The Miami Heat edged NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers 96-94 on Saturday.

In a rematch of last season's NBA Finals, which LeBron James and the Lakers won, the Heat came out on top in Los Angeles.

The Heat led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter before the Lakers rallied, but Miami held on at Staples Center.

Kendrick Nunn (27 points) and Jimmy Butler (24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals) fuelled the Heat on the road.

James led the slumping Lakers – who have lost back-to-back games – with a team-high 23 points.

 

CP3 surpasses Robertson as Suns set franchise record

It was a memorable day for Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns, who routed the Memphis Grizzlies 128-97. Paul passed Oscar Robertson for sixth place on the all-time assists list. Robertson had 9,887 assists. The Suns, meanwhile, nailed a franchise-record 24 three-pointers.

Zach LaVine's 38 points inspired the Chicago Bulls to a 122-114 victory over the Sacramento Kings. LaVine made 15 of 20 shots in his fourth consecutive game with 30 or more points.

Russell Westbrook (27 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds) and Bradley Beal (37 points) teamed up to guide the Washington Wizards to an 118-111 victory at the Portland Trail Blazers, who had their six-game winning streak snapped. Damian Lillard's 35 points and 12 rebounds were not enough for the Blazers.

 

Caruso scoreless

Alex Caruso dished off four assists, but it was a tough night for the Lakers shooting guard in a scoreless outing. He was 0-of-three from the field, missing both of his three-point attempts.

The less said about the Grizzlies' performance from beyond the arc, the better. Memphis were just five-of-33 from three-point range – shooting at 15.2 per cent in a crushing defeat at home to the Suns.

 

Rozier calls game!

Terry Rozier nailed a jumper as time expired to lift the Charlotte Hornets past the Golden State Warriors 102-100. Rozier finished with 36 points. Golden State lost Stephen Curry (illness) moments before tip-off.

 

Saturday's results

Charlotte Hornets 102-100 Golden State Warriors
Miami Heat 96-94 Los Angeles Lakers
Chicago Bulls 122-114 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 128-97 Memphis Grizzlies
Washington Wizards 118-111 Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs-New York Knicks (postponed)
Houston Rockets-Indiana Pacers (postponed)

 

Nets at Clippers

It will be a blockbuster battle on Sunday when the Brooklyn Nets (19-12) visit the Los Angeles Clippers (22-9). The Nets will be without Kevin Durant (hamstring) for a fourth consecutive game. Both teams are second in their respective conferences.

LeBron James was 'honoured' to share the esteemed company of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone after becoming the third player in NBA history to clock up 35,000 points.

The Los Angeles Lakers star achieved the feat in a 109-98 loss against the in-form Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center, matching Hall of Fame duo Abdul-Jabbar and Malone.

Hours before tip off, the 36-year-old was named a team captain in the 2021 All-Star game, becoming the first player to be selected 17 straight times, and he went on to put up 32 points on Thursday to reach a notable milestone.

"First of all I'm very humbled and very grateful to be part of a great league," said James after his latest landmark. 

"It's a privilege to do what I love to do, which is to play the game of basketball and inspire the youth.

"For me to be linked with some of the greatest who ever played this game is always an honour.

"I've always just wanted to go out there and play the game the right way, inspire my team-mates, inspire the people that watch me and just try to be as good as I can be every single night.

"I don't put a ceiling on my ability or what I can do as far as this game and I've had some pretty good moments."

James' exploits came in a losing effort as the NBA's number two defense fell to its leading offense.

James Harden powered up the Nets with his 19th double-double (23 points, 11 assists) of the season, while Joe Harris showed his three-point prowess, dropping six of seven attempts to clock up 21 total points.

Brooklyn rallied midway through the first half, opening up an 11-point lead. It was one they never relinquished to move to 19-12, while the Lakers fell to 22-8.

The Lakers were without the injured Anthony Davis and lost Dennis Schroder because of the NBA's health and safety protocols.

James, however, was not looking for excuses.

"Obviously missing AD and then our starting point guard in Dennis Schroder, it was a big a blow for us," he said.

"We just didn't play to our capabilities, but give them credit."

LeBron James became third player in NBA history to clock up 35,000 points but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers falling 109-98 against the in-form Brooklyn Nets.

James needed 15 points to join esteemed company in Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone, and it took him until just before half-time to achieve the feat at Staples Center.

Hours before tip off, the 36-year-old was named a team captain in the 2021 All-Star game, becoming first player to be selected 17 straight times, and he went on to put up 32 points on Thursday.

But it was not enough for the NBA’s number one defense, as the Nets extended their winning run to five games, with Kyrie Irving returning from back tightness to boost the NBA’s number one offense.

James Harden powered up the Nets with his 18th double-double (23 points, 11 assists) of the season, while Joe Harris showed his three-point prowess, dropping six of seven attempts, to clock up 21 total points.

Brooklyn rallied midway through the first half, sinking seven from 11 shots from downtown to open up an 11-point lead. It was one they never relinquished to move to 19-12, while the Lakers fall to 22-8.
 

Red-hot Butler does it again

Jimmy Butler recorded his third straight triple-double (13 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) in the Miami Heat's 118-110 win against the Sacramento Kings, while Bam Adebayo also got in on the act with 16 points, 10 assist and 12 rebounds. They are the only teammates to ever record same-game triple-doubles in multiple games.

Staples Center will stage a clash of heavyweights on Thursday as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets, though it might not be quite the spectacle once hoped for.

Of course, most sporting contests are not quite what they used to be, owing to the lack of spectators allowed in the arenas.  

But the absence of Lakers star Anthony Davis with a calf injury, along with Kevin Durant's hamstring problem, which may keep the Nets forward out of a third straight game, further depletes a matchup that could be repeated in the NBA Finals.  

Yet LeBron James is still performing at the peak of his powers and the Nets' guard combination of James Harden and Kyrie Irving is firing on all cylinders, with the former dropping 38 points in a comeback from a 24-point deficit against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.  

Therefore, there will still be plenty to intrigue in this marquee showdown, even if the first meeting of LeBron and KD since Christmas Day 2018 is further delayed.  

TOP PERFORMERS

LeBron James - Los Angeles Lakers

James is the MVP frontrunner and he has maintained his remarkable levels of excellence this month, in which he has a pair of triple-doubles. 

He has successive double-doubles in his last two games, tallying at least 30 points for the fifth time this season in the win over the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves last time out. 

With Davis on the sidelines, LeBron will have to carry the bulk of the burden again if the Lakers are to claim their 23rd win.

Kyrie Irving - Brooklyn Nets

Despite sitting out Brooklyn's astonishing fightback against the Suns because of a sore back, no member of the Nets has been more prolific in the month of February than Irving.  

The man who helped LeBron deliver a title to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 is averaging a team-high 29.8 points per game this month. Harden is next with an average of 24.4.  

He is shooting 55.5 per cent from the field and 48.8 per cent from three-point range, while his season-long average of 28.3 points a game is a career-high.  

Irving will, however, be hoping for a better performance than the one he produced in his sole game against the Lakers last year, when he went seven of 17 from the field in a 15-point loss.

KEY BATTLE - WHICH 'OTHERS' WILL STEP UP?

Though the Nets will still have the best backcourt in the league at their disposal, the injury issues surrounding Durant and Davis increases the spotlight on the lesser-heralded members of the two supporting casts.  

The Lakers will be looking for more of the same from Dennis Schroder, the guard rising to the challenge in Davis' absence against the Timberwolves and scoring 24 points.  

For the Nets, the onus may be more on Joe Harris, who has impressive numbers in terms of field goal percentage (57.5) and three-point shooting (51.1 per cent) for the month of February.  

This potential Finals preview could well be decided by which team's 'others' can best fill the void if Durant joins Davis in playing the role of spectator.

HEAD TO HEAD

It's the first meeting this season between the Lakers and Nets, though recent history suggests Brooklyn can afford to be confident even if they are without Durant. 

The two teams split the season series last term, but the Nets have won three of the last four games having swept the season series in 2018-19. 

All three of those victories came by a single-digit margin.

LeBron James doesn't yet look close to being ready to end his basketball career, but he's already planning his next career move.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James is considering moving into the music business.

The four-time NBA champion has a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season, by which time he will be 38 years old.

James is hoping he can move from producing the goods on the court to producing in the studio but is not planning on rapping himself.

The 16-time All-Star would instead look to rope in friends to help with vocals, but said he was just "thinking out loud".

"My love for music is INSANE!!! I think I'm going to do an album," tweeted James.

"Oh no I won't be rapping or anything like that. I'm not crazy, I know what I'm great at, but I tell you one thing I do have; so many friends that can [rap]!"

LeBron already has experience in the music business, having been an executive producer on 2 Chainz's album 'Rap or Go to the League'.

There is no doubt James' attention will be solely on basketball on Thursday, though, with the Lakers entertaining the Brooklyn Nets.

Steve Nash said the Brooklyn Nets were "rightfully excited" about "a great morale booster" after a sensational fightback against the Phoenix Suns.

The Nets were down 24 points late in the second quarter and 21 at halftime, failing to lead at any point until a clutch James Harden three with 31.4 seconds remaining.

Harden added late free throws to clinch an epic 128-124 win, the first in franchise history after trailing by 21 points or more through two quarters.

The victory came despite Kyrie Irving's absence with tightness in his lower back, while Kevin Durant remained out due to a hamstring injury.

Coach Nash said of the locker room post-game: "It's all vibes in there right now, all vibes.

"The guys are rightfully excited. It's a great morale booster, especially missing Kevin and Ky and finding a way to make up for a 24-point deficit.

"We showed a lot of character, a lot of heart, and as a coaching staff, that just makes you proud."

Harden carried the team in the closing stages when the Nets went on a 12-0 run over the final two and a half minutes.

The last team to trail by at least eight points at that stage of a game before scoring 12 or more unanswered points to win were the Los Angeles Lakers in Kobe Bryant's final game in 2016.

Harden contributed 38 points - his most since moving to Brooklyn - along with 11 assists and seven rebounds, but he hailed the effort of the whole team.

"This is the true definition of a team; one man, two men go down, it's just next man up," he said.

"We got down 20-something at halftime and we didn't give up, we didn't quit, kept fighting. We cut the deficit down, kept fighting, and gave ourselves the chance to win it at the end of the game. Things went our way."

It does not get any easier for the Nets now, though, with defending champions the Lakers up next.

"We know who they have over there," Nash said. "We know how well they're coached and what they've been able to do in the last year or so.

"So it's a great test for us. You load the guys up and be ready to go and try to keep getting better."

But Harden is focused only on Brooklyn's continued improvement as they aim to extend a four-match winning run, over which Harden has averaged 26.3 points per game.

"Obviously, offensively we're really, really good," he said. "Defensively, we're not so great.

"So we have to find ways to be better in that category, which we all know. We're working on that, and whether it's the Lakers or any other team, that doesn't get us excited because we're still working on ourselves, if that makes sense.

"Obviously, we understand that calibre of team we're playing. But then the whole situation is we are working on ourselves."

LeBron James' double-double fired the Los Angeles Lakers back to winning ways, while James Harden stepped up to rally the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets past the high-flying Phoenix Suns.

James put up 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the reigning NBA champions leaned on their defense in the 112-104 victory over the last-placed Minnesota Timberwolves.

Without the injured Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder played the supporting role for James, posting 24 points, while the Lakers battled to claim eight steals and seven blocks in a closely fought contest.

After taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter at Target Center, the road side pulled away in the closing stages to improve to 22-7 in second place in the Western Conference.

Harden pulled out the stops with a double-double to lead the Nets to a sensational 128-124 comeback win against the Suns, despite playing without Irving after the star guard felt tightness in his lower back.

Nets coach Steve Nash revealed Irving received treatment at half-time of Brooklyn's win against the Sacramento Kings on Monday but expects the six-time All-Star to only be sidelined in the short term.

The Nets surged, scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to turn around a 24-point deficit, with Harden (38 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) backed up by Joe Harris (22 points) as they halted the Suns' six-game winning streak.

Jokic burns Celtics but Nuggets fall short, Zion on target for Pelicans

Nikola Jokic lit up the Boston Celtics, scoring 43 points, but the Denver Nuggets could still not make triple-digits as their three-game winning stretch was ended in a 112-99 loss.

Zion Williamson shot an efficient 31 points, sinking 13 of his 16 field-goal efforts and going four-of-four from the free-throw line, as the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a three-match losing run with a 144-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard’s 31-point, 10-assist double-double led the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 115-104 win, while centre Enes Kanter pulled down 21 rebounds.

 

Bazley struggles to take his chances

The Thunder never recovered against the Blazers after falling 34-21 behind in the first quarter and forward Darius Bazley was one player that could not find his range.

Bazley shot four from 16 from the field for 14 points during his 36 minutes on court, only dropping one his seven efforts from three-point range.

 

Giannis powers up but the Raps edge the Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved unplayable at times, scoring 34 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 124-113 loss against the Toronto Raptors, as he ghosted past three defenders for one of his buckets.

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 112-99 Denver Nuggets
Portland Trail Blazers 115-104 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Los Angeles Lakers 112-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 144-113 Memphis Grizzlies 
Toronto Raptors 124-113 Milwaukee Bucks 
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Phoenix Suns

 

Jazz at Clippers

There has been no stopping the Utah Jazz, who have won eight straight and 19 of their past 20 games to establish a lead in the Western Conference, but a tough challenge awaits when they go on the road to face the third-placed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James hailed the depth within the NBA champions covering the absence of injured star Anthony Davis in Tuesday's 112-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Davis suffered an Achilles strain during Sunday's loss to the Denver Nuggets, though he avoided a rupture as he sat out the Timberwolves clash.

In his absence, James posted 30 points, had 13 rebounds and seven assists, but also had support from German guard Dennis Schroder (24 points), who arrived from Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason.

James is averaging 25.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists per game this season, with a .759 win percentage. According to Stats Perform, this is the fourth time in his illustrious career he is averaging 25/seven/seven while winning at least 75 per cent of his games played in a season. No other player in NBA history has had such a season.

Fellow recruits Marc Gasol (11 points and five rebounds), Montrezl Harrell (17 points off the bench) and Wesley Matthews also all earned praise also from the four-time NBA MVP.

"To have the production that we had tonight from our group, Dennis, Trez, Wes and Marc they were huge for us," James told Spectrum Sportsnet post-game.

'We went out in the offseason and got some really good pieces. Tonight was an example of that.

"We had one of our biggest pieces out and everyone came in and chipped in a bit more."

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis has been cleared of a suspected rupture of his right Achilles tendon following an MRI scan.

Davis, who left Sunday's 122-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets after suffering an Achilles strain, will miss Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and will be further evaluated by the NBA champions upon his return to Los Angeles.

The seven-time All-Star missed two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder with tendonosis in his right heel before returning in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

After posting 35 points against the Grizzlies, Davis only lasted 14 minutes – finishing with 15 points – as the Lakers went down to the Nuggets.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he felt "completely fine" before aggravating an Achilles injury in the NBA champions' defeat to the Denver Nuggets as he awaits the results of an MRI scan.

Davis, who posted 15 points in 14 minutes, suffered an Achilles strain in the Lakers' 122-105 loss to the Nuggets on Sunday.

The seven-time All-Star was held out of the second half as the Lakers saw their seven-game winning streak snapped.

Davis, who returned from a two-game absence caused by Achilles tendonitis on Friday, will undergo a scan on Monday.

"Just driving, I think that last step kind of re-aggravated the injury I already had," he said. "Now, it feels like an Achilles sprain. 

"Got an MRI tomorrow and try to figure out the next steps to get on the floor."

Davis – who insisted he and the Lakers followed all the right steps for his initial return – added: "Today was the first day that it felt completely fine. I didn't feel it at all this morning, afternoon, pre-game. I felt like I was heading in the right direction. 

"The treatment and rehab side. Another setback but it's part of the game. More so frustrated that I couldn't go out there and play, but you don't want to mess around with this type of injury. Trying to figure out the best steps.

"I felt great coming back the first time against Memphis [Grizzlies]. I'll do the same thing, the same steps to get it back right. Be smarter with it, I was smart the first time, but even smarter this time. Up the treatment more to get it back where it used to be to help the team."

Superstar Lakers team-mate LeBron James, who led the Lakers with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, added: "Just want him to be healthy and get back to full strength. All I care is about his health.

"It's definitely deflating anytime you lose a big player – a big guy on your team.

"We have a lot of things that's built in around AD and a lot of other players. When he goes down, you have to switch up. That hurt us."

The Denver Nuggets ended the Los Angeles Lakers' winning streak in the NBA, while the Milwaukee Bucks slipped to another loss.

Inspired by a Nikola Jokic triple-double of 23 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, the Nuggets snapped the Lakers' seven-game winning streak with a 122-105 victory on Sunday.

Jamal Murray had a game-high 25 points for the Nuggets (15-11).

LeBron James managed 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who saw Anthony Davis (15 points in 14 minutes) suffer an Achilles strain.

The Bucks' losing run continued with a 114-109 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with a triple-double of 24 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Bucks were beaten.

Antetokounmpo has 100 points, 43 rebounds and 21 assists over the past three games, yet Milwaukee have lost all three.

He joined Russell Westbrook (November 2016) as the only players in the past 30 years to have 100-40-20 over a three-game span but lose all three.

 

Lillard lifts Trail Blazers, Towns shines

Damian Lillard scored 34 points and had 11 assists to see the Portland Trail Blazers end the Dallas Mavericks' four-game winning streak with a 121-118 success.

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 44 points and nine assists, but he missed a jump shot that would have brough Dallas level with five seconds remaining.

Karl-Anthony Towns' double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds helped the Minnesota Timberwolves overcome the Toronto Raptors 116-112.

The Washington Wizards upset the Boston Celtics 104-91 on the back of 35 points from Bradley Beal.

Lou Williams posted 30 points and 10 assists in the Los Angeles Clippers' 128-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Celtics' slump continues

The loss marked Boston's 10th in their past 15 games. Star Jayson Tatum in particular struggled, going three-of-14 from the field for six points in 23 minutes.

 

Dynamic Doncic

Doncic hit an incredible three-pointer in the Mavericks' loss. He was five-of-eight from three-point range.

Sunday's results

Washington Wizards 104-91 Boston Celtics
Detroit Pistons 123-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Minnesota Timberwolves 116-112 Toronto Raptors
San Antonio Spurs 122-110 Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers 121-118 Dallas Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder 114-109 Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns 109-90 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 124-110 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers 128-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Denver Nuggets 122-105 Los Angeles Lakers

 

76ers at Jazz

The teams leading their respective conferences meet on Monday. The Utah Jazz (22-5) are on a seven-game winning streak ahead of hosting the Philadelphia 76ers (18-9).

The Utah Jazz continued their impressive NBA run with a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Los Angeles Lakers extended their own streak.

The Western Conference-leading Jazz improved to 21-5 courtesy of a 129-115 victory over the Bucks on Friday.

Rudy Gobert (27 points), Joe Ingles (27), Donovan Mitchell (26) and Jordan Clarkson (25) all had 25-plus points for Utah, who have won six straight games.

Gobert also pulled down 12 rebounds in his double-double, while Ingles went seven-of-nine from three-point range, with the Jazz's 21-5 start their best 26-game record in franchise history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred for the Bucks with 29 points and 15 rebounds, but Milwaukee (16-10) slipped to back-to-back defeats.

The Lakers extended their winning streak to seven with a 115-105 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Anthony Davis (35 points and nine rebounds) and LeBron James (28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) again led the way for the Lakers (21-6).

 

Mavs win fourth straight as Rozier shines for Hornets

The Dallas Mavericks won a fourth straight game with a 143-130 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Luka Doncic had a double-double of 46 points and 12 assists, while Kristaps Porzingis poured in 36 points. It marked the first time in NBA history a pair of foreign-born team-mates each had 35-plus points in a game, as per Stats Perform. Zion Williamson had 36 points for the Pelicans.

Terry Rozier's 41 points lifted the Charlotte Hornets past the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-114.

Kawhi Leonard posted 33 points as the Los Angeles Clippers improved to 19-8 with a 125-106 success over the Chicago Bulls.

Saddiq Bey had a double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds in the Detroit Pistons' surprise 108-102 win against the Boston Celtics. He was the first Pistons rookie with 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds since Grant Hill in 1995.

 

Misery for Wizards

The Washington Wizards dropped a second straight game, beaten by the New York Knicks 109-91. The Wizards shot at just 38.2 per cent from the field.

 

Porzingis in form

Porzingis went eight-of-13 from three-point range in the Mavericks' win, including hitting one from the logo.

Friday's results

Charlotte Hornets 120-114 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 109-91 Washington Wizards
San Antonio Spurs 125-114 Atlanta Hawks
Dallas Mavericks 143-130 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Clippers 125-106 Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons 108-102 Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets 97-95 Oklahoma City Thunder
Utah Jazz 129-115 Milwaukee Bucks
Los Angeles Lakers 115-105 Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers 129-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
Orlando Magic 123-112 Sacramento Kings

 

76ers at Suns

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-8) take on a Phoenix Suns (15-9) team riding a four-game winning streak on Saturday.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis admitted he is not prepared to take any risks with an Achilles problem that has ruled him out of the NBA champions' last two games.

The injury was revealed on Sunday after Davis produced a 30-point haul against the Detroit Pistons, and the seven-time All-Star subsequently missed a pair of midweek wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Davis featured in 83 of 92 games to help the Lakers end their 10-year championship drought last season - his first in Los Angeles following a blockbuster trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.

And although Davis insisted he can play through the pain barrier, the thought of rushing back and aggravating the issue in the lead up to the NBA playoffs is something the 27-year-old is not willing to entertain.

"I think every other game... I've wanted to play in. This is just a different circumstance with it being an Achilles," Davis said, after suffering tendonosis in his right heel.

"If it was a quad or finger, anything like that, I wouldn't mind playing. But I just don't really want to play around with an Achilles.

"Today was the first day we were able to practice, get some run-in with some guys to really test it out.

"I just don't want to play a game where I still feel it and then get hurt and now I'm out for the playoffs or whatever or for multiple weeks."

The Lakers extended their winning streak to six games with Wednesday’s 114-113 overtime victory against the Thunder and sit second in the Eastern Conference at 20-6.

The defending champions host the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on Friday and Davis was back on court during a specially-arranged Thursday practice session.

Although Davis was also dealing with soreness in his right calf, head coach Frank Vogel seemed upbeat about his chances of returning sooner rather than later.

"We just did some drill work, no-contact drill work, which he did all of. He seemed fine," Vogel said.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow before making any decisions on the game."

LeBron James showed in the Los Angeles Lakers' latest overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder why he is likely to win this season's MVP award, according to head coach Frank Vogel.

The Lakers claimed a second straight overtime victory against the Thunder on Wednesday, having needed two additional five-minute periods to get past the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

It was the first time in franchise history the Lakers won three straight overtime games, with the last NBA team to achieve the feat being the Minnesota Timberwolves in January 2007.

James played at least 40 minutes in all three – he last played that much in three successive games in January 2017 – and became the first player aged 35 or older in NBA history to do that in a trio of consecutive overtime triumphs.

Despite his increased time on the floor, the four-time MVP showed no noticeable dip in production. In a total of 130 minutes across the three wins he had 86 points, 30 assists, 25 rebounds and eight steals. The last NBA player to reach those numbers over a three-win span in the regular season was Michael Jordan in January 1989.

The Lakers were without Anthony Davis for a second straight game and Vogel felt the leadership LeBron displayed offensively and defensively was evidence of why he is a frontrunner for the MVP award.

Asked if he was concerned by the minutes James had racked up, Vogel replied: "Of course, there's always concern but his body's been feeling good.

"These aren't scripted plans to go to overtime each night and get him up to 40 minutes, but he's gonna be there in those situations to win the game.

"We'll continue evaluating how he's feeling, his workload on a day-by-day basis and make decisions on a game-by-game basis.

"He made several defensive plays to be honest with you, he's really leading the charge taking a matchup of [Al] Horford on certain situations. That's what Bron does. Bron does it on both sides of the ball.

"That's why he's probably going to be this year's MVP; carrying the load offensively and quarterbacking the number one defense in the league and taking these tough assignments and making the plays down the stretch, so he's played terrific."

Vogel joked that James was getting rest after the game by being excused from media duty.

He added: "These are the toughest games to play, when you have a sub-.500 team that comes in with guys out. Everybody on their team is getting an opportunity. You've got an opportunity to be the go-to guy. We've seen that with a few different games.

"We've certainly got to be better, we're not making things easy on ourselves but at the end of the day we're doing enough to grind things out in the second half and do what we need to do to get that W. Happy to get three wins but certainly got to be better.

"We're not worried about being tired. We're a no excuse team."

Kyle Kuzma praised James mentality after he contributed 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in the 114-113 success over the Thunder.

"You've heard it from him: being tired is just in your head," said Kuzma, who contributed 15 points and nine rebounds.

"If you put your mind to it, you don't really see yourself getting too tired and that's always been his mindset through his unbelievable career. That dude's a beast. If he says he's not tired, doesn't get tired, [then] he doesn't get tired."

Zach LaVine and Coby White proved unstoppable from downtown as the Chicago Bulls delivered a record-breaking display, while Luka Doncic's superb triple-double powered the Dallas Mavericks.

The Bulls exploded to post an all-time franchise best total of 25 three-pointers as Chicago halted the New Orleans Pelicans' four-match winning streak, 129-116, at the United Center.

LaVine delivered 20 points in the first quarter before going on to drop 46 in total, draining nine of his 14 three-point shots, while White added 30 points including eight of 17 buckets from distance.

The duo became the first team-mates in NBA history to each hit eight three-pointers in the same game as the Bulls came back from eight points down at the half to blow away the Pelicans.

The scorching-hot LaVine also became the first Chicago player to post 120 points in a three-game stretch since Michael Jordan in 1997 as the Bulls improved to 10-14.

Doncic posted his 32nd career triple-double as the Mavericks edged a nail-biting 118-117 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks to extend their winning streak to three.

The Slovenian star dropped 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Dallas trailed by nine at the start of the fourth quarter but finished strongly to close out the win and take their record to 12-14.

Atlanta's John Collins was the game's top scorer with 33 points, while Trae Young notched 25 points and 15 assists, but the Hawks could not find the decisive play in a wild final 90 seconds.


Giannis produces fireworks but Suns claim comeback win

The Phoenix Suns kept their momentum rolling, claiming a fourth straight win by edging Milwaukee 125-124 after coming back from 16 points down, but Giannis Antetokounmpo exploded for the Bucks.

The two-time NBA MVP carried his team on his shoulders, scoring a season-high 47 points and claiming 11 rebounds and five assists. Antetokounmpo almost snatched a remarkable victory but his buzzer-beater bounced back off the rim.

Indiana off the pace against Brooklyn

Malcolm Brogdon had a day to forget as the Indiana Pacers were held under 100 points, falling to their fourth straight defeat, in a 104-94 reverse against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Indiana guard had a 29.4 per cent field-goal success rate, scoring five of his 17 attempts, as the 12-13 Pacers could not match Kyrie Irving and James Harden's high-power offense.

LeBron sets up Matthews for key bucket 

With less than a minute remaining in overtime and the Los Angeles Lakers level against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wesley Matthews came up clutch.

LeBron James drove towards the paint in heavy traffic, before flipping the ball out right for Matthews to sink the key three-pointer.

The Lakers clinched a 114-113 overtime victory to improve to 20-6.

Wednesday's results

Toronto Raptors 137-115 Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks 118-117 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Clippers 119-112 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 130-114 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 104-94 Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls 129-116 New Orleans Pelicans
Denver Nuggets 133-95 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 114-113 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Phoenix Suns 125-124 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Trail Blazers

Led by the in-form Joel Embiid, the 18-7 Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers go on the road to face another team with a winning record, the 13-10 Portland Trail Blazers, on Thursday.

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