Giannis Antetokounmpo produced another eye-catching display to help the Milwaukee Bucks to victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and was hailed by team-mate Khris Middleton for "making it look easy".

The two-time NBA MVP scored 44 points on 17-for-20 shooting, while registering eight assists and 14 rebounds as the Bucks earned a 131-116 victory in Tuesday's contest at the Crypto.com Arena.

In doing so, Antetokounmpo joined legendary figures Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as only the third person with 40+ points, 10+ rebounds and five-or-more assists on 85-per-cent-plus shooting in a game.

Indeed, the 27-year-old has now had three games with 40+ points, 10+ rebounds, five-plus assists and no turnovers. Over the past 30 years, only David Robinson and Dirk Nowitzki have achieved that feat, doing so once each.

Middleton, who scored all 21 of his points in the first half, was blown away by the ease in which Antetokounmpo took apart the lacklustre Lakers, who had LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their line-up.

"He made it look easy, honestly," Middleton said. "That just shows the level of how he's playing. 

"He was knocking down his jump shot. He's got guys going for his pump fake. Just the way he let the game come to him and stay patient, it was pretty fun to watch."

 

The 44 points registered by Antetokounmpo was his second-highest tally of the season, behind only the 47 he managed against the same opponents on November 17.

He is third in terms of points scorers in NBA this season with 1,343, behind DeMar DeRozan (1,360) and Trae Young (1,364), while only Joel Embiid (29.4) averages more points per game than his 29.2.

Reflecting on another good day both personally and for the Bucks, who have now won four in a row to move to 35-21 for the campaign, Antetokounmpo said: "Obviously when you make shots, the game is a lot easier, looks a lot better.

"I know I'm going to try to get my team-mates involved and look for the best way to help the team, but sometimes when you start making shots, you feel better about yourself, you defend better. Today was one of those games."

The victory was perhaps not as straightforward in the end as it might have been for the Bucks, who led by 30 points midway through the third quarter, only to let the Lakers back into the game.

But the hosts could only claw back to within 10 points of their opponents and have now lost five of their last seven games, seeing them fall back to three games below .500.

"We played a terrible defensive half," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "Disposition, competition, the level of competitive spirit we showed for a big game was very disappointing. 

"Two straight games we started with a terrible defensive half. We've got to get that right."

The Lakers will get that opportunity to put it right when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, while the Bucks are next in action on Thursday with a showdown against the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 44 points as the Milwaukee Bucks beat a lacklustre Los Angeles Lakers 131-116 to close in on Eastern Conference leaders the Miami Heat.

The defending NBA champions were 24 points ahead in the first half at the Crypto.com Arena and extended that lead to 30 points midway through the third quarter.

A strong rally from the Lakers, who had LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their line-up, made things interesting but the Bucks stood firm to win for a fourth straight game.

Antetokounmpo's game-high tally came from 17-for-20 shooting, while adding 14 rebounds and eight assists to inflict a fifth defeat in seven on LA, who fall back to three games below .500.

With his latest standout display, Antetokounmpo joins Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as only the third person with 40+ points, 10+ rebounds and five-or-more assists on 85-per-cent-plus shooting in a game.


Suns continue to shine

The NBA-leading Phoenix Suns rallied from 14 points down to overcome the Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 and record their 14th win in 15 games.

Devin Booker scored 35 points and Chris Paul added 16 points and 12 assists as the Suns improved to 44-10 for the season.

Joel Embiid led the way for the Sixers with 34 points and 12 rebounds – his fifth straight 25-point, 10-rebound game, which is the longest streak in the competition over the past two seasons.

Nets claim unwanted record

Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart helped themselves to 22 points each as the Boston Celtics made light work of the Brooklyn Nets in a 126-91 victory.

The Nets become the only side in the last 30 years to have every starter score six points or fewer with none of them getting to the line.

Elsewhere in Tuesday's action, the Los Angeles Clippers had forward Marcus Morris Sr. ejected in their 135-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers for a flagrant foul 2 on Ja Morant.

Morant was able to continue and ended the game with 30 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field, making it the ninth time in 10 games the All-Star guard has reached 30 points.

LeBron James launched a staunch defence of "brother" and Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Russell Westbrook, insisting "we're all in this together".

Point guard Westbrook has bore the brunt of criticism during a disjointed Lakers season that has left the team below the .500 mark.

Acquired from the Washington Wizards, Westbrook was brought in to play a part in a stellar cast alongside James and Anthony Davis, but things have not worked out too well in LA.

Westwood is averaging 18.4 points (tied 35th), 7.8 rebounds (tied 34th) and 7.7 assists (tied ninth) per game. The 33-year-old was benched for the entirety of overtime in the Lakers 122-115 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday having made just one of 10 field goals.

It was the fifth time in 2021-22 Westbrook made only three field goals or less from 10 attempts, while his numbers in points, rebounds, assists, steals, field-goal percentage and three-point percentages all rank lower than they did with the Wizards last season.

There has even been talk that the Lakers may try and find Westbrook a new home before Thursday's trade deadline, but James said the team's issues cannot be pinned on one player.

"At the end of the day, as his brother, we're all in this together," James told reporters after Monday's practice. 

"We're all in the foxhole together. There is not one guy who is doing it by themselves. There's not one guy you can blame over another guy.

"There's not one guy who gets the praise over another guy. When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win. It's really that simple."

The Lakers sit ninth in the Western Conference, three games back of the Denver Nuggets in sixth – a position that guarantees avoiding the play-in tournament for the playoffs.

Part of their issues have centred on injuries, with James and Anthony Davis having both missed significant chunks of the season.

Indeed, Westbrook has only played a combined seven games at the same time as his superstar team-mates this season.

"I haven't been part of a season like this where injuries have played such a toll, but also protocols, false protocols, positive protocols, head coach being out for multiple games," James added. 

"So, it's just challenging, a weird sort of different season for all of us. And not just [for the] Lakers, but a lot of teams in the NBA. So, it's kind of impossible to gauge, I guess, previous encounters that you've had, because it's totally different." 

Head coach Frank Vogel said he has spoken to Westbrook after his overtime decision against the Knicks.

"You still communicate afterwards and there was that today," Vogel said. 

"I've always taken pride with my teams in making sure I'm communicating with guys with whatever happens within a game.

"Obviously not every player, every game, but if a certain thing requires a reach out or just a follow-up then we'll have that."

The Lakers are back in action in a blockbuster showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

The past two NBA champions meet on Tuesday, but they head into the game amid contrasting seasons to this point.

Defending champs the Milwaukee Bucks took a little time to get going but are now just half a game back in third in the highly competitive Eastern Conference.

The Los Angeles Lakers, whose title Milwaukee took, also took a little time to get going, yet they remain firmly in that rut.

A team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis are always likely to be a threat if they can make it to the playoffs – ninth place is still good enough for a play-in – but the Lakers' remote title credentials should be given a firm examination at Crypto.com Arena.

For while the Bucks have kept together their championship-winning team, albeit Brook Lopez is out with injury, the Lakers are unrecognisable from their 2020 run.

In a bid to extend James' title window, LA's promising young players have been traded away for veterans in a series of moves that simply have not worked – Russell Westbrook's expensive arrival from the Washington Wizards chief among their missteps.

With little room for further movement ahead of Thursday's trade deadline and with the Bucks visiting having so far made light work of a tough west coast road trip, the Lakers really have their work cut out.

Los Angeles Lakers – LeBron James

James is likely to be the main man on every team he plays for until he retires, but that is particularly true of this Lakers team in this season.

The Lakers are 26-28 but 20-17 with James involved. Injuries have limited the four-time MVP's involvement, yet he is dazzling when on the floor, with 29.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.

After missing five straight games with knee swelling, James returned last time out against the New York Knicks and put up a triple-double in an overtime win.

That included 29 points in a 19th straight game of scoring at least 25. Only Joel Embiid (20 games, also active) has had a better such run this season, while just once in James' whole career – 21 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 – has he enjoyed a longer sequence. Reminder: LeBron is 37 years old.

The Bucks may be able to beat the Lakers, but the notion of any team stopping James right now feels a little far-fetched.

Milwaukee Bucks – Giannis Antetokounmpo

Tied on a live 19-game streak of 25 or more points, Antetokounmpo is performing on a par with James but without the repeated injury lay-offs. For that reason, he is among the MVP favourites once again, looking for his third award in four seasons.

For all the hype around Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, Antetokounmpo – still only 27 – remains the man most likely to take the mantle from James as the face of the NBA.

The 'Greek Freak' is averaging 28.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.4 blocks and will surely relish the opportunity to come up against LeBron.

When James was missing back in November, Antetokounmpo scored 47 points (a season high) to lead the Bucks to victory. Do not rule out a repeat, even with his veteran opponent also in top form.

KEY BATTLE – AD and Portis to fight at the five?

Davis continues to switch positions on an almost nightly basis, but he is likely to line up as a center against the Bucks, who have Bobby Portis – another power forward standing at six feet, 10 inches – playing the five.

But the Lakers superstar is set to have his work cut out in what has been a tricky season so far. While he has recovered some form over the past week, so has Portis.

The Bucks man had a season-high 30 points at the Portland Trail Blazers to start this road trip and added 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting 19 for 25 across those games.

"Bobby's found a good rhythm," Mike Budenholzer said after the Clippers game. "The past two nights he's shooting it so good. He's getting some baskets around the paint, too, and doing lots of different things, the rebounding."

Whether Portis can continue to be effective on the glass, where he averages 9.1 rebounds per game to Davis' 10.2, could be vital.

HEAD TO HEAD

The Lakers have an 83-53 lead in the all-time regular season series, but Milwaukee have made a significant dent in that deficit in recent seasons.

Since the Lakers won six straight between January 2008 and November 2010, the Bucks are 15-6, most recently winning the only meeting of this season so far 109-102 in November.

LeBron James was left stunned by Tom Brady's decision to bring his storied NFL career to an end this week, commenting that "a small piece of me definitely left".

After a few days of speculation, Brady announced on Tuesday that he was calling time on his long career at the age of 44.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback decided he could no longer commit himself 100 per cent to the sport.

Brady's retirement saw tributes pour in from all over the sporting world, such has been his impact on the NFL – he holds the record for the most Super Bowl wins (seven) and Super Bowl MVP awards (five).

James returned to NBA action on Saturday after a five-game absence, starring with a triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers sealed an overtime 122-115 win over the New York Knicks, and that gave him the opportunity to join the praise for Brady.

The four-time NBA MVP was almost emotional in response to Brady's retirement, lauding him as one of his inspirations.

"I personally was just so in shock when I saw it," he said post-game. "I was one of the ones who didn't say anything when the first, initial announcement came out. I didn't retweet anything, say anything because I wanted to hear it come from him. Then when he came out with his announcement, I was like… You know?

"As a guy who's kind of been my motivation factor over the last few years, seeing what he's able to do at his age and always kind of being a leader of a team.

"Even at his age, people still gravitate towards him and gravitate towards his energy, and how he prepares and things of that nature.

"So, a small piece of me definitely left when Brady decided to retire, that's for sure."

LeBron James was "just excited to be back" on Saturday as he marked his return from injury with a triple-double in the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the New York Knicks.

After a five-game absence due to a knee problem, James scored 29 points as the Lakers came back from a 15-point deficit to beat the Knicks 122-115 in overtime.

The 37-year-old also tallied 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the 103rd triple-double of his storied career and his fourth of this season.

James admitted it took time to get into the swing of things after a long time out of action, but he was thrilled to make a winning return, the Lakers having gone 1-4 in his absence.

"After the first quarter, the knee loosened up a lot more," he said. "My mind loosened up a lot more. And I was just able to play basketball.

"But [I was] just excited to be back in the uniform, back on the floor with my guys. Missed them, missed the game. I was happy I was able to make a few plays and help us win a ballgame."

Anthony Davis also starred, his 28 points and 17 rebounds helping the Lakers to recover after falling 42-29 behind in the first quarter.

The eight-time All-Star was relieved to have James back on the court, even if his performance was barely a surprise.

"It's a hell of a return," said Davis. "He's doing LeBron-type things. [I] Expected nothing less from him. Efficient from the field.

"S***, he did what he's supposed to do. He helped us, for sure. So, I missed him. He's a big part of our team with his voice, his leadership, play-making ability. And he came back and showed it."

The Lakers, who improved to 26-28, are ninth in the Western Conference standings, just behind the 27-27 Los Angeles Clippers.

LeBron James returned from a five-game injury-enforced absence with a triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers won 122-115 over the New York Knicks in overtime.

James had missed five games with swelling in his left knee but returned in style, contributing 29 points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists as they rallied from a 21-point second-quarter deficit.

The Lakers had gone 1-4 in James' absence but the four-time MVP was pivotal with his fourth triple-double of the season.

Anthony Davis was excellent for the Lakers with 28 points and 17 rebounds, while Malik Monk added 29 points too.

RJ Barrett netted a career-high 36 points and Julius Randle added 32 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for the Knicks.

 

Suns bounce back, Morant stars

The table-topping Phoenix Suns bounced back from their loss to the Atlanta Hawks with a 95-80 win over the Washington Wizards led by Deandre Ayton's 20 points and 16 rebounds. Chris Paul added 14 points and nine assists, while Devin Booker was quiet with only 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Jimmy Butler dropped 27 points shooting 10-of-13 while Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Miami Heat won 104-86 over the Charlotte Hornets.

Ja Morant scored 33 points in three quarters as the Memphis Grizzlies claimed their fifth win in six games, routing the Orlando Magic 135-115.

 

Blazers skid extended by Bucks

The Portland Trail Blazers slumped to their fifth straight defeat, leaving them with a 21-33 record as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points with nine rebounds and six assists in the Milwaukee Bucks' 137-108 win. Bobby Portis also scored 30 points for the Bucks.

Anthony Davis rued his last-gasp miss in the Los Angeles Lakers' dramatic loss to rivals the Los Angeles Clippers and acknowledged no one will feel sorry for the team's struggles.

In a dramatic conclusion to Thursday's contest, the lead changed hands five times in the final 63 seconds with Reggie Jackson's driving layup with four seconds on the clock proving decisive for the Clippers.

Davis, who had a team-high 30 points and 17 rebounds, had the chance to snatch it on the buzzer but he missed a running floater as time expired and the Lakers went down 111-110 to suffer a fourth defeat in five – all matches LeBron James has missed with knee soreness.

It was a tough pill to swallow for a Lakers side who had trailed by 17 points with four minutes left in the third quarter.

"I got the ball and the lane was open, I just watched it like seven times," a frustrated Davis said of his late play.

"I saw a lane, I mean the ball touched every part of the rim, can't ask for a better look. Tough play, tough miss, just frustration from the miss then just losing this one, but the guys fought hard, made big plays on both ends of the court.

"The ball was in, then just rolls out. So tough, tough play. It's a rivalry but not a rivalry. We always want to beat these guys and they're ahead of us in the standings so that's a frustration too."

 

The Lakers have had issues with their roster all season, with Davis and James missing significant parts of the campaign. Indeed since December 17, the Lakers – who are now 25-28 – have had James and Davis together in the line-up only once.

Carmelo Anthony also had to take a seat with a hamstring worry, an injury head coach Frank Vogel said will be further evaluated on Friday.

"We're fighting, dealing with injuries all year, COVID earlier in the year," Davis added.

"It's an uphill batter for us now, missing LB, gotta just keep plugging away, obviously no moral victories, no one will feel sorry for us, we don't want anyone feeling sorry for us.

"But we gotta find a way, keep pushing."

The Clippers are making quite the habit of earning dramatic wins. Since January 11, the team have had three victories in games where they have been behind by at least 24 points and on this occasion were taken to the wire having opened up a significant lead.

"We just want to give the fans their money’s worth," said Jackson, who finished with 25 points.

"We're confident in ourselves, how we play and our approach to the game. We never really got rattled."

The Clippers now sit at 27-27 for the season having won four of their past six matches.

Reggie Jackson proved the hero for the Los Angeles Clippers as they edged Los Angeles Lakers 111-110 in a thrilling conclusion to Thursday's contest.

The lead changed hands five times in the final 63 seconds, but it was 25-point Jackson's driving layup with four seconds remaining that proved decisive.

Anthony Davis wasted the chance to add to his team-high 30 points and 17 rebounds by missing a running floater as time expired, meaning a fourth defeat in five for the Lakers.

The eventful finale to the game could have been avoided from the Clippers' perspective, though, as they led by 17 with four minutes left of the third quarter.

The Lakers recovered, scoring eight straight points to move in front with just over a minute left, but after plenty of toing and froing it was Tyronn Lue's men who came out on top.

 

Suns' winning streak halted

Western Conference leaders the Phoenix Suns saw their 11-game winning run ended as they lost an eighth straight game at the Atlanta Hawks for the first time in their history, going down 124-115.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker had been confirmed as All-Star reserves shortly before tip-off, but it was starter Trae Young who stole the show with 43 points.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference leaders also lost. The Chicago Bulls paid for a sloppy turnover late in overtime in their 125-120 reverse at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

In second place in the East, Tyler Herro set aside his disappointment at missing out on an All-Star selection by scoring 24 points from the bench in the Miami Heat's 112-95 win at the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs had scored at least 100 in each of their prior 18 home games before this defeat, last enjoying a longer single-season run in 1992-93.

 

Klay dazzles as Warriors see off Kings

The Golden State Warriors made it eight wins in a row thanks to a 126-114 victory against the Sacramento Kings, with Klay Thompson hitting his first seven shots on his way to 23 points and seven assists.

Steph Curry added 20 points and now has 71 assists and 24 turnovers in his last nine games for the Warriors, who improved to 40-13 for the season in the Western Conference.

Frank Vogel hailed the "mental toughness" of Anthony Davis and his Los Angeles Lakers side after snapping a three-game losing run with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Davis stepped up in the absence of LeBron James – missing a fourth straight game with knee soreness – with a double-double of 30 points and 15 rebounds in Wednesday's contest.

The eight-time NBA All-Star has now had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in three games this season and has averaged 29.3 points over his last three outings.

Davis's latest haul helped the Lakers improve to 25-27 in the Western Conference, and head coach Vogel was particularly pleased with the spirit he saw from the 28-year-old.

"He had some great sequences of grabbing rebounds in traffic," Vogel said.

"Tonight was about mental toughness and making enough plays and shots. It was a hell of a game by Anthony."

Nineteen of Davis's 30 points arrived in the final 12 minutes, with seven of his 15 rebounds coming in the fourth quarter

"I just tried to come out with the mindset of ending the streak," Davis said. "We have to play with some urgency. We just fought hard tonight. It was a great game for us."

Carmelo Anthony added 24 for the Lakers, who had lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks in their previous three games.

Despite the best efforts of 30-point Norman Powell, Portland have now lost three in a row and five of their last six in a run that has seen them slip to 10th in the Western Conference.

"We had a couple breakdowns today," Powell said. "We had some good stops but gave them second and third-chance opportunities."

The Lakers are back in action against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, while Portland face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Anthony Davis stepped up with a double-double in LeBron James' absence as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game skid with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

James was absent for the fourth straight game with a knee issue but Davis took charge with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook contributed with a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 24 points for the Lakers. Norman Powell landed five three-pointers in his 30-point haul for Portland.

The Lakers had raced to a 12-point quarter-time lead but the Blazers narrowed that to one point by half-time before seesawing second half which went down to the final moments.

The win means the Lakers improve to 25-27 but remain ninth in the Western Conference.

Embiid, LaMelo and Doncic star in defeats

Joel Embiid had 27 points and 14 rebounds but could not lift the Philadelphia 76ers as they went down 106-103 to the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) had a triple-double for the Wizards, while Kyle Kuzma added 24 points.

LaMelo Ball was excellent in a losing side as well, providing a career-high 38 points including four triples with six rebounds and nine assists as the Charlotte Hornets went down 113-107 to the Boston Celtics. Luka Doncic also had 40 points as the Dallas Mavericks lost 120-114 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ja Morant had 23 points, four rebounds and nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won 120-108 over the New York Knicks, while the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 108-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets skid extends to six games

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their sixth straight defeat, their worst skid since January 2020, after a 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings. James Harden, nursing a sore hand, only managed four points shooting two-of-11 from the field, which was his lowest return since May 15 last year.

Anthony Davis stepped up with a double-double in LeBron James' absence as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game skid with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

James was absent for the fourth straight game with a knee issue but Davis took charge with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook contributed with a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 24 points for the Lakers. Norman Powell landed five three-pointers in his 30-point haul for Portland.

The Lakers had raced to a 12-point quarter-time lead but the Blazers narrowed that to one point by half-time before seesawing second half which went down to the final moments.

The win means the Lakers improve to 25-27 but remain ninth in the Western Conference.

Embiid, LaMelo and Doncic star in defeats

Joel Embiid had 27 points and 14 rebounds but could not lift the Philadelphia 76ers as they went down 106-103 to the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) had a triple-double for the Wizards, while Kyle Kuzma added 24 points.

LaMelo Ball was excellent in a losing side as well, providing a career-high 38 points including four triples with six rebounds and nine assists as the Charlotte Hornets went down 113-107 to the Boston Celtics. Luka Doncic also had 40 points as the Dallas Mavericks lost 120-114 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ja Morant had 23 points, four rebounds and nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won 120-108 over the New York Knicks, while the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 108-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets skid extends to six games

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their sixth straight defeat, their worst skid since January 2020, after a 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings. James Harden, nursing a sore hand, only managed four points shooting two-of-11 from the field, which was his lowest return since May 15 last year.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel says LeBron James' absence is preventative with the number one goal being that he is "healthy for the long haul".

James is listed as doubtful for the Lakers' clash with the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday due to knee swelling, having missed their past three games.

The four-time MVP had returned to Los Angeles prior to Sunday's 129-121 loss to the Atlanta Hawks after undergoing an MRI on his left knee.

"We're still working on trying to get the swelling down," Vogel told reporters on Tuesday.

"He's listed as doubtful for tomorrow. He's not here today. He got treatment outside of our facility today."

The 37-year-old had been in excellent offensive form prior to the knee problem, having scored 25 points or more in 18 straight games.

Despite that, the Lakers are battling with a 24-27 record but Vogel said they would not rush James back.

“The number one goal is that he’s healthy for the long haul," Vogel said. "Everything is else less important than that. We have to win games when he’s out.”

Vogel also confirmed that the Lakers had left James out for the past three games for preventative reasons, with the swelling offering concern for a potential injury.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic triumphed against Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Denver Nuggets routed the reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks 136-100 on Sunday.

Jokic almost recorded his 13th triple-double of the season, while he matched his season-high for assists with 13.

The Serbian had 18 points, nine rebounds and 15 assists for the Nuggets, while Aaron Gordon contributed a team-high 24 points including four triples as Denver dominated the second half 71-43 after leading by eight points at the long break.

Antetokounmpo, who won the 2019 and 2020 MVP awards, finished with 29 points but only managed seven in the second half. The Greek forward also had nine rebounds and two assists.

Khris Middleton was kept quiet offensively with nine points, five rebounds and seven assists while Jrue Holiday added 14 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

The Nuggets improve to 28-21 overall aided by a five-game win streak, including four on the road, while the Bucks slip to 31-21.

 

Suns fight back for 10 straight

The table topping-Phoenix Suns overturned a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to clinch their 10th straight win, beating the San Antonio Spurs 115-110. Devin Booker top scored with 28 points including four three-pointers, while Chris Paul was exceptional with 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high 19 assists.

Trae Young starred with 36 points and 12 assists as the Atlanta Hawks extended their winning streak to seven games with a 129-121 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without LeBron James for the third straight game with a knee soreness. Malik Monk scored 33 points for the Lakers.

Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but the Dallas Mavericks lost 110-108 to the Orlando Magic, while 2021 top draft pick Cade Cunningham claimed a second career triple-double in the Detroit Pistons' 115-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Jazz starter suffers worrying injury

Utah Jazz swingman Joe Ingles went down with an apparent knee injury in the second quarter of their 126-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz confirmed Ingles will undergo an MRI in Salt Lake City on Monday.

LeBron James has returned to Los Angeles for treatment on his left knee after missing a third straight game as the Lakers went down 129-121 to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed that James had returned to LA on Saturday, having undergone an MRI that revealed "general swelling".

The 37-year-old, who has scored 25 points or more in 18 straight games, had initially missed Thursday's 105-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after waking up with soreness.

"As long as the swelling is there, he's going to be out and we'll get him back as soon as we can," Vogel told reporters. "Just going to keep an eye on it day to day."

Four-time MVP James is averaging 29.1 points, tied for second in the league, with 7.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. The veteran is averaging 36.6 minutes per game, which ranks fourth in the NBA.

"I think about it every day," Vogel said when asked about James' workload. "We're always mindful of the load that he's carrying, in constant communication with him and the medical team.

"In terms of what we do going forward with the knee and where he's at, it's really a heavy lean on the medical staff and [trainer] Mike Mancias and what they feel is best. It's really not a head-coach thing as much as it is relying on the medical team."

The Lakers are 24-27 in the Western Conference after finishing their six-game road trip with a 2-4 record.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.