Anthony Davis scores 44, outduels Antetokounmpo (40) leading Lakers past Bucks Doncic’s 30, Mavericks’ 17-0 run lift them past Knicks at MSG Ja Morant fined $35,000 for using ‘ inappropriate language’ toward referee Teams reportedly watching to see if Bulls make stars available; Lakers had internal discussions on it On the bright side for Bucks, Khris Middleton looks good in return


Milwaukee (AP) – Anthony Davis as well as LeBron James tore apart the best defense in the NBA and gave it to the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Darwin Ham triumphant return to Milwaukee.

Davis scored a season-high 44 points and James passed Magic Johnson on the NBA scoring list Friday night in a thrilling 133–129 victory for the Lakers over the Bucks.

It was Ham’s first game in Milwaukee since he took over as Lakers coach after serving as an assistant on the staff to Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer from 2018-22.

Ham and Budenholzer had a big hug before the game.

“It was a great night,” said Ham, who also played for the Bucks from 1999 to 2002.

It was also a real evening for Davis, a Green Bay Packers fan, who put on a big performance with Aaron Rodgers in the stands. Davis spoke to the four-time Packers quarterback before and after the game.

“I saw him before the game and he said, ‘Today I need 30,'” Davis said. “I just saw him and he said, ‘I only said 30, not 40.’ It’s always a pleasure for him to go out and watch the Lakers play.

James made the game-tying 3-pointer with 3:22 left to finish with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He increased his career total to 10,144 and moved into sixth place ahead of Johnson with 10,133.

“It obviously means a lot,” James said. “The way Magic approached the game was very infectious. His teammates loved playing with him because of the joy he had in playing and his ability to pass the ball and get other guys involved. He was always happy that his teammates played great. I have always admired that in him. What’s even more humiliating and super duper cool is the fact that I’m doing this in a Lakers uniform and I know how much the Magic means to the Lakers franchise.

The Lakers have the most points and field goal percentage (.536) all season. Milwaukee came out on Friday with the NBA’s highest defensive rating.

“It was too easy, too easy, too easy,” Milwaukee says. Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “They lived in paint. We are not like that.”

Los Angeles held out to Antetokounmpo’s 40-point game, who also had seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers also ruined Milwaukee’s 2022-23 debut. Chris Middletonwith 17 points and seven assists after undergoing wrist surgery in the offseason.

Milwaukee missed two potential threes in the last 20 seconds.

After Davis missed a disappearing shot, the Bucks called a timeout with 21.4 seconds left and then found an open Grayson Allenwhose three-pointer went out of bounds.

Lakers Russell Westbrook missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds left, but Jrue Holiday failed to hit a three-pointer with just over five seconds left. Davis completed the decisive free kick with 4.5 seconds left.

“Grayson took a good look around,” Budenholzer said. “Good performance. Good screening. We will live with this shot all the time. And Jru, it seems. We got hit forward by playing against a defense that is not set up. Jru, not a bad beat for him. It was contested, but tonight Jrue was 6 out of 12 (out of a 3 point range). He felt it.”

Holiday scored 28 points for the Bucks and Bobby Portis added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Westbrook had 15 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers.

NEW YORK (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 30 points Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 28 points against his former team, and on Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the New York Knicks, 121–100.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 17 points for Dallas, who beat New York 69–41 in the second half, for just their second win in seven games.

“I think it’s great to have everyone in the locker room smiling,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “Everyone saw the ball enter the goal, we shared the ball, we played correctly. … We are a team that lives or dies as a threesome, and today we made them.”

Forward Julius Randle led the Knicks with 24 points while Immanuel Quickley scored 23 points. Top scorer Jalen Brunson scored 13 points against Dallas for the first time since he signed with the Knicks on July 12, but New York lost for the sixth time in eight games.

“Honestly, not fun,” Brunson said when asked what it was like to play against his former team. “They played great tonight. You must give them credit. It doesn’t matter who’s on the floor, my approach remains the same. But seeing them after the game and shaking hands with them was pretty cool.”

Hardaway took revenge on his former team, with whom he played 254 games in four seasons. Hardaway had 17 points in the third quarter, including five 3s, in a 27-6 lead. He cited an introduction in New York—and Dallas’ previous game in Detroit—key to his third straight 20-plus game.

“This journey, when you have family and friends in both cities, makes it easier for you and brings positive emotions and positive energy,” Hardaway said. “Coming here to Detroit and New York, both places where I played in college and professionally, was a great atmosphere. I felt comfortable and my teammates kept me in a good mood.”

Doncic, the NBA’s leading scorer, had just 11 points on 3 of 11 shots in the first half. But he prevailed in the third, scoring 19 points on 8 of 10 shots. Dallas beat New York 41–15 in the third quarter, turning a tight game into a rout.

“I didn’t really participate in the first half,” Doncic said. “It wasn’t easy to come out of the locker room with more energy.”

The Knicks shot 55% in the first half, including 63% from the field in the first quarter. Randle scored 14 of 21 first-half points in the first quarter, including seven at 9-0 to give New York an early 14-5 lead.

In the second quarter, the Knicks led with a record of 15, but Dallas stepped up their defense and cut New York’s lead to seven, 59–52, by halftime.

“In the early game, I thought we were pretty good,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We extended our lead by 15 points, but we lost traction in the middle of the second quarter.”

Disappointed Dillon Brooks as well as I am Morant must have used some special language at the end of the Grizzlies’ loss to the Timberwolves because both were ejected within minutes towards the end of Wednesday night’s game.

The league fined Morant $35,000 for “controversy and inappropriate language directed at a game official, and for not leaving the court in a timely manner after his ejection.”

Morant was not demonstrative at the time and was visibly surprised by the ejection. Before he left the court, he pounced Anthony Edwards (who was shooting free throws) and a couple of other players before returning to the locker room. After that, Morant took to social media.

If the official said this to Morant, he too should be punished. The league can’t accuse players of disrespecting referees unless it’s a two-way street.

It was an embarrassing loss for the Grizzlies, who lost to the Timberwolves without Karl-Anthony Towns.