Ja Morant has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for "directing inappropriate language towards a game official" and for not leaving the court soon enough.

The punishment was announced by the league on Saturday in response to the Memphis Grizzlies guard's behaviour in the 109-101 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

With just over a minute left of the game, Morant was given a technical and ejected by the referee, which provoked an angry response from the 23-year-old.

He took to Instagram after the game to suggest officials have "too much power," adding: "you get ejected nowadays for telling a mf the same thing they told you."

Morant has been enjoying another productive season in Memphis, averaging 28.2 points, 7.3 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game for the 13-9 Grizzlies, who visit the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Anthony Davis enjoyed his highest-scoring game since January 2020 as he put up 44 points to deliver a Los Angeles Lakers road win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

The Bucks entered the contest on a three-game winning streak, and were welcoming three-time All-Star Khris Middleton back to the starting line-up for his first action of the season. 

Middleton was solid in his return, scoring 17 points on six-of-11 shooting with seven assists and no turnovers in his 27 minutes, but there was nothing he could do to stop Davis.

Davis was dueling head-to-head with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and while the Bucks superstar had 40 points (16-of-23 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists, Davis dropped his 44 on 18-of-27 shooting, adding a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocks.

It is the third-most points Davis has scored in a Lakers jersey, trailing a 46-point effort back in 2020 and a 50-point explosion in 2019.

Davis is averaging 26.3 points, 12.7 rebounds (most in the NBA) and 2.3 blocks per game (third-most) this campaign, and both his field goal percentage (56.9 per cent) and true shooting percentage (63.5 per cent) are career-highs.

With the win, the Lakers have now emerged victorious in seven of their past nine games to salvage their rough start and improve their record to 9-12, while the Bucks hold onto the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 15-6.

Heat upset the Celtics in overtime

The Miami Heat (11-12) collected an impressive 120-116 overtime win against the league-leading Boston Celtics (18-5) as four of their starters scored at least 20 points each.

Bam Adebayo top-scored for the Heat with 28 points, while Tyler Herro added 26 with three steals, Jimmy Butler had 25 with 15 rebounds and Kyle Lowry chipped in 20 of his own.

Jaylen Brown was terrific for the Celtics with a game-high 37 points on 12-of-23 shooting, adding 14 rebounds and five assists, but his heroics were not enough to prevent his side from dropping only their second game from their past 16 outings.

Morant, Jackson deliver Grizzlies win

Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr showed exactly why they are the two centerpieces the Memphis Grizzlies are building around, delivering on both ends in a 117-109 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Morant top-scored for the Grizzlies with 28 (10-of-28 shooting), while Jackson flashed his unique skill-set by blocking four shots and hitting two three-pointers on his way to 22 points (seven-of-12) and nine rebounds.

Joel Embiid was immense for the 76ers, scoring a game-high 35 points (13-of-26) with 12 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks, posting a plus/minus of plus nine in his 41 minutes.

This means in the seven minutes he was on the bench, the 76ers were outscored by 17.

The Sacramento Kings just keep on winning, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 113-109 on the road for their seventh straight victory – a feat they have not achieved since 2004.

Their 113 points is the lowest total they have put up during this winning run, having not previously fallen below 120. 

The Kings' scoring power, which includes the highest total in a game this season (153 against the Brooklyn Nets) has them as the second-best offense in the NBA at 117.7 points per 100 possessions, trailing only the Boston Celtics (118.2).

De'Aaron Fox was the catalyst on Tuesday, scoring a team-high 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including five-of-eight from deep, while adding eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Fox's ability to go head-to-head with Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant bodes well for the Kings, as the 24-year-old former fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft appears on track for his first All-Star appearance.

He is averaging a career-high 25.4 points per game at a career-best 55.8 field goal percentage, and he is also top-20 in assists with an average of 6.4.

At 10-6, the Kings are currently occupying the third seed in the Western Conference, and they will look to extend their streak to eight games when they head to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Wednesday.

Davis' dominance goes to waste

Anthony Davis had one of the most statistically impressive games of his career in the Los Angeles Lakers' 115-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Davis scored 37 points on 11-of-17 shooting, hitting 15 of his 16 free throws, while grabbing 21 rebounds, snatching five steals and swatting five blocks. He is the first player since the league began recording blocks and steals in 1973 to post at least 37 points, 20 rebounds, five steals and four blocks in a game.

For the Suns, Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker scored 25 each, while center Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 15 rebounds before being shoved to the ground by Patrick Beverley late in the fourth quarter, drawing an ejection for the Lakers guard.

Bogdanovic leads unlikely Pistons win

Despite the return of reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and second-fiddle Jamal Murray, the Detroit Pistons pulled off an upset 110-108 road win against the Denver Nuggets.

After missing some time due to the league's health and safety protocols, Jokic was back to his dominant best, scoring 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 10 assists and nine rebounds, but it was not enough.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 22 points on eight-of-17 points for the Pistons, while Alec Burks chipped in 21 points and three steals off the bench, and Killian Hayes set the table with nine assists.

Ben Simmons has little doubt what is in store for him when he returns to the Philadelphia 76ers this week, having finally found form with the Brooklyn Nets.

An ugly stand-off between Simmons and the 76ers eventually came to an end in February when he was traded to the Nets in the deal that took James Harden to Philly.

The messy exit was in the best interests of both parties, but Simmons acknowledged there will be little love lost from a typically boisterous Philadelphia crowd when the teams meet on Tuesday.

"In Philly?" Simmons replied with a sarcastic smile when asked if enough time had elapsed that he might not get an unfriendly reception. "Come on now. I know what's coming."

Despite his expectations of hostility, Simmons talked up the passion of Philadelphia sports fans.

"One thing about Philly fans, they're incredible. They're diehard Philly. I respect that about the city. It's a sports town," Simmons said. 

"I was 18 years old coming into Philly, so it's really the only place I've lived as an adult. I've got a lot of love for that city.

"People don't know that, but a lot of my best friends are from Philadelphia. My brother still lives in Philadelphia. So, regardless of the [basketball] situation, and whatever happened happened, but I've got a lot of love for that city. I look forward to going down there and playing."

For Simmons, the timing of the game could hardly be better given he is starting to find his groove again.

Coming off a season-best performance against the Portland Trail Blazers last time out, Simmons went even better with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the Nets downed the Memphis Grizzlies 127-115 on Sunday.

It means he has 37 points, 21 rebounds and 12 assists over his past two games. It took him until the 10th game this season to even put up a double-figure points return, while the last time he had a 20-point game was with the 76ers in the first round of the 2021 playoffs.

"It takes time," Simmons said about his improvement. 

"I'm just trying to build my consistency. Stay focused on what I can do. I know what I can do. I know what I'm capable of. I'm not surprised [I'm playing well]."

Kyrie Irving never doubted he would return for the Brooklyn Nets after his team-imposed suspension, while he declined to answer questions about the Israel United in Christ group that turned out at Barclays Center in support of him.

Irving made his NBA return after eight games out due to suspension for sharing a social media post about a book and film with antisemitic tropes, scoring 14 points in 26 minutes in a 127-115 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The All-Star's return to the NBA came after a lengthy remediation process that split opinions, involving the Nets, the league, the NBPA and Irving, who also met with key community members.

"Never had a doubt," Irving responded after the game when asked if he feared the situation may mean he would never play for the Nets again.

On his return, Irving added: "I felt good. I missed my teammates, missed the coaching staff… It felt good to get this game out of the way. Now we can move forward with the rest of the season."

Prior to the game, approximately 100 members from Israel United in Christ group were outside the venue, chanting and handing out flyers headlined "The Truth About Anti-Semitism" and "The Truth about Slavery".

The group has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center yet appeared to be in support of Irving's social media post that led to his suspension.

"I think that's a conversation for another day. I'm just here to focus on the game," Irving said when asked about the group's presence.

When asked again, he added: "Again I'm just here to focus on the game."

Boston Celtics swingman and NBPA vice-president Jaylen Brown retweeted a social media video of the group, writing "energy".

Brown later backtracked on the post, but did not delete it. He wrote: "I was not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclay’s Center tonight. I was celebrating the unification of our people welcoming the return of Kyrie to the court, first glance I thought it was a known fraternity the (C/Que’s) Omega psi phi (step’n) showing support."

The Splash Brothers were at the peak of their powers in the Golden State Warriors' 127-120 road win against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Fresh off his first NBA Finals MVP, Stephen Curry continued his remarkable season with 33 points (11-of-20 shooting, seven-of-14 from three-point range) and a season-high 15 assists. It was one assist shy of his career high, set back in 2013 and matched in 2014.

But the story was his backcourt partner Klay Thompson, who is shooting a career-worst percentage from both the field (36.3 per cent) and from long-range (33.6 per cent) this season.

He began to right the ship with a stunning 43-point performance, hitting 10 of his 13 three-point attempts on his way to 14-of-23 shooting. It is the sixth game of his career with at least 10 three-pointers in a game, and he also owns the all-time record with 14.

For the Rockets, the third overall selection from this year's NBA Draft, Jabari Smith Jr, showed exactly why he was so highly coveted. The long-armed, six-foot-11 power forward scored a season-high 22 points on eight-of-14 shooting, hitting three long-balls.

The win is the Warriors' first on the road this season from nine attempts, giving them an 8-9 record, while the Rockets fell to 3-14.

Durant makes history in Irving's return

Kevin Durant became the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 25 points in the first 17 games of a season in Sunday's 127-115 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

In the return of Kyrie Irving from his team-imposed suspension, Durant led the Nets with 26 points on nine-of-16 shooting, adding seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block. The last player to score at least 25 in their first 17 games of a season was Rick Barry back in the 1966-67 campaign.

The Nets also benefited from Ben Simmons' best game since arriving with the team, scoring a season-high 22 points on 11-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists, boasting a game-high plus/minus of plus 19.

Irving was quiet in his return, hitting five-of-12 shots for 14 points and zero assists with four turnovers.

Fox leads the Kings to sixth win in a row

The Sacramento Kings have now won six games in a row after a 137-129 shootout against the Detroit Pistons.

Sacramento have scored at least 120 points in each of their wins on this streak, highlighted by a 153-point outing against the Nets, which is the most points scored by any team this season.

De'Aaron Fox top-scored with 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting, adding seven assists. After never previously shooting better than 48 per cent in a season, Fox is 55.4 per cent from the field this campaign, and a career-best 37.5 per cent from three.

Kyrie Irving is available again after an eight-game ban ahead of the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

The 30-year-old NBA star had been serving a suspension imposed by the Nets on November 3 for sharing a social media post on a book and film that featured anti-semitic tropes.

Irving verbally apologised for the post for the first time on Saturday, saying he was "deeply" sorry to the Jewish community.

The Nets initially listed Irving as "questionable" for the Grizzlies clash at Barclays Center, before confirming on Sunday he would be available.

Irving said he has been on a "learning journey" as part of his suspension and reintegration into the Nets team, before reiterating his sorrow to reporters on Sunday, offering: "my deep apologies to all those who are impacted over the last few weeks".

"I don't stand for anything close to hate speech, or anti-semitism, or anything that is anti going against the human race," he said. "I feel like we all should have an opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are assumed about us.

"And I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all of this.

"... I meant no harm to any person, any group of people. And yeah, this is a big moment for me because I'm able to learn throughout this process that the power of my voice is very strong.

"The influence that I have within my community is very strong, and I want to be responsible for that. In order to do that, we have to admit when you were wrong and instances where you hurt people and it impacts them."

Irving has played just eight games this season as a result of the ban, averaging 26.9 points, as well as 5.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

Suspended Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving verbally apologised for his recent social media post for the first time on Saturday, saying he is "deeply" sorry to the Jewish community as a return to NBA ranks looms.

The Nets listed Irving, who has been out for eight games due to a team-imposed suspension for sharing a book and film with antisemitic tropes on social media, as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Irving said he has been on a "learning journey" as part of his suspension and reintegration into the Nets team.

The seven-time All-Star had previously apologised on social media after the suspension was imposed on him for the "harmful impact of his conduct". Prior to that, Irving had failed to apologise for sharing the post nor unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs on numerous occasions in the immediate days after that.

"I just want to apologise deeply for all my actions throughout the time that it's been since the post was first put up," Irving told SNY. "I've had a lot of time to think. But my focus, initially, if I could do it over, would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.

"I really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community. Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community."

The fall-out for Irving has been significant. Not only was he suspended by his team, Nike announced they had severed relations with him after a decade-long relationship and were dropping his latest signature shoe, the Kyrie 8, from its catalogue.

Irving has met with several representatives from key communities, working with the Nets, the NBA and the NBPA to move towards remediation and a resolution. His meetings included with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish.

"It was a learning journey to be honest with you," Irving said. "It was a lot of hurt that needed to be healed, a lot of conversations that needed to be had and a lot of reflection.

"I got a chance to do that with some great people from the Jewish community. From the Black community, from the white community - I've had so many conversations with all of our races and cultures and religious groups of people.

"Just try to find a better perspective on how we live a more harmonious life. I'm a man who stands for peace. I don't condone any hate speech or any prejudice and I don't want to be in a position where I'm being misunderstood on where I stand in terms of antisemitism or any hate for that matter for anybody in this world."

Irving called his initial reaction as self-defense when he failed to unequivocally declare he was not antisemitic during a press conference, when offered numerous opportunities, leading to the team-imposed ban, which had been indefinite without pay but for a minimum of five games.

"I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of just pure defense and just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled as antisemitic or anti-Jewish, and I've felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not," Irving said.

"Now to the outside world, that may have been seen as a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Which rightfully so, it should've been, 'No, I'm not antisemitic. No, I'm not anti-Jewish.' I'm a person who believes we should all have equal opportunities and that we should all shower each other with love, and that should be at the forefront.

"But it wasn’t in that initial conversation, and I take my accountability and I want to apologise for that, because it came off the wrong way completely."

Suspended Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving verbally apologized for his recent social media post for the first time on Saturday, saying he is "deeply" sorry to the Jewish community as a return to NBA ranks looms.

The Nets listed Irving, who has been out for eight games due to a team-imposed suspension for sharing a book and film with antisemitic tropes on social media, as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Irving said he has been on a "learning journey" as part of his suspension and reintegration into the Nets team.

The seven-time All-Star had previously apologized on social media after the suspension was imposed on him for the "harmful impact of his conduct". Prior to that, Irving had failed to apologize for sharing the post nor unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs on numerous occasions in the immediate days after that.

"I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions throughout the time that it's been since the post was first put up," Irving told SNY. "I've had a lot of time to think. But my focus, initially, if I could do it over, would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.

"I really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community. Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community."

The fall-out for Irving has been significant. Not only was he suspended by his team, Nike announced they had severed relations with him after a decade-long relationship and were dropping his latest signature shoe, the Kyrie 8, from its catalogue.

Irving has met with several representatives from key communities, working with the Nets, the NBA and the NBPA to move towards remediation and a resolution. His meetings included with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish.

"It was a learning journey to be honest with you," Irving said. "It was a lot of hurt that needed to be healed, a lot of conversations that needed to be had and a lot of reflection.

"I got a chance to do that with some great people from the Jewish community. From the Black community, from the white community - I've had so many conversations with all of our races and cultures and religious groups of people.

"Just try to find a better perspective on how we live a more harmonious life. I'm a man who stands for peace. I don't condone any hate speech or any prejudice and I don't want to be in a position where I'm being misunderstood on where I stand in terms of antisemitism or any hate for that matter for anybody in this world."

Irving called his initial reaction as self-defense when he failed to unequivocally declare he was not antisemitic during a press conference, when offered numerous opportunities, leading to the team-imposed ban, which had been indefinite without pay but for a minimum of five games.

"I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of just pure defense and just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled as antisemitic or anti-Jewish, and I've felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not," Irving said.

"Now to the outside world, that may have been seen as a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Which rightfully so, it should've been, 'No, I'm not antisemitic. No, I'm not anti-Jewish.' I'm a person who believes we should all have equal opportunities and that we should all shower each other with love, and that should be at the forefront.

"But it wasn’t in that initial conversation, and I take my accountability and I want to apologize for that, because it came off the wrong way completely."

All-Star point guard Ja Morant is "week -to-week" after the Memphis Grizzlies confirmed he had sustained a Grade 1 left ankle sprain.

Morant had to be helped off the court in Friday's 121-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder after getting tangled with Lu Dort in the fourth quarter.

The 23-year-old is averaging 28.6 points and 7.1 assists per game this season for the Grizzlies, who are already without Desmond Bane, who will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks due to a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe.

"After further evaluation, it was determined that Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant suffered a Grade 1 sprain of his left ankle during the November 18 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder," the franchise announced on Saturday.

"Morant's return to play timeline will be week-to-week, and updates will be provided as appropriate."

The Grizzlies are scheduled to face the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, with Kyrie Irving potentially returning for the home side at Barclays Center.

Memphis are also due to play the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Meanwhile, ESPN have reported that Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey will miss three to four weeks with a small fracture in his foot revealed by an MRI from Friday's 110-102 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey both were forced to leave their respective games early on Friday after rolling their left ankles.

Morant's injury came late in the fourth quarter of a 121-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, immediately needing to be helped off the floor. He finished the game with 19 points on five-of-20 shooting and 11 assists.

After the game, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said his star point guard "tweaked his ankle" and that there will be no update until scans on Saturday. It is the same ankle he rolled last week that forced him to miss one game, while co-star Desmond Bane remains out for multiple weeks with a toe sprain.

Earlier in the day, Maxey hurt himself late in what was arguably the best half of his young career.

The third-year guard played nearly the entire first half as starters Tobias Harris and James Harden both were absent with their own injuries, putting up 24 points (nine-of-12 shooting), five assists and four rebounds with only one turnover.

He did not return in the second half as his team went on to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks 110-102. The initial X-ray was negative, meaning there will be an MRI scheduled for Saturday to determine the damage.

Kevin Durant says the probable return of Kyrie Irving for the Brooklyn Nets' game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday will provide a "much-needed spark".

Irving will miss an eighth straight game because of a team-imposed suspension when the Nets take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, in the final leg of their four-game road trip.

The seven-time All-Star guard was handed an indefinite team-imposed suspension without pay by the Nets, for at least five games, after he shared an allegedly anti-semitic film and book on social media last month.

The Nets, the NBA and the NBPA have worked together with Irving to remediate the situation, after Brooklyn initially laid out six prerequisites for the player. According to reports, a resolution is close, potentially in time for Sunday's game.

"It's exciting for everybody," Durant told reporters prior to Thursday's game. "I mean we miss 'Ky'. We miss his presence on the floor.

"I haven't talked to him since we've been on the road trip about it the last couple of days. But we're looking forward to his return to the team. Definitely gonna give us a much-needed spark."

The Nets, who are 6-9 overall, have gone 4-3 in Irving's absence, although they were blown out 153-121 by the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, which was a franchise record for most points conceded.

Durant added that he was hopeful Irving's return would be soon but said he had not been briefed on where the process is at.

"I don't know the details about everything that's going on to be honest," Durant said. "I should know, I guess, because I'm part of the team.

"But I've been totally focused on the road trip. Once we get back home, I'm sure that stuff will figure itself out. Hopefully it's soon, that's all that I can say."

Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane will be out for up to three weeks with a toe injury.

Bane did the damage to his right big toe during a 114-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedExForum last Friday.

The Grizzlies on Tuesday revealed Bane will be sidelined for at least a fortnight.

A statement released by the franchise said: "After further evaluation, it was determined that Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe during the November 11 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bane will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks."

Bane is averaging a career-high 24.7 points, 4.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game for Memphis in an impressive season to date.

The Grizzlies are fourth in the Western Conference at 9-5 ahead of a meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry scored 18 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth quarter of his team's 106-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

After scoring a season-high 47 points on 17-of-24 shooting (70.8 per cent) in Monday's home win against the Sacramento Kings, Curry electrified the Chase Center crowd once more for consecutive 40-plus point performances.

Despite his final figures against the Cavaliers, the visitors actually led 72-62 with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors closed the game on a 46-29 run.

The Warriors trailed 98-95 with 90 seconds remaining, before Curry proceeded to hit two three-pointers, a two-pointer and two free throws to ice the game.

He finished a terrific 15-of-23 (65.2 per cent) from the field, hitting six-of-11 threes while adding five assists and two turnovers.

Andrew Wiggins chipped in 20 points (eight-of-13 shooting), Draymond Green had season-highs in assists (13) and rebounds (9), and Jordan Poole rediscovered some form with 18 points (six-of-13) off the bench.

Donovan Mitchell continued his strong start in a Cavaliers uniform as he put up 29 points (10-of-20), 10 rebounds and nine assists, posting a plus/minus of plus seven in his 37 minutes. 

Morant outduels Edwards in Grizzlies win

Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards faced off in one of the NBA's most entertaining matchups, but it was Morant's Memphis Grizzlies coming out on top against the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 114-103 home win.

Both young stars finished with 28 points, with Edwards shooting a superior 10-of-16 compared to Morant's 11-of-25, but Morant added 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals, while Edwards had six rebounds and six assists.

Timberwolves' franchise-player Karl-Anthony Towns struggled with foul trouble all game, fouling out with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Barrett, Brunson put on a show at Madison Square Garden

The New York Knicks' backcourt was everything their fans have been hoping for in a 121-112 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

Former third-overall draft pick R.J. Barrett scored a season-high 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting (three-of-eight from deep), with five rebounds and five assists, while his running-mate and recent trade acquisition Jalen Brunson was just as good.

Brunson scored 26 points on eight-of-16 shooting, adding a team-high seven assists and a game-high four steals.

The win boosts the Knicks' home record to 4-2, and pulls them to 6-6 overall. 

Nearly a month into the NBA season, Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has continued his ascent into one of the best shooters in the sport, and he headlines the early candidates on breakout-watch.

The six-foot-five, third-year product out of TCU was considered a steal by avid college basketball fans when the Grizzlies selected him 30th overall in the draft, as he profiled as an elite shooter and stout defender from day-one.

As a 21-year-old rookie he averaged 9.2 points and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 43.2 per cent from three-point range, starting in 17 of his 68 appearances, before graduating to a full-time starter in his second season.

In his sophomore season, Bane started all 76 of his games and found his footing in the league, raising his averages to 18.2 points and 2.7 assists, and while his three-point attempts went up from 4.0 to 6.9, his percentage also went up from 43.2 to 43.6. Teammate Ja Morant won the league's Most Improved Player, but he gifted the award to Bane (who ultimately returned it).

A player's ability to scale up their volume of shots while maintaining efficiency is a telltale sign of someone ready to assume a larger role (see: Mikal Bridges, De'Andre Hunter), and that has continued in Bane's third season.

His usage rate jumped from a supporting-role-level 15.5 per cent as a rookie, to a main-option-level 22.6 per cent in his second campaign, before ascending to a 26.9 per cent usage this season. 

 

For reference, that is the 27th-highest figure in the league for players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, putting him ahead of players like C.J. McCollum (26.3) and Anthony Edwards (26.3) and only narrowly behind DeMar DeRozan (27.8).

His three-point attempts have also jumped again from 6.9 to 8.8, and once again, his three-point percentage has inexplicably risen with it, up to a career-high 46.8 per cent. 

It has led to career-highs across the board in points (24.6), rebounds (5.0), assists (4.6) and minutes (32.7). His 4.1 made three-pointers per game is tied with Buddy Hield for second in the league, trailing only Stephen Curry (5.1).

With a two-plus season sample size now under his belt, it is now clear Bane is not just a good shooter, but one of the best in the world. His career three-point figure of 43.7 per cent is the second-highest among all active players, trailing only Seth Curry (43.8 per cent).

It would be disrespectful to the legendary, game-changing Stephen Curry to put anybody in his class as a marksman, but if he were to retire tomorrow, Bane would have an argument to be the game's best shooter.

It had been assumed in Memphis that Jaren Jackson Jr was the long-term running-mate their potential MVP in Morant, but Bane has become undeniable, and it is now easy to envision the Grizzlies treating Bane as the Klay Thompson to Morant's Stephen Curry in their macro team-building vision.

Page 1 of 18
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.