In a clash between two of the seven best records in the NBA, the Boston Celtics produced an impressive 132-109 road blowout against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

It was shaping up as a shootout as both teams started red-hot from three-point range, but the Kings could not keep up as the Celtics scored at least 30 points in all four quarters.

Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting, adding eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. His All-Star co-pilot Jaylen Brown chipped in an efficient 27 points (10-of-16 shooting) with five rebounds and four assists.

Kings All-Star Domantas Sabonis put together his 12th triple-double of the season with 16 points (seven-of-12), 13 rebounds and 12 assists, although his six turnovers were costly.

The win improves the Celtics' record to 50-23, becoming the second team in the league to reach 50 wins this season, while their 24-14 mark on the road is bettered only by the Philadelphia 76ers (22-12).

Sacramento are still sitting pretty at 43-28, holding a five-game buffer in the Western Conference's third seed.

Mitchell poster highlights Cavs victory

Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell threw down arguably his biggest dunk of the season to put an exclamation point on a 115-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Mitchell ended up with a game-high 31 points on 10-of-22 shooting, including five-of-nine from three-point range, highlighted by a monstrous fast-break poster jam over Yuta Watanabe as both leapt off two feet and met chest-to-chest.

After missing 10 days due to an eye injury, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen looked right back to his best with 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, with eight of his rebounds coming on the offensive end.

The victory improves Cleveland's record to 46-28, and while they have been a disappointing 17-20 on the road, they have now won four of their past five away from home.

Top pick Banchero flirts with first triple-double

Orlando Magic top draft pick and overwhelming Rookie of the Year favourite Paolo Banchero nearly posted the first triple-double of his career in a 122-112 home win against the Washington Wizards.

The 20-year-old finished with 18 points (six-of-nine shooting), nine rebounds and eight assists for his second close call of the month. It comes 10 days after he put up 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in an overtime win against the Miami Heat.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Wizards with 30 points (12-of-22 shooting), six rebounds, three assists and two blocks, continuing what has been arguably the best season of his eight-year NBA career.

Austin Reaves was lost for words after praise from four-time MVP team-mate LeBron James following his career-best 35 points led the Los Angeles Lakers to a crucial win on Sunday.

Reaves top scored for the Lakers, including scoring their last 10 points, in the 111-105 win over the Orlando Magic, which moved them into a tie for ninth in the Western Conference with a 35-37 record.

The shooting guard made his telling contribution in 30 minutes off the bench. Reaves became the seventh player in franchise history to score 35 points or more off the bench.

The Lakers bench contributed 61 of their 111 points, but Reaves earned special praise from James.

James, who missed his 11th straight game due to a right-foot injury, wrote on social media "You toooooo TOUGH!!" about Reaves after his game-winning display.

"You're talking about arguably one of the greatest players ever," Reaves told reporters. "I mean I don't know what to say.

"For him to accept me the way he accepted me from day one, obviously I felt there was a really good chemistry, IQ-wise, from day one. But not just him, everybody else."

Anthony Davis, who contributed 15 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks, heaped further praise on Reaves.

"He carried us tonight with his play," Davis said. "We know what we have in Austin. He's very confident and he played that way tonight."

The Lakers' Crypto.com Arena crowd went so far as to chant M-V-P towards Reaves for his performance, which he revelled in.

"For them to recognise what I do – obviously not an MVP-calibre player, those guys are really good – but for them to do that for me is special, it means a lot to me," Reaves said.

"Every time I take the court, play with a sense of urgency and leave it all out on the floor, because that's how I feel basketball should be played."

Reaves is averaging 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season, but has managed double-digit scores in the Lakers' past eight games, averaging 15.9 points during March.

Russell Westbrook shouldered the responsibility for the Los Angeles Clippers' defeat to the Orlando Magic, saying "it's on me to be more focused in closing the game".

The Clippers, fifth in the Western Conference, were beaten 113-108 by a Magic side who are struggling down in 13th in the East on Saturday.

Westbrook made a hot start to the game, draining four of his first six shots to finish the first quarter with 11 points, three assists and three rebounds.

But Westbrook went cold with his shooting from there, ending the game with 14 points on the back of five-of-14 shooting, while he had nine assists and five rebounds.

"This one's on me honestly tonight," Westbrook said. "I could have been better.

"I started off good, but just in the second half was terrible. I got to do a better job of helping the guys out in the second half and the fourth quarter.

"So, it's nothing anybody did. But honestly, it's on me to be more focused in closing the game."

Westbrook failed to make any of his three three-point attempts, while the Clippers were just six-of-22 in total from beyond the arc.

"That's more on me," Westbrook added. "My job is to be able to penetrate and get guys open shots, and get them open threes, and I didn't do a good enough job of that. 

"I'll make sure I'll be better at that tomorrow."

Paul George backed his veteran team-mate to figure out his shooting struggles, though.

"He's going to get through it. He knows to stay confident, and he knows that we trust him and got his back, that he's going to stay in attack mode," George said. 

"I don't ever worry about Russ' shooting. I just know what he brings and his value to the team. And that is bigger than anything. 

"Whether he makes or misses shots is part of the game. He just does so much other stuff that I don't care. He plays hard and that's a guy that I want to roll with. 

"He's a guy I want to compete with on a nightly basis, so he knows to just stay confident and just keep shooting."

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer feels it was the right time to increase Khris Middleton's playing time as he scored a joint season-high 24 points in their 134-123 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.

Middleton retuned to the starting line-up for the first time since December 15, having 11 assists to go with his 24 points on five-of-nine shooting from the field with 13-of-14 from the free-throw line.

The Bucks wing played a joint season-high 31 minutes, marking the first time he has exceeded 30 minutes on court since December, having had an injury-interrupted season.

Middleton missed the first 20 games of the season with a wrist injury, before being sidelined with a knee problem in December and January. His increase in minutes came after putting together a run of games and coincided with Jrue Holiday (sore neck) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (non-COVID-19 illness) being out.

"It felt like it was the right time for [Middleton] to get up to the 30-minute plateau, with Jrue and Giannis not playing," Budenholzer told reporters.

"Just a lot of things. Eleven assists, being a playmaker and doing a little bit of everything, he set a good tone for us early.

"We were fortunate to have him come off the bench for us for a good long stretch, and he’s going to continue to do those things where he's always been, in our starting lineup."

Middleton is averaging 21.8 minutes per game this season, with 13.2 points well down on his 20.4 average in the Bucks' title-winning 2020-21 season where he also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

The Bucks showcased their depth of offensive options despite missing their All-Star duo, as Brook Lopez top-scored with 26 points, while Jevon Carter added 24 and Jae Crowder contributed 15 off the bench.

Crowder only joined the Bucks last month from the Phoenix Suns, having agreed to sit out the 2022-23 season until a trade was found. Tuesday's game was his seventh game for Milwaukee, recording his best yet points return.

"It was good for him," Budenholzer said. "That's a silver lining to a couple of guys not playing, he got to play a lot of minutes, he got a good rhythm, he made some shots, he got to the free-throw line.

"Defensively he's locked in. He's doing everything we ask. He's got an edge on the defensive end."

The Bucks lead the NBA with a 47-18 record, having won 18 of their past 19 games.

Jonathan Isaac's season is over after just 11 games, adding to the Orlando Magic forward's injury woes.

The Magic announced on Friday that Isaac had received surgery to repair a torn left adductor muscle, ending his campaign.

The 25-year-old only returned in late January from a full two years on the sidelines after suffering an ACL injury during the 2020 NBA bubble.

"Our thoughts are with Jonathan, whose fortitude in dealing with adversity is unique," Magic president Jeff Weltman said in a statement.

"Jonathan has worked extremely hard to return to the court this season and has demonstrated his impact on our team. We will be by his side as he focuses on the work ahead."

The confirmation from the Magic on Friday said: "An MRI conducted on Wednesday revealed the injury, after [Isaac] felt discomfort following Tuesday's practice in Milwaukee."

Isaac was the sixth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, and has made 147 appearances for Orlando since, averaging 11.9 points per game in the 2019-20 season, but only managed 5.0 points and 0.5 assists per game in his 11 games this season.

Jayson Tatum was ejected for the first time in his NBA career as the New York Knicks extended their win streak to six games with a 109-94 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday.

Tatum was tossed after remonstrating with the referees with 3:46 remaining in the fourth quarter with the Celtics destined for a defeat, which sees them drop below the Milwaukee Bucks atop the NBA standings.

The Bucks (43-17) are ahead of the Celtics (44-18) on percentage, marking the first time Boston have not been top of the league since December 22.

The Celtics were not helped by two-of-19 three-point shooting in the first half, the worst of any half this season.

Tatum played his part in that, finishing the game with 14 points on six-of-18 shooting from the field, with seven rebounds and nine assists. Marcus Smart added 19 points while Jaylen Brown was out for personal reasons.

The Knicks were led by Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley who both scored 23 points, while Jalen Brunson added 17.

New York are 8-1 since February 5, marking the second-best record in the NBA during that period, while they have a point differential per game of 10.2 during that stretch, also second best in the league.

Butler acrobatics in Heat triumph

Jimmy Butler led the way as five Miami Heat players hit double figures in their 101-99 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler produced a go-ahead acrobatic reverse layup scoop with 1:28 remaining, finishing the game with 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

James Harden's game-winning three-point attempt bounced off the rim, meaning he scored 20 points with 12 assists. Joel Embiid top scored with 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey had 23 points off the bench.

The Heat have now won 13 games this season in one-score games, which is comfortably the most in the NBA.

Clutch Banchero leads Magic past Pels

Last year's NBA Draft top overall selection Paolo Banchero came up clutch in the dying minutes to lead the Orlando Magic past the New Orleans Pelicans 101-93.

Banchero finished with 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field with eight rebounds and four assists. The talent landed three clutch mid-range jumpers in the final few minutes.

Brandon Ingram top scored for the Pels, who continue to struggle without their former top NBA Draft pick Zion Williamson, with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists.

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.

Jakob Poeltl looks right at home back with the Toronto Raptors after producing stats in Tuesday's win not seen in a single game since Shaquille O'Neal.

In the Raptors' 123-113 home win against the Orlando Magic, Poeltl finished with 30 points on 15-of-17 shooting, nine rebounds and six blocks. It was the first time since O'Neal in 2004 that a player has had 30 points, six blocks and shot at least 85 per cent from the field.

Poeltl, who was drafted by the Raptors back in 2016, had spent the past four-and-a-half seasons with the San Antonio Spurs after being part of the trade package to acquire Kawhi Leonard, ultimately resulting in Toronto's only ever championship.

The big Austrian became one of the league's best rim protectors in San Antonio, and with a gaping hole at center, the Raptors made a move at the deadline to bring him back in return for a one first-round pick, two second-rounders and bench big Khem Birch.

Speaking after the game, Poeltl highlighted his familiarity with point guard Fred VanVleet, who racked up a season-high 15 assists thanks in large part to the duo's pick-and-roll partnership.

"It's been going well," he said. "I feel like I've made improvement from game-to-game, I'm getting more and more comfortable out there.

"Tonight Freddy found me about 10 times in the pick-and-roll, so my team-mates made it really easy on me.

"[The connection with VanVleet] has been going great, I feel like we're getting back to our chemistry, obviously we played together for two years already. Tonight we just kind of clicked, and I'm happy it worked out that way."

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse called that pick-and-roll combination "huge" and said "every time we hit [Poeltl], it seemed like something good happened".

Nurse went on to discuss the value of finally having an imposing presence on the interior that can dissuade opposing defenses from switching all screens.

"It's really valuable, it really is," he said. 

"There's two ways you're going to beat teams that switch – the big guy is going to go bury somebody inside, or the big defender is going to have to guard someone on the perimeter that can get by him or shoot a three.

"Having both of those makes it – it means you're probably not going to switch as much – especially if we're getting those inside buckets. Nobody likes the feel of a switch, throw it inside, get overpowered for a lay-up.

"It looks easy – I don't think it's that easy – but he made it look easy tonight."

The Raptors were expected to be sellers at the deadline as rumours swirled about trade offers for VanVleet, All-Star Pascal Siakam and wing O.G. Anunoby, but they have now won five of their past six to claw their way to 28-31, sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference and trending in the right direction.

All-Star DeMar DeRozan exited the Chicago Bulls' 100-91 defeat to the Orlando Magic with a right hip injury that he revealed has been bothering him for over a month.

DeRozan exited with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, having scored 19 points on eight-of-20 shooting across 36 minutes in the loss that leaves the Bulls with a 26-31 record.

The loss was Chicago's fourth in a row and marked the fourth straight game that DeRozan has not reached 20 points.

The Bulls small forward missed last Monday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies with the same hip issue and is due to undergo further testing on the problem on Tuesday.

"It was bothering me the whole game," DeRozan told reporters. "I just felt it. I didn't want to risk nothing. Hurting it anymore, what it was or anything.

"Just the accumulation of what it's been, attempting to play on it."

DeRozan, who was selected for the upcoming All-Star Game, is averaging 25.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season.

"It's too early to say. I always take everything day by day," DeRozan said, when asked if he will rule himself out of the All-Star Game.

"Get some rest, wake up, see how I feel tomorrow, get it checked out, get a better idea of what exactly it is, have a better idea of how to treat it and how to deal with it.

"It's something that I've been playing on for the last month and a half, just never said anything. Just want to get it right, especially going to the break."

Terrence Ross plans to sign with the Phoenix Suns after finalising his contract buyout with the Orlando Magic, according to reports.

Ross will be able to sign with a new team upon clearing waivers and becoming a free agent in the coming days, and will be eligible for any suitors' playoff roster if he agrees the buyout by March 1.

The Dallas Mavericks were reported as frontrunners to acquire Ross on Saturday, but the championship-chasing Suns are now in pole position, according to an ESPN report.

The Suns acquired Kevin Durant, as well as T.J. Warren, in a huge trade with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, sending Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder the other way alongside four first-round picks and a 2028 pick swap.

Ross' addition would provide cover for Durant in Phoenix after the Suns lost Johnson and Bridges to the Nets.

The 32-year-old is in the final season of his four-year, $54 million contract in Orlando, with his 22.5 minutes and eight points per game his fewest in a single campaign since his rookie year in 2012-13.

The Suns are fifth in the Western Conference following Friday's 117-104 win at the Indiana Pacers, in which Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton had 21 and 22 points respectively.

The Brooklyn Nets are off to a winning start after trading away both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, defeating the Chicago Bulls 116-105 with their new-look line-up.

In his first appearance since arriving as the key piece back from the Dallas Mavericks in return for Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie looked right at home as he delivered a game-winning performance.

Dinwiddie – who spent five season with the Nets from 2016-2021 – was clearly the focal point of coach Jacque Vaughn's offense. He started, led the team with 39 minutes played, and posted team-highs in points (25), assists (six) and steals (four) with a plus/minus of plus 25.

The only player with a better plus/minus was fellow former Maverick Dorian Finney-Smith, who was plus 32 in his 35 minutes, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds after immediately stepping into a key role.

Brooklyn were without both Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, who they acquired from the Phoenix Suns in return for Kevin Durant, and when interviewed during the game, Bridges said they hope to debut in their new colours on Saturday against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

For the Bulls, Zach Lavine was impressive with a game-high 38 points on 16-of-25 shooting, although he did not contribute much else, with one point, one rebound, no steals or blocks, and four turnovers.

With the win, the Nets improved their record to 33-22, and they now sit 3.5 games clear of the play-in race, comfortably in the fifth seed for the time being.

Orlando's depth delivers Denver demise

The Orlando Magic reserves dominated the Denver Nuggets' bench to pull out a 115-104 home win against the Western Conference leaders.

It was another typical masterclass from reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, scoring 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting with 12 rebounds and six assists, but the Nuggets lacked further firepower in the absence of Jamal Murray, who troublingly missed his third game in a row with knee inflammation.

Denver were plus eight in Jokic's 38 minutes, but were outscored by 19 in the 10 minutes he was on the bench.

Orlando were led by a terrific Cole Anthony showing, coming off the pine to score 17 points with seven rebounds and seven assists, while Bol Bol had 17 points in 15 minutes.

Giannis too big, too strong for undermanned Lakers

LeBron James was out and the Los Angeles Lakers' new arrivals were also not ready as Giannis Antetokounmpo carried the Milwaukee Bucks to a 115-106 victory.

The Lakers should have their newly constructed line-up when they next take the floor – having acquired Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and D'Angelo Russell at the deadline while shipping off Russell Westbrook – but Anthony Davis' 23 points and 16 assists was not enough against the Bucks.

Antetokounmpo controlled proceedings with a game-high 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting, adding 10 rebounds and six assists, while Khris Middleton looked like his All-NBA self with 22 points (10-of-18) off the bench.

The NBA has handed out bans to Austin Rivers, Mo Bamba and Jalen Suggs for their roles in an on-court brawl during the Orlando Magic's 127-120 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Rivers and Bamba became involved in an altercation late in the third quarter, with both men throwing punches before Magic guard Suggs pulled Rivers to the ground.

All three players were ejected in the aftermath of the incident, with Timberwolves duo Jaden McDaniels and Taurean Prince joining them after getting too involved in the melee. 

Bamba will face the most severe punishment after the league said he continued to "engage with Rivers in a hostile manner" outside the locker rooms following the brawl.

The Orlando center will serve a four-game suspension without pay, while Rivers has been given a similar three-game ban.

Bamba's team-mate Suggs will miss one game for escalating the confrontation by grabbing Rivers around the neck, the league said, with that ban to be served when the Magic face the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

McDaniels, meanwhile, has been fined $20,000 for his actions, which included running into the melee to push Bamba from behind. 

A fight broke out between Austin Rivers and Mo Bamba during Friday's game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Orlando Magic, resulting in five ejections.

The situation occurred late in the third quarter as Rivers took exception to some words from the Magic bench, and while the play continued, Rivers stayed down the other end of the court jawing with Bamba before punches started to fly.

It appeared Rivers and Bamba were the only players to throw punches, before Magic guard Jalen Suggs was also ejected for pulling Rivers to the ground, while the Timberwolves' Jaden McDaniels and Taurean Prince were also given their marching orders for getting too involved.

The Magic went on to win the game 127-120 away from home in a well-balanced performance, with 10 players scoring at least nine points each, led by Cole Anthony with 20 off the bench.

Rivers was still fired up after the contest, posting an Instagram story about Bamba saying "we only know about you from an old rap song" – referencing Sheck Wes' 2018 hit titled Mo Bamba.

His post read: "Buddy I went at you one-on-five! With no backup! You needed your team-mates otherwise you would of been choked out.

"We only know you from an old rap song, not hoops… and Orlando my city, ask around and actually find out. They don't mess with you there… facts!"

He deleted that post after a short period of time, and he explained the situation further when addressing the media afterwards.

"I’m just like, 'Yo, what are you doing?'," Rivers said. "I went up to him and I pressed him, and at that point, it can go one of two ways. 

"I didn’t think we were going to get in a fight, but when you stand up that fast and put your hands up – he threw a punch and missed, thankfully. At that point I've got to protect myself. Ain’t no one worried about him."

Orlando center Moritz Wagner said it is difficult to know what to do when a situation like that breaks out, but he was proud of his team-mates supporting each other.

"You obviously want to have your teammate's back and at the same time, you’ve got to be a professional," he said. "So, that’s a challenge for a young team like us. 

"I think this time around we did a good job compared to last time [when Wagner was ejected against the Detroit Pistons in December]. So, yeah, I don't really know. It's a weird dynamic. 

"You don't really want to be in those situations and it's not really the best look… at the same time, there is something in me that appreciates the team sticking together like that."

The incident comes the night after both Dillon Brooks and Donovan Mitchell were ejected for a skirmish between the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers, with Brooks receiving a one-game suspension for instigating it.

James Harden has shrugged off any stress over his chances of making the All-Star Game, saying his numbers speak for themselves.

Harden had a double-double of 26 points and 10 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 105-94 on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old is a 10-time All-Star, but an 11th successive appearance in the mid-season exhibition game is not guaranteed.

Harden faces stiff competition from several other star names, including Sixers team-mate Joel Embiid, in the Eastern Conference to make the reserve list for the All-Star Game. There are seven spots available for each conference.

Yet Harden, who is averaging 21.4 points per game – Embiid, with 33.5, is the only Sixers player to boast more – 6.4 rebounds and 11 assists this season, believes he has done enough.

"If my name is called, great," Harden told reporters. "If not, there's bigger and better goals for the season.

"I'm not going to sit here and make a case. The numbers show it, our seed shows it."

The Sixers are third in the East with a 33-17 record, having won eight of their previous nine games.

Harden made three catch-and-shoot three-pointers against Orlando and was thrilled to thrive in an area where he has struggled.

"That's pretty exciting, I didn't want to do too much, just catch and shoot," he explained.

"You put the work in, I work on it every day. So opportunities are going to come whether it's Joel or dribble penetration."

Embiid added: "That's not something he was comfortable with, but he's gotten better over time and he's taking more and more.

"He needs to take more than he does, but it's a good step. He's getting better and he's knocking them down."

Embiid was marked tightly by the Magic's Franz Wagner, though still topped the scoring with 28 points, adding 11 rebounds and three assists.

"A really good young player," Embiid said of Wagner. "Obviously, you can tell he's competitive, as he kept attacking even though he was not getting the better of me.

"But I like him, a great talent and as a team, that's a pretty good team."

Sixers coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, saw scope for improvement. 

"I didn't think we played great, but we played good enough to win," he said. "We'll take that."

Luka Doncic produced yet another spectacular performance on Monday as he carried the Dallas Mavericks with 53 points in a 111-105 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

The 23-year-old Slovenian returned to the lineup after missing the Mavericks' loss against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, and he looked on track for a big one from the jump.

Doncic scored 24 of Dallas' 30 points in the first quarter, but the team found themselves trailing at half-time as the rest of the Mavericks struggled on the offensive end.

By the end of the third frame, Dallas trailed by one as Doncic had 45 points and none of his team-mates had more than eight, but the Mavericks were able to hold the Pistons to 21 points in the final period to pull out the narrow victory.

Doncic shot 17-of-24 from the field for his 53 points – the second-most he has ever scored in an NBA game – while adding eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. He had 41 points more than his closest team-mate, Spencer Dinwiddie with 12.

It was the fifth time in his career Doncic has reached 50 points, and the fourth since December 23, after posting games of 50, 51 and 60 points in the last nine days of 2022.

With the win, the Mavericks improved their record to 27-25, sitting sixth in the Western Conference, while the Pistons are dead last in the East at 13-39.

Curry brings the thunder to OKC

Stephen Curry was at his best in the Golden State Warriors' 128-120 road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading both teams in points and assists.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP finished with 38 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while also dishing 12 assists and snatching eight rebounds in a masterful display.

He was supported well by 'Splash Brother' Klay Thompson, who chipped in 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, as the duo combined to hit 14-of-28 from three-point range.

They locked horns with the Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who maintained the fifth-best scoring average in the league (30.9 per game) by scoring 31 on 10-of-24 shooting with seven assists and three blocks.

Banchero shines in Fultz's return to Philly

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz posted his first double-double of the season as the former number one overall pick made a winning return to Philadelphia.

In his first road game against the Philadelphia 76ers since being traded from the franchise in 2019, Fultz finished with 12 points and 10 assists, helping to ignite a 77-47 second-half demolition on the way to a 119-109 upset win.

The star for the Magic was their other top overall pick, as rookie Paolo Banchero scored a team-high 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

Joel Embiid was terrific for the 76ers, dropping 30 points (11-of-20), 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, but his scoring average for the season dropped to 33.6. He still leads the league, but Doncic (33.4) is hot on his tail.

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