The Golden State Warriors continue to set the pace in the NBA after Stephen Curry fuelled the league-leading franchise to a 105-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Curry put up a game-high 33 points and the red-hot Warriors celebrated their eighth consecutive victory on Sunday.

The two-time MVP also had six assists, six steals and five rebounds as the Warriors improved to 18-2 this season.

Golden State had 19 steals in total at Staples Center, where Paul George (30 points) and the Clippers shot just 40 per cent from the field.

The Warriors have held their opponents to under 50 per cent shooting in all 20 games this season – Golden State have the best defensive rating and opponent field goal percentage in 2021-22.

 

 

Lakers win grudge match

The Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the lowly Detroit Pistons 110-106 as the two teams renewed hostilities for the first time since LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart were ejected following a melee. James had struck Stewart in the face – drawing blood, sparking wild scenes as the Pistons big man repeatedly charged at the Lakers superstar on November 21. On Sunday, James scored 33 points and tallied nine assists to help the Lakers. Anthony Davis (24 points and 10 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (25 points and nine rebounds) also contributed in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks eased past the Indiana Pacers 118-100 for their seventh successive victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a day out with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Tatum overshadows Celtics triumph

The Boston Celtics left Canada with a 109-97 win against the Toronto Raptors, but it was a miserable outing for All-Star Jayson Tatum. While he had 10 assists and seven rebounds, Tatum finished with just eight points on two-of-16 shooting in a team-high 38 minutes. He also recorded four turnovers.

The Phoenix Suns are closing in on a franchise record after celebrating a 15th successive win with a 118-97 victory against the New York Knicks in the NBA.

Last season's Finals runners-up, the Suns are two victories away from equalling their all-time consecutive win streak of 17 games thanks to Friday's triumph – Phoenix won 17 straight games in 2006-07.

Devin Booker fuelled the red-hot Suns with 32 points at Madison Square Garden, Chris Paul (14 points and 10 assists) and Deandre Ayton (14 points and 13 rebounds) contributed double-doubles on the road.

Reigning Western Conference champions the Suns boast a 16-3 record this season, a mark only bettered by rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2).

 

 

Warriors win again

The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games by topping the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while the two-time MVP surpassed Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Draymond Green put up 12 points and 12 assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost a wild game against the Sacramento Kings, outlasted 141-137 following triple overtime. Not even Russell Westbrook's triple-double (29 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) or LeBron James' 30 points and 11 assists could lift the Lakers in LA.

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Nikola Jokic-less Denver Nuggets 120-109 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 24 points and 13 rebounds. By topping the depleted Nuggets, the Bucks made it six straight victories.

 

Jazz stunned in Salt Lake City

The lowly New Orleans Pelicans shocked the Utah Jazz 98-97 courtesy of Devonte' Graham's go-ahead three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining on the road.

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the struggling Detroit Pistons 107-96, but it was a rough outing for star Paul George, who was just five-for-19 shooting in a 12-point display. Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham, meanwhile, finished with 10 points having made only three of his 13 shots from the field.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was hit with a $15,000 fine by the NBA for making an "obscene gesture" in Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers.

The NBA also warned James about using profane language after lifting the Lakers past Pacers 124-116 in overtime midweek.

James posted a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in OT to see the Lakers to victory, having returned from a one-game suspension for his part in a heated altercation with Detroit Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart on Sunday.

A four-time NBA champion and MVP, James made a gesture after sinking a late shot against the Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, while he used profanity in his post-game interview.

Against the Sacramento Kings on Friday, James is looking to score 35 or more points in consecutive games for the first time since December 2018, per Stats Perform.

The Lakers are 4-0 in overtime games this season with no other NBA team having more than two wins in OT in 2021-22. Since February, the Lakers have played a league-high 10 overtime games, going 9-1.

It took a while, but big brother came out on top as Stephen and Seth Curry faced off Wednesday. 

Stephen's Golden State Warriors trailed by as many as 19 in the first half but rallied to cruise to a 116-96 victory over Seth's Philadelphia 76ers. 

Seth Curry led all scorers with 17 points before half-time as the 76ers (10-8) roared out of the gate, but they could not sustain it for the long haul. 

Golden State (15-2) opened the second half with a 14-2 run to take the lead and the teams went back and forth for a while before the Warriors iced the game with a 28-8 run in the fourth quarter. 

It was the second time this season the Warriors won a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 10. The rest of the NBA's teams only have three such games. 

Stephen Curry led the way with 25 points and added 10 assists, while Seth finished with 24 to lead the 76ers, but they took different routes to those similar point totals. 

Stephen made just one free throw but connected on six of 11 three-point attempts. Seth missed all five of his three-point tries but was eight-for-eight from the line. 

Golden State have won nine straight home games, all by at least 13 points. 

 

LeBron leads Lakers to OT win in return

LeBron James poured in a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in overtime as he returned from a one-game suspension to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Indiana Pacers 124-116. Russell Westbrook added 20 for the Lakers (10-10), who were playing without Anthony Davis as he was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers (8-12) with 28 points.

Down by 10 to the Chicago Bulls midway through the third quarter, it appeared the Houston Rockets were on their way to a 16th consecutive loss, but a 27-9 run to end the period put the Rockets on top and they never looked back on the way to a 118-113 triumph. Houston (2-16) made eight of their 11 three-point attempts in the decisive third quarter and 17 of 36 threes overall in the game. Danuel House Jr. led the Rockets with 18 points in 17 minutes off the bench, all in the second half. Zach LaVine had 28 for the Bulls (12-7). 

Devin Booker scored 24 of his game-high 35 points in the first half as the Phoenix Suns held off a late challenge to win their 14th game in a row, 120-115 over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chris Paul added 17 points and 12 assists for the Suns (15-3), while Jarrett Allen made nine of 10 shots from the field to lead Cleveland (9-10) with 25 points. 

Patty Mills had 23 points, Kevin Durant 21 and James Harden 20 as the Brooklyn Nets (14-5) opened up an early lead at the Boston Celtics (10-9) and kept rolling on the way to a 123-104 victory. 

 

Rare win for Pelicans over slumping Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost for the fourth time in five games on the heels of a five-game winning streak, getting blown out 127-102 by a New Orleans Pelicans team that entered the game with a 3-16 record. Washington (11-7) turned the ball over 19 times to 10 for New Orleans and made just seven of 31 three-point attempts (22.6) while also missing 13 of their 36 free-throw attempts. Brandon Ingram scored 26 for the Pelicans and Bradley Beal led Washington with 23. 

LeBron James worked out the frustration of serving the first suspension of his NBA career in his return to the court Wednesday. 

James poured in a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 124-116. 

James had to sit out LA's loss at the New York Knicks the night before after being suspended by the league for his part in an altercation with Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. 

In his return to the court, James hit several important shots while also spending much of the game playing center on defence as Anthony Davis sat out the contest with flu-like symptoms. 

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel piled on the superlatives in describing James' all-around performance. 

"There were several times we were down 10, and we kept fighting and obviously the big fella took us home," Vogel told reporters. 

"What LeBron did tonight was just a performance for the ages. I know these fans and how much they love their hoops here in Indianapolis, and he put on one hell of a show.

"I know he wanted to get this W. He really wanted to play in that Knicks game. Madison Square Garden, he looks forward to that every year and it was very disappointing for him to not be able to be in that game. He bounced back tonight."

It looked as if the Lakers would win in regulation when James hit a three-pointer for a 110-104 lead with 1:17 to play in the fourth quarter, but Indiana rookie Chris Duarte tied the game on a three of his own with 6.5 seconds to play. 

James missed a long three in the closing seconds of regulation but got the job done in overtime, his back-to-back threes breaking a tie and putting the Lakers on top for good. 

Along the way, James also asked game officials to eject two fans sitting courtside in Indianapolis. He did not go into detail about that incident after the game, saying only "when obscene gestures and language come into it, [it] can’t be tolerated." 

In his first comments to reporters since the suspension was handed down, James said hitting Stewart in the face Sunday was "definitely accidental" and that was why he apologised immediately. 

“I’m not that kind of player," James said. "I didn’t think it warranted a suspension.”

Frustrating as it was to watch powerless as the Lakers (10-10) fell to the Knicks, he said he believes the team is making progress overall. 

"I think [Tuesday] we played some good ball even in my absence, we just weren't able to come through on that one," he said. "Obviously second half of that Detroit game we played exceptional, especially in that fourth quarter, so we want to continue to build off of it. 

"We want to continue to work on habits and continue to play Laker basketball and if we do that close to 48 minutes we put ourselves in good position to win."

The Los Angeles Lakers were without suspended superstar LeBron James and not even a Russell Westbrook triple-double could fuel the title hopefuls as they were beaten 106-100 by the New York Knicks.

James was not on the court because of a ban handed down – the first of his illustrious career – for his ejection against the Detroit Pistons, the four-time NBA champion struck Isaiah Stewart in the face and drew blood, sparking a melee.

Since James joined the Lakers in 2018, the team had been averaging 113.0 points and with a winning percentage of 64.6 when he plays heading into the matchup, while averaging 107.4 points with a 39.7 winning percentage when he does not.

In his absence, former MVP Westbrook had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists but the Lakers still lost on the road against the Knicks on Tuesday.

Westbrook posted 18 points in the third quarter to tie the game after the Lakers (9-10) had fallen in a 25-point hole, however, the Knicks recovered to beat the storied franchise for the ninth time in 11 games.

Anthony Davis put a pre-game illness aside to battle for 20 points, six rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes.

Julius Randle inspired the Knicks (10-8) with 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, while Evan Fournier contributed a team-high 26 points.

 

 

Porzingis achieves career first as Mavs win

For the first time in his career, Kristaps Porzingis (30 points) scored 20 or more points in seven straight games after helping the Dallas Mavericks trump the Los Angeles Clippers 112-104 in over-time.

 

Denver's slide continues as Jokic sits out again

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic missed his third straight game due to a right wrist sprain and the Denver Nuggets went down 119-100 to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Nuggets have lost five consecutive games – their worst run since a five-game skid in January 2017.

The number one pick in the NBA Draft, it is safe to say Cade Cunningham's rookie season has been a baptism of fire. The first-year Pistons teenager has been criticised for his performances. In a 100-92 loss to the Miami Heat, he was just two-of-10 shooting – making one of seven three-pointers – for six points in 29 minutes, while he had four turnovers.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he was surprised by the NBA's decision to ban superstar team-mate LeBron James for the elbow that sparked wild scenes against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

James jostled with Pistons center Isaiah Stewart at a free throw, with the four-time MVP's left elbow connecting with the latter's face, leaving him bleeding from his right eye and incensed.

Stewart initially appeared calm but lost control, repeatedly charging at James for retribution on court, having to be restrained by team-mates and coaches in Detroit's 121-116 defeat.

The Pistons big man was handed a two-game suspension for his actions, but James was also slapped with a one-game ban for the first time in his illustrious 19-year NBA career after "recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation".

"I was surprised," Davis told reporters after the Lakers went down 106-100 to the New York Knicks without James on Tuesday.

"I didn't think he was gonna get suspended. I don't think anyone thought he was gonna be suspended to be honest.

"It was an accident. He accidentally hit him in the face. The report came out and said his hit to the face caused an incident. He can't control how a guy is going to react.

"Guys get hit in the face all the time, we're saying that caused the incident? I get hit in my face, I probably won't hit anyone. If I go off and do all that, does the other guy get suspended? It was strange but nothing we can do about it."

Davis had his own drama on Tuesday, making a mad dash to arrive at Madison Square Garden less than an hour before tip-off due to illness, playing 34 minutes for 20 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Davis seemed a "little bit drained" although the NBA champion refused to blame that for the defeat which left the franchise 9-10.

"I don't use my illness as an excuse," Davis said. "I go out there and give it my all. I think we were tied in the fourth. we missed some shots."

After the Lakers fell short despite Russell Westbrook's triple-double, Davis added: "I just woke up not feeling well. Headache, flu symptoms, coughing, fever, body aching, everything. I was in my hotel waiting for my fever to break.

"It was a low-grade fever. I couldn't leave until my fever broke. My fever broke, got in the car and shot straight here. [I arrived] 46-48 minutes from the game clock. I got in and did as much as I can treatment wise, got dressed, went out to play."

LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart have both been handed suspensions following their chaotic confrontation during the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. 

Four-time NBA champion James received a one-game ban for "recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation" at Little Caesars Arena, ruling him out of the Lakers' game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. 

Stewart was left bloodied after being caught in the face by James when jostling for position on a free throw. He reacted angrily and attempted to pursue the 36-year-old on multiple occasions, with a large-scale brawl ensuing on the court.

Stewart was suspended for two games without pay "for escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing … James in an unsportsmanlike manner". 

Both players were ejected following the incident in the third quarter of the Pistons' 121-116 loss to the Lakers. 

Anthony Davis defended Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James after his ejection in the wild win over the Detroit Pistons, insisting the NBA superstar is not a "dirty dog".

James was ejected for an elbow to Pistons center Isaiah Stewart's eye, which was deemed a flagrant 2 foul, with the incident setting off a wild brawl in the Lakers' rallying 121-116 victory.

Stewart, who was also tossed from the game, was left bloodied from his right eye and incensed, repeatedly attempting to charge at James, having to be restrained and escorted off the court by coaches and team-mates amid chaotic scenes.

James and Stewart had jostled for position for a rebound from Jerami Grant's free throw early in the third quarter, when the four-time MVP's left elbow struck the Pistons big man's eye.

"Everyone in the league knows LeBron's not a dirty guy," said Davis, led the Lakers' comeback with 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. "As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and said 'my bad, I ain't try to do it'.

"I don't know what [Stewart] was trying to do. I know nobody on our team, one through to 15, was having it. We wanted to protect our brother.

"I've never in 10 years seen a player try to do that... It was uncalled for. You got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn't on purpose.

"We weren't going to allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do. We just wanted to get the win for him."

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident but went on to win behind Davis' big performance on the road.

Davis became the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) was important down the stretch too, with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter alone, as the Lakers dominated with a 37-17 final quarter.

Amid the chaos of the brawl, Westbrook received a technical foul which left him dumb-founded post-game, stating he was an easy target for the referees.

"I didn't know I had a tech… woah, that's interesting," Westbrook told reporters. "For being Russell, I guess? I don’t know why but whatever.

"They had to put it on somebody. I'm an easy person to put s*** on. Why not me?"

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hailed his side's response to the incident, reeling in the Pistons' game-high 17-point lead to claim a win that helped the championship-chasing franchise improve to 9-9 for the season.

"To me, it's one of those things that can change the momentum of your season," Vogel said. "To see guys rally around a team-mate that just got ejected like that in a strange circumstance.

"We played with incredible guts, started the fourth quarter down by 15. That's the determination that this team is going to need. That's how hard we've got to play to get Ws. "That's a heck of a win for us."

The Los Angeles Lakers overturned a 17-point deficit and a chaotic third-quarter brawl which led to LeBron James' ejection to trump the lowly Detroit Pistons 121-116.

James was ejected after an elbow to the eye of Pistons center Isaiah Jackson, who reacted angrily, leading to a wild melee in Detroit on Sunday.

Jackson repeatedly charged at James and had to be restrained by team-mates and coaches. Both players were ejected, with the latter's elbow deemed a flagrant 2 foul.

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident early in the third quarter, before Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis led a rally on the road.

Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds in a final period dominated by the visiting Lakers 37-17.

Davis had 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals – the star becoming the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

James, in his second game back after an abdominal injury laid him off for two and a half weeks, played 21 minutes for 10 points and five assists before his ejection as the Lakers improved to 9-0 for the season.

Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham registered his first career triple-double for the Pistons with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Suns maintain hot streak

The Phoenix Suns recorded their 12th straight win as Cam Johnson had a career-high and game-high 22 points off the bench, including four triples in a 126-97 rout of the Denver Nuggets, who were without MVP Nikola Jokic (shoulder) for the second successive game. Chris Paul (nine points and 10 assists) has had 47 games with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers since entering the league in 2006. He has the most such games since 1985.

Paul George hauled the Los Angeles Clippers past the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks 97-91 with 29 points and six assists. The Mavs were still without Luka Doncic (knee/ankle).

DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points in the Chicago Bulls' 109-103 victory over the New York Knicks. Julius Randle posted 34 points for the beaten Knicks, who led entering the final quarter.

 

Mild Curry returns

Stephen Curry returned from a minor hip issue but was well down on his usual output with only 12 points, making two of 10 field-goal attempts and one of six beyond the arc in the Golden State Warriors' 119-104 triumph over the Toronto Raptors.

Anthony Davis defended Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James after his ejection in the wild win over the Detroit Pistons, insisting the NBA superstar is not a "dirty dog".

James was ejected for an elbow to Pistons center Isaiah Stewart's eye, which was deemed a flagrant 2 foul, with the incident setting off a wild brawl in the Lakers' rallying 121-116 victory.

Stewart, who was also tossed from the game, was left bloodied from his right eye and incensed, repeatedly attempting to charge at James, having to be restrained and escorted off the court by coaches and team-mates amid chaotic scenes.

James and Stewart had jostled for position for a rebound from Jerami Grant's free throw early in the third quarter, when the four-time MVP's left elbow struck the Pistons big man's eye.

"Everyone in the league knows LeBron's not a dirty dog," said Davis, led the Lakers' comeback with 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. "As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and said 'my bad, I ain't try to do it'.

"I don't know what [Stewart] was trying to do. I know nobody on our team, one through to 15, was having it. We wanted to protect our brother.

"I've never in 10 years seen a player try to do that... It was uncalled for. You got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn't on purpose.

"We weren't going to allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do. We just wanted to get the win for him."

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident but went on to win behind Davis' big performance on the road.

Davis became the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) was important down the stretch too, with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter alone, as the Lakers dominated with a 37-17 final quarter.

Amid the chaos of the brawl, Westbrook received a technical foul which left him dumb-founded post-game, stating he was an easy target for the referees.

"I didn't know I had a tech… woah, that's interesting," Westbrook told reporters. "For being Russell, I guess? I don’t know why but whatever.

"They had to put it on somebody. I'm an easy person to put s*** on. Why not me?"

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hailed his side's response to the incident, reeling in the Pistons' game-high 17-point lead to claim a win that helped the championship-chasing franchise improve to 9-9 for the season.

"To me, it's one of those things that can change the momentum of your season," Vogel said. "To see guys rally around a team-mate that just got ejected like that in a strange circumstance.

"We played with incredible guts, started the fourth quarter down by 15. That's the determination that this team is going to need. That's how hard we've got to play to get Ws. "That's a heck of a win for us."

LeBron James was ejected after elbowing Isaiah Stewart amid wild scenes as scuffles broke out in Sunday's clash between the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers.

Stewart was left bloodied and incensed by the elbow, repeatedly running at Lakers superstar James in the wake of the incident, having to be separated by team-mates and coaches.

James was tossed from the game for a flagrant foul 2, along with Stewart as part of the incident which escalated out of control in Detroit, where Lakers star Russell Westbrook was hit with a technical.

It occurred early in the third quarter when James and Stewart jostled for position upon Jerami Grant's second free throw as the Pistons led 78-66.

James' left elbow struck Stewart in his right eye, with the Pistons center initially approaching the four-time MVP with relative calmness, before boiling over and refusing to leave the court with retribution on his mind.

Stewart would not relent, repeatedly charging at James and was eventually ushered off the court, although he broke free down the tunnel, creating further concern.

After the incident and upon consultation with replays, the referees opted to eject four-time NBA champion James for the elbow.

James had scored 10 points on four-of-seven shooting from the field, to go with five assists, one rebound and two assists in 21 minutes.

LeBron James returned from injury but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from suffering their third straight defeat going down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

Jayson Tatum starred for the Celtics with 37 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Marcus Smart was excellent with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

James had 23 points, six rebounds and two assists on his return from an abdominal strain, while Anthony Davis top scored for the Lakers with 31 points.

The four-time MVP showed no signs of injury in the first quarter, helping the Lakers to a strong start, combining with Davis for 22 points, which was their second most in an opening period in the past two seasons.

The Lakers held the lead at half-time but the Celtics hit back in the third quarter with an 8-0 run, opening up an 11-point lead at the final change after a 33-21 period.

The defeat means the 2020 NBA champions have lost seven of their past 10 games and slip to an 8-9 record, while the Celtics improve to 8-8.

 

Suns' hot streak continues

Chris Paul had 18 points and 14 assists as the Phoenix Suns secured their 11th straight win, triumphing 112-104 over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic due to knee and ankle injuries.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points and 19 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks' 96-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Khris Middleton passed Ray Allen for most three-pointers made in franchise history (1,052), hitting three triples in his 16 points.

The Golden State Warriors won without Stephen Curry (bruised hip) and Draymond Green (bruised thigh), with Jordan Poole stepping up with 32 points including four three-pointers in a 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

James Harden shot seven of 25 from the field and had six turnovers but finished with 36 points,10 rebounds and eight assists in Kevin Durant's absence ot lead the Brooklyn Nets past the Orlando Magic 115-113.

Zach LaVine scored 36 points in the Chicago Bulls 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets who were missing Nikola Jokic, while LaMelo Ball starred with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the Charlotte Hornets' 121-118 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

 

Pelicans clip wayward George 

Paul George shot eight of 26 from the field as the Los Angeles Clippers went down to the New Orleans Pelicans 94-81.

LeBron James says there is a sense of urgency that the Los Angeles Lakers need to play better now after slumping to their ninth defeat of the season on Friday.

James returned from an abdominal strain after eight games out but was unable to lift the Lakers who went down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

After 17 games in an 82-game season, the Lakers have an 8-9 record, having lost their past three games and seven of their past 10.

"We damn straight need to play better, no matter who's in the line-up," James said at a post-game news conference. "We have our system and we need to fast-track it and get better with it.

"It's never that we've got 65 games and we can figure it out. There's no level of panic but there should be some sense of urgency every time we hit the floor."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said offensively his side needs to "get committed to playing as a team" while he labelled their rebounding (51-33) against the Celtics as "atrocious".

Russell Westbrook was among a host of new players added during the offseason at the Lakers and James said it was taking time for the side to develop cohesion.

The four-time NBA MVP also said patience was required having only just returned, along with starting forward Talen Horton-Tucker.

"As we continue to log more minutes, I continue to see where we're great at and not so good at," James said. "Things that we can improve on.

"Like I said, it's my first game in two and a half weeks. I believe it's Talen third or fourth game back. We're trying to figure out rotations and who to play when."

The Lakers led by eight points at quarter time and held the most slender advantage at the main break, before a 33-21 third quarter.

Vogel added: "We did not have a good third. We were stuck in mud. [But] it's about the whole game more than the third quarter.

"Our group has got to strike the balance of how we're going to play offensively. That's going to take some time. We have to get committed to playing as a team offensively.

"When we do, like we saw in the first quarter, it looks beautiful. You see the potential of what we can be."

James added that recovery from his first game back would be key to his short-term future as he rebuilds following his abdominal strain. The 36-year-old forward finished with 23 points and six rebounds on his return.

"Physically I felt okay. I know I can trust my body and play," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel when I wake up. That's the tell-tale sign if I'm moving in the right direction with my injury."

LeBron James returned after a fortnight out with an abdominal strain as the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Boston Celtics on Friday.

James, 36, had not played for the Lakers since their 119-117 win over the Houston Rockets on November 1.

The four-time NBA MVP and NBA champion was averaging 24.8, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists across six games this season.

James only played 45 games across the 2020-21 season as the Lakers' title defence ended in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic was ruled out of the Denver Nuggets' side for their game against the Chicago Bulls on Friday with a wrist sprain.

The Serbian center appeared to hurt his wrist in Thursday's 103-89 shock loss to the depleted Philadelphia 76ers.

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