Khris Middleton scored 39 points as the Milwaukee Bucks moved closer to securing the top record in the Eastern Conference with a 128-118 victory Thursday over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
The victory came with some concern, however, as Giannis Antetokounmpo left the game with 7:46 remaining and did not return after sustaining a right ankle injury when he stepped on the foot of the Clippers’ Garrett Temple.
Antetokounmpo’s status moving forward was not immediately known, although he did remain on the bench for the remainder of the contest. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer did not express significant concern after the game and said the team would wait to see how their star player feels on Friday.
Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points as the Bucks remained four games ahead of the second-place Toronto Raptors. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with 21 points.
Rockets 112, Nuggets 85
James Harden scored 38 points, Clint Capela posted a double-double, and host Houston closed the gap on Denver in the race for the second seed in the Western Conference.
Houston clinched the season series with the win, along with home-court advantage in the event the teams close the regular season with the same record and meet in the playoffs.
Harden scored 16 points in the third quarter to help the Rockets fend off one Denver run after another. Capela totaled 17 points and 15 rebounds and claimed a spirited battle with Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic (16 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two blocks), whose early thrust lifted Denver to a seven-point advantage late in the first quarter.
Heat 105, Mavericks 99
Goran Dragic posted his second career triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Miami defeated visiting Dallas.
Miami’s win — coupled with an Orlando Magic loss earlier — moved the Heat back into the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Miami leads Orlando by a half-game with just seven games remaining for the Heat and six for the Magic.
Dragic, who has been slowed this season due to a knee injury, made his first start since Dec. 10. He had nine of his points in the fourth quarter. Luka Doncic had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Mavericks.
Spurs 116, Cavaliers 110
DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, 21 of them in the second half, but his assist on a 3-pointer by Patty Mills with 14.5 seconds left proved to be the key play in San Antonio’s win over visiting Cleveland.
The Spurs shrugged off a ragged first half, moved to the lead in the third quarter and held off the Cavaliers in the fourth for the win, its 11th in its past 14 games.
The victory allowed the Spurs, the eighth-place team in the Western Conference standings, to gain a half-game on seventh-place Oklahoma City. Collin Sexton topped the Cavaliers with 24 points.
Raptors 117, Knicks 92
Pascal Siakam scored 14 of his 31 points in the third quarter as visiting Toronto never trailed in rolling past league-worst New York.
Siakam scored at least 30 points for the fifth time in his career, and each instance has occurred since Jan. 1. The forward shot 11 of 19 from the floor while collecting five rebounds and five assists in a game the Raptors led by as many as 31 and stayed in front for the final 45-plus minutes after two early ties.
Danny Green added 15 for the Raptors, who made 20 3-pointers — one shy of the team record set March 3, 2005, against Philadelphia and matched Oct. 19 against Miami. Mitchell Robinson paced the Knicks with 19 points.
76ers 123, Nets 110
Joel Embiid had 39 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lift host Philadelphia past Brooklyn. It was Embiid’s league-best 27th game with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds this season. Embiid shot 12 of 20 from the field and 12 of 16 from the free-throw line.
JJ Redick added 18 points while Ben Simmons and Boban Marjanovic had 16 each for the Sixers, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Joe Harris paced the Nets with 22 points while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Caris LeVert contributed 18 points for the Nets, who completed a 2-5 road trip.
Pistons 115, Magic 98
Wayne Ellington tied his season high with 25 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and host Detroit ended Orlando’s six-game winning streak.
Blake Griffin had 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Detroit, which returned home after a 1-4 road trip. Andre Drummond added 18 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and six blocks.
Aaron Gordon led Orlando with 20 points, and D.J. Augustin had 18.
Pelicans 121, Kings 118
Julius Randle had 34 points and 10 rebounds as host New Orleans beat Sacramento, pushing the Kings closer to elimination from playoff contention.
Christian Wood had a career high in points for the second consecutive game with 25, Elfrid Payton added 16 for the Pelicans, who won for just the second time in 11 games.
Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis missed his second consecutive game because of lower back spasms. Buddy Hield led Sacramento with 27 points, but he missed a 3-point attempt with four seconds left that would have tied the game.
—Field Level Media