NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks topped the Boston Celtics 128-123 thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double.

Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and collected 17 rebounds as the Bucks (37-6) extended their winning streak to five games on Thursday.

It was the 35th double-double of the season for reigning MVP Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

Kemba Walker posted a game-high 40 points for the Celtics (27-13) on the road.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers made it back-to-back wins via a 122-95 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Orlando ended the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak on Wednesday, but they were unable to back up that performance against the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 32 points, five assists and five rebounds in LA, where Montrezl Harrell added 21 points and Jamychal Green put up 11 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Ingram and Mitchell explode for career highs in shoot-out

Brandon Ingram recorded a career-high 49 points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a stunning 138-132 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tied his career high with 46 points.

Will Barton (31 points) and Nikola Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds), Michael Porter Jr. (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Malik Beasley (27 points) helped the Denver Nuggets outlast the Golden State Warriors 134-131 in OT.

 

Hayward struggles

It was a tough night for Celtics star Gordon Hayward. Struck down by injuries during his time with Boston, Hayward was one of 10 from the floor and one of nine from three-point range for seven points in 32 minutes.

The Pelicans soared but Lonzo Ball did not. While managing 13 assists, Ball had just five points on two-of-12 shooting from the field and one-of-five from beyond the arc in 42 minutes.

 

Tatum leaves opponents in a spin

In fine form this season, Boston's Jayson Tatum sent one opponent to the floor while he turned another en route to the basket.

 

Thursday's results

Phoenix Suns 121-98 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 128-123 Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans 138-132 Utah Jazz (OT)
Denver Nuggets 134-131 Golden State Warriors (OT)
Los Angeles Clippers 122-95 Orlando Magic

 

Bulls at 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers will look to generate some momentum when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday. The 76ers (26-16) are 19-2 at home and 7-14 on the road as they welcome the Bulls (15-27) to Wells Fargo Center.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wished Stephen Curry well in his injury recovery and backed the Golden State Warriors to be an NBA force once again when their star man returns.

Antetokounmpo continued his phenomenal season with 30 points and 13 rebounds as the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks improved to 33-6 with a 107-98 win on their maiden outing at the Chase Center.

By contrast, the Warriors slumped to 9-30 in the ongoing absence of injured All-Stars Curry and Klay Thompson.

"It's weird. I've never seen this," Antetokounmpo told reporters when discussing the demise of a team that collected three NBA titles after being crowned Western Conference champions in each of the past five seasons.

"I've been in the league for seven years now and I've never seen a team go from being in an NBA Final to… not as good.

"Once they come back, they'll be right up there. The up and down is going to be crazy.

"I talked to Steph and wished him a fast recovery. He's going to be back, he's going to be helping his team win and doing what he did the previous years."

If the Bucks' record suggests they are the team primed for glory this time around, Antetokounmpo knows they must improve upon some uneven shooting displays.

After Tuesday's 126-104 loss at the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee were forced to grind their way past the embattled Warriors.

"We found a way to win, a way to grind it out. In San Antonio we didn't do that," Antetokounmpo said.

"Obviously we can play way better basketball than we did tonight, but it's going to come.

"We've been playing great basketball, there are going to be days when it's not there. So long as you have a winning culture and it's all about how, at the end of the game, you can put yourselves in a position to win, that's good.

"We got the win, it's not pretty. Go back to the tape, see what we did right. We want to play the best we can play, but our main focus is to keep improving.

"Then when it matters the most – in April, May and June – all our habits that we did all season long, we can do it then."

Having the man with 32 double-doubles to his name already this season in their ranks, however, will do the Bucks no harm.

"He's such a threat at the rim, such a great playmaker and passer," Khris Middleton – who weighed in with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists – said of Antetokounmpo.

"If you put him on top of the key or on the wing and he starts shooting those threes, you have to come up a little bit more on him. Now there's just more room."

Milwaukee are back in action at the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said the NBA leaders can improve, despite celebrating their 30th win of the season before the New Year.

The Bucks will enter 2020 with a league-best 30-5 record after Monday's 123-102 victory at the Chicago Bulls.

Antetokounmpo returned from a two-game absence due to back soreness to lead the Bucks with 23 points and 10 rebounds in Chicago.

"It's definitely surprising that we won 30 games before January and it's cool but we always can get better," Antetokounmpo told reporters post-game.

"We can always do better and we've got to keep improving because the goal is to play late in the season."

"We've created a winning culture. We don't like losing," Antetokounmpo added.

After missing back-to-back games, Antetokounmpo returned and played 27 minutes as the reigning MVP posted his 11th game of the season with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in 30 or fewer minutes.

"One of the toughest parts as athletes is trying to rush back but I'm trying to listen to my body. I think I have great people around me," the 25-year-old said.

"If I'm good, just go out there and play. When you get caught in between it's like you're hitting your head on the wall because you obviously want to play but something bothers you, you can't help your team-mates."

Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from injury to see the Milwaukee Bucks past the Chicago Bulls 123-102 with a double-double in the NBA.

Antetokounmpo missed two games due to back soreness but the reigning MVP was on the court for the Bucks on Monday.

The 'Greek Freak' scored 23 points and collected 10 rebounds in 27 minutes of action in Chicago, while Khris Middleton posted 25 points as Milwaukee improved to a league-best 30-5.

Zach LaVine had 19 points for the beaten Bulls, with Wendell Carter Jr. contributing 10 points and 11 rebounds.

 

McRae, Mathews inspire depleted Wizards

Jordan McRae had a season-high 29 points, Garrison Mathews scored 28 and Ian Mahinmi put up a career-best 25 as the Washington Wizards stunned the Miami Heat 123-105. The Wizards were without leading scorer Bradley Beal.

The Minnesota Timberwolves claimed their first home win since November 13 after outlasting the Brooklyn Nets 122-115 in overtime. Shabazz Napier registered a season-high 24 points for the Timberwolves. Spencer Dinwiddie's 36 points were not enough for the visiting Nets.

The Phoenix Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 122-116 behind Devin Booker's 33 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 29 of his own, while Ricky Rubio finished with 18 and 13 assists. The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (33 points) and Hassan Whiteside (16 points, 22 rebounds).

The Atlanta Hawks snapped a 10-game skid thanks to a 101-93 victory away to the Orlando Magic.

 

Fultz struggles again

It was another tough night for Magic guard Markelle Fultz, who was just one of seven from the floor for three points in 31 minutes of action.

Nets guard Garrett Temple also struggled against the Timberwolves. He finished with 11 points, but he was three of 16 from the floor and one of seven from three-point range.

 

Giannis with the dagger

Antetokounmpo showed no signs of a lingering back problem as he threw down a thunderous dunk against the Bulls.

 

Monday's results

Washington Wizards 123-105 Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks 101-93 Orlando Magic
Minnesota Timberwolves 122-115 Minnesota Timberwolves (OT)
Milwaukee Bucks 123-102 Chicago Bulls
Utah Jazz 104-81 Detroit Pistons
Phoenix Suns 122-116 Portland Trail Blazers

 

76ers at Pacers

Coming off back-to-back one-point defeats, the Philadelphia 76ers (23-12) travel to the Indiana Pacers (21-12) on Tuesday. The 76ers are 7-10 on the road this season and must improve if they are to end 2019 on a high note in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss his second consecutive game due to back soreness.

The Bucks will be without reigning NBA MVP Antetokounmpo for Saturday's clash against the Orlando Magic, the team announced.

Antetokounmpo sat out Milwaukee's 112-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday because of his back problem.

"He did some work earlier today and he is making progress. I think he is very close," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters pre-game on Saturday.

"Just not ready to go or not capable tonight. We'll hope that not playing tonight and another day without a game, he will return soon."

This season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 30.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game for the league-leading Bucks (28-5).

Brett Brown believes the Philadelphia 76ers are "designed for the playoffs" after celebrating Christmas with a dominant win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 76ers spread plenty of festive cheer on Christmas Day courtesy of a 121-109 victory against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the high-flying Bucks in Philadelphia.

Embiid starred for the 76ers, posting 31 points and 11 rebounds as he upstaged reigning MVP Antetokounmpo at Wells Fargo Center, where Philadelphia led by as many as 29 points.

The Bucks (27-5) rolled into town as the league leaders and the team to beat, and the 76ers (23-10) passed the test.

"I think this team is designed for the playoffs," said head coach Brown, who brought in Al Horford and Josh Richardson in the offseason after Jimmy Butler's move to the Miami Heat.

"I believe that the road we have travelled so far has been erratic at times. Whether it's the infrequency of our five players playing together, whether it's navigating through some zone, at times some lost leads.

"It's like you're under a microscope trying to move this team forward and trying to get it whole. I think that the landing spot is exciting."

Embiid stepped up in Philadelphia's first home Christmas game in 31 years – the All-Star shooting three threes to go with as many assists and two blocks.

"A lot of people have kind of forgotten who I am," said Embiid, who is eyeing the playoffs after the 76ers lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season. "When I'm needed, I'm going to show up."

"You are playing the best in the league," Embiid added. "We came out and showed that we are right there. We still have a long way to go, obviously, but we are right there and we are going to keep on getting better."

It was a tough night for Bucks star Antetokounmpo, who was eight of 27 from the floor and 0 of seven from three-point range for 18 points and 14 rebounds.

"They just played harder than us, better than us," Antetokounmpo said. "There are going to be some nights that you don't make shots. But you got to keep making plays, you got to keep believing in yourselves.

"You cannot back down. I wasn't having my best night tonight, but at the end of the day my team-mates want me to keep shooting the ball. I want to keep shooting the ball."

The Los Angeles Lakers lost in LeBron James' absence in the NBA on Sunday, while the Toronto Raptors rallied from 30 points down to beat the Dallas Mavericks.

James missed the clash with the Denver Nuggets due to a thoracic muscle strain and his absence hurt the Western Conference leaders in a 128-104 loss at Staples Center.

Anthony Davis played almost a lone hand for the Lakers (24-6), posting 32 points and 11 rebounds as he fought through a suspected knee problem sustained after an awkward fall in the third quarter.

Kyle Kuzma added 16 points on his return from an ankle injury but there was no stopping the Nuggets (20-8), who were inspired by Paul Millsap's 21 points and a double-double from Will Barton (14 points, 13 rebounds).

Defending champions the Raptors, meanwhile, set a franchise record with their incredible 110-107 win against the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks.

Kyle Lowry led the way with 32 points and 10 assists as Toronto (21-8) overturned a 30-point third-quarter deficit to record their largest-ever comeback victory.

 

Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

Giannis Antetokounmpo fell one assist short of a triple-double as his 18 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-89 rout of the Indiana Pacers, who were on a five-game winning streak before Sunday's contest.

Jayson Tatum put up a career-high 39 points on 15-of-29 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 119-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets to stay in touch with the Bucks.

Paul George endured an unhappy return to Oklahoma City as the Los Angeles Clippers, who rested Kawhi Leonard, led for three quarters before slipping to a 118-112 defeat to the Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, part of the trade that sent All-Star George to the Clippers, posted 32 points for the second time in a week.

 

Brogdon's rough Bucks reunion

Before facing the Bucks, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon said he would not have left Milwaukee had he been properly "valued". He gave his old team little cause for regret at Fiserv Forum, making five of 19 shots from the floor and going zero-for-four from three-point range.

 

Monk's massive dunk

Malik Monk provided a highlight for the Hornets with a huge dunk over Enes Kanter.

Sunday's results

Toronto Raptors 110-107 Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics 119-93 Charlotte Hornets
Oklahoma City Thunder 118-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Milwaukee Bucks 117-89 Indiana Pacers
Denver Nuggets 128-104 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Toronto will look to carry their momentum into Monday's important Eastern Conference encounter with the Pacers, who have a point to prove after falling well short against the Bucks.

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.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James tipped their hats to Giannis Antetokounmpo after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The two teams went into the game at Fiserv Forum with NBA-leading 24-4 records and it was the Bucks who emerged triumphant, claiming a 111-104 victory.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 11 rebounds and made a career-best five three-pointers in a commanding display.

Davis, who sat out the defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday with an ankle sprain, played the entire second half and finished with a game-high 36 points.

Asked for his thoughts on Antetokounmpo's display, James simply gestured by tipping an imaginary hat, while Davis suggested there was little more the Lakers could have done to stop him.

"We tip our hats to him, man. I think we executed our game plan as far as him driving," said Davis.

"He did a good job of knocking down threes, he did a good job of finding guys and they made shots for him.

"You've got to tip your hat to him, he made five of them and they were all tough looks. Two were highly contested at the end of the shot clock, one was wide open, and I think the other two were dribble-up threes from the wing."

On his ankle injury, Davis added: "I just tried to play through it, I still felt it a little bit. I tried to keep going, battle through it a little bit and help my team win."

The Lakers trailed by 18 points at half-time and were unable to avoid succumbing to successive defeats for the first time this season at the end of a five-game road trip, despite James claiming a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

"We continue to build chemistry, we continue to build camaraderie," James said.

"Pretty much every time anyone does anything, we pretty much do it together on the road. Just kind of have that bunker mentality, that brotherhood when we hit the road."

Russell Westbrook led the way as the Houston Rockets downed Kawhi Leonardo's Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 in the NBA on Thursday.

Westbrook posted 40 points and 10 rebounds to inspire the Rockets' win in Los Angeles, where Houston rallied.

The Rockets (19-9) trailed by 15 points at half-time but used a 36-point third quarter to emerge triumphant at Staples Center.

James Harden contributed 28 points and 10 assists – the Rockets star breaking Calvin Murphy's franchise assist record in the process.

Paul George's 34 points and Leonard's 25 and nine rebounds were not enough for the Clippers (21-9) on home court.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 in their highly anticipated showdown.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 34 points and 11 rebounds led the Bucks to the NBA's best record at 25-4 in Milwaukee.

LeBron James recorded a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis had 36 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (24-4).

 

Dinwiddie has career night

Spencer Dinwiddie posted a career-high 41 points but not even that could stop the Brooklyn Nets from losing 118-105 to the San Antonio Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs.

Donovan Mitchell's 30 points led the Utah Jazz past the Atlanta Hawks 111-106. Trae Young scored 30 of his own for the Hawks.

 

Lakers get nothing from bench

Starters James, Davis, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope really carried the Lakers in Milwaukee. They were the only players to reach double-digit points – the team's bench only contributing four points via Dwight Howard (2) and Rajon Rondo (2).

 

Giannis from distance!

Antetokounmpo had a career-high five-pointers, including this gem from the beyond the arc against the Lakers.

 

Thursday's results

Utah Jazz 111-106 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 111-104 Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs 118-105 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 Houston Rockets

 

Mavs at 76ers

After losing for the first time at home this season, the Philadelphia 76ers have the chance to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said he is not supposed to be up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the Milwaukee Bucks star remained grounded following Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bucks claimed the best record in the NBA after reigning MVP Antetokounmpo inspired a 111-104 victory in the blockbuster showdown.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for the highly anticipated clash as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

Antetokounmpo upstaged James and Davis with his 34 points and 11 rebound, the Bucks moving top of the overall NBA standings.

"I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it's hard," Antetokounmpo said afterwards.

"You feel like, 'OK, what else?' But at the end of the day, I realise and my family realises that I'm not supposed to be here.

"I wasn't the number one pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn't supposed to be here.

"I'm not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I'm just happy that I'm here and happy that I'm going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that's what gives me joy."

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers against the Lakers, on eight attempts from beyond the arc.

"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said. "And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added: "I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it's part of our league, part of being a professional.

"But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body -- but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He's doing it. He's putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he's ours and excited about him and our future."

Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double led the Milwaukee Bucks past the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 and to the NBA's best record.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for Thursday's highly anticipated showdown as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

The blockbuster encounter also pitted reigning MVP Antetokounmpo against Lakers superstar LeBron James.

And the Bucks secured the league's best record thanks to Antetokounmpo, and his 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers for the Bucks, who used a 42-29 second quarter to move clear of the Lakers.

James finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but it was not enough for the visiting Lakers.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 10 rebounds after returning from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury.

 

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks meet in a blockbuster clash between the NBA's two conference leaders on Thursday.

Holding the best records in the NBA at 24-4, the Western Conference-leading Lakers visit the Eastern Conference leaders at Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks and Lakers will meet just twice during the regular season and both encounters are shaping as must-watch matches.

With the help of Stats Perform data, we take a closer look at the two teams' starts to the season.

Matchup among the best

With a 48-8 combined win-loss record, this clash marks the seventh highest combined win percentage (.857) entering a game since 1970-71, with a minimum of 25 games played by both teams.

Milwaukee set up their record on the back of an 18-game winning streak that was only broken by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are also going into the game on the back of a defeat after losing to the Indiana Pacers.

They have embarked on two seven-game runs and a 10-match winning streak this season.

The Lakers and Bucks' 24-4 records are the equal 13th best through the first 28 games of an NBA season.

Bucks impressively cruising

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 31.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season, Milwaukee have dominated.

Their points/G differential of 12.9 is the highest in the NBA since 1970-71, currently standing greater than the 1971-72 Lakers (12.3) and 70-71 Bucks (12.3).

Both those Lakers and Bucks went on to win the NBA championship.

Milwaukee have claimed huge victories over the likes of the New York Knicks (132-88), Charlotte Hornets (137-96), Orlando Magic (123-91), Minnesota Timberwolves (134-106), Los Angeles Clippers (119-91) and Detroit Pistons (127-103) this season.

 

Lakers duo starring

As was expected, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have led the Lakers.

James is averaging 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, while Davis (27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists) is also delivering impressive numbers.

The pair are tracking to be among the best team-mate duos – to have played in 70 per cent of their team's games – since 1976-77, when it comes to most points plus assists plus rebounds.

James (43.9) and Davis (40.0) are fifth on the list at 83.9, with Houston Rockets pair James Harden (52.3) and Russell Westbrook (38.1) topping it at 90.4 after their performances this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo described LeBron James as "an alien", with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar continuing to dominate despite his advancing years.

James – who celebrates his 35th birthday on December 30 – is averaging 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game for the Lakers this season.

The three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP is showing no signs of slowing down in his 17th year in the league, following a difficult first season with the Lakers.

Reigning MVP and Milwaukee Bucks star Antetokounmpo hailed James ahead of Thursday's blockbuster showdown – pitting the league's two best teams against each other.

"It's crazy. Obviously, for me, that's one of my goals to be able to play at a high level for the next 10 years, but he's about to turn 35 this month and he's moving like that, playing like that, and just playing smart," Antetokounmpo told reporters on Wednesday.

"It's insane to see what he's able to do, but he's LeBron James, he's different. He's an alien. So you expect it from him, but yeah, it's crazy."

With matching 24-4 records, the Bucks and Lakers top the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively this season.

The Bucks had their 18-game winning streak snapped by the Dallas Mavericks, while the Lakers fell to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Ahead of the clash at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said: "What LeBron James has done in our league is phenomenal.

"He's just a very, very special player, so any time you get to play against him – and now Anthony Davis is very similar and they've got great fits, great players around them. So I think the thing we often talk about when you play a really good team is how you get tested and how you learn more about yourself.

"I think that's kind of the way I look at it, and that usually means you're playing somebody good, and I'm excited about that opportunity."

An upbeat LeBron James outlined the Los Angeles Lakers' determination to bounce back against the Milwaukee Bucks after their long winning streak on the road was ended by the Indiana Pacers.

The Lakers had won 14 games in a row away from their home court, but went down 105-102 to the Pacers on Tuesday in the absence of Anthony Davis (ankle) as Domantas Sabonis contributed 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Next up for James and his team-mates is an eye-catching clash with the Bucks in Milwaukee on Thursday - a contest between two teams boasting 24-4 records, comfortably the best in the league.

Asked about the challenge of keeping the team's energy up in what will be their 12th away game out of 15, James told reporters: "That's what we're trying to do - it feels like we've been on the road all year and we have one more game on the road and we pride ourselves on trying not to lose two in a row, so we want to come back on Thursday in Milwaukee and play Laker basketball."

Reflecting on the Lakers' loss to the Pacers, which was sealed when Rajon Rondo missed a deep three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, James added: "We kept our composure [throughout the winning streak], and we did that tonight too. We still had an opportunity to win the game, we just didn't.

"Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, which is ok. That's how it is.

"We just didn't execute the [final] play to a tee."

While the Lakers' meeting with the Bucks will attract plenty of attention given both sides' form this season, James - a three-time NBA champion and Finals MVP - rejected the suggestion Thursday's game will be "special".

"I'm 17 years in. A regular-season game like that, it's just two teams that are trying to continue to get better and better, but no, it doesn't feel special," he explained.

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