The short-handed Brooklyn Nets slumped to their 13th defeat from their past 15 games as Jayson Tatum led the Boston Celtics to a 129-106 victory on Thursday.

Tatum scored 30 points including four three-pointers along with seven rebounds and four assists for the Celtics who have won 10 of their past 11 games.

The Celtics' hot form is in contrast to the Nets, who have slumped to a 31-29 record in the absence of the injured Kevin Durant, unavailable Kyrie Irving and unfit Ben Simmons.

Boston led from start to finish, opening up a 35-22 quarter-time lead, with good support from big men Robert Williams III (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Al Horford (11 points and 13 rebounds).

Seth Curry top scored for the Nets with 22 points but only made two-of-seven from beyond the arc, while Patty Mills struggled with one point from 28 minutes, shooting none-of-nine from the field.

 

Morant hurt in tight loss

Ja Morant airballed a game-tying three-point attempt in the dying seconds and had a third-quarter injury scare as the Memphis Grizzlies lost 119-114 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Morant finished with 20 points and eight rebounds but seemed to pick up a leg injury on a drive which impacted his final quarter. D'Angelo Russell scored 23 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter for the Timberwolves.

The ladder-leading Phoenix Suns had no issues without Chris Paul as they extended their winning streak to eight games with a 124-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Devin Booker scored 25 points with five rebounds, 12 assists and a career-high six steals.

Stephen Curry was benched late after 18 points and 14 assists as the Golden State Warriors won 132-95 over the Portland Trail Blazers, while Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in the Denver Nuggets' 128-110 triumph over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Trae wayward in Hawks loss

Trae Young struggled as the Atlanta Hawks went down 112-108 to the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks guard made three-of-17 from the field in his 14 points for the game. For the Bulls, who have won six in a row, in-form DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points while Zach LaVine returned from injury with 20 points.

Phoenix Suns' All-Star guard Chris Paul will be sidelined for six to eight weeks due to an avulsion fracture in his right thumb, according to ESPN.

The 36-year-old sustained the injury in Wednesday's 124-121 win over the Houston Rockets yet played two minutes for Team LeBron in Sunday's All-Star Game.

Paul has been a key part of the ladder-leading Suns who have a 48-10 record, averaging 14.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and an NBA-best 10.7 assists.

The NBA regular season ends on Sunday April 10, meaning Paul may be out until the playoffs commence, with the Suns well placed for a high seeding.

"We've dealt with a lot already this year," Suns head coach Monty Williams, who led Team LeBron on Sunday, told reporters after the game.

"We've lost multiple guys due to injury this year, and we've had things outside of basketball invade, so to think you're going to go through an NBA season and not have adversity, it's silly.

"You hate it, but you're prepared for it. This is different, because it's Chris. But with that in mind, it's also an opportunity to strengthen our team and give other guys confidence in certain areas, and when he does come back, I think we'll be that much better."

He added: "We're just gonna take it day by day, and see how he heals up as we go forward."

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul may need a stint on the sidelines due to the hand injury suffered in his side's final game prior to the All-Star break.

Paul was left clutching the injury and ejected for his reaction in the Suns' 124-121 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday after Jae'Sean Tate's arm struck his hand when throwing a pass.

The 36-year-old underwent an MRI on Thursday although the Suns have not released any diagnosis, while Paul has since linked up with Team LeBron for Sunday's All-Star Game.

Paul's hand was wrapped in a cast at Saturday's practise and he did not rule himself out of the All-Star Game, but indicated he may need time out due to the injury.

"I always want to play. When I felt that in my hand, I was mad for all types of reasons," Paul told reporters after practise.

"Obviously we're not going to [rush it]. I'm going to try to heal as fast as physically possible. The second I'm able to play, I guarantee you I will be playing."

Paul's Suns head coach Monty Williams is in charge of Team LeBron but also would not be drawn on the extent of the injury.

The Suns are leading the NBA with a 48-10 record and Paul, who has a history of hand and wrist problems, hinted that position meant he could be afforded time to get the problem right.

"We're 48-10 and if we do miss some time I know the guys are going to hold it down," Paul said.

"There's always going to be a frustration with injury. My hand surgeon is part of my family now."

The Los Angeles Lakers are awaiting news on the injury sustained by Anthony Davis in Wednesday's 106-101 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Davis had 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting when being forced to exit the game after turning his ankle and clutching his right leg in pain.

The 28-year-old was helped to the locker room by his team-mates and initial X-rays revealed no fracture, but he will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.

In the absence of Davis, who had only recently returned after missing 17 games with a sprained knee, the Lakers stepped up to snap a three-game losing run.

Frank Vogel's side trailed the Jazz by 12 points midway through the fourth quarter, but they went on a 19-4 run – LeBron James scoring the last 10 of those points – to hit back.

James finished with a team-high 33 points, 15 of those coming in the final quarter, meaning he has now scored 25 points or more in a career-best 23 straight games.

The Lakers are now 27-31 for the season but are still down in ninth in the Western Conference, while the 36-22 Jazz are in fourth after suffering a first loss in seven outings.

 


Knicks blow 28-point lead against Nets

Rookie Cam Thomas impressed in the absence of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to help the Brooklyn Nets match their biggest comeback in franchise history.

The Nets trailed the New York Knicks by 28 points before going on to win 111-106, with 16 of Thomas' 21 points arriving in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer to clinch the win with 7.7 seconds to go.

Julius Randle had seemingly put the Knicks in control with 31 points and 10 rebounds, but they were unable to hold on and suffered a third successive loss to stumble to 25-34 for the season.


DeRozan eclipses Chamberlain's streak

DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points in the Chicago Bulls' 125-118 victory over the Sacramento Kings to create some NBA history.

The five-time NBA All-Star became the first player to score 35 or more points and shoot 50 per cent or better in seven straight games, usurping Wilt Chamberlain's previous record of six.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors lost 117-116 to the Denver Nuggets through Monte Morris' 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

Nikola Jokic had 35 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have now won three in a row and five of their last six.

The NBA-leading Phoenix Suns beat the Houston Rockets 124-121 for a seventh successive win thanks to 24 points for Devin Booker and 23 for Deandre Ayton.

All-Star pair Devin Booker and Chris Paul led the way as the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-96 to make it six wins in a row.

Booker scored 26 points and Paul added 17 and 14 assists for the NBA-leading Suns, who have now won 17 of their past 18 games and are 47-10 for the season.

The Clippers had defeated the Golden State Warriors in their previous game and led the Suns 90-88 with six minutes to play at Footprint Center.

But Booker and Paul took control to give the hosts a slender lead and restricted their opponents to just one point in the final 2:53 to put another victory on the board.

Reflecting on a hard-fought win, Suns head coach Monty Williams said: "Our past experiences are helping us now, even the hurt that we felt last year is helping us now."

 


Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

The Milwaukee Bucks snapped a two-game losing run with a 128-119 victory over the Indiana Pacers thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's latest impressive showing.

Two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo scored 50 points on 17-of-21 shooting, with those 21 attempts the fourth-fewest in a 50-point game in NBA history.

It is the first time the 27-year-old, returning from an ankle injury that kept him out of the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, has hit 50 in the regular season since November 2019.

The Bucks improve to 36-23 for the season, with a winning percentage of .610, while the Pacers have now lost seven successive games.

Celtics continue strong form

The Boston Celtics eased to a 135-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers for their ninth win in a row, with Jaylen Brown scoring 26 of his 29 points in the first half.

They are now 11-1 across their last 12 games and have outscored opponents by 253 points – only the 1970-71 Bucks (+260) have a larger point differential over a 12-game span in NBA history.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Luka Doncic scored 21 points in the Dallas Mavericks' 107-99 win against the Miami Heat, while the Atlanta Hawks held off the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-116.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies recorded 126-120 and 121-109 victories over the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans respectively.

The Philadelphia 76ers made a statement as Joel Embiid piled on a 40-point triple-double as they won 103-93 over the Cleveland Cavaliers without new acquisition James Harden on Saturday.

Embiid scored 40 points with 14 rebounds and 10 assists for the Sixers, who improve to 34-22. It was only Embiid's fourth career triple-double.

The Cameroonian center's points haul included a highlight-reel dunk, a one-handed throw-down over Jarrett Allen late in the first half.

Embiid also made four of five three-pointers, going at 50 per cent from the field, while he added three steals in an outstanding game as they wait on Harden to be cleared medically to debut.

 

Klay hits season-high

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 33 points, marking a major milestone in his recovery from long-term injury, as the Golden State Warriors won 117-115 over the Los Angeles Lakers. Thompson shot five-of-nine from beyond the arc, with Stephen Curry (24 points, five rebounds, eight assists) taking a backseat. LeBron James had 26 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers.

The Chicago Bulls, sitting second in the Eastern Conference, overcame a sluggish start as DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points with six rebounds and five assists, while Nikola Vucevic added 31 points and 15 rebounds in a 106-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luka Doncic scored 45 points with 15 rebounds and eight rebounds in a losing cause as the Dallas Mavericks went down 99-97 to the Los Angeles Clippers, while the table-topping Phoenix Suns won their fourth straight with a 132-105 win over the Orlando Magic led by Devin Booker's 26 points and Chris Paul's 15 assists.

 

Nets slump to 11th straight loss

Kyrie Irving led a late Brooklyn Nets charge that fell short as they went down 115-111 to the Miami Heat. Irving scored 29 points, including 20 in the final quarter, with five rebounds and five assists as the Nets slumped to their 11th straight defeat. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat who have won five in a row.

The Phoenix Suns outclassed defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday to win 131-107 and stretch their NBA-best record to 45-10.

In a rematch of last season's Finals, won by the Bucks, Phoenix pulled clear in the second half after a competitive opening two quarters in Arizona.

Deandre Ayton top-scored for the Suns with 27 points, finishing on 12-of-14 shooting from the field, while Chris Paul enjoyed a special game: his 17 points and 19 assists brought about his 500th career double-double, a tally only previously reached by three guards in the league's history.

"I'm grateful that I still get a chance to play," he said. "Not just play, but I feel like I play at a high level every night. It's cool."

It was a 15th win from 16 games for the Suns and reinforced their championship credentials against the team who came from 2-0 down to win last year's Finals series 4-2.

"They're the defending champs. We still hurt," said coach Monty Williams. "But from a confidence standpoint, for sure, it was a big game for us. I can admit it now."

The Golden State Warriors, second to the Suns in the West, fell to a second straight defeat for only the third time this season despite a double-double from Stephen Curry.

Julius Randle's 28 points and 16 rebounds, the latter an equal-high for the season, saw the New York Knicks win for the first time in four games in their West Coast trip, Klay Thompson's missed buzzer-beater meaning it finished 116-114.

The Miami Heat remain top of the Eastern Conference, their dominant second-half display seeing them to a 112-97 defeat of the New Orleans Pelicans. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 29 points for Miami, while Kyle Lowry got his first triple-double of the season.

Doncic hits 50 for first time

The latest star turn in the incredible early career of Luka Doncic helped the Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-105 in Texas.

The 22-year-old scored a career-best 51 points, 28 of which came in an astonishing first quarter in which he hit seven of his attempted nine three-pointers.

Marcus Morris Sr. top-scored for the Clippers with 21, while Reggie Jackson posted 18, but there was simply no way back from the damage dealt by Doncic.

"Tonight was just Luka," said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. "That little step-back three, I'll live with that. That's his shot, but if he misses a couple or few of those, then the game is different. But he made them, and that's why he's a great player."

Kuzma triple-double settles clash of busy traders

In a battle of teams at the heart of the trade deadline drama, the Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-112.

A first career triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for Kyle Kuzma proved pivotal for the Wizards, who added Kristaps Porzingis on a busy Thursday in the week they lost Bradley Beal for the rest of the season to a wrist injury.

The Nets, who sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster trade involving Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, slipped to a 10th loss on the spin despite Kyrie Irving's 31 points.

Elsewhere, Kevin Porter Jr. put up 30 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 139-120, while the Memphis Grizzlies took their winning streak to four, Ja Morant scoring 23 points in a 132-107 rout of the struggling Detroit Pistons.

 

The Philadelphia 76ers solved their Ben Simmons conundrum with a blockbuster trade for James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets before the NBA trade deadline passed on Thursday. 

Simmons has refused to play for the Sixers this season after coach Doc Rivers and center Joel Embiid were critical of his performances in the Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks last season. 

Philadelphia had been trying to trade the fifth-year guard/forward ever since, but the former Rookie of the Year's value plummeted after he came up short against the Hawks. 

However, according to multiple reports a deal was finally struck to send Simmons to Brooklyn in exchange for the 2018 NBA MVP Harden. Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, an unprotected 2022 first-round pick and a protected 2027 first-round pick were also sent to the Nets, with Paul Millsap going in the opposite direction. 

Harden can become a free agent in the offseason, while Simmons is under contract until 2025 after signing a five-year, $177.2million deal in 2019.

While the 76ers seemingly boosted their chances of contending by adding Harden, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors remained idle. However, there were still plenty of other deals reported on Thursday.

 

Mavericks move on from Porzingis

The Luka Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis era is over in Dallas.

The Mavs sent Porzingis and a second-round pick to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Injuries have continued to trouble the 7ft 3in center, who averaged 20 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in two and a half seasons in Dallas.

Kings trade Bagley, Bucks get Ibaka 

The Sacramento Kings made Marvin Bagley III the second overall pick in the 2018 draft but brought an end to his time in California as part of a seven-player, four-team trade. 

Bagley was sent to the Detroit Pistons, with Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles going to Sacramento. The Kings also received Donte DiVincenzo from the Milwaukee Bucks, who swapped Serge Ibaka for Semi Ojeleye and Rodney Hood. The reigning NBA champions also received two future second-round picks and cash considerations. 

Bagley has started just 17 games for Sacramento this season, averaging 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game.

Celtics bring Theis back, send Schroder to Houston

Daniel Theis is back for a second spell with the Boston Celtics.

Less than a year after he was traded to the Chicago Bulls by the Celtics, Theis was brought back from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando. Freedom is expected to be waived by the Rockets, though.

Boston also sent Bol Bol and PJ Dozier, who are both out for the season, to the Orlando Magic and offloaded Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford to the San Antonio Spurs. The Celtics' brought in Derrick White.

Elsewhere...

Goran Dragic's time with the Toronto Raptors is up after he was traded to the Spurs for Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks – whom they were set to waive – and a 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick. Dragic is expected to be bought out, with the Chicago Bulls, Mavs, Bucks, Warriors, Nets and Clippers all credited with an interest.

The Charlotte Hornets added Montrezl Harrel from the Wizards. Ish Smith and Vernon Carey Jr went the other way. 

Torrey Craig is back with the Phoenix Suns following a deal that saw Jalen Smith land with the Indiana Pacers. Aaron Holiday was also acquired from the Wizards.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 44 points as the Milwaukee Bucks beat a lacklustre Los Angeles Lakers 131-116 to close in on Eastern Conference leaders the Miami Heat.

The defending NBA champions were 24 points ahead in the first half at the Crypto.com Arena and extended that lead to 30 points midway through the third quarter.

A strong rally from the Lakers, who had LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their line-up, made things interesting but the Bucks stood firm to win for a fourth straight game.

Antetokounmpo's game-high tally came from 17-for-20 shooting, while adding 14 rebounds and eight assists to inflict a fifth defeat in seven on LA, who fall back to three games below .500.

With his latest standout display, Antetokounmpo joins Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as only the third person with 40+ points, 10+ rebounds and five-or-more assists on 85-per-cent-plus shooting in a game.


Suns continue to shine

The NBA-leading Phoenix Suns rallied from 14 points down to overcome the Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 and record their 14th win in 15 games.

Devin Booker scored 35 points and Chris Paul added 16 points and 12 assists as the Suns improved to 44-10 for the season.

Joel Embiid led the way for the Sixers with 34 points and 12 rebounds – his fifth straight 25-point, 10-rebound game, which is the longest streak in the competition over the past two seasons.

Nets claim unwanted record

Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart helped themselves to 22 points each as the Boston Celtics made light work of the Brooklyn Nets in a 126-91 victory.

The Nets become the only side in the last 30 years to have every starter score six points or fewer with none of them getting to the line.

Elsewhere in Tuesday's action, the Los Angeles Clippers had forward Marcus Morris Sr. ejected in their 135-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers for a flagrant foul 2 on Ja Morant.

Morant was able to continue and ended the game with 30 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field, making it the ninth time in 10 games the All-Star guard has reached 30 points.

Devin Booker top scored with 38 points as the table-topping Phoenix Suns withstood the Chicago Bulls' late charge to win 127-124 on Monday.

Booker shot 14 of 23 from the field including five three-pointers with four rebounds and five assists, while veteran guard Chris Paul contributed 19 points and 11 assists.

The Suns guard reached 30 points for the third time in the past four games as Phoenix won their 13th game from their past 14.

The Bulls charged into contention with a 41-25 fourth-quarter run after the Suns had led by 27 points in the third.

DeMar DeRozan top scored for Chicago with 38 points along with five rebounds and four assists and Zach LaVine returned from injury with 32 points, with six rebounds and eight assists.

 

Clutch Klay leads Warriors past OKC

Klay Thompson top scored for the Golden State Warriors with 21 points including some clutch three-pointers and Stephen Curry had a near triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in a 110-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points with seven rebounds, six assists and four steals as the Utah Jazz won 113-104 over the New York Knicks, while seven Miami Heat players scored double figures in a 121-100 win over the Washington Wizards.

 

New All-Star Ball struggles

On the same day he received his debut All-Star call, LaMelo Ball struggled as the Charlotte Hornets went down 116-101 to the Toronto Raptors. Ball shot five-of-19 from the field and one-of-six from beyond the arc for his 15 points, while he also had seven turnovers.

LeBron James returned from a five-game injury-enforced absence with a triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers won 122-115 over the New York Knicks in overtime.

James had missed five games with swelling in his left knee but returned in style, contributing 29 points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists as they rallied from a 21-point second-quarter deficit.

The Lakers had gone 1-4 in James' absence but the four-time MVP was pivotal with his fourth triple-double of the season.

Anthony Davis was excellent for the Lakers with 28 points and 17 rebounds, while Malik Monk added 29 points too.

RJ Barrett netted a career-high 36 points and Julius Randle added 32 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for the Knicks.

 

Suns bounce back, Morant stars

The table-topping Phoenix Suns bounced back from their loss to the Atlanta Hawks with a 95-80 win over the Washington Wizards led by Deandre Ayton's 20 points and 16 rebounds. Chris Paul added 14 points and nine assists, while Devin Booker was quiet with only 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Jimmy Butler dropped 27 points shooting 10-of-13 while Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Miami Heat won 104-86 over the Charlotte Hornets.

Ja Morant scored 33 points in three quarters as the Memphis Grizzlies claimed their fifth win in six games, routing the Orlando Magic 135-115.

 

Blazers skid extended by Bucks

The Portland Trail Blazers slumped to their fifth straight defeat, leaving them with a 21-33 record as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points with nine rebounds and six assists in the Milwaukee Bucks' 137-108 win. Bobby Portis also scored 30 points for the Bucks.

Reggie Jackson proved the hero for the Los Angeles Clippers as they edged Los Angeles Lakers 111-110 in a thrilling conclusion to Thursday's contest.

The lead changed hands five times in the final 63 seconds, but it was 25-point Jackson's driving layup with four seconds remaining that proved decisive.

Anthony Davis wasted the chance to add to his team-high 30 points and 17 rebounds by missing a running floater as time expired, meaning a fourth defeat in five for the Lakers.

The eventful finale to the game could have been avoided from the Clippers' perspective, though, as they led by 17 with four minutes left of the third quarter.

The Lakers recovered, scoring eight straight points to move in front with just over a minute left, but after plenty of toing and froing it was Tyronn Lue's men who came out on top.

 

Suns' winning streak halted

Western Conference leaders the Phoenix Suns saw their 11-game winning run ended as they lost an eighth straight game at the Atlanta Hawks for the first time in their history, going down 124-115.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker had been confirmed as All-Star reserves shortly before tip-off, but it was starter Trae Young who stole the show with 43 points.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference leaders also lost. The Chicago Bulls paid for a sloppy turnover late in overtime in their 125-120 reverse at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

In second place in the East, Tyler Herro set aside his disappointment at missing out on an All-Star selection by scoring 24 points from the bench in the Miami Heat's 112-95 win at the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs had scored at least 100 in each of their prior 18 home games before this defeat, last enjoying a longer single-season run in 1992-93.

 

Klay dazzles as Warriors see off Kings

The Golden State Warriors made it eight wins in a row thanks to a 126-114 victory against the Sacramento Kings, with Klay Thompson hitting his first seven shots on his way to 23 points and seven assists.

Steph Curry added 20 points and now has 71 assists and 24 turnovers in his last nine games for the Warriors, who improved to 40-13 for the season in the Western Conference.

Giannis Antetokounmpo drove the Milwaukee Bucks home with a triple-double as they bounced back with a 112-98 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo finished the game with 33 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists, including 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Bucks closed it out on a 17-4 run. The Greek forward was scoreless in the first quarter.

The Wizards, missing Bradley Beal to a wrist injury, had rallied from a 17-point deficit to be within contention in the final period but the reigning champions pulled away.

The Bucks had lost 136-100 to the Denver Nuggets in their last game and Antetokounmpo was delighted to put that behind them as they improved to 32-21.

Jrue Holiday provided good support with 22 points, five rebounds and two assists and Khris Middleton caught fire late to add 13 points and five rebounds.

 

Warriors win without All-Stars

The Golden State Warriors put aside the absence of All-Stars Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson as they beat the San Antonio Spurs 124-120. Jordan Poole starred with 31 points, six rebounds and five assists as Golden State won after a 35-16 fourth quarter rally.

The Chicago Bulls reinforced top spot in the east with a 126-115 victory over the Orlando Magic led by DeMar DeRozan with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Zach LaVine chipped in with 26 points.

Karl-Anthony Towns (24 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) got the better of Nikola Jokic (21 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists)) as the Minnesota Timberwolves won 130-115 over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Harden shooting cools down

James Harden returned from a hand injury but went six-of-19 from the field and four turnovers as the Brooklyn Nets went down 121-111 to the streaking Phoenix Suns. Harden had 22 points and 10 assists while Kyrie Irving hit 26 points. Devin Booker scored 35 points while Chris Paul added 20 points with 14 assists.

On paper, a contest between the Phoenix Suns and the Brooklyn Nets is a mouthwatering prospect.

However, the Nets are still missing star player Kevin Durant and while their form is on the floor as a result of that and other recent injury issues, the Suns are on fire, pardon the pun, and the assumption heading into Tuesday's clash is that Monty Williams' team should ease to yet another win.

Phoenix beat the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday to record their 10th win in a row. They have only been beaten once in 14 games in 2022, and sit on a record of 40-9 to comfortably lead the Western Conference.

The Nets, meanwhile, are down in sixth place in the Eastern Conference on 29-20 having lost four in a row following their 110-106 defeat to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

Durant remains out with a knee injury, while James Harden has also missed recent games as a result of a hamstring problem and a hand strain, though he could be back for this encounter.

LaMarcus Aldridge will also be absent after leaving the arena on crutches after Saturday's game with an apparent ankle sprain.

Kyrie Irving will be able to play with the game being on the road, and looks to be rediscovering some form after missing so much basketball in the first few months of the season, hitting 32 points against the Warriors, with seven rebounds and seven assists.

For the Suns, Jae Crowder could be in line for a return after a wrist injury that has kept him out of their last four games, while Deandre Ayton, who has missed seven games, will likely be a late call following an ankle issue.

With stronger form and a deeper roster heading into Tuesday's game, Phoenix will certainly be the favourites at Footprint Center, but the visitors will be determined to arrest their recent slide.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker

The Suns main point-getter, Booker is the only man to have broken 1,000 points for Phoenix this season (1,056) at an average of 25.1 points per game, the 13th best record in the league.

Booker enjoyed himself when the Suns beat the Nets in November, hitting 30 points and making four out of six three-point attempts.

Brooklyn Nets - Patty Mills

While a lot of the attention will undoubtedly be on Irving, Mills must continue to step up in the absence of Durant and with Harden struggling to find form and fitness.

Steve Nash's Mr. Consistent has played the most games of anyone for Brooklyn this season (48) and is the only Net to have hit three figures for three-pointers made (158). His 24 points against the Warriors on Saturday was his highest score since he managed 34 on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers, so it appears he could be returning to form. 

KEY BATTLE - Can Brooklyn keep pace?

This encounter sees two of the top five teams for average points per game go head-to-head, so in theory, it should be an exciting high-scoring affair.

You might assume that the Nets' average of 111.9 points per game - the fifth-best in the league - is heavily influenced by the absent Durant, but they have actually bettered that average in four of the last six games he has missed.

Phoenix will be confident of living up to their third-best average in the league of 112.9 having also been outperforming that average in recent games, having scored 113 or more in six of their last eight outings.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Overall, the record between the Suns and the Nets could barely be closer, with the Suns edging their 93 regular-season meetings 47-46. However, the Nets have enjoyed more success in recent years, prevailing in 10 of the last 13 meetings, although Phoenix did win 113-107 in Brooklyn earlier this season.

Monty Williams is thrilled to be at the helm of the NBA's best team after a 40th win of the season for the Phoenix Suns saw him rewarded with a coaching role for the upcoming All-Star Game.

The Suns became the first team this season to hit 40 wins as they overturned a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to clinch their 10th straight win, beating the San Antonio Spurs 115-110.

Devin Booker top scored with 28 points including four three-pointers, while Mikal Bridges hit 26 and Chris Paul added 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high 19 assists.

With his team the best in the Western Conference – and the league – Williams will now coach Team LeBron in next month's All-Star game.

"It's a huge blessing, to be in this position where you can be the caretaker of an organisation, represent an organisation, the city, the team, your family," Williams told a news conference.

"I'm mindful of that. I'm also mindful of all the sacrifices people make so I can be in this position. This is a team effort for sure. The players, what they do every day, our staff. The medical people.

"There's so many people that contribute to this. You get to coach the game but I'm thinking about everybody that has contributed. Our place is a special place, with a special group.

"I'm so grateful for the blessings that I have. God has blessed me beyond measure, in so many ways, to do what I do, get paid for it, live in Phoenix, drive the car I drive, have filtered water at home.

"I have so many things that I didn't have as a kid that I don't take for granted and this is another one."

Barring a surprising omission, Paul will join his coach in the 2022 All-Star Game.

Paul, an 11-time All-Star, has averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 10.2 assists across 48 games so far in 2021-22, with his tally in the latter category leading the NBA.

"I'm just happy for Monty, happy for our staff," he told reporters.

"Everybody contributes to it, that's just the way our staff is, everybody plays a role in it. It may seem like something small to a lot of people but that's big.

"Some coaches coach in this league for a long time and never get that opportunity. I'm glad that more people around the world get a chance to see him celebrate."

Asked about his players saying they were determined to win in order to secure his place as an All-Star coach, Williams said: "It blew me away.

"I wasn't almost in tears about it but when I sat and thought about those guys thinking about me in that way I was quite emotional because it's really my job to put them in a position to be successful.

"To have them want me, our staff, to be in that position, says a lot about them. It's a special group and I'm grateful to be part of this resurgence of basketball here."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.