The Los Angeles Lakers set a franchise record after winning again on the road, while Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic made NBA history.

LeBron James posted 26 points and defending champions the Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-99 on Wednesday.

The streaking Lakers (10-3), who have won four successive games, improved to 7-0 away from home this season – surpassing the 1985-86 team for the best start on the road.

James has had at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in all 13 games this season. In the last 30 years, the only NBA player to have a longer streak of 15/five/five games to start a season was James himself in 2011-12 (22 straight), according to Stats Perform.

Lakers team-mate Montrezl Harrell had 21 points, while Anthony Davis put up 18 points and seven rebounds in Oklahoma City midweek.

Doncic became the first player in NBA history to post 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks, two steals and five threes made, per Stats Perform.

The Mavericks went on to win 104-93 and snap the Charlotte Hornets' four-game winning streak.

Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis returned from a knee injury and scored 16 points in his first appearance since undergoing surgery in October.

 

Red-hot Giannis fuels Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo's triple-double guided the Milwaukee Bucks past the Detroit Pistons 110-101. The two-time reigning MVP finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his 20th career triple-double.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum put on a show as the Portland Trail Blazers prevailed 132-126 against the Sacramento Kings. Lillard (40 points and 13 assists) and McCollum (28 points and 10 assists) became the first team-mate duo in NBA history to have 25-plus points, 10-plus assists and five-plus three-pointers made in the same game, per Stats Perform. They are also the first duo in the NBA to have 25-plus points, 10-plus assists and one or fewer turnovers in the same game since 1987.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker starred with 37 points, but the New Orleans Pelicans still lost 111-106 to the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi Leonard (28) and Paul George (27) combined for 55 points in the Clippers' win.

The Memphis Grizzlies topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-107 behind Jonas Valanciunas' 24 points and 16 rebounds.

 

Knicks duo struggle

The New York Knicks did not get much support from their two starting point guards in a 116-109 loss to city rivals the Brooklyn Nets. Austin Rivers was three-of-10 shooting from the field and two-of-five from three-point range for eight points in 34 minutes. Elfrid Peyton was just three of 11 from the field, while making just one of three-point attempts as he finished with seven points in 33 minutes.

 

Nurkic says no!

There was no way past Jusuf Nurkic as the Trail Blazers big man denied Glenn Robinson III in the fourth quarter.

 

Wednesday's results

Dallas Mavericks 104-93 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 110-101 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 116-109 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 118-107 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Lakers 128-99 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 111-106 New Orleans Pelicans
Portland Trail Blazers 132-126 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards (postponed)
Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics (postponed)
Atlanta Hawks-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Rockets at Spurs

As James Harden reportedly heads to the Nets, the Houston Rockets (3-6) will look to cast the chaos aside when they face the San Antonio Spurs (6-5) on the road on Thursday.

LaMelo Ball made more history as the Charlotte Hornets defeated the New York Knicks 109-88 in the NBA on Monday.

Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Saturday, and he was at it again for the Hornets – who won their fourth straight game.

The Hornets rookie became the first player aged 19 or younger in league history to lead his team in both rebounds and assists in three consecutive games.

Ball finished with eight points, a career-high 14 rebounds and seven assists as star Hornets team-mate Gordon Hayward posted 34 points, including 28 in the first half.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to help the Milwaukee Bucks past the Orlando Magic 121-99.

Antetokounmpo was in action following a one-game absence due to a minor back injury and scored 22 points, while Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Brilliant Beal helps snap skid

The Washington Wizards ended their three-game losing streak and claimed their first home win of the season thanks to Bradley Beal's 34 points and a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Devin Booker had 33 points for the Suns.

Nikola Vucevic put up 28 points and 13 rebounds for the beaten Magic in Orlando.

The shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers lost 112-94 at the Atlanta Hawks, but Joel Embiid had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Hawks star Trae Young scored 26 points.

Pascal Siakam recorded a triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists but the struggling Toronto Raptors still lost 112-111 to the Portland Trail Blazers. CJ McCollum (30) and Damian Lillard (23) combined for 53 points.

Harrison Barnes (game-high 30 points) fuelled the Sacramento Kings' 127-122 win against the Indiana Pacers. Domantas Sabonis posted 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers.

 

Knicks struggle

It was a forgettable outing for the Knicks, who were just 39.1 per cent from the field and 24.3 per cent from three-point range. New York's Immanuel Quickley made just one of 10 field goals, while he missed all six attempts from beyond the arc for three points in 29 minutes.

 

Clutch CJ!

McCollum nailed the game-winning shot with 9.6 seconds remaining to lift the Trail Blazers.

 

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 109-89 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 101-91 Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks 121-99 Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards 128-107 Phoenix Suns
Atlanta Hawks 112-94 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-111 Toronto Raptors
Sacramento Kings 127-122 Indiana Pacers
New Orleans Pelicans-Dallas Mavericks (postponed)

 

Lakers at Rockets

LeBron James and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (8-3) will face James Harden's Houston Rockets (3-5) again on Tuesday.

These are uncertain times for the NBA as it continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols have left rosters lighter in number and, with contract tracing having a major impact, it is far from surprising to see games being postponed.

The absences have offered some players greater opportunities to impress in the embryonic stages of a shortened season that will require adaptability from all involved.

After an eventful week, Stats Perform assesses those performers who have stood out - for good and bad reasons - in games from January 4-10.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Bradley Beal 

It has been a tough start for the Wizards, who are stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Beal, however, has excelled amid the defeats. He is averaging 35 points per game for the season but has been particularly spectacular in recent outings, including dropping 60 against the Philadelphia 76ers. While it set a new career best for points - and tied a franchise record too - Beal made clear he is not interested in personal milestones: "I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win".

Tyrese Maxey 

The 21st pick in the 2020 draft had scored a combined tally of 52 points through his first nine NBA appearances. Then, amid injuries, positive COVID tests and coronavirus-enforced isolations, Maxey was thrust into a leading role as one of just seven players available against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. His response to the situation was to score 39 points in just under 44 minutes of action, having taken 33 shots but no free throw attempts. In doing so, he became the first 76ers rookie with at least 35 points in a game since franchise legend Allen Iverson in 1997. 

Jimmy Butler 

Butler has begun to heat up after a cold start to the new campaign for Miami. The five-time All-Star had been hampered by injury issues but has looked back to somewhere near his best of late, managing 18, 26 and 26 points in his past three games. Surprisingly, though, Butler is still yet to manage a successful three-point attempt, missing on his seven shots from deep so far. It is a different story from the free-throw line, though, going 28 of 29 from the charity stripe.

LaMelo Ball 

The rise and rise of the youngest Ball brother continues. The point guard became the youngest player in NBA history to score a triple-double as Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. At 19 years and 140 days old, Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had narrowly missed out on achieving the feat in his team's previous outing, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that included older sibling Lonzo. His rebounding average has gone from 4.33 a game to 9.25 across the past week. 

GOING COLD...

James Harden  

The NBA's scoring champion for the previous three seasons, Harden is still averaging 26 points per game despite continued doubts over his long-term future in Houston. However, it has not been a particularly productive week for the guard, who has not reached double digits in terms of field goals made in four straight outings. There were 15-point displays against both the Pacers and the Magic, then 20 points in a defeat to the Lakers. Across that stretch, Harden was six for 22 from three-point range. Astonishingly, he did not attempt a solitary free throw against Orlando. 

Trae Young 

To say Young has gone cold from deep recently is an understatement. The Atlanta Hawk landed five of six attempts in the season-opener against the Bulls, but since then has managed just nine successful long-range shots, including going a combined one for 14 in his most recent three appearances. Understandably, then, his average for points per game has dipped from 28.17 on January 3 to 17.67 for the past week.

Russell Westbrook 

A quadriceps injury will keep Westbrook sidelined for at least a week. His early form with the Wizards has been steady, including reaching double digits for points in all of his seven games for the franchise. Where there has been a dip for the former NBA MVP is in rebounding. He was up at 11.20 per game for the season by January 3, but he has averaged 6.00 for the past week following reduced contributions in defeats to the 76ers and the Celtics.

Blake Griffin  

Griffin hit with eight of 16 three-point shots for Detroit against the Cavaliers on December 26, but his output from long range since suggests that number could prove to be a post-Christmas outlier when compared to the rest of the season. In the past week, the 31-year-old has landed two from deep out of 18 tries for the struggling Pistons. His overall field goal percentage is down on his career mark too (37.6 per cent from 49.7 per cent), explaining why he is averaging 13.9 points per game. 

LaMelo Ball became the youngest player to post a triple-double in NBA history on Saturday and Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego believes he is a "rare" talent.

At 19 years and 140 days old, Hornets rookie Ball put up 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Charlotte improved to 5-5 with a 113-105 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Spectrum Center.

He took the record from Markelle Fultz, who recorded his first triple-double for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018 aged 19 years and 317 days.

Ball's triple-double was the first by a Charlotte player since Nic Batum in March 2018, while he became only the second Hornets rookie to achieve the feat after Kemba Walker.

"He just continuously gets better. He's a special player. He's not fazed by the moment. It's like he's been doing this for a number of years already," said Hornets head coach Borrego.

"He was special tonight. Playmaking, shotmaking, on the boards, made the right decisions. He's a special player.

"I love the person, I love the kid, and more than anything I love his spirit, I love what he brings to our locker room, our organisation. Just proud of him, he was fantastic tonight.

"A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this. This is just rare what you're seeing. I can't get over this kid, he's just a wonderful person to be around, he's humble, he's genuine, he's coachable."

Ball, the third overall pick in this year's draft, retained a level head after achieving something he thinks he will only take stock of in retirement.

"I live my life and I know what I'm capable of, so stuff like this doesn't move me like that. I know that's supposed to happen," he said.

"I've not really processed it yet. Probably when I look back on it after my career when I'm like 40 or something, then I'll probably look back at everything."

Ball was one assist away from a triple-double when the Hornets beat the New Orleans Pelicans and his brother Lonzo Ball on Friday, but he denied that provided him with additional motivation against the Hawks.

"I figured I was one assist away during the game, but pretty much the next day I knew we had another basketball game and came to it like I come to every other basketball game," he said.

"The main goal is always winning. Whenever we get a win, that's great."

LaMelo Ball created history in the Charlotte Hornets’ 113-105 win against the Atlanta Hawks by becoming the youngster player of all time to score a triple-double.

The first round rookie announced his arrival in the NBA after coming off the bench to post 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a dazzling 31 minutes on court.

Terry Rozier added 23 points and PJ Washington posted 22 points to help Charlotte improve to 5-5 as the Hawks rallied with De'Andre Hunter scoring 20 points but fall to to 4-5.

Mikal Bridges starred and six players hit double figures as the Phoenix Suns advanced to 7-3 in the Western Conference with a 125-117 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Bridges led the scoring with a career-high 34 points as the Pacers fell to 6-3 in the Eastern Conference despite Domantas Sabonis' 28 points and 22 rebounds.

Earlier in the day, a threadbare Philadelphia 76ers fell to 7-3 after losing 115-113 to the Denver Nuggets as coach Doc Rivers had only seven players available due injury and COVID-19 protocols.

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors past the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, while the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back.

Curry's fine start to the NBA season continued in the Warriors' 115-105 win over the Clippers.

The guard had a double-double of 38 points and 11 assists as the Warriors (5-4) responded to their loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

Curry was 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-14 from three-point range in the win.

Paul George (25) and Kawhi Leonard (24) combined for 49 points for the Clippers, but they slipped to 6-4.

The Lakers bounced back from their loss to the San Antonio Spurs by overcoming the Chicago Bulls 117-115.

LeBron James' 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists led the Lakers, who were without Anthony Davis (strained adductor).

Zach LaVine finished with 38 points for the Bulls.

 

Bucks fall despite Giannis' display, Celtics win

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but the Milwaukee Bucks went down to the Utah Jazz 131-118.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz, posting 32 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown continued his good form with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds in the Boston Celtics' 116-107 win over the Washington Wizards. Brown and Jayson Tatum (32 points) became the third pair of team-mates in the past 20 seasons to each record 250-plus points in their team's first 10 games, joining Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant (2001-02) and Curry and Kevin Durant (three times).

The Wizards slumped to 2-7 despite Bradley Beal's 41 points.

Caris LeVert exploded for 43 points, but the Brooklyn Nets – without Durant and Kyrie Irving – were edged by the Memphis Grizzlies 115-110.

 

Magic misery

The Orlando Magic have made a good start to the season, but they shot at just 38.2 per cent in a 132-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. Orlando are now 6-3.

 

Brotherly battle

LaMelo and Lonzo Ball did battle on Friday. LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 118-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Friday's results

Detroit Pistons 110-105 Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics 116-107 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 118-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 101-89 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 132-90 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 115-110 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 131-118 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 144-123 Sacramento Kings
Golden State Warriors 115-105 Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-115 Chicago Bulls

 

Cavaliers at Bucks

The Bucks (5-4) will look to bounce back when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-4) on Saturday.

LaMelo Ball revelled in a "great feeling" after facing his brother, Lonzo, as the Charlotte Hornets overcame the New Orleans Pelicans.

LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Hornets' 118-110 victory in the NBA on Friday.

His brother, Lonzo, had less of an impact, finishing with five points, three assists and two rebounds for the Pelicans.

LaMelo, who had the first double-double of his NBA career, enjoyed facing his older brother.

"It was a great feeling for sure," he told Fox Sports.

"Onto the next one, we don't really live in the past, we've got a game tomorrow."

Gordon Hayward lifted the Hornets with 26 points, while Zion Williamson had 26 for the Pelicans.

LaMelo praised his team for working together as they improved to 4-5.

"I've played a lot of basketball and I know basketball don't change," he said.

"At the end of the day I'm smooth but all of our team-mates together we all help each other and push each other."

Lonzo Ball is looking forward to taking on his brother LaMelo Ball when the Pelicans face the Charlotte Hornets on Friday - but getting New Orleans back on track is his primary concern. 

The Pelicans are 4-4 after suffering back-to-back narrow defeats against the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Hornets ended a three-game losing skid by beating the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, improving to 3-5. 

LaMelo was the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and the rookie is already pushing for a spot in Charlotte's starting lineup, averaging 12.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists through his first eight games in the league. 

In his fourth appearance, LaMelo had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 118-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. He became first rookie to post such a stat line (at least 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists) within their first four games in the league since Lonzo in 2017, and only the fifth since 1985-86 - Kevin Durant, Grant Hill and Lloyd Daniels the others to achieve the feat. 

Eight games into his NBA career, Lonzo was averaging 9.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists from eight starts for the Los Angeles Lakers – the last of which saw him fail to score a single point in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. 

The game between the Pelicans and Hornets will be broadcast nationally in the United States but Lonzo does not intend to let a family reunion detract from greater objectives. 

"I think it's gonna be a lot of fun. It's our first time matching up in a real game, but I think it's gonna be an opportunity to just get back on track. We've lost the last two so we want to turn it around starting tomorrow," said Lonzo. 

"It's just about getting the win. It'll be cool seeing him out there and everything but he's gonna do what he can for his team and I'm gonna do what I can for my team and go from there." 

Asked if he was planning to treat LaMelo to some trash talk, he added: "No, I'll just play my game. Wherever coach puts me I'll do the best I can to get stops for my team and push the break the other way."

Despite spending their formative years together, Lonzo may be in for a surprise when he finally faces up to LaMelo having played minimal one-on-one during their youth.

"Not really too much one-on-one; a lot of two-on-twos, three-on-threes, though, pretty much our whole life," he said.

"One-on-one I was just always a little too big for him. As far as playing in the back yard, we played three-on-three pretty much every day. We always went at it and I think you see that in his game. He's not afraid of anybody. He's always played up and it's always been that way for him."

Lonzo and LaMelo enjoyed a single season as team-mates alongside their other brother LiAngelo – who has reportedly signed a contract to play in the upcoming G League season – during high school at Chino Hills in 2015-16, going 35-0 and winning a state championship.

"It was a lot of fun. We went undefeated that year. It was the only time we all got to play together in high school and we made the most of it," said Lonzo.

"It was just a fun time all around, being with them before I took off on my journey and they went their ways as well."

While Lonzo spent a year at UCLA before being drafted second overall by the Lakers in 2017, LaMelo opted against playing in college.

He turned professional and played in Lithuania and Australia either side of participating in the Junior Basketball Association - a league that was set up by his father LaVar Ball to offer an alternative to college.

"Everybody has to find their own way. Obviously, I went the more traditional route, he didn't, but at the end of the day we both ended up where we wanted to be," said Lonzo.

"Hard work definitely pays off. No matter who you are, you put your mind to something and you can do it. I really believe that. It worked for me, it worked for him, so that's what I'd tell kids growing up today as well."

Now the pair are on the same stage, Lonzo declared: "It just shows all the hard work paid off ... and we both ended up where we wanted to go."

The Boston Celtics edged the Miami Heat in the NBA on Wednesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks claimed their third straight win.

In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics overcame the Heat 107-105 in Miami.

Jayson Tatum (27 points) and Jaylen Brown (21 points and 12 rebounds) led the Celtics (6-3) to their win.

But Payton Pritchard (six points) made the decisive lay-up with 0.2 seconds remaining to secure the win.

The teams kneeled in protest ahead of the clash, in response to a riot on Capitol Hill and after no charges were brought against the police officer who shot and seriously injured Jacob Blake, a black man, in Kenosha in August last year.

Meanwhile, the Bucks made it three straight wins by easing past the Detroit Pistons 130-115.

Giannis Antetokounmpo guided Milwaukee into a 5-3 record with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

 

Hayward heroic, Beal brilliance not enough for Wizards

Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 44 points to see the Charlotte Hornets past the Atlanta Hawks 102-94.

Bradley Beal equalled a Washington Wizards record, but it was not enough. Beal tied the franchise record with 60 points in a 141-136 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Joel Embiid once again inspired the 76ers, scoring 38 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists as they improved to 7-1.

A 35-point haul from Malcolm Brogdon helped the Indiana Pacers beat the Houston Rockets 114-107.

 

Curry cools off

After 92 points in the previous two games, Stephen Curry cooled off. He went five-of-17 from the field for 13 points in 35 minutes as the Golden State Warriors fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 108-101.

 

Beal ties record

Beal was in spectacular form for the Wizards. He equalled Gilbert Arenas' record of 60 points for the Wizards against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006.

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 114-107 Houston Rockets
Orlando Magic 105-94 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 141-136 Washington Wizards
Charlotte Hornets 102-94 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 107-105 Miami Heat
New York Knicks 112-100 Utah Jazz
Milwaukee Bucks 130-115 Detroit Pistons
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Phoenix Suns 123-115 Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Clippers 108-101 Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings 128-124 Chicago Bulls

 

76ers at Nets

The 76ers will look to continue their good start to the season when they take on the Brooklyn Nets (4-4). The Nets will again be without star Kevin Durant, who is in quarantine.

Seven players hit double figures as the Philadelphia 76ers surged to 6-1 while Malcolm Brogdon landed an overtime winner as the Indiana Pacers take up chase in the East.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia remain ahead of the pack after a second-quarter flurry helped to sink the Charlotte Hornets, 118-101, with Tobias Harris leading the scoring on 22 points.

Joel Embiid (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (12 points and 10 rebounds) played key supporting roles with double-doubles as the 76ers continue to fly high.

Indiana improved to 5-2 in a 118-116 thriller against the New Orleans Pelicans after Brogdon capped his double-double with the clutch OT winner, while Victor Oladipo top scored for the Pacers with 25 points.

In-form Pelicans duo Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson combined for 55 points in the loss, as Ingram scored 31 and Williamson recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Orlando also stayed in the hunt for top spot as Aaron Gordon (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (23 points) inspired the Magic to move to 5-3 with a 103-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Malcolm Brogdon hits the game-winning floater in OT as the @Pacers pick up their 5th W of the season!

Brogdon: 21 PTS, 7 REB, 11 AST
Victor Oladipo: 25 PTS, 6 AST
Brandon Ingram: 31 PTS, 8 AST
Zion Williamson: 24 PTS, 10 REB pic.twitter.com/XfWbcMXemJ

— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2021


Doncic, Giannis go off as Mavs and Bucks win

Luka Doncic dominated with 33 points and a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks ended the Houston Rockets’ winning streak with a 113-100 win.

Doncic added 16 rebounds and 11 assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr shot for 30 points to boost the Mavs. Houston's Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and a returning James Harden all put up more than 20 points.

The NBA is back! A shortened schedule, a new play-in tournament and increased roster sizes have created plenty of interest in a new season.

A December start seems to have caught a few of the potential title hopefuls a little cold, though it is still early days. The key is not about starting fast, but finishing strong.

Still, some have hit the ground running. Each week, Stats Perform will take a look at the players who are impressing, as well as those seemingly stuck in a bit of a slump.

For this opening edition, however, all statistical comparisons are made to performances on average across the entire 2019-20 season.
 

RUNNING HOT... 

Stephen Curry (32.3ppg versus 20.8ppg) 

Scoring 62 points in a game sure helps to boost the average. Curry actually started out a little slowly – hardly a surprise considering injury meant he played just five games in the previous campaign – as he made only 13 of his combined 48 field goal attempts in defeats to the Nets and Bucks. However, Curry was certainly cooking against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, hitting eight three-pointers as he posted a new career-high points total. So far in this season, he is making 4.3 three-pointers per outing. 

Christian Wood (23.8ppg versus 13.1ppg) 

These are uncertain times in Houston, where James Harden seemingly no longer wants to be. While his future remains the headline story for the franchise, Christian Wood has quickly shown why he was such an astute signing. Having gone undrafted out of college, the 25-year-old flashed potential with the Detroit Pistons in 2019-20, tempting the Rockets to sign him to a three-year, $41million deal. Their reward? Wood has averaged 23.8 points while playing 36.5 minutes for a team that boasts a 2-2 record through four games. 

Kyle Anderson (16.7ppg versus 5.8ppg) 

Opportunity knocks for Anderson in Memphis due to the absence of Jaren Jackson Jr with a knee issue. The forward's minutes on court have risen as a result – and so, too, has his production. Having never averaged in double digits for points for his previous six seasons in the NBA, Anderson is now up at 16.7 per game for the Grizzlies. Ja Morant was, less surprisingly, on the rise in terms of his scoring output as well, up at 26.3 points per game before suffering an ankle injury. 

Luguentz Dort (14.6ppg versus 6.8ppg) 

Someone has to score points for Oklahoma, right? GM Sam Presti is clearly in it for the long haul in terms of a rebuild, considering the number of moves made in the offseason and draft picks now owned by the team. Still, Dort remains on the roster and has stepped up to accept greater responsibility. The Canadian has raised his successful three-point attempts from an average of 0.8 to 2.4 a game, shooting an impressive 44.4 per cent from deep. Team-mate Isaiah Roby is another to catch the eye for the Thunder, averaging 13 points and 6.5 total rebounds.


GOING COLD...

Devonte' Graham (9.0ppg versus 18.2ppg)

The moment Charlotte selected fellow point guard LaMelo Ball with the third pick in the draft, Graham was under pressure. He retained his starting job in the Hornets' backcourt but the pressure is mounting now, considering the form of both players. While Ball seems to be a quick learner after some preseason concerns, his teammate has struggled. Graham is at just nine points per game - half his average from the previous season. His three-point shooting has dipped to 2.0 made per outing from 3.5. He forced himself off the bench and into the rotation for the Hornets last year, yet could soon find himself moving in the opposite direction.

Jimmy Butler (8.3ppg versus 19.9ppg)

There are reasons behind the five-time NBA All-Star's sluggish start. Butler has featured in just three games so far - and one of those he only played in the first half, with an ankle issue keeping him off the court for the remainder of the clash with the Pelicans. He averaged 19.9 per game for a Heat team that made it all the way to the Finals last term. The early going has seen an 11.6-point decrease in his scoring output, though expect that to rise as the weeks progress.

Kelly Oubre Jr. (9.7ppg versus 18.7ppg)

Oubre was on the merry-go-round headlined by Chris Paul going from Oklahoma to Phoenix. His form last season with the Suns was not enough for the Thunder to keep him around, though, as they dealt him to Golden State. It has not been plain sailing with the Warriors; while not required to contribute quite so much on offense for his new team, the concern is his three-point shooting. Having made 1.9 on average per game last season, Oubre's been successful with two of his 30 attempts so far. The early report card for him reads as such: Must do better.

Ben Simmons led the way with his 29th career triple-double as the Philadelphia 76ers claimed top spot in the NBA Eastern Conference with a 127-122 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Simmons dropped 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Philly opened up a 15-point first quarter lead and never looked back to go 5-1.

Joel Embiid contributed with a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Tobias Harris top scored with 24 points as the 76ers claimed a third straight victory.

Ben Simmons (15 PTS, 12 REB, 11 AST) puts up a triple-double as the @sixers move to 5-1!

Tobias Harris: 24 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST, 4 STL, 3 BLK
Seth Curry: 21 PTS (8-11 FGM), 6 AST
Joel Embiid: 19 PTS, 14 REB
Terry Rozier: 35 PTS, 7 3PM pic.twitter.com/ZgvqSUC9kp

— NBA (@NBA) January 3, 2021

The Atlanta Hawks (4-2) fell off the pace in the East following a 96-91 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers as Colin Sexton scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to snatch the win. 

John Wall led the scoring with 28 points as the Houston Rockets made it back-to-back triumphs against the Sacramento Kings, 102-98, in Texas.

Christian Wood posted a double-double with 15 rebounds and 20 points as the Rockets improved from 0-2 to 2-2 since Wall’s arrival, while James Harden was sidelined with an ankle injury.

Big scorers come up short for Magic, Pacers

Nikola Vucevic dazzled, putting up 30 points and 13 rebounds, but it was not enough to prevent the Orlando Magic slipping to 4-2 after a 108-99 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Six OKC players hit double-figures in an all-round team effort as Darius Bazley top scored with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

The Los Angeles Lakers made it back-to-back wins in the NBA, while the Milwaukee Bucks thrashed the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

LeBron James posted a triple-double of 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-103.

Anthony Davis had a game-high 34 points, to go with 11 rebounds, as the Lakers enjoyed a second win in three days over San Antonio.

Keldon Johnson (26) and DeMar DeRozan (23) combined for 49 points for Spurs.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists) helped the Bucks crush the Bulls 126-96.

Milwaukee had seven players in double-digits and the Bucks hit 22 three-pointers.

No team has hit more threes through the first six games of a season than the Bucks' 108 to begin 2020-21.

 

Doncic lifts Mavericks, Leonard's Clippers lose

Luka Doncic finished with 27 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in the Dallas Mavericks' 93-83 win over the Miami Heat.

Kawhi Leonard fell just short of a triple-double as he posted 20 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, but the Los Angeles Clippers went down to the Utah Jazz 106-100.

The Portland Trail Blazers eased past the Golden State Warriors 123-98 thanks largely to 34 points from Damian Lillard. Lillard joined Clyde Drexler as the only players to score 15,000 points with the Trail Blazers.

Deandre Ayton's double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds helped the Phoenix Suns improve to 5-1 with a 106-103 victory against the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets slip to 3-3

Kyrie Irving struggled from the field, shooting six-of-21 for 18 points, as the Brooklyn Nets were beaten by the Atlanta Hawks 114-96. Kevin Durant finished with 28 points.

 

Grant delivers huge dunk

Jerami Grant produced a huge dunk as part of his 24 points in the Detroit Pistons' first win of the season – a 96-93 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Friday's results

Memphis Grizzlies 108-93 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 96-93 Boston Celtics
Dallas Mavericks 93-83 Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks 114-96 Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks 126-96 Chicago Bulls
Washington Wizards 130-109 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Lakers 109-103 San Antonio Spurs
Phoenix Suns 106-103 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 106-100 Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers 123-98 Golden State Warriors

 

Kings at Rockets

The Sacramento Kings (3-2) take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets (1-2) on Saturday.

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