Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo did not attempt a single shot from outside the key on his way to a dominant 31-point performance in Thursday's 115-110 win against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Adebayo also added 10 rebounds (four offensive) and four assists, shooting 14-of-21 from the field in a tremendously efficient outing as the Clippers' interior defense had no answers.

After failing to reach the 30-point mark in each of his first 13 games this season, Adebayo has now eclipsed the figure in four of his past 11 fixtures, raising his season average to a career-high 20.7 points per game.

He was supported in style by Jimmy Butler, who hit 10 of his 12 field goal attempts for a terrific game in his own right, posting 26 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals.

Paul George led the way for the Clippers, and was the only reason they were able to keep things close on the road while Kawhi Leonard was out for a scheduled rest day, scoring a team-high 29 points (10-of-20 shooting) with eight rebounds and seven assists.

The victory for the Heat snaps a two-game losing streak and pulls their record back to 12-14, leaving them 10th in the Eastern Conference, while the Clippers are ninth in the West at 14-13.

Johnson and the Spurs win all-Texas showdown

The San Antonio Spurs received standout performances from Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones to defeat in-state rivals the Houston Rockets 118-109.

Johnson finished one point off his season-high with 32 on 14-of-21 shooting, hitting half of his six three-point attempts, while Jones' 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting was a new career-high.

Despite the loss, it was a strong outing from this year's third overall pick in the NBA Draft, with Jabari Smith Jr scoring a career-high 23 points on nine-of-13 shooting. The six-foot-11, smooth-moving wing showed off his special shooting stroke, hitting four-of-seven from deep.

'Dame Time' not enough against the Nuggets

Damian Lillard scored 15 of his game-high 40 points in the final six minutes, but Jamal Murray had the last laugh as the Denver Nuggets outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers 121-120.

Lillard, in his second game back from injury, looked back to his best late in the fourth quarter, hitting a contested step-back three with nine seconds on the clock to go up by two. He ended up shooting 12-of-22 for his 40 points and 12 assists, hitting at least nine three-pointers for the 10th time in his career.

But Murray would hit his own step-back game-winner with less than a second remaining, putting a bow on his 21-point, eight-assist showing, while reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic was a force with 33 points (14-of-25), 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Anthony Davis put up a sensational 55-point haul to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their fourth straight road win, triumphing 130-119 over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

Davis, who scored 44 points against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Lakers' previous game, could not eclipse his career-high 59 points from 2016 against the Detroit Pistons.

But Davis' 55 points, coming from 22-of-30 field shooting and nine-of-nine shooting from the line, were the second most in a single game this NBA season, behind only Joel Embiid's 59 against the Utah Jazz on November 13.

The eight-time All-Star scored 31 of his 55 points in the second half, adding 17 rebounds and three blocks. Davis is the first Laker with back-to-back 40-point games since Kobe Bryant in March 2013.

LeBron James, who had been listed as questionable due to an ankle issue, added 29 points on 12-of-26 field shooting with eight rebounds and six assists but committed five turnovers.

Russell Westbrook came off the bench to contribute a season-high 15 assists with seven rebounds, while guard Lonnie Walker IV added 20 points on four-of-four three-point shooting.

The Wizards were not helped by a game-ending first-quarter injury to All-Star Bradley Beal. Kristaps Porzingis top scored for the Wizards with 27 points on 11-of-25 shooting, while ex-Laker Kyle Kuzma added 26 points with seven rebounds before fouling out.

The victory improved the Lakers to 10-12, having won three games in a row, but they remain 12th in the Western Conference.

Brown helps Celtics snap Nets' streaks

The NBA-best Boston Celtics ended the Brooklyn Nets' four-game winning streak and six-game winning home stand on 34 points from Jaylen Brown as they triumphed 103-92.

Brown led the way for the Celtics with 20 of his 34 points in the first quarter, finishing also with 10 rebounds, while Jayson Tatum scored 29 points on 10-of-19 field shooting with 11 rebounds.

Kyrie Irving struggled against his former franchise, shooting seven-of-21 from the field for 18 points with eight rebounds and five assists. Kevin Durant top scored for the Nets with 31 points but gave up eight turnovers.

Suns extend struggling Spurs' skid

The Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns condemned the San Antonio Spurs to 11 straight losses with a 133-95 blowout win led by Deandre Ayton's double-double.

Suns center Ayton finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Devin Booker added 20 points on seven-of-16 field shooting, with Mikal Bridges making six-of-seven triples in his 20 points.

The struggling Spurs were blown away in a 36-11 second quarter, seeing them close within two defeats of a franchise-worst losing streak, set in 1989.

LeBron James believes it is beginning to come together for the Los Angeles Lakers after Saturday's 143-138 win over the San Antonio Spurs making it five wins in their past six games.

The Lakers started the season with five straight defeats following an offseason where Darvin Ham took over as head coach from Frank Vogel, after missing the playoffs in the 2021-22 campaign.

LA's latest run of results has seen them rally back to a 7-11 record, albeit sitting 13th in the Western Conference.

"I think we're more and more on a string," James told reporters after scoring a season-high 39 points against the Spurs on Saturday. "We're continuing to learn each other.

"As I said earlier in the season, we're a new group, with a new system, new coaching staff, trying to implement things on the fly. Our teaching moments was during games and unfortunately losing.

"It's just a sense of you're not really sure of each other, we don't know each other but I think over the last couple of weeks, we continue to learn one another, we continue to play some good ball, share ball."

Tempers flared in the third quarter of the game when Russell Westbrook was left bloodied after being struck on the forehead by a stray elbow from Zach Collins.

Westbrook fell to the ground after the blow and immediately got up in retaliation but was pulled away by James. Ham said James' actions showed the brotherhood of the team.

"You don’t want to escalate the situation, you want to try and calm him down," Ham said. "You've got a guy with blood all over his face who is understandably upset.

"Having Bron there shows a brotherhood that we need. That image, that action and that belief in one another, we need that to represent our team."

James not only pulled away Westbrook, who played on after receiving treatment, but helped apply a towel to stem the bleeding.

"I actually saw the cut right when it happened on the floor," James said. "As far as the foul, it was a tough blow obviously.

"I didn’t want it let Russ escalate it any further, especially with him bleeding like that. I just tried to step in there and diffuse it as much as possible."

LeBron James scored a season-high 39 points with seven three-pointers to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to their fifth win from their past six games, beating the San Antonio Spurs 143-138 on Saturday.

James, in his second game back from a groin injury, scored 23 of his 39 points in the second half, shooting seven-of-12 from beyond the arc along with having 11 rebounds and three assists. The four-time MVP's seven three-pointers was a joint career high.

The Lakers were without Anthony Davis due to a minor calf contusion, with guard Dennis Schroder contributing 21 points and six assists.

Russell Westbrook also came off the bench to add 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists, linking up with James to set up a one-handed dunk just before half-time.

Westbrook was left bloodied after he suffered a deep cut to his forehead in the third quarter after an elbow from Zach Collins but played on.

The win improved the Lakers' record to 7-11, while it consigned the Spurs to their eighth-straight defeat, slumping to 6-15 overall.

The Spurs' losing streak is their equal fourth worst in franchise history. Their worst is 13 straight from 1989.

Keldon Johnson top scored for San Antonio with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Tre Jones added 23 points with 13 assists.

DA and Booker lift Suns past Jazz

Deandre Ayton scored 29 points with 21 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns held off the Utah Jazz 123-122 for their fourth consecutive victory to improve to 13-6.

Devin Booker contributed 27 points on eight-of-27 field shooting, scoring 10-of-11 from the free-throw line, with 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Suns, who trailed by 10 at quarter-time. Nine of Ayton's 21 rebounds were offensive as he brought up a rare 20/20 double-double.

The Suns only managed six-of-22 from beyond the arc but the Jazz could not capitalise, giving up 12 turnovers. Jordan Clarkson top scored for Utah with 22 points.

Doncic's Mavs beaten by Raptors

The Dallas Mavericks lost their third straight game as Luka Doncic was kept to 24 points in a 105-100 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Raptors small forward O.G. Anunoby scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, top scoring alongside Fred VanVleet with 26, while Chris Boucher added a season-high 22 points with 13 rebounds.

NBA leading scorer Doncic shot eight-of-15 from the field and two-of-four from beyond the arc for the Mavs, with seven rebounds, nine assists and two steals.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham downplayed the calf injury that kept All-Star Anthony Davis out of Saturday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Davis had played 16 out of the Lakers' 17 games prior to Saturday's game where the power forward was ruled out with a left calf contusion.

He played a key role during LeBron James' recent five-game absence with a groin injury, averaging 26.3 points and 12.8 rebounds this season.

"He was kicked at some point in the second half [on Friday] night and it's a little irritated, a little bruising," Ham told reporters pre-game. "So just trying to stay ahead of it and be a little cautious and take our time with it but he's out."

During James' five-game absence, Davis averaged 33.4 points on 64.4 per cent shooting, 17.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.

"Just it being a back-to-back, the load he was carrying, specifically with [James] out, it's just the smart and right thing to do," Ham said.

"We don't want to push him this early in the season. And when you're talking about different muscles and ligaments, it's something that can easily turn into a year-long issue. So just to avoid that, we don't want to put any additional strain on the area.

"The medical people decided it was the right thing to do and I totally agree."

It was only the ninth time in LeBron James' illustrious 1377-game career that he has committed nine turnovers in a game, but he was able to figure it out in "winning time" to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 105-94 on Friday.

James had missed the previous five games with an adductor injury, but returned to the line-up to help the Lakers collect their fourth win from their past five games.

He had six of his nine turnovers in the first half, and had only 13 points through three quarters, but he turned it on down the stretch to finish with 21 points (eight-of-17), eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.

Speaking to the media after the win, James said he felt rusty in the early stages, but was pleased to deliver in his "favourite quarter".

"My rhythm, my timing was a little off on a few of my passes," he said.

"I had six [turnovers] in the first half, and cut it in half in the second half. I'll be a lot better, obviously, as the games go on I'll get my rhythm back.

"[But] the fourth quarter has always been my favourite quarter. That's winning time, that's closing time and to be out there and being able to execute and make plays in the fourth quarter, it's always a treat for me."

James was supported in style by Anthony Davis, who continued his red-hot form with another 25 points (10-of-13 shooting), 15 rebounds and three blocks.

It continues Davis' best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers ahead of the 2019-20 season, averaging 27.7 points per game in November and a career-high 12.6 rebounds for the season.

"AD was the best player in the league over the last 4-5 games," James said. "Just his numbers and productivity on both sides of the floor. 

"It's not just offensively, but defensively he's been super engaged, and tonight once again he was amazing."

Davis is the anchor of the Lakers' defense, which was their calling card during their run to the 2020 championship.

They were the third-ranked defense in the league that year, and the number one defense in the 2020-21 season, before plummeting to 21st this past campaign.

With the additions of athletic defenders Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr, as well as Davis' return to form, the Lakers are back up to the sixth-best defense this season, and guard Dennis Schroder made it clear James is a big part of that.

"Defensively, [James] was amazing," Schroder said. "Switching, holding off players and not letting them get to the rim.

"If we got him and AD committing on the defensive end like that, then we're going to go a long way."

Davis echoed that sentiment that James' performance was a two-way clinic.

"His voice, leadership, his playmaking, scoring ability – I think it all came into effect tonight," he said. 

"Especially down the stretch, pick-and-roll and calling plays and stuff. I think it was really good for us."

James and Davis being back in the line-up together should see the Lakers begin to work out their offense, which has been weighing the team down early and is the big reason they are 6-11.

Their offensive rating of 106.3 is the second-worst in the league, but if they can get that end of the floor to even league average, their defense has the potential to lead the Lakers to the playoffs.

Two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again the best player on the floor to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-102 victory against the breakout Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both teams entered the contest as a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, and despite a 29-point effort from offseason trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs had no answer for the Bucks' future Hall-of-Famer.

Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, hitting 10 of his 14 free throws while adding nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks. 

While usual running-mate Jrue Holiday was not at his sharpest, shooting four-of-13 for his nine points, it was veteran center Brook Lopez who turned out to be the Bucks' second star.

Lopez scored eight points without missing a field goal, hitting both of his three-point attempts, and he was a force defensively, blocking six shots for the second time this season, and it was the fifth time from his 17 games that he has blocked at least five shots.

His 2.6 blocks per game is a new career-high in his 15th season, and the second-best figure in the league, trailing only Myles Turner (2.8) of the Indiana Pacers. 

Along with Antetokounmpo, the pair are anchoring the best defense in the league, conceding 105.9 points per 100 possessions – almost two points per 100 possessions better than any other team.

With the win, the Bucks are now 13-5 and 10-2 at home, while the Cavaliers fall to 12-7, and remain the third seed.

Lakers make it four wins from five

The return of LeBron James has helped the Los Angeles Lakers win their fourth game from their past five outings, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 105-94.

After missing five games with an adductor injury, James was more than a little rusty as he committed nine turnovers for only the ninth time in his 1377-game career. However, he still chipped in 21 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists.

Enjoying his best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds to increase his career-high average to 12.6, and he blocked three shots.

Pacers keep on winning

The Indiana Pacers are meant to be in a rebuilding year, but after their 128-117 win against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday they now own the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Myles Turner continued his career-best season with an efficient 23 points on nine-of-11 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots, while pick-and-pop partner Tyrese Haliburton had 15 assists and four steals to go with his 21 points. Haliburton leads the league in assists at 10.9 per game, and is the only player averaging over 9.4.

Kevin Durant was not to blame for the Nets' loss, scoring a game-high 38 points (15-of-31) with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Ben Simmons scored 20 points on perfect eight-for-eight shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James returned on Friday after missing five games due to an adductor injury.

James, 37, is averaging 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game in his 20th season, although his efficiency is the lowest it has been since his rookie year.

Shooting a career-worst 23.9 per cent from long range, James' 45.7 per cent figure from the field would be his worst finish since 2004 if he is unable to right the ship.

The Lakers are struggling to start the season, entering Friday's contest against the San Antonio Spurs with a 5-11 record. They are also 0-6 away from home, which they are looking to change in San Antonio.

During James' absence, Anthony Davis has rediscovered some of his best form, including a stunning 37-point, 21-rebound, five-block, five-steal performance in a loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

While the early returns have been poor, there are signs that this roster construction for the Lakers has a chance to figure things out. 

After posting the 21st-ranked defense in the league last season, the Lakers now own the eighth-best defense, and are only being weighed down by their 29th-ranked offense.

James returning with a red-hot Davis should begin to push the Lakers' offense to at least league-average, and when partnered with a top-10 defense and two go-to options, they will feel they still have everything to play for.

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.

Royce O'Neale tipped in the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left as the Brooklyn Nets edged the Portland Trail Blazers 109-107 to improve their overall record to 7-9 on Thursday.

Kevin Durant, who finished with a game-high 35 points, missed his turn-around jumper but O'Neale was on hand with a tip-in to help the Nets snap their two-game skid.

Durant went 13-of-22 from the field with eight rebounds, three assists and a block, clocking up his 26,000th career NBA point along the way, becoming the 19th player to achieve that feat.

The Nets got strong contributions off the bench as Yuta Watanabe added 20 points with seven rebounds, while Ben Simmons had a double-double with 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

Game-winner O'Neale, who was in the starting line-up, had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for the game.

The victory comes after Durant's stinging public criticism of the Nets' starting quality in the continued absence of the suspended Kyrie Irving, who may return for Sunday's game with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Damian Lillard top scored for Portland, who fall to 10-5, with 25 points along with 11 assists. Anfernee Simons added 24 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 17, including a three-point play to tie the game up with 6.5 seconds to go.

Kawhi returns as Clippers shoot down Pistons

Kawhi Leonard had minimal impact on his return after 12 games out as the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 12-point deficit to win 96-91 over the Detroit Pistons.

Leonard scored six points with five rebounds and four assists after not playing since October 24 due to knee stiffness. The two-time NBA Finals MVP, who was in the starting lineup, shot two-of-eight from the field.

Reggie Jackson scored a team-high 23 points in a low-scoring game, while Ivica Zubac pulled down 18 rebounds with nine points.

Kings remain hot as Fox fires

The Sacramento Kings improved to 8-6 with their fifth straight victory, winning 130-112 over the San Antonio Spurs.

De'Aaron Fox scored a team-high 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting along with eight assists, while Malik Monk added 26 points off the bench. Spurs guard Devin Vassell top scored with 29 points, including four triples.

The Kings' five-game win streak is their first since the 2020-21 season, while it comes after they started the season 0-4, winning eight of their past 10 games.

Just two weeks after they exercised his third-year option, the San Antonio Spurs on Friday surprisingly waived second-year shooting guard Joshua Primo. 

In a statement from Spurs Sports & Entertainment CEO R.C. Buford, he said: "It is our hope that, in the long run, the decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua."

The 19-year-old Primo was the 12th overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft and averaged 5.8 points in 50 games – mostly off the bench – during his rookie season. He appeared in the Spurs' first four games this season and averaged 7.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds as his role began to expand. 

Primo’s release was particularly curious because the team picked up his third-year option two weeks ago, meaning his contract has been guaranteed for $4.1million this season and $4.3m next season. He can now be claimed on waivers, and if he clears, he can become an unrestricted free agent. 

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was asked about the decision to waive Primo before the team’s game against the Chicago Bulls on Friday, but he declined to answer, stating the organization will not be commenting any further.  

The Memphis Grizzlies duo of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane outdueled Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets in a high-scoring 134-124 win on Monday night.

Both Morant (12-of-22 shooting) and Bane (14-of-21) finished with 38 points, combining to hit 12 of their 17 three-point attempts as the Grizzlies rode a 45-point third quarter to the win. The pair's combined total of 76 points set a new Grizzlies record for most points scored by a duo in a single game.

Morant, the reigning Most Improved Player, is firmly in the mix for MVP this season and he added eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals to his gaudy stat-line.

The Nets led 69-64 at halftime as Durant and Irving were also both on their way to big games, with both scoring 37 points as Durant shot 14-of-20 from the field and Irving was 14-of-24 in an offensive exhibition.

But the Grizzlies' third-quarter explosion was too emphatic, with Bane scoring 19 of his points in the period while the Nets had 28 as a team.

Embattled Nets All-Star Ben Simmons struggled, fouling out for the second time in the Nets' first three games, while also committing five turnovers with his eight assists. 

With the win, the Grizzlies are now 3-1, while the Nets fall to 1-2.

Simons catches fire in Trail Blazers win

Fresh off signing his $100million extension in the offseason, 23-year-old Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons produced his first game-winning performance of the season as his third-quarter explosion led a 135-110 home win against the Denver Nuggets.

The Trail Blazers – who at 4-0 join the 2-0 Milwaukee Bucks as the only two remaining unbeaten teams – largely shut down reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, holding him to nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists as he battled foul trouble all night.

Damian Lillard top-scored with 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Blazers, adding eight assists and six rebounds, but it was Simons' third quarter that separated the teams.

In just over five-and-a-half minutes, Simons scored 22 of his 29 points, including a stretch where he made six consecutive three-pointers as he helped the Blazers score 80 in the second half. It is the Trail Blazers' first 4-0 start to the season since 1999.

Rockets youngsters hand the Jazz their first loss

Houston Rockets fans received a glimpse into the future in their 114-108 win against the previously undefeated Utah Jazz, with top-three draft picks Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr both delivering strong performances.

Both players shot at least 50 per cent from both the field and long range, and combined to hit all nine of their free throws. 

Green posted 25 points on nine-of-16 shooting, hitting four-of-eight from deep, while rookie Smith had 21 points (six-of-10 shooting, three-of-five from long range), nine rebounds and three blocks.

Vassell flashes star potential for the Spurs

Third-year wing Devin Vassell caught the eye with a starring performance in the San Antonio Spurs' 115-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Vassell – the 11th pick from the 2020 draft – has shown significantly more playmaking this season since the departure of Dejounte Murray in a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, and against the Timberwolves he dished off a career-high seven assists.

As well as showing his ability to create for his teammates, the six-foot-six wing with superb defensive skills showcased his all-round game, hitting five-of-10 from three-point range on his way to 22 points, and he also grabbed nine rebounds.

Joel Embiid says he must "play better" despite an excellent solo performance in the Philadelphia 76ers' 114-105 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at home on Saturday.

The 28-year-old posted 40 points and 13 rebounds in a superb individual performance but his efforts were in vain as the Sixers slipped to a third successive loss to start the campaign.

With a talented squad expected pre-season to be among the league's strongest this term, a 0-3 return so far has been a shock to the system for the 76ers.

Embiid, who has been struggling with a foot issue following a plantar fasciitis injury sustained before the team's lead-in training camp, says he is still heading back to full fitness, but stresses he can do more in spite of that.

"Obviously, I'm not playing at my best," he stated. "We're not winning. Tonight was a start, but we got to find ways to win, so I need to play better.

"I'm still trying to work my way back. Coming into training camp, I hadn't done anything in like two months.

"So, it really slowed me down, but [I'm] still trying to work my way back. Hopefully, everything goes back to normal."

The Sixers will hope to dodge an 0-4 record when they welcome the Indiana Pacers to face them on Monday.

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.

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