The Philadelphia 76ers lost Ben Simmons to injury in another NBA road defeat on Saturday, while the Miami Heat paid tribute to Dwyane Wade.

Simmons left a 119-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first quarter after aggravating an existing back problem and will reportedly undergo an MRI on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo relished his fellow All-Star's absence, putting up 31 points and 17 rebounds in a double-double that condemned Philadelphia to a sixth successive away loss.

The 76ers (35-22) sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, one place behind the Heat (36-20) following their 124-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The win added to a memorable occasion as Miami welcomed former favourite Wade back to AmericanAirlines Arena, officially retiring the number three jersey he wore during the team's NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

Wade, 38, retired at the end of last season after returning to the Heat for his career swansong.

 

Harden hot in valuable Houston victory

James Harden hit a game-high 38 points while Russell Westbrook went 14-of-26 for 34 points as the Houston Rockets topped the Utah Jazz 120-110.

The Jazz struggled to handle Houston's small-ball approach and are now level with the Rockets at 36-20.

Kawhi Leonard tallied 31 points and eight rebounds but the Los Angeles Clippers lost for the third time in as many games, going down to the Sacramento Kings 112-103.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks overcame a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-107.

Trae Young and John Collins each recorded double-doubles to inspire the Hawks to their 17th win of a lean campaign.

 

Kawhi a lone performer for cold Clippers

Leonard did his part against the Kings at Staples Center but the reigning MVP had little help from his fellow Clippers starters, all of whom failed to reach double figures for points.

Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet were particularly culpable, the pair making just three of their combined 12 three-point attempts.

 

Bam drops the hammer

Fresh from winning the Skills Challenge on NBA All-Star Weekend, Heat big man Bam Adebayo put on another show with a huge dunk against the Cavaliers.

 

Saturday's results

Sacramento Kings 112-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Brooklyn Nets 115-86 Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks 111-107 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 124-105 Cleveland Cavaliers
Phoenix Suns 112-104 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 119-98 Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets 120-110 Utah Jazz

 

Celtics at Lakers

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers entertain Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the pick of Sunday's seven games.

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook bemoaned always being considered "the bad guy" and queried why more players were not punished in the incident that led to his ejection against the Golden State Warriors.

Nine-time All-Star Westbrook's night ended prematurely when he received two technical fouls in Houston's 135-105 victory.

The second of those technical fouls came in the fourth quarter after Westbrook caught Damion Lee with a stray arm.

The situation was only exacerbated when Westbrook then argued with players on Golden State's bench, including the injured Klay Thompson, before confronting Kevon Looney prior to being ejected.

"I hold myself to a very, very high standard," Westbrook told reporters afterwards.

"I think the refs, the fans, the media, the NBA are put in a position now that I'm not allowed to really do much. Obviously I'm an emotional guy.

"If you watch the clip, obviously I hit Lee but it wasn't on purpose. I'm going to the glass, he got hit. He said something to me, I said something to him.

"I'm standing there, a guy [Juan Toscano-Anderson] comes to snatch the ball out of my hand. Guys come running to me, I didn't move.

"But I'm always the one who gets painted to be the bad guy in the whole situation.

"They asked me to walk towards the Warriors bench. I'm just over there walking towards the bench and then one of the little young fellas tells me, 'Why you walking over here?'

"I turned around and said, 'What did you say?' So now everybody's running over to me, then I'm walking towards the thing, then Looney steps in front of me.

"I feel like I'm in a position where it's like, 'Oh, well. Russ is being Russ', which nobody knows what that means.

"But I've got to do a better job of holding myself to a very, very high standard. I'll make sure I leave no room for error to allow somebody to paint me out to be a guy that I'm not."

However, Westbrook, who had 21 points and 10 assists before his exit, felt he was singled out and that others should have been punished too.

"I just think it's unfair, though, that after all of that, I'm the only one who gets a tech or kicked out," added Westbrook, who leads the NBA with 13 technical fouls this season.

"That's not fair, I don't care what nobody says.

"There were so many other people involved in it that were doing so many things that weren't okay but I'm the one that gets the tech, gets ejected, and everyone else is cool and gets back to play.

"But I take responsibility and I hold myself to a very high standard."

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks resumed their NBA season with a comfortable win, while the Houston Rockets cruised on Thursday.

Back in action after the All-Star break, the Bucks improved to 47-8 with a 126-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double of 33 points and 16 rebounds, while Khris Middleton poured in 28 points.

Eric Bledsoe went eight-of-14 from the field for his 19 points and Brook Lopez contributed 18 for the Bucks.

The Rockets were untroubled by the Golden State Warriors in a 135-105 thrashing.

James Harden (29 points and 10 assists) and Russell Westbrook (21 points and 10 assists) finished with double-doubles.

All five of Houston's starters finished with double-digits for points, with Robert Covington adding 20.

 

Young red-hot as Embiid lifts 76ers

Trae Young had a career-high 50 points in the Atlanta Hawks' 129-124 win over the Miami Heat.

Joel Embiid's double-double of 39 points and 16 rebounds helped the Philadelphia 76ers past the Brooklyn Nets 112-104 after overtime.

Malik Monk's 25 points off the bench helped the Charlotte Hornets beat the Chicago Bulls 103-93.

 

Bulls' slump continues

The Bulls' loss was their seventh straight as they were left with a 19-37 record and in 11th in the Eastern Conference.

 

Young from deep

Young went eight-of-15 from three-point range in a dazzling display.

Thursday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 126-106 Detroit Pistons
Atlanta Hawks 129-124 Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers 112-104 Brooklyn Nets
Charlotte Hornets 103-93 Chicago Bulls
Sacramento Kings 129-125 Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets 135-105 Golden State Warriors

 

Grizzlies at Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers (41-12) resume their campaign against the Memphis Grizzlies (28-27) at the Staples Center on Friday.

James Harden believes his partnership with Russell Westbrook can be "pretty scary" after they became only the second team-mates this season to score at least 35 points each in the same game.

The two combined for 78 points as the Rockets recorded a 116-105 home win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday that ended their opponents' run of seven straight victories.

Harden scored 42, including seven three-pointers, with Westbrook adding 36 as they followed Los Angeles Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to become the second NBA team-mates to achieve the feat in 2019-20.

Leonard and George did it in a December game against the Minnesota Timberwolves but this was the first time it had happened in Rockets team history, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Harden and Westbrook's exploits helped the Rockets bounce back from two consecutive defeats to move to 34-20, good for fifth in the Western Conference.

"It's pretty scary," Harden said, per ESPN, of his and Westbrook's potential.

Westbrook is relishing having an open floor to attack due to Harden and Houston's other three-point threats. The Rockets are playing with a small-ball lineup having traded center Clint Capela.

He added: "It's tough to guard, especially when I'm attacking and making plays and being able to do what I need to do to be effective.

"We made a big change, and we've got to get adjusted to that with Clint gone. So we're just kind of getting acclimated to that. I think we've got it moving in the right direction.

"We can be pretty successful. We've just got to find ways to continue to be effective, efficient and make the right plays."

Westbrook also had 10 rebounds and five assists, while Harden had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Coach Mike D'Antoni is keen to utilise the strengths of his two All-Stars.

"For Russell, [the spacing created by small lineups] is really advantageous, and it will be for James, too," said D'Antoni.

"It makes them really hard to guard and it's helping both of them. It opens up the floor. Both of them are great drivers and great finishers and it should trickle down to everybody else, too."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew he had been up against elite competition, adding: "Harden was great and Westbrook was great. Those guys are two of the best in the world and they showed it again."

A Ben Simmons triple-double inspired the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-103 victory at home to Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA.

Simmons posted his second successive triple-double, finishing with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the 76ers in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

It was his sixth triple-double of the season and 30th of his career as the 76ers – who already boast the NBA's best home record at 25-2 – won their third straight to improve to 34-21 for the campaign.

Josh Richardson scored 17 of his 21 points in the final quarter, while Joel Embiid contributed 26 points at Wells Fargo Center.

Clippers superstar Leonard had 30 points for the visitors, who fell to 37-17 in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets snapped the Boston Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

James Harden registered 42 points and Russell Westbrook had 36 points to go with 10 rebounds as the Rockets trumped the Celtics 116-105 in Houston.

Gordon Hayward top scored with 20 points for the Celtics against the Rockets, who ended a run of back-to-back losses.

 

Zion stars as Pelicans soar

Zion Williamson produced another dominant performance. The star rookie had a season-high 31 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Portland Trail Blazers 138-117.

Zach LaVine put up 41 points but the Chicago Bulls still lost 126-114 at the Washington Wizards, who were led by Bradley Beal's 30.

The San Antonio Spurs snapped a five-game skid by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-106 thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge's 25 points and 14 rebounds.

 

George struggles in Philadelphia

Paul George never got going against the 76ers. The Clippers star was just three of 15 from the field and one of four from three-point range for 11 points in 35 minutes. He did have 12 rebounds for a double-double, but it was far from George's usual best.

After back-to-back games of 30 or more points off the bench, Furkan Korkmaz was drafted into Philadelphia's starting five at the expense of Al Horford. However, Korkmaz had a game to forget. In 23 minutes, he was scoreless – 0 of five from the field, while he missed all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.

 

Simmons… somehow

The Australian All-Star put on a show in Philadelphia. This incredible piece of improvisation sent the 76ers on their way.

 

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 110-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards 126-114 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 138-117 Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs 114-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 116-105 Boston Celtics

 

Raptors at Nets

Riding a franchise-record winning streak, NBA champions the Toronto Raptors (40-14) will look to make it 16 straight victories when they visit the Brooklyn Nets (24-28) on Wednesday. The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are also in action.

The Los Angeles Clippers handed the Cleveland Cavaliers the worst home loss in their history, while Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant posted his first NBA triple-double.

Lou Williams scored 25 points as the Clippers crushed the Cavaliers 133-92 in Cleveland on Sunday.

Cleveland's previous worst home loss was a 39-point defeat against the Chicago Bulls in 2012.

Paul George contributed 22 points for the Clippers, who were playing without star Kawhi Leonard (sore knee) following Saturday's embarrassing 142-115 loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.

Andre Drummond started his first game for the Cavs since being traded by the Detroit Pistons at the deadline and he posted 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Grizzlies sensation Morant had a night to remember as Memphis defeated the Washington Wizards 106-99.

Morant put up 27 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds to help the Grizzlies see off the Wizards in Washington.

 

Furkan stars off the bench… again

There is no stopping Furkan Korkmaz at the moment. After posting a career-high 34 points against the Grizzlies, Korkmaz had 31 in the Philadelphia 76ers' 118-111 victory over the Chicago Bulls. He was 12 of 17 from the field and six of 11 from three-point range. Ben Simmons recorded his fifth triple-double (19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) of the season on Australian Heritage Night in Philadelphia, while Joel Embiid scored 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Trae Young came up big for the Atlanta Hawks, who prevailed 140-135 against the New York Knicks after double overtime. Young had 48 points and 13 assists – the ninth time he has scored at least 40 points this season. John Collins added 32 points and 16 rebounds for the Hawks. The Knicks were led by Julius Randle's 35 points and 18 rebounds.

The Boston Celtics won their seventh straight game behind a balanced performance from their starters, who all had double-digit points, headlined by Jayson Tatum (26, 11 rebounds) and Kemba Walker (27).

Russell Westbrook (39 points) and James Harden (28 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) starred but the Houston Rockets lost 114-113 at home to the Utah Jazz. Jordan Clarkson contributed 30 points off the bench for the Jazz.

 

Horford struggles again

Much has been made about Al Horford and his impact, or lack thereof, in Philadelphia. The high-profile recruit did not score a point against the Bulls. He was 0 of six from the field and missed both shots from beyond the arc in 30 minutes of action.

Austin Rivers did not make a shot from the field after 19 minutes. The Rockets guard was 0 of four from the floor, while he missed both of his three-point attempts.

 

Bojan stuns Rockets

With 1.6 seconds remaining, Bojan Bogdanovic nailed a buzzer-beating three to silence the Rockets in Houston.

 

Sunday's results

Boston Celtics 112-111 Oklahoma City Thunder
Memphis Grizzlies 106-99 Washington Wizards
Atlanta Hawks 140-135 New York Knicks (Double OT)
Philadelphia 76ers 118-111 Chicago Bulls
Utah Jazz 114-113 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 133-92 Cleveland Cavaliers
Portland Trail Blazers 115-109 Miami Heat

 

Timberwolves at Raptors

Amid a franchise-record 14-game winning streak, reigning champions the Toronto Raptors (39-14) welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-35) to Scotiabank Arena on Monday.

Bojan Bogdanovic said he should not have even been on the court to produce his game-winner for the Utah Jazz against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Bogdanovic had struggled for much of the contest, but hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Jazz to a 114-113 win over the Rockets in the NBA.

The forward finished with eight points in 32 minutes on two-of-seven shooting as Utah improved to 34-18.

Bogdanovic praised Utah's coaching staff for giving him the chance despite his below-par performance.

"First of all, I wasn't supposed to be on the court on the last play the way I played the whole game," he told AT&T SportsNet.

"But that's the coaching staff, they believe in me, they gave me the opportunity to shoot the game-winning shot.

"I stayed confident, I know that I'm able to hit all shots and at the end of the game it's a very important W for us."

James Harden finished with a triple-double of 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Rockets, while Russell Westbrook had 39 points.

Bogdanovic talked up the importance of the win for Utah, who edged clear of Houston in fourth in the Western Conference.

"That was our game plan, to take the ball out of James' hands. We did a great job the whole game," he said.

"Rudy [Gobert] was guarding big time Russell Westbrook all game, but like I said big and really important victory for us."

Reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to 13 games, while the Philadelphia 76ers claimed a crucial victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Raptors (38-14) stayed hot with a 115-106 win away to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday – a franchise record 10th straight road victory.

Serge Ibaka fuelled the Raptors with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Fred VanVleet (20 points) and Kyle Lowry (16 points, 11 assists) made solid contributions.

Lowry moved third on Toronto's all-time list for scoring, surpassing Vince Carter, before leaving the game with whiplash.

Eastern Conference rivals the 76ers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Grizzlies 119-107 in Philadelphia.

Struggling on the road, the 76ers impressed again at Wells Fargo Center thanks to 22 points and 10 assists from Ben Simmons.

A stiff neck limited Joel Embiid to 10 points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes.

 

What the Furk?

Forget about Simmons, Embiid and Tobias Harris, it was the Furkan Korkmaz show in Philadelphia. Korkmaz had a career-high 34 points. The Turkish import made 13 of 17 shots, including seven of nine three-pointers.

All-Star Jayson Tatum posted 32 points to lead the Boston Celtics past the Atlanta Hawks 112-107. John Collins had 30 points for the visiting Hawks.

Kelly Oubre Jr. (39) and Devin Booker (33) combined for 72 points as the Phoenix Suns crushed the Houston Rockets 127-91.

 

Brown headlines Pistons' struggles

The post-Andre Drummond error started with a loss for the Detroit Pistons and starter Bruce Brown was among those to struggle in the 108-101 loss at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Brown was one of nine from the field for just four points in 33 minutes.

Only two Grizzlies starters reached double-digit points – Ja Morant (15) and Jonas Valanciunas (14, 10 rebounds). Jaren Jackson Jr. (six points), Dillon Brooks (nine points) and Kyle Anderson (six) struggled.

Russell Westbrook sat out and the Houston had a night to forget. While James Harden recorded 32 points, his Rockets team-mates struggled. Houston only made 29 of 85 shots at 34.1 per cent.

 

Beal with the game-winner!

Bradley Beal was the hero for the Washington Wizards, who stunned the Dallas Mavericks 119-118 at the buzzer.

 

Friday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 119-107 Memphis Grizzlies
Boston Celtics 112-107 Atlanta Hawks
Oklahoma City Thunder 108-101 Detroit Pistons
Toronto Raptors 115-106 Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards 119-118 Dallas Mavericks
Phoenix Suns 127-91 Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings 105-97 Miami Heat
Utah Jazz 117-114 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Lakers at Warriors

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers and in-form Raptors are in action on Saturday, however, all eyes will be on the Los Angeles Lakers. After being upstaged by the Rockets at Staples Center, LeBron James and the Lakers (38-12) travel to the lowly Golden State Warriors (12-40).

Russell Westbrook paid tribute to "mentor, friend and brother" Kobe Bryant after inspiring the Houston Rockets to victory at the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA great Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Lakers, and his teenage daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Westbrook grew up in California and put up 41 points as the Rockets ran out 121-111 winners at Staples Center on Thursday.

Speaking to TNT post-game, Westbrook dedicated his performance to Bryant.

"Man, it's a blessing. I don't take this game for granted," Westbrook said. 

"Kobe was a mentor, a friend, a brother to me and every time I step on this floor it's definitely going out to him. 

"Every night I step on the floor, I keep him and his family in my thoughts."

LeBron James contributed 18 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds in the Lakers' losing effort and he believes Westbrook, now 31, has mixed pace and strength with smarter play.

"Of course [his pace and strength are still there], and [he's] smarter - that's what it's all about," James told reporters. 

"We can continue to get older and age in this game, but we continue to get smarter. 

"Russ is a much more complete basketball player right now, he has the ability to use speed and strength but also do things with his brain which helps out a lot."

Russell Westbrook scored 41 points as the new-look Houston Rockets upstaged the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers 121-111 in NBA action.

While Rockets team-mate James Harden struggled, Westbrook was red hot in a stunning performance to take down rivals the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Robert Covington made his debut for the Rockets, who traded away center Clint Capela prior to the deadline in a bid to become smaller and faster on the court, and he impressed with 14 points – including four three-pointers.

Double-doubles from LeBron James (18 points, 15 assists) and Anthony Davis (32 points, 13 rebounds) were not enough for the Lakers.

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks defeated the struggling Philadelphia 76ers 112-101 earlier on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo produced another dominant performance with 36 points and 20 rebounds as the Bucks improved to 44-7 for the season.

Antetokounmpo had 30-plus points and 15 or more rebounds for the fifth consecutive game and the 14th time this season. Antetokounmpo also became just the fifth player in Bucks history to record a 30-20 game and the first since 1996.

 

Zion flexes muscles… again

Zion Williamson continues to star. The 2019 number one pick posted his fourth consecutive 20-point game – the longest streak among rookies this season. Williamson finished with 21 as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Chicago Bulls 125-110.

Damian Lillard put up 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the San Antonio Spurs 125-117.

 

More woes for 76ers & Embiid

Much had been made about Philadelphia's form on the road and their chemistry, or lack thereof. And the 76ers crashed to their fourth straight loss – dropping to 9-19 away from home. Joel Embiid put up 19 points and 11 rebounds but it was a rough night for the All-Star. Cutting a dejected figure, Embiid was just six of 26 from the floor and three of 10 from three-point range. The 76ers struggled with 37.4 per cent shooting, hitting just 37 of 99 shots.

Harden was far from his best in Los Angeles. Harden was three of 10 from the floor and one of six from beyond the arc for 14 points in 35 minutes.

 

LeBron with the reverse jam!

James turned back the clock with a monster dunk against the Rockets.

 

Thursday's results

New York Knicks 105-103 Orlando Magic
New Orleans Pelicans 125-119 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 112-101 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 125-117 San Antonio Spurs
Houston Rockets 121-111 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Can the red-hot Toronto Raptors (37-14) extend their winning streak to 13 games? The defending champions are on the road against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers (31-20) on Friday.

Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard headline Team LeBron, while Team Giannis includes Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam for the NBA All-Star Game.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo finalised their teams for the showcase event, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 16.

James used the number one pick to draft Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis to Team LeBron, while reigning MVP Antetokounmpo countered by selecting Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Team LeBron's starting five consists of James, Davis, Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard, Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic and Houston Rockets star James Harden.

Antetokounmpo, Embiid, Toronto Raptors star Siakam, Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker and the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young are the starters for Team Giannis.

Team LeBron reigned supreme last year – James' squad winning 178-164 over Team Giannis in Charlotte.

 

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Reserves: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)

Team Giannis

Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
Reserves: Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)

D'Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins swapped teams while Andre Drummond found a new home in Cleveland on what was a busy trade deadline day in the NBA.

Russell was only acquired by Golden State in July but the point guard is relocating again, the Warriors striking a deal to send the player to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wiggins – taken first overall in the 2014 draft – is heading in the opposite direction, with the Timberwolves also giving up a 2021 protected first-round pick and a second-round selection for the same year.

As well as Russell, who is averaging a career-high 23.6 points this season, Minnesota also acquired Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman.

The Timberwolves had already been involved in a blockbuster four-team trade prior to Thursday's deadline, sending Robert Covington to Houston in a deal that involved 12 players.

Center Clint Capela was part of it, moving from the Rockets to the Atlanta Hawks, who also added another big man in Nene. Minnesota added Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Evan Turner and Juan Hernangomez, while also collecting the Brooklyn Nets' 2020 first-round draft pick via Atlanta.

Drummond was another center to be traded - much to his surprise - as the Detroit Pistons moved the two-time NBA All-Star, who they drafted in the first round in 2012, to the Cavaliers.

In exchange, the Pistons received John Henson, Brandon Knight and a second-round draft pick in 2023.

Drummond, who is averaging a career-best 17.8 points this season, as well as 15.8 rebounds per game, was not pleased with the way the trade was handled, however, as he revealed on Twitter.

"If there’s one thing I learned about the NBA, there’s no friends or loyalty," he posted. "I've given my heart and soul to the Pistons, and to be have this happen with no heads up makes me realise even more that this is just a business! I love you Detroit..."

He then continued in a second tweet: "You will always have a special place in my heart! But on to the next @cavs hope your (sic) ready! Let's finish the year off the right way."

The Los Angeles Clippers made a late move to strength their roster ahead of the playoffs, Marcus Morris and Isaiah Thomas joining from the New York Knicks in a three-team deal that also involved the Washington Wizards.

Jerome Robinson is to join the Wizards, while the Knicks will receive Moe Harkless plus a 2020 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Clint Capela is to join the Atlanta Hawks as part of an elaborate four-team trade deal involving 12 players, according to widespread reports.

The Houston Rockets will allow center Capela, 25, to move to the Hawks, with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets also involved in a complex series of swaps ahead of the trade deadline.

Robert Covington is another big name involved as he moves from the Timberwolves to the Rockets along with Jordan Bell as part of the NBA's most expansive trade for two decades, per ESPN.

The young Hawks side led by All-Star Trae Young is boosted by the additions of Capela and another center, the veteran Nene, who also moves from the Rockets.

Capela signed a five-year, $90million deal with the Rockets after the 2017-18 season, but the team have been eager to move his contract and appear keen to surround James Harden and Russell Westbrook with three-point threats as part of smaller line-ups. 

That seems to be the motivation behind landing Covington, with experienced forward PJ Tucker now set to be the regular at center as Bell, formerly of the Golden State Warriors, provides some backup.

Malik Beasley has joined the Timberwolves along with Jarred Vanderbilt, Evan Turner and Juan Hernangomez, with the team also collecting the Brooklyn Nets' 2020 first-round draft pick via Atlanta.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, end up with Houston's 2020 first-round draft pick along with quartet Gerald Green, Noah Vonleh, Keita Bates-Diop and Shabazz Napier.

Capela is averaging 13.9 points and 13.8 rebounds in 39 matches this season, while Covington is shooting at 43.5 per cent from the field, a career-high, as he averages 12.8 points from 29.4 minutes per game.

Further moves are expected before the trade deadline, which is on Thursday at 3pm ET.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks past Zion Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans 120-108, while LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo put up 34 points and 17 rebounds as the Bucks improved to 43-7 for the season and 20-4 away from home.

The Bucks led by 19 points in the third quarter before withstanding a Pelicans rally in New Orleans on Tuesday.

Pelicans sensation and rookie Williamson scored 20 points – Brandon Ingram topscoring for New Orleans with 32 of his own.

James posted 19 of his 36 points in the final quarter as the Lakers topped the San Antonio Spurs 129-102 in Los Angeles.

Lakers superstar James hit a stunning five three-pointers in three fourth-quarter minutes to propel the hosts at Staples Center, where he added nine assists and seven rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

 

Harden stars as Rockets soar

James Harden had 40 points and 11 assists to guide the Houston Rockets to a 125-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets. The Rockets were without Russell Westbrook and Clint Capela – reportedly set to join the Atlanta Hawks – but they still extended their winning streak to three games.

Nikola Jokic's 29 points and 13 rebounds set the tone for the Denver Nuggets, who downed the Portland Trail Blazers 127-99.

 

Anthony struggles

Carmelo Anthony has been a fine addition for the Trail Blazers, however, the veteran endured a tough night in Denver. Anthony was 0 of five from the field and missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc for two points in 26 minutes.

Spurs star LaMarcus Aldridge also struggled. He finished with just seven points on three of 10 shooting in 30 minutes.

 

LeBron lights up LA

Sit back and enjoy this three-point burst by James.

 

Tuesday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 120-108 New Orleans Pelicans
Houston Rockets 125-110 Charlotte Hornets
Denver Nuggets 127-99 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Lakers 129-102 San Antonio Spurs

 

Heat at Clippers

After thrashing Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat travel to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The Jimmy Butler-led Heat (34-15) have won back-to-back games to be fourth in the east, while the Clippers (35-15) are second in the Western Conference.

Zion Williamson must not go prolonged stretches in the fourth quarter without touching the ball, fumed New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry after their 117-109 loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets triumphed at Toyota Center on Sunday, with James Harden pouring in 40 points as Houston came from behind in a fourth quarter that saw the Pelicans score just 16.

Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was making his sixth appearance in the league, having undergone right knee surgery in October.

The 19-year-old forward has quickly proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with, though, and logged 21 points and 10 rebounds against Houston.

However, Gentry was irate his team failed to find Williamson more regularly as they fell away in the final period and blamed himself.

"We didn't execute and we didn't do what we were supposed to do. That being said, Zion can't go four minutes without touching the basketball and that's on me," said Gentry.

"That's something that I've got to make sure that will never happen again. So I take responsibility for that. And if we're not gonna get it to him and not gonna execute, then we've got to have different people in the game. That's on me also."

Gentry denied the suggestion it was down to a lack of chemistry with Williamson still in the early stages of his rookie season, while also criticising the "absurd" and "ridiculous" total of 21 turnovers from his team.

"You've got to throw [Zion] the damn basketball, it has nothing to do with playing together or figuring it out," said Gentry.

"He has advantage and we've got to find a way to get him the basketball better, so I'm not buying the playing together or figuring out or anything like that. We have to have him have touches in the fourth quarter, if not there's no reason for us to have him in the game. And that's not going to happen either.

"I like our chances when he's got it down there because I think he's going to make the right play, and we didn't do that. You can't have 30 points off your turnovers and think you're going to beat a good basketball team.

"You can get away with it every now and then, but we're shooting 64 per cent for most of the first half and we're trailing in the game and so that just tells me that what we were doing as far as execution and turning the ball over is absurd, it is just ridiculous. It really was. It's as disappointed as I've been this year from the standpoint of doing what we're supposed to."

Harden was impressed by Williamson after his first game against the Duke product. Asked for his assessment of the Pelicans star, Harden told ESPN: "Beast.

"He's gonna be really good. This is only like his 10th game playing, he has a feel for the game, obviously he's strong, so he's gonna be great.

"He's really good. Very, very explosive. Athletic, as we all know. He has a good feel for the game."

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