Kevin Durant produced his best scoring performance of the season to carry the Brooklyn Nets to a 109-102 victory against the Orlando Magic on Monday.

In a remarkably efficient outing, Durant hit 19-of-24 from the field, three-of-five from deep and all four of his free throws for 45 points in 39 minutes. He added seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.

One of the greatest offensive players in league history, Durant has rediscovered his ability to protect the rim defensively this season, with his 1.8 blocks per game placing him eighth in the league while tying his career-high.

Durant was supported well by Kyrie Irving with 20 points on nine-of-17 shooting, but they had to see out the second half without Ben Simmons after the Australian left the game in the second quarter due to left knee soreness.

Starting center Nic Claxton picked up the slack with 17 points (seven-of-10 shooting), 13 rebounds and three blocks, while Joe Harris chipped in 17 points off the bench.

For Orlando, heavy favourite for Rookie of the Year and top overall pick from this year's draft Paolo Banchero continued to display his All-NBA upside, scoring an equal team-high 24 points on nine-of-17 shooting with five assists, four rebounds and two steals.

With the result, the Nets have now won five of their past seven games, and have pulled their record even at 11-11.

Siakam's return ignites Raptors

Pascal Siakam returned to the Toronto Raptors starting line-up and looked right at home with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a 100-88 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Siakam had missed the past 10 games due to a strained adductor, but mustered 30 minutes in his first game back.

O.G. Anunoby top scored for the Raptors with 20 points on eight-of-13 shooting, while in an interesting coaching decision, Nick Nurse opted to start Juancho Hernangomez and bring reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes off the bench.

After starting the season with Siakam as the biggest player in the Raptors' starting line-up, Nurse pivoted to a larger group in his return, with Gary Trent Jr also relegated to the bench in favour of Thaddeus Young.

'Point Zion' orchestrates Pelicans win

With C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram both missing through injuries, Zion Williamson assumed the role of lead initiator in the New Orleans Pelicans' 105-101 triumph against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Williamson, who largely operated as the lead ball-handler during the second half of his breakout 2020-21 campaign, dished a season-high eight assists to go with his 23 points (11-of-18 shooting) and eight rebounds.

He did it on both ends, as his three blocks nearly matched his total for the season, having only tallied a combined four from his first 14 games

Two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again the best player on the floor to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-102 victory against the breakout Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both teams entered the contest as a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, and despite a 29-point effort from offseason trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs had no answer for the Bucks' future Hall-of-Famer.

Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, hitting 10 of his 14 free throws while adding nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks. 

While usual running-mate Jrue Holiday was not at his sharpest, shooting four-of-13 for his nine points, it was veteran center Brook Lopez who turned out to be the Bucks' second star.

Lopez scored eight points without missing a field goal, hitting both of his three-point attempts, and he was a force defensively, blocking six shots for the second time this season, and it was the fifth time from his 17 games that he has blocked at least five shots.

His 2.6 blocks per game is a new career-high in his 15th season, and the second-best figure in the league, trailing only Myles Turner (2.8) of the Indiana Pacers. 

Along with Antetokounmpo, the pair are anchoring the best defense in the league, conceding 105.9 points per 100 possessions – almost two points per 100 possessions better than any other team.

With the win, the Bucks are now 13-5 and 10-2 at home, while the Cavaliers fall to 12-7, and remain the third seed.

Lakers make it four wins from five

The return of LeBron James has helped the Los Angeles Lakers win their fourth game from their past five outings, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 105-94.

After missing five games with an adductor injury, James was more than a little rusty as he committed nine turnovers for only the ninth time in his 1377-game career. However, he still chipped in 21 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists.

Enjoying his best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds to increase his career-high average to 12.6, and he blocked three shots.

Pacers keep on winning

The Indiana Pacers are meant to be in a rebuilding year, but after their 128-117 win against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday they now own the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Myles Turner continued his career-best season with an efficient 23 points on nine-of-11 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots, while pick-and-pop partner Tyrese Haliburton had 15 assists and four steals to go with his 21 points. Haliburton leads the league in assists at 10.9 per game, and is the only player averaging over 9.4.

Kevin Durant was not to blame for the Nets' loss, scoring a game-high 38 points (15-of-31) with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Ben Simmons scored 20 points on perfect eight-for-eight shooting.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have quietly built an elite championship profile with a top-five offense and a top-five defense, and they were too good for fellow Eastern Conference playoff contenders the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

Against the Hawks, the Cavaliers rode the offensive brilliance of their two All-Star guards. Darius Garland, who the team drafted fifth overall back in 2019, had an efficient 26 points on nine-of-14 shooting, while their offseason trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell top-scored with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting.

While having two terrific scorers in the backcourt is one thing, having two elite playmakers unlocks a whole new level of play.

Both Garland and Mitchell finished with nine assists each, with Mitchell averaging a career-high 5.8 assists since arriving from the Utah Jazz, while Garland's 7.7 assists per contest ties him for the sixth-most in the league.

When factoring in that they both play close to 40 minutes a night, coach J.B. Bickerstaff can stagger his rotation in a way where one of them is always on the floor, giving them 48 minutes of structured, competent offense, regardless of who the four surrounding players are.

While their dynamic duo are the heartbeat of their offensive success – producing the fifth-best offensive rating in the league at 114.8 points per 100 possessions – they have an equally impactful pairing in the frontcourt with seven-footers Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Allen, along with Garland, was honoured last season as a first-time All-Star, while Mobley came into the league as one of the greatest defensive prospects in the history of college basketball.

It is the brilliance of that combination that has allowed the Cavaliers to concede the third-fewest points per 100 possessions (108.2) despite starting two small guards, making them the only team in the top-five of both offensive and defensive efficiency.

After Monday's win against the Hawks, Garland spoke about how their defense was able to deliver a 12-point win despite committing 20 turnovers as a team.

"We're just trying to cut the turnovers down, really – even though we had a lot tonight, we made it up on defense," he said.

"That's how we got easy buckets and got out in transition – got us a couple lay-ups, a couple lobs, and that's really what got us going.

"Our team is just unselfish – everybody sees it. We all love each other, we just want to win, we're just competitors."

Coach Bickerstaff expanded on what makes their defense so good during his postgame press conference, pointing to it as a driving force of their offense, as well.

"We've shown what we're capable of defensively," he said. "We know when we're at our best we can create stops, we can force turnovers, we can create easy opportunities for ourselves.

"In that fourth quarter, holding them to 17 points until that last three – that's how you win basketball games against good teams. You lock down defensively, and that helped our offense.

"When you're getting stops, you're playing in the flow and not against a set defense as much. All of our stuff works together – our offense helps our defense, and our defense helps our offense

"We need to be able to slow the game down and control the game. If you have to go against our half-court defense, you're going to be in for a tough time."

He went on to discuss how special the Allen and Mobley connection is, and why it is such a stark difference when Allen is out injured. The Cavaliers have a woeful defensive rating of 126.6 in the two games Allen has missed this season, and what would be a league-leading figure of 104.0 in the 15 games he has played.

"Jarrett is a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber player," he said. "When you take that away, it's obviously going to have an impact. 

"But when he's on the floor, we're a different team, and when our two big guys are on the floor together, and they're working as a pair, they're hard to score on.

"Evan [Mobley] is an All-Defensive player himself, we're extremely fortunate to have two guys who can defend the way they can defend. When they're working together, you're hard-pressed to find easy looks out there."

With the win, the Cavaliers are now 7-1 at home and 11-6 overall, occupying the third seed in the Eastern Conference – a position they will be aiming to maintain all season.

Darius Garland was the game's top scorer as his Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 132-122 in double-overtime, but he was more impressed with the work of his young teammate Evan Mobley.

Mobley, 21, was the third overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, entering the league as one of the best defensive prospects in the history of college basketball.

Standing at seven-feet tall, the USC product has shown the ability to guard all five positions, showing at a young age that he can switch onto shifty point guards and hold up stoutly, putting him in rare company with the likes of all-time great defenders Kevin Garnett and Anthony Davis.

In an action-packed game, the Hornets incredibly came back from a 10-point deficit with only 45 seconds remaining in regulation, with three-pointers from P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr and two from Terry Rozier, including a game-tying bomb with one second on the clock.

That forced overtime, where it was the Cavs' turn to save the game. A potential game-tying three from Donovan Mitchell clanked off the rim, but Mobley was there for the offensive rebound, kicking it out for Garland to tie it.

The Hornets then had a chance to win it with the last shot of the extra period, getting Rozier one-on-one with Mobley, but the young Cavs star held firm and forced double-overtime.

Their defense would lift in the second extra period, holding Charlotte to just two points to seal the win.

Garland top-scored with 41 points on 16-of-26 shooting, adding five steals, but the post-game press conference centered on the brilliance of Mobley, who finished with 21 points (nine-of-14), 18 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.

"Evan was kind of angry tonight – I loved it," Garland said. "We always tell Evan he's the man, he's him. So I want him to start acting like it, keeping that same fire and same energy.

"He had a huge game tonight, he helped us offensively and defensively, came up with some big rebounds, and he switched onto [Terry] Rozier on that big possession in overtime.

"You don't usually see a seven-footer out there guarding a guard like that, either. He's special, we really need him, and we're happy to have him.

"I feel comfortable with Evan guarding anybody, literally. He moves his feet really well, and he keeps his distance because he's so long.

"I think Evan can guard anybody in this league if he puts his mind to it, and that's what we do. We switch three-through-five, and he guards some threes, some fives. That's what he's here for."

While he is currently a supporting piece on the offensive end, Mobley was urged by his All-Star point guard to try to dominate on that end the same way he does defensively.

"I want him to take more shots," he said. "His one-on-one game is really, really good for his size, and he can get to any shot that he wants to. 

"I mean 14 [shot attempts] is a good number, but I think he should take a lot more, in my opinion. I want him to be more aggressive, I want him to really ask for the ball – tell me to give him the ball.

"He's going to get there, he's building his confidence every day."

When asked about his comfort level when getting pulled away from the basket in isolation situations, Mobley said he thrives in it.

"I'm real comfortable [against smaller guards], honestly," he said. "I feel like I have good enough size, and I'm also quick enough to stay in front, so any shot they really take, I'm going to be there.

"I knew [Rozier] likes step-backs, so I was just giving him a good amount of space, using my length. I knew I could slide my feet – I'm pretty fast – so I was just using my length, and when he shot it, just get a good contest."

The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Cavs, bringing their record to 9-6, and 5-1 at home.

Joel Embiid flexed his muscles with arguably the best game of his career, with a season-best 59-point haul in the Philadelphia 76ers' 105-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

Embiid was dominant in every facet, with his 59 points coming on 19-of-28 shooting, making 20-of-24 from the stripe, while having 11 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks.

The Sixers center is the first player since blocks became official in 1973-74, to record 50-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, five-plus assists and five-plus blocks in a game.

Embiid is also the first player since Damian Lillard in 2019 to have more than half of his team's points in a game.

The Cameroonian erupted in the fourth quarter with 26 points, taking him into fifth spot for the best scoring performances in franchise history. It was a career-best points haul for 28-year-old Embiid.

Tyrese Maxey was Philadelphia's next best with 18 points and four steals, with James Harden still out with a foot injury.

The Jazz had no answers to Embiid, who had scored 42 points on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, with Malik Beasley scoring 18 off the bench while Lauri Markkanen had 15 points with 10 rebounds.

Garland briefly holds season-high points haul

Darius Garland piled on 27 fourth-quarter points for a career-high 51 points, but he could not lift the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing 129-124.

Garland's 51 points, which included 10 triples, was briefly a league season-high, before Embiid's monster game for the Sixers.

The Timberwolves led by 24 points late in the third before the Cavs rallied, led by Garland, who became the fourth Cleveland player to reach 50 points.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points with 13 rebounds, while D'Angelo Russell added 30 points with 12 assists.

AD lifts Lakers without LeBron to snap skid

Anthony Davis stepped up in LeBron James' absence, scoring 37 points with 18 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their five-game losing run with a 116-103 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis shot 15-of-25 from the field, while bringing down 10 offensive rebounds among his 18 for the game, with Lonnie Walker adding 25 points, making four-of-five from beyond the arc.

Kevin Durant was a lone hand on offense for the Nets with Seth Curry, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving all absent. Durant scored 31 points with nine rebounds and seven assists.

Meanwhile, Stephen Curry hit 27 points as the Golden State Warriors' winless road run (0-7) extended to 0-7 after being downed 122-115 by the Sacramento Kings.

Joel Embiid flexed his muscles with arguably the best game of his career, with a season-best 59-point haul in the Philadelphia 76ers' 105-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

Embiid was dominant in every facet, with his 59 points coming on 19-of-28 shooting, making 20-of-24 from the stripe, while having 11 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks.

The Sixers center is the first player since blocks became official in 1973-74, to record 50-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, five-plus assists and five-plus blocks in a game.

Embiid is also the first player since Damian Lillard in 2019 to have more than half of his team's points in a game.

The Cameroonian erupted in the fourth quarter with 26 points, taking him into fifth spot for the best scoring performances in franchise history. It was a career-best points haul for 28-year-old Embiid.

Tyrese Maxey was Philadelphia's next best with 18 points and four steals, with James Harden still out with a foot injury.

The Jazz had no answers to Embiid, who had scored 42 points on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, with Malik Beasley scoring 18 off the bench while Lauri Markkanen had 15 points with 10 rebounds.

Garland briefly holds season-high points haul

Darius Garland piled on 27 fourth-quarter points for a career-high 51 points, but he could not lift the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing 129-124.

Garland's 51 points, which included 10 triples, was briefly a league season-high, before Embiid's monster game for the Sixers.

The Timberwolves led by 24 points late in the third before the Cavs rallied, led by Garland, who became the fourth Cleveland player to reach 50 points.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points with 13 rebounds, while D'Angelo Russell added 30 points with 12 assists.

AD lifts Lakers without LeBron to snap skid

Anthony Davis stepped up in LeBron James' absence, scoring 37 points with 18 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their five-game losing run with a 116-103 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis shot 15-of-25 from the field, while bringing down 10 offensive rebounds among his 18 for the game, with Lonnie Walker adding 25 points, making four-of-five from beyond the arc.

Kevin Durant was a lone hand on offense for the Nets with Seth Curry, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving all absent. Durant scored 31 points with nine rebounds and seven assists.

Meanwhile, Stephen Curry hit 27 points as the Golden State Warriors' winless road run (0-7) extended to 0-7 after being downed 122-115 by the Sacramento Kings.

Steph Curry has "never been better" as he pulls the Golden State Warriors out of a "rut", head coach Steve Kerr said.

Having earlier this week dropped 47 points to help the Warriors defeat the Sacramento Kings and end a five-match losing streak, Curry was influential as Golden State rallied to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-101 on Friday.

Curry finished with 40 points, making 18 in the final quarter and going 15-of-23 shooting including 6-of-11 from three-point range.

With 1:18 left on the clock, Curry drained a three to tie the game then - having hit the go-ahead lay-up - landed another from downtown to get the Warriors over the line.

"You run out of adjectives to describe Steph's play," Kerr said of his star man.

"He's just amazing night after night. Given the circumstances with our team kind of in a rut, trying to dig our way out of a hole, he's just been spectacular. He's never been better, I can say that.

"He's in such great shape. If there's one area that he's dramatically better now than when I first got here eight years ago it's just his strength and conditioning.

"He's much bigger and stronger, much more capable of defending at a really high level and sustaining two-way basketball for an entire game and just knocking down shots from all over and finishing at the rim. He's unbelievable."

Curry has now scored at least 10 points in the final quarter on six occasions this season for a Warriors team who are 5-7 as they aim to defend their NBA Championship this season.

Asked if he can explain his strong finishes, Curry said: "I classify it as being aggressive.

"Obviously shots have to fall but it's about having aggressive attacks off of pick-and-roll, getting other guys involved, getting to the paint and finishing, coming out shooting. 

"A lot of confidence carried over from our playoff run last year. It's understanding the balance of playmaking and scoring."

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry scored 18 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth quarter of his team's 106-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

After scoring a season-high 47 points on 17-of-24 shooting (70.8 per cent) in Monday's home win against the Sacramento Kings, Curry electrified the Chase Center crowd once more for consecutive 40-plus point performances.

Despite his final figures against the Cavaliers, the visitors actually led 72-62 with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors closed the game on a 46-29 run.

The Warriors trailed 98-95 with 90 seconds remaining, before Curry proceeded to hit two three-pointers, a two-pointer and two free throws to ice the game.

He finished a terrific 15-of-23 (65.2 per cent) from the field, hitting six-of-11 threes while adding five assists and two turnovers.

Andrew Wiggins chipped in 20 points (eight-of-13 shooting), Draymond Green had season-highs in assists (13) and rebounds (9), and Jordan Poole rediscovered some form with 18 points (six-of-13) off the bench.

Donovan Mitchell continued his strong start in a Cavaliers uniform as he put up 29 points (10-of-20), 10 rebounds and nine assists, posting a plus/minus of plus seven in his 37 minutes. 

Morant outduels Edwards in Grizzlies win

Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards faced off in one of the NBA's most entertaining matchups, but it was Morant's Memphis Grizzlies coming out on top against the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 114-103 home win.

Both young stars finished with 28 points, with Edwards shooting a superior 10-of-16 compared to Morant's 11-of-25, but Morant added 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals, while Edwards had six rebounds and six assists.

Timberwolves' franchise-player Karl-Anthony Towns struggled with foul trouble all game, fouling out with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Barrett, Brunson put on a show at Madison Square Garden

The New York Knicks' backcourt was everything their fans have been hoping for in a 121-112 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

Former third-overall draft pick R.J. Barrett scored a season-high 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting (three-of-eight from deep), with five rebounds and five assists, while his running-mate and recent trade acquisition Jalen Brunson was just as good.

Brunson scored 26 points on eight-of-16 shooting, adding a team-high seven assists and a game-high four steals.

The win boosts the Knicks' home record to 4-2, and pulls them to 6-6 overall. 

Donovan Mitchell's spectacular start to life with the Cleveland Cavaliers continued against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, scoring 33 points in a 114-100 win.

Mitchell's 33 points was a game-high, and he delivered his production efficiently, hitting 10-of-17 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line.

Through his first eight games with the Cavs since being acquired from the Utah Jazz in an offseason trade, Mitchell is averaging 31.1 points and 7.1 assists per game – both comfortably above his career-highs (26.4 points and 5.3 assists).

He was supported strongly by fellow All-Star Darius Garland, who chipped in 24 points (seven-of-18) and seven assists, while Kevin Love contributed a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) in 20 minutes off the bench.

For the Lakers, LeBron James was strong with 27 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding seven rebounds and four assists, and Russell Westbrook posted 19 points (six-of-13) with 10 assists as he continues to produce well in a sixth-man role.

Cleveland are now 8-1, and are one of only two teams, along with the 9-0 Milwaukee Bucks, who are yet to record their second loss.

VanVleet steps up in Siakam's absence

With the Toronto Raptors' top option Pascal Siakam out for at least the next two weeks, Fred VanVleet stepped up and led his team to a 113-104 victory against the Chicago Bulls.

VanVleet finished with 30 points on nine-of-22 shooting, and also added 11 assists in an offensive masterclass from the diminutive point guard, posting a plus/minus of plus 27 in his 39 minutes. That means in the nine minutes VanVleet was on the bench, the Raptors were outscored by 18.

Starting in the place of Siakam was rookie Christian Koloko, and he made a big impression as he blocked six shots with his 11 points and seven rebounds.

Alex Caruso produced a noteworthy performance for the Bulls, finishing with an unconventional double-double as he collected 11 rebounds and 11 assists, while shooting one-of-11 for four points.

Bane, Morant carry the Grizzlies 

Desmond Bane and Ja Morant combined for nearly half of the Memphis Grizzlies' points in their 103-97 win against the Washington Wizards.

While Morant struggled with his efficiency, only hitting nine of his 27 shots on his way to 23 points, Bane was terrific, scoring 28 on nine-of-16 shooting. 

The Grizzlies are now 7-3, and Bane has been at the centre of their early success, elevating himself to potentially an All-Star level in his third season as he is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46 per cent from long-range.

Dejounte Murray showed exactly why the Atlanta Hawks pulled the trigger on their big offseason trade, carrying his new team to a 112-99 road win against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Murray, 26, was a first-time All-Star this past season with the San Antonio Spurs, before the Hawks traded for him in a deal centred around three first-round draft picks.

There were eyebrows raised at the time about if Murray could fit and produce next to another All-Star point guard in Trae Young, but he continued to exceed expectations in a starring performance against the Knicks.

He finished with a game-high and career-high 36 points on 14-of-27 shooting, hitting five of his 12 three-point attempts while adding nine assists, six steals and four rebounds. 

His performance came at a good time for the Hawks, with Young struggling on his way to 17 points on seven-of-22 shooting after briefly leaving the game due to a nasty scratch to his eye

It is the first time this season Murray has surpassed 26 points in a game – also setting season-highs for field goal makes and attempts, three-point makes and attempts, and steals.

Also finding his footing with a new team, the Knicks' Jalen Brunson was comfortably his side's best performer, finishing with an efficient 20 points (eight-of-15 shooting) and five assists.

Since arriving with the Knicks, Brunson is averaging career-highs in points (18.2), assists (7.2), rebounds (4.2) and steals (1.3).

Bucks remain the NBA's last undefeated team

It was smooth sailing for the Milwaukee Bucks in their 116-91 home win against the Detroit Pistons, moving to 7-0 for the season as the only team without a loss.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a strong case as the favourite to win his third, continuing his blistering start to the season with 32 points (11-of-24 shooting, 10-of-12 free throws), 12 rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocks.

He was supported in style by Jrue Holiday, who hit 11 of his 16 shots on his way to 26 points and seven rebounds.

Doncic mounts his own MVP case

Antetokounmpo's biggest challenger for this year's MVP trophy appears to be Luka Doncic, who carried his Dallas Mavericks to a 103-100 win over the Utah Jazz.

In the win, which lifted the Mavericks to 4-3, Doncic shot 60 per cent from the field for his 33 points (12-of-20), leading the game in points and assists (11). Doncic has now scored at least 30 points in each of his team's first seven games, becoming the first player to do so since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.

Still yet to break into the starting lineup after being acquired from the Houston Rockets, Christian Wood put in a strong showing off the bench, scoring 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds.

Garland returns in Cavaliers' overtime win

All-Star point guard Darius Garland returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup and played a big part in their 114-113 overtime win at home against the Boston Celtics.

Having not played since suffering an eye injury in the Cavs' season-opener, Garland did not miss a beat, dishing a game-high 12 assists to go with his 29 points (nine-of-20 shooting) in 42 minutes.

Running-mate Donovan Mitchell showed there were plenty of shots to go around, chipping in 25 points (11-of-27) with six assists in the first real look at the Cavaliers' two-pronged attack using their All-Star backcourt.

The Boston Celtics will have their eye on revenge when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

It will be the second meeting between the two sides this season, with both having made impressive starts.

The Celtics, last season's Eastern Conference champions, are 4-2 staring up at only the unbeaten Milwaukee Bucks and the 5-1 Cavs.

One of their two defeats came last week at TD Garden, as they suffered a 132-123 home loss to the Cavs in overtime.

Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert combined for 82 points in that victory for the Cavs, who will look to reaffirm their credentials as contenders in the East by backing up that win with another as they play hosts this time to the visiting Celtics.

After All-Star point guard Darius Garland left the first game of the season with an eye injury that is still keeping him out of action, Mitchell has been the catalyst for the Cavs' strong form, having been acquired in a trade with the Utah Jazz in the offseason.

Cleveland sent Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji and three first-round picks to the Jazz for the star shooting guard in a deal that also included two pick swaps.

Stopping Mitchell will be the priority for a Celtics team whose play on defense has slipped from the standards they set in their run to the Finals.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Cleveland Cavaliers - Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell has proven worth the high price the Cavs paid for him to this point.

Only four players are averaging more than his 32.2 points per game, while Mitchell is shooting a red-hot, and possibly unsustainable 45.5 per cent from three-point range.

Bojan Bogdanovic (50.8 per cent) is the sole player who has attempted at least 50 threes to perform better from beyond the arc than Mitchell this season.

If he can get hot from deep in this one, it could spell trouble for a Boston team that saw him go for 41 on their home court last Friday.

Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart

Smart has long been the defensive heartbeat for the Celtics, but he could not help them contain Mitchell and LeVert in the previous meeting.

Indeed, he had a plus/minus of minus 26 against the Cavs, and his defensive rating – albeit a team stat – of 116.4 this season is the worst of his career.

Simply put, the Celtics need Smart to return to the form that saw him win Defensive Player of the Year last season.

KEY BATTLE - Preventing turnovers key for Celtics

The Cavs are averaging 20.5 points off turnovers per game, the fifth-most in the NBA.

Though Boston's 13.8 turnovers per game are the 10th-fewest in the league, the Celtics committed 19 in their home loss to Cleveland.

Given how effective the Cavs are at turning those opportunities into points, Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla should be preaching the importance of taking care of the ball especially hard this time around.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The Cavs' victory last week continued a theme of recent success against Boston, with Cleveland having won four of their past six regular-season matchups with the Celtics.

Paolo Banchero showed exactly why the Orlando Magic took him with the first overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, nearly posting his first career triple-double as his side defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-93 on Friday.

With last year's fifth overall pick Jalen Suggs and starting point guard Cole Anthony both missing through injuries, Orlando opted to not start a traditional point guard and instead let their new star run the show.

He looked right at home as the focal point of the Magic's offense, scoring 21 points on eight-of-14 shooting while adding 12 rebounds and seven assists to deliver their first win of the season.

Even more impressive was the fact that almost all of that production came in the first three quarters, as Orlando built an 82-53 lead heading into the fourth and Banchero sat out the final nine minutes.

Through six career games, Banchero is averaging 24 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, and is yet to score less than 20 points in a contest.

Lakers lose again despite James' best efforts

LeBron James' 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals were not enough to bring an end to the Los Angeles Lakers' winless start to the season, falling to 0-5 after a 111-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

James shot 10-of-24 from the field and one-of-six from deep, and in his first game off the bench since his rookie season, Russell Westbrook was plagued by similar issues.

Westbrook shot six-of-17 for his 18 points, while also missing half of his 10 free throws and committing five turnovers.

For the Wolves, Anthony Edwards led the scoring with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while Rudy Gobert was seven-of-11 for 22 points and 21 rebounds to lift their record to 4-2.

Antetokounmpo mounts case for third MVP

With two MVP trophies already in his display case, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo made it clear why he is one of the favourites yet again this season with a powerhouse performance in a 119-108 win against the New York Knicks.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in made field goals (11), made free throws (seven), points (30), rebounds (14) and assists (nine) in a true virtuoso showing. He was supported well, with six teammates making their way into double figures, including 12 points and 12 rebounds off the bench from Bobby Portis.

With the win, the Bucks are now 4-0, and the only remaining unbeaten team.

LeVert and Mitchell drop 41 each in overtime Cavaliers win

Caris LeVert and Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers went head-to-head with star Boston Celtics duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and emerged 132-123 winners in overtime.

While Brown and Tatum had 32 each at a combined 22-of-41 from the field (54 per cent), the Cavs pairing played even better, scoring 41 each off a combined 27-of-47 (57 per cent).

Second-year phenom Evan Mobley also had a big hand in the win, chipping in 19 points (seven-of-12 shooting) with 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams has been banned for one game for "recklessly making contact" with a referee in Monday's 120-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Williams made physical contact with referee Cheryl Flores, after he jumped up in anger after being called for an offensive blocking foul while defending Zach LaVine in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics forward was immediately given a technical foul and ejected from the game.

Williams had to be restrained by teammate Derrick White, before being escorted off the court as he yelled back towards the court as he headed towards the locker room.

NBA executive vice president, head of basketball operations Joe Dumars announced the suspension for "recklessly making contact with and directing inappropriate language toward a game official" on Wednesday.

Williams will serve the one-game suspension in Friday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Darius Garland is in contention to return for the Cavs in that game, having been out since suffering a left eye injury in their season opener against the Toronto Raptors.

The Cavs' All-Star participated in team shootaround on Wednesday while wearing goggles for protection but missed the 103-92 win over the Orlando Magic later that day.

Joel Embiid scored 40 points but it was not enough to prevent the Philadelphia 76ers from slumping to a 0-3 start to the new NBA season after a 114-105 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

James Harden had minimal impact in the second half as Spurs small forward Doug McDermott took control with an eight-point burst, capping his 14 points, which all came in the second half.

The 76ers, who had been beaten by contenders, the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, to open their season, squandered Embiid's huge game where he shot 14-of-25 from the field and hauled down 13 rebounds with two blocks.

Harden only added 12 points on four-of-18 shooting, making one-of-six three-point attempts. The former MVP provided 12 assists with nine rebounds and two blocks, but was inconspicuous in the second half with the game up for grabs, with the Spurs defense denying him good looks.

Tyrese Maxey contributed 25 points for the 76ers, including three triples, but Philadelphia slumped to their first 0-3 start since 2016-17.

Devin Vassell (22 points with nine-of-14 field shooting, including four three-pointers) and Keldon Johnson (21 points with eight rebounds) were San Antonio's most productive offensive players.

Mitchell betters LeBron start for Cavs

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points as he claimed his first win as a Cleveland Cavaliers player in their 128-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls in their home season opener.

Mitchell achieved a feat that not even LeBron James could, becoming the first Cavs player with back-to-back 30-point games to open a season.

The All-Star, who made a high-profile trade from the Utah Jazz to the Cavs in the off-season, landed four-of-six from beyond the arc with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Zach LaVine returned after off-season knee surgery that forced him to miss Chicago's opening two games to top score for the Bulls with 23 points.

Giannis powers Bucks past Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed 28 minutes to put on an MVP-like display as the Milwaukee Bucks routed the Houston Rockets 125-105 in their home opener at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points, shooting 17-of-21 from the field with two three-pointers, along with 12 rebounds and three assists.

The Greek forward became Milwaukee's all-time free throws leader, shooting eight-of-13 from the stripe to exceed Sidney Moncrief's 3,505 record, before sitting out with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum also scored 40 points to lead the 3-0 Boston Celtics past the 0-3 Orlando Magic 126-120, while Paul George had 40 in the Los Angeles Clippers' 111-109 win over the Sacramento Kings.

All-Star point guard Darius Garland has been cleared of any structural damage after suffering a left eye laceration in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 108-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Garland exited the game in the second quarter after an accidental poke to his eye from Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

The Cleveland guard could not return to play with his eye closed over, with Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff confirming it was a "laceration on the inside of his eye lid" after the game.

The Cavs provided a status update on Thursday, revealing that Garland does not require surgery.

"The location of the injury required further evaluation and Garland missed the remainder of the game versus the Raptors," the Cavs said.

"Garland will be re-evaluated over the next couple of days and his status will be updated as appropriate."

Cleveland's next game is against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

The Cavs are expected to contend for the playoffs this season, having bolstered their side with the addition of Donovan Mitchell alongside an emerging line-up featuring Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Garland.

Garland averaged career-best numbers in 2021-22 leading to his maiden All-Star selection, with 21.7 points on 46.2 field goal percentage, 8.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

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