No player in NBA history has spent more minutes on the court than LeBron James, but the latest record means nothing to the Los Angeles Lakers star.

That is because it came in what was James' heaviest career defeat – a 138-94 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

In his 21-year NBA career, James' previous worst loss came by 42 points in a 136-94 reverse to the Indiana Pacers in February 2019.

As Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the Sixers' rout, James accumulated another 30 minutes on the court.

That took his career total, across both regular season and postseason games, to 66,319 minutes in his career, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 66,297 minutes.

But the record was of little solace to the 38-year-old, who told reporters: "That doesn't mean much to me."

Asked about what the Lakers need to do to ensure heavy defeats do not become a common occurrence, James said: "What needs to change in order for that not to happen again? Um, a lot.

"I don't know how a team [should respond]. I can only speak for myself, and I don't like it."

James' teammate Anthony Davis said: "Feel like we just weren't together. A lot of quick shots, one-pass shots, no-pass shots.

"They started making a lot of shots. And when their lead kind of opened up a little bit – 15, 20, 25 – I think we all tried to be the hero to make the team come back instead of just sticking with it.

"We've got to look at it, embrace it, own it. Guys don't take it personally for whatever's said in the film, and then move on from it."

It was a bad day for both Los Angeles teams, with the Clippers also losing. 

They went down 104-113 to a Denver Nuggets team that was shorn of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.

Former Laker Russell Westbrook became embroiled in a debate with a fan.

"I mean, it's unfortunate," Westbrook said.

"Fans think they can say whatever they want. I'm not going to say [what was said] now because it's not appropriate, but I'm just protecting myself.

"It's just unfortunate fans think they can get away with saying anything and, personally, I won't allow it. I've [taken] a lot of people saying anything and getting away with it, but I won't stand for it."

Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a 138-94 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, giving LeBron James the most lopsided loss of his 21-year NBA career.

Tyrese Maxey complemented Embiid's sixth career triple-double with 31 points and eight assists, and the 76ers dominated from the 3-point line to also record their largest margin of victory in 290 all-time regular-season meetings with the Lakers.

James' previous worst loss came by 42 points, a 136-94 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 5, 2019, in his first season with the Lakers. The NBA's all-time leading scorer finished with 18 points and five assists but failed to register a rebound.

Philadelphia finished 22 of 46 from 3-point range compared to 7 of 28 for Los Angeles, which trailed by double digits since late in the first quarter and were outscored by a whopping 40-14 margin in the fourth despite the 76ers resting Embiid and fellow starters Tobias Harris and De'Anthony Melton the entire period.

Anthony Davis ended with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who have dropped two of three since a 6-1 stretch from Nov. 10-21.

Nuggets handle Clippers despite Jokic resting

DeAndre Jordan filled in well for a resting Nikola Jokić as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 113-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Jordan posted 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists starting in place of Jokic, who was held out with Denver playing for the second consecutive night. Reggie Jackson had 13 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nuggets back from an 11-point deficit to start the period.

Jackson, who spent parts of four seasons with the Clippers before being traded away in February, added 13 assists. Jordan played his first 10 NBA seasons with Los Angeles from 2008-18.

The Nuggets trailed 88-77 after three quarters before outscoring the Clippers by a 36-16 margin in the fourth. They went ahead for good when Jackson capped a 15-2 run to start the period with a short floater that gave Denver a 92-90 lead with under 7 1/2 minutes left.

Los Angeles, which had won four of five following a 3-7 start, went just 4 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter and got just six points on 2-of-13 shooting from star Paul George.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 31 points and eight rebounds, while Ivica Zubac recorded 23 points and 14 boards. 

Wizards halt nine-game losing streak, extend Pistons' skid to 14

Kyle Kuzma compiled 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Washington Wizards to a 126-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of the NBA's two worst teams.

Washington, which entered the game with an identical 2-14 record to Detroit, halted a nine-game losing streak. The Pistons have now lost 14 consecutive games, tied for the longest skid in franchise history within a single season.

The Wizards led by just one early in the third quarter before Kuzma took over, as the veteran forward scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting for the period to help extend Washington's advantage to 94-83 entering the fourth.

Washington maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way while shooting 50.6 per cent from the field for the game. Deni Avdija and Danilo Gallinari each contributed 16 points to the victory.

Cade Cunningham led Detroit with 26 points and seven assists, while Jalen Duren finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.



Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted the Milwaukee Bucks made life tough for themselves as he helped to seal a stirring 108-102 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Bucks rallied from a 26-point deficit to win the first meeting between the teams since the Blazers traded franchise icon Damian Lillard to Milwaukee in September. 

It was largest comeback in the NBA so far this season.

Lillard, who spent his first 11 seasons with Portland and is the Trail Blazers' all-time scoring leader, had 17 of his 31 points in the second half to aid the comeback, while Giannis came through with a tie-breaking basket with time winding down.

Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in the Bucks' seventh win in eight games, which improved them to 12-5 on the season.

The rebuilding Blazers led 81-55 three minutes into the third quarter, but Milwaukee responded with a 17-2 run and continued to cut into the deficit until Lillard's 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining created a 97-97 tie.

Sunday's game remained deadlocked until Antetokounmpo tipped in teammate Bobby Portis' putback attempt to put the Bucks up by a 104-102 score. Lillard then sealed the win by making four free throws in the closing seconds.

"Sometimes we just make it tough on ourselves," Antetokounmpo said after the game, per ESPN.

"Don't get me wrong, I think Portland is a very good team – young team, play hard, but we just make it tough.

"We can't start the game like that. We should not be down 26 and then try to come and win the game. That takes a toll on your body. 

"But at the end of the day, I'm happy we were able to win."

Lillard and Antetokounmpo have scored 30 points each in the last two Bucks games.

"As the season moves forward, we're going to figure out ways to play with one another," added Giannis. 

"Be more effective, be more efficient with one another, know one another's spots. We are getting to that point. We are really getting to that point.

"At the end of the day, Dame has to be Dame. I have to be me. 

"As the games go on, we're going to keep on figuring ourselves out. The moment we are clicking on a higher level, it's going to become even more scary as we move forward."

Facing former team Portland (4-12) was an unusual experience for Lillard.

"Once I walked in, I saw a lot of familiar faces, I thought about going in the visitors' locker room for a second, but I was like, man, this a little bit different," he said to Bally Sports Wisconsin.

"When we got on the court, I saw everybody and it's a weird feeling. But once we started playing, I got over it quick."

Bucks coach Adrian Griffin was thrilled with Antetokounmpo, with a big Tuesday night In-Season Tournament game at the Miami Heat up next.

"He is one of the greatest players to play this game, and he showed it," said Griffin.

"We were kind of dead in the water, searching, trying to find some momentum, and it was a gritty win."

Jerami Grant had 22 points in Portland's ninth loss in 10 games, while Malcolm Brogdon recorded 18 points and 12 assists. 

Devin Booker hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Phoenix Suns a 116-113 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday that extended their winning streak to seven games.

Booker finished with 28 points and 11 assists and Eric Gordon had 25 points as the Suns continued their winning ways despite star Kevin Durant missing a second straight game with a sore right foot.

Phoenix also overcame a 35-point, eight-assist effort from New York's Jalen Brunson to snap the Knicks' four-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden.

Booker's deciding shot came after the Knicks scored four straight points to pull even, with Brunson hitting a fadeaway jumper with 21.9 seconds left following a Phoenix turnover to tie the contest at 113-113.

Brunson had a chance to force overtime in the final seconds, but his long 3-point try as time expired missed the mark. 

The Suns led by as many as 15 points in the first half and owned a 79-66 advantage in the third quarter, but the Knicks went on an 18-5 run later in the period and the game remained tight into the latter stages.

Julius Randle added 28 points for New York and Immanuel Quickley contributed 18 off the bench. 


Bucks put forth big rally to win Lillard's first meeting with Blazers

Giannis Antetokounmpo also came through with a tie-breaking basket with time winding down, as his tip-in with 18.5 seconds left helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a stirring 108-102 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Bucks rallied from a 26-point deficit to win the first meeting between the teams since the Blazers traded franchise icon Damian Lillard to Milwaukee in September. Lillard, who spent his first 11 seasons with Portland and is the Trail Blazers' all-time scoring leader, had 17 of his 31 points in the second half to aid the comeback.

Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in the Bucks' seventh win in eight games.

The rebuilding Blazers shot 52 percent over the first two quarters to build a 68-52 halftime lead, then extended the margin to 81-55 three minutes into the third quarter.

Milwaukee responded with a 17-2 run, however, and continued to cut into the deficit until Lillard's 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining created a 97-97 tie.

The game remained deadlocked until Antetokounmpo tipped in teammate Bobby Portis' putback attempt to put the Bucks up by a 104-102 score. Lillard then sealed the win by making four free throws in the closing seconds.

Jerami Grant had 22 points in Portland's ninth loss in 10 games, while Malcolm Brogdon recorded 18 points and 12 assists. 


Magic get past Hornets for seventh straight win

The Orlando Magic are also riding a seven-game winning streak following Sunday's 130-117 victory over the Charlotte Hornets behind 30 points from both Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony.

Paolo Banchero added 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to help Orlando to its longest winning streak in nearly 13 years. The Magic last won seven in a row during a franchise-record nine-game run from Dec. 23, 2010-Jan. 12, 2011.

Anthony scored 18 of his points in the fourth quarter as Orlando gradually pulled away before putting the game out of reach with a 12-3 run that gave the Magic a 120-104 lead with four minutes remaining.

Charlotte got guard Terry Rozier back from a groin injury that caused him to miss the team's previous nine games, but played the second half without star point guard LaMelo Ball after he injured his right ankle late in the second quarter. 

Rozier had 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go along with nine assists in his return. Miles Bridges led the Hornets, who came in having won a season-high two straight, with 23 points and 10 rebounds.


Luka Doncic underwent an X-ray on his left hand after taking a blow to it during the Dallas Mavericks' 107-88 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Doncic's hand hit James Harden's knee during the early stages of the first quarter, and the 24-year-old immediately clutched it in pain.

He went on to score 22 points in the first half before being examined at half-time, though the X-ray reportedly came back as negative and Doncic finished the game with 30 points as the Mavericks ultimately succumbed to defeat.

After the game, Doncic told reporters: "I don't think it's broken. We will see further tomorrow in Dallas."

"I hit his knee, but yeah, I saw the picture [of the play]. It's not good to see."

Doncic was wearing a wrap on his left hand and thumb following the loss, and the Mavericks will nervously wait to see if the four-time All-Star will be able to play in Dallas' home game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

LeBron James says he "will never forget" his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers after his 22 points helped the Los Angeles Lakers to defeat his former team on Saturday.

James has not always enjoyed an easy relationship with Cavaliers fans, acrimoniously leaving in 2010 after Cleveland drafted him back in 2003, controversially leaving for the Miami Heat.

Having won two NBA championship with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and won over the Cavaliers fans by helping them to a first ever title before departing again in 2018.

James went on to win a fourth NBA Championship with the Lakers, and he scored 22 points as his team went into Cleveland and took a 121-115 victory on Saturday.

The four-time MVP received a warm reception from the home crowd, and after the game he reflected on his "special" time with the Cavaliers, who play close to James' hometown of Akron, Ohio.

"It's just special," James said. "It's very special to be a kid from Akron.

"I grew up 30 miles south of here and to be able to be drafted here and spend my first seven years here and do some special things that the franchise had never seen.

"When I was drafted, I said I wanted to light this place up like Vegas. So I feel like I did a decent job of doing that when I was here for my 11 years.

"Stepping back on this floor is always a pretty cool feeling, looking up there and pretty much being a part of all of the banners in this arena. The one that sits in the middle was that [20]16 championship, so that's pretty cool.

"[I] spent 11 years here and being able to come back after my Miami stint and win a championship here for this franchise, for this city, I think it was a 52-year [title] drought or something like that in the city of Cleveland for any sports team, I think that was just something that I will never forget no matter how old I get. I'll always remember that moment."

Joel Embiid had 35 points and fell one assist shy of a triple-double and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped the Oklahoma City Thunder’s six-game winning streak with a 127-123 victory on Saturday.

Embiid had 11 rebounds and nine assists while making 19 of 21 free throws, including six in the final 9.8 seconds to seal the win.

Tyrese Maxey had 28 points and eight rebounds and Tobias Harris added 16 points to help the 76ers avoid a third straight loss.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points for the Thunder, who lost their fourth straight at home to Philadelphia.

Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey had 10 points, seven boards and eight assists in his first game after the NBA started an investigation into accusations he had an improper relationship with an underage girl.


LeBron helps Lakers win in Cleveland

Anthony Davis scored 23 of his season-high 32 points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds and LeBron James had 22 points against his hometown team as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 121-115.

James added six rebounds, six assists and two steals in his 18th career win against Cleveland in 21 games. The 39-year-old superstar attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in nearby Akron and spent 11 seasons with the Cavaliers, leading them to the 2016 NBA title.

Austin Reaves added 15 points and 10 assists as the Lakers won their fourth in five games overall and third straight on the road.

Donovan Mitchell had 22 points on 4-of-18 shooting in his return aft4er missing four games with a right hamstring strain for Cleveland.

Cavaliers guard Darius Garland did not play in the second half due to a neck strain, caused by an awkward collision with Max Christie in the first quarter.


George leads Clippers past Mavericks

The Los Angeles Clippers received little production from two of their stars, but Paul George had 25 points and Terance Mann added 17 in a 107-88 rout of the Dallas Mavericks.

James Harden was limited to eight points on 2-of-8 shooting and Kawhi Leonard missed his first nine shots before also finishing with eight points.

Russell Westbrook helped with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Clippers won their fourth in five games.

Luka Dončić scored 30 points and Kyrie Irving added 26 for Dallas, which failed to score 100 points for the first time this season.

Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel described Devin Booker as a "professional scorer" as he stepped up in Kevin Durant's absence on Friday, starring in a 110-89 road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The In-Season Tournament game was the first Durant has missed all season, with Phoenix's leading scorer complaining of soreness in his right foot before the game.

However, the Suns made light of his absence as Booker stepped up with a season-high 40 points, while Eric Gordon added 20 as Phoenix extended its winning streak to six games.

Asked about Booker's efforts in the aftermath of the win, which took Phoenix to 3-1 in the tournament, Vogel said: "The guy's just a professional scorer. He is a big reason we are having this six-game win streak."

With Phoenix waiting to see how Durant's condition develops, Booker says it will be difficult for the team to replace his contribution.

"It's tough", Booker said. "You can't replace what he brings to the court. His scoring ability, his versatility on defense. It's going to take a lot of extra from everybody else."

With the Los Angeles Lakers winning Group A of the In-Season tournament with a 4-0 record, the Suns must wait on other results across the Western Conference to see whether they have done enough for a wild-card spot.

Phoenix was made to endure something of a Memphis resurgence in the second half as the hosts cut their lead to single digits, but guard Jordan Goodwin scored eight straight Suns points in the fourth quarter to kill any hopes of a comeback.

"He was great," Vogel said of Goodwin, who finished with 14 points and added five rebounds in 20 minutes on the court.

"You know, he's had some ups and downs this year. We've been challenging him as a coaching staff to be better on both sides of the ball.

"He competes defensively but staying within the framework of what we're asking him to do… to see it all come together for him was a great night for all of us, as coaches, trying to challenge a player and see him respond, and for him, to respond and have a great night."

Guard Immanuel Quickley couldn't contain his relief after the New York Knicks fought back for a remarkable 100-98 win over the Miami Heat on Friday to keep their In-Season Tournament hopes alive.

The Knicks began the home game against their long-time rivals – who ended their 2022-23 season in the second round of the playoffs in May – knowing a loss would have eliminated them from the competition. 

They looked to be on their way out when the Heat established a 21-point lead with three minutes and 40 seconds to go in the third quarter, but the Knicks finished with a brilliant game-closing 38-15 run to snatch victory.

A three-pointer from Quickley heralded the start of New York's fightback, with the 24-year-old finishing with 20 points and four rebounds as the Knicks earned a measure of revenge over Miami.

Asked what was going through his head when New York found themselves staring at defeat, Quickley said: "It's a decision whether to mentally check out or not. 

"It's a decision to keep fighting. It's a decision to tell yourself, 'you got to keep fighting,' no matter what. I did look at the score and say, 'dang,' when I saw how much we were down, I literally said that. 

"But then I got right back to it, seeing where I was at mentally and said, 'let's go. Let's try to get a comeback going'."

The Knicks' good work was almost for nothing as Heat star Jimmy Butler had one last chance to win it, but his three-pointer rimmed out as the fourth quarter drew to a close.

"I've seen that shot go in, not just from him," Quickley said of Butler's last-gasp effort. "When you play basketball for so long, you see so many game-winners. They all look the same.

"I just said, 'please, please don't go in'' We worked so hard to get back… Thank God he missed it."

Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra saw the end of the third quarter, when Quickley scored six points to cut the deficit, as the turning point, saying: "At the end of the third quarter we're up 20-plus. 

"Then we had some turnovers, a bad shot, we didn't get back on defense and then all of a sudden it turned into a Quickley three and another Quickley three, and then all sudden it gets to 13. 

"That was the biggest shift right there. We had an opportunity to take that thing to 25. There's a karma to it. We were so careless finishing that quarter."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stands by his decision to criticise the team's fans over their booing of former franchise favourite Kawhi Leonard, describing their behaviour as "hateful".

Popovich made headlines on Wednesday when he walked over to the scorer's table and grabbed a microphone during the second quarter of the Spurs' 109-102 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers.

With San Antonio's fans loudly jeering their former star Leonard as he lined up a pair of free throws, his former coach Popovich leapt to his defence. 

"Excuse me for a second," Popovich said to the crowd. "Can we stop all the booing and let these guys play? Have a little class. That's not who we are. Knock off the booing."

Popovich later said the boos had risked giving Leonard – who won the NBA Championship with the Spurs in 2014 before departing four years later – additional motivation.

Asked if he regretted the remarks ahead of Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors, Popovich said: "Absolutely not. It's pretty easy to understand.

"I listened to it for a while and it just got louder and louder and uglier and uglier, and I felt sorry for him, and I was embarrassed for our city, for our organization.

"That's not who we are, that's not how we've conducted ourselves for the last 25 years. It's the opposite of the way we've conducted ourselves, the way we've worked in the community.

"It's kind of an indication of the world we live in today. It was hateful. It was really disrespectful, it was just mean-spirited. 

"We're the team that when somebody comes back to town after having been a Spur, we show a video of them. I can remember when Kawhi and Danny Green came back from Toronto, we showed videos of those guys and the crowd didn't react like that." 

The Spurs failed to end their dismal run of form on Friday, seeing their losing streak extend to 11 games as Stephen Curry's 35 points helped the Warriors to a 118-112 win in the In-Season Tournament game at Chase Center.

Curry also matched his season-high tally of seven three-pointers and added six assists, while guard Gary Payton II won plaudits for a terrific leaping block on Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama.

Number one draft pick Wembanyama had 22 points and eight rebounds but only made one of six three-point attempts as San Antonio's miserable run continued. 

They continue to prop up the Western Conference at 3-13 and are 0-4 in the group stage of the In-Season Tournament ahead of Sunday's difficult road game against the Denver Nuggets. 

Moritz Wagner delivered 27 points off the bench to lead the surging Orlando Magic to a 113-96 victory over the Boston Celtics in an NBA In-Season Tournament game on Friday.

Paolo Banchero added 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists to help the Magic extend their winning streak to six games and improve to 11-5. Orlando has missed the playoffs in three straight seasons and last had a winning campaign in 2018-19.

The win also moved Orlando to the top of the Tournament's Group C standings at 3-1, a half-game ahead of the Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. 

The Magic trailed 30-19 after one quarter but outscored Boston by a 29-18 margin in the third to take a 77-74 lead into the fourth quarter. Wagner then scored the final eight points of a 10-0 run to begin the fourth as Orlando extended its advantage to double digits.

Jayson Tatum had 26 points to lead Boston, which shot a season-low 24.1 percent from 3-point range and lost for the second time in three games. Jaylen Brown finished with 18 points but went 6 of 22 from the field. 


Booker has 40 to lead streaking Suns

Devin Booker poured in a season-high 40 points and the Phoenix Suns won their sixth straight game, 110-89 over the lowly Memphis Grizzlies in an In-Season Tournament game.

Jordan Goodwin and Grayson Allen scored 14 points apiece for the Suns, who stayed hot despite playing without leading scorer Kevin Durant, a late scratch due to right foot soreness.

Phoenix improved to 3-1 in the tournament but is still a game behind the Lakers, who won Group A with a 4-0 record. The Suns must now wait on how other teams in the West fare to see who qualifies for the wild-card spot.

Santi Aldama led the Grizzlies with 21 points and Derrik Rose added 17. Memphis lost its third straight overall and dropped to 0-7 at home this season.


Knicks erase huge deficit to beat Heat

Jalen Brunson scored 24 points and the New York Knicks mounted a furious rally in a 100-98 victory over the Miami Heat to stay alive in the In-Season Tournament.

Immanuel Quickley had 20 points off the bench and RJ Barrett added 18, including a key three-point play down the stretch.

Jimmy Butler had 23 points for Miami but missed a potential winning 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

New York tied Miami at 2-1 in the Eastern Conference’s Group B, with Milwaukee in first place at 3-0.

The Knicks, who trailed 83-62 with 3:40 left in the third quarter, scored 12 straight points in the fourth to take a 97-96 lead with 1:59 remaining. Brunson’s jumper made it 99-96 with 84 seconds to play.


NBA referees are too "emotional", according to former player Gilbert Arenas.

A controversial incident on Wednesday led to Golden State Warriors' Chris Paul being ejected from his team's game with the Phoenix Suns, thrown out by referee Scott Foster, with whom Paul has endured a long feud.

Paul and Foster have clashed numerous times over the years, and the latest disagreement saw the referee slap the 12-time NBA All-Star with two quick technical fouls, leading to the 38-year-old's seventh career ejection.

Arenas, who racked up 11,402 points in an NBA career spanning 11 years, believes referees must do more to control their own emotions amid the chaos.

"Someone should ask Adam Silver [NBA commissioner] this," Arenas said on his Gil's Arena podcast. "If I'm a player, I'm playing a game that's emotional, I'm acting in real time, real deep human emotions.

"And when I don't control my emotions, a ref can give me a technical, which means whatever I said to him, irritated him so bad that he didn't control his emotions and he gave me a tech. So, my emotions led to him being emotional, but he gets to give me a technical and that's fine.

"How? He's supposed to be the most cool and collected m*********** out there. There's no nothing for him. He doesn't leave it with a win or loss. Whatever he does, whatever he makes, he gets it no matter f****** what. What's a ref's record? zero and f****** zero his whole career. There's no win or loss, [yet] that's the most f****** emotional dude in the game."

Gregg Popovich said San Antonio Spurs fans should not "poke the bear" after his team lost to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Spurs coach Popovich walked over to the scorer's table late in the second quarter when Clippers star and former Spurs player Kawhi Leonard was being jeered by the San Antonio faithful as he prepared for a free throw.

"Excuse me for a second," Popovich said to the crowd. "Can we stop all the booing and let these guys play? Have a little class. That's not who we are. Knock off the booing."

Leonard went on to finish with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists as the Clippers triumphed 109-102, their third straight NBA win.

Asked why he took hold of the mic to speak to the crowd during his side's 10th consecutive loss, Popovich simply told reporters: "I think anybody that knows anything about sports, you don't poke the bear."

Leonard, for his part, shrugged off the jeers.

"If I don't have a Spurs jersey on, they're probably going to boo me the rest of my career," Leonard, who won the first of his two NBA titles in San Antonio, said.

"But I mean it is what it is. Like I said, they're one of the best fans in the league and they're very competitive.

"Once I step out on this basketball court out here, they show that they're going for the other side.

"When I'm on the streets or going into restaurants, they show love. So it is what it is."

James Harden finished with 16 points to move 24th on the all-time NBA list, while Paul George had 24 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers (6-7).

Victor Wembanyama led the Spurs with 22 points and 15 rebounds, but his team fell to 3-12, the worst record in the Western Conference.

Jaylen Brown had 26 points and eight assists as the Boston Celtics cooled off Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks with a 119-116 victory on Wednesday in a clash between two of the Eastern Conference's top teams.

Jayson Tatum added 23 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 21 as Boston bounced back from Monday's overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets that snapped its six-game winning streak.

The Celtics also ended Milwaukee's run of five straight wins while preventing Antetokounmpo from reaching the 40-point mark for a third consecutive game.

Boston held Antetokounmpo to 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting two nights after the two-time NBA MVP went 20-of-23 from the field in a 42-point performance Monday against the Washington Wizards.

The Celtics never trailed in improving to 6-0 at home this season, as they opened the game with a 10-0 run and built a 29-17 lead after one quarter before extending the margin to 67-53 at halftime.

Milwaukee got a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit down to four in the final minute, but the Celtics hit 5 of 6 free throws late to seal the win.

Brook Lopez led the Bucks with 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting, while Damian Lillard finished with 27 points and five assists. 


Streaking Magic survive Jokic’s triple-double

The Orlando Magic won their fifth straight game, as Franz Wagner scored 24 of his 27 points in the second half in a 124-119 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

 Paolo Banchero had 23 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:49 left to put Orlando ahead for good.

Goga Bitadze, Jalen Suggs and Wagner clinched the win with six straight free throws in the final 14 seconds.

Jokic had 30 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season and 111th of his career, the fourth-most in NBA history.


Gilgeous-Alexander leads red-hot Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 40 points and 12 assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to their sixth consecutive win, 116-102 over the Chicago Bulls.

Chet Holmgren tallied 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks and Isaiah Joe added 20 points for the Thunder, who are on their longest winning streak since the 2018-19 season.

DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points for the Bulls after making just one basket in the first half.

Chicago played without leading scorer Zach LaVine, who sat with a sore right foot.

Kelly Oubre Jr will soon be back in contention for the Philadelphia 76ers, Nick Nurse has said.

Oubre was struck by a car earlier in November, suffering a fractured rib.

However, he returned to practice earlier this week, and before the Sixers' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Nurse said there is a chance Oubre might return as early as next week.

"Yeah, there might be a chance," Nurse said.

"I think we're still at a stage where we're not sure how he's going to handle the contact part of it.

"He was in good spirits on Monday. He was pretty energetic.

"I think that's going to determine it. Like if he handles that, kind of first time out OK, I think we're close to that week timeline. If he doesn't, then we're going to be pushing some more days on that. Hopefully days, and not weeks on that."

Joel Embiid scored 32 points and Tyrese Maxey chipped in with 30 for the Sixers in the loss to Cleveland, with Philadelphia having lost three of their last five games.

"We raised our level of play in the second half and gave ourselves a chance," said Nurse. "It just didn't work out."

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