Joel Embiid and James Harden scored a combined 56 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-101 on Friday.

Going 11-for-20 from the floor, Embiid scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half, including a fadeaway three on the buzzer to give the Sixers a 58-53 lead at the interval.

Luka Doncic put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists but was held to 25 per cent from the floor and 20 per cent from the perimeter, in a poor shooting night.

At 43-26, the Sixers are now three games behind the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference leaders, while the Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference at 43-27.

Westbrook lifts Lakers to overtime win in Toronto

Russell Westbrook's three-pointer at the end of regulation propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a 128-123 road win over the Toronto Raptors in overtime.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, the much-maligned Westbrook forced a turnover off a Raptors inbound before draining a contested triple from the wing, to tie the game at 116-116.

Both sides remain firmly placed in play-in calculations, though, with the Lakers ninth in the Western Conference at 30-40, while the Raptors are seventh in the East on 39-31.

Short-handed Hawks snap Memphis win streak

Without their two scoring leaders, the Atlanta Hawks secured an important win at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, emerging 120-105 victors.

In John Collins and Trae Young's absence, Bogdan Bogdanovic came up big with a season-high 30 points, while Delon Wright and Clint Capela also added 18 each.

Despite 29 points from Ja Morant on 11-for-23 shooting, the Grizzlies had a four-game win streak snapped, but still hold the NBA's second best record at 48-23.

Joel Embiid and James Harden scored a combined 56 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-101 on Friday.

Going 11-for-20 from the floor, Embiid scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half, including a fadeaway three on the buzzer to give the Sixers a 58-53 lead at the interval.

Luka Doncic put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists but was held to 25 per cent from the floor and 20 per cent from the perimeter, in a poor shooting night.

At 43-26, the Sixers are now three games behind the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference leaders, while the Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference at 43-27.

Westbrook lifts Lakers to overtime win in Toronto

Russell Westbrook's three-pointer at the end of regulation propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a 128-123 road win over the Toronto Raptors in overtime.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, the much-maligned Westbrook forced a turnover off a Raptors inbound before draining a contested triple from the wing, to tie the game at 116-116.

Both sides remain firmly placed in play-in calculations, though, with the Lakers ninth in the Western Conference at 30-40, while the Raptors are seventh in the East on 39-31.

Short-handed Hawks snap Memphis win streak

Without their two scoring leaders, the Atlanta Hawks secured an important win at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, emerging 120-105 victors.

In John Collins and Trae Young's absence, Bogdan Bogdanovic came up big with a season-high 30 points, while Delon Wright and Clint Capela also added 18 each.

Despite 29 points from Ja Morant on 11-for-23 shooting, the Grizzlies had a four-game win streak snapped, but still hold the NBA's second best record at 48-23.

Spencer Dinwiddie delivered the buzzer-beating dagger in the Dallas Mavericks' 113-111 win on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

In a game with First Team All-NBA stars Luka Doncic and Kevin Durant going head-to-head, Dinwiddie hit the most important shot of the night as defenders rushed to trap Doncic with just seconds remaining as the Mavericks trailed 110-111.

The game only required Dinwiddie's heroics after a string of late-game shot-making saw the lead seesaw.

After a Dirk Nowitzki-esque mid-range fadeaway from Doncic to grab a 110-108 lead, Durant took matters into his own hands.

Facing a defence that was game-planned to get the ball out of Durant's hands by sending two defenders to him whenever he had the ball, the seven-foot star was unselfish throughout the game as he moved the ball to the open outlet pass and racked up 10 assists to go with his 23 points (8/20 shooting).

But with everything on the line, Durant was determined to live and die by his own shot-making, pulling up and draining a ridiculous long-three with two defenders closing in on him to nab a one-point lead, before Dindwiddie answered.

Brooklyn Nets' new star acquisition Ben Simmons received an epidural injection while he was away from the team during the team's trip to Orlando.

Simmons is yet to play a game this season. He was traded by the Philadelphia 76ers after making himself unavailable due to mental health reasons following the fallout from their 2021 playoffs defeat to the Atlanta Hawks, while a back injury has delayed his Nets debut.

In Wednesday's press conference, coach Steve Nash said the hope was that the injection would assist the healing process.

Nash went on to say that the team will have to wait-and-see how Simmons reacts to the treatment, and that there is no current timetable for his return to practice.

On a day that saw MVP favourites Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic go head-to-head, it was fellow center Karl-Anthony Towns who stole the headlines.

Towns scored a career-high 60 points in the Minnesota Timberwolves' 149-139 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

It is the most points scored by any player in a single game this season, ahead of Trae Young and LeBron James, who both scored 56.

After reaching half-time with 24 points, Towns exploded into life after the break, scoring 32 of his side's 46 third-quarter points on his way to final shooting figures of 19-31 from the field, 7-11 from three and 15-16 from the line.

Towns, who is the first center to hit 60 points in a single NBA game since Shaquille O'Neal in March 2000, also grabbed a personal season-high of 17 rebounds, while on the other side Dejounte Murray was no slouch with 30 points and 12 assists, though it was not enough for the Spurs.

LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, rebounds and assists respectively, in the Los Angeles Lakers' 140-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

James notched up his 10,000th assist during the second quarter, with a cross-court pass to Carmelo Anthony for an open three.

The Suns were dominant at home to the Lakers, though, putting up 48 points in the first quarter alone on their way to a commanding win.

Having already secured a playoff berth, despite losing at home to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, Phoenix faced conveniently light work heading into a road back-to-back this week.

Devin Booker continued to shoulder the burden without Chris Paul, putting up 30 points and 10 assists.

With the loss, meanwhile, the Lakers move to 29-38 and teeter dangerously close to touching distance for the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers, in the race for the final two Western Conference play-in spots.

Durant leads Nets with Irving in the building

Kevin Durant put up an individual season-high 53 points, including a game-breaking three to give the Brooklyn Nets a 110-107 win over the New York Knicks.

The shorthanded Nets were at least able to have Kyrie Irving in the building for the win, with New York mandates now enabling those unvaccinated for Covid-19 to spectate. However, the mandate still requires the vaccination for people who work there, meaning Irving is still unable to suit up.

At the end of the game, Irving walked off the Barclays Center floor arm-in-arm with Durant, who finished with nine assists and six rebounds to go with the 53 points - one point off his career-high.

Joel Embiid had his 30th 30-point game of the season as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Orlando Magic 116-114 in over-time. Embiid finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Tobias Harris came up with a crucial late three-pointer to finish with 26 points.

Ja Morant had a quiet game by his standards with 17 points, five rebounds and 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies improved to 47-22 with a 125-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

Doncic dagger propels Mavs to road win

The Dallas Mavericks claimed an impressive win on the road, edging the Boston Celtics 95-92 at the TD Garden. Despite leaving the floor with a hamstring scare in the first half, Luka Doncic’s fingerprints were all over the game’s dying moments - he hit the game-tying three-pointer with 1:21, before being called for fouling Marcus Smart on the potential tying three.

It was overturned on review however, and along with the win, Doncic put up 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. On a night where Kevin Garnett's No. 5 jersey was to be retired by the Celtics post-match, the Mavs moved to 42-26 for the year, half a game behind the Western Conference’s fourth-placed Utah Jazz.

The Brooklyn Nets silenced the Philadelphia crowd that came to jeer Ben Simmons on his return to the Wells Fargo Center in a surprise blowout 129-100 win over the 76ers on Thursday.

Kevin Durant top scored with 25 points along with 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Seth Curry – who was also involved in last month's trade which saw Simmons and James Harden swapped sides – added 24 points with five steals.

Kyrie Irving landed five three-pointers for his 22 points along with five assists, while Harden endured a difficult night against his former teammates.

Harden only managed 11 points, shooting three-of-17 from the field, with six rebounds and five assists. Joel Embiid had 27 points with 12 rebounds for the 76ers.

Simmons did not play, sitting on the Nets bench and enduring boos, but his teammates did their best to silence the home crowd by opening up a 21-point half-time lead.

The win boosted the Nets' playoffs hopes, improving their record to 34-33, while the 76ers are third in the east with a 40-25 record.

 

Curry reaches milestone in GSW win

Stephen Curry reached 20,000 career NBA points as the Golden State Warriors reaffirmed their top three status in the west with a 113-102 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets, playing their fourth game in five days, led by 14 points in third quarter but fell away, with Nikola Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists) entering foul trouble.

Curry finished with a game-high 34 points including three three-pointers, shooting 11-of-21 from the field, while Jordan Poole drained two clutch triples in the final minute as the Warriors went on a late 13-0 run. 

The win makes it back-to-back victories for Golden State who improve to 45-22 after recent wobbly form, while the Nuggets are 40-27 with their four-game winning run ended. 

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he was happy to quiet the raucous Philadelphia crowd after downing the 76ers 129-100 on the road.

It was one of the most highly-anticipated regular season fixtures in some time after James Harden and Ben Simmons sensationally switched teams just weeks ago, with Philadelphia undefeated in five games with Harden in the lineup. 

With the game taking place in Philadelphia, Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving was allowed to play, with his inability to play in home games due to New York’s vaccine mandate reportedly a major factor in Harden’s desire to move on from the situation.

Durant said that the chants, particularly aimed at new Net Ben Simmons who had an acrimonious split with the 76ers, died down after Brooklyn took a 21-point lead into half-time.

"It was good to quiet them all down mid-way through the game," Durant told TNT. "It was very quiet towards the end – we ain’t hear no more Ben Simmons chants from the 76ers fans, there were more Nets fans here than anything."

Later on in the post-game news conference, Durant touched on the poor performance of his former teammate after Harden finished with 11 points, shooting 3-17 from the field.

"He relies a lot on the free throw line," Durant said. "Getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line gets him in rhythm, and we didn’t let him do that.

"He was three-of-17 – he was trying to get to the rim, but we were all there swarming.

"He hit a few open threes – but you know – when he’s getting to the rim, and getting downhill and to the free-throw line, that’s when they’re tough to stop, and we eliminated a lot of that stuff."

He sure is. pic.twitter.com/v4vOEI30UN

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022

While he downplayed the importance of a regular season game in March, Durant said the Nets were aware of the hostility that would meet Simmons, and that he was determined to make it a night to remember for his new teammate.

"I think all of us were [trying to quiet the crowd] – we look at Ben as our brother," he said.

"We knew this would be a hostile environment, and that he didn’t have the opportunity to play, so we wanted to come out there and get [the crowd] focused on the court, more-so than [Simmons].

"They were focused on the court tonight – it’s hard to chant at Ben Simmons when you’re losing by so much."

It is a return that calls for popcorn when the Brooklyn Nets head to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

A month after leaving the Nets for the Sixers, James Harden will have the opportunity to face his former team and show them what might have been.

The 32-year-old's time in Brooklyn was underwhelming to say the least, but he has taken to life in Philadelphia like a duck to water, with the Sixers winning all five games in which he has featured so far.

His partnership with Joel Embiid in particular has thrived, with the Cameroonian putting up 43 points and Harden making 14 assists in Monday's win against the Chicago Bulls.

Harden insists he is calm ahead of meeting his former teammates, saying: "I'm not nervous. It's basketball.

"I put the work in to go out there and just play my game and live with the results. Honestly, every game is a big game for us. We're fairly new. We got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we’re playing."

Meanwhile, another highly anticipated return won't quite be the same as Ben Simmons remains sidelined for the Nets but will reportedly be in attendance at Wells Fargo Center.

Another less discussed story will be Seth Curry, who has made an excellent start to life in Brooklyn since being a part of the trade that saw Harden and Simmons swap cities.

In 10 outings for the Nets, Curry has maintained his average of 15 points per game that he managed in 45 appearances with the Sixers this season, though he has gone three without reaching double figures so will want to put that right against his former team.

The Nets have lost four of their six clashes since the All-Star break and sit on an even record of 33-33, while the Sixers have won five of six in that time, and all three home games.

They have met three times already this season, of which Brooklyn have won two, though Philadelphia did come out on top in late December 110-102.

It promises to be a fun night in Philly, and whether it be cheering Harden or booing Simmons, Sixers fans will likely make themselves heard.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Philadelphia 76ers – James Harden

I mean… who else?

It's not just because of the overwhelming amount of narrative involved. Harden has been a success story so far in Philly and will want to put on a show on this night of all nights.

Of course, as the league leader for points per game (29.7), Embiid will likely be the main man as usual, but with an average of 24.6 points per game since joining the Sixers and a big point to prove here, expect Harden to be at the centre of things either way.

Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving

It's not very often that Irving isn't the centre of attention, but with the Harden/Simmons factor here you would think he might get a night away from the spotlight. 

Then again, if his form is anything to go by, maybe not.

Irving hit 50 points in Tuesday's win against the Charlotte Hornets and is averaging 26.2 points per game for the season, albeit while still missing several games due to vaccination rules.

KEY BATTLES – Nets must rely on experience

The cliche is that sport is a young person's game, but Brooklyn will be hoping that isn't true.

The Nets have the fourth-oldest average age of active roster in the league, and the second-highest percentage of points scored by players over 33 years old (40.8 per cent).

The Sixers are not exactly kids themselves but do have the 10th most points scored in the league by players under the age of 23 (15.5 per cent), mostly thanks to impressive 21-year-old Tyrese Maxey, who is averaging 17.6 points per game this season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

As mentioned, the Nets actually lead this season's head-to-head 2-1, although since the start of the 2016-17 season, the Sixers have won 14 and lost just eight of the 22 meetings between the two.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has confirmed Ben Simmons will be with the team on the bench for Thursday's return game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons is expected to receive a frosty reception from the 76ers fans at the Wells Fargo Center as he returns for the first time since last month's trade to the Nets.

The point guard had a major fallout with the 76ers after a nightmare playoffs period, leading to him requesting a trade and opting not to play all season until a trade was finalised in February.

Nash said Simmons, who is yet to debut for Brooklyn, will not play for the Nets on Thursday but will be in attendance with the team which he felt he needed to get out of the way.

"It's great," Nash told reporters prior to Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets.

"He's on our team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the whole Philly thing out of the way a little bit. Maybe it never goes away, but the first time it's always nice to kind of deal with it and move on."

He added: "I don't think he's naive to think he's not going to get some boos. I hope he enjoys it. It's a part of the game I miss."

Simmons has not played since his trade due to a back complaint which has hampered his ability to get reconditioned to game standard having not played all season.

Nash was not clear-cut on Simmons' likely debut, with the Australian still not cleared to practice.

"It's to be determined," Nash said. "I think he's progressing this week, but I don't know what that means as far as Saturday.

"He'll see us [Wednesday] in Philly. I don't think he's ready for 5-on-5 basketball but he's improving, working out, and he'll join us in Philly, and a few good days of rehab."

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers believes Ben Simmons deserves a tribute when the Brooklyn Nets visit on Thursday.

Simmons left the 76ers acrimoniously with a trade to the Nets after more than five years with Philadelphia.

The 25-year-old point guard endured a difficult 2021 playoffs leading to a fallout with the 76ers, demanding a trade and sitting out the first half of the season before the Nets move materialised. 

Simmons and 76ers center Joel Embiid fell out too, ramping up the tensions with the latter posting a cryptic Twitter update upon Simmons' exit last month.

“I do actually,” Rivers said when asked if Simmons deserved a tribute video upon his return. “Ben did a lot of good things here.

"It didn’t end well, right? Just like marriages and all kinds of other things that don’t end well but Ben did a lot of good things here.

"It’s funny, I don’t know if we are or not, but if we did, I’d have no issues with it.”

Simmons won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, had been a three-time All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member with the 76ers reaching the playoffs in all four of his seasons with the side.

The Australian is yet to debut for the Nets and unlikely to play on Thursday as he builds up his conditioning having not played all season at the 76ers but may attend the game with the team.

Rivers sarcastically added: "Our fans are so silent so I can't imagine anything happening."

Meanwhile, James Harden shrugged off any talk of nerves ahead of the match-up where he will face his former Nets teammates for the first time since last month's trade with Simmons.

"I'm not nervous, it's basketball," Harden told reporters after Monday's 121-106 win over the Chicago Bulls. "I've put the work in to just play my game and live with the results.

"Honestly every game is a big game for us. We're fairly new, we've got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we're playing."

The Philadelphia 76ers maintained their perfect record with James Harden in the side with a 121-106 win over the slumping Chicago Bulls on Monday.

Joel Embiid scored 43 points with 14 rebounds while Harden had 16 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists as the 76ers made it six wins from their past seven games.

The 76ers are also 5-0 with Harden in the side, while the Bulls have lost their past five games.

Embiid recorded his 10th 40-plus point game this season, along with his 10th game this season with 40 or more points and 10 or more rebounds. The 76ers center also had his fourth quarter for the season with at least 15 points and five rebounds, which is an NBA high.

For the Bulls, All-Star DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Zach LaVine added 24 points.

 

Jokic records 18th triple-double

Nikola Jokic backed up Sunday's 46-point haul with another triple-double as the Denver Nuggets defeated the short-handed Golden State Warriors 131-124. Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season by three-quarter time and finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. The Warriors, who rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the catch-up game, have lost nine of their past 11 games.

Luka Doncic scored 35 points, with 16 rebounds and seven assists in a tense game, where the All-Star received a technical foul, as the Dallas Mavericks won 111-103 over the Utah Jazz. Doncic's game marked his third this season where he has scored 35 or more points and 15 or more rebounds, with Oscar Robertson the only other guard to achieve the feat in a single season.

Victor Oladipo returned for the first time since April last year for the Miami Heat scoring 11 points in 15 minutes as they beat the Houston Rockets 123-106, while top draft pick Cade Cunningham (28 points and 10 assists) lifted the Detroit Pistons to an over-time win over the Atlanta Hawks 113-110.

 

Spurs equals record as Lakers slump

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tied Don Nelson's all-time NBA record for most coaching wins (1,335) as they won 117-110 over the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James. Russell Westbrook struggled in James' absence, with 17 points shooting five-of-14 from the field with five turnovers.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers says he pays no attention to the Eastern Conference standings after Saturday's loss left them three games behind the Miami Heat.

Rivers opted not to play 2018 MVP James Harden in the second game of their back-to-back as they went down 99-82 to the Eastern Conference-leading Heat.

Joel Embiid scored 22 points with 15 rebounds for the 76ers but was often double-teamed in Harden's absence, while Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro both contributed 21 points for the Heat.

The decision to leave out Harden was curious given the relative significance of the fixture with seedings in mind, with the Heat top of the east with a 43-22 record ahead of the second-placed 76ers at 39-24.

“I really don’t look at the standings,” Rivers said at the post-game news conference. “What do they matter? You have to win.

"I swear to God, after 82 [games], someone’s going to tap me and say ‘This is who you’re playing.’ ... You can only control what you can control. The other stuff is for everyone else to talk about."

The 76ers head coach clarified that Harden was left out due to managing a left hamstring complaint which was "nothing".

“It’s nothing, really,” Rivers said pre-game. “He’s just played a lot of games, he’s been out, and that’s about it really. There’s nothing to read into it.”

LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to end their four-game losing run with 56 points in a 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

James' 56-point haul was his most as a Laker and also meant he became the fourth player aged 37 or older to score 50 or more points in a game, alongside Michael Jordan (2001), Kobe Bryant (2016) and Jamal Crawford (2019).

The four-time NBA MVP made 19-of-31 from the field along with six-of-11 from beyond the arc, while he dished off three assists, including a key late pass for Carmelo Anthony's three-pointer. James also had 10 rebounds.

Russell Westbrook added 20 points for the Lakers, while Stephen Curry scored 30 points including four three-pointers for Golden State.

The result snaps the Lakers' skid and improves their record to 28-13, but it leaves the Warriors having lost four in a row, while they have only won twice in their past 10.

 

Harden absent as Heat move clear

Eastern Conference leaders Miami Heat made a statement with a 99-82 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers who were missing James Harden. The 76ers, playing on back-to-back nights, managed Harden's left hamstring complaint. Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler scored 21 points each as the Heat moved three games clear of the east's second-placed 76ers. Joel Embiid had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the 76ers.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 36 points with 15 rebounds and five assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves won 135-121 over the Portland Trail Blazers. Emerging star Anfernee Simons had 38 points for the Blazers.

Ja Morant scored 25 points with seven assists as the Memphis Grizzlies continued their strong run with a 124-96 win over the Orlando Magic. Desmond Bane added 24 points with 10-of-15 shooting.

 

Kings blew big lead against Mavs

The Sacramento Kings blew a 19-point lead as they lost 114-113 to the Dallas Mavericks who were without All-Star Luka Doncic with a toe strain. Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds left, while Spencer Dinwiddie scored a season-high 36 points. De'Aaron Fox had an equal career-high 44 points for the Kings.

J.B. Bickerstaff worked with James Harden while the duo were with the Houston Rockets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers coach continues to be impressed by the Philadelphia 76ers man.

Harden registered 25 points, 11 assists and three rebounds as the in-form Sixers won a fifth straight game on Friday, beating the Cavs 125-119.

While Joel Embiid failed to hit his usual high marks, scoring 22 points, Tyrese Maxey stepped up with 33 points, including five threes.

Harden added two three-pointers to the 76ers tally, moving onto 2,559 for his career, meaning he only needs one more to match Reggie Miller for third on the all-time list (regular season only).

"He sees the game a step ahead," Bickerstaff told reporters when asked about Harden.

"He's not one of those guys that's just going so fast he's waiting for the offense to react.

"He's forcing the defense to react. He's one of the most creative decision-makers and passers in our game. He also knows when to make the play that's right in front of him."

Reflecting on his team's display, Bickerstaff – who was fined $20,000 after being ejected from the game during Monday's defeat to the Charlotte Hornets – was satisfied despite a third-straight loss.

"We felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while," he said. "We just happened to run into a really good basketball team."

Harden finished with at least 20 points and 10 assists for a third game in four, yet the former Brooklyn Nets shooting guard was not thrilled with his own display.

"I've got to do a better job of being more solid, I've got to be smarter so I can be out there and help my team," he told reporters.

Yet Maxey stepped up regardless, and Harden was impressed.

"On any given night, it can be any one of us to go off," Harden said of his team-mate. "Tyrese really picked it up for us tonight." Coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, labelled Maxey "a fearless kid".

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