Anthony Davis scored 42 points as the Los Angeles Lakers clinched top seeding in the Western Conference yesterday with a 116-108 defeat of the Utah Jazz.
Stung by defeat to the Toronto Raptors the other day, the Lakers roared back in impressive fashion to overpower a talented Utah line-up.
The win sealed top spot in the West for the Lakers for the first time since 2010, when the late Kobe Bryant would go on to lead the team to the NBA Finals crown.
Davis stamped his class on the contest with a hefty points tally as well as coming up with 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
LeBron James finished with 22 points and nine assists as the Lakers finally pulled away from a stubborn Utah side.
"All the stuff we've been through this season, to clinch No.1 in the West means a lot but we're not finished," Davis said.
Davis's points haul included 23 in the first half alone.
It was the 20th time Davis has scored 20 points or more in the first half as a Laker, the first player from the franchise to achieve that feat since Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January.
"To be in a category with him means a lot," Davis said. "I know he's looking down on us, cheering us on."
Elsewhere, Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 36 points as the Toronto Raptors dug deep to defeat the Miami Heat 107-103 in their Eastern Conference clash.
VanVleet led the scoring for the Raptors with a haul that included seven three-pointers from 12 attempts as Toronto improved to 48-18 to remain in second place in the East.
VanVleet also made a big contribution defensively for the Raptors, forcing a deflection of a Jimmy Butler pass later on that denied Miami an opportunity for a game-tying score. VanVleet finished with four turnovers.
Kyle Lowry had 14 points, while Serge Ibaka also made double figures with 15 points for the defending NBA champions.
Goran Dragic led the Miami scorers with 25 points, while Kelly Olynyk had 17 off the bench. Butler and Jae Crowder both finished with 16 points apiece for Miami.
Nikola Jokic had a triple-double as the Denver Nuggets overpowered the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 121-113 overtime victory.
Jokic finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a stellar performance for Denver, who improved to 44-23 with the win.
In other early action, the Indiana Pacers defeated the Washington Wizards 111-100, thanks to a 34-point double-double from TJ Warren.*AFP
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