James Harden came out on the winning side in a titanic battle with Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Brooklyn Nets edged out the Milwaukee Bucks 125-123 in a Monday night NBA thriller.
New signing Harden continued his flying start to his Nets career by pouring in 34 points, handing out 12 assists and grabbing six rebounds to lead Brooklyn, but Antetokounmpo was similarly impressive to keep the Bucks in contention right to the end.
The two-time reigning NBA MVP — a title he took off Harden in 2019 — finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as Milwaukee looked to make eight wins in their last nine games.
However, it was Harden and the Nets who emerged victorious as Kevin Durant — another former NBA MVP who enjoyed a fine night — hit a three-pointer to put Brooklyn back in front with 37 seconds left, and Bucks small forward Khris Middleton then missed with two three-point attempts in the dying moments as the Nets held on.
Brooklyn’s fourth successive win sees them close the gap to second-placed Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference, where Orlando’s poor form continued as they slumped to a sixth consecutive loss after going down 91-84 to the New York Knicks.
Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Lakers were beaten for only the fourth time this season after the Golden State Warriors staged a remarkable comeback at Staples Center.
The Lakers looked to be cruising after opening up a 19-point lead in the first quarter, but Golden State rallied to claim a 115-113 victory after outscoring their opponents 34-21 in the final quarter.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, who prop up the Western Conference, suffered a ninth defeat in 10 games as they were beaten 108-97 by the Atlanta Hawks despite a 31-point haul by D’Angelo Russell.
Damian Lillard also produced an impressive individual performance only to finish on the losing side as his 35 points, six assists and three rebounds were not enough to prevent the Portland Trail Blazers suffering a 125-104 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Memphis Grizzlies continued their rise up the Western Conference with a fifth successive win, beating the stuttering Phoenix Suns 108-104, while the improving Toronto Raptors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 116-93 to make it three wins in three.
Zach LaVine led Chicago with a game-high 33 points as the Bulls defeated the Houston Rockets 125-120, while the Miami Heat beat the Detroit Pistons 113-107.