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.

LeBron James hopes to return for the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Boston Celtics on Friday but is still rated as "day to day" by head coach Frank Vogel.

The Lakers were toppled 109-102 by defending NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday to fall to 8-8 for the season.

It also means they are 4-6 for games this season in which they have been without superstar James, who has missed eight in a row and 10 of 16 overall with an abdominal strain.

When leaving the Fiserv Forum after the loss to the Bucks, James was asked by ESPN if he would be back against the Celtics, to which he replied: "I hope, I hope."

Having James back would be a timely boost to a star-studded Lakers side that has yet to gel this season. In 54 regular-season games played in Boston, James averages 28.9 points. Only in Cleveland, where he has averaged 29.1 points in 17 games as an opposing player, does he have a better average.

James was put through his paces by Lakers assistant Phil Handy prior to Wednesday's game and was seen stretching out his abdomen on several occasions.

With James in the team, the Lakers are 4-2 even though his 24.8 points per game is his lowest return since averaging 20.9 as a rookie, while his 5.5 rebounds are the least since that same season and 7.0 assists his worst return since 2015-16.

 

When asked about James' potential return, Vogel said: "I was hoping he was going to play each of the last seven games or whatever it's been since he's been out. 

"I always hope he's going to play. I'm always optimistic. He's still day to day. No decisions are made."

Vogel said any conditions that need to be met for James to come back will be left to the Lakers' medical team.

"I'll leave that to the medical team," he added. "I know he did some work today. I haven't gotten the reports on how that went yet. 

"But I'll leave that between him and the medical team to make the decision of when he's ready to go."

James' team-mate Anthony Davis believes injuries have been a disrupting factor for the Lakers through the first part of the season.

"We put a team together and we haven't seen it yet," he said. 

"Once we get everybody back, we can kind of see, to be honest. Until then, just got to fight with what we got."

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted he is at his best when he is aggressive after the Milwaukee Bucks superstar posted 47 points in Wednesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Antetokounmpo was unstoppable in Milwaukee midweek, erupting for a season high as NBA champions the Bucks took down the LeBron James-less Lakers 109-102.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

"I feel like the past games I wasn't as aggressive as I want to be, wasn't initiating the contact, wasn't getting into the pain as much," Antetokounmpo told reporters post-game.

"At the end of the day, you try to develop your weaknesses and forget your strengths. Had two days in between, talk to the coaches, watch a lot of tape. I want to be aggressive, initiate the contact and get into the pain. Play with an edge.

"At the end of the day, I just let my instincts take over…"

 

Antetokounmpo added: "There's been so much I've been asked to do – lead, be vocal, pass the ball, rebound the ball, score the ball. I just try to compete. Moving forward, I just want to be aggressive. I'm my best when I'm aggressive."

All-Star team-mate Khris Middleton returned after an eight-game absence due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

"Feels good to have him back. We've missed him. Just having him out there, he draws a lot of attention. People have to guard him," said Antetokounmpo of Middleton.

"As much as I was complaining in the past, just an inside joke with him about seeing him too much, we have to get some space... I kind of missed him. Having him out there helped the team. He made great plays down the stretch."

It has been a topsy-turvy start to the season for the Bucks (7-8) in their title defence due to injuries and COVID-related absences – Milwaukee are 11th in the Eastern Conference.

"We have to start winning games. It's not the most important thing," Antetokounmpo continued. "The most important thing to get better and build good habits. Play good basketball down the stretch in May and June but at the end of the day, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you keep losing.

"We have to start putting teams away. When we're up 15, we can't step back, we have to attack and keep playing with that edge. Don't be satisfied. With Khris back, it's a good opportunity to get back on track. We're in a good place right now."

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 47 points as the NBA champions took down the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.

Antetokounmpo dominated the Lakers, making 18 of his 23 field goals, while collecting nine rebounds and three assists for the Bucks (7-8) on Wednesday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

 

All-Star Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton made his return after eight games out due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

The Lakers (8-8), again without superstar LeBron James, were led by double-doubles from Talen Horton-Tucker (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (19 points and 15 assists).

 

Suns stay hot

The Phoenix Suns celebrated their 10th straight victory after outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 105-98. Devin Booker (24 points) and Deandre Ayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the Suns, who are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 2010. Chris Paul had 14 assists without a turnover – his 46th career game with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers, tying Muggsy Bogues for most by any player since 1985.

Damian Lillard's 22 points and 10 assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers upstage the Chicago Bulls 112-107. Zach LaVine (30 points), DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Alex Caruso (12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) starred but the Bulls still lost on the road.

The Miami Heat defeated the New Orleans Pelicans behind Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list for threes made with 1,687, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99.

 

Knicks continue to struggle for form

After returning to the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks have made a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign amid plenty of hype. They were sensationally upstaged by the lowly Orlando Magic 104-98 – their fourth defeat in six games.

Lonzo Ball believes the Chicago Bulls are "one of the top teams in the NBA" after their 121-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

DeMar DeRozan was the star of the show with 38 points, while Ball added 27 of his own to go with 26 from Zach LaVine as the Bulls secured an impressive victory on Monday.

It was their first win against the Lakers since 2016, having gone eight games without success, and they move to 10-4 for the season.

The visitors were particularly deadly from three-point range, hitting 44.1 per cent (15 from 34 attempts), with Ball himself sinking 7 from 10. The Lakers managed just 18.8 per cent of theirs (six from 32).

"I think we are one of the top teams in the NBA," Ball said. "We've still got a lot to improve on and a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction."

The Lakers struggled again in the absence of LeBron James (abdominal strain), with Talen Horton-Tucker (28 points), Russell Westbrook (25) and Anthony Davis (20) unable to do enough to tame their opponents.

Indeed, it was a Los Angeles native, DeRozan – reportedly considered by the Lakers in free agency before the season – who ran the game.

A day after putting up 35 points against the Clippers in the same arena, the 32-year-old went three better, and he acknowledged after the game that the extra motivation of playing in LA may have been a factor.

"Every night you've got to find some type of extra motivation," said DeRozan. "We've got a couple of guys that played [in LA], [others] from here. Just having that extra juice, that energy to go out there and compete, is always beneficial."

Meanwhile, the Lakers go to 8-7 and are 3-4 since James was sidelined. Another bad night for Frank Vogel's team was compounded when Davis was ejected for dissent.

Having lost his shoe after a missed shot, Ball retrieved it and gave it back to Davis, who was putting it on when the referee gave the ball to the Bulls to take out of bounds.

Davis made a comment to the official, before being given a technical and ejected from the game.

Of the incident, Vogel said: "Typically, the ref will let the guy get his shoe on, have some common sense.

"Quick inbounds. AD said that's 'BS,' which happens about 15 times in the NBA, every game. OK. Quick tech. Ejection. That's all I'm going to say about that."

DeMar DeRozan was at his brilliant best again as the Chicago Bulls routed the Los Angeles Lakers 121-103 in the NBA on Monday.

DeRozan is the face of the new-look Bulls and the four-time All-Star maintained his MVP-calibre start to the season with a game-high 38 points at Staples Center.

The 32-year-old, who joined the Bulls ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, had his fourth 35-plus point game of the month – tying a career high.

Chicago have won four of their past five games, having also trumped the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, on the back of Lonzo Ball's seven three-pointers in his 27-point display against former team the Lakers.

Zach LaVine added 26 points for the Bulls, who improved to 10-4 in the Eastern Conference after beating the Lakers for the first time since 2016, snapping an eight-game drought.

Without superstar LeBron James, Talen Horton-Tucker (28 points), Russell Westbrook (25 points) and Anthony Davis (20 points) led the stuttering Lakers (8-7).

 

 

Streaking Suns sizzle

Last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Phoenix Suns celebrated their ninth successive victory after outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-96. Devin Booker (29 points), Deandre Ayton (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (21 points) all starred on the road. Ayton is the only player this season to be averaging 15-plus points and 10-plus rebounds while shooting at least 60 per cent from the field.

Cade Cunningham joined Stephen Curry (twice), Trae Young and Jason Kidd as the only rookies in NBA history with 25 points, five three-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists in a game. The number one draft pick, however, was unable to prevent the lowly Detroit Pistons falling 129-107 to the Sacramento Kings.

 

Doncic limps off court

The Dallas Mavericks took down reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets 111-101, but it appeared to have come at a cost. Mavericks star Luka Doncic limped off the court after rolling his ankle in the final minute of the game. Doncic had posted 23 points and 11 assists to help fuel the Mavericks. Jokic's 35-point and 16-rebound double-double was not enough for Denver.

The Golden State Warriors had their seven-game winning streak ended by the Charlotte Hornets, who prevailed 106-102 in the NBA on Sunday.

Boasting the league's best record, Golden State (11-2) were upstaged in Charlotte, where Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier helped take down the high-flying Warriors.

Rozier made two key free throws down the stretch while outleaping Draymond Green on a late jump ball as he finished with 20 points – all in the second half – and Bridges had 22 of his own for the Hornets (8-7).

In his annual homecoming to Charlotte, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry put up 24 points and 10 assists, while team-mate Andrew Wiggins scored 28.

 

The Los Angeles Clippers also had their seven-game streak snapped after falling 100-90 the rampaging Chicago Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan maintained his MVP-calibre play with 35 points and Zach LaVine added 29 to top the Clippers on the road, where Paul George's double-double (27 points and 11 rebounds) was not enough.

 

Hawks soar thanks to Trae

Trae Young's season-best 42 points fuelled the Atlanta Hawks to a 120-100 win over reigning champions the Milwaukee Bucks. Young also had 10 assists, eight three-pointers and eight rebounds as Atlanta ended their six-game skid. In NBA history, only James Harden (three times), George, Russell Westbrook and Young have managed a performance of 40-plus points, 10-plus assists, eight-plus rebounds and eight-plus threes. Giannis Antetokounmpo returned for the stuttering Bucks, registering 26 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Patty Mills was red hot as the Brooklyn Nets routed the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-96. Mills made nine of his 12 three-pointers for 29 points. He broke the record for the most threes off the bench in franchise history. Kevin Durant top-scored with 33 points as Harden had 16 points and 13 assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 114-106 behind double-doubles from Anthony Davis (34 points and 15 rebounds) and Westbrook (14 points and 11 rebounds).

 

Blazers routed in Denver

Playing without star Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers were put to the sword by Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets 124-95. Portland had no answer for Jokic, who narrowly fell short of a triple-double after posting 28 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel lauded Anthony Davis for imposing "his will" as the stuttering NBA franchise returned to winning ways.

After their humbling at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Davis led the Lakers to a 114-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Davis posted 27 of his game-high 34 points in the opening half, while collecting 15 rebounds and tallying six assists for the championship-chasing Lakers, who continue to be without superstar LeBron James.

Only once previously have the Lakers won the title after making a 7-6 start, improving to 57-25 in 2007-08 to take the top seed in the Western Conference.

Their early struggles prompted Davis to issue a warning regarding their "embarrassing" form following the 107-83 home loss to the Timberwolves.

Vogel hailed 2020 NBA champion Davis after helping the Lakers (8-6) outlast the Spurs (4-9).

"Anthony really imposes his will on this game," Vogel told reporters post-game in Los Angeles.

"I think he, probably more than anyone, was unhappy with how last game unfolded and he was intent to impose his will."

Davis added: "We're starting to get our guys back and we want to make a run. We want to go on a nice little winning streak and be the team that we know that we can be.

"But it starts with our defence. I feel like we had moments where we were like the old Lakers where we mess up and break down our coverages. But for the most part we looked really good."

Russell Westbrook added 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, while Talen Horton-Tucker contributed 17 points in his season debut.

"To come out in his first game and do what he did was unreal," Davis said of Horton-Tucker. "I'm impressed.

"His first game and to come in and do what he did to help us win was huge and a sign of his hard work. A lot of guys usually come back and are kind of rusty, but he came in like he had been playing with us this whole time."

Anthony Davis has warned the Los Angeles Lakers they will not be NBA title contenders this season if they do not improve on their "embarrassing" form.

The Lakers lost 107-83 at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday to fall to 7-6 on the year, despite playing 10 of their first 13 games at Staples Center.

Only once previous have the Lakers won the title after making a 7-6 start, improving to 57-25 in 2007-08 to take the top seed in the West.

Even with LeBron James closing on a return from injury, such a turnaround looks unlikely this year as things stand. Three of their seven wins have come only after overtime – a league high.

Davis, who led the team with 22 points against the Timberwolves, is certainly concerned.

"We've got to decide who we want to be," he said. "A championship team? That's not us right now. We're not winning a championship the way we're playing.

"We've got to be better, and we've got to care more for our wins at home, wins in general. That was embarrassing."

LA have been especially poor in the third quarters of games, a theme that continued against Minnesota.

The Lakers scored just 12 points and allowed 40 for a differential of -28, their second-worst in any single quarter since at least 2002-03 (-31 in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013-14).

The team are a combined -83 in third quarters this season, the worst record of any team in any single quarter in 2021-22.

"We sucked," Davis said. "No defense, can't score. That's not just this third quarter, it's every third quarter we've played this season.

"We come out slow, lackadaisical offensively and defensively. We've got to get it together. Why? I can't tell you. But we've got to do a better job."

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