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.

Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns revealed he had tested positive for coronavirus, continuing his "nightmare" due to COVID-19.

Towns, 25, said late last year he had lost seven family members, including his mother, to coronavirus.

The two-time All-Star confirmed on Friday he too had contracted COVID-19, which has led to more than two million deaths worldwide.

"Prior to tonight's game, I received yet another awful call that I tested positive for COVID. I will immediately isolate and follow every protocol," Towns wrote on social media.

"I pray every day that this nightmare of a virus will subside and I beg everyone to continue to take it seriously by taking all of the necessary precautions.

"We cannot stop the spread of this virus alone, it must be a group effort by all of us.

"It breaks my heart that my family, and particularly my father and sister, continue to suffer from the anxiety that comes along with this diagnosis as we know all too well what the end result could be.

"To my niece and nephew, Jolani and Max, I promise you I will not end up in a box next to grandma and I will beat this."

The Timberwolves' clash against the Memphis Grizzlies scheduled for Friday was postponed.

Towns is averaging 22 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Minnesota (3-8) this season, having played just four games.

LaMelo Ball made more history as the Charlotte Hornets defeated the New York Knicks 109-88 in the NBA on Monday.

Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Saturday, and he was at it again for the Hornets – who won their fourth straight game.

The Hornets rookie became the first player aged 19 or younger in league history to lead his team in both rebounds and assists in three consecutive games.

Ball finished with eight points, a career-high 14 rebounds and seven assists as star Hornets team-mate Gordon Hayward posted 34 points, including 28 in the first half.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to help the Milwaukee Bucks past the Orlando Magic 121-99.

Antetokounmpo was in action following a one-game absence due to a minor back injury and scored 22 points, while Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Brilliant Beal helps snap skid

The Washington Wizards ended their three-game losing streak and claimed their first home win of the season thanks to Bradley Beal's 34 points and a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Devin Booker had 33 points for the Suns.

Nikola Vucevic put up 28 points and 13 rebounds for the beaten Magic in Orlando.

The shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers lost 112-94 at the Atlanta Hawks, but Joel Embiid had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Hawks star Trae Young scored 26 points.

Pascal Siakam recorded a triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists but the struggling Toronto Raptors still lost 112-111 to the Portland Trail Blazers. CJ McCollum (30) and Damian Lillard (23) combined for 53 points.

Harrison Barnes (game-high 30 points) fuelled the Sacramento Kings' 127-122 win against the Indiana Pacers. Domantas Sabonis posted 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers.

 

Knicks struggle

It was a forgettable outing for the Knicks, who were just 39.1 per cent from the field and 24.3 per cent from three-point range. New York's Immanuel Quickley made just one of 10 field goals, while he missed all six attempts from beyond the arc for three points in 29 minutes.

 

Clutch CJ!

McCollum nailed the game-winning shot with 9.6 seconds remaining to lift the Trail Blazers.

 

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 109-89 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 101-91 Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks 121-99 Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards 128-107 Phoenix Suns
Atlanta Hawks 112-94 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-111 Toronto Raptors
Sacramento Kings 127-122 Indiana Pacers
New Orleans Pelicans-Dallas Mavericks (postponed)

 

Lakers at Rockets

LeBron James and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (8-3) will face James Harden's Houston Rockets (3-5) again on Tuesday.

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 Los Angeles Lakers' four-game winning streak was snapped in the NBA on Thursday, while the Philadelphia 76ers also fell.

Despite a double-double of 27 points and 12 assists from LeBron James, the Lakers were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs 118-109.

Anthony Davis also had 23 points and 10 rebounds, but the Lakers slipped to 6-3.

LaMarcus Aldridge posted a game-high 28 points for the Spurs.

After five straight wins, the 76ers fell to a 122-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Joel Embiid had a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers (7-2).

The Nets were without Kevin Durant (quarantine) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), but Caris LeVert posted 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as they improved to 5-4.

 

Lillard lifts Trail Blazers, Doncic dominates

Damian Lillard's 39 points, seven rebounds and seven assists saw the Portland Trail Blazers past the Minnesota Timberwolves 135-117.

Luka Doncic dominated with 38 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks overcame the Denver Nuggets 124-117 after overtime.

Andre Drummond had a double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Memphis Grizzlies 94-90.

 

Terrible Timberwolves

After back-to-back wins to start the season, the Timberwolves have suffered six straight losses. Malik Beasley struggled against the Trail Blazers, going three-of-13 from the field for 12 points in 28 minutes.

 

Cool Jokic

Nikola Jokic forced overtime for the Nuggets against the Mavericks with a long two. He finished with 38 points and 11 rebounds in the overtime loss.

Thursday's results

Brooklyn Nets 122-109 Philadelphia 76ers
Cleveland Cavaliers 94-90 Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers 135-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 118-109 Los Angeles Lakers
Dallas Mavericks 124-117 Denver Nuggets

 

Clippers at Warriors

The Los Angeles Clippers (6-3) and Golden State Warriors (4-4) meet for the second time in three days on Friday. The Clippers claimed a 108-101 victory on Wednesday.

Anthony Davis says there is trust among the Los Angeles Lakers regardless of whether he or LeBron James are making plays late in games after the NBA champions rallied past the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Lakers made it a clean sweep of four straight wins on the road thanks to a 94-92 triumph in Memphis, backing up a victory against the Grizzlies and two against the San Antonio Spurs.

James and Davis each finished with 26 points, but it was down the stretch where the superstar duo really came to the fore. Trailing by two with five minutes to go, they combined for a 9-2 run and an 86-81 lead.

Together they put on 15 points late in the fourth to make it 92-83 with a little over 30 seconds remaining, while the last basket was James assisting Davis for a dunk.

Describing their chemistry late in games, Davis said: "When you got playmakers and scorers on the floor, it's very easy for us. 

"We don't like to use the term, like you said, 'flip the switch'. We want our switch to be on at all times, but it's good to have guys who can make plays for us, especially late in game at both ends of the floor. 

"It starts with LJ and his ability to pass the ball and read defences is unreal, his I.Q. is very high. We usually have the ball in his hands. 

"Even when we don't have it, we know late game whoever it's going to - whether it's his hands or my hands – we're going to live with that, whether we make shots or miss shots we're going live with us making the plays for us or for others."

Davis is in his second season playing alongside the legendary James, who also had 11 rebounds and seven assists to his name in another influential showing.

For Davis, there are no surprises about the levels James continues to show at the age of 36.  

"It's not surprising at all, he's been doing this now for 18 years, it's crazy to see he's doing it in his 18th year but the numbers he puts up is not surprising," he added. 

"It's testament to the player he is - practice, shootaround, pregame, he's constantly getting his body ready to go out there and put up those kind of numbers you know from rebounds to assists or scoring. 

"But also, things that don't show up on a stats sheet, leadership, getting guys ready to learn offensive and defensive schemes we have, hence he's one of the greatest to ever do it, if not the greatest. 

"It's good to be a witness to that in my second year, to see how he continues to put on a show for us, night in and night out. It surprises no one on this team, he's been doing it night in and night out and it seems like it's getting easier for him."

James was asked about the Lakers' first experience of the road this season during a global pandemic.

"It's what it is, we're here to work, get better and to win," he replied. 

"We're in a winning business, that's what we want to do, we want to create great habits, we're going to have times when we don't play to our capabilities but we still want to create great habits going forward, that's what I think we did on this road trip."

LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers team-mates were left disheartened upon hearing Kenosha County District Attorney announced no charges are to be filed against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a black man who was left paralysed.

Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on August 23 last year as he leaned into his car in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In response, several professional sports teams refused to play scheduled matches and, in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

That subsequently led to all NBA games on August 26 being postponed, while there were further boycotts in Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

Many NBA stars, including James, were vocal from the Orlando bubble in their campaigning against racial injustice, and several Lakers players expressed their dismay following Tuesday's confirmation none of the officers at the scene will face criminal charges.

Speaking after the Lakers' 94-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, James said: "To hear what happened in Kenosha today was a blow to the heart and to the gut, not only to that community but to us and to every, I guess, black person that has been a part of this process and seeing these outcomes for so long.

"And not only in the black community but in the white community as well, who see moments like this happen to us, to happen to his family, to happen to [Blake] himself. But we've got to continue to stay strong, continue to believe in each other and continue to push for the greater change and the greater good."

Wesley Matthews, now at the Lakers, was a part of the Bucks side that refused to play against the Magic back in August and was left similarly frustrated by the latest developments but urged the public to not lose heart.

"Truly, it's disheartening," he added. "It's just about right and wrong, but it can't deter those citizens who are trying to do right, who are trying to fight for equality, who are trying to fight for the right things.

"It can't deter us, we can't lose our heads, we can't start rioting, we have to be calculated, we have to continue to keep our foot on the pedal, we have to continue to keep our foot on the gas.

"These are lives right here. It's upsetting as a Wisconsinite. It's upsetting as a human being that justice isn't justice. It's tough. But it can't knock us off our path that we're trying to get to, which is equality and just simply right and wrong."

Anthony Davis said he was left with a sense of failure but will "continue to push the needle for change".

"Obviously it sucks, we as a community try to support the family and try to do everything we can to get justice for him, for that to happen, it sucks," he said. "It's like we let the family down. We continue to honour Jacob Blake and his family, we continue to push the needle for change, it's not going to stop us by playing basketball."

LeBron James and Anthony Davis saw the Los Angeles Lakers to another win in the NBA, while the Clippers fell on Tuesday.

James (26 points and 11 rebounds) and Davis (26 points and 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles in a 94-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Lakers stars became the third pair of team-mates in the past 10 years to have 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in the same game with neither committing a personal foul, according to Stats Perform.

The previous two occasions also featured James – alongside Dwyane Wade in 2013 and Kevin Love three years later.

While the Lakers are 6-2, the Clippers slipped to 5-3 following a 116-113 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard posted 30 points and 10 assists, but the Clippers were beaten by a Patty Mills-inspired Spurs.

Mills was eight-of-12 from three-point range for 27 points in 28 minutes off the bench.

Irving lifts Nets as Jokic dominates

Kyrie Irving had 29 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Brooklyn Nets thrashed the Utah Jazz 130-96.

Nikola Jokic posted 35 points and 15 rebounds to help the Denver Nuggets past the Minnesota Timberwolves 123-116.

The Timberwolves slumped to 2-5 despite 33 points and 11 assists from D'Angelo Russell.

Otto Porter Jr. (19 points and 13 rebounds) and Coby White (21 points and 10 rebounds) had double-doubles in the Chicago Bulls' 111-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Bulls came from 18 points down after the first quarter. It marked the second time in franchise history they have trailed by 18-plus points at the end of the first quarter and come back to win, as per Stats Perform.

 

Valanciunas struggles

Jonas Valanciunas went four-of-13 from the field in the Grizzlies' loss. The center had 13 points to go with 11 rebounds.

 

Irving in form

Without Kevin Durant, Irving stepped up for the Nets. He was seven-of-seven from the field and four-of-four from three-point range for 18 points in the first quarter.

Tuesday's results

Brooklyn Nets 130-96 Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Lakers 94-92 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 123-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 116-113 Los Angeles Clippers
Chicago Bulls 111-108 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Clippers at Warriors

The Golden State Warriors (4-3) will host the Clippers on Wednesday. Stephen Curry has made an impressive start to the season for the Warriors, averaging 32 points, 6.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds.

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.

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