paul George, the Clippers' highest scorer with 25 points as well as laying on seven assists, echoed Leonard's sentiments.

He said: "We want to just be great as a unit, just demand greatness out of everybody. We've got to be better. All of us included. This was a team loss, more than anything. We've just got to get better. We'll work on it."

George added: "I think this is good that something like this happened for this team so early. Because fact of the matter is, we have to be a better closing-out team."

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors past the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, while the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back.

Curry's fine start to the NBA season continued in the Warriors' 115-105 win over the Clippers.

The guard had a double-double of 38 points and 11 assists as the Warriors (5-4) responded to their loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

Curry was 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-14 from three-point range in the win.

Paul George (25) and Kawhi Leonard (24) combined for 49 points for the Clippers, but they slipped to 6-4.

The Lakers bounced back from their loss to the San Antonio Spurs by overcoming the Chicago Bulls 117-115.

LeBron James' 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists led the Lakers, who were without Anthony Davis (strained adductor).

Zach LaVine finished with 38 points for the Bulls.

 

Bucks fall despite Giannis' display, Celtics win

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but the Milwaukee Bucks went down to the Utah Jazz 131-118.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz, posting 32 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown continued his good form with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds in the Boston Celtics' 116-107 win over the Washington Wizards. Brown and Jayson Tatum (32 points) became the third pair of team-mates in the past 20 seasons to each record 250-plus points in their team's first 10 games, joining Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant (2001-02) and Curry and Kevin Durant (three times).

The Wizards slumped to 2-7 despite Bradley Beal's 41 points.

Caris LeVert exploded for 43 points, but the Brooklyn Nets – without Durant and Kyrie Irving – were edged by the Memphis Grizzlies 115-110.

 

Magic misery

The Orlando Magic have made a good start to the season, but they shot at just 38.2 per cent in a 132-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. Orlando are now 6-3.

 

Brotherly battle

LaMelo and Lonzo Ball did battle on Friday. LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 118-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Friday's results

Detroit Pistons 110-105 Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics 116-107 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 118-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 101-89 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 132-90 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 115-110 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 131-118 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 144-123 Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors 115-105 Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-115 Chicago Bulls

 

Cavaliers at Bucks

The Bucks (5-4) will look to bounce back when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-4) on Saturday.

The Golden State Warriors are not overly concerned by Stephen Curry's ankle issue in the defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers as the superstar point guard is confident it will not prove a major setback.

Curry's outstanding run of form was checked in Wednesday's 108-101 reverse at Chase Center.

The two-time NBA MVP had scored a career-high 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and then added another 30 versus the Sacramento Kings in the Warriors' past two games.

Yet Curry contributed only 13 points against the Clippers, bringing his season average down to 29.6, and shot one-of-six from beyond the arc.

More concerningly, Curry was not able to finish the game as he complained of an ankle problem in the fourth quarter and exited with just over a minute remaining.

But head coach Steve Kerr had positive news for Golden State fans, who have already seen Klay Thompson condemned to another long-term lay-off after the team's 2019-20 season was wrecked by injury woes.

"He did tweak it. He told me it's not serious," Kerr said on Wednesday. "He'll come in tomorrow and get treatment and we'll check it out.

"The good news is Steph does not think it's anything too serious."

The Warriors had led earlier in the fourth quarter despite Curry's failure to make an impact, with each of their five starters finishing with a negative plus/minus.

Kerr's second unit instead led the way, as Eric Paschall scored 19 points in 20 minutes, but the Golden State coach paid tribute to the Clippers' defensive effort.

"There was not a ton of rhythm or flow," he said. "We played a team that's going to be – at full strength, like they were tonight – one of the best defensive teams in the league, with a ton of length.

"They did a really good job. I thought they played an excellent defensive game. They hounded Steph and we couldn't find a rhythm."

Kerr reserved praise for his own defense, too, describing Draymond Green as "the best defensive player in the world" after he weighed in with six defensive rebounds and two steals.

And the coach suggested this was a key reason for a slow start to the game, although he was asked if the riot on Capitol Hill earlier in the day had also contributed.

"There was a strange energy in the air at the beginning of the game and that may have been a factor," Kerr said, having addressed the issue at length prior to tip-off.

The Boston Celtics edged the Miami Heat in the NBA on Wednesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks claimed their third straight win.

In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics overcame the Heat 107-105 in Miami.

Jayson Tatum (27 points) and Jaylen Brown (21 points and 12 rebounds) led the Celtics (6-3) to their win.

But Payton Pritchard (six points) made the decisive lay-up with 0.2 seconds remaining to secure the win.

The teams kneeled in protest ahead of the clash, in response to a riot on Capitol Hill and after no charges were brought against the police officer who shot and seriously injured Jacob Blake, a black man, in Kenosha in August last year.

Meanwhile, the Bucks made it three straight wins by easing past the Detroit Pistons 130-115.

Giannis Antetokounmpo guided Milwaukee into a 5-3 record with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

 

Hayward heroic, Beal brilliance not enough for Wizards

Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 44 points to see the Charlotte Hornets past the Atlanta Hawks 102-94.

Bradley Beal equalled a Washington Wizards record, but it was not enough. Beal tied the franchise record with 60 points in a 141-136 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Joel Embiid once again inspired the 76ers, scoring 38 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists as they improved to 7-1.

A 35-point haul from Malcolm Brogdon helped the Indiana Pacers beat the Houston Rockets 114-107.

 

Curry cools off

After 92 points in the previous two games, Stephen Curry cooled off. He went five-of-17 from the field for 13 points in 35 minutes as the Golden State Warriors fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 108-101.

 

Beal ties record

Beal was in spectacular form for the Wizards. He equalled Gilbert Arenas' record of 60 points for the Wizards against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006.

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 114-107 Houston Rockets
Orlando Magic 105-94 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 141-136 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 102-94 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 107-105 Miami Heat
New York Knicks 112-100 Utah Jazz
Milwaukee Bucks 130-115 Detroit Pistons
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Phoenix Suns 123-115 Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Clippers 108-101 Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings 128-124 Chicago Bulls

 

76ers at Nets

The 76ers will look to continue their good start to the season when they take on the Brooklyn Nets (4-4). The Nets will again be without star Kevin Durant, who is in quarantine.

Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors team-mates have been playing with extra spice over the past week.

Questionable puns aside, the sight of a fit and firing Curry is certainly no laughing matter for defences across the NBA.

A golden era for the Warriors saw Steve Kerr's team reach the NBA Finals in five seasons running from 2015 to 2019, with Curry and the rest of a star-studded roster winning the title three times.

But a 2019-2020 season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic was one of injury woe and transition for a Warriors side that finished bottom of the Western Conference (15-50), while they were a world away from playing in the NBA bubble in Orlando where the end of the regular season and the entire postseason was played.

The departures of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala hit the Warriors after Klay Thompson had sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and Curry managed just five games in an injury-hit campaign.

However, after losing their opening two games this season, the Warriors have won four of the past five and welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to Chase Center on Wednesday with a 4-3 record – with Curry starring in wins against the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.

Five of the Warriors' next seven games come against teams with a .500 record or better, including a double-header versus the Clippers, and there is much intrigue as to whether Kerr's men can be a sustained threat this season.

TOP PERFORMERS

Golden State Warriors - Stephen Curry

Curry and the Warriors were certainly not firing on all cylinders in defeats to the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks to start the season – although his 20 and 19 points respectively were a team high.

Only one defeat has followed since then, though, and 32-year-old Curry has provided a timely reminder of his enduring quality including a barnstorming showing in defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 137-122 on Monday.

Curry sank a career-high 62 points in that game, as well as offering five rebounds and four assists, before following up with 30 against the Kings (nine rebounds, eight assists).

Consequently, the outlook for the Warriors and Curry himself looks a lot healthier. In the early throes of this season, he has averaged 32.0 points - second-most in the league - while his player efficiency rating (PER) ranks third.

His 32.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for 2020-21 are outperforming his career averages for the regular season (23.6 and 4.5), while his 6.4 for assists is only slightly lower (6.6).

A 36.9 per cent success rate from three-point range is way down on the 43.4 overall in his career, yet he was at 50.0 and 41.7 per cent in this metric over the Warriors' past two wins.

Golden State may need to find more assistance for Curry, though. The return to action of Draymond Green has allowed his superstar team-mate more space on the floor, but Andrew Wiggins (17.6) and rookie James Wiseman (11.4) are the side's next-highest average scorers. Without Thompson, the Warriors need a little more from their supporting cast.

TOP PERFORMERS

Los Angeles Clippers - Kawhi Leonard

Much was expected of a Clippers side that combined star-studded duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the 2019-20 season.

But the Clippers surrendered a 3-1 lead to lose their Western Conference semifinal series to the Denver Nuggets last season and it has been a mixed bag thus far.

Defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday left the Clippers at 5-3, and the Warriors might have to beware the wounded animal if they are to make a statement of their intent.

George missed that game due to ankle soreness, with Leonard putting up 30 points and 10 assists in the losing effort.

George leads the way for average points (25.1) for the Clippers this season, but Leonard (23.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists) is typically impressing across the board.

The efforts of Leonard are going to be particularly crucial if George, whose injury status is day-to-day, fails to make it against the Warriors.

KEY BATTLE: CAN BEVERLEY CONTAIN CURRY?

The best offensive point guard in Curry comes up against one of the league's best defensive point guards in Patrick Beverley. 

Beverley was on it against Spurs, contributing 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, along with two blocks, and it will be his job to be a nuisance against Curry.

If Beverley, a man with a penchant for trash talking, can keep Curry quiet then it is hard to imagine the Warriors will have the scoring power to take down the Clippers.

That being said, if Curry gains the upper hand in this battle of the guards then the Warriors can make a huge statement about their credentials this season.

HEAD TO HEAD

It was a clean sweep for the Clippers in the three games they played against the Warriors in 2019-20.

The most recent of those matchups was way back on March 10, though – a game in which Leonard put up 23 points in a 131-107 rout of the Warriors.

History is with the Warriors overall, with Golden State triumphing in 131 games to the Clippers' 90 from the 221 occasions on which the teams have faced off in the NBA's regular season.

Stephen Curry has no doubt the Golden State Warriors continue to get the absolute best from their opponents each time the team take to the court and he would have it no other way.

The superstar shooter followed up a career-high return of 62 points in the beating of the Portland Trail Blazers with another 30 in the Warriors' 137-106 triumph over the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Curry also finished with nine rebounds and eight assists, while the 32-year-old had chalked up 23 points by half-time on the back of seven-for-11 shooting, including four-for-seven on three-pointers.

The Warriors are now 4-3 for the season and are showing positive signs despite losing Klay Thompson for the season, while the transition to life without the likes of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala continues.

It remains to be seen if the Warriors can produce the kind of form that led them to five straight NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019 but Curry feels their opponents still treat them as a huge threat each night.

"100 percent [we get the best]," Curry said following the victory over the Kings. 

"And that's how it's supposed to be. There are teams that were in the bubble, in the playoffs last year in both conferences that we're going to be doing that to them. 

"So, it's always the game within the game and that competition's exciting knowing that there's a little bit more meaning based on what we did the last five years and other teams' experience playing against us. That's part of the journey. We love it."

After a tough opening week, Curry is back into a groove helped in part by the return of team-mate Draymond Green, who was absent for pre-season and the opening four games of the campaign due to a mix of a foot problem and adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

The Warriors finished with an NBA season-high of 41 assists against the Kings and Curry acknowledged the return of Green has been vital.

"Draymond obviously has helped a lot in terms of getting us organized," he added. 

"And especially when I get off the ball and starting again. And so [Sunday], started seeing pictures of it a little bit clearer and understand spacing and, obviously, guys have got to make shots, and everybody pitched in. 

"It was a really good effort across the board, guys staying ready off the bench, and defensively, we gave ourselves energy and life from the beginning. On a back-to-back, you need that presence to get everything flowing, and then it translated to good offense."

Seven players hit double figures as the Philadelphia 76ers surged to 6-1 while Malcolm Brogdon landed an overtime winner as the Indiana Pacers take up chase in the East.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia remain ahead of the pack after a second-quarter flurry helped to sink the Charlotte Hornets, 118-101, with Tobias Harris leading the scoring on 22 points.

Joel Embiid (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (12 points and 10 rebounds) played key supporting roles with double-doubles as the 76ers continue to fly high.

Indiana improved to 5-2 in a 118-116 thriller against the New Orleans Pelicans after Brogdon capped his double-double with the clutch OT winner, while Victor Oladipo top scored for the Pacers with 25 points.

In-form Pelicans duo Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson combined for 55 points in the loss, as Ingram scored 31 and Williamson recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Orlando also stayed in the hunt for top spot as Aaron Gordon (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (23 points) inspired the Magic to move to 5-3 with a 103-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Malcolm Brogdon hits the game-winning floater in OT as the @Pacers pick up their 5th W of the season!

Brogdon: 21 PTS, 7 REB, 11 AST
Victor Oladipo: 25 PTS, 6 AST
Brandon Ingram: 31 PTS, 8 AST
Zion Williamson: 24 PTS, 10 REB pic.twitter.com/XfWbcMXemJ

— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2021


Doncic, Giannis go off as Mavs and Bucks win

Luka Doncic dominated with 33 points and a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks ended the Houston Rockets’ winning streak with a 113-100 win.

Doncic added 16 rebounds and 11 assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr shot for 30 points to boost the Mavs. Houston's Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and a returning James Harden all put up more than 20 points.

The NBA is back! A shortened schedule, a new play-in tournament and increased roster sizes have created plenty of interest in a new season.

A December start seems to have caught a few of the potential title hopefuls a little cold, though it is still early days. The key is not about starting fast, but finishing strong.

Still, some have hit the ground running. Each week, Stats Perform will take a look at the players who are impressing, as well as those seemingly stuck in a bit of a slump.

For this opening edition, however, all statistical comparisons are made to performances on average across the entire 2019-20 season.
 

RUNNING HOT... 

Stephen Curry (32.3ppg versus 20.8ppg) 

Scoring 62 points in a game sure helps to boost the average. Curry actually started out a little slowly – hardly a surprise considering injury meant he played just five games in the previous campaign – as he made only 13 of his combined 48 field goal attempts in defeats to the Nets and Bucks. However, Curry was certainly cooking against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, hitting eight three-pointers as he posted a new career-high points total. So far in this season, he is making 4.3 three-pointers per outing. 

Christian Wood (23.8ppg versus 13.1ppg) 

These are uncertain times in Houston, where James Harden seemingly no longer wants to be. While his future remains the headline story for the franchise, Christian Wood has quickly shown why he was such an astute signing. Having gone undrafted out of college, the 25-year-old flashed potential with the Detroit Pistons in 2019-20, tempting the Rockets to sign him to a three-year, $41million deal. Their reward? Wood has averaged 23.8 points while playing 36.5 minutes for a team that boasts a 2-2 record through four games. 

Kyle Anderson (16.7ppg versus 5.8ppg) 

Opportunity knocks for Anderson in Memphis due to the absence of Jaren Jackson Jr with a knee issue. The forward's minutes on court have risen as a result – and so, too, has his production. Having never averaged in double digits for points for his previous six seasons in the NBA, Anderson is now up at 16.7 per game for the Grizzlies. Ja Morant was, less surprisingly, on the rise in terms of his scoring output as well, up at 26.3 points per game before suffering an ankle injury. 

Luguentz Dort (14.6ppg versus 6.8ppg) 

Someone has to score points for Oklahoma, right? GM Sam Presti is clearly in it for the long haul in terms of a rebuild, considering the number of moves made in the offseason and draft picks now owned by the team. Still, Dort remains on the roster and has stepped up to accept greater responsibility. The Canadian has raised his successful three-point attempts from an average of 0.8 to 2.4 a game, shooting an impressive 44.4 per cent from deep. Team-mate Isaiah Roby is another to catch the eye for the Thunder, averaging 13 points and 6.5 total rebounds.


GOING COLD...

Devonte' Graham (9.0ppg versus 18.2ppg)

The moment Charlotte selected fellow point guard LaMelo Ball with the third pick in the draft, Graham was under pressure. He retained his starting job in the Hornets' backcourt but the pressure is mounting now, considering the form of both players. While Ball seems to be a quick learner after some preseason concerns, his teammate has struggled. Graham is at just nine points per game - half his average from the previous season. His three-point shooting has dipped to 2.0 made per outing from 3.5. He forced himself off the bench and into the rotation for the Hornets last year, yet could soon find himself moving in the opposite direction.

Jimmy Butler (8.3ppg versus 19.9ppg)

There are reasons behind the five-time NBA All-Star's sluggish start. Butler has featured in just three games so far - and one of those he only played in the first half, with an ankle issue keeping him off the court for the remainder of the clash with the Pelicans. He averaged 19.9 per game for a Heat team that made it all the way to the Finals last term. The early going has seen an 11.6-point decrease in his scoring output, though expect that to rise as the weeks progress.

Kelly Oubre Jr. (9.7ppg versus 18.7ppg)

Oubre was on the merry-go-round headlined by Chris Paul going from Oklahoma to Phoenix. His form last season with the Suns was not enough for the Thunder to keep him around, though, as they dealt him to Golden State. It has not been plain sailing with the Warriors; while not required to contribute quite so much on offense for his new team, the concern is his three-point shooting. Having made 1.9 on average per game last season, Oubre's been successful with two of his 30 attempts so far. The early report card for him reads as such: Must do better.

Stephen Curry called on a Michael Jordan meme to explain his attitude towards the criticism he received prior to scoring a career-high 62 points as the Golden State Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Two-time NBA MVP Curry averaged 26.4 points and 6.6 assists through the first five games of the season, but with the Warriors 2-3 and his shooting percentages down, his ability to lead the team back to the playoffs without a supporting cast of fellow superstars was brought into question.

Of the Golden State team that reached the 2019 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins have left, Klay Thompson is expected to miss the entire season with a knee injury and Draymond Green only made his first appearances of 2020-21 in the double-header against the Trail Blazers.

Curry issued an emphatic response, scoring 62 points on 18-of-31 shooting (58.1 per cent) in a 137-122 victory for Golden State, making eight three-pointers in a single game for the 49th time in his career.

The 31-year-old posted career-highs in free throws made (18) and attempted (19) as he became the first Warrior since Thompson in 2016 to drop at least 60 points in a single game.

Speaking after the game, he referenced the mindset Jordan described possessing during the 1997-98 season with the Chicago Bulls on 'The Last Dance'.  

Curry said: "Cue the Jordan meme, right? 'I take all that personally.' I sensed the opportunity to kind of assert my will on the game early and try to create some energy and get off on the right foot.

"As crazy as it sounds after the game, all we really wanted to do was win the first quarter and take it from there. Obviously, that's what we did, and we continued the momentum.

"We have a winning spirit, we've just got to figure out how to do it consistently, and against the good teams in the league, it's gonna test us."

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was surprised to hear that Curry had been coming under fire early in the season, claiming it is tougher for him to dominate games than the likes of LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis.

"I'm honestly not playing dumb. Does he really take criticism? I hope they're saying something good about him tonight," said Kerr.

"If you think about most of the guys who are considered the best in the league, they're physical freaks of nature: LeBron, Giannis, Anthony Davis. Steph is 6-3, 180 pounds, so he has to carry a game with skill, he can't carry a game with physicality and athleticism.

"That would be the only thing I could think of that would make people criticise him. It's much harder to carry a team single-handedly by making 35-footers all day – the same thing with Damian [Lillard] and CJ [McCollum], those guys are incredible shot-makers.

"But if you're not 6-8 and 250, you can't really dominate a game in other ways. That's probably my best guess as to the criticism."

Green added: "I think that was right up there with the best of them, just because of all the talk that's been going around.

"Steph has the tendency at times to f*** around with the basketball. There was no f****** around. He came out and everything was a shot or attack."

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry just wanted to "stay in the moment" as he approached his career-high of 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Curry exploded for 62 points to lead the Warriors past the Trail Blazers 137-122 in the NBA on Sunday.

The two-time NBA MVP was 18-of-31 from the field and eight-of-16 from three-point range to set a personal best.

"You try to just continue to stay humble and stay in the moment. That's the best way to approach it," Curry told NBC Sports after the game.

"It doesn't help when your team-mates are yelling at you every dead ball how many points you've got, but other than that it's just don't do anything differently, just keep being aggressive, being decisive and good things happen."

Curry was also 18-of-19 from the free-throw line as he became the first Warriors player to score 62-plus points since Rick Barry in March 1974.

Damian Lillard (32) and CJ McCollum (28) combined for 60 points for the Trail Blazers.

Curry said he enjoyed coming up against the likes of Lillard, who is a five-time NBA All-Star.

"It's always the best guys in the league, especially the point guard position, bring the best out of you," he said.

"If you're around this league long enough you kind of get to see every kind of scenario and situation and we have a lot to fight for and a huge challenge in front of us.

"They're the established team now so for a guy like him, it always brings the best out of you and I love the competition and that's kind of what it is."

The Warriors are 3-3 to begin the NBA season and Golden State face the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.