Live sport is proving difficult to come by amid the coronavirus pandemic, so we looked back through sporting history to identify major events or news to occur on this day.

March 19 certainly wasn't short of options, though we managed to nail it down to five occasions that were particularly notable.

They include the indictment of one former baseball player and another returning to the basketball court where he made his name.

Below, take yourself on a trip down memory lane… Or just get a little sporting education.

 

1978 – Nicklaus wins his third Players Championship

Jack Nicklaus enjoyed many a famous victory during his sparkling golfing career, but his win at the 1978 Players Championship was a peculiar one. In demanding weather conditions, with wind wreaking havoc, Nicklaus won his third Players title, beating Lou Graham by a single shot. No one finished the tournament below par, with Nicklaus' one-over 289 incredibly enough to secure him the title.

1984 – Former MLB pitcher McLain indicted

Regarded as a great during his time as a professional pitcher in baseball, Denny McLain's life away from the sport was rather more chaotic. Having gone off the rails after his career ran its course, McLain was charged with racketeering and narcotics violations on March 19, 1984, before being sentenced to 23 years in prison. He served two-and-a-half years, before an appeals court threw out the verdict and set McLain free. He went back to prison in 1996 on charges of embezzlement, money laundering, mail fraud and conspiracy.

1991 – Phoenix stripped of 1993 Super Bowl

The 1993 Super Bowl was due to be held in Phoenix, Arizona. However, the state's lack of recognition for Martin Luther King Jr. Day saw them stripped of the event. President Ronald Reagan had declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday eight years earlier and, at the time, Arizona adhered to the legislature. It wasn't until 1987 when Republican governor Evan Mecham took office that the MLK celebration was cancelled. The holiday returned to Arizona in 1993 following a vote the year before.

1995 – Michael Jordan returns

After 17 months away from basketball, during which time he had a spell in baseball, Michael Jordan was back on this day in 1995. Twenty-four hours after Jordan had announced "I'm back", he was playing once again for his beloved Chicago Bulls, scoring 19 points in an overtime 103-96 defeat to the Indiana Pacers.

2019 – Harden makes NBA history

Just last year, Houston Rockets guard James Harden made history when he became the first NBA player to score at least 30 points against every opponent in the league. He accomplished the feat with a haul of 31 in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. Just the game before, Harden had seen his 32-game streak of scoring 30 points or more end – that remains the second-longest such run in NBA history.

James Harden is convinced RJ Barrett will have the opportunity to become an NBA great after the rookie inspired the New York Knicks to a surprise win over his Houston Rockets side.

Barrett put up 27 points, his joint-season high, as the Knicks ended the Rockets' six-match winning streak in a 125-123 success at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Rockets superstar Harden, who top-scored with 35 points, is impressed by what he has seen from the Knicks guard.

"Aggressive," Harden said of Barrett's performance in quotes reported by ESPN. 

"I like that, especially for a rookie. Not timid at all, and when you're aggressive and confident in your game, you look good out there. 

"Want him to continue to build his confidence and keep being aggressive and have the opportunity, which he will, to be great."

The Rockets fell to a 21-point deficit in a slow start and were 10 down by the end of the third quarter.

Harden, who was perfect with 16 of 16 from the free-throw line, and Russell Westbrook (24 points, nine rebounds) did their level best to drag the Rockets back into contention.

But Barrett, a right-hander, produced a moment of magic with just under eight seconds remaining with a left-handed lay-up on the drive over P.J. Tucker.

"I just took the shot that came," Barrett said. "I like going left. That was kind of, in that situation, you're not really thinking about it. You're kind of just playing."

Westbrook lamented the Rockets' slow start, saying: "We should've never put ourselves in that position because it takes a lot of energy to fight back. Especially on the road.

"We can't take games like this lightly. This is the NBA, everybody is going to go out and compete and we have to be ready to play."

Harden added: "We weren't consistent with our defensive principles throughout the course of the game and we paid for it. Simple."

The Rockets are fourth in the Western Conference with a 39-21 record, while the Knicks (19-42) remain a lowly 13th in the East.

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted he was not looking for a "back-and-forth" with James Harden but defended his style of play after the Houston Rockets star suggested his power game "takes no skill at all".

The reigning NBA MVP mocked Harden's high usage rate and lax defensive game during the All-Star break, prompting a response this week.

Seemingly referring to Antetokounmpo, Harden told ESPN: "I wish I was seven feet and could just run and dunk. That takes no skill at all."

Antetokounmpo, the clear favourite to be named MVP again, put up 32 points and 13 rebounds as his Milwaukee Bucks improved to 51-8 on Friday with a 133-86 thrashing of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Greek was asked about Harden's comments after the game, but he told ESPN: "There's not a back-and-forth. [I have] never tried to take shots at somebody."

Antetokounmpo was more open in discussing his style in an indirect question following Harden's criticisms, though.

"My game is not just power, for sure," he said. "I came in when I was 18, I was 180 pounds, so to power through big guys was kind of tough.

"But obviously, there are going to be times where you've got to power through guys. Like one of the best players, LeBron, Michael Jordan, Kobe and all those guys, Shaq, all those guys, they were extremely physical with their play.

"They made their presence felt in the paint, but obviously I try to work on my game, mid-range shots, threes, being able to screen and roll faster and make the right pass. It's hard to drive full speed and try to make the right pass to the corner.

"I try to get my passes more accurate and it's a lot of things I'm still adding, and hopefully, when I add all those things in my game, I'm a more complete player and I'm better and can help my team win and the game is easier."

Houston Rockets star James Harden is "extremely confident" the franchise can win the NBA championship.

The Rockets last won an NBA title in 1994-95 but Houston are dreaming big with Harden and fellow star Russell Westbrook leading the way.

Houston, who reached the Western Conference finals in 2015 and 2018 while they lost in the semi-finals last season, are fourth in the west this term with a 38-20 record and Harden is bullish about the team's chances.

"I'm very, very confident," Harden told ESPN. "Extremely confident.

"As long as we stay healthy obviously and every team feels that way, but defensively we've almost got into a rhythm, we're going to be a tough challenge."

Harden was crowned MVP in 2018, while the 30-year-old is also an eight-time All-Star.

However, the former Oklahoma City Thunder guard remains a maligned figure in the league.

"Yeah and I will get it," Harden said when asked if a title will give him the respect he deserves.

Harden is averaging 35.2 points, 7.3 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Rockets this season.

The Rockets are riding a five-game winning streak as they prepare to travel to the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

 

James Harden did not appear to take kindly to light-hearted criticism from Giannis Antetokounmpo during the All-Star break as he suggested the NBA MVP's style of play "takes no skill at all".

Houston Rockets star Harden is renowned for his high usage rate, and All-Star captain Antetokounmpo instead selected Kemba Walker at the recent draft.

The Greek said: "I want somebody that's going to pass the ball."

Then, after the game, which Harden's Team LeBron won, Antetokounmpo claimed Team Giannis had targeted "whoever James Harden was guarding".

Harden was asked about the comments on ESPN's The Jump this week and did not appear amused.

"I average more assists than [Walker], I think," said Harden, who averages 7.3 assists to Walker's 5.0. "I don't see what the joke is.

"But I didn't even see [the comments] - I don't pay attention to stuff like that. I just know they keep mentioning me."

Seemingly referring to Antetokounmpo, he added: "I wish I was seven feet and could just run and dunk. That takes no skill at all.

"I've got to actually learn how to play basketball, how to have skill. I'd take that any day."

Antetokounmpo is the favourite to be named the MVP again, with the Milwaukee Bucks on course to claim the number one seed in the Eastern Conference once more.

However, Harden was not impressed by the 'MVP Ladder' on the league's official website that did not rank him in the top five contenders in mid-February.

"It's crazy. I still lead the league in scoring," he said. "That's something I can't control.

"Around the league, if you named the top five players that are getting double-teamed... Nobody's mentioning that.

"I'm not the type to say it or broadcast it, I'm just going to go out there and try to win games. That's what I've been trying to do."

The Philadelphia 76ers lost Ben Simmons to injury in another NBA road defeat on Saturday, while the Miami Heat paid tribute to Dwyane Wade.

Simmons left a 119-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first quarter after aggravating an existing back problem and will reportedly undergo an MRI on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo relished his fellow All-Star's absence, putting up 31 points and 17 rebounds in a double-double that condemned Philadelphia to a sixth successive away loss.

The 76ers (35-22) sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, one place behind the Heat (36-20) following their 124-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The win added to a memorable occasion as Miami welcomed former favourite Wade back to AmericanAirlines Arena, officially retiring the number three jersey he wore during the team's NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

Wade, 38, retired at the end of last season after returning to the Heat for his career swansong.

 

Harden hot in valuable Houston victory

James Harden hit a game-high 38 points while Russell Westbrook went 14-of-26 for 34 points as the Houston Rockets topped the Utah Jazz 120-110.

The Jazz struggled to handle Houston's small-ball approach and are now level with the Rockets at 36-20.

Kawhi Leonard tallied 31 points and eight rebounds but the Los Angeles Clippers lost for the third time in as many games, going down to the Sacramento Kings 112-103.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks overcame a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-107.

Trae Young and John Collins each recorded double-doubles to inspire the Hawks to their 17th win of a lean campaign.

 

Kawhi a lone performer for cold Clippers

Leonard did his part against the Kings at Staples Center but the reigning MVP had little help from his fellow Clippers starters, all of whom failed to reach double figures for points.

Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet were particularly culpable, the pair making just three of their combined 12 three-point attempts.

 

Bam drops the hammer

Fresh from winning the Skills Challenge on NBA All-Star Weekend, Heat big man Bam Adebayo put on another show with a huge dunk against the Cavaliers.

 

Saturday's results

Sacramento Kings 112-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Brooklyn Nets 115-86 Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks 111-107 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 124-105 Cleveland Cavaliers
Phoenix Suns 112-104 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 119-98 Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets 120-110 Utah Jazz

 

Celtics at Lakers

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers entertain Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the pick of Sunday's seven games.

Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 157-155 in the revamped NBA All-Star Game in Chicago on Sunday.

Unlike previous years, every quarter counted in the name of charity at the United Center, where the new format was unveiled for the showpiece event.

Each of the first three quarters started with the score at 0-0 and lasted the standard 12 minutes, with the game clock turned off for the final period and a final target score set.

The cumulative score of the first three quarters was 133-124 in favour of Team Giannis. The final target score was set by taking the leading team's cumulative score and adding 24 – the 24 representing Kobe Bryant's jersey number.

LeBron James and his team earned bragging rights in the 69th edition of the All-Star Game – hometown hero and Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis (20 points) making one of two free throws to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's side.

While Davis scored the winning point, Kawhi Leonard (30 points) received the All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award, renamed in honour of the five-time NBA champion.

Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month, was honoured prior to tip-off.

Magic Johnson led an eight-second moment of silence for Lakers legend Bryant and former commissioner David Stern as both All-Star teams came together to hold hands, before delivering a heartfelt speech.

Team LeBron made a fast start, outscoring Team Giannis 53-41 in the first period before the latter won the second period 51-30.

Neither team could be split in the third, though Team Giannis went into the fourth quarter leading Team LeBron – who rallied to win for the third successive year.

James and Chris Paul finished with 23 points each, while Ben Simmons (17) and James Harden (11) were also in double-digits for Team LeBron.

Team Giannis were led by Antetokounmpo (25 points, 11 rebounds), Joel Embiid (22 points, 10 rebounds), Kemba Walker (23 points) and Rudy Gobert (21 points, 11 rebounds).

James Harden believes his partnership with Russell Westbrook can be "pretty scary" after they became only the second team-mates this season to score at least 35 points each in the same game.

The two combined for 78 points as the Rockets recorded a 116-105 home win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday that ended their opponents' run of seven straight victories.

Harden scored 42, including seven three-pointers, with Westbrook adding 36 as they followed Los Angeles Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to become the second NBA team-mates to achieve the feat in 2019-20.

Leonard and George did it in a December game against the Minnesota Timberwolves but this was the first time it had happened in Rockets team history, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Harden and Westbrook's exploits helped the Rockets bounce back from two consecutive defeats to move to 34-20, good for fifth in the Western Conference.

"It's pretty scary," Harden said, per ESPN, of his and Westbrook's potential.

Westbrook is relishing having an open floor to attack due to Harden and Houston's other three-point threats. The Rockets are playing with a small-ball lineup having traded center Clint Capela.

He added: "It's tough to guard, especially when I'm attacking and making plays and being able to do what I need to do to be effective.

"We made a big change, and we've got to get adjusted to that with Clint gone. So we're just kind of getting acclimated to that. I think we've got it moving in the right direction.

"We can be pretty successful. We've just got to find ways to continue to be effective, efficient and make the right plays."

Westbrook also had 10 rebounds and five assists, while Harden had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Coach Mike D'Antoni is keen to utilise the strengths of his two All-Stars.

"For Russell, [the spacing created by small lineups] is really advantageous, and it will be for James, too," said D'Antoni.

"It makes them really hard to guard and it's helping both of them. It opens up the floor. Both of them are great drivers and great finishers and it should trickle down to everybody else, too."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew he had been up against elite competition, adding: "Harden was great and Westbrook was great. Those guys are two of the best in the world and they showed it again."

Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard headline Team LeBron, while Team Giannis includes Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam for the NBA All-Star Game.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo finalised their teams for the showcase event, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 16.

James used the number one pick to draft Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis to Team LeBron, while reigning MVP Antetokounmpo countered by selecting Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Team LeBron's starting five consists of James, Davis, Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard, Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic and Houston Rockets star James Harden.

Antetokounmpo, Embiid, Toronto Raptors star Siakam, Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker and the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young are the starters for Team Giannis.

Team LeBron reigned supreme last year – James' squad winning 178-164 over Team Giannis in Charlotte.

 

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Reserves: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)

Team Giannis

Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
Reserves: Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)

Zion Williamson must not go prolonged stretches in the fourth quarter without touching the ball, fumed New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry after their 117-109 loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets triumphed at Toyota Center on Sunday, with James Harden pouring in 40 points as Houston came from behind in a fourth quarter that saw the Pelicans score just 16.

Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was making his sixth appearance in the league, having undergone right knee surgery in October.

The 19-year-old forward has quickly proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with, though, and logged 21 points and 10 rebounds against Houston.

However, Gentry was irate his team failed to find Williamson more regularly as they fell away in the final period and blamed himself.

"We didn't execute and we didn't do what we were supposed to do. That being said, Zion can't go four minutes without touching the basketball and that's on me," said Gentry.

"That's something that I've got to make sure that will never happen again. So I take responsibility for that. And if we're not gonna get it to him and not gonna execute, then we've got to have different people in the game. That's on me also."

Gentry denied the suggestion it was down to a lack of chemistry with Williamson still in the early stages of his rookie season, while also criticising the "absurd" and "ridiculous" total of 21 turnovers from his team.

"You've got to throw [Zion] the damn basketball, it has nothing to do with playing together or figuring it out," said Gentry.

"He has advantage and we've got to find a way to get him the basketball better, so I'm not buying the playing together or figuring out or anything like that. We have to have him have touches in the fourth quarter, if not there's no reason for us to have him in the game. And that's not going to happen either.

"I like our chances when he's got it down there because I think he's going to make the right play, and we didn't do that. You can't have 30 points off your turnovers and think you're going to beat a good basketball team.

"You can get away with it every now and then, but we're shooting 64 per cent for most of the first half and we're trailing in the game and so that just tells me that what we were doing as far as execution and turning the ball over is absurd, it is just ridiculous. It really was. It's as disappointed as I've been this year from the standpoint of doing what we're supposed to."

Harden was impressed by Williamson after his first game against the Duke product. Asked for his assessment of the Pelicans star, Harden told ESPN: "Beast.

"He's gonna be really good. This is only like his 10th game playing, he has a feel for the game, obviously he's strong, so he's gonna be great.

"He's really good. Very, very explosive. Athletic, as we all know. He has a good feel for the game."

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will return as NBA All-Star team captains after leading the vote for February's showpiece contest in Chicago.

Three newcomers – Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Pascal Siakam – will also take the floor for the 69th edition of the annual exhibition game.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James captained Team LeBron to victory over Team Giannis in 2019 and the pair will renew their rivalry at United Center on February 16.

James, an All-Star for the 16th year of his illustrious career, will have the chance to draft Dallas Mavericks sensation Doncic onto his team for the first time, the MVP contender a walk-up selection amid a brilliant sophomore season in the NBA.

All-Star regulars James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard round out the Western Conference starter pool.

Atlanta Hawks guard Young topped the count among Eastern Conference backcourt options to secure a start alongside the Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker.

The pair gained selection ahead of four-time All Star Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, who scored poorly in the fan portion of the vote.

Siakam's selection comes after averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game for the Toronto Raptors this season, while injury troubles failed to prevent Joel Embiid from sealing a frontcourt berth.

Fan ballots were weighted at 50 per cent, while current players and the media contributed 25 per cent of the starter vote.

Captains James and Antetokounmpo will select their teams from the eight other starters, while NBA head coaches will be responsible for choosing the 14 reserves that will be announced on January 30.

 

Eastern Conference starters:

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Western Conference starters:

James Harden (Houston Rockets), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

Zion Williamson announced himself to the NBA with a thrilling taste of his talent on Wednesday, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook fuelled the Houston Rockets.

Huge expectations surrounded Williamson's long-awaited debut and the number one draft pick did not disappoint at 

The 19-year-old, having overcome knee surgery, erupted for 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to finish with a joint team-high 22, plus seven rebounds, through 18 minutes in the New Orleans Pelicans' 121-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 32 points and 14 rebounds, while DeMar DeRozan added 20 points.

Harden and Westbrook put on their own show in Houston, combining for 55 points as the Rockets topped the Denver Nuggets 121-105.

Fred VanVleet made six of his seven three-point attempts to help the Toronto Raptors prevail 107-95 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

LeBron, Davis drive Lakers

LeBron James dropped 21 points and Anthony Davis had 28 as the Los Angeles Lakers downed the New York Knicks 100-92 at Madison Square Garden.

The win ensured the Lakers bounced back from their heavy loss to the Boston Celtics, who made it two wins on the trot with a 119-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

There was an overtime thriller in Miami, where Jimmy Butler recorded 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to take the Heat to a 134-129 defeat of the Washington Wizards.

The Los Angeles Clippers' four-game winning streak came to a surprise end against the struggling Atlanta Hawks, who had John Collins to thank for 33 points and 16 rebounds in a 102-95 triumph.

 

Difficulty for Draymond

Draymond Green struggled on his return from illness as the Golden State Warriors slumped to 129-96 home loss to the Utah Jazz.

The three-time NBA champion played 25 minutes for five points, four rebounds and two assists in the rout.

 

Zion sends New Orleans into frenzy

Williamson lit up Smoothie King Center, proving a danger from beyond the arc as he went four from four from three-point range.

Wednesday's results

Utah Jazz 129-96 Golden State Warriors
Toronto Raptors 107-95 Philadelphia 76ers
Detroit Pistons 127-106 Sacramento Kings
Oklahoma City Thunder 120-114 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Lakers 100-92 New York Knicks
Boston Celtics 119-95 Memphis Grizzlies
Miami Heat 134-129 Washington Wizards (OT)
Atlanta Hawks 102-95 Los Angeles Clippers
Chicago Bulls 117-110 Minnesota Timberwolves
Houston Rockets 121-105 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 112-87 Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs 121-117 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Lakers at Nets

Kyrie Irving is expected to return from a hamstring problem when the Brooklyn Nets (18-24) host the Lakers (35-9) on Thursday.

James Harden revelled in the "great accomplishment" of surpassing the 20,000 point-mark in the NBA on Saturday.

The Houston Rockets star posted 32 points in his side's 139-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, adding 12 rebounds and eight assists for good measure. 

A haul of 20,022 places Harden 45th on the all-time list, although Kareem Abdul-Jabbar' 38,387 remains a distant prospect.

"It's a great accomplishment obviously," Harden said. "I have a bigger picture and bigger goals, but it's pretty cool."

The 30-year-old revealed that he took the game ball and gave it to his mother for safe keeping.

"She has everything,'' he said. "Every goal and achievement that I have, she has it. I gave it to her, and she'll put it in a safe place.''

Russell Westbrook offered glowing praise of his team-mate.

"To be able to do that on a very, very high level is something we don't take for granted," he said.

"Growing up in LA and being able to see him progress over the years, to me, is just a blessing to see as his friend, and I'm truly happy for him."

James Harden and Ben Simmons both had triple-doubles as the Houston Rockets overcame the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Friday, while Anthony Davis shone for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rockets guard Harden posted 44 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to edge a scintillating showdown with 76ers star Simmons and guide Houston to a 118-108 win in Texas.

Simmons kept Philadelphia in touch with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, but Joel Embiid's 20 points on seven-of-17 shooting failed to match Rockets centre Clint Capela's 30 points and 14 rebounds.

The 76ers (23-14) have now lost four on the trot, all on the road, ahead of Monday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets (24-11) sit three places behind the Western Conference-leading Lakers, who downed the New Orleans Pelicans 123-113 at Staples Center.

Davis punished his former team, registering 46 points and 13 rebounds, while LeBron James had a double-double of 17 points and 15 assists.

 

Lillard back in form for Trail Blazers

Kept quiet in Wednesday's disappointing defeat to the New York Knicks, Damian Lillard bounced back to form in Washington.

Lillard had 35 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers snap a five-game losing streak in a 122-103 win over the Wizards, who had Isaiah Thomas ejected in the second minute for what was deemed a shove on an official.

Jimmy Butler's double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) proved in vain for the Miami Heat as they slipped to a 105-85 loss against the Orlando Magic.

Devin Booker passed 30 points for the fifth successive game to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 120-112 victory over the Knicks.

 

Trouble for Tatum

The Boston Celtics edged the Atlanta Hawks 109-106 despite having little support from Jayson Tatum, the 21-year-old going two-of-16 from the field while missing both of his three-point attempts.

 

Theis says no!

Daniel Theis produced a crucial late block on Atlanta guard Trae Young to see the Celtics home in Boston.

 

Friday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 123-113 New Orleans Pelicans
Orlando Magic 105-85 Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers 122-103 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 109-106 Atlanta Hawks
Houston Rockets 118-108 Philadelphia 76ers
Phoenix Suns 120-112 New York Knicks

 

Spurs at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has the chance to record an eighth double-double in as many outings when the Milwaukee Bucks (31-5) take on the San Antonio Spurs (14-19) on Saturday.

James Harden will miss his first game of the NBA season due to a toe sprain, Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Rockets star Harden has been ruled out of Sunday's clash against the New Orleans Pelicans – Houston already without Russell Westbrook (rest).

Harden posted 44 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 108-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

"He probably could [play], but given the circumstances it's better that he doesn't," D'Antoni said before the game. "He's banged up a little bit."

Harden is enjoying another stellar season – the 2017-18 MVP averaging 38.3 points, 7.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Rockets (22-10).

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