Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

The Toronto Raptors were like "walking zombies" as their 15-game winning streak came to an end against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, according to Kyle Lowry.

Reigning NBA champions the Raptors' 101-91 loss at Barclays Center was their first defeat since January 12, having been on a run that has seen them surge up to second in the Eastern Conference with a 40-15 record.

Toronto scored just 40 points in the first half and trailed by 12 at the break, failing to reduce the deficit to single figures across the rest of the game.

Lowry had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, with the team's field goal percentage of 38 their lowest since before the streak started.

"They played well, we didn't play too well. They stuck with their coverages, their game plan, their schemes," said Lowry.

"We were walking zombies. We didn't play well tonight, simple as that. We missed shots, we weren't aggressive. And give them credit, they played their butts off and they beat us. It's only one game."

Head coach Nick Nurse was proud of how his team have performed this season after Kawhi Leonard left in free agency.

He hopes they can launch another deep run in the playoffs when Marc Gasol and Normal Powell return from injuries.

"I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are now, I think we're extremely pleased to get to this point," said Nurse. "The good news is I think we'll get Gasol back after the break, Norman Powell is pretty close as well.

"I think our team really battled with a couple of key guys missing. I think we've had a healthy team for two games this season, so we've done a nice job of plugging in and picking up. In the big scheme of things, you look at the overall and where you're sitting, you've got to be pleased with that."

The Raptors head into the All-Star break six and a half games back from the Milwaukee Bucks (46-8) at the top of the East.

Asked if the Bucks are catchable, Nurse said: "I don't know if they are or not and I don't think we've got them in our sights. We want to try to finish as high as we can.

"We've got some growth to do and we need to do it for sure if we want to make a run at [the championship] again."

The Toronto Raptors and their 15-game winning streak was snapped by the Brooklyn Nets, while the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks lost without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Toronto carried a franchise-record run into Wednesday's contest but the defending champions went down 101-91 at the Nets midweek.

It was the Raptors' first defeat since falling to the San Antonio Spurs on January 12.

Kyle Lowry's triple-double of 12 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds were not enough for the Raptors, while Serge Ibaka top scored with 28 points on the road.

Caris LeVert led the Nets by scoring 20 points and Jarrett Allen contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bucks, meanwhile, were beaten by the Indiana Pacers 118-111 in the absence of star Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo missed his second successive game following the birth of his son and the Pacers took advantage, snapping a season-worst six-game losing streak.

Malcolm Brogdon posted 17 points and matched a career-high with 13 assists for the Pacers in Indianapolis, where T.J. Warren stole the show with 35 points.

Donte DiVincenzo was the pick of the Milwaukee players after scoring 19 points off the bench.

 

LeBron lifts Lakers, Doncic dazzles

LeBron James and Anthony Davis put on a show. James posted a triple-double (32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds) and Davis registered 33 points and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 120-116 in overtime. They became the first Lakers team-mates with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in the same game since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2008.

Luka Doncic was at it again, putting up 33 points and 12 rebounds to help the Dallas Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 130-111.

The streaking Utah Jazz defeated the Miami Heat 116-101 thanks to Donovan Mitchell's 26 points and a Rudy Gobert double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds.

 

Carmelo and Osman struggle

Carmelo Anthony has shown he is far from a spent force after being picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers in November. However, the 10-time All-Star had a rough night in the 111-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. While collecting 15 rebounds, Anthony was just one of 15 from the floor for five points in 36 minutes. The veteran also missed all four of his three-point attempts.

The Cleveland Cavaliers topped fellow strugglers the Atlanta Hawks 127-105, but Cedi Osman had a game to forget. Osman made just one of 10 shots from the field, while he was one of seven from beyond the arc for three points.

 

LeBron almost breaks the rim!

James has provided countless highlights over the course of his illustrious career and the three-time NBA champion produced another, this time a ferocious dunk.

 

Wednesday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 127-105 Atlanta Hawks
Orlando Magic 116-112 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Washington Wizards 114-96 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 118-111 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn Nets 101-91 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 111-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Charlotte Hornets 115-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 130-111 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz 116-101 Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns 112-106 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 120-116 Denver Nuggets (OT)

 

Clippers at Celtics

The two final games before the All-Star Weekend take place on Thursday. The Los Angeles Clippers (37-17) travel to the Boston Celtics (37-16), with both teams coming off losses. The Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are also in action.

Nick Nurse feels the Toronto Raptors are delivering their "A-plus game" after they extended their winning run to 15 to spoil D'Angelo Russell's Minnesota Timberwolves debut.

Pascal Siakam scored a game-high 34 points, with OG Anunoby pouring in 25 and plucking 12 rebounds to keep the Raptors on a roll at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.

The defending NBA champions boast the longest streak by a Canadian franchise and are 40-14 after a 137-126 victory over the Timberwolves, who acquired All-Star point guard Russell before the trade deadline last week.

Raptors head coach Nurse does not believe he could ask much more from his side, who are second in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks (46-7).

"Well, first of all, it didn't feel like it was a win going away for quite a long time," said Nurse.

"I think we're getting everybody's A-plus game. They were really good, I thought, for a lot of stretches.

"We just had to try to figure some things out and we had a lot of unconnected defensive for a lot of the game, but the chemistry of those guys that were out there started to build."

Nurse says the holders' hunger and self-belief has been key to their incredible winning run.

"I think these guys have proven enough that they can win. We've had a lot of injuries this year and everybody just keeps stepping up and playing," he added.

"One thing you've got to do is at least go out there and give a great effort, give yourself a chance, don't let them play harder than you.

"If you think you are under-sized, or under-talented or whatever, you've got to maybe take your level of energy and toughness up. I think they do that most nights."

The Los Angeles Lakers were dominant in the NBA on Monday, while the Toronto Raptors' winning streak continued.

Anthony Davis' double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds helped the Lakers cruise past the Phoenix Suns 125-100.

Rajon Rondo starred with 23 points on nine-of-13 shooting, while LeBron James had 17 points for the victors.

The Raptors' franchise-record winning run reached 15 with a 137-126 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kyle Lowry finished with a double-double of 27 points and 11 assists, while OG Anunoby (25 points and 12 rebounds) also had a double-double.

D'Angelo Russell made his debut for the Timberwolves, contributing 22 points in 32 minutes.

 

Bucks roll on, Murray leads Nuggets

Without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed due to the birth of his son, the Milwaukee Bucks eased past the Sacramento Kings 123-111.

Khris Middleton (28 points and 11 rebounds) and Eric Bledsoe (28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) led the Bucks.

Jamal Murray had 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets' 127-120 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Miami Heat overcame the Golden State Warriors 113-101 as Jimmy Butler finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Jackson struggles

Reggie Jackson went two-of-11 from the field in the Detroit Pistons' 87-76 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Warriors pay tribute to Iguodala

The Warriors paid tribute to Andre Iguodala, who won three championships with the team, and faced Golden State with the Heat on Monday. He had two points, five rebounds and two assists off the bench.

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 87-76 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 106-105 Indiana Pacers
Orlando Magic 135-126 Atlanta Hawks
Toronto Raptors 137-126 Minnesota Timberwolves
Milwaukee Bucks 123-111 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz 123-119 Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets 127-120 San Antonio Spurs
Miami Heat 113-101 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 125-100 Phoenix Suns

 

Celtics at Rockets

The Boston Celtics (37-15) are riding a seven-game winning streak ahead of visiting the Houston Rockets (33-20) on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Clippers were crushed by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA, while the Lakers claimed a win on Saturday.

The Timberwolves ended a 13-game losing streak with a 142-115 victory over the Clippers.

Jordan McLaughlin (24 points), Malik Beasley (23) and Karl-Anthony Towns (22) led Minnesota to their win.

Beasley went seven-of-13 from three-point range in what was the Timberwolves' 16th win of the season.

Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (29 points) and Paul George (21) combined for 50 points.

The Lakers held off the Golden State Warriors in a 125-120 win.

Anthony Davis (27 points and 10 rebounds) and LeBron James (22 points and 11 assists) both had double-doubles.

 

Raptors roll on, Giannis leads Bucks

The Toronto Raptors posted their 14th straight win by edging the Brooklyn Nets 119-118.

Fred VanVleet (29 points), Pascal Siakam (20) and Terence Davis (20) led the way for the Raptors.

Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed 19 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in the Milwaukee Bucks' 111-95 win over the Orlando Magic.

Deandre Ayton had 28 points and 19 rebounds, but the Phoenix Suns fell to the Denver Nuggets 117-108.

 

Magic pair battle

Aaron Gordon (seven points) and Wes Iwundu (two) went a combined three-of-18 from the field in Orlando's loss.

 

Monk magic

Malik Monk produced a huge dunk in the Charlotte Hornets' loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 111-95 Orlando Magic
Dallas Mavericks 116-100 Charlotte Hornets
New York Knicks 95-92 Detroit Pistons
New Orleans Pelicans 124-117 Indiana Pacers
Toronto Raptors 119-118 Brooklyn Nets
Minnesota Timberwolves 142-115 Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers 125-120 Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets 117-108 Phoenix Suns
Sacramento Kings 122-102 San Antonio Spurs

 

Jazz at Rockets

The Utah Jazz (33-18) visit the Houston Rockets (33-19) on Sunday in a clash between teams sitting fourth and fifth respectively in the Western Conference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What the Furk?

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

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

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

 

Brown headlines Pistons' struggles

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

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

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

 

Beal with the game-winner!

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

 

Friday's results

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

 

Lakers at Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Team LeBron

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

Team Giannis

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

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse admits the defending NBA champions "haven't played great all the time" during a franchise-record winning streak.

The Raptors rallied from 19 points down to beat the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and extend their run to 12 victories in a row.

Serge Ibaka – who scored the go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds left – and Kyle Lowry led the comeback as Toronto scored the final 11 points of the game in a 119-118 win.

Nurse described the Pacers' defense as "awesome" as he credited his own players for their fighting spirit.

"I guess that, and we've said this before during this win streak, we haven't played great all the time, but we keep finding a way and that's a heck of a characteristic to have," said Nurse.

"Tonight, we weren't very good, and they were very good, I give them credit. They were awesome. They were cutting and flying and moving and hustling and guarding and physical and all the things you can be. They were trying to knock us out and we wouldn't quite go away, and luckily we hung in there and pulled one off."

Ibaka credited Nurse for a timely pep talk after he struggled in the early stages, with the Raptors managing just 18 points in the second quarter.

"Nick told me in a timeout, 'Serge, keep shooting with confidence, just push the ball'. He gave me a lot of confidence," said Ibaka.

"We keep our composure during the game. We've been there before, even in playoffs, so we have that mindset of 'never give up'. We keep trusting each other and we don't point fingers. When things go bad, we stay together, and I think that's what makes us very special."

The Toronto Raptors set a franchise record with a 12th straight NBA win, while the Los Angeles Clippers were too good for the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Raptors continued their winning streak with a thrilling 119-118 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Serge Ibaka proved to be the hero with a go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining.

Ibaka finished with 30 points, while Kyle Lowry had a double-double of 32 points and 10 assists and Pascal Siakam poured in 25.

The Clippers also set a franchise record during their 128-111 win over Miami.

They hit 24 three-pointers, with Landry Shamet (six) and Paul George (five) leading the way.

George finished with 23 points and 10 assists, while Kawhi Leonard went five-of-13 from the field for his 14 points, to go with nine assists and seven rebounds.

Jokic stars as Young lifts Hawks

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double of 30 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the Denver Nuggets' 98-95 win against the Utah Jazz.

Trae Young starred for the Atlanta Hawks as his 38 points and 11 assists helped them past the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-120.

Andre Drummond had 31 points and 19 rebounds in the Detroit Pistons' 116-108 win over the Phoenix Suns.

 

Terrible Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are seriously struggling. Their loss to the Hawks was their 13th straight as they fell to 15-35.

 

Ibaka delivers

Ibaka stepped up when the Raptors needed him, hitting just his second three – from seven attempts – late against the Pacers.

Wednesday's results

Detroit Pistons 116-108 Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics 116-100 Orlando Magic
Brooklyn Nets 129-88 Golden State Warriors
Toronto Raptors 119-118 Indiana Pacers
Atlanta Hawks 127-120 Minnesota Timberwolves
Oklahoma City Thunder 109-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies 121-107 Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets 98-95 Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Clippers 128-111 Miami Heat

 

Rockets at Lakers

Two of the Western Conference's best teams go head-to-head at the Staples Center on Thursday as the Houston Rockets (32-18) visit the Los Angeles Lakers (38-11).

James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo starred in respective wins for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA on Sunday.

Harden guided the Rockets past the New Orleans Pelicans 117-109 with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The star guard went 12-of-24 from the field, while Russell Westbrook (22 points) and Ben McLemore (22) were also strong contributors.

Zion Williamson continued the fine start to his NBA career, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds in his sixth game for the Pelicans.

The Bucks bounced back from their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday by cruising to a 129-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Like Harden, Antetokounmpo fell just short of a triple-double, finishing with 30 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.

Khris Middleton, meanwhile, went nine-of-15 from the field for his 25 points.

 

Jokic, Drummond shine

Nikola Jokic had 39 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but the Denver Nuggets fell to the Detroit Pistons 128-123 after overtime.

Andre Drummond led the way for Detroit – who lost Derrick Rose to groin soreness – with 21 points and 17 rebounds.

Terence Davis poured in a career-high 31 points, going 12-of-15 from the field, in the Toronto Raptors' 129-102 win over the Chicago Bulls. Defending champions Toronto tied a team record with their 11th straight win.

 

Bulls duo struggle

Tomas Satoransky and Luke Kornet both went three-of-11 from the field in the Bulls' loss to Toronto.

 

Zion, Lonzo combine

Lonzo Ball tossed an alley-oop to Williamson during the Pelicans' defeat.

Sunday's results

Detroit Pistons 128-123 Denver Nuggets
Houston Rockets 117-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Milwaukee Bucks 129-108 Phoenix Suns
Toronto Raptors 129-102 Chicago Bulls

 

Spurs at Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers (34-15) will try to close the gap to the Lakers (37-11) atop the Western Conference when they host the San Antonio Spurs (22-26) on Monday.

LeBron James shed tears, Usher sang 'Amazing Grace' and Staples Center fell silent in reverence to Kobe Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the floor on Friday.

Fans crowded outside the venue and those inside, including the players, donned replica Bryant jerseys amid heartfelt tributes to a franchise legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

An emotional video played on the big screen and a 24.2 second moment of silence was taken to honour all seven victims of Sunday's helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

James read their names and gave a speech asking for the event to be a "celebration" of Bryant before the on-court action against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers began.

After a subdued start, Damian Lillard lifted the energy in the third quarter, hitting 23 points en route to a game-high 48 to issue the Lakers a 127-119 loss.

Lillard became the first NBA player to make 40 three-point shots in a five-game span and the first to record at least 35 points, five rebounds, five assists and five three-pointers in five straight games.

Irving inspires Nets, Nuggets upset Bucks

On the other side of the country, an inspired Kyrie Irving paid a personal tribute to his old mentor in fitting fashion.

The Brooklyn Nets guard, who earlier in the week vowed to "carry the torch", shot 19-of-23 from the floor and hit seven three-pointers as he tallied 54 points, five rebounds and five assists in a 133-118 win over the Chicago Bulls.

James Harden (35 points, 16 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (32 points, nine assists) did likewise, the pair leading the Houston Rockets to a 128-121 victory against the Dallas Mavericks, who were without the injured Luka Doncic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo played his part, putting up 31 points in a double-double at Fiserv Forum, but the Milwaukee Bucks failed to prolong their nine-game winning run, losing to the Denver Nuggets 127-115.

The Toronto Raptors had more success preserving a streak, recording a 10th successive victory thanks to Pascal Siakam's 30 points in a 105-92 road win over the Detroit Pistons.

Zion Williamson posted a career-high 24 points in 29 minutes to outscore draft rival Ja Morant at Smoothie King Center, the New Orleans Pelicans topping the Memphis Grizzlies 139-111.

 

Rubio struggles in Suns loss

The Phoenix Suns might have avoided a late 111-107 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder had Ricky Rubio made more of his shooting opportunities, the Spaniard going two-of-eight from the floor for eight points in 30 minutes.

 

Lillard too hot for Lakers

The Lakers simply could not stop Lillard, the All-Star reserve delivering a clinic in long-range shooting.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 105-92 Detroit Pistons
Houston Rockets 128-121 Dallas Mavericks
Brooklyn Nets 133-118 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 139-111 Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-107 Phoenix Suns
Denver Nuggets 127-115 Milwaukee Bucks
Portland Trail Blazers 127-119 Los Angeles Lakers

 

76ers at Celtics

Due to knee soreness, the Boston Celtics (32-15) could be without Kemba Walker for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers (31-18).

Trae Young almost single-handedly stunned the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Thursday, while the Los Angeles Clippers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Named an All-Star starter ahead of Ben Simmons, 21-year-old guard Young outshone his fellow Eastern Conference star as the Atlanta Hawks topped the 76ers 127-117.

Young had a double-double before the first quarter ended and finished with 39 points and a career-high 18 assists in the upset, while Simmons went 10-of-15 from the field for a team-high 31 points.

The Clippers set rivalries aside before their clash with the Sacramento Kings to honour Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven people killed in Sunday's helicopter crash.

Paul George narrated a moving video that was broadcast before 24 seconds of silence while Bryant's old Lakers jerseys, normally covered during Clippers games at Staples Center, were left visible.

Sacramento went on to win 124-103 as Kawhi Leonard, who was involved in the warm-up, failed to play a minute due to lower back tightness.

 

Tatum makes successful Celtics comeback

Jayson Tatum returned after three games out with a groin injury and celebrated his first All-Star nod in fitting fashion, contributing 20 points, six rebounds and two assists as the Boston Celtics topped the Golden State Warriors 119-104.

Nikola Jokic delivered 28 points and 10 assists to drag the injury hit Denver Nuggets to a 106-100 victory against the fast-finishing Utah Jazz, who were led by Jordan Clarkson's 37 points.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal proved a point to those who overlooked him for a place in the All-Star Game in Chicago, posting 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a 121-107 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Clippers cold after losing Kawhi

The Clippers did not officially rule two-time NBA champion Leonard out of their game against the Kings until midway through the contest.

His absence seemed to unnerve the rest of the team, who combined to shoot just 35-of-92 from the field.

 

Sweet slam a consolation for Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers were at least able to enjoy a monster Larry Nance Jr. dunk as they suffered a 115-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

 

Thursday's results

Toronto Raptors 115-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Washington Wizards 121-107 Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks 127-117 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 119-104 Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings 124-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Denver Nuggets 106-100 Utah Jazz

 

Trail Blazers at Lakers

Staples Center will be the scene for another emotional outpouring on Friday as the Lakers (36-10) hit the floor for the first time since Bryant's death. The Western Conference leaders take on Carmelo Anthony and the Portland Trail Blazers (21-27).

Devin Booker was the most notable omission as six first-timers won NBA All-Star selection among the 14 reserves named on Thursday.

Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook headlined the list of players selected by NBA coaches to round out the roster options for Team LeBron and Team Giannis.

Phoenix Suns guard Booker was denied a place despite averaging 27.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 44 games this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder veteran Paul, Houston Rockets star Westbrook, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz youngster Donovan Mitchell snatched Western Conference guard spots, the latter handed his maiden selection alongside team-mate and fellow first-timer Rudy Gobert.

Brandon Ingram, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis will also be among the newcomers at United Center in Chicago on February 16.

Suns general manager and three-time NBA champion James Jones questioned Booker's absence.

"I've played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star," Jones said in a statement.

Frenchman Gobert's inclusion alongside Sabonis (Lithuania), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Nikola Jokic (Serbia) plus starters Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) lifts the number of international players to eight, a record for an All-Star Game.

The 2020 edition will feature several format changes to honour Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Among them will be a 'target score' to chase in a timeless fourth quarter, the figure being the leading team's tally after three periods plus 24 points - representing the number Bryant wore during the second half of his glittering NBA career.

LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, the designated captains, will select their teams from the available player pool on February 6.

 

Eastern Conference reserves:

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)

Western Conference reserves:

Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Joel Embiid starred for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Tuesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks recorded a resounding win.

Embiid made his return from a finger injury and had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the 76ers' 115-104 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The forward also wore a number 24 jersey to honour the late Kobe Bryant, who made it famous during his glittering career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Al Horford chipped in with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who improved to 31-17.

The Bucks extended their winning streak to nine by thrashing the Washington Wizards 151-131.

Without Giannis Antetokounmpo (shoulder), the Bucks had no problems against the struggling Wizards.

Khris Middleton contributed a career-high 51 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Eric Bledsoe poured in 34.

Super Siakam, Hayward steps up

Pascal Siakam's 24 points and nine rebounds helped the Toronto Raptors past the Atlanta Hawks 130-114. The Raptors have won eight straight.

Gordon Hayward guided the Boston Celtics to a 109-101 victory over the Miami Heat with 29 points and nine rebounds.

Jonas Valanciunas' 23 points and 12 rebounds saw the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Denver Nuggets 104-96.

 

Bad Bullock

Reggie Bullock went two-of-seven from the field for just six points in 28 minutes in the New York Knicks' 97-92 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Kobe tributes continue

The tributes to Bryant continued after his death in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.

The Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns took an eight-second backcourt violation and 24-second shot-clock violation in honour of the Lakers great, who wore those two numbers during his career.

The 76ers and Warriors did likewise.

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 97-92 New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers 115-104 Golden State Warriors
New Orleans Pelicans 125-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Toronto Raptors 130-114 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 109-101 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 104-96 Denver Nuggets
Milwaukee Bucks 151-131 Washington Wizards
Phoenix Suns 133-104 Dallas Mavericks

 

Rockets at Trail Blazers

Sitting fifth in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets (29-17) visit the Portland Trail Blazers (20-27) on Wednesday.

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