Joel Embiid's return fuelled the Philadelphia 76ers' to a drought-ending 118-113 win over the Houston Rockets in the NBA on Wednesday.

Embiid had scored 35 points in back-to-back games before back tightness caused him to miss Monday's defeat to the high-flying Utah Jazz – a third straight loss – but the three-time All Star came back in style.

The star center claimed a 31-point, 11-rebound double-double, adding nine assists, as the 76ers dug deep against the Rockets to condemn Houston to a seventh defeat in a row midweek.

Philadelphia's win improved the 76ers to 19-10 atop of the Eastern Conference, while Western Conference leaders the Jazz extended their winning run to nine games with a 114-96 triumph against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Jazz have won 20 of their past 21 games to set the pace in the NBA this season.

Elsewhere, the Portland Trail Blazers made it a 3-0 road trip with a 126-124 win against the New Orleans Pelicans as Damian Lillard scorched to 43 points and 16 assists after dropping the winning three-pointer in the final seconds.

Pelicans star Zion Williamson hit back with a career-high 36 points for the hosts, but Portland snatched a sixth consecutive win.

LeBron James' double-double fired the Los Angeles Lakers back to winning ways, while James Harden stepped up to rally the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets past the high-flying Phoenix Suns.

James put up 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the reigning NBA champions leaned on their defense in the 112-104 victory over the last-placed Minnesota Timberwolves.

Without the injured Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder played the supporting role for James, posting 24 points, while the Lakers battled to claim eight steals and seven blocks in a closely fought contest.

After taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter at Target Center, the road side pulled away in the closing stages to improve to 22-7 in second place in the Western Conference.

Harden pulled out the stops with a double-double to lead the Nets to a sensational 128-124 comeback win against the Suns, despite playing without Irving after the star guard felt tightness in his lower back.

Nets coach Steve Nash revealed Irving received treatment at half-time of Brooklyn's win against the Sacramento Kings on Monday but expects the six-time All-Star to only be sidelined in the short term.

The Nets surged, scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to turn around a 24-point deficit, with Harden (38 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) backed up by Joe Harris (22 points) as they halted the Suns' six-game winning streak.

Jokic burns Celtics but Nuggets fall short, Zion on target for Pelicans

Nikola Jokic lit up the Boston Celtics, scoring 43 points, but the Denver Nuggets could still not make triple-digits as their three-game winning stretch was ended in a 112-99 loss.

Zion Williamson shot an efficient 31 points, sinking 13 of his 16 field-goal efforts and going four-of-four from the free-throw line, as the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a three-match losing run with a 144-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard’s 31-point, 10-assist double-double led the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 115-104 win, while centre Enes Kanter pulled down 21 rebounds.

 

Bazley struggles to take his chances

The Thunder never recovered against the Blazers after falling 34-21 behind in the first quarter and forward Darius Bazley was one player that could not find his range.

Bazley shot four from 16 from the field for 14 points during his 36 minutes on court, only dropping one his seven efforts from three-point range.

 

Giannis powers up but the Raps edge the Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved unplayable at times, scoring 34 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 124-113 loss against the Toronto Raptors, as he ghosted past three defenders for one of his buckets.

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 112-99 Denver Nuggets
Portland Trail Blazers 115-104 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Los Angeles Lakers 112-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 144-113 Memphis Grizzlies 
Toronto Raptors 124-113 Milwaukee Bucks 
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Phoenix Suns

 

Jazz at Clippers

There has been no stopping the Utah Jazz, who have won eight straight and 19 of their past 20 games to establish a lead in the Western Conference, but a tough challenge awaits when they go on the road to face the third-placed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

The Denver Nuggets ended the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak in the NBA, while the Milwaukee Bucks slipped to another loss.

Inspired by a Nikola Jokic triple-double of 23 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, the Nuggets snapped the Lakers' seven-game winning streak with a 122-105 victory on Sunday.

Jamal Murray had a game-high 25 points for the Nuggets (15-11).

LeBron James managed 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who saw Anthony Davis (15 points in 14 minutes) suffer an Achilles strain.

The Bucks' losing run continued with a 114-109 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with a triple-double of 24 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Bucks were beaten.

Antetokounmpo has 100 points, 43 rebounds and 21 assists over the past three games, yet Milwaukee have lost all three.

He joined Russell Westbrook (November 2016) as the only players in the past 30 years to have 100-40-20 over a three-game span but lose all three.

 

Lillard lifts Trail Blazers, Towns shines

Damian Lillard scored 34 points and had 11 assists to see the Portland Trail Blazers end the Dallas Mavericks' four-game winning streak with a 121-118 success.

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 44 points and nine assists, but he missed a jump shot that would have brough Dallas level with five seconds remaining.

Karl-Anthony Towns' double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds helped the Minnesota Timberwolves overcome the Toronto Raptors 116-112.

The Washington Wizards upset the Boston Celtics 104-91 on the back of 35 points from Bradley Beal.

Lou Williams posted 30 points and 10 assists in the Los Angeles Clippers' 128-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Celtics' slump continues

The loss marked Boston's 10th in their past 15 games. Star Jayson Tatum in particular struggled, going three-of-14 from the field for six points in 23 minutes.

 

Dynamic Doncic

Doncic hit an incredible three-pointer in the Mavericks' loss. He was five-of-eight from three-point range.

Sunday's results

Washington Wizards 104-91 Boston Celtics
Detroit Pistons 123-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Minnesota Timberwolves 116-112 Toronto Raptors
San Antonio Spurs 122-110 Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers 121-118 Dallas Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder 114-109 Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns 109-90 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 124-110 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 128-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Denver Nuggets 122-105 Los Angeles Lakers

 

76ers at Jazz

The teams leading their respective conferences meet on Monday. The Utah Jazz (22-5) are on a seven-game winning streak ahead of hosting the Philadelphia 76ers (18-9).

The Utah Jazz continued their impressive NBA run with a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Los Angeles Lakers extended their own streak.

The Western Conference-leading Jazz improved to 21-5 courtesy of a 129-115 victory over the Bucks on Friday.

Rudy Gobert (27 points), Joe Ingles (27), Donovan Mitchell (26) and Jordan Clarkson (25) all had 25-plus points for Utah, who have won six straight games.

Gobert also pulled down 12 rebounds in his double-double, while Ingles went seven-of-nine from three-point range, with the Jazz's 21-5 start their best 26-game record in franchise history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred for the Bucks with 29 points and 15 rebounds, but Milwaukee (16-10) slipped to back-to-back defeats.

The Lakers extended their winning streak to seven with a 115-105 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Anthony Davis (35 points and nine rebounds) and LeBron James (28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) again led the way for the Lakers (21-6).

 

Mavs win fourth straight as Rozier shines for Hornets

The Dallas Mavericks won a fourth straight game with a 143-130 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Luka Doncic had a double-double of 46 points and 12 assists, while Kristaps Porzingis poured in 36 points. It marked the first time in NBA history a pair of foreign-born team-mates each had 35-plus points in a game, as per Stats Perform. Zion Williamson had 36 points for the Pelicans.

Terry Rozier's 41 points lifted the Charlotte Hornets past the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-114.

Kawhi Leonard posted 33 points as the Los Angeles Clippers improved to 19-8 with a 125-106 success over the Chicago Bulls.

Saddiq Bey had a double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds in the Detroit Pistons' surprise 108-102 win against the Boston Celtics. He was the first Pistons rookie with 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds since Grant Hill in 1995.

 

Misery for Wizards

The Washington Wizards dropped a second straight game, beaten by the New York Knicks 109-91. The Wizards shot at just 38.2 per cent from the field.

 

Porzingis in form

Porzingis went eight-of-13 from three-point range in the Mavericks' win, including hitting one from the logo.

Friday's results

Charlotte Hornets 120-114 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 109-91 Washington Wizards
San Antonio Spurs 125-114 Atlanta Hawks
Dallas Mavericks 143-130 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Clippers 125-106 Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons 108-102 Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets 97-95 Oklahoma City Thunder
Utah Jazz 129-115 Milwaukee Bucks
Los Angeles Lakers 115-105 Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers 129-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
Orlando Magic 123-112 Sacramento Kings

 

76ers at Suns

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-8) take on a Phoenix Suns (15-9) team riding a four-game winning streak on Saturday.

Zach LaVine and Coby White proved unstoppable from downtown as the Chicago Bulls delivered a record-breaking display, while Luka Doncic's superb triple-double powered the Dallas Mavericks.

The Bulls exploded to post an all-time franchise best total of 25 three-pointers as Chicago halted the New Orleans Pelicans' four-match winning streak, 129-116, at the United Center.

LaVine delivered 20 points in the first quarter before going on to drop 46 in total, draining nine of his 14 three-point shots, while White added 30 points including eight of 17 buckets from distance.

The duo became the first team-mates in NBA history to each hit eight three-pointers in the same game as the Bulls came back from eight points down at the half to blow away the Pelicans.

The scorching-hot LaVine also became the first Chicago player to post 120 points in a three-game stretch since Michael Jordan in 1997 as the Bulls improved to 10-14.

Doncic posted his 32nd career triple-double as the Mavericks edged a nail-biting 118-117 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks to extend their winning streak to three.

The Slovenian star dropped 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Dallas trailed by nine at the start of the fourth quarter but finished strongly to close out the win and take their record to 12-14.

Atlanta's John Collins was the game's top scorer with 33 points, while Trae Young notched 25 points and 15 assists, but the Hawks could not find the decisive play in a wild final 90 seconds.


Giannis produces fireworks but Suns claim comeback win

The Phoenix Suns kept their momentum rolling, claiming a fourth straight win by edging Milwaukee 125-124 after coming back from 16 points down, but Giannis Antetokounmpo exploded for the Bucks.

The two-time NBA MVP carried his team on his shoulders, scoring a season-high 47 points and claiming 11 rebounds and five assists. Antetokounmpo almost snatched a remarkable victory but his buzzer-beater bounced back off the rim.

Indiana off the pace against Brooklyn

Malcolm Brogdon had a day to forget as the Indiana Pacers were held under 100 points, falling to their fourth straight defeat, in a 104-94 reverse against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Indiana guard had a 29.4 per cent field-goal success rate, scoring five of his 17 attempts, as the 12-13 Pacers could not match Kyrie Irving and James Harden's high-power offense.

LeBron sets up Matthews for key bucket 

With less than a minute remaining in overtime and the Los Angeles Lakers level against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wesley Matthews came up clutch.

LeBron James drove towards the paint in heavy traffic, before flipping the ball out right for Matthews to sink the key three-pointer.

The Lakers clinched a 114-113 overtime victory to improve to 20-6.

Wednesday's results

Toronto Raptors 137-115 Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks 118-117 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Clippers 119-112 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 130-114 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 104-94 Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls 129-116 New Orleans Pelicans
Denver Nuggets 133-95 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 114-113 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Phoenix Suns 125-124 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Trail Blazers

Led by the in-form Joel Embiid, the 18-7 Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers go on the road to face another team with a winning record, the 13-10 Portland Trail Blazers, on Thursday.

LeBron James was the star of the show again as NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-112 in overtime.

James posted a triple-double after just three quarters, eventually leading the streaking Lakers past the visiting Thunder in Los Angeles on Monday.

The Lakers superstar finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the absence of team-mate Anthony Davis (Achilles).

Montrezl Harrell contributed 21 points off the bench as the Lakers won their fifth game in a row.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander forced overtime with free throws, but his double-double of 29 points and 10 assists was not enough for the Thunder – who were outscored 9-2 in OT.

Thunder team-mate Hamidou Diallo also recorded a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds).

 

LaMelo dazzles

LaMelo Ball posted a game-high 24 points, 10 assists and a career-high seven three-pointers as the Charlotte Hornets topped the Houston Rockets 119-94. He joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game.

Draymond Green put on a show for the Golden State Warriors, who lost 105-100 to the San Antonio Spurs. He became the sixth player in franchise history to reach 3,000 career assists. Green also had his third double-double of the season (10 rebounds and 10 assists). Curry scored 32 points for the beaten Warriors.

The Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to five games thanks to two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo put up 30 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Middleton dropped 29 points, a career-high 12 assists and eight rebounds. The Bucks were 125-112 winners over the Denver Nuggets, who were led by Nikola Jokic's 35 points and 12 rebounds.

Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam each scored 32 points as the Toronto Raptors rallied past the Memphis Grizzlies 128-113. Norman Powell contributed 29 points for the Raptors, while Jonas Valanciunas' double-double of 27 points and a season-high 20 rebounds were not enough for the Grizzlies.

A season-high 36 points from Devin Booker fuelled the Phoenix Suns' 119-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the NBA's leading scorer Bradley Beal finished with 35 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a 105-101 win against the Chicago Bulls.

 

Murray struggles in Denver

While Jokic starred, Nuggets team-mate Jamal Murray was inefficient in a loss to the Bucks. In 37 minutes, he was just four-of-17 shooting from the field, while he only made one of seven three-pointers for 11 points.

P.J. Tucker was scoreless for the Rockets after going 0-of-three from the field in 23 minutes.

 

Harrell says no!

With the Lakers looking to close out another win, Harrell produced an emphatic block to deny the Thunder late in OT.

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 119-94 Houston Rockets
Washington Wizards 105-101 Chicago Bulls
Toronto Raptors 128-113 Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks 127-122 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 105-100 Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns 119-113 Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks 125-112 Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers 119-112 Oklahoma City Thunder (OT)

 

76ers at Kings

The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers (17-7) travel to the Sacramento Kings (12-11) on Tuesday. The Kings have won four straight games.

Stephen Curry joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only Golden State Warriors players to post multiple 55-point games in a season, but his team lost to Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks 134-32 in the NBA.

Curry nailed a season-high 11 three-pointers en route to 57 points in a thrilling duel with Mavericks star Doncic on Saturday.  

Former MVP Curry put up his eighth 50-plus point game in his career, however, it was not enough.

Doncic tied his career high with 42 points in Dallas, where he also had 11 assists to snap the Mavericks' six-game home losing streak.

Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic joined Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson as the only Denver Nuggets players with 50-plus point games in the past 20 seasons.

Jokic finished with a career-high 50 points – including 23 points in the final quarter – but the Nuggets still went down 119-114 to the Sacramento Kings.

The MVP candidate also had 12 assists and eight rebounds as the Nuggets dropped their third straight game.

 

Embiid leads 76ers

Joel Embiid became the first Philadelphia 76ers player with eight consecutive 25-plus point games since Iverson in 2006. The three-time All-Star registered 33 points in a 124-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets, who were without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. James Harden led the Nets with 26 points and 10 assists.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Milwaukee Bucks, who eased past the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-99.

The Oklahoma City Thunder scored a team-record 83 points in the first half as they edged the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-118. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted 31 points to the Thunder.

The Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic 118-92 behind Zach LaVine's 39 points on the road.

LeBron James had 33 points and 11 assists and Anthony Davis added 30 points as NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers prevailed 135-129 against the Detroit Pistons in double overtime.

 

Oladipo struggles

Victor Oladipo ended the Houston Rockets' 111-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs with nine points on four-of-14 shooting from the field. He also missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

In 34 minutes of action, Rodney Hood was three-of-10 from the field and made just one of six three-point shots for seven points as the Portland Trail Blazers were beaten 110-99 by the New York Knicks.

 

Zion with the slam!

Zion Williamson had the final say against the Memphis Grizzlies. His game-sealing dunk saw the New Orleans Pelicans to a 118-109 win. Williamson had 29 points, while team-mate Brandon Ingram scored 27 points, collected 12 rebounds and tallied a career-high four blocks.

 

Saturday's results

New York Knicks 110-99 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 119-114 Denver Nuggets
Chicago Bulls 118-92 Orlando Magic
Philadelphia 76ers 124-108 Brooklyn Nets
Atlanta Hawks 132-121 Toronto Raptors
Milwaukee Bucks 124-99 Cleveland Cavaliers
San Antonio Spurs 111-106 Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder 120-118 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 134-132 Golden State Warriors
New Orleans Pelicans 118-109 Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Lakers 135-129 Detroit Pistons (double OT)

 

Kings at Clippers

Before Super Bowl LV gets underway, the Los Angeles Clippers (17-7)-Kings (11-11) matchup headlines a slate of five early NBA games on Sunday.

LeBron James inspired reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

James posted his second triple-double of the season – 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists – to guide the Lakers past the visiting Nuggets in Los Angeles.

With the 12,682nd bucket of his illustrious career, Lakers superstar James surpassed Wilt Chamberlain for the third-most field goals made in NBA history.

James' 23-game streak of recording 15-plus points, five-plus rebounds and five-plus assists to start the season is the longest run in NBA history, surpassing his own record of 22 in a row in 2011-12.

The Lakers recorded their third consecutive win after overturning a 12-point deficit against Western Conference rivals the Nuggets.

According to Stats Perform, it is the largest margin of victory in franchise history after trailing by double digits at half-time. The previous high was a 20-point win at the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day in 1968.

 

Night to remember for Oubre

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a career-high 40 points as the Golden State Warriors overpowered the Dallas Mavericks 147-116. Stephen Curry had 28 points for the Warriors in Dallas.

Joel Embiid hurt his knee but had a game-high 37 points in the Philadelphia 76ers' shock 121-105 loss at home to the Portland Trail Blazers, who were without stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

 

Scoreless Rondo

Rajon Rondo did not score a point in the Atlanta Hawks' 112-91 defeat to the Utah Jazz. Rondo was 0 of seven from the field, while he missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc in 28 minutes.

Embiid did not have much support in Philadelphia as the 76ers struggled without Ben Simmons. Tobias Harris finished with 12 points on just five-of-14 shooting from the field. The All-Star hopeful missed both of his three-point efforts.

The Houston Rockets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 115-103, however P.J. Tucker was one-of-eight from the field, and one-of-seven from three-point range for three points in 34 minutes.

 

The LeBron show

James was at his brilliant best against the Nuggets, showcasing his elite shooting and passing skills.

 

Thursday's results

Utah Jazz 112-91 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 147-116 Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers 121-105 Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets 115-103 Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Lakers 114-93 Denver Nuggets

 

Raptors at Nets

The star-studded Brooklyn Nets (14-9) will host the Toronto Raptors (9-12) on Friday. The Los Angeles Clippers (17-6) and Milwaukee Bucks (13-8) will also be in action.

It wasn't the most celebrated or impactful trade of the Summer of 2019 – the newest gold banner that is waiting to be unveiled at the Staples Center answers that question.

Still, when browsing the current state of affairs in the Western Conference, it's hard to deny the significance of another deal that went down shortly after the franchise-defining blockbuster that landed Anthony Davis alongside LeBron James in Los Angeles and shifted the balance of power within the NBA.

With the aftershock of the Davis deal still reverberating, the Memphis Grizzlies were making a more under-the-radar move to set their own new course. Just days after the gigantic trade, Memphis sent the franchise's all-time leading scorer and arguably most popular player, Mike Conley, to the Utah Jazz, formally closing the door on the moderately successful 'Grit and Grind' era of the previous decade.

It's fair to say the trade is working out quite well for both teams, though. The Jazz presently sport the NBA's best record at 16-5 with Conley superbly manning the point following a somewhat trying first season in Salt Lake City. The Grizzlies currently stand as the surprise leader of a suspect Southwest Division and are seemingly well ahead of schedule on a rebuilding plan young general manager Zach Kleiman has so far orchestrated with a master stroke.

Memphis' swift rise to respectability was hard to see coming, and neither was the considerable effect so far generated by a trade centered around a player who has never made an All-Star team in 13 NBA seasons. That may change in Conley's 14th, however. The 33-year-old has been a major force on both ends of the court in what has been a terrific bounce-back campaign to date, as his 124.2 offensive rating is the highest of his career and his 2.35 steals per 48 minutes is his best mark since making the NBA All-Defensive Team in 2012-13. 

Perhaps most importantly, however, is how the Jazz have performed with Conley on the court as opposed to him off it. The veteran point guard's plus-minus rating of 11.0 per game trails only Clippers star Kawhi Leonard for the best in the league among players averaging at least 15 minutes per outing and who have appeared in at least half of their team's games, and the following chart illustrates how much better Utah has been when Conley is on the floor: 

JAZZ, WITH/WITHOUT MIKE CONLEY ON COURT, 2020-21 

With/Without stats (/100 = per 100 possessions) 

Points/100: 116.5/108.8 
Opp Points/100: 99.9/113.8 
Point Diff/100: +16.6/-5.0
FG Pct: .470/.444 
Opp FG Pct: .427/.475 
Turnovers/100: 13.4/16.6 

Conley's presence also allows Donovan Mitchell, Utah's leading scorer and their highest usage player, to play more off the ball where he is most effective, as the numbers demonstrate: 

DONOVAN MITCHELL, WITH/WITHOUT MIKE CONLEY ON COURT, 2020-21 

With/Without stats (/100 = per 100 possessions) 

Points/100: 35.0/32.9 
Rebounds/100: 6.8/5.5 
Assists/100: 5.4/8.1 
Turnovers/100: 3.5/5.7 
FG Pct: .451/.409 
3-Pt Pct: .446/.343 

With Conley playing at an elite level and a pair of All-Stars in Mitchell and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, the question can now be raised: Have the Jazz finally achieved the status of a legitimate challenger to the West's upper crust after four years of consistently winning in the regular season but never seriously threatening in the playoffs? 

Quite possibly. 

The Jazz are the only team that currently ranks in the NBA's top five in both offensive and defensive rating. They have never finished a season higher than ninth in the former category under coach Quin Snyder, but there is reason to believe this team differs from its predecessors. It has been hitting 3-pointers at a historic rate (16.9 per game) with both impressive efficiency (39.8 percent) and variety. Six of the Jazz's top seven scorers are shooting better than 38 percent from beyond the arc while taking at least four attempts per game, the most in the league. 

Only one team in NBA history has shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range while making 12 or more 3s per game, and that is the 2015-16 Warriors that set an NBA record with 73 regular-season wins. Granted, there are three other teams that currently fall under that category this season, and they are all pretty good as well: The Clippers, Bucks and Nets. 

So, we have discussed how the Conley trade has benefited the Jazz. How about the Grizzlies, who received Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, a 2019 first-round pick and a future first-rounder in the deal? 

Korver was immediately traded to Phoenix in a swap that brought back De'Anthony Melton, Memphis' best wing defender, and a 2020 second-round pick that turned into center Xavier Tillman, who has quickly emerged as a solid rotational piece as a rookie.

Crowder was later shipped to Miami, with capable veteran Gorgui Dieng and the still-injured Justise Winslow the return.

Last year's first-rounder was ultimately used on Brandon Clarke, one of only five players from the 2019 class to average 12 points and 5.5 rebounds per game through his first season-plus.

All told, that is five viable contributors (Clarke, Allen, Dieng, Melton, Tillman) and a possible sixth if Winslow can ever get healthy. And Melton may have a chance to be something more than that if he continues to make strides with his still-developing shot.

And we have yet to mention the primary motive for moving Conley, which was to clear a path at the point guard spot for the electric Ja Morant. Though Memphis was able to go 4-4 in the eight games the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year missed with a sprained ankle earlier this season thanks to the enviable depth Kleiman has assembled, there is no question the Grizzlies are a more dangerous team with the 2019 No. 2 overall pick in the lineup.

Here are the numbers to back it up: The Grizzlies average 117.4 points with him, compared to 103.1 in his absence. Their field goal percentage (.479 compared to .451) and 3-point percentage (.381 compared to .331) are also unsurprisingly better, while the turnovers drop by just over one per game (13.5 with him, 14.9 without).

If the Grizzlies could maintain that points-per-game average throughout the season, they would rank third in the league behind only the power-laden Nets and Bucks. Combine it with their other strengths, an opportunistic defense that leads the NBA in steals per game and a rotation that boasts a league-high 11 players averaging 8.0 points or more (min. 50 percent of team’s games played), and it is no stretch to proclaim they will be a formidable playoff foe for any team should they get in – especially if budding star Jaren Jackson Jr. makes it back from the knee injury that has sidelined him all season thus far. 

Memphis are still not ready to realistically threaten the league's championship contenders, but there is a lot to like about this team going forward. The Grizzlies have one bona fide star in Morant, a potential second in Jackson and a young and promising supporting cast – most of whom are under contract for at least two more years. They are also set up to be flush in cap space and a potential dark horse player in free agency come the 2021 offseason.

The Grizzlies have the NBA's third-youngest roster, its youngest GM in Kleiman and third-youngest head coach in 36-year-old Taylor Jenkins. It looks like their rebuild is maturing beyond its years , too.

The Brooklyn Nets' stars delivered in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers, while Fred VanVleet made history for the Toronto Raptors.

The Nets' 'Big Three' – Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving – led Brooklyn past the Clippers 124-120 in the NBA on Tuesday.

Harden posted a triple-double of 23 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, while Irving had a game-high 39 points and Durant finished with 28.

With his 50th career triple-double, Harden became the eighth player in NBA history to achieve that mark, joining Oscar Robertson (181), Russell Westbrook (151), Magic Johnson (138), Jason Kidd (107), LeBron James (95), Wilt Chamberlain (78) and Larry Bird (59).

The Nets improved to 14-9 with victory over a Clippers (16-6) side also expected to contend come season's end.

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard had 33 points and Paul George chipped in with 26.

VanVleet dominated with a record-breaking 54 points in the Raptors' 123-108 win over the Orlando Magic.

The guard broke DeMar DeRozan's franchise record of 52 points in a game.

VanVleet was 17-of-23 from the field and 11-of-14 from three-point range, while adding three rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

He became the first player in NBA history to have 50-plus points, 10-plus three-pointers made, three-plus blocks and three-plus steals in a game, as per Stats Perform. He was also the first guard with 50-plus points, three-plus blocks and three-plus steals in a game since Michael Jordan in April 1987.

Curry magic not enough, Sabonis stars

Stephen Curry made seven three-pointers and had 38 points and 11 rebounds, but the Golden State Warriors went down to the Boston Celtics 111-107.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 27 points and nine rebounds.

Domantas Sabonis' double-double of 32 points and 13 rebounds saw the Indiana Pacers past the Memphis Grizzlies 134-116.

Damian Lillard finished with 32 points as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Washington Wizards 132-121. Bradley Beal had 37 points for the Wizards.

 

Griffin below his best

Blake Griffin struggled from the field, shooting four-of-13 for 11 points in 29 minutes in the Detroit Pistons' 117-105 loss to the Utah Jazz.

 

Melo moves

Carmelo Anthony posted 21 points off the bench in the Trail Blazers' win. He moved up to 13th on the all-time scoring list.

Tuesday's results

Toronto Raptors 123-108 Orlando Magic
Brooklyn Nets 124-120 Los Angeles Clippers
Indiana Pacers 134-116 Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers 132-121 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 111-107 Golden State Warriors
Utah Jazz 117-105 Detroit Pistons

 

Pacers at Bucks

The Pacers (12-9) will aim for a second straight win when they take on Giannis Antetokounmpo (averaging 27.3 points, 11 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game this season) and the Milwaukee Bucks (12-8) on Wednesday.

NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-99 behind a dominant final quarter from LeBron James.

James posted 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds against the Hawks on the road, having only managed nine points through the first three quarters on Monday.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis scored 25 points of his own in Atlanta, where a small crowd were granted access to attend.

James was involved in a brief verbal confrontation with a female fan during the fourth quarter.

Trae Young (25 points and 16 assists) and Clint Capela (16 points and 13 rebounds) both had double-doubles for the beaten Hawks.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets tied an NBA record after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 136-106.

The Rockets knocked down 11 three-pointers in a 48-point opening quarter to match a league record away to the Thunder.

Eric Gordon (25 points) and DeMarcus Cousins (17 points) each finished with five three-pointers, John Wall (18 points) and Danuel House Jr. (13 points) nailed four from beyond the arc, while Victor Oladipo (15 points) made three of his own.

 

Monk cools Heat

Malik Monk starred off the bench, posting a career-high 36 points as the Charlotte Hornets outlasted the Miami Heat 129-121 in overtime.

De'Aaron Fox had 38 points, including 17 straight Sacramento points during the final seven minutes, to lead the Kings past the New Orleans Pelicans 118-109. It capped a night which saw seven Kentucky players score 20-plus points in the NBA – Fox, Monk, Davis, Keldon Johnson (25), Devin Booker (24), Bam Adebayo (23) and Julius Randle (23). According to Stats Perform, it is the most 20-point games by players from any single college on any single day in NBA history.

Nassir Little put up 30 points, however, the Portland Trail Blazers still suffered a 134-106 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

A double-double of 23 points and 18 rebounds from Jarrett Allen inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers' 100-98 success against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

Trent struggles in Milwaukee

Gary Trent Jr. had a tough night for the Trail Blazers. In 29 minutes, he was three of 13 from the field and made just two of eight three-point attempts for eight points.

Danilo Gallinari did not fare much better for the Hawks. Gallinari finished two-of-10 from the field, while draining only two of his five shots from beyond the arc for six points.

 

Booker calls game

The Phoenix Suns trailed by two points at the death, but Booker nailed a clutch three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to stun the Dallas Mavericks 109-108. It was Booker's fifth career game-winning shot in the final three seconds of a contest.

 

Monday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 107-99 Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets 129-121 Miami Heat (OT)
Cleveland Cavaliers 100-98 Minnesota Timberwolves
Chicago Bulls 110-102 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 134-106 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 118-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Houston Rockets 136-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns 109-108 Dallas Mavericks
Memphis Grizzlies 133-102 San Antonio Spurs
Denver Nuggets-Detroit Pistons (postponed)

 

Clippers at Nets

In-form Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Clippers (16-5) will put their three-game winning streak on the line against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets (13-9) on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back in the NBA, while Damian Lillard produced a moment of magic for the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

After back-to-back defeats, the Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 96-95 to return to winning ways.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers (15-6) with a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds.

LeBron James had 21 points and moved up to 13th on the list for all-time three-pointers made.

He also passed Derek Fisher for eighth on the NBA's all-time wins list.

The Celtics (10-8) forced a turnover with seconds remaining, but Kemba Walker missed a jumper and Daniel Theis a lay-up.

Jayson Tatum (30 points) and Jaylen Brown (28) combined for 58 points for Boston.

Lillard produced a spectacular buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Trail Blazers past the Chicago Bulls 123-122.

The guard was 15-of-26 from the field and eight-of-17 from three-point range for a game-high 44 points.

The Bulls led by five with less than 10 seconds remaining before Lillard hit a long-range three and his buzzer-beater.

 

Butler stars on return as LaMelo shines

After missing 10 games, Jimmy Butler returned with 30 points to help the Miami Heat edge the Sacramento Kings 105-104.

LaMelo Ball (27 points, nine assists and five rebounds) guided the Charlotte Hornets to a 126-114 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo fell just short of a triple-double with 34 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

The Houston Rockets made it five straight wins as Christian Wood (27 points and nine rebounds) continued to impress in a 126-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Luka Doncic had 29 points, but the Dallas Mavericks fell to Chris Paul (29 points and 12 assists) and the Phoenix Suns 111-105.

 

Walker woes

Walker went one-of-12 from the field and 0-of-five from three-point range in the Celtics' loss, finishing with just four points in 28 minutes.

 

Lillard magic

Lillard delivered two huge late threes to lift the Trail Blazers to an incredible win.

Saturday's results

Portland Trail Blazers 123-122 Chicago Bulls
Charlotte Hornets 126-114 Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets 126-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Miami Heat 105-104 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 96-95 Boston Celtics
Memphis Grizzlies 129-112 San Antonio Spurs
Phoenix Suns 111-105 Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors 118-91 Detroit Pistons

 

Jazz at Nuggets

The Utah Jazz (15-4) are riding an 11-game winning streak ahead of facing Nikola Jokic (averaging 25.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season) and the Denver Nuggets (11-8) on Sunday.

The NBA has announced the Memphis Grizzlies' next three games have been postponed in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

Memphis had already seen Wednesday's scheduled meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers called off, the Grizzlies not having the league-required minimum of eight players available for action.

The same teams had been due to meet on Friday, however that clash will no longer be going ahead as planned.

Back-to-back games with the Sacramento Kings, set to take place on Sunday and Monday, are also postponed due to the combination of unavailable Grizzlies players and contact tracing for others on the roster. 

"The Memphis Grizzlies' next three games - Friday, January 22 at Portland and Sunday, January 24 and Monday, January 25 vs Sacramento - have been postponed in accordance with the NBA's health and safety protocols," the NBA said in a statement.

"The games are being postponed due to unavailable players for the Grizzlies and contact tracing for other players on their roster, and in order to ensure the health and safety of players on both teams."

In total, 20 games have been postponed during the NBA regular season as the competition deals with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Grizzlies are 7-6 on the season and on a five-game winning streak. Following the postponements, they are next due to be in action on January 27, when they host the Chicago Bulls.

James Harden and Kevin Durant guided the Brooklyn Nets past the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Los Angeles Lakers' winning run was ended.

The Nets extended their winning streak to four with a 125-123 victory over the Bucks on Monday.

It was their second win in as many games since Harden joined in a trade from the Houston Rockets last week.

The eight-time All-Star had a double-double of 34 points and 12 assists, while Durant finished with 30 points against the Bucks.

Durant hit a clutch three-pointer with 36.8 seconds remaining to lift the Nets to 9-6.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

After five straight wins, the Lakers went down to the Golden State Warriors 115-113.

Warriors star Stephen Curry had 26 points, while Dennis Schroder top-scored for the Lakers with 25.

LeBron James (19 points) missed a three-pointer on the buzzer for the Lakers, who had Anthony Davis post a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds.

 

Awesome Adebayo, Oladipo makes Rockets debut

Bam Adebayo posted 28 points and 11 rebounds to guide the Miami Heat past the struggling Detroit Pistons 113-107.

Victor Oladipo arrived at the Rockets following Harden's exit, and he had 32 points and nine assists on debut, but it came in a 125-120 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan (20 points and 11 assists) led an even team effort in the San Antonio Spurs' 125-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. DeRozan (20), LaMarcus Aldridge (22), Patty Mills (21) and Rudy Gay (21) became the first group of four Spurs team-mates to each score 20-plus points in a game since 2010.

A double-double from Trae Young (20 points and 13 assists) helped the Atlanta Hawks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97.

 

Doncic below his best

Luka Doncic described himself as "selfish" despite a triple-double in a Dallas Mavericks loss to the Bulls on Sunday, and he was below his best a day later. He went four-of-11 from the field for just 15 points in 34 minutes in a 116-93 humbling at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

 

Clutch KD

Durant hit the crucial three-pointer to lift the Nets to their victory.

Monday's results

New York Knicks 91-84 Orlando Magic
Atlanta Hawks 108-97 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 125-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 125-123 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 116-93 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 113-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 125-120 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 115-113 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Thunder at Nuggets

Nikola Jokic (averaging 25 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists this season) and the Denver Nuggets (6-7) take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) in one of two games scheduled for Tuesday.

James Harden made NBA history on his Brooklyn Nets debut after dazzling with a triple-double in the 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic.

Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Magic on Saturday.

Former MVP Harden – who swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The eight-time All-Star also became the seventh player in NBA history with a triple-double in their team debut, joining Russell Westbrook, Elfrid Payton, Lewis Lloyd, John Shumate, Nate Thurmond and Oscar Robertson.

Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

 

Lillard inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard had a game-high 36 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-106. Double-doubles from Trae Young (26 points and 11 assists) and Clint Capela (25 points and 15 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Hawks.

Shake Milton put up 28 points off the bench in the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers' narrow 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons fell just short of a triple-double after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected 18 rebounds as the shorthanded Rockets went down 103-91 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Derrick Rose was efficient in the Detroit Pistons' 120-100 upset of the Miami Heat. He was eight-of-12 shooting from the field, while making three of his five three-point attempts for 23 points in 21 minutes.

 

Covington struggles

While the Trail Blazers won, Robert Covington failed to get going shooting-wise after collecting 10 rebounds. He was one-of-13 from the field and just one-of-seven from beyond the arc for three points in 28 minutes.

A championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, veteran Rajon Rondo was scoreless for the Hawks. Rondo missed all three of his field-goal attempts in nine minutes of action.

 

Morant returns in style

Ja Morant sprained his ankle on December 28 but the Grizzlies star made his comeback following an eight-game absence. Morant had 17 points, including this alley-oop.

 

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 103-91 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 122-115 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 116-113 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 120-100 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-106 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Pacers at Clippers

The Indiana Pacers (8-4) will visit the in-form Los Angeles Clippers (9-4) – who have won three straight games – on Sunday.

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