NBA: Bucks beat Nuggets in Giannis Antetokounmpo-Nikola Jokic showdown; Dejounte Murray helps Spurs edge Warriors
LaMelo Ball made a career-high seven 3-pointers and finished with 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as Charlotte Hornets defeated short-handed Houston Rockets.
Khris Middleton had 29 points and a career-high 12 assists, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and the Milwaukee Bucks won their fifth straight game by beating the Denver Nuggets 125-112 on Monday night.
Middleton’s 12th assist was a thing of beauty — a pinpoint pass to Antetokounmpo for a dunk with 1:39 remaining to give the Bucks a 120-110 lead.
Bryn Forbes had 15 points for the Bucks, who earned a rare win in the Mile High City. Milwaukee improved to 10-40 all-time at Denver.
Nikola Jokic finished with 35 points and 12 rebounds in a showdown with Antetokounmpo. Jokic couldn’t quite replicate his shooting touch from the other night when he scored a career-high 50 points at Sacramento.
Will Barton added a season-high 24 points as the Nuggets dropped their third straight.
SPURS 105, WARRIORS 100
Dejounte Murray had 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals, and DeMar DeRozan added 21 points and 10 assists as San Antonio beat Golden State.
Stephen Curry scored 32 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 24 for the Warriors, who were without injured centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney. Draymond Green had 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Murray hit a step-back 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds remaining that gave the Spurs a 101-97 lead. Curry responded with his own fall-away 3, but DeRozan closed out the game by making four straight free throws.
The teams meet again Tuesday night in San Antonio.
The Spurs trailed by 14 in the first half before rallying.
HORNETS 119, ROCKETS 94
LaMelo Ball made a career-high seven 3-pointers and finished with 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as Charlotte defeated short-handed Houston.
Miles Bridges had another strong outing with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Gordon Hayward added 19 points for the Hornets, who opened the fourth quarter on a 19-1 run to break open a tight game.
Victor Oladipo had 21 points to lead the Rockets, who lost for only the third time in 10 games.
Houston played without three of its top four scorers — John Wall, Eric Gordon and Christian Wood. Gordon and Wall were given a night of rest, while Wood missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle. Together, the trio is accounting for more than 59 points per game.
RAPTORS 128, GRIZZLIES 113
Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam each scored 32 points and Toronto put together a second-half rally to beat Memphis.
Norman Powell added 29 points for the Raptors, who began their comeback after coach Nick Nurse was ejected in the third quarter. VanVleet also had nine assists for Toronto, which outscored Memphis 65-43 in the second half — including 34-16 in the fourth quarter.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Grizzlies with 27 points and a season-high 20 rebounds. Ja Morant had 18 points and nine assists but was only 5 of 17 from the field as Memphis shot 43%.
MAVERICKS 127, TIMBERWOLVES 122
Kristaps Porzingis had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, Luka Doncic scored 26 points and Dallas held off Minnesota.
Tim Hardaway added 24 points off the bench as the Mavericks won their second straight at home after a six-game skid at the American Airlines Center. They led by 25 in the second quarter before the Timberwolves pulled to 123-120 with 50 seconds left.
Josh Richardson hit a jumper with 27 seconds to go for a five-point lead and Malik Beasley missed a 3-pointer seconds later.
Beasley tied a season high with 30 points, 27 in the second half, and rookie Anthony Edwards added 22 for the Timberwolves, who finished a 1-4 trip.
WIZARDS 105, BULLS 101
Bradley Beal scored 35 points and Washington held on for a rare win, beating Chicago.
Beal, the NBA’s leading scorer, hit three free throws in the final 9.8 seconds. Rui Hachimura added 19 points and a season-high 10 rebounds on his 23rd birthday, and the Wizards improved to 6-15 despite resting Russell Westbrook.
Zach LaVine had 35 points but missed a potential tying layup that was contested in the closing seconds. The Bulls lost for the sixth time in eight games.
SUNS 119, CAVALIERS 113
Devin Booker scored a season-high 36 points, Mikal Bridges added 22 and Phoenix rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland.
The Suns have won six of seven while the Cavaliers have dropped four straight. Booker made 14 of 27 shots, including five 3-pointers.
Phoenix took a 101-100 lead with seven minutes left on a 3 from Cam Johnson. The second-year forward had missed his first six attempts from beyond the arc.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 23 points. Andre Drummond added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
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The season reopens following the All-Star break on 10 March when Washington visits Memphis and San Antonio goes to Dallas.
NBA: LeBron James opts for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant takes Kyrie Irving as first picks for All-Star Game
This is the fourth year of the NBA's playing captain format for the All-Star Game. James is 3-0, beating teams captained by Curry in 2018 and Antetokounmpo in the last two seasons.
Embiid added 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals in a dominating performance at both ends.