The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

Giannis powers Bucks to another win

Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

Giannis powers Bucks to another win

Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

Kawhi Leonard was delighted to be the hero of a grandstand finish as he marked his return from injury with the winning shot in the Los Angeles Clippers' 119-117 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

Having sat out the last six games with a sprained right ankle, the two-time NBA champion returned to the court alongside fellow All-Star Paul George, with both playing a crucial part at the Spectrum Center.

It was George who led the way with a team-high 19 points, but Leonard seized the last-gasp heroics after sinking an 18-foot jumper with 1.4 seconds on the clock to claim the win.

The small forward, who missed the entirety of last season with a torn ACL, delighted in his moment of triumph on the floor afterwards, stressing his passion for the sport has not diminished during his time on the sidelines.

"It felt good to be back," he stated. "I love this game of basketball. I don't think anybody loves playing more than me.

"Maybe [people love] watching [more]. But I love this game, and it gives me joy when I am able to play.

"That ending is great, [in] that I was able to make that shot. We're [leading by] nine, eight points pretty much the whole game. I would rather close it out than have to [grind it] out like that."

George was full of praise for his team-mate too, focusing on his return rather than his own after he set up Leonard for the game-winning shot.

"Any time you see Kawhi going to the spot, that's where he is comfortable," he added. "That's where we are comfortable. I wanted to get it to him right there, and he took it home with his shot."

With both players having seldom lined up together this year, head coach Ty Lue is hopeful their return can help drive the Clippers higher this season, with the team sixth in the Western Conference.

"Those guys on the floor, it's going to cause teams to double-team," he stated. "[It will make] teams do some things they're not used to doing, and we're going to get open shots. [We] just continue building off this."

The Los Angeles Clippers will be without franchise centerpieces Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for at least one more game after the duo were ruled out of Sunday's home fixture against the Indiana Pacers.

Leonard initially returned in October for his first action since tearing his ACL in the 2021 playoffs. It was short-lived, with his knee swelling up after two games, forcing him to miss another three weeks.

His latest stint saw him start three consecutive wins over the space of five days, but late in the fourth quarter of the third, against the Utah Jazz on Monday, he landed on an opponent's foot and rolled his ankle.

Meanwhile, George has missed three games since straining his hamstring against the San Antonio Spurs last Saturday – a game where he had 21 points in the first half before suffering the injury.

Making $42million each this season, the duo are the only players on the Clippers' roster making over $17m, and are relied on to lead their team on both ends of the floor.

Los Angeles have lost both of their past two games by double-digits, and will get no reprieve when the Pacers come to town. The visitors boast the fourth-best record (11-7) in the Eastern Conference after a surprising start to what was meant to be a rebuilding season, led by the league-leader in assists, Tyrese Haliburton.

Los Angeles Clippers franchise player Paul George has been diagnosed with a hamstring strain, ruling him out of at least Monday's clash with the Utah Jazz, and likely more.

George led the Clippers in scoring last season, and continues to lead this season as Kawhi Leonard makes his way back from a long-term injury.

Against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, George was ruled out of the game at half-time after putting up 21 points in 15 minutes, with the Clippers calling it knee soreness as his team cruised to a 119-97 blowout win.

George was listed as questionable until hours before Monday's fixture against the Clippers, when the team released a new injury report with the news of his hamstring strain.

After Saturday's win, Clippers head coach Ty Lue told reporters he did not think it was a significant injury.

"He's doing okay," he said. "I haven't seen what they [medical staff] said about what happened to him, but I just know he had a little tweak."

George was also recorded telling team owner Steve Ballmer that he has "a little soreness, but it's okay".

The typical recovery time for a hamstring strain is at least two weeks, although his status as questionable just two days after suffering the injury bodes well for his projected time on the sidelines.

Joel Embiid had an injury scare late as the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers charged home but ultimately fell short in a 112-109 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.

Embiid appeared to roll his left ankle when he tripped over teammate Georges Niang with 5:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. He writhed in pain on the ground and was attended to by a trainer before hobbling to the bench at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers center played the game out but limped throughout yet nailed a three-pointer to make it 105-102, before Timberwolves top scorer Anthony Edwards steadied it with his second triple of the game.

Embiid finished with 32 points, including making 18-of-20 from the free-throw line, with nine rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Sixers, who were without James Harden and Tyrese Maxey due to foot injuries.

Shake Milton added 27 points, while De'Anthony Melton made five three-pointers in his 19-point haul. Melton's three with 29.1 seconds remaining moved the 76ers within one point, before he missed a lay-up and Edwards iced the game from the stripe. The Sixers had trailed by 20 points but rallied with a 25-15 fourth quarter.

For the winners, Edwards had 25 points with five rebounds and five assists, while point guard D'Angelo Russell scored 19 points with seven assists.

French center Rudy Gobert scored eight points with 13 rebounds and Karl-Anthony Towns added 12 points with eight rebounds.

The result leaves both sides with 8-8 records, with the Timberwolves having won three straight. Embiid's 32 points means he is averaging 41.25 across his past four games.

Trae shines as Hawks win with OT buzzer-beater

Trae Young fed A.J. Griffin under the basket for a buzzer-beating two-pointer in overtime as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Toronto Raptors 124-122.

Young took an inbound pass with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime with scores tied, racing clear as Griffin - who is the son of Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin - got behind the defense, allowing the Hawks guard to find him wide open for a routine lay-up in the nick of time.

Atlanta hauled in a seven-point deficit with 2:36 to go in the fourth quarter, led by Young, who finished with 33 points on 12-of-21 shooting with 12 assists. Scottie Barnes had a season-high 28 points for injury-hit Toronto, who only dressed nine players.

George hurt as Clippers blow out Spurs

Paul George hit three first-half three-pointers before being ruled out with knee soreness at half-time while Kawhi Leonard's impact was limited again but the Los Angeles Clippers blew out the San Antonio Spurs 119-97.

George played 15 first-half minutes, scoring 21 minutes on five-of-eight three-point shooting, while Leonard played 22 minutes for 11 points with four assists in his second game back after stiffness in his surgically repaired knee.

Norman Powell came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points, with five-of-seven three-point shooting, as the Clippers improved to 9-7. The Clippers hit 13 first-half triples and finished with 21 for the game on 53.8 per cent three-point shooting.

All-Star Paul George was ruled out with right knee soreness at half-time in the Los Angeles Clippers' game against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

George had scored 21 points, including making five-of-eight from beyond the arc, before being ruled out at half-time, with the Clippers up 64-48.

The knee concern comes in two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard's second game back in the line-up after missing 12 games due to stiffness in his surgically repaired knee.

The Clippers reached the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2020-21 season but missed the 2021-22 playoffs after struggling with injuries, including Leonard being out for the whole campaign with an ACL injury.

Seven-time All-Star George entered Saturday averaging 23.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

Kawhi Leonard is on the brink of a Los Angeles Clippers return, having been listed as questionable for Thursday's game against the Detroit Pistons.

Leonard had previously been listed as out, having not played since October 24, dating back 12 games due to stiffness in his surgically-repaired right knee. 

The 31-year-old small forward missed all of last season after rupturing his ACL during the 2021 playoffs.

Leonard played 21 minutes in each of his two games this season, averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

The Clippers, who are 8-7, have also listed All-Star Paul George (left-hand contusion) as questionable for the Pistons game.

Dallas Mavericks MVP hopeful Luka Doncic has always given the Los Angeles Clippers nightmares, and Tuesday was more of the same in a 103-101 home win.

Of the 30 NBA teams, only the Detroit Pistons have felt Doncic's wrath more than the Clippers, averaging 32.4 points in five games against Detroit, and 31.7 per game in a healthier 13-game sample size against Los Angeles.

That number went up again after the 23-year-old Slovenian sensation dropped a game-high 35 points on 11-of-22 shooting, adding 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals and the game-sealing three-pointer.

Leading 99-98 with 30 seconds remaining, Doncic gathered a loose-ball and drilled a deep three to jump ahead by four, putting the game to bed.

While Doncic was clearly the best player on the floor for the Mavericks – scoring over 30 points for the 11th time in 13 games this season – starting wing Dorian Finney-Smith was just as important to the final result, drilling a red-hot seven-of-13 threes to chip in 21 points.

For the Clippers, Paul George was not bad on the surface, posting 23 points (seven-of-13 shooting), seven rebounds and six assists, but he committed a career-high 10 turnovers after never having more than eight in his previous 859 games.

Brunson, Reddish get it done for the Knicks

After a scorching 10-3 start to the season, the Utah Jazz have now lost their past three games after going down 118-111 at home against the New York Knicks.

Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson was game's most valuable player, scoring 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting with eight assists and three steals, and it was another terrific showcase from Cam Reddish.

Fresh off his season-high 26 points during the Knicks' last time out, Reddish was awarded his fifth start of the campaign after starting no games last season. 

He repaid the faith with another efficient showing, scoring 19 points on seven-of-13 shooting as he begins to fulfill the potential that saw him rated as one of the best prospects in the world heading into his draft year.

Kings score 153 points in regulation

The Sacramento Kings put up the biggest score in the league this season with a 153-121 drubbing of the Brooklyn Nets, scoring at least 36 points in every quarter.

It is eight points more than Oklahoma City in second place, after their 145-135 victory against the New York Knicks on Sunday.

They shot 60.2 per cent from the field (56-of-93), 48.8 per cent from long range (20-of-41) and had seven players in double-figures, led by Terence Davis off the bench with 31 (12-of-16 shooting).

It was the first time this season Ben Simmons has scored at least 10 points, finishing with 11, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 20 minutes off the Nets bench.

The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to their fourth straight double-digit defeat as LeBron James had a late injury scare in a 114-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

James, who played 32 minutes for 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists, was benched late with "left leg soreness" and did not return after wincing upon drawing a foul.

The Lakers loss was their fifth straight defeat when James has scored 30 points, while it was their ninth consecutive defeat to the Clippers, dating back to 2020. That streak is the second longest in series history.

Paul George fired for the Clippers, with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting along with six rebounds and two blocks, bringing up his sixth straight 25-point game which is the longest run in his time with the franchise. Norman Powell contributed 18 points off the bench.

Anthony Davis scored 21 points with nine rebounds but was shy on offense, while Russell Westbrook managed 14 points with nine assists in 30 minutes off the bench.

The Clippers, who are still without two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, have won five of their past six games and improved to 7-5, while the Lakers are 2-9.

Short-handed Bucks triumph in 2OT

The Milwaukee Bucks overcame the Oklahoma City Thunder in double overtime 136-132 without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday to improve their record to 10-1 and bounce back after their first loss of the season.

Antetokounmpo and Holiday sat out with a sore left knee and sprained right ankle respectively, but Jevon Carter stepped up with a career-high 36 points and 12 assists.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 39 points, drained a triple to give OKC a one-point lead with 0.6 seconds remaining in the first overtime.

Bucks center Brook Lopez, who contributed 24 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, was fouled by Lu Dort on the inbound pass, but missed one of his two free-throws, sending the game to second overtime, where Milwaukee finished the job.

Jazz's surprise start, Doncic's run halted, KD shines

The Utah Jazz continued their surprise start to the season with a 125-119 win over the Atlanta Hawks, moving them to a Western Conference-leading 10-3 record.

The Jazz rallied after blowing a 12-point lead, piling on 40 fourth-quarter points with Lauri Markkanen scoring a season-high 32 points. Malik Beasley scored six three-pointers, including four in the fourth period, for 18 points for the game.

Luka Doncic was held to less than 30 points for the first time this season, scoring 24 points on nine-of-29 field shooting, as the Dallas Mavericks lost 94-87 to the Orlando Magic.

Kevin Durant had a triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists as the Brooklyn Nets blew out the New York Knicks 112-85 without the suspended Kyrie Irving.

It must not be a great time to be a Los Angeles Lakers fan right now.

Granted, pre-season optimism hits followers of any NBA team, and the glass-half-full theory around the Lakers was that Darvin Ham would be able to get a tune out of a team of superstars that has flattered to deceive since 2020.

So far, that has not happened, and despite still being early in the campaign, things are already threatening to get away from them.

Monday's 139-116 defeat at the Utah Jazz took the Lakers to 2-8 from their first 10 outings, and they are about to face a Clippers side that is hitting form.

Having started their season with a 103-97 win against the Lakers before another victory in Sacramento, Tyronn Lue's team then lost four in a row as people started to question if they were going to go the same way as their neighbours.

However, back-to-back wins against the Houston Rockets followed by successes against the Spurs and the Cavaliers either side of a loss to the Jazz have the Clippers at 6-5 and in seventh place in the Western Conference.

The Lakers are just one place off bottom in the West, having lost their first five games before a brief hint of a turnaround with wins against the Nuggets and the Pelicans was extinguished by three more defeats.

LeBron James did not feature against the Jazz on Monday due to a sore foot, but reports suggest that was the result of playing the night before, so Ham may be able to call on his experience on Wednesday.

While the debates still rage about the use of Russell Westbrook, he scored 22 points in Utah with a team-leading five assists as well as three rebounds, while Anthony Davis' 29 points will likely need to be repeated if they are to have a chance against their local rivals.

Paul George will have something to say about that after his 26 points in the win against the Cavs, on a night in which the Clippers shared the wealth, with six different players reaching double figures for points.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Los Angeles Clippers – Paul George

It was not only against Cleveland that George has thrived this season, boasting an average over his first 10 outings at 25.3 points per game, with Marcus Morris Sr claiming the next highest average with 15.0.

George only scored 15 against the Lakers last month, but he has pushed on to become the league's 14th highest scoring player per game so far in a team that has struggled for high scores.

Los Angeles Lakers – Anthony Davis

Should he play, it'll probably be James again, who in spite of questions about his age is still averaging 24.3 points per game; but with uncertainty about whether he will feature, as mentioned, Davis will need to perform well either way.

The 29-year-old is currently matching his points per game from last season (23.2), with his rebound numbers slightly up so far (10.3 from 9.9).

KEY BATTLES – Clippers must find points from somewhere

The Clippers may have recovered in recent games, but they are still struggling to score points, with their average of 103.8 the lowest in the NBA by more than three (the Wizards have the next lowest with 107.0).

With Kawhi Leonard still sidelined, the onus will fall on George, but others will need to step up and help him put numbers on the board.

The saving grace is that they come up against a Lakers team averaging 116.3 points conceded this season, with just six teams in the league allowing more against per game.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Recent contests have been dominated by the Clippers, with their opening-game victory last month their eighth in a row against the Lakers, who have not beaten their rivals since July 30, 2020 during their bubble season success.

Devin Booker continued his prolific start to the season as the Phoenix Suns flexed their offensive muscle with a 134-105 win over Western Conference rivals Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

Booker, who turns 26 on Sunday, became the first player in franchise history to have three 30-point games in the first four of a season, finishing with 34 on 10-of-19 shooting from the field with seven assists and three steals.

Deandre Ayton added 16 points with 14 rebounds, including 11 in the first half, while Chris Paul had 16 points with seven rebounds and nine assists.

The Suns, who improved to 3-1, shot at 41 per cent from the field, making 12-of-29 three-pointers, with Paul draining four-of-five from beyond the arc. Phoenix outscored the Warriors 62-39 in the second half.

The reigning champions, who moved to 2-2, continued their worrying defensive start to the season, having conceded 109 or more points in all four of their games this season, averaging 124 points against per game.

Stephen Curry managed 21 points to end his 30-point run to start the season, shooting seven-of-17 from the field and four triples.

Jordan Poole was productive off the bench with 17 points, including 14 in the first half. Klay Thompson was ordinary again with two points, shooting none-of-five from three-point range.

Pels triumph over Doncic's Mavs despite key outs

The New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of Zion Williamson (hip) and Brandon Ingram (concussion) along with a Luka Doncic masterclass to win 113-111 over the Dallas Mavericks.

Doncic scored 37 points on 16-of-30 shooting, with 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Mavs, but the undermanned Pels triumphed, led by Trey Murphy with a team-high 22 points with 100 per cent shooting. 

C.J. McCollum struggled to find his range, shooting six-of-20 for 14 points but eight Pels players reached double-figure scoring as they improved to 3-1 to start the season. 

Doncic became the first Mav to ever open a season with three straight 30-point games. The Slovenian is also only the second player in NBA history with 100-plus points, 25-plus rebounds and 20-plus assists through the first three games of a season.

SGA's OKC down short-handed Clippers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander produced a dominant all-round display with 33 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder cruised past the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 108-94.

The Clippers were without former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard due to knee soreness along with seven-time All-Star Paul George with illness, with the defeat seeing them slip to 1-3.

Gilgeous-Alexander went at 50 per cent from the field, making two-of-two from beyond the arc, with five rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and three steals in a masterful display, while Tre Mann scored 16 of his 25 points in the first half.

Paul George said he turned his "aggression up" after becoming frustrated with a lack of fouls being called, leading to him scoring 40 points as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

George also recorded six rebounds and six assists, with the Clippers edging a tight contest 111-109 at Golden 1 Center.

The recently returned Kawhi Leonard was rested by coach Ty Lue, putting more emphasis on George to step up.

The 32-year-old only managed four points in the first quarter, but after feeling he was being fouled and was then called for a technical foul for his complaints, George used the lit fire to punish the Kings on the scoreboard, scoring a further 36 in the final three quarters.

"I knew I had to be aggressive from the jump already," George said after the win. "If anything, it [was] just after being angry about that. It definitely turned my aggression up.

"The [Kings] players were holding on to me. I was trying to make my case that, 'what do you want me to do? Their hands are on me', and I was trying to get their hands off me."

George shot 16 from 31 field-goal attempts, and three from 10 from beyond the arc.

Lue explained after the game that his player does not need to feel like he is number two behind Leonard for the Clippers, and George embraced whatever his role needs to be.

"For me, I just pride myself on being that guy that enjoys doing everything," George said. "I enjoy being that glue guy, and whatever the team or whatever that game needs of me, I'm going to do.

"I just didn't want nothing going into this year where people are saying this and saying that. If I'm the two, I'm fine being the two.

"But I know what I'm capable of. I know I'm able to be a number one option on nights and a number one option on possessions. I'm very aware and very confident in my ability... I'm going to go out and do my job regardless."

Joel Embiid scored 40 points but it was not enough to prevent the Philadelphia 76ers from slumping to a 0-3 start to the new NBA season after a 114-105 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

James Harden had minimal impact in the second half as Spurs small forward Doug McDermott took control with an eight-point burst, capping his 14 points, which all came in the second half.

The 76ers, who had been beaten by contenders, the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, to open their season, squandered Embiid's huge game where he shot 14-of-25 from the field and hauled down 13 rebounds with two blocks.

Harden only added 12 points on four-of-18 shooting, making one-of-six three-point attempts. The former MVP provided 12 assists with nine rebounds and two blocks, but was inconspicuous in the second half with the game up for grabs, with the Spurs defense denying him good looks.

Tyrese Maxey contributed 25 points for the 76ers, including three triples, but Philadelphia slumped to their first 0-3 start since 2016-17.

Devin Vassell (22 points with nine-of-14 field shooting, including four three-pointers) and Keldon Johnson (21 points with eight rebounds) were San Antonio's most productive offensive players.

Mitchell betters LeBron start for Cavs

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points as he claimed his first win as a Cleveland Cavaliers player in their 128-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls in their home season opener.

Mitchell achieved a feat that not even LeBron James could, becoming the first Cavs player with back-to-back 30-point games to open a season.

The All-Star, who made a high-profile trade from the Utah Jazz to the Cavs in the off-season, landed four-of-six from beyond the arc with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Zach LaVine returned after off-season knee surgery that forced him to miss Chicago's opening two games to top score for the Bulls with 23 points.

Giannis powers Bucks past Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed 28 minutes to put on an MVP-like display as the Milwaukee Bucks routed the Houston Rockets 125-105 in their home opener at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points, shooting 17-of-21 from the field with two three-pointers, along with 12 rebounds and three assists.

The Greek forward became Milwaukee's all-time free throws leader, shooting eight-of-13 from the stripe to exceed Sidney Moncrief's 3,505 record, before sitting out with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum also scored 40 points to lead the 3-0 Boston Celtics past the 0-3 Orlando Magic 126-120, while Paul George had 40 in the Los Angeles Clippers' 111-109 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Kawhi Leonard shared that he will be ready for the start of training camp, and that he would have been healthy enough to play in last season's NBA Finals had the Los Angeles Clippers made it that far.

All eyes were on the Clippers' franchise player during Monday's media day, with Leonard recently being cleared for five-on-five play more than 14 months after tearing his ACL in the 2021 playoffs.

Oddsmakers have the Clippers as the second-favourites to win the Western Conference, trailing only the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Their success is ultimately reliant on Leonard's health, with the two-time Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs (2014) and Toronto Raptors (2019) trying to become the first player to ever win the award with three different teams.

Speaking about how he feels physically after such a long rehabilitation period, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year highlighted all the time he has spent in the weight room and how it has him feeling stronger than ever.

"I feel stronger, for sure," he said. "It's been, what, 14, 15 months of no basketball – well, playing in an NBA season for me, no basketball. 

"That whole 13-, 14-month process is just lifting weights and getting stronger. I definitely got a lot stronger.

"Right now I feel good in my workouts, weightlifting. I don't feel like I have a subconscious mind of not jumping off my leg, per se. I feel good. We'll just see how the season goes."

In what is a good sign for his chances of being at 100 per cent for the opening day of the season, Leonard shared that "if [the Clippers] would have made it to the Finals last year, you would have seen me playing".

Around Leonard, the Clippers have assembled arguably the deepest roster in the NBA, with running-mate Paul George being joined by a bevy of capable perimeter options, including former All-Star John Wall, starting-quality guards Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard, starter-level wings Norman Powell and Robert Covington, as well as rotation pieces Marcus Morris Sr, Nic Batum and Terance Mann.

George compared their wealth of talent to his experience with the United States national team, and said the key will be figuring out how to mesh successfully and find roles for everyone.

"I think really [we will use] that mindset of Team USA," George said. "You take the best guys, and of course everybody is good and they're all on teams, everybody is the star of their own teams. 

"But when you put us all together, it's how do I make you better now and how do I shine with this environment.

"It should be a lot of fun with this team, and there should be a lot of good nights being a Clipper fan."

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