Pels' Aussie Daniels injured in NBA defeat

Dyson Daniels' New Orleans Pelicans have continued their worrying slide down the Western Conference standings with a home defeat to the No.1-ranked Denver Nuggets.

To make matters worse, the Australian guard suffered an ankle injury with around eight minutes left in first half and didn't return on Tuesday night in Louisiana.

The 19-year-old came off the bench late in the opening quarter and registered two points and one rebound in the 99-98 loss.

Daniels missed a floater in the lane before landing awkwardly on Nuggets big man Zeke Naji's foot, turning his right ankle and needing help off the court to the locker room.

The hosts have been without Zion Williamson (hamstring) since January 4, and were also missing Brandon Ingram and Naji Marshall (both toe injuries), so this was another setback to a side trying to halt a recent slide.

"These moments throughout the course of the year they happen, where you have injuries, other guys have to step up," New Orleans coach Willie Green said.

"Every team goes through it, a period where you lose a few games and we gotta continue to stay together and dig ourselves out of it."

Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic was back for Denver after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury of his own and registered his 15th triple-double of the season (25 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists).

Jamal Murray also had 25 points, while Bruce Brown and Aaron Gordon both scored 11.

A 10th win in the last 11 helps the Nuggets to 34-14, while the Pels fall to 26-22 with a fifth consecutive loss.

In Miami, the undermanned NBA-leading Boston Celtics dropped back-to-back games by losing 98-95 to the Heat.

Bam Adebayo had 30 points and 15 rebounds, including the jump shot that put Miami ahead to stay with 20.4 seconds remaining, as the the sixth-ranked Heat improved to 27-22 after rallying from 14 down.

"They booted us in the Eastern Conference finals last year," Adebayo said.

"I feel like a lot of guys still carry that."

Jayson Tatum finished with 31 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics, who now sit at 35-14.

Elsewhere in the East, the seventh-placed Knicks beat the fifth-placed Cleveland Cavaliers 105-103 in New York.

Julius Randle had 36 points and 13 rebounds, RJ Barrett added 16 points and Jalen Brunson 14 for the Knicks, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Not even 41 points, 15 rebounds and six assists from Luka Doncic could stop Dallas losing 127-126 to the Washington Wizards.

Aussie Josh Green chipped in with 16 points for the Mavericks, while compatriot Jock Landale had 15 in the Phoenix Suns' 128-97 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

In Los Angeles, the Clippers beat the Lakers for a 10th time in a row, 133-115, despite a game-high 46 points from LeBron James, while Indiana and Chicago played out thriller with the Pacers storming home in the second half to beat the Bulls 116-110 to snap a seven-game losing streak.

With AP.