The Los Angeles Clippers claimed Christmas Day honours as neighbours the Los Angeles Lakers crashed to their fourth consecutive defeat in the NBA.

Kawhi Leonard starred with 35 points to lead the Clippers past the slumping Lakers 111-106 in the battle of LA on Wednesday.

Leonard scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and added 12 rebounds as the Clippers beat the Lakers for the second time this season, having also won on opening night.

The Lakers (24-7) led 63-51 at half-time but were outscored 60-43 by the Clippers (23-10) in the second half in Los Angeles.

Montrezl Harrell posted 18 points off the bench and Clippers team-mate Paul George contributed 17 at Staples Center midweek.

LeBron James, who returned from a muscle strain, put up 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the beaten Lakers, while Kyle Kuzma led the way with his 25 points.

 

Embiid takes down Bucks

Joel Embiid was at his brilliant best with 31 points and 11 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers upstaged league leaders the Milwaukee Bucks 121-109. It was Embiid's seventh game of the season with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Simmons added 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown was 10 for 13 from the field and five-of-seven from three-point range for 30 points to inspire the Boston Celtics' 118-102 victory against defending champions the Toronto Raptors. Chris Boucher had 24 points off the bench for the Raptors.

Damion Lee's 22 points and a career-high 15 rebounds helped the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets 116-104. It was Golden State's third straight win. Double-doubles from Russell Westbrook (30 points, 12 rebounds), James Harden (24 points, 11 assists) and Clint Capela (10 points, 11 rebounds) were not enough for the Rockets.

 

Giannis struggles from the floor

While Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, it was a tough night for the reigning MVP. He was eight of 27 from the floor and 0 of seven from three-point range.

 

Beverley says no to LeBron!

Patrick Beverley produced a big defensive play as the Lakers tried to rally against the Clippers. James led the charge, but he was denied by the energetic Beverley.

 

Wednesday's results

Boston Celtics 118-102 Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers 121-109 Milwaukee Bucks
Golden State Warriors 116-104 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 111-106 Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans 112-100 Denver Nuggets

 

Spurs at Mavs

After their high-scoring battle against the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs take on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. The Mavericks could welcome back star guard Luka Doncic.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James will return from injury for the Christmas Day showdown against the Los Angeles Clippers.

James missed Sunday's 128-104 NBA defeat to the Denver Nuggets due to a thoracic muscle strain suffered in a loss against the Indiana Pacers last week.

But the slumping Lakers confirmed James' return for Wednesday's blockbuster with Western Conference neighbours and rivals the Clippers at Staples Center.

The Lakers (24-6) will hope James can help snap a three-game losing streak by beating Kawhi Leonard's Clippers (22-10).

James – whose first season with the Lakers was ravaged by injury in 2018-19 – is averaging 25.8 points, 10.6 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game this campaign.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the team to beat at Christmas time and it bodes well for their championship aspirations.

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks (27-4) top the NBA standings on Christmas Day, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (24-6).

Not since 1971 have the Bucks won a title – their only success so far since being founded in 1968.

However, the past three champions – the Toronto Raptors last season and Golden State Warriors in 2016-17 and 2017-18 – earned a ring having led when Santa Clause came to town.

Over the past 10 seasons, five teams who topped the league on Christmas went on to celebrate a championship, with the 2011-12 campaign not getting underway until December 25 due to a lockout.

 

2018
Dec 25 leaders: Toronto Raptors (25-10)
Champions: Raptors

2017
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (27-7)
Champions: Warriors

2016
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (27-5)
Champions: Warriors

2015
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (28-1)
Champions: Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8 on Christmas Day)

2014
Dec 25 leaders: Golden State Warriors (23-5)
Champions: Warriors

2013
Dec 25 leaders: Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers (23-5)
Champions: San Antonio Spurs (22-7 on Christmas Day)

2012
Dec 25 leaders: Los Angeles Clippers (22-6)
Champions: Miami Heat (19-6 on Christmas Day)

*2011
Champions: Miami Heat (*lockout)

2010
Dec 25 leaders: San Antonio Spurs (25-4)
Champions: Dallas Mavericks (23-5 on Christmas Day)

2009
Dec 25 leaders: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers (23-5)
Champions: Lakers

The Indiana Pacers outlasted defending champions the Toronto Raptors in overtime, while the Philadelphia 76ers downed the Detroit Pistons in the NBA.

Aaron Holiday's double-double helped the Pacers past the Raptors 120-115 in Indiana on Monday, snapping Toronto's five-game winning streak.

Holiday had 19 points and 10 assists, T.J. Warren and Myles Turner posted 24 points apiece, and Domantas Sabonis contributed 12 points and 17 rebounds for the Pacers.

The Raptors, coming off a franchise-record comeback on Monday, were led by Kyle Lowry's 30 points, while Fred VanVleet put up 21 points and 11 assists.

In Detroit, the 76ers were too good for the slumping Pistons 125-109 thanks to Tobias Harris' 35 points on the road.

Joel Embiid added 20 points of his own, while Andre Drummond scored 27 for the Pistons – who crashed to a fifth straight loss.

 

Aldridge stars in Spurs shoot-out

LaMarcus Aldridge recorded a season-high 40 points as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 145-115.

Ben Simmons posted a triple-double for the 76ers, finishing with 16 points, a career-high 17 assists and 13 rebounds.

Bradley Beal had 30 points in the Washington Wizards' 121-115 win over the New York Knicks. Julius Randle managed a game-high 35 points for the Knicks.

 

Griffin a shadow of himself

Blake Griffin – a six-time All-Star – looked out of sorts against the 76ers. He was just two of 14 from the floor for eight points in 27 minutes. Griffin also missed all six of this three-point attempts.

 

Murray with the game-winner

Tied at 111-111, Jamal Murray nailed the go-ahead jumper with 2.5 seconds remaining as the Denver Nuggets edged the Phoenix Suns 113-111.

 

Monday's results

Cleveland Cavaliers 121-118 Atlanta Hawks
Philadelphia 76ers 125-109 Detroit Pistons
Orlando Magic 103-95 Chicago Bulls
Washington Wizards 121-115 New York Knick
Indiana Pacers 120-115 Toronto Raptors (OT)
Miami Heat 107-104 Utah Jazz
San Antonio Spurs 145-115 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 113-111 Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets 113-104 Sacramento Kings
New Orleans Pelicans 102-94 Portland Trail Blazers
Golden State Warriors 113-104 Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Christmas Day feast

After a break on Tuesday, the NBA returns in a big way for Christmas. After the Raptors entertain the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks face the 76ers, the Houston Rockets travel to the Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers meet the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets welcome the New Orleans Pelicans.

LeBron James will be assessed day to day ahead of the Lakers' Los Angeles showdown with the Clippers on Christmas Day, head coach Frank Vogel said.

Superstar James was absent as the Lakers went down 128-104 on home court to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, their third straight defeat.

James was officially missing with an injury to his rib cage, while reports from ESPN suggest the 15-time All Star is also contending with a persistent groin issue.

Vogel acknowledged the importance of James and remains hopeful of having him available for a Los Angeles Christmas cracker on Wednesday.

"Hopefully he'll be available for us on Christmas Day," Vogel said in quotes reported by the LA Times.

"But we'll see how the injury heals up and whenever he gets back, we'll benefit from that for sure

"LeBron is obviously a game-changer. Our offensive flow, defensive communication, quarterbacking, playmaking offensively, being able to get guys shots. [He has an impact on] probably all that stuff."

Anthony Davis did his part to try and carry the Lakers without James, finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds and an assist, while the returning Kyle Kuzma put up 16 points from 22 minutes.

Davis himself had an injury scare when he hurt his knee in the third quarter, but he managed to return to the game.

"I felt fine enough to go back out and play. I'll see how it feels tomorrow [before deciding if I can play against the Clippers]," Davis said.

"We've got two days before our next game, so that should be plenty of enough time to get it back right. 

"But obviously the game just ended so we got to see how it feels overnight and then hopefully nothing significant happens. [I can] get some treatment on it and continue to move forward [on] Wednesday."

The Los Angeles Lakers lost in LeBron James' absence in the NBA on Sunday, while the Toronto Raptors rallied from 30 points down to beat the Dallas Mavericks.

James missed the clash with the Denver Nuggets due to a thoracic muscle strain and his absence hurt the Western Conference leaders in a 128-104 loss at Staples Center.

Anthony Davis played almost a lone hand for the Lakers (24-6), posting 32 points and 11 rebounds as he fought through a suspected knee problem sustained after an awkward fall in the third quarter.

Kyle Kuzma added 16 points on his return from an ankle injury but there was no stopping the Nuggets (20-8), who were inspired by Paul Millsap's 21 points and a double-double from Will Barton (14 points, 13 rebounds).

Defending champions the Raptors, meanwhile, set a franchise record with their incredible 110-107 win against the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks.

Kyle Lowry led the way with 32 points and 10 assists as Toronto (21-8) overturned a 30-point third-quarter deficit to record their largest-ever comeback victory.

 

Giannis guides Bucks past Pacers

Giannis Antetokounmpo fell one assist short of a triple-double as his 18 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-89 rout of the Indiana Pacers, who were on a five-game winning streak before Sunday's contest.

Jayson Tatum put up a career-high 39 points on 15-of-29 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 119-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets to stay in touch with the Bucks.

Paul George endured an unhappy return to Oklahoma City as the Los Angeles Clippers, who rested Kawhi Leonard, led for three quarters before slipping to a 118-112 defeat to the Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, part of the trade that sent All-Star George to the Clippers, posted 32 points for the second time in a week.

 

Brogdon's rough Bucks reunion

Before facing the Bucks, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon said he would not have left Milwaukee had he been properly "valued". He gave his old team little cause for regret at Fiserv Forum, making five of 19 shots from the floor and going zero-for-four from three-point range.

 

Monk's massive dunk

Malik Monk provided a highlight for the Hornets with a huge dunk over Enes Kanter.

Sunday's results

Toronto Raptors 110-107 Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics 119-93 Charlotte Hornets
Oklahoma City Thunder 118-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Milwaukee Bucks 117-89 Indiana Pacers
Denver Nuggets 128-104 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Raptors at Pacers

Toronto will look to carry their momentum into Monday's important Eastern Conference encounter with the Pacers, who have a point to prove after falling well short against the Bucks.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James will miss the showdown against the Denver Nuggets, the NBA franchise confirmed.

James was in doubt for Sunday's NBA clash due to a thoracic muscle strain, suffered during a 105-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

The Lakers (24-5) announced James' absence just hours before tip-off at Staples Center in Los Angeles, though Kyle Kuzma and Anthony Davis will face the Nuggets (19-8).

James – whose first season with the Lakers was ravaged by injury – is averaging 25.8 points, 10.6 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game in 2019-20.

The Lakers top the Western Conference, while the Nuggets are third after winning five straight games.

The Los Angeles Lakers could be without LeBron James against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday due to a thoracic muscle strain.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel revealed the four-time NBA MVP did the damage during a 105-102 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

James will be monitored, but the 34-year-old is a doubt for the showdown with the Nuggets at Staples Center, where the Lakers will attempt to stop the rot after back-to-back defeats.

"It was sustained in the Indiana game," Vogel said. "He played through it in the Milwaukee [Bucks] game, but the medical team is just keeping a close eye on him and list him as doubtful [to play on Sunday].

"If he doesn't go, it's going to be a group effort. We'll release starting line-ups tomorrow [Sunday], but it's one of those things that no one person can pick up what LeBron does for our team, so it will just have to be a group effort."

There is more positive news on forward Kyle Kuzma, who has been struggling with an ankle injury but is probable to face Denver.

The Lakers are 24-5 at the top of the Western Conference, while the Nuggets (19-8) occupy third place are have won their last five games.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James tipped their hats to Giannis Antetokounmpo after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The two teams went into the game at Fiserv Forum with NBA-leading 24-4 records and it was the Bucks who emerged triumphant, claiming a 111-104 victory.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 11 rebounds and made a career-best five three-pointers in a commanding display.

Davis, who sat out the defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday with an ankle sprain, played the entire second half and finished with a game-high 36 points.

Asked for his thoughts on Antetokounmpo's display, James simply gestured by tipping an imaginary hat, while Davis suggested there was little more the Lakers could have done to stop him.

"We tip our hats to him, man. I think we executed our game plan as far as him driving," said Davis.

"He did a good job of knocking down threes, he did a good job of finding guys and they made shots for him.

"You've got to tip your hat to him, he made five of them and they were all tough looks. Two were highly contested at the end of the shot clock, one was wide open, and I think the other two were dribble-up threes from the wing."

On his ankle injury, Davis added: "I just tried to play through it, I still felt it a little bit. I tried to keep going, battle through it a little bit and help my team win."

The Lakers trailed by 18 points at half-time and were unable to avoid succumbing to successive defeats for the first time this season at the end of a five-game road trip, despite James claiming a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

"We continue to build chemistry, we continue to build camaraderie," James said.

"Pretty much every time anyone does anything, we pretty much do it together on the road. Just kind of have that bunker mentality, that brotherhood when we hit the road."

Russell Westbrook led the way as the Houston Rockets downed Kawhi Leonardo's Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 in the NBA on Thursday.

Westbrook posted 40 points and 10 rebounds to inspire the Rockets' win in Los Angeles, where Houston rallied.

The Rockets (19-9) trailed by 15 points at half-time but used a 36-point third quarter to emerge triumphant at Staples Center.

James Harden contributed 28 points and 10 assists – the Rockets star breaking Calvin Murphy's franchise assist record in the process.

Paul George's 34 points and Leonard's 25 and nine rebounds were not enough for the Clippers (21-9) on home court.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 in their highly anticipated showdown.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 34 points and 11 rebounds led the Bucks to the NBA's best record at 25-4 in Milwaukee.

LeBron James recorded a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis had 36 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (24-4).

 

Dinwiddie has career night

Spencer Dinwiddie posted a career-high 41 points but not even that could stop the Brooklyn Nets from losing 118-105 to the San Antonio Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs.

Donovan Mitchell's 30 points led the Utah Jazz past the Atlanta Hawks 111-106. Trae Young scored 30 of his own for the Hawks.

 

Lakers get nothing from bench

Starters James, Davis, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope really carried the Lakers in Milwaukee. They were the only players to reach double-digit points – the team's bench only contributing four points via Dwight Howard (2) and Rajon Rondo (2).

 

Giannis from distance!

Antetokounmpo had a career-high five-pointers, including this gem from the beyond the arc against the Lakers.

 

Thursday's results

Utah Jazz 111-106 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 111-104 Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs 118-105 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 Houston Rockets

 

Mavs at 76ers

After losing for the first time at home this season, the Philadelphia 76ers have the chance to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said he is not supposed to be up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the Milwaukee Bucks star remained grounded following Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bucks claimed the best record in the NBA after reigning MVP Antetokounmpo inspired a 111-104 victory in the blockbuster showdown.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for the highly anticipated clash as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

Antetokounmpo upstaged James and Davis with his 34 points and 11 rebound, the Bucks moving top of the overall NBA standings.

"I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it's hard," Antetokounmpo said afterwards.

"You feel like, 'OK, what else?' But at the end of the day, I realise and my family realises that I'm not supposed to be here.

"I wasn't the number one pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn't supposed to be here.

"I'm not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I'm just happy that I'm here and happy that I'm going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that's what gives me joy."

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers against the Lakers, on eight attempts from beyond the arc.

"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said. "And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added: "I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it's part of our league, part of being a professional.

"But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body -- but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He's doing it. He's putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he's ours and excited about him and our future."

Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double led the Milwaukee Bucks past the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 and to the NBA's best record.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for Thursday's highly anticipated showdown as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

The blockbuster encounter also pitted reigning MVP Antetokounmpo against Lakers superstar LeBron James.

And the Bucks secured the league's best record thanks to Antetokounmpo, and his 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers for the Bucks, who used a 42-29 second quarter to move clear of the Lakers.

James finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but it was not enough for the visiting Lakers.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 10 rebounds after returning from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury.

 

Star trio Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are among the nominees for the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame.

Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant, San Antonio Spurs icon Duncan and Boston Celtics favourite Garnett headline the 2020 class of potential inductees.

Former Miami Heat star Chris Bosh and Shawn Marion are also on the list of 50 people nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The finalists will be announced during the All-Star Weekend in Chicago in February, with the inductees unveiled in April.

Regarded as arguably the Lakers' greatest ever player, prolific scorer Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the storied Los Angeles franchise.

An 18-time All-Star, Bryant – who retired in 2016 – won five NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards, while he was crowned the league's MVP in 2008.

Like Bryant, Duncan was also a one-team player after spending his career with the Spurs, where he claimed five NBA rings during his 19 seasons before retiring in 2016.

Former Spurs big man Duncan was also a three-time Finals MVP, two-time league MVP and 15-time All-Star.

Garnett helped the Celtics to NBA glory in 2008 after being crowned the 2004 MVP during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Bosh ended his career with two championships and 11 All-Star appearances.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will return from a one-game absence to face the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday's NBA blockbuster showdown.

Davis sat out Tuesday's defeat to the Indiana Pacers due to a mild ankle sprain, leaving his availability for the Bucks clash in question.

However, the All-Star has overcome that ankle issue as the Western Conference-leading Lakers and Eastern Conference pacesetters the Bucks square off with matching 24-4 records.

Since teaming up with LeBron James at the Lakers, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

 

Anthony Davis is not ready to commit to the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of free agency, despite his stellar start to life at the Staples Center.

Davis has barely missed a beat since swapping the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers prior to the start of the NBA season, helping Los Angeles to a joint-NBA best 24-4 record.

But Davis is a free agent at the end of the campaign, and the six-time All-Star has previously talked up the "possibility" of joining hometown team the Chicago Bulls.

"I still look at it as we'll see what happens at the end of the season," Davis told ESPN.

"Obviously, the season's going great so far and I'm trying to stay in the moment and worry about that when the season's over. But I feel like we can do something special this year.

"With the team that we put together and the coaching staff that we have, I don't feel like no one can beat us but the Los Angeles Lakers.

"But when that time comes I'll think about it and see what's going on. But right now I'm trying to focus and win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers."

Since teaming up with LeBron James in Los Angeles, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Davis, though, is questionable for Thursday's blockbuster clash with the Milwaukee Bucks – who the Lakers are tied with for the best record in the league – due to a left ankle sprain.

"We'll see how the ankle feels and hopefully I'm able to play," Davis told The Dan Patrick Show.

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