Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks held off the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves 112-107 on Friday in a matchup of NBA heavyweights.

Damian Lillard had 21 points, 10 assists and a season-high nine rebounds and Malik Beasley scored all 14 of his points in the third quarter as the Bucks improved to 4-10 under new coach Doc Rivers.

Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to draw the Wolves within 110-107 with 31 seconds left, but Lillard’s long jumper 22 seconds later sealed the win.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points with 14 rebounds and Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 19 boards for Minnesota, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Butler among 4 ejected in Heat’s win

Jimmy Butler was one of four players ejected after a fourth-quarter scuffle and the Miami Heat held off the New Orleans Pelicans, 106-95.

Butler had 23 points and nine rebounds and Bam Adebayo added 24 points for Miami, which snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak and made it seven consecutive wins over the Pelicans.

Also ejected for the melee were Heat reserve Thomas Bryant and Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall of the Pelicans.

Herb Jones scored 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 with 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which couldn’t overcome 37.5 percent shooting, including 7 of 32 from 3-point range.

Maxey leads 76ers over Cavaliers

Tyrese Maxey scored 24 points and Cam Payne added 16 off the bench to propel the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maxey came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of the Sixers’ final 20 points and assisted on a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield that put Philadelphia up by eight in the final minute.

Maxey was the only Sixer to make more than one basket in the fourth quarter and also added four rebounds and two assists.

Jarrett Allen had 24 points and Darius Garland added 20 and nine assists, but Cleveland had a six-game road winning streak stopped while losing for the third time in four games overall.

Recent acquisition Buddy Hield scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers held on late to end the Cleveland Cavaliers' nine-game winning streak with Monday's 123-121 victory.

Despite still being without injured reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, Philadelphia handed the red-hot Cavaliers just their second loss in their last 19 games behind hot-shooting efforts from Hield and Kelly Oubre Jr. 

Hield, making his third appearance since being acquired by the Sixers from the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, finished 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 9 of 13 overall from the field. Oubre hit 10 of his 14 field goal attempts while also collecting 24 points.

The win was Philadelphia's second straight following a 1-8 stretch from Jan. 25-Feb. 9, during which the team lost Embiid for an extended period due to a knee injury that required surgery.

Cleveland got 36 points and six assists from All-Star Donovan Mitchell and 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jarrett Allen, but couldn't match the Sixers down the stretch after taking a 102-100 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Hield scored the final eight points of a 13-2 run that gave Philadelphia a 113-104 advantage with 4:28 left to play, and the 76ers led 120-110 with 1:25 to go following an Oubre 3-pointer.

The Cavs responded with a 9-0 spurt to pull within 120-119 on Mitchell's 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, and had a chance to win at the buzzer when Darius Garland launched a 3-point shot that just missed the mark.

Garland ended with 21 points and nine assists, while Tyrese Maxey recorded 22 points and nine assists for Philadelphia.

Timberwolves dominate second half in rout of Clippers

The Minnesota Timberwolves got 24 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and a big third quarter to pull away for a 121-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and pad their lead atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Edwards added 23 points, 12 of which came during a dominant third quarter in which the Timberwolves outscored Los Angeles by a 40-19 margin.

Minnesota entered Monday's clash owning a slim half-game advantage on the Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, who were handed a 112-95 defeat by the Milwaukee Bucks, in the tightly bunched West standings. 

The Clippers kept it close until the latter stages of the third quarter, as the Timberwolves held a 70-69 edge with under five minutes left in the period.

Minnesota took over from there, as it closed out the quarter on a 19-3 run to take a commanding 89-72 lead into the fourth. Towns had eight points during the pivotal spurt.

The Timberwolves maintained a lead of 15 points or more throughout the final period en route to posting a second straight win and giving Los Angeles a second loss in its last three games.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the Clippers with 18 points each, while James Harden finished with 17 points and six assists. 

Bucks use defence to get past champion Nuggets

The Milwaukee Bucks got 36 points and 18 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and another strong performance from their much-maligned defence to hand the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets a 112-95 loss.

Milwaukee entered Monday's marquee matchup ranked 23rd in the NBA in scoring defence at 119.3 points allowed per game, but held the formidable Nuggets to their second-lowest shooting rate of the season at 38.3 per cent.

The Bucks have yielded under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season. Milwaukee lost five of its first six outings under new head coach Doc Rivers prior to Friday's 120-84 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.

Nikola Jokić amassed 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Denver's second and third-leading scorers on the season, were a combined 4 of 16 from the field, however.

Murray managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting before sitting out the second half due to inflammation in his lower legs.

The Bucks had built a comfortable 60-44 lead at that point as Antetokounmpo racked up 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting over the first two quarters. The Nuggets never got their deficit under 13 points the rest of the way and are now mired in a two-game losing streak.

 

Anthony Edwards claimed the Minnesota Timberwolves were "playing eight-on-five" due to the "terrible" officiating in their win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the West.

The T-Wolves opened up a lead to the Thunder at the top of the conference courtesy of a 107-101 victory in which Edwards scored 27 points.

But rather than revel in that win, Edwards focused on the referees after the game, furious with one particular call that saw a potential foul go unpunished after he drove to the basket inside the final two minutes.

The former first overall pick accepted he would be punished for his comments but did not appear to care.

"I'm going to take the fine, because the refs did not give us no calls tonight," he told the television broadcast, adding to ESPN: "The refs were bad tonight. Yeah, they were terrible. We were playing eight-on-five."

Edwards could at least take comfort in the result, saying: "The cat got their tongue tonight, so it's all good. It's not fair, but it's all good."

The 22-year-old was not alone in taking issue with the officiating in the NBA on Monday as Anthony Davis argued Dillon Brooks should have been ejected in the Los Angeles Lakers' loss to the Houston Rockets.

Houston were already well on their way to a 135-119 win when Brooks tussled with LeBron James and left the Lakers superstar on the floor holding his face, while the same Rockets player appeared to shove Jarred Vanderbilt in the air before the LA man was himself ejected following an altercation between the pair.

"You take a hard foul," said Davis. "It's part of basketball.

"But you're just not going to blatantly push someone in their back when they have no control of their body in the air. I think he should have got ejected for that.

"And then obviously you know that him and Bron have their whatever, and from what I saw, it was just a blatant hit on LeBron to the face."

Anthony Edwards scored 27 points and helped spark a late run that propelled the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 107-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday in a clash of teams that had been tied for the Western Conference lead. 

Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gobert amassed 12 points and 18 rebounds as the Timberwolves bounced back from Saturday's one-point loss at Sacramento and dropped the Thunder to third place in the tightly bunched conference standings.

The Denver Nuggets moved a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City and remained a half-game behind Minnesota with Monday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Oklahoma City had erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to take a 97-96 lead on two Shai Gilgeous-Alexander free throws with 2:43 left, but Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to start a pivotal 9-0 spurt.

The Thunder would miss their next four shots as the Timberwolves began pulling away. Edwards followed McDaniels' trey with a running dunk and McDaniels scored on a tip-in before Towns capped the run with two free throws that put Minnesota up 105-97 with 15.5 seconds to go. 

Minnesota owned a 62-52 advantage nearing the midway mark of the third quarter before the Thunder seized momentum with an 11-0 run. Gilgeous-Alexander had six points and Jalen Williams scored the last five of the flurry, which gave Oklahoma City a 63-62 edge with five minutes left in the period.

The Thunder, who were coming off a stunning 120-104 loss to the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons on Sunday, received 37 points and eight assists from Gilgeous-Alexander and 20 points from Williams. 

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City's third-leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to just four points on 2-of-9 shooting, however, as the Timberwolves finished with a 46-34 point advantage in the paint.

Jokic has another triple-double as Nuggets spoil Rivers' debut with Bucks

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić posted his 14th triple-double of the season to power the Denver Nuggets to a 113-107 win over Milwaukee in Doc Rivers' first game as the Bucks' head coach.

Jokic compiled 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists to add to his league-leading triple-double count and help the defending NBA champions keep pace with first-place Minnesota in the West. The Nuggets have now won five of their last six games.

Rivers, who coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA title during the 2007-08 season, was hired shortly after the Bucks dismissed Adrian Griffin on Jan. 23 despite sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-13 record. Assistant Joe Prunty coached Milwaukee's last three games and went 2-1.

The veteran coach's tenure started off strong as the Bucks jumped out to a 24-11 lead midway through the first quarter, though the Nuggets ended the period on a 12-0 run to cut their deficit to 26-25 entering the second. 

Denver gradually asserted control and owned an 84-75 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks hit three straight 3-pointers during a 13-2 spurt that put them back ahead with under nine minutes to play.

The game remained tight until the Nuggets pulled away with an 8-0 run, which Murray capped with a jumper that gave Denver a 106-97 lead with 3:17 to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo paced Milwaukee with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting along with 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had 19 points and Damian Lillard finished with 18 in the loss. 

Suns bounce back by handing Heat seventh straight loss

The Phoenix Suns kept rolling behind a balanced attack and strong defence that resulted in a 118-105 victory over the reeling Miami Heat, the seventh consecutive loss for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Eric Gordon scored 23 points off the bench to lead six Phoenix players in double figures in a game the Suns led by as much as 28 points en route to stopping a two-game losing streak.

The Suns also got 22 points from Devin Booker and 20 from Kevin Durant, with both stars finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists each.

Miami went 14 of 36 from 3-point range but was stonewalled from inside the arc, shooting a subpar 39.6 per cent on 2-point attempts in this latest defeat. The Heat have lost seven straight for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 26 points and recent acquisition Terry Rozier had 21 in his fourth game with the Heat.

Miami shot just 35.4 per cent in the first half as the Suns built a 62-49 lead at the break, and its shooting woes continued as Phoenix extended the margin in the third quarter. 

Booker had 12 points and the Suns shot over 68 per cent for the period to open up a commanding 100-74 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum scored 26 of his season high-tying 45 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 127-120 victory Wednesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jaylen Brown added 35 points and 11 rebounds to help the Celtics improve to 18-0 at home for the first time in franchise history. They have won 25 consecutive regular-season home games, dating back to last March.

Anthony Edwards scored 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 with 13 rebounds for the Western Conference-leading Timberwolves, who trail only Boston overall.

Tatum scored the game’s final nine points after Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s 3-pointer with 2:44 left in overtime gave Minnesota a 120-118 lead.

Tatum made a pair of free throws, a driving layup and sank a 3-pointer to make it 125-120 with 51 seconds to play. His two free throws with 13 seconds remaining capped the scoring.

Wembanyama has triple-double in Spurs’ win

Victor Wembanyama notched his first NBA triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 130-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of two of the league’s worst teams.

Wembanyama achieved the milestone in just 21 minutes, going 6 of 16 from the field while missing all four of his 3-point attempts.

In NBA history, only Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in fewer minutes (20) for Oklahoma City in 2014.

San Antonio had eight players score in double figures, including Keldon Johnson (17) and Devin Vassell (16), to snap a five-game slide.

Jalen Duren had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who dropped their sixth in a row since breaking their NBA record-tying 28-game losing streak.

Pelicans start fast in win over Warriors

Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and nine rebounds and Zion Williamson added 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 141-105 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The Pelicans had eight players score in double digits in their sixth win in seven games. They scored 46 points in the first quarter and led by 25 midway through the second.

Moses Moody scored 21 points off the bench for the Warriors, who have lost six of eight.

Golden State's 36-point loss was its largest at home since a 37-point defeat to San Antonio on March 26, 2007. 

Julius Randle had 39 points and nine rebounds, OG Anunoby made a strong debut with his new team and the New York Knicks earned a 112-106 win over the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday to end a three-game losing streak. 

Anunoby was traded to the Knicks from the Toronto Raptors on Saturday and met his new teammates for the first time on Sunday.

Despite needing some occasional help to navigate coach Tom Thibodeau’s system, Anunoby finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and pulled down six rebounds.

Randle finished 14 for 24 from the field and made nine of 13 free throws for New York, which trailed by nine points after one quarter before outscoring Minnesota by a 38-17 margin in the second to build a 61-49 half-time lead.

Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves, who had a two-game winning streak halted, with 35 points. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 29 for Minnesota, while Rudy Gobert grabbed 15 rebounds to go along with 10 points.

Bench propels Pacers as Bucks' home winning streak ends

Tyrese Haliburton finished just short of a triple-double as the Indiana Pacers put an end to the Milwaukee Bucks' 15-game home winning streak with a 122-113 victory over their Central Division rival.

Haliburton compiled 26 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to lead Indiana, which trailed by 15 points late in the third quarter to tie the game at 101-101 with under six minutes left.

The Pacers then embarked on an 8-0 run, with T.J. McConnell scoring six points during the spurt, to take the lead for good. 

McConnell had 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Pacers to a fourth straight win. He finished with 16 points off the bench, while Bennedict Mathurin had 25 along with a career-high 13 rebounds. 

With Mathurin and McConnell leading the way, Indiana's bench outscored Milwaukee's reserves by a 70-16 margin.

The Central-leading Bucks were dealt their first defeat at Fiserv Forum since Oct. 29 despite Giannis Antetokounmpo's 30-point, 18-rebound, 11-assist triple-double.

Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton had 21 points each for Milwaukee, though Bucks star guard Damian Lillard struggled with a 3-of-16 shooting night while being held to 13 points.

Leonard returns to help Clippers top Heat

Kawhi Leonard returned from a four-game absence to score 24 points and help the Los Angeles Clippers stay hot with a 121-104 win over the Miami Heat.

Paul George added 23 points and Norman Powell had 22 on 9-of-11 shooting to aid in the Clippers' third straight victory and 12th in 14 games. 

Miami, playing without six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and a few other key contributors due to injuries, held a 35-23 lead after one quarter and was up by as much as 14 points in the second before the Clippers began battling back.

Los Angeles outscored the Heat by a 32-17 margin over the final 9 1/2 minutes of the first half to take a 59-58 edge at the break. Leonard, who had been sidelined by a hip contusion, had 13 second-quarter points to spark the comeback. 

George then scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Clippers extended their lead to 95-85 entering the fourth.

Bam Adebayo paced Miami with 21 points and 15 rebounds. The Heat have now dropped two straight following a four-game winning streak. 

 

LeBron James fumed at the decision to rule his potential game-tying shot a two-pointer after the Los Angeles Lakers were beaten by the Minnesota Timberwolves on his 39th birthday, asking: "What do we have replay for?"

The NBA's all-time leading scorer had no cause to celebrate on Saturday despite finishing with 26 points and six assists as the Lakers slipped to 17-16 with a 108-106 road loss.

James thought he'd levelled things up when he sank a big shot with 3.3 seconds remaining, only for the league's replay centre to rule it a two-pointer rather than a three.

The four-time MVP got another chance with 1.4 seconds on the clock after Anthony Edwards only made one of two free throws at the other end, but he failed to get his shot off before the buzzer.

Speaking to reporters in the locker room after the Lakers' fifth defeat in eight games, Lebron's mind was drawn to his potential leveller.  

"It's obviously a three," James said. "My foot is behind the line. 

"You can see the space between the front of my foot and the three-point line. You can clearly see white, the wood on the floor is the space between the front of my foot and the three-point line.

"What the hell have we got replay for? What do we have replay for if even the replay gets it wrong? 

"It's just like, who is a part of the replay centre? Have we got robots in there making Teslas? What's going on?"

Reflecting on his later missed opportunity, James added: "I kind of misread that. 

"I've been in that situation before. I've just got to do a better job of knowing time. I could have caught it and shot right away."

After the game, crew chief Tony Brothers explained a lack of evidence left the replay team unable to overturn the two-point call, saying: "The play was ruled a two-point field goal on the floor during live play. 

"After video review, there wasn't clear and conclusive evidence to overturn it from a two to a three, and that's why it stood as a two-point field goal."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham disagreed, saying: "The view I had, I thought it was a clear-cut three. Our guys on the sideline replayed it. We thought it was a good three."

Anthony Davis saw his dominant 33-point, 17-rebound performance proved redundant as the Timberwolves improved to 24-7, with Edwards scoring 31 points for the Western Conference leaders.

The Detroit Pistons matched the longest losing streak in NBA history Thursday, blowing a 21-point lead before falling to the Boston Celtics 128-122 in overtime for their 28th straight loss.

The Pistons tied the Philadelphia 76ers, who lost 28 in a row starting in 2014-15 and into the 2015-16 season.

Detroit’s next chance to record its first win since Oct. 28 is Saturday against Toronto.

The Pistons opened a 21-point lead in the first half but trailed 106-100 in the final two minutes of regulation. Jaden Ivey scored six straight points to erase the deficit, then Bojan Bogdanovic made a putback with 4.6 seconds left to force OT.

Derrick White scored 10 of his 23 points in the extra period and Kristaps Porzingis added six to finish with 35.

Jayson Tatum had 31 points and 10 assists for league-leading Boston, which has won four straight and nine of its last 10 games.

Cade Cunningham led the Pistons with 31 points and nine assists, while Ivey finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Jokic has another triple-double

Nikola Jokić registered 26 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in less than three quarters to lead the Denver Nuggets to their sixth consecutive win, 142-105 over the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies.

Jokic was 11 of 11 from the field and hit all three free throws before going to the bench with 1:31 left in the third quarter. He notched his 11th triple-double of the season and 116th of his career, which ranks fourth in NBA history.

Desmond Bane had 23 points and Marcus Smart added 17 for the Grizzlies, who were without star guard Ja Morant. Memphis had a four-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 6-20 when Morant is out of the lineup.

Edwards leads Timberwolves past Mavericks

Anthony Edwards poured in a season-high 44 points and Rudy Gobert added 20 with 11 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 118-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Luka Dončić.

Jaden McDaniels chipped in 12 points for Minnesota, which improved the Western Conference’s best record to 23-7.

With Doncic out on the second night of back-to-back games, Dallas lost its fifth in seven games. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 32 points off the bench and Jaden Hardy added 17 points.

James Harden's anticipated first game as a Los Angeles Clipper ended in a loss, as the New York Knicks spoiled the former NBA MVP's debut with his new team with Monday's 111-97 win.

Julius Randle had 27 points and 10 rebounds and RJ Barrett added 26 points in his return from injury as the Knicks handed the star-studded Clippers their second straight defeat following a 3-1 start to the season.

Harden took the court for the first time since being traded to Los Angeles by the Philadelphia 76ers last week. The 10-time All-Star had 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting along with six assists as a part of a starting lineup that included three other accomplished veterans in Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

The dynamic guard scored five straight points late in the third quarter to give the Clippers a 76-73 lead, but the Knicks countered with a 16-3 run to take an 89-79 advantage with under 9 1/2 minutes left and never trailed thereafter.

Barrett scored 11 points in the fourth quarter after missing New York's previous two games with a sore left knee, while Mitchell Robinson finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds to help the Knicks snap a two-game losing streak.

 

Edwards sparks overtime win as Wolves hand Celtics first loss

Anthony Edwards scored eight of his 38 points in overtime as the Minnesota TImberwolves handed the Boston Celtics their first loss of the season with a 114-109 victory.

Edwards added nine rebounds and seven assists to help Minnesota overcome an off night from fellow star player Karl-Anthony Towns, who managed just seven points in 28 minutes before fouling out in overtime.

Jaden McDaniels hit a game-tying 3-pointer late in regulation and finished with 20 points for Minnesota, which also received 14 points and 12 rebounds from Rudy Gobert en route to its third straight win.

Boston entered the game as the NBA's lone remaining unbeaten team following a 5-0 start. The Celtics got 32 points and five steals from Jayson Tatum and 26 points from Jaylen Brown, but shot just 28.2 per cent from 3-point range as well as a season-low 39.1 per cent overall. 

The Celtics held a 105-103 lead after Tatum hit two free throws with 3:56 left in overtime, but Minnesota's Mike Conley buried a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession before Edwards capped a pivotal 9-0 run with three consecutive baskets that put the Timberwolves up for good at 112-105 with 1:30 remaining in the extra session.

 

Adebayo's triple-double propels Heat past Lakers

Bam Adebayo delivered a massive performance with 22 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Miami Heat overcame a late scoring drought to hold on for a 108-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Adebayo became the first Heat player to record a triple-double with at least 20 rebounds, and Miami received 28 points from Jimmy Butler and 22 from Tyler Herro to record its second straight win following a four-game losing streak.

The Heat prevailed despite nearly blowing a 10-point lead with four minutes to play and not making a field goal over the final 4:15 of the contest.

The Lakers scored the game's final nine points and had a chance to win in the final seconds, but Cam Reddish was off the mark with a jumper and Butler grabbed the rebound right before time expired.

LeBron James finished with 30 points on 13-of-23 points to pace the Lakers, while Austin Reaves just missed a triple-double after compiling 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Los Angeles has now dropped the first two outings of its current four-game road trip and played the entire fourth quarter without star forward Anthony Davis, who sustained a groin spasm during the game and was limited to nine points in 25 minutes. 

 

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves are anxiously awaiting an injury update on star player Anthony Edwards after the former Rookie of the Year had to be carried off the court on Friday.

Edwards, who is averaging 25.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in his third season, had eight points in eight minutes before going down with an ankle injury early in a 139-131 double-overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The former number one draft pick is living up to the hype on the offensive end, but he has also shown terrific instincts on the other side of the ball, currently tied with Tyrese Haliburton for the fifth-most steals per game (1.6).

Minnesota had been expected to spiral after Karl-Anthony Towns went down with a long-term injury in November, but Edwards had kept them afloat, currently sitting eighth in the West at 35-36.

But while they are just one game behind the six seed, they are also only one game in front of the Utah Jazz in 11th, and any Edwards absence with just 11 games remaining could decide the franchise's playoff fate.

Speaking immediately after the loss, Edwards said he knew straight away that his night was over.

"I couldn't walk on it, so I knew it was a wrap," he said. "See how it feels tomorrow."

Head coach Chris Finch did not have an update on his status, and lamented the crushing nature of the loss after leading in the final stages of regulation.

"It's a devastating loss," he said "We've got to win that game, you know?

"Up two with 26 seconds left, with the ball. No reason to do anything, other than just make them come get us, and we just throw it out of bounds. We couldn't get a shot off in some key moments, too.

"We battled, and battled. We changed defenses all night long, we played our butt off, and we got a chance to win the game – and you've got to win that game."

When asked about how they will move forward without their two top offensive options, Finch said it can not be used as an excuse.

"Nobody cares," he said. "We've got to keep fighting. We've got a heck of a game tomorrow [away against the Toronto Raptors], and nobody cares what's happened to the Timberwolves.

"We'll figure it out, we'll lace it up tomorrow and we'll fight – I know that. We still have other players who can put the ball in the bucket.

"Obviously, you lose Ant's dynamic big-shot making – of course you lose everything he brings – but we're going to have to rely more on ball movement, body movement, pass-pass combinations, those kinds of things.

"I thought we did a really good job in that three-man game with Kyle [Anderson], Mike [Conley} and Rudy [Gobert]… we have things we can go to, we just have to sift through it and figure it out."

Wolves center Rudy Gobert shared the sentiment that the team cannot feel sorry for themselves.

"We know that no one's going to help us," he said. "We're all we got. 

"So we've just got to go out there, keep putting in the work, keep enjoying it and just learn from this situation. Win a game when we're in position to win a game."

Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards recovered from a horrific start to storm back and defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-106 away from home on Thursday.

The Wizards trailed 30-10 in the first quarter, and after trimming the margin to eight points at half-time, the Timberwolves again extended their lead to 87-69 with two minutes remaining in the third period.

Washington put together a 17-2 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes, bringing themselves right back into the contest, and they would end up winning the final period 38-19.

Beal had 15 of his game-high 35 points in the final 5:14, finishing with shooting figures of 14-of-28 from the field and four-of-eight from deep, while adding six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

No other Wizard scored more than 16 points, while Timberwolves young gun Anthony Edwards went toe-to-toe with Beal.

Edwards scored a team-high 34 points on 11-of-26 shooting with three steals, although his six turnovers hurt. Rudy Gobert was also solid for Minnesota, grabbing 19 rebounds to go with his 17 points and three blocks.

The win is the Wizards' fourth from their past five outings, improving to 28-30 to have them sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference, while the Timberwolves dropped to eighth in the West at 31-30.

Clippers leapfrog the Suns into top-four

The Los Angeles Clippers won an enticing Western Conference showdown against the Phoenix Suns 116-107 despite a rough shooting performance from star Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard, who has been boasting blistering shooting splits of 51/45/92 since the beginning of the new year, finished just five-of-18 from the field on the road against the Suns for 16 points, although he salvaged a decent outing with 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.

Paul George picked up the slack with 26 points (nine-of-19 shooting), six rebounds and five assists, while Terance Mann matched him with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting.

With the win, the Clippers (33-28) moved up to fourth in the West, taking the place of the Suns (32-28).

No Giannis, no worries for Lopez and the Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks lost their two-time MVP after suffering a game-ending wrist injury, but Brook Lopez did his best Giannis Antetokounmpo impression during a 112-100 road win against the Chicago Bulls.

Antetokounmpo played only nine minutes, scoring two points before crashing into the basket support while attempting a chasedown block, but Lopez responded with a season-high 33 points (13-of-18 shooting), seven rebounds and four blocks.

Jevon Carter also impressed with 22 points (nine-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and six assists, while undrafted rookie A.J. Green hit five three-pointers off the bench.

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic became just the third player in NBA history with 40 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists in a game in the Denver Nuggets' 119-115 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

Jokic finished with 40 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists for his 81st career triple-double, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players to achieve the aforementioned stat line.

The Serbian is the first player to reach that mark since Chamberlain in 1968. Chamberlain managed that milestone four times in his decorated career.

The Nuggets center pulled down 20 rebounds before half-time in a dominant display in the paint, leading Denver to an 18-11 overall record. Jokic's 27 rebounds were a career-high, and it was his fifth triple-double of the season.

Jokic received strong support from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with 20 points, four rebounds and five assists while Jamal Murray dished off 11 assists. Aaron Gordon chipped in with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The Hornets fall to a 7-23 record, with LaMelo Ball scoring 31 points including four triples on 100 per cent three-point shooting in his third game back from injury.

Banchero stars as Magic topple Celtics

This season's top overall NBA Draft pick Paolo Banchero scored 31 points as the Orlando Magic claimed their sixth straight win and toppled the Boston Celtics 95-92.

Banchero produced his third 30-point game, shooting six-of-seven from beyond the arc, while Admiral Schofield contributed 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.

The win means the Magic completed a sweep of consecutive games in Bolton and extended their win streak to their longest since March 2019.

KD leads Nets rally for sixth straight win

Kevin Durant scored 26 of his 43 points in the third quarter to carry a 17-point comeback for the Brooklyn Nets in a 124-121 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Kyrie Irving added 38 points as the Nets secured their sixth straight win.

The Minnesota Timberwolves broke their franchise single-game scoring record in a 150-126 rout over the Chicago Bulls led by Anthony Edwards' season-high 37 points and 11 assists.

The Golden State Warriors won for the first time this season without the injured Stephen Curry (shoulder), with Jordan Poole scoring a career-high 43 points in a 126-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

A career night for Minnesota Timberwolves reserve Jaden McDaniels was not enough to stop the Memphis Grizzlies from winning Game 6 114-106 on the road, clinching the series 4-2 in the process.

It was another tough game scoring the ball for Grizzlies star Ja Morant, who shot four-of-14 from the field and zero-for-five from long range for his 15 points, bringing his series averages to 21 points per game at 39 per cent shooting.

But yet again, he found other ways to impact the game and help his side win, with 11 assists and eight rebounds, right in line with his average production in the series as he assumed a facilitating role.

Desmond Bane led Memphis in scoring (both in the game and the series) with 23 points from nine-of-15 shooting, Jaren Jackson Jr finally stayed out of foul trouble and delivered 18 points and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, and Brandon Clarke was the difference-maker off the bench with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

For the Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards scored a game-high 30 points on 10-of-24 shooting and added five assists, two blocks and two steals, while Karl-Anthony Towns was solid, but disappointing for an All-Star with 18 points (six-of-19 shooting) and 10 rebounds.

Jaden McDaniels almost proved to be the most important player in the game after coming off the Timberwolves bench, hitting eight of his nine shots, including five out of six three-point attempts to score a career-high 24 points in 33 minutes.

McDaniels' clutch three-pointer late in the fourth quarter cut the margin back to 103-102, but the Grizzlies were just too strong down the stretch, winning the last frame 40-22 for their second straight victory after trailing by double figures at three-quarter time.

With the win, the Grizzlies will meet the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Anthony Edwards ensured the Minnesota Timberwolves did not pay the price for Karl-Anthony Towns' night to forget against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Three-time All-Star Towns fouled out of the seven-eight play-in game in the West on Tuesday.

Having made just three field goals and given up four turnovers along with his six fouls, Towns had a miserable plus/minus of -14 as he exited the fourth quarter.

But the seven-point lead the Clippers held at that point was subsequently overturned – in no small part due to the performance of former first overall pick Edwards.

The second-year wing finished with 30 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, in a 109-104 T-Wolves win.

Edwards faced the media alongside Patrick Beverley afterwards, and his team-mate interrupted when the 20-year-old was asked about his work on offense.

"No one can guard him. I've been telling him that all year," Beverley said. "I don't care who plays him. I've seen the best defensive guys. I'm one of the best defensive guys on Earth.

"No one can guard him, and I just keep preaching that, preaching that to him, and he's been doing it all season, so credit to him, credit to his hard work, credit to his patience.

"Obviously we have Karl-Anthony Towns, who we feature a lot, so credit to his patience at a young age, understanding the game, being patient, understanding when to attack.

"KAT fouled out, him and D'Lo [D'Angelo Russell] took over the game. Our young core, man, those three guys, man, we're going to be here for a while.

"So, I'm very excited. I didn't mean to interrupt his questions, but I see the boy, he puts in a lot of work, fellas... ladies, too. He puts in a lot of work.

"One of the first guys in the beginning of the year in the gym. It's time to go home, he's the last one in, he comes at night. He brings his dog in there, he's in there.

"So, you've got to give a lot of credit. This is our star and this is his moment. He deserves all of it. This is his moment. My bad."

Beverley could be forgiven for being a little excited, having beaten his former team. He spent four years on the Clippers before joining the T-Wolves this season.

"I wanted this so bad," he said. "I wanted this one so bad."

His message to the Clippers now? "Take their a** home. Long flight to LA, take y'all a** home.

"It's deeper than that for me. I gave my blood and sweat and tears to that organisation. You guys know the story. Blood, sweat and tears, to just be written off like that, 'oh, he's injury prone, he's old', this, this, that, that.

"To be able to come here, play them in a play-in, beat their a**, there's no other feeling, man, no other feeling."

Despite Beverley's apparent ill feeling towards the Clippers, former team-mate Paul George said he "loves" and "misses" his "contagious" antics.

"You need energy guys like that," George said, although Clippers coach Ty Lue was disappointed with the way Beverley was able to get under his team's skin.

"He did a good job, especially in that second half, of just defending, getting into guys, irritating guys like he always does," Lue said.

"He's a big reason why this team is successful this year. I just think the mentality he brought over here has changed the team.

"[You've] just got to be able to keep composure, you can't let it get to you. I thought at times he did. That's what he does.

"He's been with us here forever. We knew that coming into the game. We didn't handle it well, but whatever."

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been on the floor of the NBA for what feels like forever.

It has been 17 seasons since the Wolves last won a playoff series, tied with the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats and Sacramento Kings for the longest active streaks in the league.

Since the 2005-06 season, Minnesota have had just one winning season, tied with the Kings for the fewest in the NBA over that span. All of this losing comes despite having talented players and valuable assets on the roster over the past 15 seasons, chiefly Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Al Jefferson.

Time and again, Minnesota have underperformed their talent and remained irrelevant, even by small-market standards.

Yet this season has provided a glimmer of hope for the future – and perhaps the present – if the Timberwolves' front office can choose the correct path.

Minnesota turned the calendar from November to December with an 11-10 record after last year's team needed 45 games to get their 11th win of the season.

This month, however, the Wolves have lost four straight, and other than an 8-3 stretch from November 12 to November 30, the team are just 3-11, leaving many to question whether Minnesota are genuinely improved or simply had a nice three-week stretch.

The performance on the defensive end of the floor has much better than last season's by almost any measure. Opponents are scoring an average of 8.9 points per game fewer against the Wolves this season compared to last season's Western Conference-worst mark of 117.7.

 

Even adjusting for pace, the numbers seem to show improvement defensively. Minnesota are allowing 105.6 points per 100 possessions, far better than last season's mark of 112.1.

The Timberwolves' improvements in opponents' shooting have been nearly as pronounced, allowing 44.5 per cent conversion from the floor and 33.3 per cent from three-point range, both representing the largest improvements in the West.

Additionally, Minnesota are forcing a league-leading 17.3 turnovers per game, although that aggression has led to a league-high 22.7 personal fouls per game and NBA-most 24.3 opponents' free throw attempts per game.

The T-Wolves have converted defense into offense, boasting a top-10 transition offense and playing at the third-fastest pace in the NBA, getting up an average of 92.4 shot attempts per game. The halfcourt efficiency, however, has been middling at best.

Despite improved numbers from Towns and second-year sensation Anthony Edwards, Minnesota have seen their shooting drop both overall and from three-point range.

Launching 42.3 three-point attempts per game – second only to the Utah Jazz (42.7) in the league this season – the Wolves rank just 23rd in three-point percentage at 33.6, making them extremely volatile on offense.

The saving grace on offense has been offensive rebounding, with the T-Wolves grabbing a league-leading 13.4 offensive boards per game and converting those into 16.8 second-chance points per game, trailing only the Memphis Grizzlies' 16.9.

Ultimately, the limiting factor to Minnesota's playoff hopes may be a lack of depth in offensive talent. Towns, Edwards and point guard D'Angelo Russell are the highest-scoring trio in the West at 65.0 points per game, but the team as a whole have the 24th-most efficient offense in the league, scoring 104.2 points per 100 possessions.

These polarising results leave the Timberwolves' front office in a bind as it prepares for the future and as the league's trade deadline comes into view.

The team are currently on pace to qualify for the West's play-in tournament while Towns is still just 26 and Edwards is a green 20 years old. It would be perfectly reasonable to play this season out, acquire more young talent in the draft and build towards the future.

But disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has been linked to Minnesota in trade talks by a variety of media outlets, indicating that the Wolves' front office could have designs on evading the play-in tournament entirely and making a run at a top-six seed.

The Sixers have remained adamant that they will accept nothing less than a king's ransom for the 25-year-old point guard, but analysts have drawn up plenty of potential three- and four-team deals that would land Simmons in Minneapolis as a bet on top-flight prospect talent.

Many teams would avoid such a risk, especially after Simmons' turbulent offseason and oft-criticised postseason performances, but Minnesota – with their small market and cold climate – have a famously difficult time improving their roster through free agency. Towns, Anthony and Simmons were each the top overall draft pick in their respective classes and uniting them would be an aggressive bet on talent and potential.

Simmons, an infamously non-willing shooter from anywhere outside the paint, would likely represent a double-down approach on the Wolves' unconventional style of play, banking on more defense, turnovers and offensive rebounds while ignoring the need for an elite shot-creator.

The current core of the Timberwolves, however, has provided some reason for optimism, and the opportunity for a rare playoff run may be too much to resist for Minnesota's front office, long deprived of postseason revenue.

The Wolves' schedule is brutal over the next 12 games – seven of which are on the road against West opponents – and their performance over that stretch could determine the path of the team going forward.

Perhaps leaders in Minneapolis will see an 8-3 run in November as a promising blip on the radar for a rebuilding squad, but a win-starved franchise in a small market could be compelled to invest heavily in the present, banking on three number one picks.

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