Joel Embiid looked to channel his inner Bill Russell as he helped the Philadelphia 76ers edge out the Memphis Grizzlies 110-105 on Thursday.

Embiid could not get going in the first half, shooting two-for-14 – his joint-worst showing across the first two quarters of a game.

Indeed, he only shot seven-of-25 from the field through the game, but he turned on the style defensively.

Embiid stepped up in the second half to finish with 27 points, 19 rebounds and six assists.

He also added a steal and six blocks, while 17 of his rebounds were defensive.

"For me, defense is more important for me than offense," Embiid told reporters.

"I could not make any shots, especially the ones I usually make. But, defensively, I thought I had to be Bill Russell, to be able to kind of balance it out."

The late, great Russell – who died last year – was integral to the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 NBA championships between 1956 and 1969.

"Every single night I try to be as good of a defender as I can," added Embiid.

"But I think there's a pattern with myself where if you look at most of the games where I have bad shooting nights, I just can't make the shots that I usually do. I go from having a good defensive game to having an amazing defensive game.

"That's part of it. When you're not contributing offensively you've got to find a way, making your team-mates better. So defensively, just being a monster. It was a little bit more of a focus on that end tonight."

Fortunately for Embiid, he was not the only star player to have an off-colour performance from an attacking standpoint, with Grizzlies talisman Ja Morant finishing with 15 points.

James Harden, however, was on his game, top scoring with 31 points while adding seven rebounds and as many assists for the Sixers.

"As much as you don't want it to happen, it's part of basketball, not making shots. We were resilient, and we fought and fought and fought and gave ourselves a chance," Harden said.

Kevin Durant was a full participant in the Phoenix Suns' intense workout on Thursday, signalling his debut in his new colours is just around the corner.

Head coach Monty Williams called Thursday's session the longest and most intense workout the Suns have had since training camp, as they shook off some cobwebs coming out of the All-Star break.

Durant has not played since suffering a knee injury on January 8, and while he was recovering, he was traded to Phoenix in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and four first-round draft picks.

He has already been ruled out of Friday's home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the two-time NBA Finals MVP is expected to return during the following four-game road trip, and ESPN is indicating it will likely be Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets.

Speaking to the media after seeing Durant in live action, Williams was inspired by the future Hall-of-Famer's work ethic.

"When guys watch him work, I think it's something that inspires people to get after it in their own workouts," he said. "Because they're not going to find anybody that goes as hard as Kevin. When he's doing his individual stuff it's amazing to watch."

Starting center Deandre Ayton agreed, highlighting that the level in practice has taken a leap.

"I think everybody's competitive level has risen a little bit," he said. "The atmosphere around the facility has, I won't say gotten intense, but it's definitely a little denser when it comes to business. 

"Ain't no more playing games or, you know, less smiles, more seriousness and getting a job done."

Franchise player Devin Booker stayed back and played some one-on-one with Durant after their main session, and while he would not indicate who get the better of the duel, he said he is excited to see how other teams try to deal with the duo.

"It was hard to put into words, I can't wait until we do it against other teams," he said. "A lot of teams have one good defender or two good defenders, now you have to find who you're going to put them on."

The Suns came out of the All-Star break sitting fifth in the Western Conference at 32-28.

LeBron James spoke during the All-Star break of the Los Angeles Lakers' ability to "compete versus anyone in the Western Conference", buoyed by their prior results.

The Lakers won two of their final three games before the break, including a victory on the road against defending champions the Golden State Warriors.

Now, as the season resumes, the two teams meet again in LA, each needing a win.

Even with that minor upturn in form, the Lakers were left 2.5 games outside the play-in places. The Warriors, the ninth seeds, are little better off.

Missing out on the playoffs again is "just not part of my DNA", James added, meaning progress must now be swift.

The Lakers will hope then the "precautionary" decision to remove James from the All-Star Game due to injury is just that.

Although their previous win against the Warriors came without the all-time NBA scoring leader, it was on his return against the New Orleans Pelicans that the Lakers really impressed.

James appeared for the first time alongside new recruit D'Angelo Russell, while Anthony Davis joined the four-time Finals MVP in the starting lineup for only the 24th time this season.

Getting all three men on the floor together consistently will be key to any unlikely success story.

Against a Warriors team still missing Stephen Curry, a show of strength could set up a big second half to the season.


Los Angeles Lakers – D'Angelo Russell

Whether Russell can make the difference for the Lakers is another matter. But the team need that to be the case. His arrival, with Russell Westbrook departing, is the big change most likely to alter the course of the season.

The early signs are at least promising – he has averaged 17.3 points but only 1.7 turnovers through his first three games.

That is a level of efficiency not seen before in Russell's career – including in the half-season he spent with the Warriors – but should be enough to keep James happy, which is more than can be said for Westbrook, whose 3.5 turnovers per game were actually down on his career average.

Golden State Warriors – Jordan Poole

While Curry remains out, the Warriors will have to rely on Poole to provide their scoring threat.

More than half of his 35 starts this year (20) have come when Curry has been out of the lineup, in which games Poole has averaged 27.6 points per game.

It figures that Poole should be more influential when team-mates do not have Curry to instead look to, with the 23-year-old attempting 10.1 threes per game without the superstar alongside him.

Taking the ball and the shots counts for little, however, if Poole cannot get the Warriors enough wins to stay competitive. They are 9-11 this year when Poole starts but Curry does not.

KEY BATTLE – Lakers at the crunch?

Not helped by having a key man missing, the Warriors have repeatedly been frustrated by the way they have ended games of late.

The previous Lakers game was the source of some frustration as Golden State appeared set to recover from a tough third quarter before another wobble in the fourth.

In fact, across their past eight games that have been late and close – within four points in the last two minutes of the final quarter – the Warriors have been outscored in those scenarios in six.

If the Lakers can stick with the Warriors, they look the better bet to come through late on.


The teams have split the series so far this year, with the Warriors' win on opening night followed by that home defeat. All time, the Lakers have a 259-173 lead over the Warriors in the regular season.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham says the team's goal is to reach the playoffs rather than falling into a play-in situation as they look to revive their season after the All-Star break.

The Lakers are currently 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-32 record ahead of their resumption against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Despite the Lakers' lowly rank in the west, they are only 2.0 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder as the 10th seed, which earns a play-in berth.

But LA are also only 3.5 games behind the sixth-placed Dallas Mavericks, for the final of the guaranteed playoffs spots, offering hope for a side which drastically changed its roster prior to the break.

Russell Westbrook has departed, while they acquired D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to bolster their squad.

The Lakers also have LeBron James and Anthony Davis fit again and ready to team up as they look for a charge, with the four-time NBA MVP earlier this week labelling their final 23 regular-season games as "the most important" games of his career.

"The goal is for us to come out and try to be the best version of ourselves each game, but definitely, if we can go and secure a spot, that is our goal right there," Ham told reporters.

"If we fall into a play-in situation, so be it. But our number one goal is to go secure a spot, not just throw games off here or there and just wish for a play-in. We want to go secure a spot."

The Lakers face two of their main rivals for those final Western Conference playoffs spots in their next two games, with the Warriors sitting ninth with a 29-29 record but they will be without star Stephen Curry to injury.

The Mavericks, who acquired Kyrie Irving prior to the Trade Deadline, are next on Sunday after Golden State.

"I mean we have to help ourselves first and foremost, and we only do that by winning games," Ham said.

"We've already put ourselves behind the eight ball enough, we don't want to get into a further situation where we're depending on teams in front of us to lose games and all the while we're dropping games.

"Winning is the focus. It's the only way we can help ourselves and take care of what we can control."

All-Star Davis said the Lakers needed to treat every remaining game as a "must-win" and play them like Game 7 of a series.

Former Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is among the candidates to take over at the Atlanta Hawks following Nate McMillan's firing.

Snyder has been linked with the vacant job since McMillan was fired on Tuesday and Hawks general manager Landry Fields confirmed he was being considered among a pool of options.

The 56-year-old led the Jazz from 2014 to 2022, guiding the side to six straight playoffs appearances, before parting ways at the end of last season with an overall 372-264 regular-season record.

"Quin is a part of that pool," Fields told reporters on Wednesday. "That's something that we will consider, for sure."

Snyder has an association with the Hawks, having worked there as an assistant coach in the 2013-14 season before taking up the Jazz gig.

The Hawks are hoping for a playoffs push, sitting eighth in the west with a 29-30 record at the All-Star break.

Fields said he could make a hire this season, with Snyder available having been out of a job since exiting the Jazz.

"It's a factor in the sense that I feel comfortable mentioning his name," Fields said when asked about Snyder's availability.

"But there are other candidates I don't want to mention because they are a part of other teams. I want to make sure I'm respectful of other teams."

The Hawks have confirmed assistant coach Joe Prunty will serve as interim coach at practice this week before their season resumes on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Stephen Curry will not return from injury for at least another week, the Golden State Warriors confirmed on Wednesday.

Curry has missed the defending champions' past five games after injuring his left leg against the Dallas Mavericks.

He collided with McKinley Wright IV and suffered tears to his superior tibiofibular ligaments and interosseous membrane that were revealed by scans, as well as a contusion to his lower left leg.

Curry had planned a return "after the All-Star break", albeit without "a specific date".

The Warriors' superstar also ruled out playing against the Los Angeles Lakers in the team's first game back on Thursday, but his lay-off will extend beyond that.

An update from the Warriors read: "Stephen Curry, who has missed the last five games due to injury, was recently re-evaluated.

"The re-evaluation indicated that Stephen is making good progress. He has started various individual on-court workouts and will be re-evaluated in one week."

The Warriors are 29-29 for the season, sitting ninth in the Western Conference ahead of the season's resumption.

Charlotte Hornets wing Miles Bridges hopes to return to the NBA next month, having not played all season while under an NBA investigation.

The 24-year-old was arrested in June for felony domestic violence and in November pleaded no contest to the charge. He was sentenced to three years of probation and no jail time.

Bridges was accused of assaulting his then-girlfriend in front of their two children. Two other charges were dismissed, but he has remained under NBA investigation with the threat of disciplinary action.

"It's been a long process," Bridges told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I might be back in March."

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said earlier this month that they were letting the investigation take its course before making any decisions on Bridges' future.

"I don’t know when the investigation is going to end," Kupchak said. "When the investigation ends, we will have more information and we’ll go from there."

Bridges averaged career highs of 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the 2021-22 season before the arrest, coming just days before he entered restricted free agency.

The Atlanta Hawks announced on Monday they had fired head coach Nate McMillan after reaching the All-Star break with a 29-30 record.

It was meant to be an exciting season in Atlanta as McMillan prepared for his second full campaign in charge, having taken over from Lloyd Pierce shortly after the All-Star break in the 2020-21 season.

That year, after taking charge, McMillan led the Hawks to a blistering 27-11 finish, earning the fifth seed in the East and going on to make the Eastern Conference Finals after winning series against both the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

They took a step back the following season, finishing eighth in the East with a first-round playoff exit, and they continued trending in the wrong direction this time around.

At least with last season's disappointing end, the team could point to the fact that they had the league's second-best offense in the regular season, but were just weighed down by the fifth-worst defense.

Now the Hawks sit 16th in offense and 21st in defense, lacking any kind of identity. With the trade deadline having already passed, this is the group Atlanta will have to win with down the home stretch, and ultimately the franchise decided McMillan had run out of ideas on how to right the ship.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, assistant coach Joe Prunty will take over as interim head coach while they conduct a "wide-ranging" search for a permanent solution.

Wojnarowski claims the Hawks are looking for a coach who has shown an ability to develop players, produce a top-10 offense and defense, and take accountability.

He states former Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is viewed as a top candidate, while The Athletic's Shams Charania adds Milwaukee Bucks associate head coach Charles Lee – who spent four seasons as a Hawks assistant before following Mike Budenholzer to Milwaukee – is also a "serious candidate".

Other names mentioned as potential hires were Golden State Warriors assistant and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, Sacramento Kings assistant coach Jordi Fernandez, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mitch Johnson and G-League head coach Miles Simon.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn has signed a multi-year contract extension.

The Nets have the NBA's fifth-best record at 32-19 since Vaughn replaced Steve Nash – initially as acting head coach – on November 1. 

Having helped stabilise the franchise during a turbulent campaign which has seen Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving depart for the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks respectively, Vaughn has been given the chance to lead the team for the long haul.

While the Nets did not reveal details of Vaughn's new deal per the team policy, a report from ESPN has claimed the contract will run through the 2026-27 season.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Jacque has made an immediate and immeasurable impact on our entire organisation since assuming the role of head coach earlier this season.

"On the court, he's clearly demonstrated his leadership through his ability to connect and communicate at a very high level while displaying tremendous instincts for the game. 

"As a person, they don't come any better than Jacque. We are thrilled to have Jacque lead the Nets for years to come."

Lonzo Ball will not return before the end of the NBA season, meaning the Chicago Bulls point guard will have missed the entire 2022-23 campaign.

Ball last played in January last year and has since been sidelined by a knee injury that has required multiple surgeries.

Indeed, Ball has played only 35 games since being traded to the Bulls and then signing a four-year, $85million contract in August 2021.

The Bulls have struggled in his absence this season, down in 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 26-33 record, and the team have told the 25-year-old to now focus on next year.

"Despite making significant increases in strength and function over the past several months, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball continues to experience performance-limiting discomfort during participation in high-level basketball-related activities," said Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations.

"Considering the required time period to achieve the necessary level of fitness to return to play and the current stage of the NBA season, Ball will not return this season.

"The focus for Ball will continue to be on the resolution of his discomfort and a full return for the 2023-24 season."

Bam Adebayo is thrilled about the Miami Heat securing Kevin Love following his buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Love fills an urgent need for a shooter in the frontcourt, as he will slot in as the only player on the Heat roster taller than six-foot-five while averaging at least one made three-pointer per game.

The five-time All-Star is also leading the league this season in defensive rebounding percentage, but had found himself out of the Cavaliers' rotation leading into the All-Star break as they prioritised their youth.

Love, a champion in 2016 when his Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, is averaging career-lows in both points (8.5) and rebounds (6.8), but Adebayo believes he will bring value that extends beyond just his minutes on the floor.

"It's exciting. We've got fresh legs on the team," he said. "We've got a guy like Kevin Love, who has been through those wars, came back from 3-1.

"You've got a battle-tested guy like that who has won – it's big for us. He's really underrated as a team player.

"He's underrated for what he does. I know what he'll bring to our team will make us more successful."

Adebayo has spent time with Love previously as they trained together with Team USA in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympic Games.

He went on to compare Love to Heat stalwart Udonis Haslem, with the 42-year-old now in his 20th season in Miami, providing leadership from the bench despite only actually playing in 17 combined games since the end of the 2018-19 season.

"[Love is] smart, he stretches the floor, and you can learn from a guy like that, having a guy like that in your corner," Adebayo said. "Him and 'UD', two different walks of life, but now they're kind of going down the same road. 

"Having guys like that, it'll help me tremendously. He's an all-around great person."

Miami will come out of the All-Star break sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 32-27.

Patrick Beverley confirmed on Monday that he will be signing for the rest of the season with the Chicago Bulls.

Beverley, 34, began the season with the Los Angeles Lakers, starting all 45 of his appearances before being traded to the Orlando Magic at the deadline in exchange for Mo Bamba.

With the Magic in the midst of a youth revolution and in the advanced stages of their rebuild, they decided to negotiate a buyout with Beverley to allow him to head elsewhere.

A defensive specialist, Beverley is a three-time NBA All-Defense selection (one First Team, two Second Teams), while also boasting a solid career three-point percentage of 37.6.

Unfortunately, his shooting has dipped over the past couple of seasons, setting a career-worst mark of 34.3 per cent in 2021-22, and he is only slightly better this campaign at 34.8.

Meanwhile, his combined steals and blocks figure of 1.5 is his lowest since the 2018-19 season, and tied for the second-lowest of his career.

He has not been at his best this season on a tumultuous Lakers team, but he theoretically fills a couple of needs for the Bulls, and is excited to return to his hometown.

Chicago are averaging the fewest made three-pointers per game (10.3) and the fewest attempts (28.8) – areas Beverley will provide a boost in compared to current starting point guard Ayo Dosunmu.

Dosunmu is averaging 0.8 made threes per game at a mediocre 32.4 per cent clip, and while Beverley's percentages are down, he is still making 1.2 per game.

The move also helps the Bulls lean into their strong suit this season, as they sit 24th in offensive rating, but are seventh in defense.

Beverley will join Alex Caruso to make a menacing defensive back-court, with Caruso emerging as an advanced stats darling on that end of the floor.

Caruso is seventh in the league in steal percentage (1.7 per cent), while sitting third in defensive box plus/minus, and a clear number one overall in defensive RAPTOR.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has "avoided serious damage" after further testing on his injured right wrist ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks' run to the playoffs.

Antetokounmpo played only 20 seconds in Sunday's All-Star Game where Team Giannis won 184-175 over Team LeBron in Utah.

The Greek forward exited with a wrist injury that he had initially suffered in Thursday's win over the Chicago Bulls trying to block a Coby White shot.

The 28-year-old had also opted out of Saturday's skills challenge, replaced by Bucks team-mate Jrue Holiday.

Antetokounmpo's right wrist was wrapped while standing on the sidelines supporting his team throughout the All-Star Game.

ESPN reported that he would be heading for further testing in New York, with The Athletic's Shams Charania saying on Monday the player had "avoided serious damage in his right wrist after further testing", adding: "Antetokounmpo could miss some games, but an overall sigh of relief for the Bucks..."

"Taking it day-by-day, try to get healthy," Antetokounmpo told reporters after Sunday's game. "You know, obviously I had the incident three days ago. I don't think it's smart in any way to play a lot of minutes in the All-Star Game.

"Take a break here, take care of it, and hopefully I can be available for my team when they need me."

The Bucks are second in the Eastern Conference with a 41-17 record on the back of a 12-game win streak, with their next game after the All-Star break coming on Friday against the Miami Heat.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 31.8 points (third in the NBA), 12.2 rebounds (second in the NBA) and 5.4 assists this season.

Russell Westbrook will stay in California as he has opted to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook's time with the Los Angeles Lakers came to an end before the trade deadline as he was used as part of a deal with the Utah Jazz.

The 2017 NBA MVP struggled to rediscover his previous form after joining the Lakers in 2021, but has another chance to prove himself in L.A. with the Clippers.

According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook's agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports, confirmed his client has chosen the Clippers as his next team, once he and the Jazz have finished negotiations on buying out the remaining $47million owed on his deal.

Westbrook made a name for himself with the Oklahoma City Thunder, including his standout season in 2016-17 when he averaged 31.6 points per game in the regular season from 81 appearances, as well as 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.

He left Oklahoma in 2019 for one season with the Houston Rockets followed by one at the Washington Wizards before making the move to the Lakers as they looked to surround LeBron James with star power.

It did not work out, with Westbrook struggling in his first campaign, averaging just 18.5 points per game, while he has only started in three of his 52 appearances this season, averaging 15.9 points per game.

Westbrook – who had also talked with the Wizards, the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat – will be reunited with former Thunder team-mate Paul George, who had expressed his desire for the 34-year-old to join him at the Clippers.

They sit fourth in the Western Conference on a record of 33-28.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was disappointed to have to leave the All-Star Game inside a minute but explained it was a "mature decision".

Team Giannis beat Team LeBron 184-175 in Salt Lake City on Sunday but did so without their captain, who scored a single basket before stepping out.

Antetokounmpo entered the game already carrying a wrist injury, which he sustained in the Milwaukee Bucks' win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

Reports after the All-Star Game said the two-time MVP was to travel to New York the following day for further testing on his right wrist.

Antetokounmpo, wearing strapping on his wrist, added: "I'm taking it day by day, trying to get healthy.

"Obviously, I had the incident three days ago. I don't think it's smart in any way to play a lot of minutes in the All-Star Game.

"Obviously, you want to participate, you want to run up and down, joke around, have some dunks, create some work.

"But at the end of the day, I feel you also have to be mature. It was a hard decision but mature decision to take a break here, take care of it, and hopefully I can be available for my team when they need me."

The Bucks are half a game back from the Boston Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference.

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