The Milwaukee Bucks are the team to beat at Christmas time and it bodes well for their championship aspirations.

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks (27-4) top the NBA standings on Christmas Day, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (24-6).

Not since 1971 have the Bucks won a title – their only success so far since being founded in 1968.

However, the past three champions – the Toronto Raptors last season and Golden State Warriors in 2016-17 and 2017-18 – earned a ring having led when Santa Clause came to town.

Over the past 10 seasons, five teams who topped the league on Christmas went on to celebrate a championship, with the 2011-12 campaign not getting underway until December 25 due to a lockout.

 

2018
Dec 25 leaders: Toronto Raptors (25-10)
Champions: Raptors

2017
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (27-7)
Champions: Warriors

2016
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (27-5)
Champions: Warriors

2015
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (28-1)
Champions: Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8 on Christmas Day)

2014
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (23-5)
Champions: Warriors

2013
Dec 25 leaders: Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers (23-5)
Champions: San Antonio Spurs (22-7 on Christmas Day)

2012
Dec 25 leaders: Los Angeles Clippers (22-6)
Champions: Miami Heat (19-6 on Christmas Day)

*2011
Champions: Miami Heat (*lockout)

2010
Dec 25 leaders: San Antonio Spurs (25-4)
Champions: Dallas Mavericks (23-5 on Christmas Day)

2009
Dec 25 leaders: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers (23-5)
Champions: Lakers

The Indiana Pacers outlasted defending champions the Toronto Raptors in overtime, while the Philadelphia 76ers downed the Detroit Pistons in the NBA.

Aaron Holiday's double-double helped the Pacers past the Raptors 120-115 in Indiana on Monday, snapping Toronto's five-game winning streak.

Holiday had 19 points and 10 assists, T.J. Warren and Myles Turner posted 24 points apiece, and Domantas Sabonis contributed 12 points and 17 rebounds for the Pacers.

The Raptors, coming off a franchise-record comeback on Monday, were led by Kyle Lowry's 30 points, while Fred VanVleet put up 21 points and 11 assists.

In Detroit, the 76ers were too good for the slumping Pistons 125-109 thanks to Tobias Harris' 35 points on the road.

Joel Embiid added 20 points of his own, while Andre Drummond scored 27 for the Pistons – who crashed to a fifth straight loss.

 

Aldridge stars in Spurs shoot-out

LaMarcus Aldridge recorded a season-high 40 points as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 145-115.

Ben Simmons posted a triple-double for the 76ers, finishing with 16 points, a career-high 17 assists and 13 rebounds.

Bradley Beal had 30 points in the Washington Wizards' 121-115 win over the New York Knicks. Julius Randle managed a game-high 35 points for the Knicks.

 

Griffin a shadow of himself

Blake Griffin – a six-time All-Star – looked out of sorts against the 76ers. He was just two of 14 from the floor for eight points in 27 minutes. Griffin also missed all six of this three-point attempts.

 

Murray with the game-winner

Tied at 111-111, Jamal Murray nailed the go-ahead jumper with 2.5 seconds remaining as the Denver Nuggets edged the Phoenix Suns 113-111.

 

Monday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 121-118 Atlanta Hawks
Philadelphia 76ers 125-109 Detroit Pistons
Orlando Magic 103-95 Chicago Bulls
Washington Wizards 121-115 New York Knick
Indiana Pacers 120-115 Toronto Raptors (OT)
Miami Heat 107-104 Utah Jazz
San Antonio Spurs 145-115 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 113-111 Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets 113-104 Sacramento Kings
New Orleans Pelicans 102-94 Portland Trail Blazers
Golden State Warriors 113-104 Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Christmas Day feast

After a break on Tuesday, the NBA returns in a big way for Christmas. After the Raptors entertain the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks face the 76ers, the Houston Rockets travel to the Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers meet the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets welcome the New Orleans Pelicans.

James Harden soared to fourth for 40-point games in NBA history on Saturday, while Giannis Antetokounmpo maintained top form in a big win for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Houston Rockets star Harden hit nine three-pointers and went 15-of-27 from the field to finish with 47 points in a 135-129 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (271), Michael Jordan (173) and Kobe Bryant (122) have had more 40-point games than Harden's 89, the 30-year-old having surpassed Elgin Baylor's 88.

Russell Westbrook contributed 30 points and 10 assists as the Rockets (20-9) extended their winning run to three games.

Two days after downing the Los Angeles Lakers, Antetokounmpo made light work of the New York Knicks in 123-103 victory for the Bucks (26-4) at Madison Square Garden.

The reigning MVP posted a triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in 26 minutes for the Eastern Conference leaders, while Kyle Korver chipped in with 17 points off the bench.

Embiid lifts 76ers out of slump

Joel Embiid's 21 points and 13 rebounds led the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-108 win against Washington Wizards, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Fuelled by Kawhi Leonard's 26 points, the Los Angeles Clippers strengthened their grip on second spot in the Western Conference with a 134-109 rout of the San Antonio Spurs.

Trae Young put up 47 points at Barclays Center but the Atlanta Hawks still lost 122-112 to the Brooklyn Nets, who were powered by Spencer Dinwiddie's 39 points and a double-double from DeAndre Jordan.

 

Batum blows cold

The Charlotte Hornets had just two starters, Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham, reach double figures for points in a 114-107 home defeat to the Utah Jazz. Nicolas Batum failed to offer much help as the former first-round pick attempted four field goals and a solitary three-point shot in 30 minutes on the floor.

 

Thanasis soars

Bucks star Giannis had to share the spotlight in the Big Apple as older brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo produced a huge tip-in dunk in the fourth quarter.

Saturday's results

Houston Rockets 139-125 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 113-106 Minnesota Timberwolves
Utah Jazz 114-107 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 122-112 Atlanta Hawks
Chicago Bulls 119-107 Detroit Pistons
Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Washington Wizards
Milwaukee Bucks 123-102 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 119-115 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 134-109 San Antonio Spurs

 

Nuggets at Lakers

After two successive losses and with LeBron James potentially missing due to a reported muscle problem, the Lakers (24-5) look vulnerable ahead of Sunday's game against the in-form Denver Nuggets (19-8) at Staples Center.

Kristaps Porzingis showed there is more to the Dallas Mavericks than just Luka Doncic after inspiring a 117-98 win over the slumping Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA.

Without injured star guard Doncic, Porzingis posted 22 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for the Mavericks on Friday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 27 points of his own as the Mavericks improved to 11-2 on the road, despite Doncic's absence due to a right ankle sprain.

For the 76ers, it was their second straight defeat on home court, having opened the season 14-0 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid had 33 points and 17 rebounds for the 76ers, who lost their consecutive game overall, and Ben Simmons (12 points) and Josh Richardson (10) were the only other players with double-digit points.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors edged the Washington Wizards 122-118, despite an injury-riddled line-up.

The Raptors were without leading scorer Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder) but Kyle Lowry's 26 points and Serge Ibaka's 23 and 10 rebounds lifted Toronto.

 

Lillard and McCollum star

Damian Lillard put up 36 points and CJ McCollum contributed 31 of his own as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Orlando Magic 118-103. It was Portland's third straight win – a season-high.

Bobby Portis scored 30 points in the New York Knicks' 129-114 defeat away to the Miami Heat.

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Phoenix Suns 126-108 thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's 32 points.

 

Tough night for Kemba

While the Boston Celtics saw off the Detroit Pistons 114-93, Kemba Walker struggled. The Celtics guard missed all six shots from the floor, while he was also 0 of three for three-pointers. Walker finished with two points and 11 assists in 30 minutes.

 

Morant with the best missed dunk of all time

Ja Morant almost destroyed Kevin Love with a devastating dunk that saw the Memphis Grizzlies rookie attempt to jump over the Cleveland Cavaliers veteran.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 122-118 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 114-93 Detroit Pistons
Cleveland Cavaliers 114-107 Memphis Grizzlies
Indiana Pacers 119-105 Sacramento Kings
Denver Nuggets 109-100 Minnesota Timberwolves
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-108 Phoenix Suns
Miami Heat 129-114 New York Knicks
Dallas Mavericks 117-98 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 Orlando Magic
Golden State Warriors 106-102 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Clippers at Spurs

After going down to the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers are away to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. The Clippers have lost two of their last three games, while the Spurs are coming off two wins in three outings.

The New York Knicks have appointed former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt as basketball operations consultant.

Blatt coached the Cavaliers in the 2014-15 season and for half of the following campaign before he was fired in January 2016 ahead of Cleveland winning their first NBA championship.

The 60-year-old, who has vast experience of coaching overseas, will now return to the NFL with the Knicks.

"I look forward to my next step in my career as I officially retire from coaching and pursue other opportunities in basketball," Blatt said in a statement released by the Knicks.

"I've long been intrigued by working in a front office and thank [Knicks president] Steve [Mills] and [Knicks general manager] Scott [Perry] for the opportunity to be a resource to the basketball operations staff."

A statement released on behalf of Mills and Perry said: "David Blatt is a great basketball mind and we look forward to adding him to the organisation.

"He will be a great asset to our front office, G League team and international scouting."

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered just their fourth loss of the NBA season, while the Clippers cruised on Tuesday.

Without Anthony Davis (ankle), the Lakers went down to the Indiana Pacers 105-102.

LeBron James had 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but the Lakers star went 0-for-six from three-point range.

Dwight Howard made a huge contribution off the bench for the Lakers (24-4), going 10-for-10 for 20 points.

But Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers (19-9) with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds.

The Clippers had no such troubles, easing past the Phoenix Suns 120-99.

Paul George (24 points) and Kawhi Leonard (20) once again led the Clippers, who improved to 21-8.

 

Brilliant Barrett lifts Knicks

RJ Barrett's 27 points helped the New York Knicks to their third win in four games by beating the Atlanta Hawks 143-120.

Double-doubles from Malik Monk (23 points and 10 rebounds) and Bismack Biyombo (10 points and 12 rebounds) guided the Charlotte Hornets past the Sacramento Kings 110-102.

 

Poor Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans' worst losing streak in franchise history continued. The Pelicans lost 108-101 to the Brooklyn Nets after overtime for their 13th consecutive defeat.

 

Prince rejection

The Nets' Taurean Prince produced a huge rejection of Lonzo Ball.

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 110-102 Sacramento Kings
Indiana Pacers 105-102 Los Angeles Lakers
New York Knicks 143-120 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 108-101 New Orleans Pelicans
Utah Jazz 109-102 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Clippers 120-99 Phoenix Suns

 

Celtics at Mavericks

Without the injured Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks (18-8) host the Boston Celtics (17-7) on Wednesday.

LeBron James helped the Los Angeles Lakers extend their winning streak with another dominant display, while the Brooklyn Nets were too good for the Philadelphia 76ers.

James' double-double led the Lakers to a 101-96 victory over the Atlanta Hawks and a seventh successive win in the NBA on Sunday.

The Lakers superstar posted 32 points and 13 rebounds as Los Angeles moved level with the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA's best record at 24-3.

Anthony Davis contributed 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, while Trae Young led the Hawks with 30 points.

The Nets powered to a 109-89 victory over the 76ers as Philadelphia's road woes continued.

Without Joel Embiid due to illness, the 76ers were no match for the Nets – slipping to 6-8 on the road despite a 14-0 home record.

Ben Simmons' 20 points were not enough to extend Philadelphia's winning run to six games, while Spencer Dinwiddie's 24 fuelled the Nets.

 

Isaac inspires Magic

Jonathan Isaac had 21 points and 11 rebounds to see the Orlando Magic past the slumping New Orleans Pelicans 130-119.

Jrue Holiday had 29 points for the Pelicans, while Josh Hart put up 20 from the bench.

A Nikola Jokic double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds helped the Denver Nuggets to a 111-105 victory against the New York Knicks.

 

Pelicans set unwanted record

It was a forgettable outing for the Pelicans. A loss to the Magic set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive defeat.

Terry Rozier – part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics – endured a poor shooting performance in the Charlotte Hornets' 107-85 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Rozier was just one of 12 from the floor for three points in 25 minutes. He also missed all three of his shots from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron x Dwight

James does it all. From shooting buckets and slamming dunks, to setting up others. This through-the-legs pass to Dwight Howard for the slam was something else.

Sunday's results

Brooklyn Nets 109-89 Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Lakers 101-96 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers 107-85 Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic 130-119 New Orleans Pelicans
Sacramento Kings 100-79 Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets 111-105 New York Knicks

 

Mavs at Bucks

Monday's showdown was expected to pit MVP rivals Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo against each other. However, Dallas Mavericks star Doncic will miss the clash due to an ankle injury. Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are eyeing their 19th win on the bounce.

James Harden produced another 50-point performance in the NBA, while Giannis Antetokounmpo helped the Milwaukee Bucks extend their streak on Friday.

Harden made it back-to-back 50-point games in the Houston Rockets' 130-107 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Coming off a 55-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Harden had 54 in the win over Orlando.

The Bucks made it 17 straight wins by getting past the Memphis Grizzlies 127-114.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double of 37 points and 11 rebounds in the Bucks' latest victory.

Los Angeles' duos shine

LeBron James (28 points and 12 assists) and Anthony Davis (33 points and 10 rebounds) helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat 113-110.

The Los Angeles Clippers' stars also impressed. Paul George had 46 points and Kawhi Leonard 42 in a 124-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Philadelphia 76ers are 14-0 at home after Ben Simmons contributed 24 points and 11 assists in a 116-109 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Bad Bulls

The Chicago Bulls were woeful in an 83-73 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The Bulls went at just 30 per cent from the field, shooting 27-of-90.

 

Harden hot

Harden continued his irresistible form for the Rockets.

Friday's results

Houston Rockets 130-107 Orlando Magic
Philadelphia 76ers 116-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Lakers 113-110 Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers 110-100 Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets 83-73 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 127-114 Memphis Grizzlies
Utah Jazz 114-106 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers 124-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 103-101 Sacramento Kings

 

Pistons at Rockets

Can Detroit (10-15) stop Harden? The Rockets (17-8) host the Pistons on Saturday.

Kawhi Leonard enjoyed a successful return to Toronto on Wednesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks' run continued and James Harden starred in the NBA.

Back in Toronto, where he won the NBA championship last season, Leonard helped the Los Angeles Clippers past the Raptors 112-92.

The star received a tribute video and finished with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Clippers improved to 19-7.

Top of the Eastern Conference, the Bucks clinched a 16th straight win by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 127-112.

Without Giannis Antetokounmpo (quad soreness), Milwaukee still cruised thanks to Eric Bledsoe's 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

Harden had 55 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter, to see the Houston Rockets past the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-110.

 

LeBron lifts Lakers, Graham shines

LeBron James' triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists saw the Los Angeles Lakers improve to 22-3 by beating the Orlando Magic 96-87.

Devonte' Graham starred for the Charlotte Hornets as his 40 points saw them past the Brooklyn Nets 113-108.

A double-double from Rudy Gobert (20 points and 16 rebounds) helped the Utah Jazz claim a 127-116 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

Warriors' woes

The Golden State Warriors (5-21) are the worst team in the NBA after losing to the New York Knicks (5-20). The Knicks ended a 10-game losing streak with a 124-122 overtime win.

 

Morant magic

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, the second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, produced a nice dunk in a win over the Phoenix Suns.

Wednesday's results

Houston Rockets 116-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers 122-117 Boston Celtics
Los Angeles Lakers 96-87 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Clippers 112-92 Toronto Raptors
Charlotte Hornets 113-108 Brooklyn Nets
Chicago Bulls 136-102 Atlanta Hawks
Utah Jazz 127-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 115-108 Phoenix Suns
Milwaukee Bucks 127-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Sacramento Kings 94-93 Oklahoma City Thunder
New York Knicks 124-122 Golden State Warriors

 

76ers at Celtics

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-7) have struggled on the road so far this season and face the Boston Celtics (17-6) at TD Garden on Thursday.

The Philadelphia 76ers maintained their perfect home record in the NBA on Tuesday, while Duncan Robinson starred for the Miami Heat.

The 76ers improved to 13-0 at home with a 97-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Joel Embiid led the way again with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the 76ers, while Tobias Harris had 20 points.

Robinson made 10-of-14 from three-point range in Miami's 135-121 overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks.

The 25-year-old, who went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 34 points for the Heat and tied the franchise record for most threes made in a game.

 

Nunn, Adebayo and Butler shine

Miami had more stars. Kendrick Nunn had 36 points and Bam Adebayo a triple-double of 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Jimmy Butler (20 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists) also had a triple-double.

Devonte' Graham's 29 points saw the Charlotte Hornets overcome the Washington Wizards 114-107.

The Portland Trail Blazers thrashed the New York Knicks 115-87 thanks to 31 points from Damian Lillard.

 

Knicks' slump continues

The Knicks fell to a 10th straight loss as their record dropped to 4-20, with RJ Barrett struggling from the field, going one-of-nine.

 

Ridiculous Robinson

Robinson was in unbelievable form from beyond the arc for Miami.

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 114-107 Washington Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers 97-92 Denver Nuggets
Miami Heat 135-121 Atlanta Hawks
Portland Trail Blazers 115-87 New York Knicks

 

Clippers at Raptors

Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto when his Los Angeles Clippers (18-7) face the Raptors (16-7) on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks won big in the NBA thanks to Ben Simmons and Luka Doncic.

Simmons scored a career-high 34 points as the 76ers humbled the Cleveland Cavaliers 141-94 in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The All-Star was almost unstoppable in 26 minutes of action, making 12 of 14 field goals and hitting nine of 12 free throws to help the 76ers improve to 11-0 at home.

Philadelphia stayed perfect on home court despite the absence of Joel Embiid due to a left hip contusion.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Doncic, meanwhile, fuelled the Mavericks' 130-84 demolition of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Doncic posted 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 26 minutes for the Mavs, who led 64-52 at half-time.

 

Westbrook records triple-double

Russell Westbrook had his third consecutive triple-double in the Houston Rockets' 115-109 win at home to the Phoenix Suns. Westbrook finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Rockets team-mate James Harden scored 34 points.

 

Cavs set season low

It was a tough night for the Cavaliers. Their 36 first-half points set a season low for points in a half, less than the 40 they managed against the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Lonzo Ball endured a forgettable game. The Pelicans guard was one of nine from the floor for just two points in 27 minutes. He also missed all seven of his three-point attempts.

 

Simmons drops another three

Prior to this season, Simmons had never made a three-pointer in the regular season. He is now up to two following this effort from beyond the arc.

 

Saturday's results

Dallas Mavericks 130-84 New Orleans Pelicans
Philadelphia 76ers 141-94 Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers 104-103 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 115-109 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 126-112 Memphis Grizzlies

 

Raptors at 76ers

It is back-to-back home games for the 76ers (16-7), who welcome reigning champions the Toronto Raptors (15-6) to Philadelphia on Sunday. The 76ers will be looking to stay unbeaten on home court, while the Raptors can snap a two-game losing streak.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich criticised the New York Knicks' decision to sack David Fizdale.

The struggling Knicks parted with coach Fizdale on Friday following a run of eight consecutive defeats and a conference-worst 4-18 record in the NBA this season.

Fizdale – replaced by assistant Mike Miller on an interim basis – was appointed in 2018 and oversaw 21 wins and 83 losses during his tenure in New York.

Responding to Fizdale's departure, five-time champion Popovich slammed the Knicks.

"I don't know where the decision was made to fire coach Fizdale, but if it came from the top, it's a case of mistaken identity," Popovich said via NBA.com.

"He's a fine, talented young coach with a great pedigree, and it's ridiculous to think you're gonna bring a young guy in and after being there a minute and a half, you expect him to fix everything that's been wrong there for a long time.

"That's pretty unfair. So, it's the old analogy: he got thrown under the bus. He'll come out of it because he's a great coach."

Steve Kerr said he is happy he chose the Golden State Warriors over the New York Knicks following David Fizdale's firing.

The struggling Knicks sacked head coach Fizdale on Friday amid a conference-worst 4-18 record following eight consecutive NBA losses.

Kerr was wanted by the Knicks in 2014, but the former Chicago Bulls guard opted for the Warriors.

Three championships later and Warriors coach Kerr is pleased with the decision he made five years ago.

"If I had gone to New York, that would've been me like three years ago. I'm well aware of that," Kerr told reporters as he reacted to Fizdale's departure.

"It's just the way it goes. I think I made the right choice."

Kerr, whose Warriors (4-19) are struggling in the absence of injured stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson following Kevin Durant's switch to the Brooklyn Nets, added: "As we know in this business it's extremely fragile.

"Your job is dependent on a lot of things when you're a coach in this league. Number one probably is the talent that you're able to coach, but just as important is the strength of the organisation and the group around you.

"And it takes a really strong organisation to help coaches and help players get through difficult times."

 

The New York Knicks have sacked head coach David Fizdale, the struggling NBA franchise announced.

New York dismissed Fizdale on Friday, with the Knicks a conference-worst 4-18 for the season amid an eight-game losing streak.

Assistant coach Mike Miller will take over on an interim basis as the Knicks prepare to face the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

"Today, head coach David Fizdale and assistant coach Keith Smart were relieved of their coaching duties," a statement read.

"Assistant coach Mike Miller has been named interim head coach."

The Knicks hired former Memphis Grizzlies coach Fizdale in 2018 but the 45-year-old was 21-83 in less than two seasons at the helm.

New York – who missed out on a big free-agent signing having been linked to Kevin Durant – have not made the playoffs since 2012-13.

The Houston Rockets were too good for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA on Thursday, while the Philadelphia 76ers' streak came to an end.

The Rockets went 22-of-55 from three-point range in a 119-109 victory over the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

Ben McLemore (eight-of-17) and P.J. Tucker (five-of-10) did most of the damage for Houston from beyond the arc.

McLemore finished with 28 points, while Tucker had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds as James Harden (23 points) and Russell Westbrook (19 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists) got plenty of support.

Pascal Siakam had 24 points for defending champions the Raptors.

Joel Embiid's double-double of 26 points and 21 rebounds was not enough for the 76ers, who went down to the Washington Wizards 119-113.

The result saw Philadelphia's four-game winning streak come to an end, while they are now 5-7 on the road this season.

 

Brilliant Booker, all-round Nuggets

Devin Booker had 44 points on 13-of-24 shooting in the Phoenix Suns' 139-132 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Denver Nuggets had eight players score in double-figures in a 129-92 thrashing of the New York Knicks.

 

Knicks' struggles continue

The Knicks (4-18) have the longest losing streak in the NBA after it was stretched to eight games.

 

Hayes hammer

Jaxson Hayes, the eighth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, produced a monster dunk in the Pelicans' loss to the Suns.

Thursday's results

Washington Wizards 119-113 Philadelphia 76ers
Denver Nuggets 129-92 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 119-109 Toronto Raptors
Phoenix Suns 139-132 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Clippers at Bucks

Milwaukee's 13-game winning streak will be put to the test as the Bucks (19-3) host the Los Angeles Clippers (16-6) on Friday in a clash between two of this season's contenders.

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