Stephen Curry knows he cannot make the same mistake after his ejection in the Golden State Warriors' win over the Memphis Grizzlies, head coach Steve Kerr says.

Curry was ejected with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct, having thrown his mouthpiece in frustration after Jordan Poole opted not to pass to him before missing a three-point attempt.

The ejection did not hinder the Warriors, with Poole scoring a last-second layup to clinch a narrow 122-120 victory that moved the franchise up to ninth in the Western Conference with a 24-24 record.

While the loss of Curry was not detrimental to the result, Kerr knows the outcome could have been different and the NBA Finals MVP must avoid similar actions in the future.

"I didn't see what happened at the time, so when the ref called it I was confused," he said.

"Then the coach told me he threw the mouthpiece down out of anger. I think that's an automatic ejection. He knows he can't make that mistake again."

Poole was quizzed on the incident following the win, as well as his interaction with Curry in the tunnel after the game, but claimed he could not remember what occurred prior to his teammates' ejection.

"I don't even know what you're talking about, I have a short memory," he replied.

"We just kind of embraced a little bit [in the tunnel], he's our leader, we would have loved to have him in the game for the last three [minutes]

"But we just found a way to grind it out, get a big win against a really good team, and now we just want to keep that momentum going."

Kerr was similarly keen to avoid any unnecessary drama, highlighting that the victory was more important.

"Was Steph Curry open next to him? We won, let's focus on the positives," he added.

Stephen Curry was ejected for throwing his mouthpiece before Jordan Poole scored a last-second layup as the Golden State Warriors narrowly beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-120 on Wednesday.

Curry was ejected with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter  with the Warriors up by two for unsportsmanlike conduct, having thrown his mouthpiece in frustration after Poole opted not to pass to him, before missing a three-point attempt.

But Golden State kept their composure without their NBA Finals MVP, with Klay Thompson draining a clutch three-pointer with 14.1 seconds left, before Ja Morant dished off for a Brandon Clarke dunk to square it up with 6.3 seconds remaining.

Poole got redemption for his role in Curry's ejection, when he got free to land a left-handed layup from Donte DiVincenzo's inbound to decide the game at Chase Center.

Curry finished with 34 points with four-of-eight three-point shooting, while Klay Thompson hit five-of-10 triples in his 24 points.

Draymond Green had 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks, while Poole added 21 points with seven assists.

Morant posted 29 points for the Grizzlies, making two-of-seven from beyond the arc with 12 assists and two steals. Desmond Bane managed 20 points but went four-of-six from the stripe.

The result lifts the Warriors up to ninth in the Western Conference with a 24-24 record, while the Grizzlies are 31-17 and second in the west.

Simmons booed as 76ers down Nets

Ben Simmons was booed throughout on his return to Wells Fargo Center as the Philadelphia 76ers edged the Brooklyn Nets 137-133 to clinch their sixth straight win.

James Harden starred against his former side with 23 points, three rebounds and seven assists, making two three-pointers and a driving layup in the final four minutes. Tyrese Maxey added 27 points off the bench and Joel Embiid had 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Seth Curry had a season-high 32 points including seven triples, Kyrie Irving added 30 points with 10 assists, while Ben Simmons was scoreless in the first half from only one shot but finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Lillard shoots 60 in Blazers win

Damian Lillard scored 60 points, the second-most by a single player in a game this season, as the Portland Trail Blazers won 134-124 over the Utah Jazz.

Lillard shot nine-of-15 from three-point range including six of those in the first half, recording his fourth career 60-point game, matching Michael Jordan and James Harden for the third most overall.

The Blazers guard scored five triples in the second quarter, which he has done 16 times in any quarter in his career, which is the second most by any player in the last 25 seasons. Jazz power forward Lauri Markkanen scored 24 points with four rebounds.

Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham hailed "one of those great, great nights" as his team halted the Memphis Grizzlies' 11-game winning streak.

The Lakers pulled off a 122-121 victory, with a crucial late steal by Dennis Schroder pivotal to the outcome. Schroder managed a decisive lay-up and three free throws in the closing 14 seconds at Crypto.Com Arena

"He knows how to make big plays in big moments. He's not afraid," Ham said of Schroder.

LeBron James had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, not finding his scoring best but playing a part all the same as others raised their level.

The Lakers are now 21-25 for the season, with reports saying Anthony Davis should be back from injury next week.

Looking at the key to getting the big win on Friday night in Los Angeles, Ham said: "I just think our resolve. Our guys showed a lot of character, a lot of fight.

"It was disappointing to give up so many defensive rebounds and second-chance points, and fouls. But once we kept our togetherness, we never got too down.

"Guys were chirping, talking, communicating, constantly encouraging one another to be better on the defensive glass.

"But the biggest thing, we had 10 turnovers for seven points but for the most part we took care of the ball, we got good shots, we stayed in attack mode playing downhill, and we were able to get to the free-throw line ourselves and were plus-seven from the free-throw line in terms of makes. It helped us, and we were able to knock down some threes.

"It was a hard-fought game. It's a hell of a ball club over there, they're very well coached. It was just one of those great, great nights and a hell of a game.

"I wish I could have watched that as a fan, and not sweating underneath my half-zip. Our guys stayed competing, stayed aggressive, and I think that was the recipe."

James spoke after the game about a half-time altercation involving several Grizzlies players and Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe, a former star NFL tight end.

"I run with Shannon 365 days, 366 in a leap year, 24/7. That's my guy," James said. "I'll always have his back, and he's got mine. He can talk with the best of them, that's for sure."

Russell Westbrook led scorers for the Lakers with a 29-point game, with Memphis reined in after leading by 13 late in the third quarter.

Schroder, who had 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, dedicated the win to Anton Walkes, the English footballer for Charlotte FC who died on Friday.

Schroder said the Lakers found a way to win without having to rely on a dominant James.

Speaking to ESPN, Schroder said: "It's a team game. Everybody's got to just chip in, do their job.

"LeBron, Russ, AD [Davis] when he comes back, they're the head ot the snake, but everyone's just got to chip in and that's what we did tonight."

The Los Angeles Lakers produced a late comeback to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-121, denying the visitors what would have been a franchise-record 12th consecutive victory.

Memphis looked well on their way to breaking their record, jumping out to a 13-point lead late in the third quarter, but a 41-point final period from the Lakers turned the game on its head.

Los Angeles trailed by five points with under a minute on the clock, and after Dennis Schroder cut the margin to one with 19 seconds left, he then stole the ball and laid it in – with a foul – to put the Lakers in front for good.

Brandon Clarke had a chance to tie the game with two free throws in the final seconds, but after hitting the first, he missed the second. He was arguably the Grizzlies' best player, shooting a perfect seven-of-seven from the field for 20 points and 10 rebounds in his 22 minutes.

Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting, adding six assists and five rebounds, while LeBron James had 23 points (eight-of-21), nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.

The win improves the Lakers' record to 21-25, leaving them 13th in the Western Conference, but only two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers (24-24) in the race for the six seed.

Kawhi back to his best for the Clippers

Two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard looked back to his All-NBA self as he scored a season-high 36 points in the Los Angeles Clippers' 131-126 road win against the San Antonio Spurs.

Leonard shot 13-of-18 from the field while adding seven assists and two steals, marking his sixth consecutive game with at least 24 points and a steal. 

During that stretch, his 30.0 points per game is the seventh-highest figure in the league, all while shooting 57.4 per cent from the field, 50 per cent from deep and 93.8 per cent from the free throw line.

He was supported well by fellow All-Star Paul George, who dished a season-high 12 assists to go with his 16 points.

Undermanned Warriors shoot the lights out

The Golden State Warriors came into their road fixture against the Cleveland Cavaliers without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins – but still came away with a 120-114 victory.

In the absence of their top stars, the Warriors received a 32-point outburst from Jordan Poole on 10-of-23 shooting, while Ty Jerome posted season-highs in points (22) and assists (eight).

As a team, the Warriors shot 23-of-43 (53.5 per cent) from three-point range, opening a 20-point lead in the third quarter that was too much for the Cavaliers to overcome.

The Memphis Grizzlies' achieved a franchise record 11th straight win with Desmond Bane and Ja Morant starring in a thrilling 115-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Darius Garland had a three-point shot on the buzzer blocked by Dillon Brooks, after Steven Adams tipped in with 16 seconds left after Morant's miss.

Bane top scored for the Grizzlies with 25 points, including five-of-eight three-point shooting. Morant added 24 points with eight assists for Memphis, who improved to 31-13, along with 20-3 at home.

Morant had spent time in the locker room in the first quarter after copping a knee to his neck, but re-entered the game in the second quarter.

Game-winner Adams scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, while Jaren Jackson Jr had an excellent all-round game with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four blocks.

Memphis also managed an 11th consecutive game with 115 or more points.

The Cavs were missing Donovan Mitchell due to a groin strain, with Garland top scoring with 24 points on five-of-11 three-point shooting along with 14 assists.

Caris LeVert added 23 points with four rebounds and six assists, with power forward Evan Mobley scoring 18 points and bringing down 15 rebounds with two blocks. The Cavs are now 28-18.

Trae downs Doncic as Hawks win fourth straight

The Atlanta Hawks continued their run of momentum with their fourth straight win in a 130-122 victory over Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks.

Dejounte Murray scored 30 points, making four-of-six three-pointers, while John Collins added 19 along with 18 from Trae Young plus 12 assists, as the Hawks secured a season-best four-game winning streak to move above .500 at 23-22.

Doncic, who was traded as a top-five pick for Young at the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 30 points for the Mavs, but only 11 after quarter-time, while he gave up seven turnovers.

Jokic adds another franchise record in Nuggets win

Nikola Jokic recorded his 14th triple-double of the season as he surpassed Alex English for the most assists in franchise history in the Denver Nuggets' 122-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The MVP candidate finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, going past English's 3,680-assist franchise record with a dime for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Jamal Murray added 28 points for the Nuggets, who secured their eighth straight win and 15th successive victory at home to remain top in the west, at 32-13.

The Memphis Grizzlies will get a chance to tie their longest winning streak in franchise history when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Monday's 30-point demolition of the Phoenix Suns extended the Grizzlies' streak to 10, and they are now one victory away from tying the 11-game streak from the 2014-15 campaign starring Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, which was matched last season.

Over their last 10 fixtures, the Grizzlies have been a juggernaut on both ends of the court, scoring 119.9 points per 100 possessions to sit third in offensive rating, while also boasting the best defense in the NBA, allowing just 106.5.

Meanwhile, the team the Grizzlies overtook to snatch top spot in the defensive rankings was the Cavaliers, who still sit second for the season.

Another key indicator for the true contenders is net rating – which measures how much better a team's offensive rating is compared to their defense – and both of these sides have excelled through the first half of the season. The Grizzlies sit second overall with a net rating of 5.8, while the Cavaliers are third at 4.7.

Two very similar teams, both the Cavaliers and the Grizzlies utilise two defensive anchors in their starting line-up, leaning away from the more prevalent "small ball" roster constructions seen around the league.

For the Grizzlies, Steven Adams is arguably the strongest rebounder in the league while Jaren Jackson Jr leads the NBA in blocks per game at 3.3. On the Cavaliers' side, All-Star Jarrett Allen and defensive prodigy Evan Mobley roam the interior.

While these sides are almost identical defensively, the way they attack on offense, particularly through their star players, could decide their fate.

Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is, without a doubt, one of the best guards in league history when it comes to finishing at the rim. He is averaging five makes per game within five feet of the basket – the only guard in the league to do so – while converting at a terrific 61 per cent clip.

The problem with that is how well both of these teams protect the basket, as it creates the question of what happens when an unstoppable force – Morant – meets an immovable object – the rim protection of Allen and Mobley.

On the other hand, the combination of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell for the Cavaliers are far more malleable with the way they create their offense.

Garland excels in 'floater range' from five-to-nine feet away from the hoop, sitting 15th in the league with 1.3 makes per game at an efficient 50 per cent, while Mitchell provides the long-range assault.

Mitchell is averaging 3.1 makes per game on deep threes (greater than 25 feet), which trails only the Golden State Warriors' Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry (3.8) and Klay Thompson (3.2).

It should be a mouthwatering clash between the league's best two defensive teams, who both have all their young stars healthy and ready to go as they look to strengthen their playoff positions.

 

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS 

Cleveland Cavaliers – Jarrett Allen

It is no secret that Morant is the driving force behind the Grizzlies' success, and for him to dominate games, he needs to control the paint.

Allen is the Cavaliers' primary rim protector and will be tasked with preventing Morant from producing more of his highlight-reel finishes, and if he can turn Morant into a jump-shooter for the night, Cleveland will consider that a massive win.

Memphis Grizzlies – Desmond Bane

Desmond Bane is the perfect counterbalance to Morant, providing the Grizzlies with a dynamic shooting threat who holds the defense's attention at all times.

Through three seasons, Bane owns a ridiculous career three-point percentage of 43.3. It is not just a strong number, it is the seventh-best career figure of all-time, and places him in the absolute top echelon of shooters in today's game.

If he can hit a couple early and force the Cavaliers' defense to divert some of their attention away from Morant, Bane could open up everything for the Grizzlies' offense.

KEY BATTLE – Can the Cavaliers figure out how to win on the road?

Heading into this contest, both the Grizzlies (19-3) and the Cavaliers (19-4) sit top-three in the NBA's best home records.

The Grizzlies will get the honour of hosting this time, leaving the Cavs as the underdogs as they try to figure out what is behind their disappointing 9-13 record away from home this campaign.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

This will be the first time this season these two teams meet, although the Grizzlies have won each of the past three matchups.

The Cavaliers defeated the Grizzlies once during Morant's rookie season in 2019, but the former Rookie of the Year has not lost to them since.

With a victory against the Indiana Pacers safely secured, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was able to gush over his stunning dunk during the contest.

The move, with just over four minutes left in the third quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, saw Morant cut in from the right before leaping over Jalen Smith and slamming in a spectacular dunk that had his team-mates and even opposition fans left in visible awe.

The Grizzlies went on to win 130-112 to make it nine victories in a row, and Morant – who ended with 23 points, 10 assists and three rebounds – agreed the dunk was the best of his career so far.

"Yeah, easy," he said. "It's what everybody has been waiting for. I finally made it."

Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett were among those to react on Twitter to Morant's effort, with the latter exclaiming: "When we look back on Ja's in game dunk highlights when it's all said and done it's gonna be up there with some of the greatest ever."

Desmond Bane, who top-scored for the visitors with 25 points, also acknowledged the effort of his team-mate, saying: "I ain't seen nothing like that one. That's probably going to go down as dunk of the year."

Memphis' win streak has taken them to 29-13 as they fight with the Denver Nuggets for superiority in the Western Conference, though coach Taylor Jenkins acknowledged his team is "not playing perfect basketball."

He was, though, happy to see the Grizzlies "finding different ways to win," adding: "Whether we're playing with a lead or playing from behind. Each game has presented a different challenge for us and our guys have stayed the course.''

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was clearly impressed by their performance, saying: "[The Grizzlies may] very well may be the best team on the planet right now.''

Ja Morant scored 23 points including an incredible one-handed dunk of the year candidate to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to their ninth straight win, 130-112 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Morant drove forward, reached back with his right arm and launched a massive dunk with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter over Jalen Smith to open up a 20-point lead.

The Grizzlies guard finished the game with 23 points on seven-of-17 shooting from the field, with 10 assists and three rebounds.

Morant is averaging 28.7 points per game during the Grizzlies' nine-game win streak.

Desmond Bane was solid as always, going five-of-11 from three-point range in his team-high 25 points.

The victory means Memphis are tied with the Denver Nuggets at 29-13 for the best record in the Western Conference. The win was the Grizzlies' fourth straight on the road.

The Pacers, missing Tyrese Haliburton, were led by Chris Duarte with 25 points despite a hand concern.

Embiid seals Sixers victory over Jazz

Joel Embiid's jumper with 5.7 seconds remaining clinched a 118-117 victory for the Philadelphia 76ers over the Utah Jazz.

Embiid finished the game with 31 points on nine-of-18 shooting from the field with two three-pointers, seven rebounds and two blocks, while James Harden added 30 points and 11 assists.

Utah trailed for most of the game but hit the lead at 115-114 with 33 seconds left, with Jordan Clarkson scoring 38 points with nine rebounds.

Doncic kept to season low as Blazers fire

Luka Doncic was kept to a season-low 15 points as Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 136-119 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Doncic was benched with seven minutes to go by Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, in a game where the Blazers snapped a five-game losing run, having led 71-56 at half-time.

Lillard was exceptional with 36 points on 11-of-20 shooting with four three-pointers and 10 assists, while center Jusuf Nurkic added 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Ja Morant "felt terrible" and knew he needed to act after a young Memphis Grizzlies fan had her signed basketball stolen.

Morant came good on Wednesday when he presented 11-year-old Ellie Hughes with a signed shirt and as of yet unreleased Nike Ja 1 shoes, saying he hoped it offset the pain she felt after the "unacceptable" swiping of her ball.

Youngster Hughes, who reports said has not missed a Grizzlies home game in six years, had been collecting signatures on a team ball.

It was taken during Monday's win over the San Antonio Spurs, which prompted Morant to act, knowing he could make the situation better.

He said: "Obviously I feel like I come from a good home with great parents, and it's pretty much something I love to do.

"You've touched a mighty heart like that, a big fan of the Grizzlies for years. It's moments like that, that mean the most to them, something they'll never forget, something they'll remember the rest of their life.

"It's not a lot of people who've got a game-worn signed Ja jersey and there's definitely not a lot of people who have signed Ja 1s.

"After seeing what happened to them on social media, I just felt terrible. Obviously it's been years she had that ball, and had the opportunity to get autographs of great players, and to have that taken away from her, I feel it was unacceptable.

"I tried to get in contact with the family, I reached out and offered them two of my courtside seats and told them after the game I would give them my jersey and shoes, so definitely a good feeling to have them there supporting us and see the smile on their face out there."

Morant was on top form as the Grizzlies toppled the Spurs again on Wednesday, scoring 38 points in a 135-129 win.

The Grizzlies are flying high, sitting second in the Western Conference with the same 28-13 record as leaders the Denver Nuggets.

Despite their strong season, Morant says there remains room for improvement, pointing to occasional "mental lapses" and saying Memphis "need to be a little more locked in and paying attention to detail".

"Fatigue can play a part," the 23-year-old added, demanding constant focus. "I feel like if we want to be a great team, no matter what, we have to do that day in and day out, for 48 minutes.

"That's pretty much really just the area I think we can get better."

Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 41 points and Jayson Tatum added 31 as the Boston Celtics claimed their fourth successive win with a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Brown recorded his first double-double in a half in his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while he added another 18 points in the third quarter.

The Celtics guard shot 15-of-21 from the field with three-of-six from three-point range along with 12 rebounds for the game.

Tatum went 10-of-22 from the field with 10 rebounds and four assists, with Malcolm Brogdon adding 20 points off the bench.

The game marked the seventh time this season that Brown and Tatum have scored at least 30 points each, which is joint for the most before February by two players from the same team in the last 40 seasons.

The other duos to have managed that are Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in 2018-19 and Denver's Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe in 1983-84.

The result improves the Celtics to 30-12 overall and 17-5 at the TD Garden, while the Pelicans lose ground on the top two in the west, falling to 25-17.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 points for the Pels, marking the first time in his career he had 20-plus points in a first half in consecutive games.

Jokic falls short of triple-double as Nuggets triumph

Nikola Jokic fell one assist short of a 12th triple-double of the season as the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets claimed their fourth straight win, 126-97 over the Phoenix Suns.

The reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Jokic finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, including a brilliant first-quarter look-away fling to Aaron Gordon.

Jamal Murray added 16 points, although he picked up an ankle complaint, while Bones Hyland contributed 21 for the Nuggets, who have claimed 11 wins in a row at home, along with winning 14 of their past 17.

Grizzlies secure eighth straight win

Ja Morant led the way as the Memphis Grizzlies secured an eighth consecutive victory to keep pressure on the Nuggets at the top of the west with a 135-129 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Morant scored 21 points in the first half, finishing the game with 38 along with five rebounds and four assists.

The Grizzlies guard also produced a big dunk over Jakob Poeltl in the third quarter, while his put-back with 24.1 seconds left in the fourth sealed the victory.

Jayson Tatum registered his second career triple-double as the Boston Celtics ended the Dallas Mavericks' seven-game winning streak with a 124-95 victory on Thursday.

Tatum finished the game with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists plus one steal and two blocks. The MVP candidate shot eight-of-22 from the field and two-of-eight from beyond the arc, scoring 11-of-12 from the stripe.

The Celtics improved to 27-12 with their merciless display, which comes amid a tough stretch for the Eastern Conference leaders, who had dropped seven of their past 12 games, including giving up 150 points last game to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luka Doncic was kept to only 23 points for the Mavs, after a five-game run averaging 44.5 points. Doncic, who shot none-of-six from three-point range, was benched in the fourth quarter amid the blowout.

Tatum also struggled from beyond the arc, but Marcus Smart made up for it with four-of-nine triples in his 15 points, while Malcolm Brogdon hit three-of-five three-pointers in his 15 points off the bench.

Jaylen Brown scored 19 points with two three-pointers with seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Nuggets rout Clippers despite Jokic being quiet

The Denver Nuggets re-claimed top spot in the Western Conference with a 122-91 domination of the Los Angeles Clippers, who slumped to their fourth straight defeat.

The Nuggets, who secured their 10th straight home win, prevailed without a great contribution from MVP Nikola Jokic, who managed 12 points with six rebounds and nine assists.

Jamal Murray top scored with 18 points, including four three-pointers for Denver, who led by as much as 43 points. The Clippers shuffled their deck ahead of a back-to-back with Kawhi Leonard scoring six points in 18 minutes.

The Nuggets lead the west with a 25-13 record ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, also 25-13, who won 123-115 over the Orlando Magic with Ja Morant scoring 32 points.

Lauri's career-high ends Jazz's five-game skid

Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high 49 points as the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 131-114 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Markkanen posted 18 points in the first quarter on his way to the equal 15th highest single-game scoring performance this season.

The Finnish forward sparked a 14-0 fourth-quarter run which put the game to bed. Jalen Green scored 30 points for Houston, while Kevin Porter Jr added 23.

Ja Morant was almost unstoppable in the Memphis Grizzlies' 118-108 victory against the visiting Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Morant was the game's top-scorer with 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding eight rebounds and five assists in an encouraging performance during what has been a relatively inefficient period for the Grizzlies star.

After posting a career-high field goal percentage of 49.3 this past season – earning a Most Improved Player trophy in the process – Morant's percentage has plummeted to 45.5 this campaign, while his true shooting percentage is also a mediocre 54.9 per cent.

Despite his dip in efficiency, Morant's 27.0 points per game has him 13th in the league, and he joins Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Nikola Jokic as the only players averaging at least 25 points and eight assists.

Morant was supported well by center Steven Adams, who tied his career-high with 23 rebounds. He has reached 23 rebounds once before – back in 2018 when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, also against the Kings.

Grizzlies big Jaren Jackson Jr blocked three shots, and his 3.2 blocks per game is the best figure in the league, although he does not currently qualify for the official league leaderboards due to only playing in 19 of his side's 36 games.

The win is the Grizzlies' third in a row, improving their record to 23-13 – only a half-game behind the Denver Nuggets in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Nuggets retain top spot

The Nuggets had to defeat the Boston Celtics to hold onto the top spot in the West, and they did just that, defending home court with a 123-111 triumph.

It was another showcase for reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, leading his team in scoring (30), rebounds (12) and assists (12) for his ninth triple-double in 32 games this season.

Jokic has somehow managed to reach new heights in his quest to become the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird (1984-86), posting career-highs in assists per game (9.5) and true shooting percentage (68.6).

Kuzma collects triple-double in Wizards win

Kyle Kuzma and Rui Hachimura led the way in the Washington Wizards' 118-95 win against an undermanned Milwaukee Bucks team.

The Bucks were missing Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, and did not have the firepower to keep up with a Wizards side that shot 53.2 per cent from the field.

Former top-10 draft pick Hachimura scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting off the bench, while Kuzma had his first triple-double of the season with 10 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists.

After losing 10 games in a row earlier in the season, the Wizards are now on a five-game winning streak to improve their record to 17-21.

Luka Doncic scored more than 50 points for the third time in his past five games to carry the Dallas Mavericks to a 126-125 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Mavericks, which has coincided with a scintillating stretch of play from their Slovenian superstar.

Doncic scored 51 points against the Spurs on 18-of-29 shooting, adding nine assists, six rebounds and four steals. It came just four days after Doncic became the first player in NBA history to post a 60-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game in a dramatic comeback against the New York Knicks.

The 23-year-old, who has a Rookie of the Year and three All-NBA First Team selections from his first four seasons, is mounting a charge for his first MVP, and has put together arguably the best five-game stretch of his career.

In his past five games, Doncic is averaging 45.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists, and in the process he has overtaken Joel Embiid in the race for the scoring title, now at 34.2 points per game for the season.

Christian Wood was strong in a supporting role against the Spurs, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. In his eight appearances since finally being injected into the starting line-up, Wood is averaging 19.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 50.5 per cent from the field and 38.2 per cent from deep.

The Mavericks are now 21-16 and have jumped up to fourth place in the Western Conference.

Nets make it 11 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets remain the hottest team in the league after rattling off their 11th consecutive win, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 123-106.

Kyrie Irving led the way offensively with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while Kevin Durant was similarly efficient for his 23 points (nine-of-15). Defensively, Nic Claxton was the anchor, blocking six shots while also hitting six of his seven field goal attempts.

After starting the season 1-5, the Nets are now 24-12, and trail only the Boston Celtics (26-10) in the Eastern Conference.

Morant takes bragging rights in 2019 Draft showdown

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Zion Williamson over Ja Morant in the 2019 NBA Draft, and they received a glimpse at what could have been as Morant guided the Memphis Grizzlies to a 116-101 triumph.

Morant scored a game-high 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting, adding eight assists and two steals, while Wiliamson could only muster 20 points on six-of-16 shooting and a career-high nine turnovers.

Having only played in 18 of the Grizzlies' 34 games, Jaren Jackson Jr does not qualify for the official league leaderboards, but his six blocks against the Pelicans raised his average to 3.0, comfortably clear of league-leader Brook Lopez (2.6).

The Boston Celtics shot the lights out during their 139-118 Christmas Day win against the Milwaukee Bucks in a crunch clash between two of the Eastern Conference heavyweights.

Boston scored at least 36 points in three of the four quarters, including a 77-point second half as they proved unstoppable offensively.

They were led by MVP candidate Jayson Tatum with a game-high 41 points on 14-of-22 shooting, adding seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

His running-mate Jaylen Brown was just as effective in his supporting role, scoring 29 on 11-of-19 shooting with five rebounds and four assists, while reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart set the table with eight assists and only four total field goal attempts.

As a team, the Celtics shot 58.8 per cent from the field (50-of-85) and 48.7 per cent from long range (19-of-39) in a blistering performance.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was not at his best for the Bucks, shooting nine-of-22 from the field for his 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Jrue Holiday was more effective for his 23 points (eight-of-14), seven assists and six rebounds.

A win for the Bucks would have seen them overtake the Celtics for the top seed in the East, but they instead fell to 22-11 and are now one-and-a-half games behind Boston at 24-10.

Doncic, Mavs catch fire in the third

The Dallas Mavericks were a completely different team after half-time in their 124-115 home win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Trailing 54-43 at the long break, the Mavericks came out of the locker room and put up 51 points in the third period, setting a new record for the most points scored in a quarter on Christmas Day. They won that quarter by 30 points, racing to the lead before the duo of Luka Doncic and Christian Wood put the game to bed.

Doncic, who was being consistently double-teamed all night and being forced to give off early passes, still worked his way to 32 points (nine-of-16 shooting), nine rebounds and nine assists, while Wood added 30 points (12-of-17), eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocks.

LeBron James was the lone bright spot for the Lakers, scoring a game-high 38 points (13-of-23) as his side lost their fourth in a row to fall to 13-20.

Warriors remain the league's best home team

There is no place like home for the Golden State Warriors this season, improving their league-best record in their own stadium to 13-2 with a 123-109 victory over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.

The Warriors are still below .500 overall at 16-18 thanks to their 3-15 road record, but once again shot the ball beautifully in front of the Chase Center crowd.

Behind 32 points from Jordan Poole and 24 from Klay Thompson, Golden State shot 18-of-44 from three-point range (40.9 per cent). It was a throwback game for Draymond Green as well, delivering a gritty double-double with 13 rebounds and 13 assists to go with his two points.

Ja Morant was the only Grizzlies player to shine under the bright lights, scoring a game-high 36 points on 15-of-29 shooting with eight assists and seven rebounds on his Christmas Day debut.

The New York Knicks extended their winning run to eight games to shoot into playoffs contention while they compounded the Golden State Warriors' road woes with a 132-94 rout on Tuesday.

The reigning champions, missing 2022 NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry for a third straight game with a shoulder injury, slumped to 3-15 on the road this season, sitting 15-17 overall.

Offseason Knicks addition Jalen Brunson scored 21 points with five assists, while Immanuel Quickley top scored off the bench with 22 points. Julius Randle had 15 points with 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Knicks, who never trailed in the blowout win, had six players reach double-digit scores, with the 38-point triumph their largest margin of victory in the last two seasons.

The victory also means the Knicks boast the longest active win streak in the NBA, having conceded an NBA-best 97.8 points per game during the streak.

The Knicks, who had not beaten the Warriors at home for almost a decade, hit 11 triples in the first half, finishing the game with 17-of-40 three-point shooting, led by Quickley with five.

Jordan Poole scored a team-high 26 points for the Curry-less Warriors, who had James Wiseman play 22 minutes, scoring four points with three rebounds.

The Knicks improved to 18-13 overall to sit sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Markkanen shoots Jazz past Pistons

Seven-foot Finnish power forward Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high nine three-pointers in his 38-point haul as the Utah Jazz won 126-111 over the Detroit Pistons.

Jordan Clarkson had 12 points within 1:51 of gametime but it was Markkanen who stole the show, matching his career-high points output.

The game was the Jazz's third in four evenings, with Malik Beasley adding 17 points off the bench while Clarkson finished with 21. Jarred Vanderbilt had 18 points with 13 rebounds.

Nuggets take over in the west

The Denver Nuggets moved into top spot in the Western Conference with a 105-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies led by another Nikola Jokic triple-double.

The back-to-back NBA MVP recorded his sixth triple-double of the season, putting on a brilliant passing display, with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Nuggets (19-11) defense kept the Grizzlies to 44.4 per cent shooting and only 19.2 per cent from beyond the arc, with Ja Morant top scoring for Memphis with 35 points along with 10 assists.

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