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Jayson Tatum has scored 37 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 130-108 on Friday night to spoil LeBron James' return to the LA lineup.
The teams who have accounted for nearly half of the NBA's championships with 17 apiece renewed their rivalry in front of a raucous TD Garden crowd that made it seem like a playoff atmosphere from the opening tip.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 31 points, while James had 23 points in 32 minutes. They each had six rebounds and two assists.
James missed eight games with an abdominal strain, and the Lakers (8-9) have lost their last four road games.
"I felt OK," James said.
"Obviously being out two-and-a-half weeks, I felt kind of like a rookie again, just being away from the game. Excited. Felt good enough that I could trust my body."
In Detroit, Jordan Poole stepped up in Stephen Curry's absence to score 22 of his season-high 32 points in the first half, while Andrew Wiggins had 27 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Pistons 105-102.
The NBA-leading Warriors (14-2) sat out Curry with a bruised hip, and were also without Draymond Green because of a bruised thigh.
The Brooklyn Nets top the Eastern Conference standings after James Harden had 36 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to beat the Orlando Magic 115-113.
Brooklyn overcame a 19-point deficit and the absence of Kevin Durant, who did not play due to a right shoulder sprain.
Harden was 19-for-20 from the free throw line, while Australia's Patty Mills added 22 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block to help the Nets improve to 12-5.
"In the second half we were able to get stops, get deflections and we ran down the other end like we were going downhill, Mills said.
"We gained momentum and it became infectious throughout the whole group."
Compatriot Josh Giddey also put up some impressive numbers, scoring 14 points and chipping in with 12 rebounds and four assists.
But his Oklahoma City Thunder were beaten 96-89 by the Milwaukee Bucks, who were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 21 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.
"We fought back," Giddey said.
"We got the game well within our reach. We kept it to two points for a lot of that (fourth) quarter. We couldn't break through and get that lead."
Elsewhere, LaMelo Ball had a season-high 32 points along with 11 rebounds and eight assists and the Charlotte Hornets held off the Indiana Pacers 121-118, while the Phoenix Suns enjoyed a 112-104 triumph over the Dallas Mavericks, despite a Kristaps Porzingis double-double (23 points, 12 rebounds).
The Chicago Bulls beat the Denver Nuggets 114-108, the New Orleans Pelicans were 94-81 winners at home over the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Sacramento Kings 108-89.