Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni described James Harden as "unbelievable" and "incredible" after a 60-point performance in the NBA on Saturday.

Harden finished with 60 points in just 31 minutes in the Rockets' 158-111 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks.

The star went 16-of-24 from the field, and eight-of-14 from three-point range, in an outstanding performance.

Speaking about Harden, D'Antoni told a news conference: "Like everything else he does, unbelievable.

"Again, I think in the first half just when they doubled he gave the right play and then when they didn't double he scored.

"His first 40 points he had like 40-something points on 15 shots or 12 shots, whatever it was.

"You get 60 points on 24 shots, that's pretty good. He was incredible, but he's like that every night."

Asked if he considered leaving Harden in the game, D'Antoni said it was never an option.

"I can't do that, I couldn't, you guys would kill me if I did that and he got hurt," he said.

"I'd kill myself first of all and then you would all shoot me."

The Rockets are 13-6 and fourth in the Western Conference ahead of facing the Spurs in San Antonio on Tuesday.

James Harden produced a 60-point performance in a huge Houston Rockets win, while the Milwaukee Bucks' run continued in the NBA on Saturday.

Harden went 16-of-24 from the field, and eight-of-14 from three-point range, in the Rockets' 158-111 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks.

The star guard only played 31 minutes in the Rockets' victory as they improved to 13-6 in the Western Conference.

Ben McLemore had a double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook contributed 15 points.

The Bucks made it 11 straight wins by beating the Charlotte Hornets 137-96.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (26 points and nine rebounds) once again starred for the Bucks, who hold a two-game lead atop the Eastern Conference.

 

Embiid, Simmons lead the way for 76ers

Joel Embiid had a double-double of 32 points and 11 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers' 119-116 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Ben Simmons contributed 15 points and 13 assists in the victory.

The Bucks' bench stepped up as Khris Middleton (15), Dragan Bender (12), Ersan Ilyasova (11), D.J. Wilson (11) and George Hill (10) combined for 59 points.

Trae Young has starred for the Hawks this season and the guard had 37 points on 10-of-16 shooting in the big loss to the Rockets.

 

Jokic unable to lift Nuggets

Nikola Jokic struggled, going three-of-11 from the field for seven points in the Denver Nuggets' 100-97 overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings.

 

Hot Harden

Harden had 29 points in the third quarter in his huge performance.

Saturday's results

Sacramento Kings 100-97 Denver Nuggets
Philadelphia 76ers 119-116 Indiana Pacers
Houston Rockets 158-111 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 137-96 Charlotte Hornets

 

Mavericks at Lakers

Luka Doncic will try to inspire the Dallas Mavericks (12-6) when they look to end the Los Angeles Lakers' (17-2) 10-game winning streak on Sunday.

Luka Doncic was called "absolutely breathtaking" by Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle after tying his career high with 42 points on Friday to round off a brilliant November.

The Slovenian bounced back from a rough night in the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers - when he went 4-of-14 shooting - to lead the Mavs to a 120-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Doncic also had 11 assists and nine rebounds and finished the month as only the third player in NBA history - along with Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson - to go through an entire month while averaging a triple-double that included at least 30 points per game.

"It's surprising, but it's not shocking," Carlisle said in quotes published on the Mavs' website.

"He's just an exceptional player, an exceptional person and he's exceptionally tough.

"You don't find that combination in 20-year-old guys coming into the NBA very often. But he's having a spectacular year. Just absolutely breathtaking."

The 22-point performance against the Clippers was Doncic's worst of the season but he bounced back in style, something that did not surprise Carlisle.

"He's a great player," Carlisle added.

"Great players have a short memory for tough games and they move forward and they're always thinking ahead.

"They're always thinking about the next challenge, and he was spectacular from start to finish.

"He hit the floor hard twice, which everybody saw, but he's an extremely tough hard-nosed guy who seemingly always bounces back up and keeps playing. He's an amazing player."

The Los Angeles Lakers will enter December with the NBA's best record, a fact that does not shock Anthony Davis.

Frank Vogel's team won a 10th straight game against the Washington Wizards on Friday to improve to 17-2, equalling the franchise's best record through 19 games.

The Lakers did not make the postseason in LeBron James' first season in Los Angeles, but the acquisition of center Davis ahead of this campaign has helped transform the team.

Asked what he would think if he had been told the Lakers would start 17-2, Davis replied: "I wouldn't have been surprised.

"We know the type of team we have. And when we defend, we can beat anybody, and we have a lot of veterans.

"So when we're down, we're able to fight back and have the confidence in our schemes."

Neither Davis nor James were needed in the fourth quarter as the Lakers eased to a 125-103 win over the Wizards.

They finished November with a 14-1 record but there are trickier games coming up on their schedule, including a clash with the Dallas Mavericks and the in-form Luka Doncic on Sunday.

"We have championship aspirations, but at the end of the day, that's not what's here right now," James added.

"What's right now is our next opponent, and that's Dallas and they're very good.

"We want to continue to get better and better and have championship mindset every time we step on the floor."

The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers extended their respective winning streaks to 10 games in the NBA on Friday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo again led the Bucks in a 119-110 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double of 33 points and 12 rebounds, while George Hill contributed 18 points off the bench.

The Bucks are 16-3 and have a 1.5-game lead atop the Eastern Conference.

The Lakers continued to pull clear atop the west after a 125-103 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Once again, Anthony Davis (26 points and 13 rebounds) and LeBron James (23 points and 11 assists) led the way for the 17-2 Lakers.

 

Doncic delights again as Embiid guides 76ers

Luka Doncic put on a show again, contributing 42 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the Dallas Mavericks' 120-113 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Philadelphia star Joel Embiid finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds in the 76ers' 101-95 victory against the New York Knicks.

Trae Young had 49 points after going 16 of 28 from the field, but the Atlanta Hawks lost to the Indiana Pacers 105-104 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside blocked his way into the Portland Trail Blazers' record books. Whiteside's 10 blocks in a 107-103 win over the Chicago Bulls was a franchise record.

 

Magic struggle

Orlando Magic's starters Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Khem Birch, Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz combined to go 16 of 49 from the field in a 90-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

 

Anthony lifts Blazers

Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Trail Blazers' win.

Friday's results

Brooklyn Nets 112-107 Boston Celtics
Charlotte Hornets 110-107 Detroit Pistons
Toronto Raptors 90-83 Orlando Magic
Milwaukee Bucks 119-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 101-95 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 105-104 Atlanta Hawks
Miami Heat 122-105 Golden State Warriors
Utah Jazz 103-94 Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City Thunder 109-104 New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs 107-97 Los Angeles Clippers
Dallas Mavericks 120-113 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 107-103 Chicago Bulls
Los Angeles Lakers 125-103 Washington Wizards

 

Pacers at 76ers

The Pacers (12-6) and 76ers (13-6) are sixth and fifth respectively in the Eastern Conference ahead of their clash on Saturday.

Jimmy Butler is expected to return for the Miami Heat when they face the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

Four-time All-Star Butler missed the 117-108 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday through illness.

However, the 30-year-old guard participated in Miami's shootaround on Friday and the team indicated he will likely be involved against the Warriors in the evening.

"Jimmy Butler (illness) went through this morning's team shootaround and is expected to play tonight vs the Warriors," a tweet from the team's account read.

Butler, in his first year with Miami, is averaging a team-leading 18.9 points per game as well as 6.7 assists for the 12-5 Heat.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will miss his eighth consecutive game after being ruled out of Friday's showdown against former team the Boston Celtics.

Nets guard Irving sat out Wednesday's 121-110 loss to the Celtics at TD Garden due to a right shoulder injury.

While he was absent midweek, the six-time All-Star and 2016 NBA champion was still taunted with chants of 'Where is Kyrie?' and 'Kyrie sucks'.

And Irving will have to wait to face the Celtics as he is set to miss the rematch at Barclays Center.

Prior to his injury, Irving – who arrived from the Celtics in the offseason – had been averaging 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Nets this campaign.

Kyrie Irving hit back at Boston Celtics fans after he came in for abuse despite being absent for the Brooklyn Nets' 121-110 defeat at TD Garden on Wednesday.

Irving missed the trip to face his former team as he remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, but the guard was still taunted with chants of 'Where is Kyrie?' and 'Kyrie sucks'.

The six-time All Star and 2016 NBA champion responded on social media four months after leaving Boston to join the Nets.

He wrote in a lengthy Instagram post: "It happens all the time and tonight just shows how sports/entertainment will always be ignorant and obtrusive.

"It's one big SHOW that means VERY VERY little in the real world that most people live in, because there are actually things that matter going on within it, like figuring out life means more to you than a damn ball going into a hoop."

He added: "It's about doing it for the fans and organization that love you so much? Think again, it's a GAME, and it's promoted as a Fandom experience for ticket buyers and viewers at home, while defacing who people truly are as PEOPLE."

Irving continued: "A purposeful and spiritually-led life will always be bigger and more meaningful than any sports arena or any entertainment space.

"This game isn't meant to be controlled and shown as a drama, it's meant to show the love. Love for the art is the only damn thing that keeps the purist people in the giant sports/entertainment circus.

"Don't fall for the game that's played in front of you as entertainment, it'll never be as serious as dealing with life."

 

Anthony Davis came back to haunt his former team as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers prevailed 114-110 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Back in New Orleans for the first time since his blockbuster trade to the Lakers ahead of the 2019-20 NBA campaign, Davis posted a season-high 41 points on Wednesday.

Davis – who was selected by the Pelicans with pick one in the 2012 Draft – overcame an elbow problem in the final quarter to lead the Lakers (16-2) to their ninth successive win.

LeBron James finished with 29 points and 11 assists, while Jrue Holiday (29 points, 12 assists) top scored for the Pelicans (6-12).

Kemba Walker returned from a neck sprain to help the Boston Celtics top the Brooklyn Nets 121-110.

In Walker's first game back after leaving last week's loss to the Denver Nuggets with his neck in a brace, Walker posted a season-high 39 points in Boston.

"I've been over it. I could have played last game, honestly," Walker said. "If I'm on the court, I'm on the court. I wasn't thinking about anything [but] wanting to win."

The Nets were without former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving for the seventh consecutive game due to shoulder soreness.

 

Embiid bounces back from horror show

After finishing scoreless against the Toronto Raptors last time out, Joel Embiid put up 33 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past the Sacramento Kings 97-91. The result preserved Philadelphia's perfect home record at 8-0.

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his 18th consecutive double-double as the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to nine games with a 111-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The reigning MVP posted 30 points and 10 rebounds.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 61 points in the Houston Rockets' 117-108 win against the Miami Heat. Harden scored 34 and Westbrook contributed 27 as the Rockets snapped a three-game skid.

It was a franchise-record night for the Toronto Raptors. The defending champions eased past the lowly New York Knicks 126-98 for their eighth straight home win to begin the season.

 

Oh no for O'Neale

It was a tough 27 minutes for Royce O'Neale. The 26-year-old did not score a point, going 0 for four from the floor and 0 of three from beyond the arc. His Utah Jazz lost 121-102 to the Indiana Pacers.

Coby White managed just two points in the Chicago Bulls' 104-90 defeat to the Golden State Warriors. White was 0 of seven from the field, while he missed all four of his three-point attempts.

 

Harrell ensures Clippers stay hot

Montrezl Harrell's tip-in with 2.3 seconds remaining gave the Los Angeles Clippers a 121-119 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies and a seventh straight win.

Wednesday's results

Orlando Magic 116-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers 121-102 Utah Jazz
Boston Celtics 121-110 Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers 97-91 Sacramento Kings
Charlotte Hornets 102-101 Detroit Pistons
Toronto Raptors 126-98 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 111-102 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Clippers 121-119 Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets 117-108 Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers 136-119 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers 114-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors 104-90 Chicago Bulls
Washington Wizards 140-132 Phoenix Suns
Minnesota Timberwolves 113-101 San Antonio Spurs

 

Clippers at Spurs

After the Thanksgiving break, the in-form Clippers will head to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Friday. It will be another Spurs reunion for Leonard, who left Gregg Popovich's team for the Raptors ahead of the 2018-19 season before landing in Los Angeles. San Antonio have only won one of their past 11 games.

LeBron James became just the fourth player in NBA history to surpass 33,000 career points on Wednesday.

James reached the milestone in the Los Angeles Lakers' clash away to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops the all-time list with 38,387 points, ahead of Karl Malone (36,928) and Kobe Bryant (33,643).

Prior to the game against the Pelicans, Lakers superstar and three-time NBA champion James had been averaging 25.6 points, 11.0 assists and 7.4 rebounds this season.

Paul George described the Los Angeles Clippers defense as "scary" as they stifled Luka Doncic in a 114-99 defeat of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs saw their five-game winning streak snapped at American Airlines Center on Tuesday as George and Kawhi Leonard combined for 54 points in a ruthless display.

The Clippers produced a masterful defensive plan to curtail the impact of Doncic, who came into the match off a franchise-record streak of four games with at least 30 points and 10 assists.

The 20-year-old was restricted to 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists and was 0-8 from three-point attempts, while he committed seven of his side's 20 turnovers.

George and Leonard have each seen their seasons curtailed by injury and this was the first game in which they have scored at least 20 points each as team-mates.

While he admits their offensive work still needs improvement, George believes the Clippers defense is a force to be reckoned with.

"Offensively, we're still figuring it out," he said. "We're still a work in progress, but I think defensively is where each game we're getting better and better. Not even from just me and him, but from the team overall. We're doing stuff instinctively now where we're not even thinking.

"It's just happening. It's a natural habit that we're creating. That's what's most scary because everybody is kind of thinking the same thing when we're on the defensive end, and we're just scrambling."

Leonard added: "We came out with a defensive mindset on the road. [We] wanted to do the best job we could on Luka. He's been killing it lately, playing at a very, very high level.

"We just wanted to make it difficult for him tonight, get some deflections, and I think we were able to do that."

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle credited Doncic for now allowing frustrations to get the better of him during a bruising encounter.

"It was frustrating because he got hit and knocked on the floor a couple of times early," Carlisle said. "Teams are physical with him. They want to make him feel contact. They want him to hit the floor as often as possible.

"It wears down great players, but he stayed in the game. He didn't let frustrations with the officials get to him."

The Los Angeles Clippers made it six straight wins after Kawhi Leonard and Paul George helped see off Luka Doncic and the red-hot Dallas Mavericks.

Leonard had a game-high 28 points and George added 26 of his own as the streaking Clippers beat the Mavericks 114-99 in the NBA on Tuesday.

George scored 17 of his points in the opening quarter to help the Clippers improve to 13-5, while Lou Williams contributed 21 points from the bench.

The Mavs (11-6), who were also riding a five-game winning streak prior to the clash, were led by Doncic's 22 points in Dallas.

Doncic was coming off a franchise-record streak of four games with at least 30 points and 10 assists, following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

However, the reigning Rookie of the Year was stopped by the Clippers on home court – Doncic finishing four of 14 from the field and 0 of eight from three-point range.

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets were too good for the Washington Wizards 117-104 in the day's only other game.

Nikola Jokic put up eight points and 20 rebounds, and Jerami Grant had a team-high 20 points for the Nuggets in Denver.

 

Lakers at Pelicans

All eyes will be on Smoothie King Center on Wednesday. Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will return to New Orleans to face the Pelicans for the first time since his blockbuster trade to LA. The Lakers (15-2) have won eight games in a row to boast the league's best record, while the Pelicans (6-11) have dropped back-to-back games.

Steve Kerr said he has never seen anything like the Golden State Warriors' injury crisis after the embattled NBA franchise only had eight players available against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Warriors – who own the NBA's worst record at 3-15 – lost 100-97 to the Thunder on Monday in the absence of the likes of stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell.

It has been a merciless start to the season following Kevin Durant's departure to the Brooklyn Nets, with Damion Lee and Alen Smailagic also on the sidelines.

"We could have used Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell for sure," Warriors head coach Kerr, who led Golden State to last season's NBA Finals, told reporters on Tuesday.

"And Kevon Looney would have been very helpful. Jacob Evans would have helped. You need bodies in the NBA, especially to get through the long haul. And playing eight guys, as long as I've been doing this, 30, 31 years in the league, it seems like maybe once or twice a year you have eight guys. Maybe, because of crazy circumstances.

"So for us to be doing this almost routinely now is, I've never seen it. So it's a testament to the group, the Elite Eight, that I like to call them. The Elite Eight's doing a hell of a job hanging in there."

Kerr added: "We're literally unable to add an extra guy because we're hard-capped by the [Russell] sign-and-trade. So right now there's actually nothing we can do about it.

"We want to maintain our flexibility because remember, one of our eight guys, our starting point guard, is on a two-way and he's quickly using up his days, and one of our injured players is another, and so it doesn't make sense to burn through the final few hundred thousand dollars we can spend with that."

"I think it's important to keep accentuating the positives," Kerr said. "We've gotten a lot better the last few weeks. And [it's] not easy playing with eight guys. The effort was there and the defensive consistency has improved dramatically.

"The offensive execution for the most part during the game was purposeful. We took care of the ball, we moved the ball. Fourth quarter when the pressure came we didn't execute, but that's kind of the next step for this young group. So that's what we're aiming to improve upon as a group. The players, but also the coaches. We have to do our part to put them in the best position to succeed.

"So it's kind of one step at a time, and having said all that, I've been doing this for a long time in one capacity or another, and I see a lot of really positive things from this team.

"We're going to get some people back, we've been hampered by a lot of injuries, but we get [Russell] back, we get [Looney] back, we get [Green] back, what the young guys have done, what they've helped to build in the early part of the season foundationally – we're going to start winning some games. We just got to keep doing what we're doing."

Boston Celtics star Kemba Walker is listed as "probable" for Wednesday's NBA clash with the Brooklyn Nets.

Celtics guard Walker missed Monday's 103-102 win over the Sacramento Kings due to a neck sprain.

Walker was hospitalised following a scary collision against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Friday.

The three-time All-Star – with his head down – bumped into team-mate Semi Ojeleye during the second quarter of Boston's 96-92 loss.

Walker had been averaging 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game heading into the clash against the Nuggets.

Brett Brown has been appointed head coach of Australia for their Olympic Games campaign in Tokyo next year.

The Boomers turned to a familiar face after the departure of Andrej Lemanis, who led Australia to the semi-finals of the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Philadelphia 76ers boss Brown coached Australia between 2009 and 2012, overseeing a run to the quarter-finals of the 2012 London Games.

Brown, who works with Australia and 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons in the NBA as well as Jonah Bolden, is eyeing gold at the 2020 Olympics.

"When the opportunity to coach the Boomers next summer in Tokyo came up, I was reminded of my deep history with Australia and Australian basketball," Brown said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I felt a duty to try and help in any way that I could. The spirit of the country and the athletes of the country exemplify on a day-to-day basis the passion that is Australian sport. That passion is respected and recognised throughout the world and I'm very excited to be a part of that again.

"This is our mission and my message to our team: We're going into the 2020 Olympics to win a gold medal. I understand the magnitude of this statement. I would feel irresponsible having any other goal but this."

After 11 years as an assistant to Gregg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, Brown took the reins of the 76ers in 2013.

Since moving to Philadelphia, Brown has led the 76ers to back-to-back Eastern Conference semi-finals.

"Given their shared history from the London Olympics, Brett is perfectly positioned to continue in Andrej's footsteps," Basketball Australia (BA) CEO Jerril Rechter said. "Brett is a proven, elite international coach who will bring significant experience and understanding of the Boomers environment and we're delighted to welcome him aboard."

BA president and chairman of the board Ned Coten added: "Next year represents another significant opportunity for Australian basketball on the world stage. We've been fortunate to have Andrej establish the Boomers as one of the world’s strongest basketball teams, which is a testament to his dedication to the role.

"Heading into an Olympic year, we're excited to see what this group of players can achieve and wish Brett all the very best in guiding the Boomers forward."

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