Draymond Green welcomed the news that Steve Kerr has agreed a contract extension with the Golden State Warriors, calling the development "incredible".

Golden State defeated the Charlotte Hornets 97-84 at home on Friday after reports had emerged that Kerr has agreed to a two-year, $35 million contract extension that will make him the highest-paid coach in NBA history.

The new deal, which is not yet formally signed, will reportedly pay Kerr, who has guided the Warriors to four NBA championships, $17.5 million a year.

His current deal was set to expire at the end of this season but Warriors forward Green was not worried about the prospect of Kerr leaving, as he was always confident an agreement would be struck.

"No [I was not worried], because I know [owner] Joe [Lacob] is going to do the right thing," Green said, per ESPN.

"He has done nothing but build that trust with us that he is going to do the right thing and take care of those who take care of this organization."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is reported to make more annually than Kerr, but he also serves as the team’s president.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra signed an eight-year extension that pays him approximately $15m a season.

Kerr, 58, is in his 10th season as coach of the Warriors and holds a career regular season record of 501-264 and is 99-41 in the playoffs. 

He won his 500th game last week to become the fifth-fastest coach to do so in history.

"I think it's incredible," added Green. "I wouldn't want to finish my time here with any other coach. 

"What he has meant to this franchise and the winning ways that he brought here – you can't replace that. He got what he deserved."

Kerr will also coach Team USA in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. He said he felt "really good" about the team's future but could not comment on the deal until it was officially signed and announced.

The victory means Golden State (29-26) has now won 10 of its last 12 games in the NBA, while Charlotte (14-42) had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Stephen Curry had 15 points and five assists in a game that saw him take on his younger brother Seth, with their father Dell on commentary to make it a special night for the family.

The Warriors' Curry (23,160 points) moved past Elgin Baylor (23,149) into 33rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

Hornets forward Miles Bridges had 19 points and 11 rebounds but was involved in a scuffle that saw Lester Quinones and Grant Williams ejected in garbage time. 

An argument had ensued after Quinones drove to the basket and attempted a layup with 10.9 seconds remaining, with Bridges called for goaltending.

"I don’t really understand why people get so mad at somebody scoring at the end of the game," added Green.

"It’s like this dumb, unofficial, unwritten rule. If you all were winning by 13 points would you get mad if he laid a ball up? I doubt it. So it's kind of like a sore loser type thing."

The Warriors will next host the Denver Nuggets in a big Sunday game.

Damian Lillard said it was about time the Milwaukee Bucks played like championship contenders after scoring 26 points on his comeback in Friday's win over the Charlotte Hornets.

An ankle injury caused Lillard to miss back-to-back defeats against the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves this week, but he returned with a bang against the short-handed Hornets.

Lillard's 26-point haul led five Milwaukee players in double figures as they condemned Charlotte to a 10th straight defeat, with the All-Star guard also adding four rebounds and eight assists.

Having halted a three-game losing streak, the Bucks sit third in the Eastern Conference with a 34-19 record, and Lillard says a few home truths from head coach Doc Rivers led to their improvement.

"We were just more physical," Lillard said after Friday's game. "Doc just challenged us. He checked us on what we say we want to do versus what we've been doing. 

"To be a team that is considered a contender with what we want to accomplish… we've got to start acting like it."

Giannis Antetokounmpo was only needed for 24 minutes but still recorded 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Bobby Portis added 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Bucks also handed a debut to veteran guard Patrick Beverley, who they acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers ahead of Thursday's trade deadline.

He finished with six points and four assists in just 12 minutes on the court, also making a big impression with his willingness to call plays on the floor. 

"He brought energy, he brought edge and just experience," Lillard said of Beverley. "There were times where he just kind of directed some actions offensively and defensively in the huddle.

"He knows who he is, he knows what he brings to a team and he's not shy about it. You heard his voice the moment he walked in."

Beverley said of his approach: "The way I go about things, I'm not going to make everyone happy.

"I'm going to upset some people. I hold myself to a high standard and I expect everyone else to do the same.

"My approach is very strong until you get to know me. But once you get to know me you understand; 'the only thing he does is want to win.'"

LeBron James says he loves the players in the current Los Angeles Lakers locker room as speculation about roster changes swirls ahead of Thursday's trade deadline.

The Lakers won 124-118 against the short-handed Charlotte Hornets on Monday, with their third straight victory marking their best run since winning the NBA Cup in Las Vegas.

There is still much debate over how different Los Angeles' team will look by the time it takes to the court at home to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

D'Angelo Russell is one of the players mentioned in trade talks and he led the team with 28 points and six assists in Charlotte.

Anthony Davis had his third career triple-double with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists, while LeBron had 26 points on 12-for-22 shooting.

LeBron was asked after the game whether the current roster was good enough to win a championship or if he felt changes should be made.

"It's not a question for me," he said, per ESPN. "I love who we have in the locker room and that's all I worry about.

"We are going to go out and prepare ourselves every single night no matter what it is, no matter who's out there on this team. No matter what.

"This is who we have, so there's nothing else to talk about."

Russell is also completely blocking out the speculation after producing an impressive run of performances. The Lakers are 10-6 since he returned from injury in January.

"Show up to work," he said about how he was coping with the trade debates. "That's it. Just play. You can't control that. I don't care at all [about trade speculation].

"Obviously I've been here before, I played for the Lakers before, so I know what the requirements are to be successful here are. 

"So, if you're part of the future here you'll be successful. If you're not, you'll get traded. And I've been traded before here. So, my approach is just a little different.

"I really just genuinely, humbly don't care because I know I can't control it, one. And, two, I just won't allow my mind to go there. 

"I like to focus on this and you can see how I've been focusing on basketball and not comments and what's trending on social."

Miles Bridges produced a career-high 41 points and rookie Brandon Miller scored 33 points for the Hornets, but it was not enough to prevent them from suffering their eighth straight loss since trading Terry Rozier.

The Lakers are 27-25, ninth in the Western Conference, and would need to improve to at least sixth to avoid the play-in tournament.

After going 4-2 on their six-game road trip, Los Angeles now has three straight home games against Denver, New Orleans and Detroit.

"When we put our minds to it, we can beat any team in this league," added Davis.

"We lost two we felt like we should have won, and we won two that the people in Nevada thought we should lose. When we buckle down defensively and play the right way we are a tough team to beat."

Joel Embiid set a Philadelphia 76ers' franchise record with 70 points in a dominant performance that powered the Eastern Conference contenders to a 133-123 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Embiid broke Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's team single-game record that had stood for over 56 years while also setting a season high with 18 rebounds. The reigning NBA MVP finished 24 of 41 from the field and 21 of 23 from the foul line.

Chamberlain's previous franchise record of 68 points took place against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 16, 1967.

Embiid began his historic night with 24 points in the first quarter and had 34 by half-time, though the 76ers held a slim 62-58 lead at the intermission.

The superstar centre didn't let up in the third quarter, as he recorded 25 points for the period to help Philadelphia pull away for its sixth straight victory.

Kelly Oubre Jr. capped a 12-4 run with a 3-point play with 6:38 left in the third to stretch the lead to 85-72, and the Sixers maintained a double-digit advantage for nearly the entire rest of the way.

Embiid re-entered the game midway through the fourth quarter and hit the 70-point mark with a steal and layup with 1:41 remaining.

Victor Wembanyama had an impressive game of his own in Embiid's shadow, as the Spurs' rookie sensation posted 33 points and seven rebounds in just 28 minutes.

Devin Vassell added 22 points for San Antonio, which had snapped a four-game losing streak with Saturday's 131-127 win over the Washington Wizards.

Timberwolves lose to Hornets despite Towns' team-record 62 points

Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns had a prolific record-setting performance of his own Monday, though his 62 points still weren't enough to prevent the Timberwolves from a stunning 128-125 home loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets, currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, overcame an 18-point deficit late in the third quarter to shock the Western-leading Timberwolves and win for the second time in three games.

Towns made 10 of 15 attempts from 3-point range and ended 21 of 35 overall from the field to surpass his own Timberwolves' single-game record of 60 points, set against San Antonio on March 14, 2022.

The three-time All-Star had 58 points through three quarters as Minnesota owned a seemingly comfortable 107-92 lead, but the Hornets hit five 3-pointers while opening the fourth on a 21-7 run to quickly pull to within one.

Minnesota was clinging to a 121-120 edge with 3 1/2 minutes left before Charlotte scored six straight points, capped by Brandon Miller's jumper off a LaMelo Ball steal that gave the Hornets a 126-121 advantage with two minutes to play.

Miller scored seven of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, while Miles Bridges had 28 points for the Hornets and Ball compiled 18 points and 13 assists. 

The Timberwolves have lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season, previously doing so from Jan. 1-3.

Merrill's hot shooting gives Cavaliers' eighth straight win

The Cleveland Cavaliers remained the league's hottest team by rolling to a 126-99 rout of the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to eight games.

Sam Merrill went 8 of 13 from 3-point range to lead Cleveland with 26 points, while Donovan Mitchell had 25 points along with 13 assists in a game the Cavs never trailed and were up by as many as 36 points.

Merrill scored 20 of his points in the first half as Cleveland cruised to a 72-47 lead at half-time. The Cavaliers shot 59.5 per cent for the first two quarters and 59.1 per cent in the third to move into the fourth holding a commanding 107-74 advantage.

Paolo Banchero led the struggling Magic with 18 points and Franz Wagner added 17. Orlando has now lost nine of its last 13 games and is 7-14 since Dec. 15.

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 36 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the NBA-leading Boston Celtics, 127-123 on Tuesday for their fifth straight win.

Josh Giddey had 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Thunder, who have won eight of nine. During that stretch, they have beaten defending champion Denver twice, ended the Clippers’ nine-game win streak, beat West-leading Minnesota by 23 and now the Celtics.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 34 points and Jayson Tatum added 30 as Boston had a six-game winning streak snapped.

Oklahoma City opened a 108-90 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics rallied to cut the deficit to 121-119.

Giddey hit a pair of free throws with 12.1 seconds left to put the Thunder up 4 before Porzingis hit a deep shot in the left corner with 3.7 seconds left to make it a two-point game.

Gilgeous-Alexander sealed the victory with a pair of free throws with 2.8 to play.

Embiid leads 76ers in return

Joel Embiid tallied 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his return from a sprained right ankle to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Embiid, who missed all four games on the 76ers’ holiday road trip, was 10 of 20 from the field and notched his seventh career triple-double in the third quarter. He extended his franchise records with 15 straight 30-point games and 14 consecutive games of 30 points and 10 rebounds.

Tyrese Maxey had 21 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 16 for the 76ers, who have won three straight and seven of eight at home.

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 16 points and Andre Drummond had 11 with 17 rebounds.

Rozier helps Hornets snap 11-game skid

Terry Rozier scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter after missing a game due to illness as the Charlotte Hornets stopped an 11-game skid with a 111-104 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Rozier shot 13 of 24 from the field and handed out six assists, while Miles Bridges added 27 points for Charlotte, which played without rookie Brandon Miller (bruised left hip), LaMelo Ball (right ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (left calf strain), Mark Williams (bruised lower back) and Frank Ntilikina (left tibia fracture).

De’Aaron Fox scored 30 points for Sacramento and Domantas Sabonis had 23 with 19 rebounds for his 15th straight double-double, tied for the NBA’s longest streak this season.

Devin Booker labelled the fit-again Bradley Beal's return as a "game-changer" as the full-strength Phoenix Suns put the Charlotte Hornets to the sword on Friday.

Beal returned to the court after a five-game absence due to an ankle injury, collecting seven assists as the Suns condemned the Hornets to a 10th straight NBA loss with a 133-119 victory.

Booker racked up 35 points, while Kevin Durant had 21 and 11 assists to go with another free-scoring showing, although the former credited Phoenix's roster for a resounding triumph over the struggling Charlotte.

"It's a game-changer, being at full strength," Booker said. "The offense was moving, the ball was hopping around and we were getting the best available shot."

Beal also managed six points and three rebounds in a 30-minute performance, while Jusuf Nurkic had 24 and 16 rebounds, Eric Gordon scored 21 and Grayson Allen posted 16.

"It's just good to be back on the floor," Beal said. "We got the win and finish the game, that's all I cared about tonight."

On the well-rounded scoring, Beal added: "That's what we want, that's the beauty of it.

"There's a lot of threats out there, guys who are very versatile. We can shoot the ball really well."

Phoenix went back-to-back with NBA victories for the first time since a seven-game run that ended on November 29, much to the delight of coach Frank Vogel, who also hailed Beal.

"I loved his floor game tonight," Vogel said about his returning player. "A lot of times [in returning from injury] guys will have a tendency to force, but he let the game come to him.

"We have a team that is selfless. We have a chance to be special."

The Hornets were again without the injured LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, though Terry Rozier led the way with 42 points on 14-of-21 shooting.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford conceded the Hornets "just couldn't stop" the Suns before adding: "With that effort, that approach, really not a good second half [Thursday] night, getting in here late, guys playing big minutes last night. I was proud of them."

Anthony Davis lauded the Los Angeles Lakers for "playing the right way" after condemning the Charlotte Hornets to yet another defeat on Thursday.

Davis had 26 points and eight rebounds as the Lakers cruised to a 133-112 victory, moving the 17-time NBA champions up to 17-15 on the season and giving their playoff hopes a much-needed boost.

Davis was thrilled with his team's display on Thursday, telling reporters: "Guys were playing for each other, playing the right way.

"I'm able to bank some minutes, especially going into a tough back-to-back in Minnesota and New Orleans, it helps us as a team."

Two days before he turns 39-years-old, LeBron James had 17 points and 11 assists in helping the Lakers to the win, and Davis hailed the impact the four-time MVP continues to have, saying: "It's always good things that happen when the ball is in his hands.

"He makes great reads. He's a student of the game. He's seen every coverage and made a lot of great reads throughout his career, so every time we can get the ball in his hands, it's good for us."

The Hornets, meanwhile, lost for the ninth consecutive game, their longest losing run since 2014. The defeat dropped Charlotte to 7-22 on the season.

Head coach Steve Clifford lamented injuries to the likes of Gordon Hayward and Mark Williams, as well as the continued absence of LaMelo Ball, that have hampered the team on their six-game road trip.

"Our guys have worked hard, [but] they know we're short-handed," Clifford said. "This is a tough trip. A lot of times in this league, it's not just how many injuries you have, but when they come. Unfortunately for us, we've had more than our share of injuries, and this is not the time to be short-handed.

"But we played 41 good minutes the other night [against the Los Angeles Clippers]. We were right there. We've just got to defend."

Miles Bridges' 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left in overtime capped a stunning rally by the Charlotte Hornets, who snapped the Boston Celtics' six-game winning streak with a 121-118 victory on Monday.

The Hornets trailed by 11 points with six minutes remaining in regulation and overcame a 45-point night from Boston star Jayson Tatum to end a run of six consecutive home losses. LaMelo Ball led the comeback with 36 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while former Celtic Gordon Hayward scored six of his 20 points in overtime.

Bridges added 14 points and 15 rebounds in his third game back from a suspension for a domestic violence arrest that caused him to miss the entire 2022-23 season and the first 10 games of this one.

The Celtics appeared on the way towards another victory before Charlotte scored the final nine points of the fourth quarter. Ball hit a key 3-pointer during the late run and forced overtime with a driving layup with 7.2 seconds remaining.

Tatum's 3-pointer with 57.6 seconds left in regulation put Boston back up by a 116-114 score, but Ball fed Hayward for a dunk on the ensuing possession and after the Celtics' Jaylen Brown missed a 3-pointer, Bridges buried a 25-foot jumper with time winding down to give Charlotte a 119-116 lead.

Payton Pritchard went 5 of 8 from 3-point range and recorded 21 points off the bench for Boston, while Tatum added 13 rebounds and six assists.

Curry extends 3-point record as Warriors halt six-game skid

Stephen Curry made five more 3-pointers and collected 32 points to get the Golden State Warriors back on track with a 121-116 win over the Houston Rockets.

Curry, the NBA's all-time leader in 3-point field goals made, finished 5 of 9 from beyond the arc to become the first in league history with 13 consecutive games with four or more triples to begin a season. 

Klay Thompson broke out of a shooting slump with 20 points to help the Warriors end a six-game losing streak. Chris Paul added 15 points and 12 assists, while Dario Saric contributed 18 points off the bench. 

Thompson, who ended 5 of 11 from 3-point range, had 12 first-half points as Golden State built a 63-53 lead at intermission. Curry scored 16 of his points in the fourth quarter to allow the Warriors to stay in front the rest of the way.

The Rockets lost for the third straight time following a six-game winning streak despite Alperen Sengun's 30 points and 13 rebounds. Fred VanVleet dished out 14 assists for Houston but went just 3 of 13 from the field while being held to 10 points.

Pelicans snap Kings' winning streak with 36-point blowout

Brandon Ingram scored 31 points and Zion Williamson had 26 as the New Orleans Pelicans cooled off the Sacramento Kings with a 129-93 rout.

The Pelicans shot 54 per cent from the field and led by as many as 41 points in ending Sacramento's six-game winning streak. Ingram made all five of his 3-point attempts and shot 11 of 18 overall, while Williamson converted 12 of his 16 field goal tries and added five assists and three steals.

Williamson racked up 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting during a dominant first half as the Pelicans took a 66-53 lead into the break. New Orleans then broke the game open by outscoring the Kings by a 34-16 margin in the third quarter, with Ingram delivering 18 points for the period.

Sacramento shot just 24.4 per cent from 3-point range, including a 2-of-12 performance from leading scorer De'Aaron Fox. 

Harrison Barnes led the Kings with 16 points. Fox ended with a season-low 14 after coming into the contest averaging 31.9 per game. 

A 30-point triple-double from LaMelo Ball was not enough to get the Charlotte Hornets across the line against the Dallas Mavericks.

Ball scored 23 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter of Charlotte’s 124-118 defeat, to go along with 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

A quiet start from Luka Doncic allowed the Hornets to gain an early advantage, but the Slovenian eventually found his groove to lead the Mavericks’ second-half comeback.

He finished with 23 points, while Kyrie Irving added 18.

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 112-100 on the back of Desmond Bane’s 30-point effort.

The visitors left it until late, launching a 24-point comeback in the final quarter to pick up their first win of the season.

Jerami Grant top-scored for Portland with 27.

The Phoenix Suns snapped a three-game losing streak with a 120-106 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Kevin Durant stepped up in the absence of injured starting duo Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, scoring a season-high 41 points in the 14-point victory.

The Cleveland Cavaliers surprised the Golden State Warriors 115-104, while Scottie Barnes scored 30 points to lead the Toronto Raptors over the San Antonio Spurs 123-116.

Despite being waived from the Charlotte Hornets' roster, Bahamian player Kai Jones seems unperturbed by the move, as he broke his silence following the announcement by the team’s President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Wednesday.

 Jones, in a X, formerly Twitter, post stated that: “I used to pray for times like dis #GOATLIFE.”

The player had a series of bizarre videos and postings on X, formerly Twitter, and Instagram Live, where he was critical of teammates and declared himself the GOAT (Greatest Of All-Time). All of that led to a non-invitation to the Hornets training camp prior to the start of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) preseason.

By all indications, leaving the Hornets was what the young center seemingly wanted, as he requested a trade from the team following the suspension, and Charlotte took it seriously with their latest decision.

However, the public request for a trade could cost Jones up to US$150,000.

According to the NBA’s and National Basketball Players Association’s (NBPA) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), with respect to trades, any player who publicly expresses a desire to be traded to another team shall be subject to a fine and/or a suspension. Section 18 of the CBA further states that the maximum fine that may be imposed by the NBA on a player pursuant to the foregoing shall be $150,000.

Jones, who was the Hornets' 19th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, signed a four-year deal worth over $13 million, and was in the third year of that deal up to his release on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Jones, according to reports, will still earn just over $3 million this season.

Jones was unable to get a consistent role with the Hornets and averaged just 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in two seasons and 67 games he with the team. He also averaged just 9.1 minutes per outing, though his playing time went up from three minutes in his rookie season to 12 in his sophomore year.

On the international scene, Jones was instrumental for Bahamas in the second round of the FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers last summer. In two games against Venezuela and Argentina, Jones averaged 18 points and added eight rebounds, three assists and 1.5 steals per game.

But uncertainty now surrounds his career, as it is left to be seen if he will be picked up by another team in the league.

Miles Bridges has been given a 30-game NBA suspension without pay for a domestic violence incident involving the mother of his children.

The forward was arrested last June for felony domestic violence and in November pleaded no contest to the charge. He was sentenced to three years of probation and no jail time.

A further two charges were dismissed, but the 25-year-old remained the subject of an NBA investigation.

Bridges, who last played for the Charlotte Hornets two years ago, on Friday learned the punishment imposed by the league.

The NBA ruled he will only be forced to sit out another 10 games of the ban imposed on him if he signs a contract for next season due to the action he has already missed.

A statement released by the league said: "The NBA conducted its own investigation into this matter, reviewing all available materials and interviewing numerous third-party witnesses, as well as the parties involved. 

"The NBA also consulted with a group of domestic violence experts who provide the league with guidance in such cases. The 30-game suspension is based on all facts and circumstances of this matter and considers the conduct and its result, as well as the outcome of the criminal matter, among other factors.

"Following his arrest and plea, Mr. Bridges did not sign an NBA contract for the 2022-23 season, missing all 82 games. In recognition of that outcome, the NBA has deemed 20 games of the suspension to have been already served. 

"If Mr. Bridges signs an NBA contract, he will be required to miss the first 10 games for which he is otherwise eligible and able to play.

Bridges averaged career highs of 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the 2021-22 season before his arrest, which came just days before he entered restricted free agency.

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford made it clear on Monday that he understands the franchise must begin winning soon or risk losing young star LaMelo Ball.

Ball, 21, was the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and he was named the 2021 Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game.

He went up a level in his sophomore season, raising his averages to 20.1 points, 7.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds, and despite the Hornets struggling to the fourth-worst record in the league this time around, Ball again showed significant improvement.

In year three, Ball became one of the league's most aggressive three-point shooters, with his 4.0 made threes per game trailing only Damian Lillard (4.2), Klay Thompson (4.4) and Stephen Curry (4.9), while shooting a very respectable 37.1 per cent on 10.6 attempts per contest.

He also finished this season sixth in assists per game (8.4), and top-30 in both points per game (23.3) and steals per game (1.3), although his 36 games played was by far the lowest total of his career.

Ball is unquestionably the brightest prospect in the Hornets' organisation, and Clifford told reporters it is crucial that the team holds up their end of the bargain to convince him to stick around long-term.

"He badly wants to win," Clifford said. "When you're at his level, there are certain expectations. You're going to be compared to the other point guards his age that have had – not incredible playoff success – but have had some.

"It's important to his career."

When asked Monday about his long-term future in Charlotte, Ball said he "plays it by the day."

"I love it here," Ball said. "I can't really tell the future. We'll just see how it goes and go from there."

As for Clifford's comments about it being critical for the Hornets to start winning to keep him here, Ball replied: "For sure. The main thing is winning. Life is better when you win."

The Hornets will be encouraged by comments from starting wing P.J. Washington, who was a lottery pick in 2019, and enjoyed a career-best season at age 24.

Washington showed he is perhaps more capable than the supporting role he has been cast in, highlighted by a stunning 43-point, six-rebound, five-assist performance in a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in late March.

"This is really where I want to be, and I haven't thought about being anywhere else," Washington said. "Everybody is here. My family is here, my kids are here. This is home for me now."

The Golden State Warriors played an inspired second half to recover from a 20-point deficit and defeat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 120-109 on Tuesday.

As usual, the Warriors were led by reigning NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry with a game-high 39 points on 14-of-25 shooting, hitting eight-of-15 three-point attempts while adding eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

It was a rough start for Golden State as they found themselves trailing 63-43 late in the second quarter, but some early shenanigans between Draymond Green and the entire Pelicans team seemed to spur some life into the Warriors defense after the break.

In typical Warriors fashion, they exploded in the third quarter in front of their home fans, putting together a 39-26 period to cut the lead to four going into the last.

They ratcheted up the defense even further down the stretch, holding the visitors to just 20 points while piling on 35 of their own as Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole all drained deep triples to blow the roof off Chase Center.

Despite the loss, it was another strong showing from Pelicans centrepiece Brandon Ingram. After his first career triple-double on Thursday and a career-high 13 assists on Saturday, Ingram again looked every bit of an All-NBA initiator with a team-high 26 points (nine-of-22), eight rebounds and seven assists.

A loss for the Warriors would have seen them drop to 39-38 and potentially swap spots with the eighth-seeded Pelicans, but they instead improved to 40-37 and leapfrogged the sixth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves (39-37) in the process.

Mitchell's 44 not enough for Cleveland

Donovan Mitchell dropped 44 points on the road but it was not enough as the Cleveland Cavaliers fell 120-118 to the Atlanta Hawks.

Mitchell shot 15-of-33 with five rebounds and five assists, while Darius Garland added 27 points (10-of-22) and Evan Mobley chipped in 20 points (10-of-13), 15 rebounds, four assists and four blocks – but the Hawks had all the answers.

Atlanta had seven players score double figures, led by Dejounte Murray's 29 (11-of-22). Trae Young ran the show with 10 assists on an off-shooting night (four-of-15 for 16 points), and the Hawks' bench delivered in a big way.

Backup center Onyeka Okongwu had a wildly efficient 20 minutes with 21 points (five-of-five from the field and 11-of-12 free throws), nine rebounds and three blocks, and trade deadline acquisition Saddiq Bey had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Hornets win a shootout in Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma City Thunder received 30-point efforts from Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Isaiah Joe – but still lost 137-134 to the surprisingly in-form Charlotte Hornets.

Giddey had one of the best statistical games of his career with 31 points (14-of-22), 10 rebounds and nine assists; rookie Williams had 31 points (11-of-16), four assists and four steals; and Joe hit six-of-11 threes and 11-of-18 overall for his 33 points.

But P.J. Washington was not going to let the Hornets lose, scoring a career-high 43 points on 16-of-24 shooting as he added six rebounds and five assists in an eye-opening performance from the well-rounded six-foot-seven 24-year-old.

It was a standout showing off the bench for the spectacularly bouncy 22-year-old second-year center Kai Jones, collecting the first double-double of his career with 12 points (five-of-five) and 14 rebounds in 22 minutes.

The loss for the Thunder means they slipped to 37-39, still inside the play-in tournament placings, but now tied with the 11th-ranked Dallas Mavericks.

Jason Kidd was hopeful Luka Doncic would have his one-game suspension overturned as the Dallas Mavericks work to "stop the bleeding" after a fourth straight defeat.

The Mavericks' past two losses have come against a 25-51 Charlotte Hornets team who looked to have shut down for the season.

And Sunday's 110-104 reverse, which left Dallas 11th in the West at 36-39, included a further costly setback.

Doncic received his 16th technical foul of the season after directing a profanity at an official following a correct no-call, meaning he is set to be banned for Monday's game at the Indiana Pacers.

The Mavs superstar had been the centre of attention following the previous game, too, outlining his "really frustrating" situation on a misfiring team.

Doncic responded with 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, but his suspension now presents a problem for a team who cannot afford to throw away another game in an intense playoff chase.

"You're never going to replace him. It's going to take a group," coach Kidd said.

"It's 'next man up' mentality with Timmy [Hardaway Jr.] and look at [Jaden] Hardy and Josh [Green] participating and playing more minutes, [Justin] Holiday playing more minutes.

"But hopefully it's rescinded. I didn't think it was warranted, but we'll see what happens.

"If he is suspended, we have to move on with the next guy, so Timmy, coming back from the flu, was really good tonight, Holiday's minutes were positive, Maxi [Kleber] did a great job, a lot of great jobs.

"I thought Luka, again, being able to do what he did after his press conference... I thought he would have a big game and he did.

"It's just unfortunate we let these two games go. We've got to figure out how to stop the bleeding."

LeBron James returned from a month-long absence with a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds but the Los Angeles Lakers' three-game winning streak was halted by a 118-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

James had missed 13 games, having not played since February 26 due to what he called a torn tendon in his foot, and started on the bench for the second time in his 20-year NBA career, entering the game midway through the first quarter.

But the four-time NBA MVP's return could not inspire the Lakers past the Bulls at Crypto.com Arena, with Zach LaVine scoring a game-high 32 points for the road team. The Lakers went 8-5 during James' absence.

The Bulls led 91-78 at three-quarter time and kept the Lakers at arm's length throughout the final period, with James only managing five points in the final quarter.

James shot six-of-11 from the field, missing both of his three-point attempts, with three assists along and five turnovers.

Lakers' power forward Anthony Davis scored 15 points with nine rebounds and five assists, while Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan had 17 points with 10 assists.

James was on the wrong end of a taunt from ex-Laker Patrick Beverley, who slapped the floor with the "too small" gesture, after making a two-point attempt with 1:12 left.

The loss drops the Lakers below .500 with a 37-38 record to sit ninth in the Western Conference, while the Bulls have won seven of their past nine games to shoot into playoff contention in the East, placed 10th with a 36-38 record.

Doncic faces ban as Mavs lose again

Luka Doncic dropped 40 points with 14 rebounds but the Dallas Mavericks' playoff hopes suffered another blow with their fourth successive defeat, going down 110-104 to the lowly Charlotte Hornets.

To make matters worse for Dallas, Doncic faces a one-game ban after he received his 16th technical foul of the season after using a profanity directed at an official following a correct no-call.

Doncic will miss Dallas' game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday if the decision is not rescinded, which seems unlikely.

Kyrie Irving only managed 18 points on five-of-15 shooting for the Mavs, who are 11th in the Western Conference with a 36-39 record, having lost seven of their past nine games.

Morant leads Grizzlies to sixth straight win

Ja Morant started for the first time since returning from suspension and scored 27 points to help the streaking Memphis Grizzlies beat the Atlanta Hawks 123-119 for their sixth straight win.

Morant scored a team-high 27 points on nine-of-17 shooting, with Desmond Bane adding 25 points, including three triples, and Jaren Jackson Jr built on his Defensive Player of the Year case as he racked up five blocks and three steals to go with 15 points and eight rebounds.

After being ejected on Saturday, Hawks guard Trae Young had 28 points on seven-of-14 shooting with 10 assists.

Memphis' sixth straight win, and second in a row on the road, improved their record to 47-27 to sit second in the West.

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