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  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Blazers jump all over banged-up Bulls
    By The Sports Xchange

    PORTLAND -- The Chicago Bulls came to the Moda Center like a wounded animal Friday night, and the Portland Trail Blazers wasted no time putting them out of their misery.

    • Portland jumped to an 18-3 lead and never trailed en route to a 105-87 rout of the Bulls, who were without injured starters Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Kirk Hinrich.

      Guard Damian Lillard scored 21 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed six rebounds despite sitting out the fourth quarter while forward LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Trail Blazers (9-3), who won their sixth straight game and improved to 8-1 at home.

      "We took care of business from the jump," said Portland guard Wesley Matthews, who contributed 12 points, four assists and three rebounds. "It was one of our better defensive nights and a good all-around performance."

      Rookie forward Nikola Mirotic came off the bench for season highs in points (24) and rebounds (11) for the Bulls (8-5), who lost for the third time in four games.

      "He played with a lot of toughness," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of Mirotic, a native of Serbia. "He's not hesitating. He's letting go, putting it on the floor, making plays."

      Guard Aaron Brooks was the only other Chicago player to score in double figures with 12 points.

      "You can't say too many positives about tonight, except the way Nikola played, and the way our bench competed," said Chicago center Joakim Noah, who had only seven points and two rebounds in 22 minutes. "We've got a long way to go."

      Portland shot .494 from the field and .563 (9-for-16) on 3-point attempts. Lillard sank 7 of 9 shots from the field, including 4 of 4 attempts from 3-point range, and was 3-for-3 at the free-throw line in his 26 minutes.

      "Damian was very efficient offensively," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "His 3's were timely. To score 21 points on nine shots -- it doesn't get much better than that. And defensively, he keeps showing he has improved."

      "I'm feeling really comfortable," said Lillard, the reigning Western Conference player of the week. "I'm just being myself. I'm just finding the spots on the floor where I can attack and make a play and impact the game."

      The Bulls, who lost 103-88 at Sacramento on Thursday night, shot only .361 from the field as their five starters combined for 37 points.

      "There was some fatigue," Stotts said. "Chicago was a little tired from last night, and (the Bulls) were without three of their main guys. But I liked our demeanor. I liked our disposition, the way we came out of the gates. The offense came and went, but the defense was solid all night."

      Hot shooting by Aldridge (6-for-9, including 2-for-2 on 3-pointers, 14 points) and Lillard (5-for-6, 3-for-3 on 3's, 13 points) sparked Portland to a 61-43 halftime edge. The Blazers fired at a .610 clip from the field while the Bulls shot only .319 in the half.

      Portland extended its lead to 89-61 late in the third quarter, and garbage time was on.

      The Blazers jumped to an 18-3 lead midway through the first quarter, the Bulls hitting only 1 of their first 12 shots from the field. Soon the margin was 26-9. Chicago followed with a 12-4 spurt to get to within 30-21. It was 32-21 going into the second quarter, Aldridge leading the way with 12 points.

      The Bulls cut the difference to 39-35 early in the second period. It was 45-39 when Lillard scored eight points, including back-to-back 3's, to key a 14-0 run as Portland re-established control, going on top 59-39.

      NOTES: Chicago F Mike Dunleavy's third-quarter flagrant foul on Lillard touched off a shoving match that resulted in technical fouls called on Matthews and Chicago's Aaron Brooks. ... Besides Rose (hamstring), Gasol (calf) and Hinrich (chest), the Bulls also lost F Taj Gibson (ankle) in the third quarter. Thibodeau said he didn't think the Gibson injury was serious. ... Portland F Nicolas Batum, who missed the previous four games with a knee contusion, started and collected nine points and three rebounds in 21 minutes. ... The Blazers were without reserve G CJ McCollum, expected to miss a month with a broken finger. ... Portland has limited the opposition to under 90 points five times after accomplishing the feat only seven times during all of last season.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Iguodala, Warriors dominate Jazz
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors got off to such a dominant start Friday night, only one of their starters played more than 25 minutes.

    • What the regulars saw from the bench was backup Andre Iguodala's best performance of the season.

      The veteran swingman missed only one shot during a season-best, 17-point outing after the Warriors' starters had opened the game with a 12-0 flurry that led directly to a 101-88 thumping of the Utah Jazz.

      "Andre was great," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team won its fourth in a row. "It was coming."

      Four Warriors starters scored in double figures and the fifth, point guard Stephen Curry, contributed 10 assists as Golden State improved its record to 9-2, its best season-opening mark since 1972-73.

      Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson dropped in 3-pointers and small forward Harrison Barnes had a pair of hoops in the early runaway that propelled Golden State to its fifth consecutive win over the Jazz.

      "We had four days off, but we had two hard practices to get our groove back," said Iguodala. "We've got some hungry guys here."

      Playing their eighth road game of the season, the Jazz (5-8) missed their first five shots and mixed in three turnovers in a game-opening drought that lasted 4 minutes, 7 seconds.

      On a night when his team shot 50 percent, Kerr felt defense was the key to the win.

      "The encouraging thing about tonight was that it showed our guys that if they just defend and take care of the ball, we can win a lot of games even if we don't shoot well," he analyzed. "That's the mark of a good team. I'm thrilled with this game."

      Utah shot just 25 percent in the first quarter and 42.7 percent for the game.

      Center Enes Kanter's jumper got Utah on the board at the 7:53 mark, but the Jazz got no closer than eight and found itself down by 16 points, 24-8, before breaking into double figures in the 11th minute of the period.

      The Warriors led by as many as 17 in the first quarter, 25 in the second and 30 in the third en route to their seventh victory by a double-digit margin this season.

      "We got punched and we weren't ready to take that punch," said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. "Not to discredit Golden State and how well they played. They like playing together. They are a very good team."

      Iguodala hit seven of his eight shots en route to his team-high scoring total. Transitioning to the second unit after having been a starter most of his career, he had shot just 39.7 percent and averaged only 5.8 points in the Warriors' first 10 games.

      Kerr said he wasn't worried because Iguodala had been practicing far better than he'd been playing.

      "The sacrifice that he has made for this team establishes everything that we are about and that this team is buying into," Kerr said. "If we want to win at the elite level, it's about sacrifice. Andre is setting probably the biggest example of sacrifice by embracing his role, and what he's done has solidified our second group and allowed Harrison (Barnes) to flourish."

      Thompson and Barnes were the high scorers among Warriors starters with 14 points apiece. Center Andrew Bogut had 12 points and power forward Draymond Green 11.

      Barnes completed a double-double with 11 rebounds.

      Big man Marreese Speights joined Iguodala in double figures off the Warriors bench with 14 points.

      Kanter had a team-high 18 points for the Jazz, which fell to 2-6 on the road.

      Small forward Gordon Hayward and backup big man Rudy Gobert added 12 points apiece for the Jazz, and power forward Derrick Favors chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.

      "Our bench came in and really did compete. That was good to see," Snyder said. "Obviously the game is different when you're down that much, but I think we did show some signs of life at that point."

      The loss was the sixth of the year by 10 or more points for Utah.

      NOTES: The Warriors recorded a fifth straight victory over the Jazz for the first time in the history of their rivalry. ... When the Warriors beat the Jazz in the season series last year, it was just the third time that's happened in the past 20 years. ... Both teams entered the game fresh. The Jazz hadn't played since a home win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday; the Warriors had four days off after beating the Los Angeles Lakers on the road last Sunday. ... The Jazz were playing their eighth road game of the season, the second-most in the league. They get six of their next seven at home. ... The Warriors tip off a five-game trip Sunday at Oklahoma City. They'll also make their annual visits to Miami, Orlando, Charlotte and Detroit on the eight-day venture.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    NBA game roundup: Raptors remain atop conference
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- Reserve guard Lou Williams scored 22 points and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-83 on Friday night. The margin of victory was one short of the largest in Raptors franchise history.

    • Toronto's third victory in a row gave it a 6-1 record in the longest homestand in franchise history and a 10-2 record overall to lead the Eastern Conference.

      The Raptors have played only three games on the road, where they are 2-1.

      The Bucks (7-6) had won three in a row before meeting the Raptors.

      Suns 122, 76ers 96

      PHILADELPHIA -- The jury is out as to whether the University of Kentucky could beat winless Philadelphia, as Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe, a former Wildcat, claimed earlier this week.

      Bledsoe’s current team did just fine against the Sixers, however.

      Guard Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points off the bench, matching his season high, as the Suns blitzed the Sixers.

      Forward Markieff Morris added 18 points for the Suns (8-5), who placed eight players in double figures while winning their third straight.

      Magic 105, Hornets 100

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Evan Fournier scored 21 points, and Orlando rallied from a 23-point deficit in the second half to stun Charlotte.

      The Magic trailed 70-47 with 6:41 left in the third quarter, and still trailed 79-64 entering the fourth quarter. But Elfrid Payton, Willie Green and Ben Gordon provided a spark off the bench and the Magic wound up outscoring Charlotte 41-21 in the final period.

      The Hornets (4-9) lost their fourth straight and lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.

      Spurs 121, Timberwolves 92

      MINNEAPOLIS -- Tony Parker led all scorers with 28 points to lead San Antonio to a win over short-handed Minnesota at Target Center.

      The Wolves, playing without four starters, were able to stay in the game early, trailing by only three after one quarter.

      But the veteran Spurs gained control, opening up an 11-point lead at the break before blowing the game open after halftime, outscoring Minnesota 32-14 in the third quarter.

      Parker finished 12 of 18 from the floor, including 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. He had 23 points at halftime, eight more than his per game average. It was the third time this season Parker has finished with 28 points.

      Hawks 99, Pistons 89

      ATLANTA -- Detroit's road woes continued as Atlanta remained successful at home.

      Guard Jeff Teague had a season-high 28 points and forward Paul Millsap had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Hawks (6-5) improved to 5-1 in Atlanta with a victory over the Pistons (3-10).

      Center Andre Drummond had 16 rebounds to go with 13 points, but Detroit fell to 1-6 on the road with their fourth straight overall loss. The Pistons have won just once in their past eight games.

      Grizzlies 117, Celtics 100

      MEMPHIS -- Center Marc Gasol scored 32 points to tie his career high, forward Zach Randolph added 16 points and 16 rebounds and reserve forward Jon Leuer scored a season-high 19 points to lead Memphis to a victory over Boston.

      The win was the 21st consecutive at home for the Grizzlies dating to Feb. 11 and the franchise's fifth straight victory over the Celtics. At 11-2, Memphis owns the league's best record.

      The Grizzlies never trailed in the game and breezed to the win despite missing several players because of a stomach virus. Starting guard Tony Allen and reserve guard Quincy Pondexter did not play because of the illness.

      Wizards 91, Cavaliers 78

      WASHINGTON -- Guard John Wall had 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter and Washington's reserves finished with a 40-9 scoring advantage as the Wizards downed Cleveland.

      Forward LeBron James and guard Kyrie Irving each had 22 points for the Cavaliers (5-6), who scored their fewest points this season.

      Cleveland has dropped three in a row, marking the first time James has suffered three straight losses since the Miami Heat were vanquished by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.

      Nuggets 117, Pelicans 97

      DENVER -- Guard Arron Afflalo and forward Kenneth Faried scored 19 points each, forward Wilson Chandler had 18 and surging Denver beat New Orleans.

      Forward Danilo Gallinari had a season-high 17 points and center JaVale McGee scored 14 for the Nuggets, who held Pelicans forward Anthony Davis in check.

      Davis has been historically good in the early going. Through the first 10 games, he was averaging 25.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.9 blocks and 2.3 steals, numbers that only four players have averaged for an entire season -- and all are in the Hall of Fame.

      He had 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks against Denver, which has experienced a resurgence over the last eight days. The Nuggets were 1-6 after being routed at home by Portland on Nov. 12 but have won four of their last five.

      Mavericks 140, Lakers 106

      DALLAS -- Led by Dirk Nowitzki’s 19 first-half points, endless scoring options all whirring in high-scoring harmony and a 42-point third-quarter shellacking, Dallas won for the sixth consecutive time to improve to 10-3. The Mavs haven’t won as many as six in a row since 2012. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers surrendered their modest win streak of two vanished in a fog of Mavs’ shot-making from everywhere and from seemingly everybody.

      Dallas gained control with an 11-2 burst in the final 1:26 of the first quarter that ended with a fury, five Mavs points coming in four seconds capped by Mavs guard J.J. Barea’s 3-pointer after Lakers center Robert Sacre regrettably tossed the inbounds pass directly to a Dallas defender.

      Nets 94, Thunder 92

      OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jarrett Jack scored 23 points off the bench to lead Brooklyn to a victory over Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

      The win ended a five-game losing streak for the Nets (5-7). But it took a foiurth-quarter comeback to do it.

      As in its previous two contests, Oklahoma City began to fall apart in the final quarter. It allowed Brooklyn to scratch and claw its way into the lead using a 19-11 run to begin the fourth quarter.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Nuggets rebound to defeat Pelicans at home
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- Four minutes into the game, the Denver Nuggets were down by 12 and heading toward another embarrassing home performance.

    • A quick timeout and quiet threat to bring in the reserves changed Denver's fortunes.

      I said, 'If you guys don't get it going right away I'm coming in with the bench,'" Shaw said. "They kind of settled down and got things going."

      Once they did, the Nuggets controlled the rest of the game.

      Guard Arron Afflalo and forward Kenneth Faried scored 19 points each, forward Wilson Chandler had 18 and the surging Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 117-97 on Friday night.

      Forward Danilo Gallinari had a season-high 17 points and center JaVale McGee scored 14 for the Nuggets, who held Pelicans forward Anthony Davis in check.

      "We just have to move on," Davis said. "You're going to have games like this."

      Davis has been historically good in the early going. Through the first 10 games, he was averaging 25.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.9 blocks and 2.3 steals, numbers that only four players have averaged for an entire season -- and all are in the Hall of Fame.

      He had 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks against Denver, which has experienced a resurgence over the last eight days. The Nuggets were 1-6 after being routed at home by Portland on Nov. 12 but have won four of their last five.

      "Our main goal is to get back to .500 and go from there," guard Ty Lawson said.

      Denver (5-7) has crept closer to even with a stronger defense and a better effort at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets lost three straight at home before winning their last two.

      "We still have a long way to go," Shaw said. "It took longer than we would have liked but it's nice to see it coming together."

      Both teams had six players reach double figures in scoring.

      Davis kept the Pelicans (6-5) in the game in the first quarter by scoring 10 of the team's 26 points. He sat to start the second and the Nuggets went ahead 37-26 with an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the first and start of the second.

      Denver's defense sparked the run by forcing eight early turnovers. New Orleans missed its first six shots of the second before forward John Salmons hit a 3-pointer with 7:46 left before halftime.

      The Nuggets, who trailed 14-2 early, increased their lead to 16 on two free throws by Gallinari. Denver led 59-49 at halftime.

      Davis hit his first four shots then went 3-for-13 the rest of the way. He wasn't the only New Orleans player to struggle. The Pelicans shot 39.7 percent for the game and allowed Denver to hit 52.4 percent of its shots.

      "We had a bad game," said Davis, who had his streak of scoring 20 or more points ended at seven games. "We missed shots. We came making them. Then after coming out of a timeout, we couldn't make them and they were scoring in transition and making 3s off the rebounds."

      The Nuggets pulled away in the fourth quarter. McGee's alley-oop dunk made it 92-77 and six straight points by Chandler gave Denver a 98-77 lead with 8:46 remaining.

      "We have an identity," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "When we stray away from that, we get this result."

      McGee entertained the crowd when he went into the courtside seats to try to save a ball. As he got up, he planted a kiss on a female fan before running downcourt.

      "That's my Buddha," McGee said. "I don't know her name but that's my Buddha."

      NOTES: Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said SF Danilo Gallinari will eventually return to the starting lineup when "Gallinari is back to being the player he was before the injury." F Wilson Chandler has started 10 of the 12 games at small forward while Gallinari works back to full strength after two ACL surgeries. ... New Orleans C Omer Asik was a late scratch with lower back pain. He aggravated the injury that kept him out of the previous two games. ... Through their first 11 games, the Nuggets are averaging just 13.8 turnovers a game. It is currently the lowest turnover average in franchise history. ... The Pelicans are averaging a league-low 10.9 turnovers per game. They had a season-low six against Sacramento on Tuesday.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Cavs struggle to score; skid hits three with loss to Wizards
    By The Sports Xchange

    WASHINGTON -- This summer, LeBron James shed light on why he returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a rather public letter.

    • Eleven games into the current season, the All-Star forward, his teammates and coach have little explanation why they're so in the dark when it comes to scoring.

      The Cavaliers lost their third straight game and scored their fewest points this season, falling 91-78 to John Wall and the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

      James and guard Kyrie Irving each had 22 points for the Cavaliers (5-6). The start this season is the worst for any team with James since the Cleveland Cavaliers opened the 2007-08 campaign with the same 5-6 record.

      After scoring at last 118 points in three straight wins, Cleveland is averaging 88.3 during the skid. Despite the Wizards (8-3) only scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers never rallied. Going without a field goal for the final 9:15 didn't help.

      "Obviously, right now we're struggling," Cleveland coach David Blatt said. "We're a little bit in the dark and we have to find our way out."

      Wall had 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter as the Wizards led comfortably most of the second half before the sellout crowd of 20,356.

      "He's our leader, man," forward Paul Pierce said of Washington's point guard. "He's asked to carry a big load for this ballclub. ...That is why you are going to see a lot of his jerseys in the stands."

      Help came from the bench. Washington's reserves finished with a 40-9 scoring advantage. Center Kevin Seraphin and guard Bradley Beal each scored 12 points.

      The Cavaliers rarely helped themselves on either end of the court. Washington scored 50 points in the paint and turned 19 Cleveland turnovers into 24 points.

      "Irresponsible play with the ball and bad decisions," Blatt said. "I can think off the top of my head five or six clear break situations where we don't finish with a shot. That is just not high-level basketball."

      Cleveland lacked vigor, failed to come up with several 50-50 loose balls and seemingly played without purpose for stretches.

      "That's something I cannot explain right now," James said about the lack of energy. "That's something we have to have. ... Losing doesn't help; it saps the energy away. But I think for us we're worried about the in-game too much instead of going out there playing, competing."

      The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player went 8 of 21 from the field in 39 minutes. The Cavaliers shot 36 percent from the floor.

      After missing his first eight shots in Wednesday's home loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Wall sank 12 of 20 from the field. Historically a poor perimeter shooter, the All-Star drained several open jumpers when Cleveland defenders went under screens in the third quarter.

      Wall scored 10 of Washington's final 16 points in the quarter as the Wizards led 80-65.

      "That's a concept a lot of teams give me in certain situations," Wall said. "I didn't shoot the ball well against Dallas and I was very disappointed. I stayed after practice Thursday, got extra shots up. ... Just getting back to the basics of it. Got to take those shots if they're there and tonight I was able to knock them down."

      The Cavaliers didn't receive a point from any reserve until guard Dion Waiters' jumper with 3:25 left in the third quarter. By that time -- led by Seraphin and Beal - the Wizards' subs had 29.

      James' return to Cleveland and the Wizards' return to the Eastern Conference playoff mix recharged a rivalry that this week the two-time NBA champion recalled as "must-see TV." The teams met three straight seasons in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, with the Cavaliers winning each time.

      Seraphin played the entire second quarter, carving out space inside to lead the Wizards with 12 points in the quarter and into the halftime locker room with a 55-42 halftime lead.

      NOTES: Wizards forward Nene had 10 points. ...Garrett Temple has started all 11 games at guard for the Wizards this season, including the last two with G Bradley Beal back after wrist surgery. Temple is 0 of 8 from the field in his last three games. ... C Brendan Haywood, now with the Cavaliers, was a Wizards starter when Washington and Cleveland met in the playoffs. He entered in the first quarter and played three minutes after sitting out four of the last five games. ...The Wizards play at the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Washington is 2-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season. ... Cleveland starts a five-game homestand Saturday against the Toronto Raptors.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Gasol, Leuer lead Grizzlies to win over Celtics
    By The Sports Xchange

    MEMPHIS -- If Memphis Grizzlies reserve forward Jon Leuer was feeling at less than full strength following a stomach virus that recently struck him and several teammates, his play Friday night against the Boston Celtics certainly didn't reflect it.

    • Leuer paced a productive Grizzlies' bench with a season-high 19 points in 22 minutes to complement center Marc Gasol's career-high tying 32 points and eight rebounds in a 117-100 victory. Forward Zach Randolph added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who won their 21st consecutive home game to extend a franchise record. Memphis hasn't lost at the FedExForum since early February.

      With the win, the Grizzlies improved to 11-2, the league's best record.

      Memphis shot 53 percent, was 8-of-16 from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Celtics, 50-38. The Grizzlies also outscored Boston in the paint, 66-38. The Celtics were led by center Kelly Olynyk, who finished with 18 points.

      "It was a good, professional win by our guys," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "I thought we took care of the basketball very well. We executed well. We got the ball in the paint. We did a nice job of boxing out on long shots (that led to) long rebounds and helped propel our offense. This was a dangerous game."

      Leuer was one of five Grizzlies sent home from Toronto on a charter flight earlier this week after the group caught a stomach virus so severe it necessitated a brief trip to the hospital. Against the Celtics -- two days after being sent home early -- Leuer connected on 9-of-13 shots, grabbed seven rebounds and added four assists, two steals and a block.

      "He was good," Joerger said. "I know he's sick (but) he was playing his tail off. He made some shots, which was good to see, but he can barely keep his head up right now."

      Leuer had two steals, a block, an assist and a dunk during a 9-2 run in the second quarter that allowed the Grizzlies to extend a six-point lead (39-33) to 13 (48-35). Tayshaun Prince dropped in a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Grizzlies a 14-point halftime lead at 55-41.

      Leuer opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from the left corner and added two strong drives to the basket to put the Grizzlies ahead, 95-79, with 7:25 to go. Memphis was never threatened again and built a 21-point lead, its largest of the game, two minutes later.

      "It's always nice to see the ball go in, especially when you knock your first couple of shots downs," Leuer said. "The basket just seems to get bigger from there."

      Leuer, averaging 3.6 points entering the game, was part of a Grizzlies bench that finished with 42 points.

      "Our job as a bench is to come in and provide energy and give the starters a lift when they come off the floor," Leuer said. "We were able to do that. Everybody stepped up, brought energy and contributed."

      The Grizzlies never trailed in the game and breezed to the win despite missing two keyl players because of the stomach illness. Starting guard Tony Allen and reserve guard Quincy Pondexter did not play.

      Trailing by 14 at the half, the Celtics made a run at the Grizzlies to start the second half and trimmed the deficit to six at 57-51. Led by Gasol, the Grizzlies answered Boston's charge with a 17-4 run to build their biggest lead (74-55). Gasol had 11 points during the run and Randolph had the other six.

      "It's always part of our game plan to go inside to get us going," Gasol said. "We tried to start from the inside out. We did a good job of moving the ball, too. And we made shots."

      For the game, Gasol and Randolph combined to make 20-of-34 shots.

      "Gasol was huge and he was the best player on the floor," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "He just kept making plays over and over, both with the pass and the shot.

      "And those guys (Gasol and Randolph) can score on the block. They make great passes out of the post. Double-teams don't affect them at all. They're very poised with the ball when they catch it on the pick-and-roll. They make and take their open shots without hesitation. They're just alive."

      The Grizzlies shot 54.5 percent in the first half and scored 30 points in the paint to take the 14-point lead. Gasol had 13 points at the half, while Randolph and Leuer had 10 apiece. Leuer had all of his points during a nine-minute stretch in the second quarter.

      NOTES: At one point several hours before Friday's game, the Grizzlies listed seven players -- starting guards Tony Allen and Courtney Lee along with guards Quincy Pondexter and Beno Udrih, center Kosta Koufos and forwards Jon Leuer and Jarnell Stokes -- as questionable due to the stomach virus. Shortly before the tip, Pondexter was downgraded to questionable. Allen, Lee, Koufos, Leuer and Udrih missed the team's 96-92 loss at Toronto with the stomach ailment. ... When asked before the game if the Grizzlies -- on a franchise-record homecourt winning streak -- played any differently at FedExForum, Celtics coach Brad Stevens responded. "No. They play pretty good on the road, too." ... With the Grizzlies' roster reduced by five in Toronto, coach Dave Joerger was able to give rookies Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes considerable playing time. Adams played 17 minutes and scored three points, while Stokes played nine minutes and scored four points. "It's good for them to get their feet wet and experience the game and the speed of the game," Joerger said. ... The Celtics ranked third in the league in scoring at 106.8 points entering the game and ranked second in points in the paint (48.7 ppg). Boston had only 38 points in the paint against the Grizzlies. The Celtics lost their fifth straight game to Memphis.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Nets end losing streak, Thunder still on skids
    By The Sports Xchange

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Something had to give when Brooklyn and Oklahoma City faced off Friday.

    • The Nets were mired in a five-game losing streak while the Thunder were on a four-game skid of their own.

      Using a fourth quarter comeback and clutch shooting by guard Jarrett Jack, the Nets prevailed 94-92 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

      "A win is a win," Nets guard Deron Williams said. "Anytime you were on a losing streak like we were, five straight, a win is a win. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't ideal."

      As in their previous two contests, Oklahoma City began to fall apart in the final quarter, allowing Brooklyn to take the lead with a 19-11 run.

      After back-to-back stops, Thunder guard Anthony Morrow and the Nets' Jack, traded 3-pointers and Oklahoma City trailed 93-88 late.

      The Thunder cut the Nets lead to two with 46 seconds left. Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson missed a shot to give the ball back to the Thunder. Guard Reggie Jackson once again took an ill-advised layup attempt in traffic, but the ball went out-of-bounds off Brooklyn, giving the Thunder another chance.

      "We wanted to keep passing," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "We had some stretches throughout the game where the ball was a little sticky. We were trying to play the right way throughout the game."

      Oklahoma City (3-11) then got the ball back to Reggie Jackson, who nailed a jumper. Johnson was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws to cut the Nets advantage to 94-92 with 4.9 seconds left.

      After a time-out, Oklahoma City guard Jeremy Lamb inbounded the ball to Jackson, who took a 3-pointer from top of the key. It was off the mark and Brooklyn held on for the victory.

      "We made enough plays to get ahead and then down the stretch we had more flaws offensively," Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. "At the end, the kid (Jackson) settled for a jump shot instead of driving for the basket and we got the win.

      Jack led all scorers with 23 points on 8 of 15 shooting. Williams added 17 points while center Brook Lopez scored 16 points and 10 boards.

      Jackson led the Thunder with 21 points on 9-for-19 shooting. Forward Serge Ibaka added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

      Brooks made a subtle change to the starting lineup by inserting guard Andre Roberson in place of Lamb. In his second game back since returning from a sprained foot, Roberson provided the Thunder with an instant spark on the defensive end as they led 27-21 after one quarter.

      The Nets rode the back of Jack to get back into the contest in the second quarter. He scored 12 points off the bench, but the Thunder still led 53-49 at halftime.

      Oklahoma City was unable to pull away in the third, despite Ibaka scoring 10 points. Jack and Johnson made sure to keep the Thunder within striking distance as they trailed by only three points.

      "It was just a lot of effort," Lopez said. "We did a good job gang rebounding as a team; all five crashing the boards and boxing out made it easier."

      NOTES: Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said F Kevin Durant and G Russell Westbrook will both participate in practice Saturday. "They had good workouts the last couple days," Brooks said. "Probably not any of the contact stuff, (but) they will go through some of our practice and we'll go from there." Per the NBA's hardship rule, neither can return to the lineup until the Nov. 28 home game against the New York Knicks. ... Brooklyn F Andrei Kirilenko didn't make the trip to Oklahoma City with the team. Coach Lionel Hollins was asked if Kirilenko would rejoin the Nets after the two-game road trip. "I have no idea," Hollins said. "I make choices and that's the way we go." Kirilenko was a DNP/coach's decision or inactive the previous three games. ... With the Nets in town, it gave former Boston teammates C Kendrick Perkins of the Thunder and F Kevin Garnett of the Nets a chance to catch up. "We talked a little noise last night on the phone," Perkins said. "(Garnett) was like 'we on one (losing streak), so they trying to get a win and I said (shoot) I'm on one too, we trying to get a win. So he's still my big homie but not right now, though."

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Mavericks pound Lakers
    By The Sports Xchange

    DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks are operating at tremendous efficiency and the Los Angeles Lakers, who for the rare time this season were actually feeling decent about themselves, served as nothing more than the next overmatched opponent to get blown away.

    • Led by Dirk Nowitzki's 19-first half points, endless scoring options all whirring in high-scoring harmony and a 42-point third-quarter shellacking, Dallas routed the Lakers 140-106 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive victory.

      The Mavs (10-3) haven't won as many as six in a row since 2012.

      Kobe Bryant and the Lakers surrendered their modest win streak of two, which vanished in a fog of Mavs shot-making from everywhere and from seemingly everybody.

      "Tonight is a setback," Bryant said. "Sometimes you take a couple of steps forward before taking a step back. Sometimes you take a step back before you can take a couple of steps forward. Tonight was a step back. They are extremely good, but they shot the lights out. I mean, 55-percent from 3 is crazy."

      Dallas gained control with an 11-2 burst in the final 1:26 of the first quarter that ended with the Mavs scoring five points in four seconds, capped by guard J.J. Barea's 3-pointer after Lakers center Robert Sacre regrettably tossed the inbounds pass directly to a Dallas defender.

      The Mavs led 68-59 at the half and managed a nine- or 11-point cushion until midway through the third quarter when the flood gates busted open. Guard Monta Ellis suddenly discovered a sizzling hand and nailed three consecutive 3-pointers to blow the game up, 93-73.

      With 2:30 to go in the third quarter, Dallas led 100-77, carving up a virtually nonexistent, or at least a completely insufficient Lakers defense.

      At the end of three, Dallas was shooting 65 percent from the field and 52 percent (13 of 15) from beyond the arc. They had 29 assists on 39 baskets and led 110-83.

      "I love the way we passed it in the second half," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "When the ball touches a lot of people's hands, it makes a big difference, regardless of what level you're at. Second half, the unselfishness was really tremendous. We've just got to keep preaching it. Guys have got to keep doing it. This was a hard game that turned into an easy game in the end, but we had to get some traction defensively, and we had to keep scoring."

      The Lakers tried hard to make a game of it before halftime, but they just couldn't really cut into the lead very deep and once the onslaught started in the third quarter, it just got out of hand for L.A.

      Bryant again struggled to connect in L.A.'s methodical offense, hitting on just 6 of 22 shots from the field for 17 points. Guard Jeremy Lin led the Lakers with 18 points and five assists, but he also had four turnovers.

      Dallas eventually extended the lead to 119-88, the fifth time in 11 games to lead by at least 30 points.

      "We just moved the ball," Chandler said of the Mavs' season-high for points. "We played so unselfish and that was probably our best ball-movement game. People had good shots; if someone had a better shot we moved the ball. In the paint, we penetrated and drove, kicked it to the open man and that's how we need to play. Our defense was much better and I think that gives us energy for the offensive end."

      Four Dallas bench players scored in double figures with pleasant early-season surprise Al-Farouq Aminu getting 13 points and dunk machine Brandan Wright adding 12 points. Barea, a clutch spark plug in the Mavs' last road win at Washington, was again impressive with 16 points and eight assists.

      "The teams that we have struggled with are the teams that have a lot of shooters," Bryant said. "Those teams can really spread the floor and shoot it well. Those teams are the ones that are going to give us some problems."

      NOTES: Lakers G Kobe Bryant defended the two-year, $48.5 million extension he signed last season in comparison with the below-market contract -- three years, $25 million -- that Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki signed during the offseason. Bryant deemed so-called hometown discounts a "big coup for the owners." Bryant said, "Did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some fans want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah." ... Lakers G Wayne Ellington rejoined the team after a nearly two-week absence following the murder of his father in Philadelphia. "I just want him back with the team, back with his family," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "Last couple of games obviously we've played pretty well, so that rotation will probably stay the same for tonight." ... Mavs owner Mark Cuban used to enjoy trading barbs in the media with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Those days are over, but Cuban still likes to poke the struggling Lakers when the opportunity presents itself. During an interview on a Los Angeles sports radio talk show this week, Cuban said he hopes the Lakers "suck forever." ... Mavs G Devin Harris missed his second consecutive game with lower right leg soreness ... Mavs G Raymond Felton served the third of a four-game suspension, leaving Dallas with 12 players in uniform ... Mavs F Chandler Parsons returns to Houston for Saturday's game against the Rockets for the first time since the Mavs plucked him from Houston with a lucrative contract offer during the offseason.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Spurs drill depleted Timberwolves
    By The Sports Xchange

    MINNEAPOLIS -- Likely needing to play a perfect game even under the best of circumstances against the San Antonio Spurs, the Minnesota Timberwolves seemingly had no hope.

    • The defending NBA champions toyed with the Timberwolves, especially in the second half, in a 121-92 win on Friday night at Target Center.

      Minnesota was without four starters, including leading scorer Kevin Martin. Its 10 active players combined for about 300 more career minutes than Spurs forward Tim Duncan by himself.

      Afterward, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich stated the obvious.

      "It wasn't a fair fight," Popovich said. "It's hard to compete when you don't have all your guys out there. They're having a tough time with that right now."

      Minnesota did its best to keep it close, trailing by only three after the first quarter.

      But the veteran Spurs gained control, opening an 11-point lead at the break before blowing the game open after halftime, outscoring Minnesota 32-14 in the third quarter.

      Spurs guard Tony Parker led all scorers with 28 points, despite not playing any of the fourth quarter with San Antonio holding a big lead. He had 13 at the end of one and 10 in the second quarter. His 23 at halftime was already eight more than his season average.

      "Tony was really focused tonight, aggressive," Popovich said. "He got us going tonight."

      Parker finished 12 of 18 from the floor, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. It was the third time this season that Parker has finished with 28 points.

      "The goal is to try and get a lead," Parker said. "We know we have a lot of veterans and need to get some rest for the back-to-back (games). Our mindset was to be focused from the get-go and rest some guys in the second half."

      With San Antonio leading by four midway through the second quarter, Spurs guard Danny Green hit back-to-back 3-pointers, pushing to the lead into double figures for the first time. The Spurs led 59-48 at the half.

      Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard spearheaded a 13-2 run to start the third quarter, hitting a 15-foot jumper, a long three to make it a 20-point game and two free throws as San Antonio opened a 72-50.

      "The frustrating thing was we just didn't have the size to put in against Duncan and their bigs," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "Their perimeters are good. Parker had it going. He loves to play in this arena and shoots the ball well."

      Five Spurs scored in double figures, including forward Austin Daye, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. It was the second double-double of his career.

      "He's going to make shots, he's going to miss shots. We're trying to get him to play a complete game," Popovich said. "He went to the boards hard."

      Green finished with 15 points and Leonard with 14. Forward Tim Duncan had nine points and 10 rebounds.

      In addition to Martin, Minnesota was without point guard Ricky Rubio, center Nikola Pekovic and forward Thaddeus Young.

      "That's part of the game, you know, next man up," Timberwolves guard Mo Williams said.

      Forward Anthony Bennett led the Timberwolves with a career-high 20 points. Williams had 15 to go with four assists and forward Andrew Wiggins finished with 14 points.

      "(Bennett) played well. I thought he played within himself," Saunders said. "I would have like to have seen him rebound better. But I thought he did some things offensively, shot the ball well, competed."

      Each team plays the second half of back-to-back games on Saturday. San Antonio has now won three straight overall and heads home for a game against Brooklyn. Minnesota will also play at home against Sacramento.

      NOTES: Spurs SG Marco Belinelli returned to the lineup Friday after missing the past eight games with a mild groin strain. Belinelli averaged 8.3 points in three games to begin the season. ... Spurs PF Matt Bonner missed the game with an illness. He is day to day. ... Timberwolves SG Kevin Martin was diagnosed with a fractured left wrist Friday and is out indefinitely. Martin injured the wrist during the first quarter on Wednesday in a 115-99 win over the New York Knicks. Martin scored a season-high 37 points in the victory and is Minnesota's leading scorer at 20.4 points per game. ... The Timberwolves were without three of their five starters from opening night because of injury or absence. PG Ricky Rubio (ankle), PF Thaddeus Young (personal reasons) and C Nikola Pekovic (wrist) were all unavailable.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Raptors defeat Bucks to extend winning streak
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors finished a franchise-record seven-game homestand on Friday night by nearly setting another record.

    • Led by 22 points from reserve guard Lou Williams, they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-83 to fall one short of the team record of 42 for the winning margin of victory.

      The Raptors finished their homestand with a three-game winning streak and a 6-1 record and are 10-2 overall to lead the Eastern Conference.

      The Raptors have played only three games on the road, where they are 2-1.

      "I thought our mental focus was great," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Nobody in that locker room was even talking about (when they play at Cleveland). If we're going to be an elite team, or grow to be an elite team in this league, we have to make sure we take care of business and take care of what's in front of us."

      The Bucks (7-6) had won three in a row before meeting the Raptors. The Raptors shot 52.3 percent from the field and the Bucks shot 36.5 percent.

      It was a forgettable game for the Bucks and they will quickly try to push it aside.

      "Usually you just throw it away," Bucks forward Jared Dudley said. "They just came out from the jump. We can't make excuses tonight, that's why they're the best in the East. You've got to tip your hat to them. They embarrassed us. Early on we were a little sluggish. They came out and executed."

      Point guard Kyle Lowry added 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and center Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. Forward Terrence Ross contributed 13 points to the rout and reserve guard Greivis Vasquez chipped in with 11.

      "This is a game we had to focus on," Lowry said. "They're a tough team over there, playing extremely well. They're fourth in the East so we had to take the initiative and play our game tonight. We established ourselves physically inside and we made shots and we moved the ball well. Everyone got comfortable and made some shots tonight. The overall team was in a groove."

      As for the homestand, Lowry said, "We had an opportunity to take advantage of the opportunity that we had and I think we took great advantage of it."

      Forward Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 15 points, forward Ersan Ilyasova added 14, guard Brandon Knight had 11 and center Larry Sanders contributed eight.

      The Raptors increased a 26-point halftime lead to 32 when they scored the first six points of the third quarter.

      They led 94-41 with 4:21 to play in the third quarter after Lowry hit two 3-pointers in a row followed by another 3 by Ross.

      When Williams hit three free throws with 11.6 seconds left in the third quarter, the Raptors led by 45 points, the largest lead in franchise history during a game. The previous mark had been 43.

      Parker made one of two free throws at the end of the third quarter, which finished with the Raptors leading 101-57.

      Raptors rookie forward Bruno Caboclo, a Brazilian drafted in the first round this year, put in his first NBA minutes early in the fourth quarter and quickly put up eight points that included two 3-pointers.

      "In that last quarter, we were just trying to win that quarter and try to build for tomorrow," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

      The Bucks won the fourth quarter 26-23 but that is about all.

      The Raptors led by as many as 17 points during the first quarter but needed a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Williams to take a 37-27 lead into the second quarter. Valanciunas had 12 points and five rebounds in the first quarter.

      Williams made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Raptors a 71-45 halftime lead.

      Williams led all scorers with 16 points in the first half on 6-for-12 shooting from the field.

      The Raptors shot 52.1 percent from the floor in the first half and the Bucks shot 42.9 percent.

      NOTES: Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo (right ankle sprain) played despite being announced at game time as being out. He participated in the morning shootaround after he was injured in the second overtime of the Bucks' 122-118 triple-overtime victory at Brooklyn on Wednesday. ... Raptors F James Johnson (right ankle sprain) missed his second straight game. ... F Tyler Hansbrough (right shoulder sprain) also did not play for the Raptors. He was injured on Wednesday but was able to continue. ... The Raptors won all four games between the teams last season. ... With the 96-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, Dwane Casey has moved into second place among Raptors coaches with 114 wins. Sam Mitchell ranks first at 156. ... The Raptors 'next game is Saturday at the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bucks are home to face the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Teague leads Hawks past Pistons
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- The Detroit Pistons road woes continued as the Atlanta Hawks kept up their success at home.

    • Guard Jeff Teague had a season-high 28 points and forward Paul Millsap had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Hawks (6-5) improved to 5-1 in Atlanta with a 99-89 victory over the Pistons (3-10).

      "Jeff Teague was very good," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "A lot of people talk about his points and his offense, but I though his defense was very good on the ball."

      Teague, who had six assists, made 9 of 15 shots, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc, and was 8-for-8 from the foul line. He also had two steals and a pair of blocked shots.

      "I was just trying to be aggressive," said Teague, who was able to use his speed to get to the basket with seeming ease. "That's the way we want to play."

      Center Andre Drummond had 16 rebounds to go with 13 points, but Detroit fell to 1-6 on the road with their fourth straight overall loss. The Pistons, who shot 37.3 percent, have won just once in their past eight games.

      "We just don't have anyone playing at a very high level (offensively)," Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We're having so much trouble getting the ball in the basket."

      Forward Josh Smith had 16 points and guard D.J. Augustine contributed 14 off the bench for the Pistons, who lost guard Brandon Jennings to a hyper-extended left thumb in the third quarter.

      The Hawks led by 19 points, but Drummond's tip at the third-quarter buzzer cut the advantage to 74-64 after a 13-4 run. Then the Pistons scored the first 10 points of the final quarter to pull even.

      "I thought our resolve was really, really good," Van Gundy said.

      Forward Kyle Korver, though, got the lead back for the Hawks with a 3-pointer that made it 79-76 and Teague pushed the advantage to 89-80 with a 3-pointer of his own. Atlanta was never in danger after that.

      "Basketball is a game of runs and we were able to respond," said Korver, who had 12 points.

      "We just struggle down the last few minutes of games," Van Gundy said. "We've got to find some answers."

      Ahead 29-25 after the first quarter, the Hawks pushed their lead to 11 points midway in the second and led 50-40 at halftime as forward Al Horford, who scored 14 points, hit a jumper at the buzzer.

      "We wanted to come out a play hard and we did that," Millsap said.

      Millsap scored all 10 of his first-half points in the opening quarter, when Atlanta shot 60 percent. Smith had 10 points at the break for the Pistons, who made 35.7 percent of their first-half shots.

      "We're just in a shooting slump right now," said Smith, who was 8-for-9.

      NOTES: F DeMarre Carroll, who had 10 points and seven rebounds, returned for the Hawks after missing four games because of a groin strain and started in place F Thabo Sefolosha. The Hawks were 2-2 without Carroll. ... The Hawks sent rookie F/C Adreian Payne, the 15th overall pick in the draft, to Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League for games Friday and Saturday in Erie, Pa. He started the season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and hasn't played in an NBA game. ... The Hawks won their first four home games before losing 114-109 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. ... The Pistons lost 10 straight in Atlanta before a 102-95 victory at the end of last season. ... F Josh Smith, an Atlanta native, spent his first nine seasons with the Hawks before signing with the Pistons last season. He averaged just 9.3 points and shot 30.8 percent from the field in three games against the Hawks.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Magic rally to defeat Hornets
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Coach Jacque Vaughn believes the Orlando Magic have an "unbreakable spirit."

    • That was clearly on display on Friday night as the Magic rallied from a 23-point second-half deficit to stun the Charlotte Hornets 105-100.

      The Magic trailed 70-47 with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter and still trailed 79-64 going into the fourth, but they erupted for 41 fourth-quarter points and outscored the Hornets 41-21 in the final period.

      It matched the third-largest comeback in franchise history.

      "We weren't making shots in the first half, but overall there was a spirit," Vaughn said. "We had a belief and a confidence. I thought overall there was no panic. That's what we talked about at halftime, no panic, we'll get a chance to get back in this game. So it's a great lesson for a lot of guys in the locker room. It makes your spirit unbreakable."

      Evan Fournier led the Magic with 21 points, but he wasn't even on the floor down the stretch as backups Elfrid Payton, Ben Gordon and Willie Green made big play after big play. The three combined for 26 of Orlando's 41 fourth-quarter points.

      Tobias Harris finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, Payton scored 16, Vucevic finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Gordon scored 11, Victor Oladipo 10, and Green nine.

      "On the road, being down 23, it's a great win for us," Harris said. "Pure magic. Coach tells us, ‘Don't panic, just play our game' and we got in a rhythm offensively and we got a bunch of stops we needed and we were able to get the win. We put our head down a couple of times, I know I did, but everybody on the team kept encouraging each other and the coaches encouraged us to dig down deep, and that's what we did."

      The Magic (6-8) has already won four road games this season, matching all of last season's total.

      "It's good to see the way we're playing on the road," Vaughn said. "I think we're still growing. I would hope that we don't always get down 23. That is the next step, to be able to go on the road and build a lead and be able to put your foot down as the game progresses."

      Charlotte led 51-40 at halftime and opened the third quarter with a 15-4 run, eventually pushing the lead to 23. The Hornets (4-9) seemed well on their way to breaking a three-game losing streak.

      But Orlando whittled the margin down to 15 after three quarters, and then came the 41-point fourth-quarter explosion. Green's jumper with 3:22 left tied the game at 93-93. Then he gave the Magic the lead for good at 99-97 with a follow shot off a missed free throw with 57.2 seconds remaining.

      The Magic shot 71.4 percent from the field in the fourth (15 of 21), and did not commit a turnover. The Hornets, meanwhile, shot 32.1 percent in the period (9 of 28).

      "Our defensive intensity level picked up, and we did some creative things offensively and went to a smaller lineup," Vaughn said. "That gave Elfrid a chance to get into the paint and be creative. And Willie and Ben, those guys have been good lately. Boy, they came through."

      Al Jefferson led the Hornets with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Gary Neal scored 17, and Kemba Walker finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

      The Hornets have now lost six of their last seven.

      "Obviously, we had the game in hand and two things happened," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "One, at the end of the third quarter, we just lost our intensity. We went from having the big cushion of more than 20 and playing very organized and disciplined on both ends of the floor to playing sloppy. They got it down to a workable margin and in the fourth quarter, they played ultimate small ball. Payton was obviously the key. He had a great fourth quarter."

      NOTES: Hornets F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (stress reaction right foot) missed his fifth straight game and G P.J. Hairston (right ankle sprain) missed his second. But the Hornets got G Gary Neal back after he missed the previous two games with a concussion. ... The Magic were without F Aaron Gordon (fractured fifth metatarsal left foot), G Devyn Marble (strained rotator cuff) and C Kyle O'Quinn (sprained left ankle). O'Quinn missed his 13th straight game, but has returned to practice and could be back soon. … Magic C Nikola Vucevic had his 10th double-double of the season, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. That's the most double-doubles in the NBA. ... The Magic will return home to face Miami on Saturday night. ... The Hornets will play at Miami on Sunday.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Suns bury winless Sixers
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHILADELPHIA -- The jury is out as to whether the University of Kentucky could beat the winless Philadelphia 76ers, as Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, a former Wildcat, claimed earlier this week.

    • Bledsoe's current team did just fine against the Sixers on Friday night, however.

      Guard Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points off the bench, matching his season high, as the Suns blitzed the Sixers 122-96.

      Forward Markieff Morris added 18 points for the Suns (8-5), who placed eight players in double figures while winning their third straight.

      Bledsoe, who spent one season at Kentucky (2009-10), accumulated 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds in three quarters.

      He claimed in a national radio interview earlier this week that Kentucky would "definitely" beat the Sixers in a playoff series -- and that Philadelphia would "maybe" win one game in a best-of-seven set. He told reporters at a shootaround early Friday that he was joking about all that, and repeated that after the game.

      "It is the NBA," he said. "I respect all those guys over there. We could have come out and lost this game. It was pretty much a joke. They've got some great players over there."

      He believes his comments motivated the Suns as much as the Sixers, something echoed by Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek.

      "Because it got a story behind it, I think it actually focused our guys," Hornacek said. "I think it actually benefited us."

      The Sixers, who were led by guard Michael Carter-Williams with 18 points, fell to 0-12. It is their worst start since they opened the 1972-73 season with 15 straight losses en route to a 9-73 finish, the worst full-season record in NBA history.

      The 2009-10 Nets, then based in New Jersey, had the worst start ever, dropping their first 18. They wound up 12-70.

      Bledsoe drove hard to the glass on Phoenix's first possession of the game, only to be knocked to the floor by Sixers center Nerlens Noel, who also played at Kentucky. Bledsoe rose and pushed Noel, drawing a technical foul.

      "They were telling me before (the game) that if I came into the paint there was going to be something dirty, so I did it on purpose," Bledsoe said.

      He didn’t say who had relayed word that he was going to be on the receiving end of a hard foul, only that it wasn't Noel who told him.

      That was part of a spirited start by the Sixers, who raced to a 16-7 lead. They were still ahead 27-20 late in the first quarter, but Phoenix outscored them 39-8 during the next 10:07.

      Thomas scored 14 points and guard/forward Gerald Green 11 during that stretch, in which the Suns made 14 of 17 shots from the floor to assume a 59-35 lead with 3:05 remaining in the half.

      "We didn’t start off the way we wanted to, but it's a long game," said Thomas, who also had eight assists and three steals.

      He had missed 15 of his 17 shots from the field in the previous two games but said he made it a point to be aggressive as soon as he hit the floor Friday.

      "Shots happened to fall, we started playing the right way and it was pretty easy out there because everybody was playing unselfish," said Thomas, who finished 6 of 9 from the floor. "I got a rhythm. The last few games I haven't really got a rhythm."

      Thomas made all five of his shots from the field and scored 17 points in the first half. Markieff Morris had 15 and Green also went 5 of 5 from the floor while scoring 11 points.

      Phoenix shot a blistering 69.4 percent from the field in the first 24 minutes. That included 75 percent accuracy in the second quarter when the Suns outscored Philadelphia 41-17.

      "We got manhandled in the second," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "You look at the second period, and that's the game. They came out and they shot it. They made shots. Some of it, we could have guarded them better. I thought our offense, with not sharing the ball, it stood out so much, especially in that second period."

      Green did not play in the second half, during which the Suns led by as many as 34.

      Afterward, Bledsoe was asked how he now views the Sixers' chances against Kentucky.

      "I'm not getting into that anymore, man," he said. "It is what it is. We came and got a win, and we're moving forward."

      NOTES: Sixers rookie G/F K.J. McDaniels scored 17 points, his highest total in his 12-game-old career. ... The game marked a homecoming for twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris, the Suns' fourth-year forwards. Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said the Philadelphia natives made marked improvement during the offseason, particularly at the defensive end of the floor. ... Sixers rookie C Joel Embiid, who has yet to play after undergoing offseason surgery on his right foot, is "moving along" in his rehab, coach Brett Brown said. Embiid took some shots on the court before Friday's game with his foot resting on a folding chair, something he has also done at recent practice sessions. "We try to find ways not to let him go stir crazy and do some things on the court," Brown said, "but it's done responsibly, and the chair is one example of that." ... Earlier in the day, the Sixers assigned F JaKarr Sampson to the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League. Sampson averaged 2.0 points on 24.1 percent shooting from the field while appearing in nine games, two of them starts.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Magic's Gordon undergoes foot surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon underwent surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot Friday and is out indefinitely.

    • Gordon, the fourth overall pick this year, suffered the injury last Saturday at Washington.

      Gordon is averaging 5.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11 games this season.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Report: Hornets' Taylor won't appeal suspension
    By The Sports Xchange

    Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor will not appeal the 24-game suspension handed down this week by the NBA after he pleaded guilty last month in a domestic violence case, according to a report.

    • After commissioner Adam Silver suspended Taylor on Wednesday, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said a day later that the league's punishment was "excessive, without precedent and a violation of the collective bargaining agreement."

      Multiple media outlets reported Friday that Taylor will accept the suspension, which will cost him nearly $200,000 of his $915,000 salary. Taylor pleaded guilty in October to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property after an incident in September in East Lansing, Mich.

      The Collective Bargaining Agreement gives Silver the right to suspend players, but Roberts challenged the severity of the punishment.

      "The CBA contemplates a minimum 10-game suspension in any case involving a conviction for a violent felony, including domestic violence," Roberts said Thursday in a statement. "In contrast, Jeff Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor that is likely to be dismissed at the end of a probationary period."

      Taylor has yet to play this season.

      In September, Taylor was arrested and charged in East Lansing after an altercation with a woman at a local hotel. Last month, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. The assault charge against the security officer was dismissed.

      Taylor was ordered as part of the probation to complete 26 weeks in a domestic violence intervention program, enter an outpatient alcohol treatment program and perform alcohol sensor tests daily for 60 days followed by random testing, and perform 80 hours of community service.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Sixers send F Sampson to D-League
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Philadelphia 76ers assigned forward JaKarr Sampson to Delaware of the NBA Development League on Friday.

    • Sampson has played in nine games and started two for the Sixers in the first month of the season. He averaged 2.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Timberwolves' Martin out with fractured wrist
    By The Sports Xchange

    Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin will be sidelined indefinitely after an MRI revealed a fracture in his right wrist.

    • The team said Friday that further evaluation will be done over the next few days to determine the next course of action or whether surgery will be required.

      The injury occurred at the 6:48 mark of the first quarter during Minnesota's 115-99 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. Martin managed to remain in the game and scored 37 points.

      Through nine games this season, Martin is averaging 20.4 points on 48.3 percent shooting from the floor and 48.1 percent from the 3-point line.

      The Timberwolves are already missing point guard Ricky Rubio and center Nikola Pekovic because of injuries.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Kings put together statement win over Bulls
    By The Sports Xchange

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento Kings' early success this season has not been a product of anything complicated. At least, that's their coach's take.

    • "It's real simple," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "When we defend, when we share, when we value (the basketball), we give ourselves a great chance to win."

      The Kings did all three of those things Thursday, and in so doing, ended the Chicago Bulls' road dominance with a 103-88 victory at Sleep Train Arena.

      Center DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds, his fifth straight double-double, and forward Rudy Gay had 20 points and seven rebounds despite playing with a sore left Achilles' tendon for Sacramento. The Kings won for the fourth time in six home games this season, and handed Chicago its first loss in seven road contests this season.

      "We beat a good team, a great team, a team that was undefeated on the road," Gay said. "It's definitely a statement game for us."

      The Bulls were trying to become the first team in franchise history to start a campaign 7-0 on the road. The last Bulls team to start 6-0 on the road was the 1996-97 club led by Michael Jordan, which won 69 games and the second of three-straight NBA titles.

      Guard Jimmy Butler had 23 points and eight rebounds for Chicago, which jumped to a 29-19 lead and made half of its shots from the field in the opening quarter. But Chicago shot just 40 percent from the field and turned over the ball 13 times in the final three quarters while being outscored 81-59.

      "We had a gap in the middle of the second where we got hurt and the game swung there," Bulls coach tom Thibodeau said. "Then we couldn't get a handle on it the rest of the way."

      Sacramento outscored Chicago 22-7 over the final eight minutes of the second quarter and built the lead to 76-61 midway through the third quarter. After that, Chicago didn't get closer than eight.

      "That's a good team, especially at their place," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "They're putting something together. They defend a lot better. Offensively, they're a lot better. It's just a better team."

      Guard Darren Collison added 17 points and 12 assists for the Kings, his second straight double-double. He has 23 assists and only one turnover in Sacramento's past two contests. Sacramento shot 53.6 percent from the field over the final three quarter and turned over the ball only 13 times overall.

      "That's a tremendous job by our point guard," Malone said.

      Forward Omri Casspi scored 12 points, guard Ben McLemore scored 11 and guard Derrick Williams had a season-high 10 for the Kings.

      Williams, who has lost minutes to Casspi, had played only 38 minutes in Sacramento's first 11 games. He scored all but one of his points while playing the entire second quarter.

      "I know it hasn't been easy for him," Malone said. "My decision to go with Omri wasn't because Derrick didn't play well. ... But you can only go with one guy. He could easily have stopped working and felt sorry for himself, but he didn't do that. That the definition of a true pro."

      Guards Aaron Brooks and Mike Dunleavy and forward Taj Gibson each added 12 points for Chicago, which turned over the ball 15 times. But Brooks was called for an offensive foul on a drive to the basket with Chicago down 90-82 with 5:09 left in the contest.

      "A call like that could've gone either way," Thibodeau said. "That would've given us a chance, but it didn't go our way."

      NOTES: Chicago once again played without G/F Derrick Rose (strained left hamstring) and F Pau Gasol (strained left calf), both of whom missed Monday's victory at the Los Angeles Clippers. Rose has missed three straight contests and has played in only five of Chicago's 11 games this season. ... Sacramento is off to its best start since the 2006-07 season, the first of what has been seven straight seasons without a playoff berth... Bulls G Jimmy Butler totaled at least 20 points for the seventh time in Chicago's first 12 games. A season ago, he had only five such games. ... The last NBA team to start 7-0 away from home was the 2010-11 San Antonio Spurs, who won their first eight en route to a 61-21 campaign that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. ... Sacramento plays its next four on the road before starting a stretch of 10 out of 11 at home.

  • Friday, November 21, 2014
    Clippers cruise past Heat
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- The Los Angeles Clippers, who left home earlier this week with a mediocre 5-4 record, might be starting to find their game.

    • That was certainly the case on Thursday night when point guard Chris Paul had 26 points and a game-high 12 assists to help the Clippers dominate the Miami Heat 110-93 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

      Miami trailed by 24 points early, which set the franchise record for the largest first-quarter deficit ever in a home game. After that, Miami never got closer than 14 points.

      "The way we played tonight in the first quarter -- I don't care who we played, it would've been hard to play us," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We're finding our way. I like where we're headed."

      Los Angeles (7-4), off to a 2-0 start on its seven-game trip, also got 26 points from forward Blake Griffin. Center DeAndre Jordan contributed 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

      The Clippers shot 55.6 percent from the floor, including 13 of 31 on three-pointers (41.9 percent). They had 31 assists and just 13 turnovers compared with 11 assists and 12 turnovers by the Heat.

      "There's not a whole lot to say -- that was a blitz in that first quarter," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They knocked us on our heels, and we could never get our footing after that."

      Rivers said his team's success can be attributed to proper spacing on the court and a willingness to share the ball.

      He pointed to guard Jamal Crawford, who leads the NBA in bench scoring (18.4) and is normally a pass-first player. On Thursday, though, Crawford had no points and five assists at halftime.

      "You guys should get the stat sheet and get him to sign it," Rivers joked. "When I looked at the stat sheet at halftime, I thought, 'Wow, this is unusual and very nice.'"

      Rivers said Crawford, who finished with five points and a season-high nine assists, was thrilled with his passing totals. But Rivers doesn't want Crawford to forget about his scoring.

      "I thought (Crawford) started looking for assists down the stretch," Rivers said. "I said, 'OK, Magic (Johnson)' ... We need him to be aggressive all the time."

      Crawford said the Clippers are building trust with each other.

      "I think when you pass up good shots for great shots, you give yourself a good chance to make those," he said.

      Miami (6-6) lost for the fourth time in its past five games.

      Forward Chris Bosh led the Heat with a game-high 28 points, including 18 in the first half. Shooting guard Mario Chalmers, who had led the Heat in scoring the past three games while replacing injured starter Dwyane Wade, was held to 13 points.

      Heat starting point guard Norris Cole was scoreless in 10 minutes. He dislocated his left middle finger in the second quarter and did not return.

      Cole has been a very durable player. On Thursday, he played his 160th consecutive game, which ranks third best in franchise history behind former standouts Grant Long (161) and Glen Rice (174).

      "Right now, we're just being safe," Cole said of his injury. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow."

      Rookie Shabazz Napier, Cole's backup, had a season-high 17 points and three assists in 32 minutes.

      Early in the game, it was all Clippers. Los Angeles shot 68 percent from the field in the first quarter, including 62.5 percent on 3-pointers (5 of 8), and held Miami to 36.8 percent from the floor. Miami missed all five of its 3-pointers.

      Given those numbers, and a 12-4 rebounding edge, the result was predictable: a 39-15 Clippers lead.

      The Clippers had their lead cut to 58-40 at halftime. Still, Los Angeles got a variety of dunks and layups, outscoring Miami 30-14 in the lane in the first half. Ten of those points came on lobs.

      "We want to make high-energy plays," Crawford said. "The lob is a weapon for us."

      NOTES: The Heat, who hadn't played since Monday, were the more rested team. But the Clippers got to rest their starters in the fourth quarter of a 114-90 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. ... Heat G Dwyane Wade (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game. Before he got hurt, he averaged 19.6 points and 6.4 assists. The last time he had a season in which he averaged more assists was 2009-2010 (6.5). ... Heat Fs Luol Deng (wrist) and Josh McRoberts (foot) returned from injuries after missing two and three games, respectively. ... Up next, the Heat play at the Orlando Magic on Saturday. ... The Clippers' seven-game trip continues with their third stop on Sunday at the Memphis Grizzlies.

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Bulls' Rose, Gasol won't play Thursday
    By The Sports Xchange

    Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose and forward Pau Gasol will miss Thursday night's game against the Sacramento Kings, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

    • Rose missed the Bulls' last two games with a hamstring injury.

      Gasol did not play in Monday's victory over the Clippers because of a left calf strain.

      Rose is unlikely to play again until next week. Gasol is listed as day-to-day and might play in Friday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Grizzlies waive two amid illness outbreak
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Memphis Grizzlies waived guard Kalin Lucas and center Hassan Whiteside on Thursday, one day after the team signed the two players.

    • Lucas and Whiteside joined the Grizzlies before Wednesday night's game against the Toronto Raptors after five Memphis players became ill with a stomach virus. Two others were added to the list Thursday.

      Guards Tony Allen, Courtney Lee and Beno Udrih, forwards Jon Leuer and Jarnell Stokes, guard-forward Quincy Pondexter and center Kosta Koufos are ill and remain questionable for Friday night's game against the Boston Celtics.

      Pondexter and Stokes joined the sick list Thursday. The other five didn't play in a 96-92 loss to the Raptors on Wednesday because of the virus.

      Lucas had one steal in six minutes in his NBA debut on Wednesday. He played eight preseason games before being waived Oct. 25. Lucas aslo was with the Grizzlies from Nov. 4 to Nov. 9.

      The 7-foot Whiteside, who signed with Memphis on Sept. 25, played in five preseason games this year for the Grizzlies but not in a regular-season game. The 25-year-old was with the Sacramento Kings from 2010 to 2012.

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    NBA roundup: Union set to appeal Taylor's suspension
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NBA Players Association is prepared to appeal the NBA's 24-game suspension of Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said Thursday.

    • Roberts called the suspension handed down by commissioner Adam Silver excessive and in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

      Silver announced Taylor's suspension this week after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property in East Lansing, Mich., in late September.

      "The CBA contemplates a minimum 10-game suspension in any case involving a conviction for a violent felony, including domestic violence," Roberts said. "In contrast, Jeff Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor that is likely to be dismissed at the end of a probationary period. The 24-game suspension is one of the longest in the history of the league."

      --The Atlanta Hawks sent rookie forward/center Adreian Payne to Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League.

      Payne was the Hawks' first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Michigan State. He has yet to play for the Hawks in the regular season because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

      ---The Dallas Mavericks assigned Ricky Ledo to the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League, the Mavericks announced.

      Ledo has been inactive in each of the Mavericks' 12 games this season.

      ---The Washington Wizards assigned guard Glen Rice Jr. to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, the Wizards announced.

      Rice has played in five games this season for Washington, averaging 2.2 points in 8.5 minutes per game.

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Union leader set to challenge Taylor suspension
    By The Sports Xchange

    The National Basketball Players Association is prepared to appeal the NBA's 24-game suspension of Charlotte Hornets foward Jeffery Taylor, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said Thursday.

    • Roberts called the suspension handed down by commissioner Adam Silver excessive and in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

      Silver announced Taylor's suspension this week after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property in East Lansing, Mich., in late September.

      "The CBA contemplates a minimum 10-game suspension in any case involving a conviction for a violent felony, including domestic violence," Roberts said. "In contrast, Jeff Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor that is likely to be dismissed at the end of a probationary period. The 24-game suspension is one of the longest in the history of the league.

      "We have a scheme of discipline that was the result of collective bargaining between the parties that has been applied consistently over the years. While we appreciate the sensitivity of this societal issue, the Commissioner is not entitled to rewrite the rules or otherwise ignore precedent in disciplinary matters. While ultimately this is Jeff's decision, we stand ready to file an immediate appeal on his behalf."

      Taylor has yet to play this season.

      In September, Taylor was arrested and charged in East Lansing after an altercation with a woman at a local hotel. Last month, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. The assault charge against the security officer was dismissed.

      Taylor was ordered as part of the probation to complete 26 weeks in a domestic violence intervention program, enter an outpatient alcohol treatment program and perform alcohol sensor tests daily for 60 days followed by random testing, and perform 80 hours of community service.

      "While the suspension is significantly longer than prior suspensions for incidents of domestic violence by NBA players, it is appropriate in light of Mr. Taylor's conduct, the need to deter similar conduct going forward, and the evolving social consensus -- with which we fully concur -- that professional sports leagues like the NBA must respond to such incidents in a more rigorous way," Silver wrote in a statement.

      The Hornets released a statement that read, "The NBA has informed us of its decision to suspend Jeffery Taylor. We understand and support the NBA's position in this matter."

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Hawks assign Payne to D-League
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Atlanta Hawks send rookie forward/center Adreian Payne to Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League on Thursday.

    • Payne was the Hawks' first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Michigan State. He has yet to play for the Hawks in the regular season because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

      The Mad Ants travel to Erie for games Friday and Saturday night and the Hawks want Payne to play in both games. He has been on the inactive list for nine of the Hawks' 10 games this season.

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Wizards send Rice to D-League
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Washington Wizards assigned guard Glen Rice Jr. to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, the Wizards announced Thursday.

    • Rice has played in five games this season for Washington, averaging 2.2 points and 8.5 minutes per game.

      Rice was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft. He played in 11 games for Washington last season.