LeBron James hurt his ankle but played on as the Los Angeles Lakers were humbled by the in-form Phoenix Suns 108-88 led by Devin Booker with 24 points on Tuesday.

The Lakers had a major injury scare, with All-Star forward Anthony Davis already sidelined, after James rolled his left ankle driving to the basket in the third quarter, leaving him punching the floor.

The four-time MVP soldiered on, finishing with 34 points and seven rebounds, but spent the final few minutes on the bench as the Lakers were brushed aside by the Suns who improve to 25-5.

Phoenix have four straight and won six of their past seven games, having started the season 1-3. The Suns had seven different players in double figures on Tuesday.

Booker starred in his second game back after a hamstring injury with 24 points including six three-pointers, along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Suns center Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Talen Horton-Tucker had a nightmare game for the Lakers, shooting one of 13 from the field and none of eight from beyond the arc, while Russell Westbrook had 22 points and 10 rebounds but also seven turnovers.

 

Lillard's heroics in vain as Blazers lose

Damian Lillard's 39 points, including six triples, were not enough to lift the Portland Trail Blazers past the New Orleans Pelicans, going down 111-97. Brandon Ingram finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points with 16 rebounds.

Jalen Brunson stepped up in Luka Doncic's absence with 28 points including three triples in the Dallas Mavericks' 114-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Wolves.

Julius Randle had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the New York Knicks overcame the Detroit Pistons 105-91.

 

Brogdon injured as Pacers burnt by Heat

The Indiana Pacers' starting five combined for a measly 46 points in their 125-96 defeat to the Miami Heat. The Pacers were not helped by a sore right Achilles to Malcolm Brogdon which forced him off after eight minutes.

Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan said he felt "as free as a bird" as he returned from isolation with a star turn against the Los Angeles Lakers.

DeRozan had not played in over two weeks after entering the NBA's health and safety protocols amid a COVID-19 outbreak within the Bulls' camp.

He was one of 10 Chicago players to have to quarantine, though did not suffer any symptoms, and he marked his comeback in emphatic style on Sunday.

DeRozan had 38 points, including decisive free throws inside the last 20 seconds, four rebounds and six assists as Chicago claimed a 115-110 win.

He leads the way for the Bulls on points per game (26.8) this season and despite his stint in quarantine, only Zach LaVine (703) has scored more points for Chicago so far in 2021-22 than DeRozan (671). 

DeRozan is also averaging 8.2 points per game in the fourth quarter this season, the most in the league.

"I felt free as a bird," DeRozan told reporters, as quoted by ESPN.

"Just getting out there, being with those guys, being in front of the fans. Just getting out the basement I was in for 10 days."

Bulls coach Billy Donovan was hugely impressed.

"When the ball is in his hands, there's just a calmness to him," Donovan said.

"He doesn't get rattled. He's been in so many of these moments throughout his life and his career. I think things slowed down for him.

"He knows exactly what he has to get done, what needs to get done and he finds ways to just stay totally locked in. It's really an incredible gift that he has."

Indeed, Carmelo Anthony, who had 21 points for the Lakers, acknowledged DeRozan was at the top of his game.

"The fact that he utilizes the midrange, a lot of people want to kind of discredit that part of the game, but I think that's a lost art," the Lakers forward said.

"DeMar is one of the guys who's mastered that. And at the end of the game, when you gotta down, and you gotta run something, threes are not falling, you gotta get to that. He mastered that.

"He mastered his spots on the court. I think that's why he's very efficient, especially this season, in the fourth quarter, specifically down the stretch."

The victory moved the Bulls to 18-10 for the season, with Chicago well placed in second in the Eastern Conference behind the Brooklyn Nets.

Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis revealed he feared the worst when he "heard something pop" as the Minnesota Timberwolves' Jaden McDaniels fell into his left knee on Friday.

Davis limped out of Friday's 110-92 defeat to the Timberwolves after sustaining the knee injury which has since been confirmed as an MCL sprain sidelining him for four weeks.

The Lakers power forward collapsed on his way down the tunnel and said he feared the worst at the time.

"I just reached a point where it was tough to walk," Davis told reporters on Sunday. "I had to take a break.

"I did hear something pop - and the first thing I thought of was [a major injury], which I was emotional, I was just like everywhere. But thank God that it wasn't that."

Davis has played 27 games this season, averaging 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game.

The eight-time All-Star missed 36 games through injury last season and said he had a positive outlook about his latest setback.

"Mentally I'm fine. I'm in a good space," Davis said. "Last year was a more 'me' thing. This year was like a freakish play. So knowing that nothing I really could have done to avoid it, I guess, keeps me in a good place.

"The locker room keeps me in a good place. People around me outside of basketball keep me in a good place. Great conversation with my wife about it; she's the one who keeps me in a good place, for real."

The Lakers slipped to a 16-15 record with Sunday's 115-110 defeat to the Chicago Bulls without Davis.

"We're still in a good spot, for a team who feel like they can, could have done more, or win more games, games we should have won, and we're still in a good spot," he said.

"So hopefully we can stay afloat with all the stuff going on around the team and being able to still pursue our goal, which is to win a championship."

DeMar DeRozan had 38 points as the Chicago Bulls rallied past LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers late in the fourth quarter on the way to a 115-110 victory. 

DeRozan hit a jumper with 52.6 seconds to play to give the Bulls the lead and added a pair of free throws with 15.6 seconds left to extend the margin as Chicago held on late. 

Carmelo Anthony and Wayne Ellington missed game-tying three-point attempts after that before Lonzo Ball iced the win with two more free throws. 

Ball had 19 points and Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls (18-10), who have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference behind the Brooklyn Nets (21-9). 

James led the Lakers with 31 points and 14 rebounds but made just one of seven shots from three-point range. Anthony had 21 points and Russell Westbrook finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Los Angeles (16-15).

 

Suns rip Hornets, hold NBA's best record

The Phoenix Suns (24-5) can now claim the best record in the NBA after a 137-106 demolition of the Charlotte Hornets as Devin Booker returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. Booker had 16 points and was one of nine Suns to reach double figures as Phoenix led 37-15 after the first quarter and did not let up, making 20 of 41 three-point attempts to 10 of 45 from beyond the arc for Charlotte (16-16).

Damian Lillard scored 32 points as the Portland Trail Blazers (13-18) picked up a 105-100 road win against the Memphis Grizzlies (19-12). The Grizzlies had won five in a row and 10 of 11 but shot only 38.5 per cent from the field Sunday as they squandered a career-best 37-point night from Dillon Brooks. 

 

Lowry, Heat fall to lowly Pistons

The Miami Heat had won four out of five games entering Sunday but everything fell apart in a 100-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons, who had lost a franchise record-tying 14 in a row. Kyle Lowry made just three shots from the field in 42 minutes for the Heat (18-13), though he finished with 19 points as he went 11-of-16 at the free-throw line. Saddiq Bey had 26 point to lead the Pistons (5-24), who recorded their first victory since beating the Indiana Pacers on November 17. 

The Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt a major blow with eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis ruled out for at least four weeks with an MCL sprain.

Davis sustained the injury in Friday's 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and underwent scans and evaluation on Saturday.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had hoped the forward's injury was only minor but the franchise confirmed on Saturday he has suffered an MCL sprain and will miss four weeks minimum.

Davis had played 27 of the Lakers' 30 games this season, averaging 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game.

The loss of Davis is a setback for the Lakers who are 14-16 and already without Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will undergo tests on Saturday to determine the extent of the injuries that forced him out of the defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 28-year-old took ankle and knee blows in the 110-92 setback on Friday, forcing him out of the game and leaving question marks over whether a lay-off could follow.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said: "He did see the team doctor here. He's just going to have to be evaluated tomorrow [Saturday] with the MRI, and we'll know more at the time.

"Hopefully, it's something minor and he can get back soon, but we'll find out more tomorrow."

On the defeat, he added: "We have enough to win the game, and we didn't play well enough.

"I think their whole team was more physical. They definitely played a more physical brand of basketball today, and we've got to be better."

Davis is averaging 23.3 points plus 9.9 rebounds this season.

"You lose a player of AD's calibre, your team gets weakened," Vogel said. 

"We don't feel sorry for ourselves. You hope for the best for AD. You want him in there, and you hate to see any guys suffering any injuries, but we always feel like we have enough to win.

"So, we're not feeling sorry our ourselves or looking for excuses."

Davis managed just nine points in 20 minutes on court, while LeBron James scored a modest 18 points in 35:30 with five-of-13 shooting, adding 10 rebounds.

James is hopeful Davis will be soon back in action.

"I asked him how he's doing, and he said: 'I'll know more tomorrow', so that's all we know," James said.

"My concern is always for his health. You wish for the best."

James reflected on injuries and the COVID-19 crisis depleting the Lakers' ranks, with players coming in and out of isolation, and said the current circumstances felt "like a revolving door of what-ifs".

"Hopefully, we can get past it soon and can really show who we are as a team, what we are capable of and not having guys in and out so much," he added.

Stephen Curry posted 30 points as the Golden State Warriors reclaimed the best record in the NBA with a 111-107 victory at the Boston Celtics.

Curry – the league's all-time three-points leader – nailed five shots from beyond the arc to fuel the Warriors (24-5) on Friday.

The Warriors snapped a five-game losing streak against the Celtics as Andrew Wiggins added 27 points.

It was a milestone victory for head coach Steve Kerr, who became the third coach in franchise history to reach 400 career wins.

"We're coming off the emotional roller coaster ... a lot going on around the league," Curry said after Jordan Poole entered the NBA's COVID-19 protocols. "You try not to get distracted by all the things that are outside the locker room."

 

Lillard's 43 inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard torched the Charlotte Hornets with a season-high 43 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers end a seven-game losing streak by winning 125-116. Lillard was 12 of 19 from the field as he posted the 40th 40-point game of his career.

The San Antonio Spurs upstaged the Utah Jazz 128-126 behind Dejounte Murray's second triple-double in three games – 16 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. San Antonio did not commit a turnover in the third quarter and registered a season-high 41 points in that period to snap Utah's eight-game winning run.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic fell just short of a triple-double after scoring 20 points, collecting 10 rebounds and tallying seven assists in the Denver Nuggets' 133-115 win against the Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young's 34 points and 10 rebounds were not enough for the Hawks.

 

LeBron's Lakers beaten

LeBron James was five-of-13 shooting for 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers' 110-92 defeat at the Minnesota Timberwolves. Isaiah Thomas had 19 points in his second Lakers debut as Karl-Anthony Towns inspired the Timberwolves with 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Not even a career-high 40 points from Jrue Holiday could lift defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks, who went down 116-112 to the New Orleans Pelicans after overtime in the absence of stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

Los Angeles Lakers duo Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley have entered the NBA's health and safety protocols.

The Lakers cancelled practice on Tuesday after guard Talen Horton-Tucker was put into the league's coronavirus protocols.

It was revealed two days later that Westbrook and Bradley have joined Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk in entering the protocols.

With Westbrook and Bradley unable to travel for Friday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center, it has been reported the Lakers are set to sign Isaiah Thomas.

Two-time All-Star Thomas is to sign a 10-day contract to join a depleted Los Angeles roster under the hardship exemption, according to NBA insider Marc Stein and The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The 32-year-old point guard joined the New Orleans Pelicans on a 10-day contract last season, averaging 7.7 points in his three games.

Austin Reaves admits he had always been the underdog on his way to the NBA, but for one night at least he was the hero for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 23-year-old rookie earned a spot in the Lakers set-up after impressing in the Summer League, and now he is showing up as a big-league prospect, hitting the winning three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night with 0.9 seconds left in overtime.

Reaves posted an NBA career-best 15 points and seven rebounds, making five of six three-point shots, earning high praise from superstar team-mate Anthony Davis after the Lakers' 107-104 win.

Davis said: "It's testament to the hard work he's putting in. He's a sponge. He's soaking up all the information that we give him. He wants to learn, he wants to get better.

"He's not afraid of the moment. He's a hard worker. He plays hard, does the right things. Even when we get on him during a game, he's right here accepting the criticism, accepting the help, and applying it on the floor."

LeBron James scored a team-high 24 points, adding three rebounds and five assists, but missed a last-gasp three-point attempt in normal time. The Mavs fumbled the rebound and Wayne Ellington swooped to hit a triple to send the game overtime.

Russell Westbrook (23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came up with a clutch three-pointer in overtime, while Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Both sides traded triples in overtime, but shooting guard Reaves stepped up for the game-winning basket after being found by Westbrook wide open, lifting the Lakers to a 16-13 record with their third straight win.

"Great pass by Russ, great shot by Austin," Davis said. "Didn't even hit the net, it was a huge, huge shot for him."

It was described as "a hell of a shot" by coach Frank Vogel.

Reaves, roared into the locker room by team-mates and drenched in water as a prank, reflected on a tough journey to this moment in his career.

He said: "It's been the story of my life, I've always been under-rated. But at the end of the day you've got to produce on the basketball court 

"For me to hit that shot and for my team-mates to have the trust in me to take that shot is very, very special."

The Lakers had players sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, in a sign of the times for the NBA.

James said the team were "kind of living in the moment right now" in that regard.

"There's been a lot going on," he said. "We have a lot of injuries, a lot of mixed line-ups, a lot of guys in protocols, false protocols, things of that nature, so we are what we are as a team right now, and we like where we’re at."

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed a remarkable 107-104 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks with rookie Austin Reaves clinching the game with a late three-pointer.

LeBron James finished with 24 points, three rebounds and five assists but missed a last-gasp three-point attempt in normal time, but the Mavs fumbled the rebound and Wayne Ellington swooped to hit a triple to send the game overtime.

Russell Westbrook (23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came up with a clutch three-pointer in overtime - his only of the game - while Anthony Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lift the Lakers to a 16-13 record with their third straight win.

Both sides had traded triples in overtime but 23-year-old shooting guard Reaves stepped up with scores locked at 104-104 after being found by Westbrook wide open, draining his three-point attempt with 0.9 seconds on the clock.

The Lakers surrendered a good start with a poor second quarter, where the Mavs outscored them 27-14, but defensively were excellent keeping Dallas, who were without Luka Doncic, to 27.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

 

Good Holiday with others out

Jrue Holiday stepped up in the absence of Khris Middleton (knee) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (COVID protocols) with 26 points and 14 assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Indiana Pacers 114-99. Tyrese Maxey had a game-high 27 points for the 76ers.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic continued his hot run with another triple-double (27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists) but the Denver Nuggets lost 124-107 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, as Anthony Edwards scored 10 triples in his 38 points.

The Utah Jazz stretched their winning streak to eight games, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 124-103 with Rudy Gobert (20 points and 17 rebounds) and Donovan Mitchell (27 points and six assists) starring.

Devonte' Graham drained a 65-foot game-winning buzzer beater as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-110, while Gordon Hayward scored 41 points from 29 minutes on court as the Charlotte Hornets beat the San Antonio Spurs 131-115.

 

Embiid loses his touch

Joel Embiid missed a late three-point chance to tie the game and shot five of 13 from the field for his 17 points as the Philadelphia 76ers lost 101-96 to the weakened Miami Heat, who were without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Gabe Vincent landed seven three-pointers in his career-high 26-point haul for the Heat.

The Los Angeles Lakers cancelled practice on Tuesday after guard Talen Horton-Tucker entered the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Amid a growing list of cases in the league, the Lakers' Horton-Tucker tested positive for COVID-19.

The Lakers were due to practice prior to their flight ahead of Wednesday's clash with the Dallas Mavericks, however, a team spokesperson confirmed to ESPN and The Athletic that training did not take place.

The Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets have all been struck down by coronavirus.

Anthony Davis is also questionable for the midweek game against the Mavericks due to left knee soreness.

The Lakers (15-13) are sixth in the Western Conference and riding a two-game winning streak.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James believes he is "getting better and better" after he set yet another NBA record.

James became the oldest player in league history, at the age of 36 years and 346 days, to register a 30-point triple-double as the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 106-94.

According to ESPN, James overtook the late Kobe Bryant, another Lakers great, who was aged 36 years and 99 days when he accumulated 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Toronto Raptors in 2014.

James had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists on Sunday. He missed a chunk of games through injury at the start of the season, but still ranks third in the Lakers' roster for points (420), behind Russell Westbrook (546) and Anthony Davis (600).

"Who me? How do I continue how I'm playing? Been doing it for 19 years," James told reporters when asked how long he can maintain his recent form.

"Just do what I've been doing. I feel like I'm getting better and better each and every day. I'm getting healthier and healthier.

"That's just my mindset. Don't get involved in how many minutes I played, how many days off.

"I don't confine to that. I think you think negative thoughts or negative energy, it just creeps into your mind. So, I'm as young as I've ever been."

James played both road games in a double-header against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder last week, collecting 53 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists across those appearances.

His performance on Sunday was put down to getting plenty of rest upon his return to Los Angeles, though that only came after a trip to Phoenix to see his son in action.

"I slept last night from 12 [a.m.] to 8 [a.m.], I got up, ate breakfast and went back to sleep from 8:30 [a.m.] to 12:30 [p.m.]," James explained.

"Sleep. Sleep and inspiration from my son and his team."

Westbrook, who scored 19 points and had seven rebounds against the Magic, added of James: "When he's just being aggressive, he's aggressive in making the right plays and reads, our team's different.

"Tonight was another night where he imposed his will."

Kevin Durant edged Stephen Curry's season-best mark with 51 points as the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Detroit Pistons 116-104 in the NBA on Sunday.

Durant was dominant after the Nets opted to rest fellow superstar James Harden for the first time this season, with the former MVP shooting 16 of 31 from the field, including five three-pointers.

The two-time champion and Finals MVP also had seven rebounds, nine assists, two block and one steal in a remarkable all-round display for the Eastern Conference-leading Nets.

The haul was Durant's eighth 50-point game of his NBA career, while it bettered Stephen Curry's season-best 50 points against the Atlanta Hawks on November 8.

Struggling Detroit challenged the Nets, leading by five points at the final change before a 30-13 fourth quarter for the Nets.

Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham had 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Pistons.

 

Triple-doubles for Giannis and LeBron

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his first triple-double for the season with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the Milwaukee Bucks' 112-97 victory over the New York Knicks. Khris Middleton added 24 points with four triples, while Bobby Portis grabbed a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the defending champions.

LeBron James also had a triple-double, the 101st of his illustrious NBA career. James scored 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers as they trumped the Orlando Magic 106-94. The Lakers enjoyed a 23-0 third-quarter run on their way to victory.

The Dallas Mavericks won for the first time this season without star Luka Doncic, easing past the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-84, while Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points with 10 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-111.

 

Randle silenced as Knicks beaten

Julius Randle's struggles this season continued against the Bucks, managing only eight points with seven turnovers. Randle shot two of nine from the field.

LeBron James came good on his resolve that the Los Angeles Lakers would not make the same mistakes again, as this time they finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers tossed away a 72-48 half-time lead when these teams tussled in October, and held a 50-36 cushion when they met again in early November, only to lose again.

On both prior occasions, James was absent. This time he was very much present, posting 13-of-20 shooting for 33 points in a 116-95 victory on Friday night.

With Anthony Davis (knee soreness) absent, James dazzled as he played a fourth consecutive game for the first time in what has been a stop-start season for the 36-year-old superstar.

In 15 games this season, James has scored 30 or more points in seven of them. More to the point, he has reached 30 in five of his last seven games.

Ankle and abdominal injuries have been a frustration for James this season, but he said after this latest showing: "I'm just getting healthier every day.

"My injury played a big part in me getting out of game shape, but also the dynamics of how I move and how I play left me kind of hampered at times. I've been able to see plays before they happen but not able to make them.

"But as I continue to get stronger and stronger and my injury continues to get closer and closer to 100 per cent, I'm able to go out there and do a lot of the things that I've been doing over my career that benefits our team. I'm happy the way I'm feeling as of late."

As a spectator, he had been as frustrated as anyone that the Lakers were unable to close out their previous games against Oklahoma this season.

"I was excited to play in this game just because of that reason," James said.

"I understood the leads that we built and me watching from the sidelines, seeing those leads evaporate and them celebrating on our floor last time they played us, and I couldn't do nothing but sit there and watch.

"They earned those wins, but I was looking forward to making an impact in this game and just trying to control the game how I know I can control the game on both sides of the floor, and I was lucky enough that my team-mates put some work in tonight and I just tried to lead them in the right direction."

The Lakers' win followed on from Thursday's 108-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, when James had a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists but wound up on the beaten team, his shooting not at its sharpest.

This time the Lakers logged a season-high 19 three-pointers, four of those from James with Avery Bradley netting six from behind the arc

Coach Frank Vogel saluted James' response, saying: "He was unbelievable tonight.

"I shouldn't say it surprises me, but it’s just incredible for him to play at such a high level. To perform the way he did tonight, not only just with his shot-making but his play-making and his will to take a tough loss last night and say, 'That’s not going to happen again'.

"The two losses we had against OKC where we built big leads and let them get back in it, he wasn't going to let that happen again tonight."

Giannis Antetokounmpo flexed his muscles with 41 points and 17 rebounds as defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks took down the Houston Rockets 123-114 in the NBA.

The Bucks snapped Houston's seven-game winning streak behind a monster performance from Finals MVP Antetokounmpo on Friday.

Antetokounmpo also had five assists, three steals and two blocks as he became Milwaukee's all-time blocks leader, surpassing Alton Lister (804).

The Bucks have had five 40/15/5 games since the three-point era (1980) – Antetokounmpo has all five.

Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis had 21 points apiece for the Bucks, who improved to 17-10 this season.

Christian Wood (21 points and 13 rebounds) had a double-double, but it was not enough for the Rockets (8-17), while Garrison Matthews (23 points) and Armoni Brooks (21 points) also impressed.

Houston had been 6-0 with Matthews in the starting line-up but his bid to join Chris Paul (first 15) and Jason Terry (first nine) as the only players in the last 30 years to have the Rockets win their first seven starts with the team fell short.

 

Durant grounds Hawks, LeBron leads Lakers

Kevin Durant led the way again for the Brooklyn Nets, who outlasted the Atlanta Hawks 113-105. Durant scored 31 points. James Harden added 20 points and 11 assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Nets. Trae Young had 31 points and 10 assists for the Hawks. He joined Russell Westbrook and Michael Jordan as the only players with at least 25 points and 10 assists in five consecutive games since the NBA merger in 1977.

With Anthony Davis (knee soreness) absent, LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a 116-95 victory over the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder. James was 13-of-20 shooting for 33 points. In 15 games this season, James has scored 30 or more points in seven of them.

 

Burks has game to forget

The New York Knicks opted for Alec Burks over star recruit Kemba Walker in their rotation, but he endured a horror outing in the 90-87 defeat at the Toronto Raptors. Burks missed all seven of his shots from the floor, finishing with just a point in 37 minutes.

The Boston Celtics went down 111-90 to the high-flying Phoenix Suns as Marcus Smart went one-of-13 from the floor – missing all five of his three-point attempts – in a four-point performance.

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