Aussie Ingles stars in Bucks' NBA success

Australia's Joe Ingles has enjoyed his best outing since joining Milwaukee, helping the Bucks to a 123-114 home win over Minnesota.

The 35-year-old who returned to NBA action on December 19 after more than 10 months out following a torn ACL, suffered against the Timberwolves while playing for the Utah Jazz, had 24-and-a-half minutes on court for 14 points, five rebounds and 10 assists.

Arriving in the off-season on a one-year deal, the Boomers star has been eased back in but played a hugely important role off the bench as Milwaukee (23-12) snapped a four-game losing streak.

Ingles shot 5-of-9 from the field including 4-of-7 from three-point range, with eight points coming in a 39-22 third-quarter surge.

"Joe's fingerprints were all over (the second half)" Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

"He gave us a big boost and a toughness that we needed."

Giannis Antetokounmpo (43 points, 20 rebounds) and Bobby Portis (22 and 14) also recorded double-doubles for the victors to close the gap on the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings.

Antetokounmpo finished two points off his season high and also had five assists to join Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history with back-to-back games of at least 40 points, 20 rebounds and five assists.

"It's a great compliment to be around those guys," Antetokounmpo, who has topped 40 points in four of his last six games, said.

"I just want to win games so I just tried to go out there and do whatever I can to push myself to the limit."

Western Conference leaders New Orleans proved they are real championship contenders after a 127-116 victory at home over Philadelphia.

The Pelicans improved to 23-12 after their fifth consecutive win, and 14th of their last 16 at home, while the 76ers (20-14) dropped back-to-back games.

CJ McCollum was red-hot for the home side.

He scored a career-best 42 points, making a career-high 11 three-pointers which was also a franchise record.

Zion Williamson chimed in with 36 points for the Pels and Joel Embiid had 37 for the beaten Sixers.

In Denver, the Nuggets (23-12) stormed home in the final quarter to defeat the Miami Heat 124-119.

The home side were led by Nikola Jokic's eighth triple-double of the season with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, while seven of his teammates reached double figures in scoring. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a team-high 20.

Elsewhere, LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday by scoring a season-high 47 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 130-121 success at the Atlanta Hawks.

Jordan Poole's 41 points guided defending champions Golden State to a fourth straight win, 118-112 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Washington Wizards also won four on the bounce with a 119-100 triumph over the Magic in Orlando.

The Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 132-118, the Phoenix Suns lost 113-104 at the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings defeated the Utah Jazz 126-125.

With AP.