The Los Angeles Lakers put on an offensive clinic in their NBA win over the New Orleans Pelicans while the Celtics overcame a slow start to finish on top of the Wizards.
D’Angelo Russell — who was the subject of much trade speculation before the deadline —scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half, when the Lakers put up 87 points on the way to a 139-122 victory over the Pelicans.
The Lakers scored 51 points in the second quarter and all five Lakers starters finished with at least 20 points.
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It was quite the statement from the Lakers after a quiet trade deadline as the team opted to stand pat and save its asset for a big swing in the summer, although L.A. could also make a big move on the buyout market.
In fact, Spencer Dinwiddie was spotted sitting in the VIP seats at the game with Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.
Dinwiddie is a top target for the Lakers after being waived by the Toronto Raptors following a trade involving his former team, the Brooklyn Nets.
The 76ers, Pelicans and Mavericks are also expected to show interest in Dinwiddie, who met with Dallas GM Mark Cuban on Friday.
KINGS BREEZE PAST TIRED NUGGETS
In Sacramento, center Domantas Sabonis out-dueled Denver’s two-time Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, posting his 16th triple-double of the season to propel the Kings to a 135-106 victory over the reigning champion Nuggets.
“As a competitor you always want to go against the best,” Sabonis told NBC Sports California of taking on Jokic — who is now second behind Sabonis on the season triple-double list with 15.
“Every matchup you get against him you’ve got that extra fire.” Sabonis connected on seven of his nine shots from the field on the way to 17 points, adding 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
Malik Monk led the Kings scoring with 23 points and Keegan Murray — who went scoreless in the Kings’ Wednesday loss to last-placed Detroit — added 17.
Jokic led the Nuggets with 23 points but Denver missed a chance to edge ahead of Minnesota for sole the Western Conference lead.
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CELTICS OVERCOME BIG SCARE
The Celtics shook off a sluggish start, using a dominant third quarter to take control against the lowly Washington Wizards and holding on for a 133-129 NBA victory.
The league-leading Celtics looked dull and disinterested in the early going against a Wizards team ranked second-from-bottom in the East.
Unable to contain Washington in transition, the Celtics surrendered 71 points in the first half and trailed by seven at the break.
But they out-scored the Wizards 36-16 in the third quarter to seize control, pushing their lead to as many as 15 points and holding off a late rally bid from Washington.
Jayson Tatum scored 35 points with 10 rebounds and eight assists for Boston. Kristaps Porzingis added 34 points and 11 rebounds against his former team, his three-pointer putting Boston up for good midway through the third period.
Porzingis told NBC Sports Boston he didn’t think the Celtics’ first half was “all that bad.” “They did have some non-shooters make some open shots which we gave them,” he said. “But the second half we knew we had to take away their transition.
“That’s what they were trying to do — run fast, shoot crazy shots and make them. Second half we turned up our intensity.”
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RAPTORS HOLD OFF FAST-FINISHING ROCKETS AS BUCKS BLAST HORNETS
Elsewhere the Raptors saw a 22-point lead dwindle to one but held on for a 107-104 home win over the Houston Rockets while the Milwaukee Bucks led by as many as 42 in a 120-84 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.
Immanuel Quickley scored 25 points and RJ Barrett added 21 — Barrett’s two free throws sealing the victory after Houston’s Dillon Brooks cut the deficit to 105-104 with a three-pointer with 23.3 seconds remaining.
In Milwaukee, Damian Lillard returned from a two-game absence with a sprained ankle and scored 26 points for the Bucks.
Malik Beasley made seven of his nine three-pointers on the way to 21 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points with 15 rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter with the rest of the Bucks starters.
SIXERS’ SLIDE CONTINUES AS HAWKS SOAR
Atlanta halted a two-game slide in Philadelphia, where Trae Young scored 37 points and handed out 12 assists to lead the Hawks to a 127-121 victory over the injury-depleted 76ers.
Onyeka Okongwu added 21 points and Saddiq Bey had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks.
Kelly Oubre Jr led the 76ers with 28 points, Tobias Harris added 21 and Buddy Hield and Cam Payne — making their 76ers debuts after being acquired before Thursday’s trade deadline — added 20 apiece.
But Philadelphia, without reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid as he recovers from knee surgery and also missing ailing Tyrese Maxey, never led.
They’ve lost eight of their last nine, but Sixers president Daryl Morey said before the game that the team remain hopeful that Embiid can return from left knee surgery for a possible playoff run.
“We’re hopeful,” Morey said.
“Feedback has been more good than bad since we first heard about what led to his procedure. So, we’re hopeful and we’re building the team to make it better this year.”
On Tuesday the 76ers said Cameroonian star Embiid would miss at least a month after a procedure to repair a meniscus injury.