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  • Friday, December 19, 2014
    After Durant's exit, Warriors slip past Thunder
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their winning streak Thursday night, but it appears they didn't lose star forward Kevin Durant again.

    • Things are going so well for the Western Conference power, even their bad news isn't so bad.

      Durant missed the second half of the Thunder's 114-109 loss to the Golden State Warriors with a sprained right ankle, but he insisted the injury is nothing serious.

      "I wanted to play, but we want to be cautious," Durant said after the game. X-rays taken at halftime were negative.

      Durant already had 30 points before he charged into Warriors backup center Marreese Speights on a drive to the hoop with 2.4 seconds remaining in the second period. Durant's right foot landed on Speights' foot in the collision, causing Durant's ankle to roll.

      After more than a minute on the floor, Durant was helped to the bench, then limped on his own power to the locker room for halftime. He did not return to the bench for the second half.

      "(The Thunder medical staff) had to convince me not to play," Durant said.

      Early indication is the injury is not related to the fractured right foot Durant sustained during the offseason. He was playing in his ninth game since making his season debut Dec. 2.

      Durant wouldn't rule himself out for Friday's trip finale in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

      The Thunder won't take a winning streak into Friday's game, thanks in large part to Warriors standout Stephen Curry. The point guard scored six of his game-high 34 points after Oklahoma City took a one-point lead with 2:59 to play, lifting Golden State to the narrow win.

      The Warriors (22-3) were playing their first game since their franchise-record, 16-game losing streak ended Tuesday with a road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

      Asked if Thursday's win could start the Warriors on another winning streak, Curry responded, "I hope so. I mean, why not? We came back strong after our 16-game one was over and protected our home court. We've got a long season, so it could happen."

      Curry's jumper with 2:41 to go gave the Warriors the lead for good and propelled them to their seventh consecutive home win.

      The Thunder (12-14) fell despite getting 33 points and eight assists from point guard Russell Westbrook.

      "Scotty (Brooks, the Thunder coach) said it will be a fourth-quarter game," Westbrook said. "It's not fun if you don't win."

      Durant had 16 points, including three 3-pointers and a three-point play, in 30-13, game-opening flurry by the Thunder, which had won nine of 10 since losing at home to Golden State on Nov. 23.

      However, the Warriors rallied into the lead before halftime, using nine- and eight-point runs in the second period to go up 60-52 with 3:26 left in the half.

      Golden State then held the lead until Westbrook scored 11 consecutive Thunder points, the final two coming on a jumper with 2:59 to go that pushed the visitors in front 105-104.

      Curry countered with three hoops, and Warriors forwards Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes added key baskets as Golden State outfinished Oklahoma City for its 100th all-time win against the Thunder franchise.

      "To be 22-3 is incredible," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I couldn't have imagined this start."

      Durant finished 10-for-13 from the field, 5-for-6 from 3-point range and 5-for-7 from the free-throw line to accumulate his 30 points in 19 minutes. He became the first player since the ABA-NBA merger to score as many as 30 points in as few as 19 minutes.

      "If you have any suggestions (on how to guard Durant), I'm open," Kerr said. "He's unguardable when he gets that shot going."

      Durant also found time for two rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.

      Shooting guard Klay Thompson had 19 points for the Warriors, ending a streak of eight consecutive games with at least 20 points.

      Green finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and Barnes chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who improved to 9-1 at home.

      Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson had 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

      NOTES: The 30-point effort by Thunder SF Kevin Durant was his first of the season. ... No Warriors opponent has shot 50 percent from the field this season. The Thunder were at 51.5 percent through three periods, then were held to 7-for-20 shooting (35 percent) in the fourth quarter to finish at 47.7 percent. ... The Warriors announced before the game that an MRI on C Andrew Bogut's injured right knee revealed a condition called chondromalacia and bone edema. Bogut chose to take a platelet-rich plasma injection in an effort to speed up the healing process. He remains out indefinitely, although Warriors coach Steve Kerr reported, "Looks like it will keep him out the next couple of weeks." ... Kerr also announced PF David Lee, who missed 24 of the Warriors' first 25 games because of a strained left hamstring, is expected to scrimmage with the team this weekend in hopes of returning to game action Monday against the Sacramento Kings.

  • Friday, December 19, 2014
    Thunder's Durant injures ankle, expected to be OK
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant missed the second half of Thursday's 114-109 loss to the Golden State Warriors with a sprained right ankle, but insisted afterward it's nothing serious.

    • "I wanted to play, but we want to be cautious," Durant said after the game.

      X-rays taken at halftime were negative.

      "They (the Thunder medical staff) had to convince me not to play," Durant assured.

      Durant had a 30-point first half going before he charged into Warriors backup center Marreese Speights on a drive to the hoop with 2.4 seconds remaining in the second period. Durant's right foot landed on Speights' foot in the collision, causing Durant's ankle to roll.

      After more than a minute on the floor, Durant was helped to the bench, then limped on his own power to the locker room for halftime.

      Early indication is the injury is not related to the fractured right foot Durant sustained during the offseason. He was playing in his ninth game since making his season debut on Dec. 2.

      "I was a little nervous," Durant said. "But when I got up and started walking, it felt good."

      Durant would not rule himself out of Friday's game in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

      "We'll take it a day at a time," he said. "We'll see (Friday) what it's like."

  • Friday, December 19, 2014
    Bucks slip past Kings on late foul shot
    By The Sports Xchange

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Milwaukee Bucks let shot after shot fly from beyond the 3-point arc Thursday and found the target more often than not. However, was a 3-pointer they didn't make that wound up making the difference.

    • Center Zaza Pachulia grabbed the rebound after a final, errant 3-pointer by teammate Jared Dudley, drew a foul and knocked down one of two free throws with 6.8 seconds left to left to lift the Bucks to a 108-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

      "Couple of key plays down the stretch, especially with Zaza getting that rebound, stepping up and hitting one of those free throws to give us the lead, then finding a way defensively on the other end," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "It was just a great team effort."

      Pachulia's free throw saved the Bucks after the Kings erased Milwaukee's 101-91 lead with 16-6 run over the game's final six minutes. It also spoiled the return of Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, who played for the first time in 11 games.

      Cousins, back after a bout with viral meningitis, finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes in his first contest since Oct. 26. However, he came up short on a 20-foot fallback jumper from the right wing at the buzzer on Sacramento's final possession.

      "I got pushed out a little farther than I wanted," he said. "I wanted to go right, but I got forced a little left. I tried to take the best shot available. I think I got a good look."

      Cousins' return couldn't reverse the Kings' recent fortunes; Sacramento lost its season-high fifth consecutive contest and fell for the 10th time in 12 games.

      "We're just looking for a win," Kings forward Rudy Gay said. "We're trying to get back to playing as a unit, with all the guys together."

      Gay finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, and guard Ben McLemore had 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting for the Kings.

      Sacramento (11-15) couldn't overcome Milwaukee's long-rang shooting. The Bucks canned 13 3-pointers, tying a season high, on 23 attempts. They entered the game averaging 6.4 made threes per contest, the fifth-worst mark in the NBA.

      Guard Brandon Knight scored 20 points to lead the Bucks. Guard O.J. Mayo and forward Jared Dudley each added 19, and the Bucks (14-13) won for the first time since losing rookie forward Jabari Parker to a season-ending knee injury.

      "On the road, short-handed, you don't want to play from behind," Mayo said after canning seven of his 13 shots. He scored all but two of his points in the first half. "I was just trying to be aggressive, knock down shots and be aggressive."

      Parker, the top pick in June's NBA draft, tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the Bucks' loss at Phoenix on Monday. Without him at Portland, the Milwaukee lost 104-97 to the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Parker started Milwaukee's first 25 games, and the Bucks won 13 of them.

      Now, they stand just one win shy of their entire total for the 2013-14 campaign.

      Milwaukee also played without forward John Henson, who has a sprained left ankle. Guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sprained his left ankle in Wednesday's loss at Portland, started for the Bucks and scored 11 points.

      "It just showed, as we've been saying all along, that we're a team," Kidd said. "We play hard. The guys did that on the road, and they've giving us a chance to win."

      Tyrone Corbin coached his second game since being appointed the interim replacement for Michael Malone, whom the Kings fired on Sunday. The coaching move was supposed to mark a change from a defensive emphasis to a high-octane strategy.

      However, Sacramento managed just six points on the fastbreak. On the other end, Milwaukee made 10 of its first 13 3-pointers, shot 49.3 percent from the field overall and scored at least 100 points for the 10th time in their past 12 games.

      NOTES: The 10-game absence by Kings C DeMarcus Cousins (viral meningitis) marked the longest of his career. The Kings went 2-8 without him and averaged 98.3 points while giving up an average of 103.4. ... Bucks F Jabari Parker, the second overall pick in June's NBA draft who is now out for the season with a knee injury, was averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, second and third, respectively, among the NBA's rookies. ... Milwaukee also played without F Ersan Ilyasova (nasal fracture). ... Kings F Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) missed his sixth consecutive game. ... Sacramento committed 21 turnovers, the sixth game in a row and 11th in 12 that it gave the ball away at least 15 times. The Kings are 5-2 when turning over the ball fewer than 15 times, 6-13 otherwise.

  • Friday, December 19, 2014
    NBA game roundup: Durant sprains ankle in Thunder loss
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry scored six of his game-high 34 points after Oklahoma City took a one-point lead with 2:59 to play, lifting the Golden State Warriors to a 114-109 victory in a game in which Thunder star Kevin Durant missed the second half with an ankle injury.

    • The Thunder had their seven-game winning streak snapped despite getting 33 points and eight assists from point guard Russell Westbrook.

      Durant scored 30 points before he charged into Warriors backup center Marreese Speights on a drive to the hoop with 2.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Durant's right foot landed on Speights' foot in the collision, resulting in a sprain.

      After more than a minute on the floor, Durant was helped to the bench, then limped on his own power to the locker room for halftime. Even though X-rays taken at halftime were negative, he did not return for the second half. Early indication is the injury is not related to the fractured right foot Durant sustained during the offseason.

      Bulls 103, Knicks 97

      CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 35 points and added seven assists to lead Chicago to a win over New York.

      Chicago played without star guard Derrick Rose, who was sick, and the Knicks were without star forward Carmelo Anthony because of a sore left knee.

      Forward Pau Gasol added 20 points, reserve guard Aaron Brooks scored 18 and rookie forward Nikola Mirotic chipped in 13 off the bench for the Bulls. Bulls center Joakim Noah returned from a four-game injury absence and grabbed 13 rebounds. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 23 points.

      Pelicans 99, Rockets 90

      HOUSTON -- Anthony Davis delivered an exceptional two-way performance as short-handed New Orleans fought off Houston. Davis paired 30 points with 14 rebounds while adding five blocks and two steals in carrying the Pelicans.

      Trailing 73-72 early in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans, missing starters Eric Gordon (shoulder) and Tyreke Evans (knee), seized control with an 11-2 run. Davis capped the surge with consecutive baskets, but he had plenty of help. Four Pelicans scored in double figures, including reserve forwards Ryan Anderson (16 points) and Dante Cunningham (15).

      Rockets guard James Harden endured a rare off night. He scored 21 points but missed 15 of 23 shots from the floor after performing brilliantly during a recent run of wins.

      Bucks 108, Kings 107

      SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Center Zaza Pachulia knocked down one of two free throws with 6.5 seconds left, lifting Milwaukee to a victory over Sacramento and spoiling the return of center DeMarcus Cousins to the Kings' lineup at Sleep Train Arena.

      Cousins finished with a game-high 27 points in his first action since Nov. 26 at Houston. He played 33 minutes, made his first four shots and finished 8-for-12 from the field with 11 rebounds and five assists.

      However, Cousins and his teammates couldn't overcome Milwaukee's hot shooting. The Bucks made 13 of 23 3-pointers after entering the contest averaging only 6.4 made 3s per game, the fifth-worst average in the NBA.

  • Friday, December 19, 2014
    Butler powers Bulls past Knicks
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler's words agree with Charles Barkley's assessment that he's merely a good role player. His play this season has proven both of them wrong.

    • Aided by increased playing time and responsibility, Butler is becoming a star this season. He showed it showed again Thursday at the United Center in the Chicago Bulls' 103-97 win against the New York Knicks.

      Butler, the Bulls' leading scorer, poured in a career-high 35 points and dished out seven assists. He also shot 11-for-21 from the floor (4-for-7 on 3-pointers), hit nine of 10 free throws and contributed in five statistical categories.

      "All I can say is, 'Thank god for Jimmy Butler,'" Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You can't say enough about him. He is just having a phenomenal year."

      Barkley, the star-turned-analyst for TNT, had plenty to say about Butler during the TV broadcast. He and fellow analyst Reggie Miller debated Butler's merits for much of the game.

      Barkley argued Butler wasn't the kind of star player who could demand a maximum contract in his pending free agency next summer. Miller said Butler is a star in the making.

      Despite leading the Bulls to their seventh straight win against the Knicks in the Windy City, the ever-humble Butler said words afterward that agreed with Barkley.

      "I don't want to be a 'star,'" he said. "I just want to be a decent role player on a really good team."

      He's certainly that, but appears to be growing into much more. Butler consistently picks up the slack left behind on nights star Derrick Rose can't play, and this was another one of those nights. Rose sat out with an unspecified illness and Butler took control.

      He scored 17 points in the first half, 18 in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter, when the Knicks fought hard not to lose their third game in a row and 13th in the past 14.

      Combined with reserve guard Aaron Brooks (18 points) and reserve rookie forward Nikola Mirotic (13 points), Butler spearheaded a winning effort in the fourth. It included a 12-0 run during an early two-minute span to re-capture a lost lead.

      "(Butler's) playing extremely well," said Chicago forward Pau Gasol, who scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. "He has a lot of confidence with a lot of aggressiveness. He's asserting himself every single game (at) both ends of the floor. It's not easy to do, but he's been outstanding and I'm just proud of him."

      Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony, who shunned Chicago's free-agent pursuit this past summer, also missed the game. He sat out because of lingering soreness in his left knee in his first return trip to the United Center since the Bulls courted him there on a recruiting visit.

      Minus some star power, the game seemed to lack some energy, on the floor and in the stands. The Knicks used it to their advantage. Despite falling behind 30-20 after one quarter, New York fought back in the second frame and continued chipping away in the third.

      Led by guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (23 points) and forward Amar'e Stoudemire (16 points), the Knicks took a 74-73 lead into the fourth. Forward Pablo Prigioni hit a jumper to give New York a 77-75 lead with 10:31 left in the game, but the Bulls surged back in front 87-77 with that 12-0 run.

      The Knicks countered with a 14-6 run of their own to make it close, but Chicago sealed it with seven points by Brooks in the final four minutes.

      "As one of the most physical teams in the league, they are tough," Knicks guard Jose Calderon (12 points) said. "We didn't make our shots at the end, but it goes both ways with a lot of guys being out. The effort was there. We played good ball, but we couldn't finish."

      Center Cole Aldrich added 13 points for New York, which had 10 players score points. The Knicks have lost 13 of their past 14 games and are off to the worst start in franchise history.

      "I'm proud of that effort," New York coach Derek Fisher said. "We played to win tonight. You have to do that every night, no matter who is in uniform. We can build on that great effort."

      NOTES: Bulls PG Derrick Rose was sick and missed his ninth game of the season. He didn't travel with the team to Memphis after the game and is questionable for Friday's game. ... Knicks F Carmelo Anthony didn't play Thursday because of lingering soreness in his left knee that's bothered him since the second game of the season. ... Chicago also played without F Taj Gibson (ankle) and rookie F Doug McDermott (right knee). ... Bulls C/F Joakim Noah (right ankle) started after missing the previous four games and grabbed 13 rebounds. ... Knicks F/C Amar'e Stoudemire was expected to miss the game for a recovery day, but was a surprise starter. ... New York also played without G Iman Shumpert (dislocated left shoulder), F/C Andrea Bargnani (right calf), F Cleanthony Early (right knee) and guard J.R. Smith (plantar fascia), who didn't make the trip.

  • Friday, December 19, 2014
    Davis delivers as Pelicans win in Houston
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- There was no better candidate to carry New Orleans through another stretch of attrition than Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, even at the expense of one of the top teams in the entire league.

    • Davis delivered an exceptional two-way performance as the short-handed Pelicans clawed past the Houston Rockets for a 99-90 victory on Thursday night at Toyota Center.

      Davis paired 30 points with 14 rebounds while adding five blocks and two steals in lifting the Pelicans (13-12). It was his early burst of scoring that got the Pelicans rolling and, when the Rockets forged ahead in the fourth quarter, it was Davis who delivered the knockout blow.

      "It was huge, not just for me but for all the guys," Davis said of filling the void left by the loss of guard Tyreke Evans. "All those guys coming in and stepping up was huge for us. That's what we need, especially when we've got one of our main scorers out. All of the guys came in and collectively played well for us tonight."

      Trailing 73-72 early in the fourth, the Pelicans, missing starters Eric Gordon (shoulder) and Evans (knee), seized control with an 11-2 run. Davis capped the surge with consecutive baskets, but he had ample support. Four other Pelicans scored in double figures, including reserve forwards Ryan Anderson (16 points) and Dante Cunningham (15).

      Guard Jrue Holiday added 16 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans.

      Rockets guard James Harden endured a rare off night, scoring 21 points but missing 15 of 23 shots after performing brilliantly during a recent run of victories over the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings.

      Center Dwight Howard scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Rockets (19-6). Forward Trevor Ariza added 10 points and eight boards. Houston shot just 38.4 percent and labored mustering energy following a late arrival off an overtime win in Denver on Wednesday night.

      "We didn't play very well tonight. It had nothing to do with last night," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Last night's game is over."

      Davis was a handful from the opening tip, scoring the initial eight Pelicans points before center Omer Asik provided some support with a reverse layup at the 6:41 mark that pushed New Orleans to a 10-8 lead. Davis tallied 13 points on just six shot attempts in the first quarter, torching the Rockets with his accuracy on midrange jumpers.

      "Without Tyreke we needed scoring right away," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "A.D. was knocking down jumper after jumper. They put Dwight on him right away ... but he got open a few times and his jumper was flowing. I think that opened it up for everything else in his game."

      Harden kept the Rockets afloat with eight first-quarter points, but Houston failed to establish any offensive rhythm, even when Davis took a breather. When Davis returned and drilled a 15-footer with 5:18 left in the half, he spotted the Pelicans a 37-35 lead. New Orleans then closed the half with a 9-2 run and carried a 46-39 lead into the intermission.

      The Rockets found a bit of energy off their bench in the third quarter with forward Kostas Papanikolaou, who returned from a five-game injury hiatus, and little-used guard Troy Daniels providing a boost after the Pelicans extended the lead to 58-49. Daniels nailed two 3-pointers while Houston hit all 11 of its free throws in the period to surge ahead 68-65 entering the fourth. From there, Davis resumed his dominance.

      "Obviously he's a talented player," Harden said of Davis. "Just tonight from the beginning we didn't have any legs. We just didn't have it. Tough game. We're a no-excuse team, but we just didn't have it."

      NOTES: Pelicans G Tyreke Evans missed a game for the first time this season due to a right knee contusion. Austin Rivers replaced Evans in the starting lineup. Either Evans, who will be re-evaluated Friday, or Pelicans F Anthony Davis has led New Orleans in scoring the past 11 games. ... Pelicans C Omer Asik made his first appearance against the Rockets following his offseason trade from Houston. Asik averaged just 5.8 points and 7.9 rebounds last season, one filled with discontent when he worked as the backup to C Dwight Howard. ... Rockets F Kostas Papanikolaou returned to the rotation after missing the previous five games with a right knee strain. He scored four points.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Mavs acquire Rondo from Celtics
    By The Sports Xchange

    Adding a star point guard to the NBA's highest-scoring offense, the Dallas Mavericks acquired Rajon Rondo in a trade with the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

    • Rondo and center Dwight Powell are headed to Dallas in exchange for center Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder, guard Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first-round draft pick and a 2016 second-round draft pick.

      Rondo, 28, is in the final year of his contract, and he hinted strongly recently that he plans to test the free-agent market this summer.

      The Mavericks believed they needed a big-time point guard to go along with a lineup that includes shooting guard Monta Ellis, forwards Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler.

      Rondo is averaging 8.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists in 22 games this season. He is shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range.

      Reports indicated that the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets expressed interest in a deal for Rondo.

      ESPN reported that the Lakers offered draft picks and point guard Steve Nash, who is injured and in the final year of his contract, to the Celtics. Two weeks ago, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant had breakfast with Rondo while in Boston but said it was a social meeting and not about business.

      When the deal was completed, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted, "(Can't) say thank you enough to @bwright34 @CJC9BOSS and @jameernelson. Amazing people on the court and off."

      Celtics general manager Danny Ainge told WBZ-FM in Boston on Thursday, "Listen, my job is to look at all the different ways and pathways for us to be a championship team. This is the time of the year that there's a lot of talking and calling that's going on. Part of my job is to explore the variety of ways there are to get us to our next championship. And that's all we're trying to do -- just build a winner. ...

      "Rajon has been a big part of our team, not just this year but for the past years, as we know. We haven't really seen what (rookie) Marcus Smart has been able to do yet because he hasn't been healthy. He's got such a shortage of minutes and opportunities to play with the ankle sprain. So it's a good question. I don't think any of us know the answer to that."

      Over his nine NBA seasons, all with the Celtics, Rondo is averaging 11 points, 8.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He is a four-time All-Star, and he won a championship with Boston in 2007-08.

      Wright, 27, is averaging 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds this season, better than his career averages of 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. His contract expires after the current season.

      Crowder, 24, was producing 3.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in limited action for Dallas this season. He will be a restricted free agent next summer.

      Nelson, 32, had averages of 7.3 points and 4.1 assists in 25.4 minutes per game. He holds a player option on his contract for next season.

      Powell, 23, appeared in just five games for Boston this season, scoring a total of nine points.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Bulls' Rose out because of illness
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- Point guard Derrick Rose sat out the Chicago Bulls' game against the New York Knicks on Thursday due to an illness.

    • Rose also missed the morning shootaround and is questionable for Friday's game at Memphis against the Grizzlies.

      He was absent for a ninth game of the season, though he played each of the previous 11 before Thursday.

      Rose missed most of last season due to a torn meniscus, and he was sidelined for stretches earlier this season because of two sprained ankles and a strained hamstring.

      The 26-year-old former NBA Most Valuable Player is averaging 16.8 points, 5.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game in 2014-15. He scored a season-high 31 points on Dec. 12 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Knicks' Anthony sits out game
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony did not play in Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bulls because of soreness in his left knee, and he said that people close to him are advising him to stay off the court for a few weeks.

    • "I have multiple people say kind of just shut it down," Anthony said, according to ESPN.com. "Or just take time off. But at the end of the day, it's hard for me to just do that right now in the midst of what's happening with the team and this season. So just trying to be smart about that."

      Anthony said the knee started bothering him again in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

      He did not make his decision about his status for Thursday's game until he went through pregame warmups.

      "It gets frustrating," he said. "Not knowing what's going to happen kind of with your body. So for me it's just taking it as the days come."

      Anthony is averaging 23.4 points and 6.6 rebounds this season for the Knicks, who are 5-22 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games heading into Thursday's game.

      Knicks forward/center Amar'e Stoudemire was not expected to play in Thursday's game so he could rest. But he was in the starting lineup against the Bulls.

      Knicks guard J.R. Smith is not with the team as he continues to receive treatment for a plantar fascia injury.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    NBA roundup: Celtics, Mavs close in on Rondo deal
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks are close to finalizing a deal that would send point guard Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

    • The Celtics and the Mavericks reached an agreement in principle to send Rondo to Dallas, although there are conflicting reports on the players involved.

      ESPN.com reported that the Mavs will get Rondo in exchange for forward Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder, guard Jameer Nelson and a future first- and second-round draft pick. CBSSports.com reported that the Mavs will get forward Dwight Powell as well as Rondo in exchange for Wright, Crowder, Nelson, a first-round pick in 2015 and a future second-round pick.

      Minor changes to the deal are still possible, but the deal is on course to be completed Thursday night, according to the reports. Rondo is in the final year of his contract. Other reports indicated that the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets expressed interest in a deal for Rondo.

      Rondo, 28, is averaging 8.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists in 22 games this season. He is shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range.

      ---New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has soreness in his left knee that may prevent him for playing in Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bulls, and he said that people close to him are advising him to stay off the court for a few weeks.

      "I have multiple people say kind of just shut it down," Anthony said, according to ESPN.com. "Or just take time off. But at the end of the day, it's hard for me to just do that right now in the midst of what's happening with the team and this season"

      Anthony said the knee started bothering him again in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. He is averaging 23.4 points and 6.6 rebounds this season for the Knicks, who are 5-22 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games.

      Forward/center Amar'e Stoudemire has already been ruled out Thursday to rest. Guard J.R. Smith is not with the team as he continues to receive treatment for a plantar fascia injury.

      ---Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA on Thursday after shoving Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum in the back while in the air during Wednesday night's game in Portland, Ore.

      The flagrant foul-2 came with 3:01 remaining in the fourth quarter as Batum was going to the basket in the Trail Blazers' 104-97 win in the MODA Center. Batum fell hard to the floor after a dunk. Sanders was to sit out Thursday night's game against the Sacramento Kings.

      In 25 games this season, Sanders is averaging 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

      ---Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut is undergoing therapy on his injured right knee and lost to the team indefinitely.

      Bogut missed his fifth consecutive game on Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder after undergoing platelet-rich treatment on his knee in consultation with Warriors doctors and his personal physician.

      With an NBA-best 21-3 record, the Warriors are playing well without the 7-foot Bogut, who is averaging 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks this season.

      ---Kings center DeMarcus Cousins appears to have recovered enough from viral meningitis to return for Thursday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

      Cousins has practiced with the Kings for the past few days and his status was upgraded from questionable to probable. He's expected to see limited minutes.

      Cousins is averaging 23.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots for the Kings this season.

      ---The Los Angeles Lakers assigned guard Jordan Clarkson to the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Developmental League on Thursday.

      Clarkson, 22, is averaging 18.3 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in three games this season for the D-Fenders. He averaged 4.5 points in 13 games for the Lakers this season.

      ---The Golden State Warriors recalled center Ognjen Kuzmic from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League on Thursday.

      The 7-foot Kuzmic contributed three points, seven rebounds, two assists and five blocked shots to Santa Cruz's 104-89 win over the Oklahoma City Blue on Wednesday night. In eight games for the Warriors this season, he averages 0.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Lakers send Clarkson to D-League
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Los Angeles Lakers assigned guard Jordan Clarkson to the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Developmental League, the Lakers announced Thursday.

    • Clarkson, 22, is averaging 18.3 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in three games this season for the D-Fenders.

      He averaged 4.5 points in 13 games for the Lakers this season.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Kings' Cousins set to return Thursday
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kings center DeMarcus Cousins appears to have recovered enough from viral meningitis to return for Thursday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Sacramento, Calif.

    • Cousins has practiced with the Kings for the past few days and his status was upgraded from questionable to probable. He's expected to see limited minutes.

      The 6-foot-10 Cousins is averaging 23.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots for the Kings this season.

      Since Cousins was sidelined, the Kings have posted a 2-8 record. Coach Michael Malone was fired on Sunday night and replaced by assistant Tyrone Corbin.

      The Kings will be without forwards Reggie Evans (bruised left knee and hip) and Omri Casspi (bruised left knee) for Thursday's game.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Bucks' Sanders receives one-game suspension
    By The Sports Xchange

    Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA on Thursday after shoving Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum in the back while in the air during Wednesday night's game in Portland, Ore.

    • The flagrant foul-2 came with 3:01 remaining in the fourth quarter as Batum was going to the basket in the Trail Blazers' 104-97 win in the MODA Center. Batum fell hard to the floor after a dunk.

      Sanders will sit out Thursday night's game in Sacramento against the Kings.

      In 25 games this season, Sanders is averaging 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Warriors' Bogut sidelined indefinitely
    By The Sports Xchange

    Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut is undergoing therapy on his injured right knee and lost to the team indefinitely.

    • Bogut will miss his fifth consecutive game on Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder after undergoing platelet-rich treatment on his knee in consultation with Warriors doctors and his personal physician.

      "We fully support Andrew in his decision to undergo the PRP treatment," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. "Our number one concern is that Andrew is 100 percent healthy and we will continue to support him in any way to make that happen."

      With an NBA-best 21-3 record, the Warriors are playing well without the 7-foot Bogut, who is averaging 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks this season.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Warriors call up C Kuzmic
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Golden State Warriors recalled center Ognjen Kuzmic from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League on Thursday.

    • The 7-foot Kuzmic contributed three points, seven rebounds, two assists and five blocked shots to Santa Cruz's 104-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Blue on Wednesday night.

      In eight games for the Warriors this season, Kuzmic averages 0.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Harden carries Rockets past Nuggets in OT
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- James Harden struggled with his shot for four quarters, but with the game on the line, he had no second thoughts when the ball was in his hands.

    • The Houston guard scored eight of his game-high 41 points in overtime, including a key jumper late, and the Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 115-111 Wednesday night.

      Harden added a season-high 10 assists, and center Dwight Howard had 24 points and 16 rebounds for Houston.

      Harden was the catalyst, amassing his 41 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the floor. He was 1-for-7 from 3-point range but made up for it by hitting 18 of 21 free throws.

      He hit both of his field-goal attempts in overtime, including a step-back 20-footer with 1:16 left that gave the Rockets a 109-105 lead.

      "I couldn't throw a rock in the ocean in the first 40-plus minutes of the game," Harden said. "I work on my shot every day, and confidence is a big thing. My teammates had confidence for me to shoot the basketball, and I shot it."

      His late success propelled the Rockets (19-5) to their seventh win in eight games.

      The last two victories came against Denver, but unlike Saturday, this one was close down the stretch until Houston took control.

      After Harden's shot, the Nuggets had a chance to tie, but guard Arron Afflalo, whose 3-pointer sent the game into overtime, missed a free throw with 24.8 seconds left.

      Harden was fouled and hit two free throws, and then Denver forward Danilo Gallinari missed a 3-pointer from the corner.

      "That's exactly how we drew it up," Denver guard Ty Lawson said. "We wanted to have a screen with Arron and (Gallinari). They made a mistake, and he had a wide-open three. Gallo had a chance, just didn't make it."

      Houston guard Patrick Beverley hit four free throws in the final 23 seconds to seal it.

      Forward Wilson Chandler led Denver (10-15) with 23 points, and Afflalo had 22. Lawson had 12 points and 16 assists for the slumping Nuggets, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.

      "If we had to do it all over again, I'd take the same looks we got," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. "Gallo got a good look that would have tied the game. We defended, we scrapped, and we couldn't keep them off the free-throw line. These kinds of losses I can stomach a little bit better."

      The Rockets took a five-point lead late in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by forward Trevor Ariza and a layup by Howard.

      The Nuggets tied it at 92 on forward Darrell Arthur's 3-pointer with 3:32 left.

      Howard hit just one of four free throws, and Afflalo's layup and forward Kenneth Faried's follow slam gave Denver a 96-93 lead with 1:24 remaining.

      The Rockets rallied, and Harden's 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds left gave Houston a 98-96 lead. Harden missed a chance to ice it when he split a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left.

      Afflalo took advantage of the opening and hit a 27-footer at buzzer to send it into overtime tied at 99.

      "They had no timeouts, and I wanted to foul," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "We should have fouled before he got to half-court. He made a helluva shot. I'm glad the guys bailed us out in overtime."

      Houston improved to 8-0 in games decided by five points or fewer.

      "This team doesn't give up," McHale said. "We're resilient, we've been that way all year, and it's just an opportunity for us to win the game."

      Harden kept the Rockets in it with 23 points in the first half, 13 of which came from the foul line.

      Denver led by 16 after Faried, back after missing a game with a right ankle strain, hit a running jumper with 3:48 left in the second quarter.

      Harden had six points in the third quarter to get the Rockets to within 78-75 heading into the fourth.

      NOTES: Rockets G Jason Terry left the team for Dallas to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's fifth child. ... Nuggets F Danilo Gallinari returned to action after missing the previous three games with a bruised right knee. ... Houston G Isaiah Canaan returned to action, going scoreless in seven minutes. The second-year player from Murray State missed seven games with a sprained right ankle. ... Nuggets coach Brian Shaw and Houston coach Kevin McHale were teammates with Boston in the late 1980s and early 1990s. ... Rockets G Francisco Garcia missed his fourth consecutive game due to a right calf strain.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Clippers hold off Pacers
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Nowhere near peak performance, the Los Angeles Clippers still grinded out a win Wednesday.

    • Forward Blake Griffin scored 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and the Clippers held off the Indiana Pacers for a 102-100 victory at Staples Center.

      Point guard Chris Paul had 20 points, nine assists, five steals and six rebounds for the Clippers (18-7), who earned their sixth consecutive home win. Los Angeles guard J.J. Redick contributed 16 points and hit three late free throws that were crucial.

      "It was tough. We knew that going into the game," said Paul, who hit seven of his 14 shots from the floor. "They did a good job of making us play at their pace, and we never really got a chance to get a lot of consecutive stops."

      Center DeAndre Jordan, who turned out to be the Clippers' most reliable stopper, also finished with 15 points and a season-high 23 rebounds.

      "Is it too early to start campaigning for Defensive Player of the Year?" Clippers coach Doc Rivers asked, referring to Jordan. "My gosh, what he's doing every night is unbelievable. And he does it every night, doesn't ask for the ball, sets picks, rolls, still scores because he's so active. He's the perfect guy to have on the team."

      Forward David West and reserve guard C.J. Miles had 17 points apiece to lead the Pacers. Reserve forward Lavoy Allen finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Indiana (8-18) snapped an eight-game skid Monday against the Lakers but fell to 3-10 against Western Conference teams with the defeat two nights later.

      "(We) got some tough calls and they made some tough plays," said West, who also had 10 rebounds. "We weren't able to make enough plays down the stretch to give ourselves a chance."

      Two free throws by Jordan with 3:34 left gave Los Angeles the lead for good at 94-93, but it took two more foul shots by Redick, lifting the Clippers to a 101-98 advantage, to seal the decision with 15.8 seconds left.

      Guard C.J. Watson's layup pulled Indiana within 101-100 with 3.4 seconds left before Redick hit a free throw with two seconds remaining to cap the scoring. Miles' 30-foot desperation shot at the buzzer was well short.

      "It was us strapping up at the end of the game and getting stops," Jordan said. "Ultimately, that is what it came down to, us getting stops and executing."

      Paul's jumper and a free throw by Griffin put the Clippers up 97-93 with 2:35 remaining.

      Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey hit a jumper to cut the margin to two, but Griffin answered with a dunk to push the advantage back to four with 1:29 left.

      After being fouled by Redick on a 3-point attempt, Watson hit all three free throws to pull the Pacers to within 99-98 with 34.9 seconds remaining. However, after a Clippers turnover, Stuckey missed a turnaround jumper over Redick in the lane that went in and out with 18.9 seconds remaining.

      "That's the game of basketball," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "It was a great look by a great offensive player. We will live with the results. We played the game to get that kind of shot, and we will live with the results."

      Indiana took its biggest lead, 89-83, after a dunk by Miles with 7:44 left. A free throw by Redick after a technical foul on Vogel, a jumper by Griffin and a Paul layup cut the margin to 89-88. However, buckets by Allen and Stuckey pushed the Pacers' lead to five.

      NOTES: Los Angeles PG Chris Paul, who is president of the NBA players' union, wore an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt under his leather jacket to the postgame press conference, the first public display by one of the Clippers since NBA players began donning the shirts over the past month. ... Clippers F/C Spencer Hawes missed his third consecutive game due to a left knee bruise. ... Pacers G George Hill, still sidelined due to a left knee contusion, continued practicing with the team. He could make his season debut during the club's current three-game road swing, which continues Saturday in Denver and Sunday in Minnesota. ... The Clippers play the Nuggets in Denver on Friday. ... Indiana's bench scored a season-high 66 points -- 30 of those by reserve G C.J. Miles -- in the Pacers' 103-96 loss to the Clippers on Dec. 10. On Wednesday, Pacers reserves had 42 points.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    NBA game roundup: Grizzlies edge Spurs in 3 OTs
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN ANTONIO -- Power forward Zach Randolph scored 21 points, including all six of the Grizzlies' points in the third overtime, and Memphis emerged with a 117-116 win at the AT&T Center on Wednesday.

    • A 3-point barrage in the second half allowed the Spurs to erase a big early deficit and put themselves in a position to win. However, couldn't close out the Grizzlies due to poor foul shooting. Instead, Memphis recorded its second big victory in as many nights after ending the Golden State Warriors' 16-game winning streak Tuesday.

      Both teams hit clutch baskets to keep the game going deep into the night.

      Memphis center Marc Gasol (game-high 26-points) drilled a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer of regulation, and he scored a put-back with 9.4 seconds left in overtime to keep the game alive.

      Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (23 points, 16 rebounds) matched Gasol's heroics with a long 2-pointer that banked off the backboard and bounced on the rim several times before falling through to knot the game again to end the second extra session.

      Rockets 115, Nuggets 111 (OT)

      DENVER -- Guard James Harden scored eight of his game-high 41 points in overtime, and Houston beat Denver.

      Harden added a season-high 10 assists, and center Dwight Howard had 24 points and 16 rebounds to lead Houston to its seventh win in eight games.

      Forward Wilson Chandler led Denver with 23 points, and guard Arron Afflalo, whose 3-pointer sent the game into overtime, had 22. Guard Ty Lawson had 12 points and 16 assists for the slumping Nuggets, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.

      Clippers 102, Pacers 100

      LOS ANGELES -- Forward Blake Griffin scored 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and Los Angeles held off Indiana.

      Point guard Chris Paul had 20 points, nine assists, five steals and six rebounds for the Clippers, who have won six in a row at home. Los Angeles guard J.J. Redick contributed 16 points, and center DeAndre Jordan finished with 15 points and a season-high 23 rebounds.

      Forward David West and reserve guard C.J. Miles had 17 points apiece to lead the Pacers, who snapped an eight-game skid Monday against the Lakers but fell to 3-10 against Western Conference teams in the defeat.

      Hawks 127, Cavaliers 98

      CLEVELAND -- Shelvin Mack set career highs in both points and 3-pointers, and Atlanta routed Cleveland. Mack shot 6-for-6 on 3-pointers and scored 24 points after entering the night with just nine 3-pointers and shooting 20 percent from behind the line.

      Al Horford scored 20 points and Paul Millsap had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks, who shot a season-best 65 percent from the field.

      Forward LeBron James scored 21 points and forward Kevin Love had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Cavs, who lost for the first time in their past nine games against the East and the first time at home in nearly a month.

      Jazz 105, Heat 87

      MIAMI -- Utah posted a rare road win, overcoming 42 points by Miami's Dwyane Wade.

      Utah won for the second time in 14 games and is now 3-10 on the road. Before Wednesday, the Jazz last won at Miami on Nov. 9, 2010.

      Gordon Hayward had 29 points and a game-high seven assists and Enes Kanter added 18 points to lead Utah.

      Suns 111, Hornets 106

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to score 23 points and Phoenix rallied from a 17-point deficit against Charlotte.

      The Suns outscored the Hornets 10-2 in the final 2:30, with Thomas hitting a jumper with 1:12 left and two key free throws with 19.9 seconds remaining. The run capped a comeback from a 50-33 deficit midway through the second quarter.

      Phoenix snapped a six-game losing streak. The Suns had not won since beating the Mavericks in Dallas on Dec. 5.

      Celtics 109, Magic 92

      BOSTON -- Boston continued its home-court dominance of Orlando as Rajon Rondo had 15 assists to help send the Magic to their eighth straight loss at TD Garden, where they haven't won since 2010.

      Rondo made a run at his fourth triple-double of the year, producing 13 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Bass, coming off the bench, had 10 of his team-high 18 points in the final run. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger both finished with 16 points and Kelly Olynyk contributed 15 points and six boards off the bench.

      Center Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 18 points and 13 rebounds, but he had 12 points and eight boards in the first quarter. Forward Tobias Harris scored 17 points.

      Mavericks 117, Pistons 106

      AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chandler Parsons poured in a season-high 32 points and Monta Ellis supplied 25 to lead Dallas over Detroit.

      Parsons, who has been battling back soreness, finished two points shy of his career high and also grabbed seven rebounds. Ellis had eight assists from his shooting guard spot for Dallas (19-8), which has an 8-0 road record against Eastern Conference opponents.

      Andre Drummond racked up 19 points and a season-high 24 rebounds for the Pistons, who lost their 11th straight at home, a season franchise record.

      Raptors 105, Nets 89

      TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 12 assists and Toronto pulled away from Brooklyn.

      The Raptors outscored the Nets 29-16 in the fourth quarter to improve their record to 20-6. They reached 20 wins before the Christmas break for the first time in franchise history.

      Mason Plumlee led with Nets with 23 points and eight rebounds.

      Trail Blazers 104, Bucks 97

      PORTLAND, Ore. -- Guard Damian Lillard and forward LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 52 points to lift Portland to a victory over Milwaukee.

      Lillard scored 29 points and Aldridge collected 23 points along with 15 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who won their third straight game. Portland forward Thomas Robinson came off the bench to match his career high in points (15) and grab a season-high 16 boards.

      Guard Brandon Knight topped the Bucks with 24 points, while forward Khris Middleton added 17 points.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Robinson's big night buoys Blazers
    By The Sports Xchange

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- With center Robin Lopez out of the lineup due to a broken hand, the Portland Trail Blazers needed somebody to step in and fill the energy and rebounding void.

    • Enter forward Thomas Robinson, who matched his career high with 15 points and grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in Portland's 104-97 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

      It was the first career start for the third-year pro, and if not for a 5-for-15 shooting performance from the free-throw line, he could have had a career night.

      "T-Rob was a monster," said guard Damian Lillard, who led the Blazers (20-6) with 29 points. "It seemed like every time the ball came off the rim, a make or a miss, he was right there, waiting for it to come off.

      "But that's him. We've seen him do that every day in practice -- bring that energy and compete like that. He was the difference tonight."

      Forward LaMarcus Aldridge collected 23 points and tied his season high with 15 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who won their third consecutive game.

      Guard Brandon Knight topped the Bucks (13-13) with 24 points, while forward Khris Middleton added 17 points.

      Portland outrebounded the Bucks 52-32, grabbing 16 boards off the offensive glass.

      "We couldn't get the rebounds," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win on the road against a very good team, but they got offensive rebounds in crucial parts of the game that led to a three or a basket."

      Lillard's 17 points were enough to give Portland a two-point lead at intermission, the Blazers rallying from a 10-point, second-quarter deficit.

      Milwaukee started the third quarter on a 9-2 run to go on top 50-45, but Portland answered with a 10-1 spurt to go back in front 55-51. The Bucks regained the lead at 70-68 heading into the final period.

      It was 79-79 when forward Nicolas Batum drained a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run, pushing the Blazers ahead 88-79 with 4:05 remaining. The Bucks went to fouling Robinson intentionally on five straight possessions, and he made four of 10 attempts, just enough to keep the visitors at bay.

      "I'm mad I missed that many free throws," Robinson said. "That's something I've been working on all summer. I got out there and got a mental block. But if that's my biggest concern right now, I'm happy."

      The Bucks jumped to a 10-2 lead in the game's first three minutes, the Blazers making only one of their first eight shots from the field. Milwaukee went 11-for-18 in rolling to a 25-18 advantage after one quarter while Portland heated up only marginally, making eight of 26 shots over the first 12 minutes.

      Milwaukee stoked the margin to 39-29 midway through the second quarter when the Blazers made a move, outscoring the visitors 14-2 over the final three minutes to take a 43-41 edge into halftime.

      Both teams had players take terrible spills during the game.

      Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo injured an ankle and fell hard to the floor late in the second quarter. He did not return. Portland forward Nicolas Batum, pushed by Milwaukee center Larry Sanders while dunking with 3:01 left, landed on his stomach. After several minutes, he got up under his own power and stayed in the game.

      NOTES: Milwaukee was playing its first game without the No. 2 pick in the June draft, F Jabari Parker, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in Monday's 96-94 victory at Phoenix. Veteran F Jared Dudley started in Parker's absence, and he contributed three points and five assists in 27 minutes. ... Portland was playing its first game without starting C Robin Lopez, who broke his right hand Monday in a victory over San Antonio. ... The two head coaches, Terry Stotts of Portland and Jason Kidd of Milwaukee, were together for four seasons in Dallas (2008-12) and won an NBA championship together (2010-11). Stotts was the chief assistant to Rick Carlisle, Kidd the Mavericks' veteran point guard. "One of the smartest players I've been around," Stotts said. ... Bucks F Ersan Ilyasova, who has missed the past seven games with a broken nose, is back to non-contact duty in practice and is getting close to a return. "We'll see as the week goes on," Kidd said. "It's not his first time breaking his nose. He's used to the mask, but it'll take a little time."

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Reports: Mavs in talks to acquire Rondo
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Boston Celtics are engaged in trade talks that could result in point guard Rajon Rondo heading to the Dallas Mavericks, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

    • Boston would receive a package that would include a 2015 first-round pick with limited lottery protection, according to Yahoo Sports. ESPN.com reported that Dallas center Brandan Wright is likely to be included along with multiple draft picks.

      According to the Boston Globe, Mavericks forward Jae Crowder is another player who could be headed to the Celtics.

      Other teams including the Houston Rockets reportedly expressed interest in Rondo, 28.

      Following Boston's 109-92 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, Rondo was asked about the latest rumors, and he reiterated that he remains committed to the Celtics.

      "How many times you want me to say it?" he said, according to the Globe. "We discussed it on media day (in September). My thoughts and my opinions as far as the organization hasn't changed."

      Rondo, who finished with 13 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds Wednesday, is averaging 8.3 points, 10.8 assists and 7.5 boards per game this season.

      Over his nine NBA seasons, all with the Celtics, Rondo is averaging 11 points, 8.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He is a four-time All-Star, and he won a championship with Boston in 2007-08.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Grizzlies need three overtimes to hold off Spurs
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN ANTONIO -- A 3-point barrage in the second half allowed the San Antonio Spurs to erase a big early deficit and put themselves in a position to win Wednesday night.

    • However, the Spurs couldn't close out the Memphis Grizzlies from the free-throw line, and that proved costly.

      Power forward Zach Randolph scored 21 points, including all six of the Grizzlies' points in the third overtime, and Memphis emerged with a 117-116 win at the AT&T Center on Wednesday.

      Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley rebounded a final shot from Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and threw the ball to the other end of the court as time expired.

      Memphis (21-4) earned its second big victory in as many nights after snapping the Golden State Warriors' 16-game winning streak Tuesday. The Spurs (17-9) dropped their second straight and fourth in the past six games.

      "It was a great game," Grizzlies coach David Joerger said. "Great game to be a part of, lot of great plays. They made some mistakes, we made some mistakes, and both teams kept going at it. We have a long history. We've played each other a ton of times, so it's great to get a win."

      The Spurs trailed by as many as 23 points in the first half and 17 after a 10-0 Memphis run to start the third quarter, but they quickly got back in the game with a 14-0 spurt that included four consecutive 3-pointers.

      San Antonio made 17 of their 35 3-point attempts but shot only 13-for-27 from the foul line. The Grizzlies made 10 of 27 long-range shots, but they were a steadier 11-for-14 on free throws.

      Both teams hit clutch baskets to keep the game going deep into the night.

      Memphis center Marc Gasol drilled a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer of regulation, and he scored a put-back with 9.4 seconds left in the first overtime to keep the game alive.

      Spurs power forward Tim Duncan matched Gasol's heroics with a long 2-pointer that banked off the backboard and bounced on the rim several times before falling through to knot the game again to end the second extra session.

      It was all Randolph in the third OT, however, as he gave the Grizzlies a four-point lead with a fadeaway jumper as the clock rolled under a minute.

      The Spurs got a 3-pointer from shooting guard Danny Green -- his seventh of the night -- and a stop on Memphis' next possession, but Ginobili's off-balance shot with the time running down barely drew iron.

      Gasol finished with a game-high 26 points and added nine rebounds. Memphis reserve guard Vince Carter scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter. Center Kosta Koufos added 16 points, while Conley had 14 points and 10 assists, and guard Courtney Lee also scored 14.

      Duncan had a big night statistically with 23 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, but he shot 5-for-15 from the foul line, including 2-for-6 in the first overtime. Green scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots, and Ginobili contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

      "It was in my head from the first half," Duncan said of his free-throw issues. "I'm trying to change things every time I go up there. The feel just wasn't there for whatever reason. I was short on everything and couldn't fix it."

      Spurs power forward Boris Diaw finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and guard Marco Belinelli chipped in with 15 points.

      Memphis sprinted out of the gates in each of the first three quarters, outscoring the Spurs 8-1 to start the first, 10-2 over the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second before the 10-0 run to open the third.

      San Antonio didn't take its first lead of the night until Green buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 80-77 with 8:22 remaining in the fourth.

      "I was really proud of them," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his players. "I thought they squeezed every bit of blood out of a rock that they could. They were tired as heck. Memphis was, too, so it's not an excuse.

      "Getting down the way they did and playing poorly to start the game and to start the third quarter, they showed a lot of fortitude. We made some errors that are pretty odd, unique-type errors with a couple of passes, rebounds and missed free throws. That is the game. We made too many of those mistakes."

      NOTES: San Antonio was without PG Tony Parker (mild left hamstring strain) and SF Kawhi Leonard (bruised right hand). ... The Spurs lost for the first time this season when recording at least 25 assists. They began the night 13-0 in such contests. They ranked sixth in the NBA with an average of 24 assists per game. ... Memphis is off to its best start in franchise history, and it has the best regular-season record in the league in the 2014 calendar year (58-19). ... The Grizzlies improved to 8-2 this season when allowing 100-plus points. They finished 23-58 the previous four years in such games.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Raptors take suspense out of first meeting with Nets
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets played it close all last season.

    • The Nets eked out a victory in the seventh game of their first-round playoff series on May 4 that went down to the last play.

      The Raptors took the suspense out of their first meeting this season on Wednesday, pulling away in the fourth quarter in a 105-89 victory as guard Kyle Lowry scored 20 points and dished out 12 assists.

      "We gave them a battle for three quarters and then we kind of fell apart," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "We just started throwing the ball to them instead of us, or throwing the ball out of bounds."

      The Raptors (20-6) outscored the Nets 29-16 in the fourth quarter and won their fourth in a row to reach 20 wins before the Christmas break for the first time in franchise history. The Nets dropped to 10-14 after losing on two successive nights.

      "I thought in the second half we did a better job of keeping them off the boards," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "That's what was killing us in the first half, our lack of defensive rebounding and finding the body. It sounds very fundamental but that's what we have to do. Defensive rebounding is our Achilles heel right now."

      Center Mason Plumlee led the Nets with 23 points and eight rebounds and said fatigue was not the problem.

      "A lot of mistakes, turnovers and defensive breakdowns," he said. "I don't think it was being tired or anything. It was mentally making errors that really cost us."

      The teams meet three more times this season and the next meeting is Jan. 30 in Brooklyn.

      "This is going to be a great series," Plumlee said. "They're a very good team. It's going to be good when they come to Brooklyn, too."

      Center Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Toronto. Forward Amir Johnson, forward Patrick Patterson and guard Greivis Vasquez each scored 13 and guard Lou Williams added 10.

      Forward Joe Johnson added 17 points for the Nets while forward Mirza Teletovic chipped in with 14 and point guard Deron Williams had 11.

      "We have to be able to keep our focus and be concentrating in the fourth quarter," Teletovic said. "I know a lot of teams they read the games, they reset after half time and they come in and try to take away everything we have been doing right."

      Vasquez did not feel the win was more rewarding because it was against the team that eliminated them last season.

      "No, it's another win for us, which is important especially when we get them at home," Vasquez said. "So we just have to take care of home. We did that tonight. So we just have to be professional about it and keep playing. Yes, I feel we're better (than last season) but it is just still too early. We can't really be too happy."

      The Nets were ahead by as many as 11 points before finishing the first quarter with a 35-27 lead. The Raptors came back to take a 52-51 lead at halftime on Lowry's bank shot.

      The lead was still one until forward James Johnson's layup with 33 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Raptors a 76-73 lead heading into the fourth.

      The Raptors extended their lead to nine on a 3-pointer by Williams. Lowry put the Raptors ahead by 11 points with 5:41 to play on a driving layup and Patterson's jumper 30 seconds later pushed the lead to 11.

      After Williams hit a jumper for the Nets, Patterson's 3-pointer made it 95-81 with 4:35 to play. Lowry scored to give the Raptors an 18-point lead with just more than three minutes left and the Raptors were in command.

      It was 105-87 when Vasquez hit a 3-pointer approaching the final minute.

      "There were a couple of games last season where we were in situations where we could have run away with it," Patterson said. "But they kept fighting and fighting. We were missing shots and they were playing great defense. It seemed like it was back and forth a lot. The team that we have this year we feel we can compete with the best of them. Going up against Brooklyn tonight, what we did, it's not a shock."

      NOTES: G Sergey Karasev (strained left oblique) did not play for the Nets against the Raptors after leaving Tuesday night's loss to Miami with a side injury. ... Nets F Kevin Garnett, who played 21 minutes on Tuesday, was not in the lineup Wednesday, the fourth straight time he has missed the second half of back-to-backs. ... Raptors G Landry Fields, who has spent most of the season on the bench until recently, made his first 3-pointer since March 22, 2013, against Orlando on Monday. ... After splitting four games last season, the teams met in the first round of the playoffs with the Nets winning the seventh game 97-96 on a last-second stop. On aggregate, each team scored 1,070 points in their meetings. ... The Raptors visit the Detroit Pistons on Friday. The Nets travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers on Friday.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Jazz claim first win in Miami since 2010
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- For the Utah Jazz, it was a rare win, especially on the road.

    • For the Miami Heat, who have made the NBA Finals in each of the past four seasons, it was all part of their alarming new reality.

      In fact, not even Dwyane Wade's vintage 42-point performance could save the Heat on Wednesday night as the Jazz left AmericanAirlines Arena with a 105-87 victory.

      Small forward Gordon Hayward had 29 points and a game-high seven assists to lead the Jazz, prompting Utah coach Quin Snyder to praise his young star's leadership.

      "The more we can hear his voice, I think it has a positive impact," Snyder said. "From the very beginning of the game, we were in front of our bench, defensively, and you could hear our guys talking to each other. There was a connectivity on defense that we were looking for (all season)."

      That connectivity helped Utah hold Miami to 38.6 percent shooting from the field, including 4 of 17 on 3-pointers (23.5 percent). The Jazz were plus-seven on rebounds, holding the Heat to 11 second-chance points and 30 points in the paint.

      Utah (7-19) won for the second time in 14 games and is now 3-10 on the road. Before Wednesday, the Jazz last won a road game on Nov. 14 at the New York Knicks and last won at Miami on Nov. 9, 2010.

      Power forward Enes Kanter added 18 points to lead Utah, which took control of the game midway through the first quarter and never trailed again.

      Kanter, who had a career-high 29 points on Tuesday at New Orleans, has a combined total of 47 points in his past two games.

      "He's playing extremely well," Hayward said. "There were a couple of plays tonight when Enes made a big corner 3-pointer and then he had a heck of a move on the baseline for a score. Those are momentum-swingers."

      Wade had his highest scoring game since Feb. 25, 2011. But with starting forwards Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts out with injuries, the Heat fell to 12-14 as no other Miami player had more than 11 points.

      "You want to win games like this so you can feel good about yourself," said Wade, who has a combined total of 70 points in the past two games. "The way we lost ... at home ... I'm not used to that."

      Indeed, Miami is 8-6 on the road and 4-8 at home, including seven losses in its past eight games in its arena. The Heat have lost four straight home games, the first time that has happened since March 2011.

      Utah came out fast, shooting 65 percent from the field and leading 33-16 after the first quarter. Hayward was nearly perfect, making 4 of 5 from the floor, including 2 of 2 on 3-pointers, and 3 of 3 from the foul line. He finished the quarter with 13 points.

      Miami, which shot just 31.3 percent from the floor, had the second-lowest scoring quarter of its season.

      Wade had his best half of the season with 23 points, including 17 in the second quarter, and his performance kept things from being worse for Miami.

      Even so, the Jazz led 55-41 at halftime. Utah made 8 of 11 3-pointers in the first half (72.7 percent), and Hayward went into the break with 18 points and four assists.

      Miami got as close as seven points in the third quarter before Utah pulled away again. The Jazz closed the quarter on a 15-4 run and took a 77-59 lead into the fourth quarter.

      "After getting a good win on the road (Tuesday night against the Nets), coming back with this effort as a group is unacceptable," Wade said. "That's our problem. We have to fix that. Our coaches can't do (anything) about that part."

      NOTES: Jazz F Trevor Booker argued with a referee's call and was hit with two technical fouls and ejected with 3.5 seconds left in the half. ... Jazz PF Derrick Favors returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with a sprained right ankle. He had 11 points and six rebounds. ... With Favors back, Jazz C Rudy Gobert returned to the bench. Gobert averaged 6.5 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in his two starts. ... Heat PF Chris "Birdman" Andersen made his first start of the season and had six points and a team-high nine rebounds. ... Miami PF Josh McRoberts, who is set to have knee surgery on Monday or Tuesday and is likely out for the season, has played just 17 games for Miami. He was supposed to be a starter, but toe, back and knee injuries ruined his season. ... Heat PF Chris Bosh (calf injury) missed his third consecutive game. He could be out a couple of weeks. ... Miami C Justin Hamilton (two points) started despite a bruised left quad. ... Up next, Utah plays the Magic in Orlando on Friday. Miami plays host to the Washington Wizards on Friday.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Parsons scores 32 as Mavericks dump Pistons
    By The Sports Xchange

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chandler Parsons did not let a sore elbow and an achy back prevent him from scoring a season high Wednesday.

    • Parsons poured in 32 points, including 21 in the second half, and led the Dallas Mavericks to a 117-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at The Palace. Parsons finished two points shy of his career high and also grabbed seven rebounds.

      He only cooled off when he got to the locker room. His elbow, which he hyperextended while guarding New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony on Tuesday, was wrapped in ice. So was his lower back, which was sore enough on Saturday to force him to miss a showdown with the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors.

      "It's definitely not 100 percent. It's just part of a long season," said Parsons, a small forward who was signed away from Houston with a three-year, $46 million contract during the offseason. "You're going to have some bumps and bruises. You've just got to stick with it and do what you can."

      While Parsons is taking more hits, he is delivering some crushing blows as well. He scored 28 or more points in three of his past five outings.

      "I'm just in a good rhythm right now," he said. "My teammates are doing a great job of finding me, and I'm playing with confidence. I knew it was going to happen, it was just going to be a matter of time. The longer I play with these guys, the more comfortable I'm going to get. We're rolling right now."

      Shooting guard Monta Ellis added 25 points and eight assists for Dallas, which has an 8-0 road record against Eastern Conference opponents. He had 11 points and five assists during the second half, when the Mavericks (19-8) scored 64 points.

      "Parsons hit a lot of big shots, and when we were struggling a little in the third quarter, Monta Ellis just took over the game with some one-on-one stuff that got us going," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Both of those guys were huge for us."

      Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and center Tyson Chandler chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds for the league's highest-scoring team. Chandler grabbed his 8,000th career rebound during the first quarter to become the 68th player in NBA history to reach the milestone.

      Center Andre Drummond racked up 19 points and a season-high 24 rebounds for the Pistons (5-21), who lost their 11th straight at home, a single-season franchise record. They had 10-game home losing streaks from Jan. 23-Feb. 27, 1980, and from Dec. 21, 1993, to Jan. 31, 1994.

      Drummond also made four steals and three blocks, but Detroit still lost for the 15th time in 17 games.

      "He jumps and it seems like he hangs in the air until he gets his hand on the ball," Carlisle said of Drummond. "That's how it looks. I've never seen a guy get his hands on so many lobs, shots, everything. I was amazed."

      Drummond gave the Pistons a chance for an upset, but he didn't get enough help from his teammates.

      "I just really raised my game up and played hard on the offensive and defensive end," he said. "I tried to do my best to help my team get in a good position to win, and it didn't happen for us."

      Defense was the Pistons' biggest issue, as the Mavs shot 50.6 percent from the field. They are 11-1 when making at least half of their field-goal attempts.

      "They got everything they wanted," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It was an offensive game, even in the first half. We couldn't keep up with them in the third quarter. They were scoring easily, we were struggling, and the game got away."

      Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 14 points, and point guard Brandon Jennings and power forward Jonas Jerebko had 13 points apiece for Detroit. The Pistons shot 44.9 percent from the floor.

      NOTES: Dallas defeated Detroit for the sixth consecutive meeting. ... The Mavs have already tied their season record by making at least 15 3-pointers in four games. Coach Rick Carlisle attributes it to dribble penetration. "If you're getting open looks with no defense because the defense has been broken down, you're going to have a lot better chance to make them," he said. Dallas shot 10-for-22 from 3-point range Wednesday. ... Detroit SG Jodie Meeks averaged 12.7 points in his first three games after returning from a back injury, but Dallas limited him to nine points. Coach Stan Van Gundy wants to run more set plays for him. "We'll put more and more in over the days leading up to Christmas when we have more practice time," he said.

  • Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Celtics continue home mastery of Magic
    By The Sports Xchange

    BOSTON -- This Boston Celtics rebuilding project would go much quicker if they could play more home games against the Orlando Magic.

    • Wednesday night, the Celtics cranked up their defense and beat the Magic for the eighth straight time at TD Garden, blowing open a close game in the fourth quarter to cruise to a 109-92 victory.

      The Magic haven't won at TD Garden since Feb. 7, 2010.

      "We started to really defend," Boston coach Brad Stevens said after his team shook off a slow defensive start, especially against center Nikola Vucevic, and never trailed in the second half.

      Vucevic had 12 points and eight rebounds in the first quarter but was held to six points and five boards the rest of the way.

      Guard Rajon Rondo had 15 assists and helped a balanced Boston attack as the Celtics (9-14) went 13 of 19 from the floor in the fourth quarter and won for the fifth time in eight games.

      The Celtics used a 10-2 run in the fourth quarter to break the game open.

      Rondo made a run at his fourth triple-double of the year, producing 13 points and seven rebounds as six Celtics scored in double figures. He did have six of his team's 14 turnovers, but four of those came in the first quarter.

      Forward Brandon Bass, coming off the bench, had 10 of his team-high 18 points in the final run. Forwards Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger both finished with 16 points.

      "We just turned up the heat," Sullinger said. "Everyone played one hell of game tonight."

      Big man Kelly Olynyk, coming off a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds in Monday night's win at Philadelphia, contributed 15 points and six boards off the bench. Olynyk has 45 points and 15 rebounds on 18 of 25 from the floor, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range in the last two games.

      "Kelly really wants to be good," said Stevens, pointing to the second-year man's work ethic.

      Backup point guard Phil Pressey was also a spark off the bench with a season-high nine points, four assists and two rebounds in 19 minutes. He was on the court with Rondo as the Celtics went small for the deciding spurt.

      "I felt like Phil Pressey was really active and aggressive both on the ball handler and then away from the ball," Stevens said.

      The Magic, playing their league-high 19th road game, fell to 10-18 (7-12 on the road).

      "Not our best effort tonight," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "When I say effort I mean it just wasn't a good day for us. Not our best game.

      "We still have a long way to go and nights like this stare you right in the face and let you know that."

      Forward Tobias Harris scored 17 points as five Orlando players scored in double figures.

      "Our defense was poor all night," Harris said. "They were just scoring at will on us basically. It's just something we got to work on; not going to beat teams if you don't play defense, (and allow them to) score over a hundred points. It's just a tough game to win."

      The Magic used a 10-0 run in just 1:17 to take an eight-point lead. The run grew to 14-2 and the lead was 10 with 4:44 left in the first half. But the Celtics outscored the visitors 19-6 in the final 4:31 to take a three-point lead at the break.

      NOTES: Yahoo Sports reported the Celtics are becoming more interested in dealing G Rajon Rondo. Citing sources, the report said the asking price would be "pretty high, probably higher than most want to pay," and that the focus is on moving the team captain to the Western Conference. The report also said the Celtics are shopping F Jeff Green, hoping to land a first-round draft pick. ... Boston G Marcus Smart (Achilles) and G Marcus Thornton (calf) remained out. ... Orlando rookie G Elfrid Payton was part of a pre-draft workout in Boston on June 13, with the Celtics owning the Nos. 6 and 17 picks in the draft. He went 10th to Philadelphia and was traded to Orlando. ... The Magic practiced at Harvard on Tuesday. ... Orlando, which has played more road games (19 of 28) than any team in the league, open a four-game homestand against the Utah Jazz on Friday. The Celtics host the Minnesota Timberwolves the same night.