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Bucks host Clips, seek 14th straight win

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The NBA's Christmas benchmark remains three weeks away yet two of the better teams from each conference will get a chance to see how they measure up when standing side by side.

The Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks will bring a 13-game winning streak into a home matchup Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers, who reside in second place in the West. The Clippers have nine victories in their last 10 games.

Christmas typically is the season's unofficial starting line when teams can begin digging in their heels for the four-month grind toward the regular-season finish line. The Bucks and Clippers are fairly certain of their regular-season destiny. They are expected to be title contenders when the playoffs arrive.

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Blazers fully guarantee Anthony's deal

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Trail Blazers have given forward Carmelo Anthony a fully guaranteed contract for the remainder of the season.

The team had signed Anthony to a non-guaranteed contract last month and had until a January deadline to guarantee the deal.

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Celtics' home streak on line vs. Denver

The Denver Nuggets began their four-game East Coast trip on the right foot Thursday, blowing out the New York Knicks by 37 points.

Things will get considerably harder Friday, when the Nuggets visit the Celtics for the only time this season. Boston is one of three NBA teams still undefeated at home (8-0) and has won four of five since a 96-92 setback at Denver on Nov. 22.

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Lakers face test from resurgent Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers are enjoying their best stretch of the season and the play of shooting guard CJ McCollum has been a prime reason for the success.

McCollum will look to help Portland record its fifth victory in its past six games when it hosts the scorching-hot Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

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Woman drops assault suit against Walton

LOS ANGELES (AP) Former sportscaster Kelli Tennant is seeking dismissal of her sexual assault lawsuit against Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton, a court document shows.

The request for dismissal of the civil case was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Westbrook has 19-13-11 as Rockets win

TORONTO (AP) No matter what, the Toronto Raptors were determined to double-team James Harden.

The rest of the Houston Rockets made sure that strategy didn't pay off.

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Booker scores 21 of 44 in 3rd, Suns win

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Monty Williams was able to celebrate a victory in an emotional return to New Orleans.

The former New Orleans coach guided the Phoenix Suns to a 139-132 overtime victory over the Pelicans on Thursday night. Devin Booker broke out of a perimeter-shooting slump, scoring 21 of his season-high 44 points in the third quarter, and Ricky Rubio powered the Phoenix Suns with four points and a critical assist in overtime.

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Embiid, Simmons sloppy in Wizards' win

WASHINGTON (AP) Well, at least give Ben Simmons and the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers credit for honesty.

They didn't try to hide from the fact that they were sloppy with the ball - to the tune of 21 turnovers, a combined 15 from Simmons and Joel Embiid - or that their defense was half-hearted - they let one opponent make his first half-dozen 3-point attempts - or that their overall showing was, to use Tobias Harris' word, “Terrible.”

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Graham has 33, 10 3s as Hornets win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) It's only December but Devonte' Graham is making a strong case for the NBA's Most Improved Player.

Graham added to his growing resume on Wednesday night, knocking down 10 of 16 3-pointers and finishing with 33 points as the Charlotte Hornets spoiled D'Angelo Russell's return to the court with a 106-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. He also had nine assists and seven rebounds with only two turnovers.

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Powell, Brunson lead Mavs past Wolves

DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Mavericks showed Wednesday night they are much more than Luka Doncic.

Dwight Powell scored 24 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the field, Jalen Brunson ignited a fourth-quarter rally with 14 of his 16 points in the period and the Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-114.

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