LeBron James bested Luka Doncic as the Los Angeles Lakers eased to a 108-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA.
Two MVP candidates went head-to-head at Staples Center on Sunday and Lakers superstar James emerged on top after making history on his way to a double-double of 13 points and 13 assists.
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One day out from his 35th birthday, the three-time NBA champion became the ninth player in history to reach 9,000 assists and the first to do it with a minimum of 9,000 rebounds.
ALSO READ | LeBron breaks new ground with 9,000th NBA assist
Doncic, making his 100th appearance in the league, needed treatment after a heavy fall in the first quarter, although he still led the Mavs with 19 points and seven assists.
Dallas (21-11) is now four and a half games adrift of the Western Conference-leading Lakers (26-7) and two games behind the second-placed Denver Nuggets, which prevailed 120-115 against the Sacramento Kings.
Nikola Jokic made a clutch fadeaway jumper in the fourth quarter and finished with 17 points, while Will Barton and first-time starter Michael Porter Jr had 19 apiece for the Nuggets (23-9).
Lonzo leads Pelicans past Rockets
Lonzo Ball starred in James Harden's absence as the New Orleans Pelicans topped the Houston Rockets 127-112 to notch a fourth consecutive victory. Rockets guard Harden joined Russell Westbrook on the sideline due to a toe problem and Ball – the former number two draft pick – took advantage with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander consigned defending champion the Toronto Raptors to a third loss in four games, his 32 points, plus 25 and 11 rebounds from Chris Paul, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 98-97 triumph at Scotiabank Arena.
Dillon Brooks went eight of 13 from the floor for 20 points as the Memphis Grizzlies overcame the Charlotte Hornets 117-104.
Rivers dries up
The Rockets needed scoring production from elsewhere with star pair Harden and Westbrook unavailable, but Austin Rivers struggled to step up against the Pelicans. The 27-year-old guard managed nine points and five assists in 29 minutes, hitting one of four three-point attempts and just two of seven from the floor.
Jokic shows off skills
Denver big man Jokic showcased his slick handles with two brilliant behind-the-back dribbles in the Nuggets' five-point win against the Kings.
Oklahoma City Thunder 98-97 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 117-104 Charlotte Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans 127-112 Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets 120-115 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 108-95 Dallas Mavericks
Bucks at Bulls
The Milwaukee Bucks (29-5) will hope Giannis Antetokounmpo can overcome back soreness in time for Monday's trip to the improving Chicago Bulls (13-20).