LaMelo Ball is "fearless" and his shooting is only going to improve after the rookie starred in the Charlotte Hornets' 119-94 triumph over the Houston Rockets, says head coach James Borrego.

The 19-year-old had a game-high 24 points to go alongside 10 assists and a career-high seven three-pointers in Monday's contest.

Consequently, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and is the youngest to do so.

Borrego initially had concerns over Ball's shooting style, given the way his release point is at his chest not above his shoulders, but those fears were allayed by a trip to watch him at a workout in Los Angeles.

"When we went there, there was just a confidence about him and his shot," Borrego said. 

"As I sat there with [Hornets GM] Mitch [Kupchak] I looked over and said 'he's going to be fine'. The kid is confident and believes it is going in. And that is at least half the battle.

"Whether he's at the line or two feet behind the line, it's almost effortless.

"[LaMelo] oozes confidence. He's going to continue that. He's fearless. He's going to continue to shoot it. 

"He's got great confidence in [his shot] and he's going to keep getting reps and better shots as he goes. It's a great weapon to have and it sets up a lot of his game with the way he can get to the rim."

Ball himself added on his shooting style: "I stick with it. I say, 'this is how I shoot'.

"I'm confident in it and I feel good letting it go. I came here and they tried to adjust it a little, but I'm like, 'Ah, this is how I shoot'."

LeBron James was the star of the show again as NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-112 in overtime.

James posted a triple-double after just three quarters, eventually leading the streaking Lakers past the visiting Thunder in Los Angeles on Monday.

The Lakers superstar finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the absence of team-mate Anthony Davis (Achilles).

Montrezl Harrell contributed 21 points off the bench as the Lakers won their fifth game in a row.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander forced overtime with free throws, but his double-double of 29 points and 10 assists was not enough for the Thunder – who were outscored 9-2 in OT.

Thunder team-mate Hamidou Diallo also recorded a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds).

 

LaMelo dazzles

LaMelo Ball posted a game-high 24 points, 10 assists and a career-high seven three-pointers as the Charlotte Hornets topped the Houston Rockets 119-94. He joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game.

Draymond Green put on a show for the Golden State Warriors, who lost 105-100 to the San Antonio Spurs. He became the sixth player in franchise history to reach 3,000 career assists. Green also had his third double-double of the season (10 rebounds and 10 assists). Curry scored 32 points for the beaten Warriors.

The Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to five games thanks to two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo put up 30 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Middleton dropped 29 points, a career-high 12 assists and eight rebounds. The Bucks were 125-112 winners over the Denver Nuggets, who were led by Nikola Jokic's 35 points and 12 rebounds.

Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam each scored 32 points as the Toronto Raptors rallied past the Memphis Grizzlies 128-113. Norman Powell contributed 29 points for the Raptors, while Jonas Valanciunas' double-double of 27 points and a season-high 20 rebounds were not enough for the Grizzlies.

A season-high 36 points from Devin Booker fuelled the Phoenix Suns' 119-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the NBA's leading scorer Bradley Beal finished with 35 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a 105-101 win against the Chicago Bulls.

 

Murray struggles in Denver

While Jokic starred, Nuggets team-mate Jamal Murray was inefficient in a loss to the Bucks. In 37 minutes, he was just four-of-17 shooting from the field, while he only made one of seven three-pointers for 11 points.

P.J. Tucker was scoreless for the Rockets after going 0-of-three from the field in 23 minutes.

 

Harrell says no!

With the Lakers looking to close out another win, Harrell produced an emphatic block to deny the Thunder late in OT.

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 119-94 Houston Rockets
Washington Wizards 105-101 Chicago Bulls
Toronto Raptors 128-113 Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks 127-122 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 105-100 Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns 119-113 Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks 125-112 Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers 119-112 Oklahoma City Thunder (OT)

 

76ers at Kings

The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers (17-7) travel to the Sacramento Kings (12-11) on Tuesday. The Kings have won four straight games.

Stephen Curry joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only Golden State Warriors players to post multiple 55-point games in a season, but his team lost to Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks 134-32 in the NBA.

Curry nailed a season-high 11 three-pointers en route to 57 points in a thrilling duel with Mavericks star Doncic on Saturday.  

Former MVP Curry put up his eighth 50-plus point game in his career, however, it was not enough.

Doncic tied his career high with 42 points in Dallas, where he also had 11 assists to snap the Mavericks' six-game home losing streak.

Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic joined Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson as the only Denver Nuggets players with 50-plus point games in the past 20 seasons.

Jokic finished with a career-high 50 points – including 23 points in the final quarter – but the Nuggets still went down 119-114 to the Sacramento Kings.

The MVP candidate also had 12 assists and eight rebounds as the Nuggets dropped their third straight game.

 

Embiid leads 76ers

Joel Embiid became the first Philadelphia 76ers player with eight consecutive 25-plus point games since Iverson in 2006. The three-time All-Star registered 33 points in a 124-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets, who were without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. James Harden led the Nets with 26 points and 10 assists.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Milwaukee Bucks, who eased past the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-99.

The Oklahoma City Thunder scored a team-record 83 points in the first half as they edged the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-118. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted 31 points to the Thunder.

The Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic 118-92 behind Zach LaVine's 39 points on the road.

LeBron James had 33 points and 11 assists and Anthony Davis added 30 points as NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers prevailed 135-129 against the Detroit Pistons in double overtime.

 

Oladipo struggles

Victor Oladipo ended the Houston Rockets' 111-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs with nine points on four-of-14 shooting from the field. He also missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

In 34 minutes of action, Rodney Hood was three-of-10 from the field and made just one of six three-point shots for seven points as the Portland Trail Blazers were beaten 110-99 by the New York Knicks.

 

Zion with the slam!

Zion Williamson had the final say against the Memphis Grizzlies. His game-sealing dunk saw the New Orleans Pelicans to a 118-109 win. Williamson had 29 points, while team-mate Brandon Ingram scored 27 points, collected 12 rebounds and tallied a career-high four blocks.

 

Saturday's results

New York Knicks 110-99 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 119-114 Denver Nuggets
Chicago Bulls 118-92 Orlando Magic
Philadelphia 76ers 124-108 Brooklyn Nets
Atlanta Hawks 132-121 Toronto Raptors
Milwaukee Bucks 124-99 Cleveland Cavaliers
San Antonio Spurs 111-106 Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder 120-118 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 134-132 Golden State Warriors
New Orleans Pelicans 118-109 Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Lakers 135-129 Detroit Pistons (double OT)

 

Kings at Clippers

Before Super Bowl LV gets underway, the Los Angeles Clippers (17-7)-Kings (11-11) matchup headlines a slate of five early NBA games on Sunday.

LeBron James inspired reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

James posted his second triple-double of the season – 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists – to guide the Lakers past the visiting Nuggets in Los Angeles.

With the 12,682nd bucket of his illustrious career, Lakers superstar James surpassed Wilt Chamberlain for the third-most field goals made in NBA history.

James' 23-game streak of recording 15-plus points, five-plus rebounds and five-plus assists to start the season is the longest run in NBA history, surpassing his own record of 22 in a row in 2011-12.

The Lakers recorded their third consecutive win after overturning a 12-point deficit against Western Conference rivals the Nuggets.

According to Stats Perform, it is the largest margin of victory in franchise history after trailing by double digits at half-time. The previous high was a 20-point win at the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day in 1968.

 

Night to remember for Oubre

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a career-high 40 points as the Golden State Warriors overpowered the Dallas Mavericks 147-116. Stephen Curry had 28 points for the Warriors in Dallas.

Joel Embiid hurt his knee but had a game-high 37 points in the Philadelphia 76ers' shock 121-105 loss at home to the Portland Trail Blazers, who were without stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

 

Scoreless Rondo

Rajon Rondo did not score a point in the Atlanta Hawks' 112-91 defeat to the Utah Jazz. Rondo was 0 of seven from the field, while he missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc in 28 minutes.

Embiid did not have much support in Philadelphia as the 76ers struggled without Ben Simmons. Tobias Harris finished with 12 points on just five-of-14 shooting from the field. The All-Star hopeful missed both of his three-point efforts.

The Houston Rockets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 115-103, however P.J. Tucker was one-of-eight from the field, and one-of-seven from three-point range for three points in 34 minutes.

 

The LeBron show

James was at his brilliant best against the Nuggets, showcasing his elite shooting and passing skills.

 

Thursday's results

Utah Jazz 112-91 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 147-116 Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers 121-105 Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets 115-103 Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Lakers 114-93 Denver Nuggets

 

Raptors at Nets

The star-studded Brooklyn Nets (14-9) will host the Toronto Raptors (9-12) on Friday. The Los Angeles Clippers (17-6) and Milwaukee Bucks (13-8) will also be in action.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a convincing win in the NBA on Wednesday, while the Dallas Mavericks snapped their losing streak.

Antetokounmpo posted a triple-double of 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Bucks cruised past the Indiana Pacers 130-110.

Milwaukee had seven players in double-figures for points, with Bryn Forbes chipping in with 20 off the bench.

The Bucks improved to 13-8 despite another good performance by Pacers star Domantas Sabonis (33 points and 12 rebounds).

The Mavericks ended a run of six straight losses by overcoming the Atlanta Hawks 122-116.

Luka Doncic led Dallas with a double-double of 27 points and 14 assists as they improved to 9-13.

Embiid, George star

Joel Embiid starred with 34 points and 11 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers claimed a fourth straight win by beating the Charlotte Hornets 118-111.

Paul George posted 36 points for the Los Angeles Clippers, who eased past the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-99.

Bradley Beal had 32 points as the Washington Wizards edged the Miami Heat 103-100. Beal has had 25-plus points in 17 straight games to start the season, which is the most since 1976-77.

Zion Williamson's 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists saw the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Phoenix Suns 123-101.

 

Oladipo can't lift Rockets

Victor Oladipo went eight-of-24 from the field, and one-of-eight from three-point range, as the Houston Rockets were well beaten by the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-87.

 

Special Zion

Williamson got on the end of an Eric Bledsoe pass for a monstrous alley-oop slam.

Wednesday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 130-110 Indiana Pacers
Philadelphia 76ers 118-111 Charlotte Hornets
Dallas Mavericks 122-116 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Clippers 121-99 Cleveland Cavaliers
Washington Wizards 103-100 Miami Heat
New York Knicks 107-103 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 104-87 Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs 111-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 123-101 Phoenix Suns
Sacramento Kings 116-111 Boston Celtics

 

Nuggets at Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers (16-6) return to action with a clash at home to the Denver Nuggets (12-8) on Thursday.

NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-99 behind a dominant final quarter from LeBron James.

James posted 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds against the Hawks on the road, having only managed nine points through the first three quarters on Monday.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis scored 25 points of his own in Atlanta, where a small crowd were granted access to attend.

James was involved in a brief verbal confrontation with a female fan during the fourth quarter.

Trae Young (25 points and 16 assists) and Clint Capela (16 points and 13 rebounds) both had double-doubles for the beaten Hawks.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets tied an NBA record after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 136-106.

The Rockets knocked down 11 three-pointers in a 48-point opening quarter to match a league record away to the Thunder.

Eric Gordon (25 points) and DeMarcus Cousins (17 points) each finished with five three-pointers, John Wall (18 points) and Danuel House Jr. (13 points) nailed four from beyond the arc, while Victor Oladipo (15 points) made three of his own.

 

Monk cools Heat

Malik Monk starred off the bench, posting a career-high 36 points as the Charlotte Hornets outlasted the Miami Heat 129-121 in overtime.

De'Aaron Fox had 38 points, including 17 straight Sacramento points during the final seven minutes, to lead the Kings past the New Orleans Pelicans 118-109. It capped a night which saw seven Kentucky players score 20-plus points in the NBA – Fox, Monk, Davis, Keldon Johnson (25), Devin Booker (24), Bam Adebayo (23) and Julius Randle (23). According to Stats Perform, it is the most 20-point games by players from any single college on any single day in NBA history.

Nassir Little put up 30 points, however, the Portland Trail Blazers still suffered a 134-106 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

A double-double of 23 points and 18 rebounds from Jarrett Allen inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers' 100-98 success against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

Trent struggles in Milwaukee

Gary Trent Jr. had a tough night for the Trail Blazers. In 29 minutes, he was three of 13 from the field and made just two of eight three-point attempts for eight points.

Danilo Gallinari did not fare much better for the Hawks. Gallinari finished two-of-10 from the field, while draining only two of his five shots from beyond the arc for six points.

 

Booker calls game

The Phoenix Suns trailed by two points at the death, but Booker nailed a clutch three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to stun the Dallas Mavericks 109-108. It was Booker's fifth career game-winning shot in the final three seconds of a contest.

 

Monday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 107-99 Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Hornets 129-121 Miami Heat (OT)
Cleveland Cavaliers 100-98 Minnesota Timberwolves
Chicago Bulls 110-102 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 134-106 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 118-109 New Orleans Pelicans
Houston Rockets 136-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns 109-108 Dallas Mavericks
Memphis Grizzlies 133-102 San Antonio Spurs
Denver Nuggets-Detroit Pistons (postponed)

 

Clippers at Nets

In-form Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Clippers (16-5) will put their three-game winning streak on the line against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets (13-9) on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back in the NBA, while Damian Lillard produced a moment of magic for the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

After back-to-back defeats, the Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 96-95 to return to winning ways.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers (15-6) with a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds.

LeBron James had 21 points and moved up to 13th on the list for all-time three-pointers made.

He also passed Derek Fisher for eighth on the NBA's all-time wins list.

The Celtics (10-8) forced a turnover with seconds remaining, but Kemba Walker missed a jumper and Daniel Theis a lay-up.

Jayson Tatum (30 points) and Jaylen Brown (28) combined for 58 points for Boston.

Lillard produced a spectacular buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Trail Blazers past the Chicago Bulls 123-122.

The guard was 15-of-26 from the field and eight-of-17 from three-point range for a game-high 44 points.

The Bulls led by five with less than 10 seconds remaining before Lillard hit a long-range three and his buzzer-beater.

 

Butler stars on return as LaMelo shines

After missing 10 games, Jimmy Butler returned with 30 points to help the Miami Heat edge the Sacramento Kings 105-104.

LaMelo Ball (27 points, nine assists and five rebounds) guided the Charlotte Hornets to a 126-114 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo fell just short of a triple-double with 34 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

The Houston Rockets made it five straight wins as Christian Wood (27 points and nine rebounds) continued to impress in a 126-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Luka Doncic had 29 points, but the Dallas Mavericks fell to Chris Paul (29 points and 12 assists) and the Phoenix Suns 111-105.

 

Walker woes

Walker went one-of-12 from the field and 0-of-five from three-point range in the Celtics' loss, finishing with just four points in 28 minutes.

 

Lillard magic

Lillard delivered two huge late threes to lift the Trail Blazers to an incredible win.

Saturday's results

Portland Trail Blazers 123-122 Chicago Bulls
Charlotte Hornets 126-114 Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets 126-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Miami Heat 105-104 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 96-95 Boston Celtics
Memphis Grizzlies 129-112 San Antonio Spurs
Phoenix Suns 111-105 Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors 118-91 Detroit Pistons

 

Jazz at Nuggets

The Utah Jazz (15-4) are riding an 11-game winning streak ahead of facing Nikola Jokic (averaging 25.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season) and the Denver Nuggets (11-8) on Sunday.

The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to back-to-back losses in the NBA, while the Clippers got past the Miami Heat on Thursday.

The Lakers dropped two straight games for the first time this season, beaten 107-92 by the Detroit Pistons.

LeBron James posted a double-double of 22 points and 10 assists, to go with seven rebounds, but the Lakers were beaten.

A day after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis (quad).

Blake Griffin (23 points) and Mason Plumlee (17 points and 10 rebounds) led the Pistons (5-14) to their surprise win.

The Lakers (14-6) are third in the Western Conference, behind the Utah Jazz (14-4) and Clippers (14-5).

Still without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, the Clippers recorded a 109-105 win over the Heat.

They had six players in double-figures for points, with Serge Ibaka (10 points and 13 rebounds) finishing with a double-double.

The Clippers became the first team in the shot-clock era to win a game despite being outscored by 14-plus points in the first and fourth quarters, as per Stats Perform.

 

Awesome Oladipo leads Rockets, Curry's Warriors crushed

Victor Oladipo finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Houston Rockets' 104-101 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard (30 points, nine assists and four rebounds) led the way for Portland.

Stephen Curry posted 27 points, but the Golden State Warriors were well beaten by the Phoenix Suns 114-93.

 

Warriors' woes

Kelly Oubre Jr. (one-of-11) and Draymond Green (one-of-seven) struggled from the field for the Warriors, combining for just six points.

 

Wood with the dunk

Christian Wood continued his good form with 22 points, including a big dunk, and 12 rebounds for the Rockets.

Thursday's results

Houston Rockets 104-101 Portland Trail Blazers
Detroit Pistons 107-92 Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns 114-93 Golden State Warriors

 

Nets at Thunder

The Brooklyn Nets (12-8) are riding a three-game winning streak ahead of facing the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-9) on Friday. Nets stars Kevin Durant and James Harden are set to come up against their former team.

No player's journey to the NBA has ever been easy. Christian Wood's may just have been the hardest. 

An undrafted player that was waived several times, including by a team in China, Wood has remarkably ascended into the upper echelon of the league behind a stellar first season in Houston.  

The 6-foot-10 center is averaging 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds in 12 games, and while he hasn't made Rockets fans forget James Harden, he's certainly offered a ray of optimism in a difficult season.  

Through January 20, Wood had seven games this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Only Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Vucevic had more with eight apiece during that span. 

Wood and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid are the only players (minimum 10 games) currently among the league's top 25 in points, rebounds and blocks per game.  

All signs point to stardom for Wood, who is a leading contender for the Most Improved Player award and is even receiving consideration for the 2021 United States Olympic team. None of this could've been predicted early in Wood's career when he had trouble just holding onto a roster spot and was a G League regular.  

Undrafted in 2015 after two seasons at UNLV, Wood, 25, was given a chance by the Rockets but was never offered a contract. He made his NBA debut with the 76ers in 2015-16, averaging 3.6 points in 17 games but spent most of the season with Delaware in the G League. 

Wood appeared in 13 games for Charlotte in 2016-17 but was let go after that season and then played for the Mavericks' and Suns' summer league teams in 2017.  

With no NBA team willing to sign him, Wood accepted an offer from the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese league. He would never play for them and was waived after the Sturgeons signed another former NBA player, Mike Harris.  

Despite putting up impressive numbers in the G League for Philadelphia in 2017-18 and then Milwaukee the next season, Wood only played in 13 games for the Bucks and averaged 2.8 points.  

Signed as a free agent by New Orleans in March 2019, Wood finally began to offer glimpses of his potential. He averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in eight games, but the Pelicans decided to waive him on July 15, 2019. 

Picked up three days later by the Pistons, Wood beat out veteran guard Joe Johnson for the final spot on Detroit's 2019-20 roster. A solid reserve most of that season with averages of 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, Wood's career truly took off when he was inserted into the starting lineup in early February following the trade of center Andre Drummond to Cleveland.

In the final 13 games that season, Wood averaged 22.8 points on 56.8 per cent shooting and 9.9 rebounds. He even connected on 22 of 55 from three-point range, proving he can be an effective offensive player in a myriad of ways.

Though Detroit hoped to retain Wood, the Rockets offered a three-year, $41million contract and the teams worked out a sign-and-trade deal. That contract looks like a stroke of genius now for Houston since they have no choice but to undergo a transformation with the trade of Russell Westbrook followed by Harden's blockbuster move to Brooklyn.  

Wood is currently dealing with a sprained right ankle and has missed the past three games, but his first 12 have left quite an impression.  

Wood is just one of five players since 1985-86 to accumulate at least 280 points and 125 total rebounds in his first 12 games with a team. The others on that list are Shaquille O’Neal (Lakers, 1996), Zach Randolph (Clippers, 2008), Charles Barkley (Suns, 1992) and Moses Malone (Washington Bullets, 1986). 

Only Elvin Hayes (326 in 1968) and Harden (294 in 2012) have more points than Wood (282) in their first 12 games with the Rockets. That's a more productive start than Westbrook, Ralph Sampson, Tracy McGrady or even Hakeem Olajuwon had in their first few weeks with the franchise.  

Missing time in an abbreviated season won't help his case for Most Improved Player but Wood is one of only two qualified players (appeared in 70 per cent of team's games both seasons) to have raised his scoring average by at least 10 points from last season.  

Wood (+10.4) trails only Detroit’s Jerami Grant (+12.4) in scoring and leads in improvement in rebounds per game (+4.5) and ranks third in blocks (+0.88). 

Among undrafted players, Wood (23.5) leads the league in scoring by a wide margin over Toronto's Fred VanVleet (18.9) and in rebounding (10.8) over JaMychal Green (6.7) of the Nuggets. 

In matchups this season against Jokic, Vucevic and San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge – some of the game's best big men – Wood has averaged 24 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. 

A lack of maturity certainly contributed to Wood's difficulty in landing a regular NBA role early in his career, as did a lack of on-court focus at times. But those issues seem to be a thing of the past and Wood's future is very bright given his youth, athletic ability and skill set that seems tailor made for the modern NBA. 

Wood will have a difficult time becoming an All-Star in a stacked Western Conference but that his name is even being mentioned among the NBA's elite is rather incredible for a player that the mighty Sturgeons had no use for. 

John Wall was glad to get a rare win over Russell Westbrook – as well as coming out on top against his former team – after helping the Houston Rockets prevail against the Washington Wizards.

Wall had 24 points as the Rockets triumphed 107-88 despite the best efforts of his former back-court partner Bradley Beal, who finished with a game-high 33 for the short-handed Wizards.

For Wall, this was his first time going up against the franchise that drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. The point guard was traded prior to this season, swapping places with Westbrook.

Not for the first time in their careers, the pair exchanged words during Tuesday's contest, leading to both receiving technical fouls.

"Trash talking, that's what two competitive guys do," Wall explained in his post-game interview.

"Russ has been kicking my a** for years - I think this is only my third win against Russ since I've been in the league, so he's a hell of a talent.

"I know he's dealing with injuries the same as I was, we just keep trying to get better and lead our team.

"It's just competitive guys trash talking. This isn't the first time; we've trash talked before. We knew how good he could be."

As for Westbrook, he is looking forward to the opportunity of coming up against Houston again later in the season - Washington will have home advantage when the teams meet on February 15.

The nine-time NBA All-Star contributed 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the defeat at Toyota Center, his former home before the trade that sent him to the Wizards.

"Now listen, I don't start talking s***," Westbrook said. "I defend myself because I don't just allow people to say just anything, especially when I know the facts as it pertains to anybody on the court playing against [me].

"So, I think [they] just started talking s*** because they just started to win, started winning at that time. You know, it's cool, though. We play them again."

Wall, playing restricted minutes as he comes back after two injury plagued years, admits he is having fun with Houston, declaring he is just happy to be on a team where he feels wanted.

Victor Oladipo had 20 points while DeMarcus Cousins contributed 19 as well as 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who are starting afresh following the departure of disgruntled superstar James Harden.

"I haven't played in two years so this is fun," Wall said. "To be somewhere where you're wanted, that's the most important thing.

"I never want to be anywhere where I'm not wanted, and I feel like this organisation wanted me here and they've shown nothing but love and trust for me since day one."

Defeat was particularly tough on Beal, who now has 413 points for the struggling Wizards, who own a 3-10 record in the East. 

The shooting guard is the third player in NBA history to score at least 400 points during his first 12 games but have three or fewer wins. The others were both in 1959-60 - Elgin Baylor and Jack Twyman.

The Los Angeles Clippers' seven-game winning streak was ended, while the Utah Jazz's run continued on Tuesday.

Trae Young inspired the Atlanta Hawks to a 108-99 win over the Clippers, posting 38 points and five assists.

The Clippers (13-5) were without star pair Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who missed the game due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Reggie Jackson led the Clippers' scoring with 20 points, but it was Young who dominated.

Young also got plenty of support from De'Andre Hunter (22 points), Clint Capela (13 points and 18 rebounds) and John Collins (11 points and 11 rebounds).

Utah, meanwhile, made it nine straight wins by getting past the New York Knicks 108-94.

Rudy Gobert finished with a double-double of 18 points and 19 rebounds for the Jazz (13-4).

 

Wall shines for Rockets, Rivers hot for Knicks

John Wall had 24 points to guide the Houston Rockets past his former team, the Washington Wizards, 107-88.

Austin Rivers was 10-of-14 from the field, and five-of-seven from three-point range, for 25 points in 27 minutes off the bench for the Knicks.

 

Wizards' woes continue

The Wizards slumped to 3-10 after their loss to the Rockets.

The defeat came despite 33 points from Bradley Beal. Beal has 413 points in his 12 games this season, but the Wizards hold a 3-9 record in those encounters. He is the third player in NBA history to score 400-plus points over his first 12 games of a season but have three or fewer wins, joining Elgin Baylor and Jack Twyman in 1959-60, as per Stats Perform.

Young pays tribute to Kobe

Young held up a 24 sign with his hands after making a three-pointer for the Hawks, in a tribute to Kobe Bryant on the one-year anniversary of the NBA great's death.

Tuesday's results

Atlanta Hawks 108-99 Los Angeles Clippers
Houston Rockets 107-88 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 108-94 New York Knicks

 

Lakers at 76ers

The respective conference leaders meet in a blockbuster clash on Wednesday. The Philadelphia 76ers (12-6) host a Los Angeles Lakers (14-4) outfit that have won three straight games.

The Los Angeles Lakers eased to a win in the NBA on Saturday, while the Brooklyn Nets overcame the Miami Heat.

Anthony Davis posted 37 points in 28 minutes as the Lakers brushed past the Chicago Bulls 101-90 to improve to 9-0 on the road.

LeBron James had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in the comfortable win.

The Lakers (13-4) sit top of the Western Conference ahead of the red-hot Utah Jazz (12-4).

The Nets returned to winning ways after back-to-back losses, overcoming the Heat 128-124.

Kyrie Irving had 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, while Kevin Durant (31 points), Joe Harris (23 points) and James Harden (12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) were also key contributors.

Heat star Bam Adebayo was in impressive form with 41 points.

 

Jazz win eighth straight, Embiid and Jokic star again

The Jazz made it eight straight wins as Donovan Mitchell recorded 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 127-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Warriors star Stephen Curry (24 points) passed Reggie Miller to move into second place for most three-pointers made in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers improved to 12-5 as Joel Embiid had a double-double of 33 points and 14 rebounds in a 114-110 win against the Detroit Pistons.

Nikola Jokic's impressive season continued. The center had 29 points, 22 rebounds and six assists as the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 120-112 after overtime.

 

Grant struggles

Jerami Grant struggled from the field for the Pistons. He went three-of-19 for just 11 points in 35 minutes in the loss to the 76ers.

 

Curry passes Miller

Curry moved past Miller after making his 2,561st three-pointer in the NBA. Only Ray Allen (2,973) has made more.

Saturday's results

Minnesota Timberwolves 120-110 New Orleans Pelicans
Philadelphia 76ers 114-110 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Miami Heat
Houston Rockets 133-108 Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz 127-108 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers 101-90 Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets 120-112 Phoenix Suns

 

Hawks at Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks (9-6) have dropped back-to-back games ahead of hosting the Atlanta Hawks (8-7) on Sunday.

Collin Sexton made history after helping the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in three days, 125-113 in the NBA on Friday.

After scoring 42 points in a double-overtime upset of the Nets on Wednesday, Cavaliers star Sexton was at it again with 25 points and nine assists against Brooklyn in Cleveland.

Sexton became the first player in Cavs history to post 20-plus points in each of his first 10 games of the season.

It was another tough outing for the star-studded Nets, who crashed to a second consecutive loss since Kyrie Irving returned following a seven-game absence.

In the absence of Kevin Durant (Achilles rehab), Irving had a game-high 38 points, while James Harden put up 19 points and 11 assists – his fourth double-double in four games since joining the Nets in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets.

Joel Embiid produced another MVP-calibre performance as the Philadelphia 76ers overcame Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics 122-110.

Embiid dominated with 38 points and 11 rebounds, after his 42-point double-double against the Celtics midweek. The three-time All-Star was 11-of-15 from the field, while he made both of his three-point attempts.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with a game-high 42 points in Philadelphia.

 

Young and Capela soar for Hawks, Kawhi fuels Clippers

Trae Young posted a season-high 43 points and Clint Capela recorded 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks to guide the Atlanta Hawks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-98. Capela became the third player in Hawks history with 10 blocks in a game, joining Dikembe Mutombo and Josh Smith.

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-106 for their sixth straight win behind Kawhi Leonard's 31 points in LA. Paul George added 29 points of his own for the in-form Clippers, who are tied with defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA's best record at 12-4.

Another game, another double-double for Nikola Jokic. The Denver Nuggets star tallied his 15th double-double (31 points and 10 rebounds) in 15 games this season to help secure a 130-126 OT victory at the Phoenix Suns.

Luka Doncic fell just short of a triple-double after posting 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the Dallas Mavericks' 122-117 win against the San Antonio Spurs.

Gordan Hayward finished with 34 points but the Charlotte Hornets still lost 123-110 at home to the Chicago Bulls.

 

Collin in Young's shadow

Hawks power forward John Collins has reportedly been unhappy with Young running the team's offense, but he did little to stake his own case. Collins was just two-of-eight shooting from the field for four points in 28 minutes. The rookie has been averaging 15.9 points per game this season.

The Miami Heat boast some great three-point shooters in Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, but last season's NBA Finals participants struggled from beyond the arc in their 101-81 rout at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. Miami were just 22.6 per cent from three-point range – three of 31.

 

Brogdon calls came

Trailing 118-117, Malcolm Brogdon nailed a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds remaining as the Indiana Pacers topped the Orlando Magic 120-118 in overtime.

 

Friday's results

Chicago Bulls 123-110 Charlotte Hornets
Houston Rockets 103-102 Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers 120-118 Orlando Magic (OT)
Cleveland Cavaliers 123-115 Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers 122-110 Boston Celtics
Toronto Raptors 101-81 Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks 116-98 Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks 122-117 San Antonio Spurs
Denver Nuggets 130-126 Phoenix Suns (OT)
Los Angeles Clippers 120-106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Sacramento Kings 103-94 New York Knicks
Washington Wizards-Milwaukee Bucks (postponed)
Memphis Grizzlies-Portland Trail Blazers (postponed)

 

Heat at Nets

The Nets (9-8) will look to snap a run of back-to-back defeats when they host Eastern Conference rivals the Heat (6-8) on Saturday.

Joel Embiid produced another mammoth performance to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics 117-109 on Wednesday.

Embiid posted 42 points and 10 rebounds – going 12 of 19 from the floor in Philadelphia, where the three-time NBA All-Star scored 22 points in the first half.

Returning to action following knee soreness, Embiid topped 40 points for the second time in three games as he joined Bradley Beal as the only NBA players with multiple such performances.

There is only one other instance where a Sixers player had a 40 and 10 game on one or fewer turnovers since the three-point era – Embiid himself in 2019.

Luka Doncic recorded another triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Indiana Pacers 124-112 to snap a three-game losing streak.

Doncic put up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season – tied for the most alongside Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic – and 30th of his career.

The 22-year-old is the youngest player to reach 30 career triple-doubles, while he is the second-fastest in terms of games played (146), eclipsing Magic Johnson (190) but behind Oscar Robertson (75).

 

Irving stars on return but Sexton outshines Nets trio

After a seven-game absence due to personal reasons, Kyrie Irving had 37 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 147-135 double overtime loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 38 points and 12 rebounds, and fellow superstar James Harden finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. However, Collin Sexton's 42 points lifted the Cavaliers past Brooklyn's 'Big Three'.

Clint Capela had 27 points and a career-high 26 rebounds for the Atlanta Hawks, who outlasted the Detroit Pistons 123-115 in overtime. Trae Young scored 38 points and John Collins registered 31 points, while Detroit's Jerami Grant posted a career-high 32 points.

 

Lowry's shooting woes

While collecting 10 rebounds and tallying seven assists, Kyle Lowry was far from his best in the Toronto Raptors' 111-102 loss to the Miami Heat. Lowry was just two-of-12 from the field, while he made just one of 10 shots from three-point range for eight points in 36 minutes.

 

Anthony on the buzzer!

Cole Anthony did it all at the death. He grabbed the rebound and ran the length of the court before sinking the buzzer-beating shot to lift the Orlando Magic past the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-96.

Wednesday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 147-135 Brooklyn Nets (OT)
Dallas Mavericks 124-112 Indiana Pacers
Philadelphia 76ers 117-109 Boston Celtics
Atlanta Hawks 123-115 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Miami Heat 111-102 Toronto Raptors
Orlando Magic 97-96 Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns 109-103 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 121-99 San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers 115-96 Sacramento Kings
Washington Wizards-Charlotte Hornets (postponed)
Portland Trail Blazers-Memphis Grizzlies (postponed)

 

Lakers at Bucks

LeBron James and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (11-4) travel to face Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks (9-5) on Thursday. Both teams are coming off losses.

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