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  • Friday, January 30, 2015
    Lakers top Bulls in 2 OTs to end losing streak
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- For the Los Angeles Lakers, it was the best of both worlds.

    • The night started with a love fest for a former teammate, Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol, and ended with a surprising win by the Lakers.

      Forward Jordan Hill scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Los Angeles halted a nine-game skid with a thrilling 123-118 double-overtime victory over Chicago on Thursday night at Staples Center.

      Gasol, who played his first game at Staples since spurning the Lakers to join the Bulls as a free agent for less money, was the focal point for much of the night. The Lakers honored Gasol, who helped the organization capture two NBA titles during more than six seasons here, with a video tribute, and fans responded with a rousing standing ovation before tipoff.

      "It was tough at first," said Gasol, who finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots in 44 minutes. He also met briefly with ex-teammate Kobe Bryant before the game.

      "With so many emotions, it took me a while to get settled into the game," Gasol continued. "After that I was fine. Obviously, we didn't play well enough to win the game, so that's the down side."

      Guard Wayne Ellington added 23 points, eight coming in the second overtime and 17 after halftime, as the Lakers (13-34) avoided matching the 1993-94 club for the franchise's longest losing streak. Point guard Jordan Clarkson had 18 points, and forward Carlos Boozer finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles.

      "I think our guys just battled and played extremely hard all game long," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "We just never got down on ourselves and never got too high. We just got that energy level, which turned out being for 58 minutes."

      Guard Jimmy Butler, who played 49 minutes, led Chicago with 35 points, while point guard Derrick Rose had 17 points. Guard Aaron Brooks scored 15 off the bench, and center Joakim Noah contributed nine points, nine assists and 17 rebounds.

      The Bulls (30-18) fell for the second time in three games.

      "In the beginning, they were comfortable moving around," said Rose, who missed 19 of his 26 shots from the floor and made just one of seven from 3-point range. "Getting to spots they wanted to get to. We did a poor job with getting to the ball."

      Hill's jumper with 1:53 left in the second overtime gave the Lakers a 114-109 lead. It was too much for the Bulls to overcome. Two foul shots by Butler got Chicago within three, but six straight points by the Lakers sealed the decision.

      Rose hit a 3-pointer to open the first overtime for Chicago's first lead, but the Bulls failed to hold a five-point advantage down the stretch. Los Angeles tied the score at 106 on a drive by Ellington followed by a jumper by Hill with 16.2 seconds remaining, forcing a second extra period.

      The Lakers appeared to have the game wrapped up in regulation. They held a 92-83 lead after a basket inside by center Robert Sacre with 5:39 left in the game. The Bulls sliced the deficit to four, but Los Angeles pushed the cushion back to nine after a three-point play by Clarkson with 2:08 left.

      However, two free throws, a 3-pointer and a dunk by Butler with 44.2 seconds remaining cut the margin to 98-96. Gasol tied the score on a tip-in with 11 seconds left.

      Hill's jump hook in the lane just before the horn in regulation went in and out.

      "They put pressure and we got on our heels," Ellington said of the Lakers' meltdown in regulation. "We were in attack mode the whole night until then. We froze up, (but) we snapped out of it."

      Los Angeles again played without guard Nick Young, who missed his second consecutive game due to a sprained right ankle.

      NOTES: Chicago SG Jimmy Butler found out about his selection as a reserve to the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star squad at his club's morning shootaround Thursday. "I think everybody would love to make the All-Star team in their career," said Butler, the Bulls' leading scorer at 20.1 points per game. "I feel like I've come a long way since I started (in Chicago), since I started playing basketball. I guess you could say that that's one thing you would want as a kid growing up is to be in the league (and) be an All-Star." ... Bulls F Mike Dunleavy sat out the contest with an injured right ankle. ... Chicago resumes its six-game road trip in Phoenix against the Suns on Friday. ... The Lakers begin a four-game Eastern swing against the New York Knicks on Sunday.

  • Friday, January 30, 2015
    NBA roundup: Lakers top Bulls in 2 OTs to end skid
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Forward Jordan Hill scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers halted a nine-game skid with a thrilling 123-118 double-overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at Staples Center.

    • Guard Wayne Ellington added 23 points as the Lakers avoided matching the 1993-94 club for the franchise's worst losing streak. Point guard Jordan Clarkson had 18 points, and forward Carlos Boozer finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles.

      Guard Jimmy Butler led Chicago with 35 points, while forward Pau Gasol, in his first return to Staples since he spurned the Lakers to sign as a free agent with Chicago, had 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Point guard Derrick Rose finished with 17 points, guard Aaron Brooks scored 15, and center Joakim Noah contributed nine points, nine assists and 17 rebounds.

      Hill's jumper with 1:53 left in the second overtime gave the Lakers a 114-109 lead. It was too much for the Bulls to overcome.

      Bucks 115, Magic 100

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Reserve guard Jerryd Bayless scored 19 points in 20 minutes, leading well-balanced Milwaukee to a victory over Orlando.

      The Bucks had seven players score in double figures while snapping a 17-game losing streak in Orlando. The Magic lost their seventh consecutive game.

      Bucks forward Jared Dudley and guard Khris Middleton had 17 points apiece. Guard Brandon Knight had 16 points and nine assists, and guard O.J. Mayo scored 13. Magic guard Victor Oladipo had 21 points and five rebounds, and center Nikola Vucevic added 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

      Pacers 103, Knicks 82

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana, which lost its three most recent home games, scored a combined 67 points during the second and third quarters against New York at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

      The Pacers made 14 of 23 shots from the field in the second quarter and 15 of 23 in the third, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, to outscore the Knicks by 35 during that 24-minute window.

      Guard Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 22 points and center Roy Hibbert added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Carmelo Anthony had 18 points and forward Lou Amundson added 17 for the Knicks, who are an NBA-worst 3-21 on the road.

      Grizzlies 99, Nuggets 69

      MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Forward Zach Randolph posted his 11th straight double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds to lead Memphis to its ninth win in 10 games and seventh at home in the past eight.

      Randolph, averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds since returning Jan. 9 from a right knee injury, did not play in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies were able to rest their starters with a 25-point lead.

      Denver, which lost for the eighth time in nine games, shot 2-for-26 from beyond the arc. Forwards Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried had 10 points each to lead the Nuggets.

  • Friday, January 30, 2015
    Grizzlies F Randolph takes out frustrations on Nuggets in rout
    By The Sports Xchange

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Forward Zach Randolph posted his 11th consecutive double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 99-69 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, but his consistency failed to earn him what he coveted: a reserve spot on the All-Star team.

    • The reserves were announced shortly before tipoff and Randolph used the snub to punish the Nuggets. Behind Randolph's lead, the Grizzlies (34-12) earned their ninth win in 10 games overall and their seventh in their past eight home games.

      Randolph, averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds since returning from a right knee injury Jan. 9, spoke only briefly after the game. When the subject about his omission from the all-star game arose, he mentioned "politics, politics."

      Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who turned 30 Thursday, said Randolph deserved to join him on the All-Star team, as did point guard Mike Conley, who missed the game with a wrist injury. Gasol will be the starting center for the Western Conference.

      "Obviously, I want them both there," Gasol said. "I feel like they both deserve it (especially) when we're the second-best team in the West. When you play well and you're a winning team, you're supposed to be there."

      As for Randolph, he did not play in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies rested their starters after ending the third with a 25-point lead.

      Randolph's string of 11 straight double-doubles is three shy of the team record he holds. His 17 rebounds gave him double-figure boards for the 17th straight game, a career-high.

      "Z-Bo is a workhorse," said Grizzlies forward Tony Allen. "He's up for the challenge every game. He's our leader. We go as he goes.

      "He's back to that level in the 2010-11 season when we were able to beat the Spurs (in the playoffs). We're going to need to ride on his back as we go forward."

      Forward Jeff Green added 13 points for Memphis, and guards Courtney Lee, Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes scored 11 each. The Grizzlies are 7-1 since acquiring Green in a three-team trade with the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans three weeks ago and 5-0 since moving him into the starting lineup.

      "It was a good win," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "We caught a team on a tough night. I think they got us on a tough night at their place (a 114-85 Memphis loss Jan. 3) on the second of a back-to-back. I thought when we defended we made it tough for them."

      Denver, which lost for the eighth time in nine games, shot 2-for-26 from beyond the arc and 33.3 percent from the floor overall. Forwards Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried had 10 points each to lead the Nuggets (19-28).

      Nuggets coach Brian Shaw dismissed excuses for his team's poor performance, especially the notion his team was fatigued by playing consecutive nights. Denver beat New Orleans Wednesday night.

      "If my memory is correct, this isn't the first year that a team has ever played back-to-backs," Shaw said. "Back-to-backs have been a part of the game from its inception, so that's no excuse. I didn't feel like we came and competed from the very beginning of the game."

      "I'd have more respect if guys just told me that they didn't feel like playing from the start. I' m just sick and tired. One night giving a certain effort and the next night you don't show up and you don't compete."

      Leading by 15 at the half, the Grizzlies extended the margin to 74-49 after three quarters and built an 86-53 cushion midway through the fourth behind their reserves.

      Despite playing without the injured Conley for the second straight game, the Grizzlies jumped quickly to a 19-9 lead thanks to Conley's replacement. Udrih had seven points during the rapid start.

      The Grizzlies shot 52 percent in the first quarter and led 26-11. They boosted their lead to 19 late in the second quarter by taking advantage of poor shooting by the Nuggets. Denver missed 12 of its 13 3-point attempts in the first half, including all five tries in the second quarter, to allow Memphis to build a 50-35 halftime lead. The Nuggets shot 19 percent in the first quarter and 34 percent in the half.

      The only negative for the Grizzlies in the half came midway through the second quarter when reserve swingman Vince Carter sustained a left foot injury and had to be helped off the floor. He will undergo further evaluation Friday.

      NOTES: The Grizzlies' 114-85 loss at Denver on Jan. 3 was Memphis' laregst margin of defeat this season. Grizzlies F Zach Randolph did not play in the game. He was in the midst of missing nine straight games with a right knee injury. ... Nuggets C JaVale McGee returned to action and scored two points in 15 minutes Thursday. He missed 77 games last season with a stress fracture in his left tibia, has missed 23 games this season with a strain in the surgically repaired leg. ... The Grizzlies held the Nuggets to 11 points in the first quarter, a Grizzlies' opponent low for an opening frame. The previous low was limiting New Orleans to 13 points Nov. 3 in New Orleans.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Balanced Bucks end dry spell in Orlando
    By The Sports Xchange

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Milwaukee Bucks have flaws like most every team still hovering around .500, but good depth is not one of them.

    • The Bucks showed just how deep they are Thursday night by spanking the Orlando Magic 115-100 in a game that was never close in the second half.

      The Bucks had seven players reach double figures, despite playing without injured starters Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia and suspended Larry Sanders.

      "All season long, our motto has kind of been 'next man up,'" Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "The next guy in line steps up. Our bench has been good all year."

      Reserve guard Jerryd Bayless scored 19 points in 20 minutes to lead the Bucks, but he had plenty of help in a well-balanced, share-the-ball attack.

      Forward Jared Dudley and guard Khris Middleton had 17 points apiece. Guard Brandon Knight had 16 points and nine assists, and guard O.J. Mayo scored 13. Third-string center John Henson, in his first start of the season, finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed 10 points.

      "Everybody we have can play," Henson said. "It's just a matter of getting your opportunity to prove it. Tonight, we moved the ball and played well defensively. Just a great team effort. That's just the way this team is."

      The Bucks (24-22) also snapped a 17-game losing streak in Orlando, dating to 2004. The Magic (15-34) lost their seventh consecutive game.

      Magic guard Victor Oladipo had 21 points and five rebounds, and center Nikola Vucevic added 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Reserve guard Willie Green scored 16 points, point guard Elfrid Payton added 15 and guard Evan Fournier had 11.

      "I'm really surprised by the result of tonight's game," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "I thought our energy and focus going into the game was good. I think we did press a little bit throughout the game, when they jumped on us. We didn't respond."

      The Bucks, who were without three key frontcourt players, never trailed. The Magic never got closer than 11 points in the second half and never seriously challenged after intermission.

      The Magic committed 24 turnovers, including 19 in the first three quarters when they fell hopelessly behind by 29 points. Orlando's opponent scored at least 100 points for the 11th consecutive game. The Bucks cracked triple digits with 8:54 remaining on a layup by Mayo.

      "We miss the guys who weren't out there tonight, but we find a way to compensate," Bayless said. "Every night, it's a different guy."

      The Magic held a 49-38 edge in rebounds, but their poor defense was a problem again. Milwaukee made 45 of 87 shots from the field (51.7 percent). They made 12 of 25 (48 percent) from 3-point range. The Magic allowed too many easy layups, too.

      "It's a learning process. They were shooting the cover off it," Oladipo said. "But teams get hot like that. You have to deal with it and respond better than we did."

      The Bucks, who led by 15 points at halftime, increased the margin in a hot-shooting third quarter when they went 16 of 23 from the floor. Knight had 14 points in the quarter, hitting 6 of 8.

      Milwaukee led 96-71 at the end of three quarters after holding a 59-44 edge at intermission.

      The Bucks rode an early, well-balanced offensive surge when all 10 players scored at least two points in the first half.

      They led by as many as 20 points in the second quarter and the Magic had 13 turnovers before halftime.

      "We don't depend on one guy to come out and score 20," Mayo said. "We get people involved. We just play together and move the ball."

      NOTES: The Bucks were without C Zaza Pachulia and F Ersan Ilyasova, weakening their front line considerably. Both were hurt Tuesday in a win at Miami. Pachulia injured his calf and Ilyasova left in the first quarter after aggravating a previous groin injury. "We have enough bodies to compete," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said earlier in the day. ... The Bucks already were without C Larry Sanders, who started 26 games this season before being suspended Jan. 16 by the NBA for violating its anti-drug program. ... The injuries made it an easier decision Wednesday for the Bucks to sign 37-year-old veteran F Kenyon Martin for the rest of the season. Martin had finished his second 10-day contract. He and Kidd had played together with both the Nets and the Knicks. ... Magic C Nikola Vucevic and Bucks G Brandon Knight previously expressed faint hopes of making the Eastern Conference All-Star team that was announced Thursday, but neither was selected.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Pacers dominate third quarter in rout of Knicks
    By The Sports Xchange

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Victories, especially lopsided wins have been difficult to attain for the Indiana Pacers.

    • The Pacers scored a combined 67 points during the second and third quarters Thursday night on their way to a 103-82 victory against the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

      The Pacers (17-31) made 14 of 23 field-goal tries in the second quarter and 15 of 23 in the third, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, outscoring New York by 35 during that 24-minute window.

      Indiana's 21-point margin of victory is its largest this season in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the Pacers' 53.2 shooting percentage (42 of 79) is their best through 48 games.

      "This game was about getting stops," said Pacers forward Solomon Hill, who helped limit All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to 7-of-16 shooting. "Then, we were taking good shots on our end. They got in a rhythm early on, but then we stayed with it. Our persistence paid off, and we got the W."

      Guard Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 22 points while center Roy Hibbert added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony had 18 and forward Lou Amundson added 17 for the Knicks (9-38), who are an NBA-worst 3-21 on the road.

      "We were much more aggressive to begin the second half," said Hibbert, who contributed 10 points and six rebounds in Indiana's big third quarter. "At this point, every game is a big game for us as we try to get into the playoffs."

      The Pacers blew this one wide open by sinking 10 of their first 11 third-quarter field goal attempts, including five field goals from Hibbert, extending a five-point halftime lead to 76-56 with 6:36 remaining in the period.

      Consecutive 3-pointers from guard C.J. Watson and Stuckey and then another Stuckey field goal created the 20-point lead just 5:24 into the second half.

      Indiana continued to dominate, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Solomon Hill on its way to an 84-59 advantage at the 3:50 mark. By quarter's end, the Pacers enjoyed an 89-61 lead.

      Coach Frank Vogel liked the way the Pacers defended New York's triangle offense.

      "We defended the triangle well, especially seeing it for the first time for some of our guys," Vogel said. "Really, it simply was a matter of good execution on both ends of the court. I thought Lavoy Allen did a nice job on the glass while he was in there."

      Vogel also credited the Pacers' 50 points in the paint as a factor in pulling away.

      "We know (the Knicks) are a little thin up front, and they are a team that also likes to guard the post straight up," Vogel said. "We had an advantage going inside, and Roy got into a rhythm. We also made some 3-point shots, which helped open that up."

      Indiana outrebounded New York, 49-33.

      "We couldn't sustain the energy and the effort necessary to compete," New York coach Derek Fisher said, "Their size started to wear us down a little bit, and we missed not having a couple of bodies in the paint tonight. They had more juice than us tonight, and they were the better team.

      "In the second quarter when the game turned, we couldn't get the separation we had initially. They have a lot of size up front, and that caused some problems."

      Amundson said the game simply got away from the Knicks in the third quarter.

      "It was bad," Amundson said. "They came out and hit shots and got a lot of confidence. It seemed like they came out with more effort and with more energy. Defensively, they had their way with us."

      Indiana used a 32-point second quarter to seize a 54-49 halftime lead, charging back from a 29-22 deficit through the first 12 minutes when the Knicks made 10 of their first 13 field goal attempts.

      The Pacers got a big boost from their non-starters, who outscored the New York bench 23-7 during the first two quarters, including eight points and five rebounds from Allen. Allen, however, suffered a slight right knee injury late in first half action and did not return.

      Stuckey's 11 points paced Indiana during the opening half, while Anthony had 16 and Amundson scored 14 to lead the Knicks' opening half scoring.

      Each team shot well in the first two quarters. Indiana was 21 of 40 for 52.5 percent, and New York was 20 of 39 for 51.3 percent. The Pacers dominated the rebounding category during first half play, 25-17.

      NOTES: The Knicks were without F/C Amare Stoudemire (sprained left ankle), F Travis Wear (strained left hip), C Cole Aldrich (confused left shin) and F/C Andrea Bargnani (strained right calf) on Thursday night. ... The Pacers assigned 6-foot-11 rookie C Shayne Whittington to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League. He has played in 13 games for the Pacers, averaging 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds after signing in July as an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan. ... G George Hill was in the original starting lineup for the Pacers but was replaced by F Solomon Hill. Hill played 12 minutes and scored eight points.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Three Hawks picked as All-Stars
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NBA's hottest team, the Atlanta Hawks, had three players chosen as All-Star reserves Thursday, the league announced.

    • Center Al Horford, power forward Paul Millsap and guard Jeff Teague will all represent Atlanta in the All-Star game on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

      The Hawks earned their franchise-record 17th consecutive win Wednesday, beating the Brooklyn Nets 113-102. Atlanta leads the Eastern Conference with a 38-8 record.

      The last time Atlanta had three All-Stars in the same season was 1980 (Eddie Johnson, John Drew and Dan Roundfield). Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer will guide the Eastern Conference team.

      "It is an honor for our entire organization to have Al, Paul and Jeff selected to play on the All-Star stage," Budenholzer said in a statement. "The recognition is well-deserved for each of them. We are very proud of the guys, and also want to acknowledge the rest of our players and coaches for their roles in helping our players reach this accomplishment."

      The team with the league's best record, the Golden State Warriors (36-7), had shooting guard Klay Thompson chosen as an All-Star reserve to join starting point guard Stephen Curry. Two Golden State players were selected as All-Stars for the first time since Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin in 1993, though Mullin didn't appear in the game because of an injury.

      Golden State has two All-Star guards for the first time ever.

      Other teams with multiple All-Stars are the Cleveland Cavaliers (starting forward LeBron James and reserve guard Kyrie Irving), the Chicago Bulls (starting forward Pau Gasol and reserve guard/forward Jimmy Butler), the Miami Heat (reserve forward/center Chris Bosh and reserve guard Dwyane Wade), the Los Angeles Clippers (starting forward Blake Griffin and reserve guard Chris Paul) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (reserve forward Kevin Durant and reserve guard Russell Westbrook).

      The first-time All-Stars are Thompson, Butler, Teague and starting guard Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.

      Bosh, a five-time All-Star with the Raptors earlier in his career, becomes the third player to make five All-Star teams with two different teams, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Garnett.

      The full All-Star teams, with number of All-Star selections:

      EASTERN CONFERENCE

      Starters

      F Carmelo Anthony, New York (8)

      F Pau Gasol, Chicago (5)

      F LeBron James, Cleveland (11)

      G Kyle Lowry, Toronto (1)

      G John Wall, Washington (2)

      Reserves

      F/C Chris Bosh, Miami (10)

      G/F Jimmy Butler, Chicago (1)

      C Al Horford, Atlanta (3)

      G Kyrie Irving, Cleveland (3)

      F Paul Millsap, Atlanta (2)

      G Jeff Teague, Atlanta (1)

      G Dwyane Wade, Miami (11)

      Coach Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta

      WESTERN CONFERENCE

      Starters

      F Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (5)

      F Anthony Davis, New Orleans (2)

      C Marc Gasol, Memphis (2)

      G Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (17)

      G Stephen Curry, Golden State (2)

      Reserves

      F LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland (4)

      F Tim Duncan, San Antonio (15)

      F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (6)

      G James Harden, Houston (3)

      G Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (8)

      G Klay Thompson, Golden State (1)

      G Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (4)

      Coach Steve Kerr, Golden State

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    NBA notebook: Wade out at least 2-3 weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is expected to miss several weeks with a right hamstring injury.

    • Wade, who already has missed nine games with hamstring injuries this season, suffered the new setback Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. He told reporters he would be out at least two to three weeks.

      "This is more in the belly of the hamstring so this is a little tougher one," Wade said.

      In 35 games this season, Wade has averaged 21.4 points and 5.4 assists.

      The Heat also signed guard Tyler Johnson to a second 10-day contract Thursday.

      Johnson, who originally signed a 10-day contract on Jan. 12, has appeared in one game with Miami and scored two points.

      --- Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak foresees star guard Kobe Bryant returning from a shoulder injury to play next season.

      Brant had surgery to repair rotator cuff damage on Wednesday. His recovery time is projected at nine months, which would be just before the start of the 2015-16 season.

      "I don't think he's retiring," Kupchak said Thursday. "He said he's looking forward to training camp. That's what we expect."

      Bryant is making $23.5 million this season and has one year left on his contract at $25 million. The 19-year veteran will turn 37 this summer.

      --- The Phoenix Suns assigned guards Reggie Bullock and Archie Goodwin to the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League.

      It's the first D-League assignment for Bullock, who averaged 2.6 points and 9.6 minutes in 26 NBA games this season. He had played in just one game for the Suns since they acquired him from the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 15.

      Goodwin returns to the Jam for the third time this season. He has averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals in six games with Bakersfield.

      ---The Cleveland Cavaliers assigned guard Joe Harris to the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League.

      Harris has played in 35 games (one start) for the Cavs this season, averaging 2.8 points and 11.1 minutes per game.

      Harris has played in two games for the Charge this season, averaging 18 points and eight rebounds.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Lakers GM Kupchak expects Bryant to return
    By The Sports Xchange

    Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak foresees star guard Kobe Bryant returning from a shoulder injury to play next season.

    • Brant had surgery to repair rotator cuff damage on Wednesday. His recovery time is projected at nine months, which would be just before the start of the 2015-16 season.

      "I don't think he's retiring," Kupchak said Thursday. "He said he's looking forward to training camp. That's what we expect."

      Bryant is making $23.5 million this season and has one year left on his contract at $25 million. The 19-year veteran will turn 37 this summer.

      "He'll be in a brace and it will be an awkward-looking brace," Kupchak said. "I think that would prevent him from doing anything for quite some time in terms of being able to use your lower body. But at some point in time, his shoulder will get to the point where he can jog and do treadmill and do things on the court. I'm not that concerned with the conditioning part of it."

      Bryant averaged a team-high 35.4 minutes in the first 27 games this season, which is the third year in a row that he has succumbed to an injury.

      "I don't think that had anything to do with anything -- certainly not the injury," Kupchak said.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Heat's Wade out at least 2-3 weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is expected to miss several weeks with a right hamstring injury.

    • Wade, who already has missed nine games with hamstring injuries this season, suffered the new setback Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. He told reporters he would be out at least two to three weeks.

      "This is more in the belly of the hamstring so this is a little tougher one," Wade said.

      In 35 games this season, Wade has averaged 21.4 points and 5.4 assists.

      Miami (20-25) hosts the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Suns assign Bullock, Goodwin to D-League
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Phoenix Suns assigned guards Reggie Bullock and Archie Goodwin to the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League on Thursday.

    • It's the first D-League assignment for Bullock, who averaged 2.6 points and 9.6 minutes in 26 NBA games this season. He had played in just one game for the Suns since they acquired him from the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 15.

      Goodwin returns to the Jam for the third time this season. He has averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals in six games with Bakersfield.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Heat sign G Johnson to second 10-day contract
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Miami Heat signed guard Tyler Johnson to a second 10-day contract Thursday.

    • Johnson, who originally signed to a 10-day contract by the Heat on Jan. 12, appeared in one game with Miami and scored two points.

      Johnson has appeared in 15 games (all starts) with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League, averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He appeared in two games with the Skyforce after his first 10-day contract expired, posting an 18-point, 11-assist double-double on Jan. 24 and then scoring 19 points on Tuesday.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Cavs reassign G Harris
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Cleveland Cavaliers assigned guard Joe Harris to the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League on Thursday.

    • Harris has played in 35 games (one start) for the Cavs this season, averaging 2.8 points and 11.1 minutes per game.

      Harris has played in two games for the Charge this season, averaging 18 points and eight rebounds.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Tucker's late contributions lift Suns past Wizards
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns count on the fourth-quarter energy of forward P.J. Tucker to push them over the hump in close games. On Wednesday night, they needed a little offense from him, too.

    • Tucker scored 10 of his 12 points and grabbed seven of his 10 rebounds in the final quarter, a big reason the Suns were able to avoid a collapse and post a 106-98 win over the Washington Wizards.

      The Suns (27-20) gave back almost all of a 22-point, second-quarter lead, then coughed up all but four points of an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter before Tucker took over. He helped Phoenix sweep the season series from the Wizards for the sixth time in eight seasons.

      "Late in games, he really gets tuned in, and that's where teams really tend to focus on our other guys," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "He drilled a couple of (3-pointers) to extend the lead back out there, and then P.J. does what he usually does -- get big rebounds at the end of games."

      Suns guard Goran Dragic had 20 points, and guard Isaiah Thomas scored 18. Forward Markieff Morris added 16, including a 15-footer with 23.5 seconds left to seal the win.

      "It comes down to the little plays," Tucker said. "You see them make their run, you knew it was going to happen. You have to get the rebounds, make the free throws and come up with big plays. We lost a game in San Antonio (on Jan. 9) just like that, and I said, 'We can't let that happen, especially after losing two in a row at home.' We have to close people out when we get up."

      Reserve forward Otto Porter Jr. had all 14 of his points in the second half for the Wizards, who were playing for the fourth time in five nights and were without forward Nene (sore right foot). Center Marcin Gortat had 14 points, guard Bradley Beal had 13, and forward Kris Humphries finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

      Washington guard John Wall struggled for the second time in two games, scoring 11 points on 5-for-16 shooting while playing against his former college teammate at Kentucky, Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe.

      "It was a rough night for me not making shots and getting guys involved," said Wall, who committed five turnovers. "Give a lot of credit to our second unit for attacking and giving us a chance to win the game.

      Washington (31-16) fell to 6-15 when allowing an opponent to score 100 or more points this season. The Wizards are 25-1 when holding their foe to double digits.

      "We couldn't really keep up with them," Gortat said. "Four games in five nights and playing teams like Denver and (the Los Angeles Lakers) that are pretty fast, so it was tough. I'm not looking for excuses, but we definitely didn't have the same energy we usually do.

      On a night when Western playoff contenders Portland, Dallas, Oklahoma City and New Orleans all lost, the Suns gained some precious ground, but they had to work for it.

      "I feel like I'm a broken record. I don't know what to say anymore," Dragic said about Phoenix's penchant for blowing big leads. "We played well, we followed the plan to run as much as possible, and we built the lead to 20 points before they come back and the game is prolonged. I'm happy with the win, but we have to keep it from happening again."

      The game had 10 lead changes in the opening seven minutes before the Suns closed the first quarter on a 14-1 run. Markieff Morris scored eight straight points and Bledsoe, forward Marcus Morris and Thomas all had 3-pointers in the final 2:35 to push Phoenix's lead to 29-17.

      Forward Brandan Wright picked up the scoring with nine of his 13 points in seven minutes to open the second period -- all on layups and dunks. His jam off a Markieff Morris feed gave the Suns a 49-27 lead with 5:09 left in the half.

      The Wizards rallied to shave the deficit to 56-39 at intermission and began the third quarter on an 18-6 run to pull within 62-57 on a layup by forward Paul Pierce with 6:39 left.

      The Suns were able to stabilize with a three-point play by Bledsoe and back-to-back 3-pointers from Thomas and Marcus Morris. A Dragic fastbreak layup with 30.6 seconds left restored the lead to 14 after three quarters, and Phoenix pushed the margin back to 18 on two Tucker 3-pointers and two Thomas free throws with 10:52 left in the game.

      Washington wouldn't go away, though. Center Kevin Seraphin had seven points during a 17-3 run, and a layup by guard Garrett Temple with 6:58 remaining cut the Suns' advantage to 91-87.

      The Wizards never got any closer. Tucker hit two free throws and a driving hook shot, and he added six rebounds in the final 5:17 to finish off the game.

      NOTES: Wizards F Paul Pierce returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers with a sore left toe. Pierce is 21 points shy of tying Alex English (25,613) for 15th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. ... Suns G Isaiah Thomas scored 20 or more points off the bench in his previous four games, averaging 24.5 points in that span. He scored 18 points Wednesday. The last Suns player with a five-game run of 20 points off the bench was Eddie Johnson in March 1989. ... Before Wednesday's action, the Suns had the third-best record in the NBA since Dec. 17 (14-6), trailing only Atlanta (20-1) and Golden State (15-4).

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    NBA roundup: Cavs' Irving pours in 55 points
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving had a career-high 55 points, the highest scoring output in the NBA this season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94 Wednesday night despite not having LeBron James.

    • James missed the game with a sprained right wrist that is also expected to keep him out of Friday's home game against the Sacramento Kings.

      Irving, the Cavs' star point guard, dazzled in James' absence, scoring 14 consecutive points and 24 of their last 28 while setting a franchise record for 3-pointers in a game (11) and a Quicken Loans Arena scoring record.

      With 6.4 seconds left, Irving hit the decisive 3-pointer. With the score tied at 94, Irving walked the ball down the floor and shot it over a much taller Nic Batum, who was defenseless to stop it.

      Hawks 113, Nets 102

      ATLANTA -- Forward Paul Millsap scored 28 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help Atlanta earn its 17th consecutive victory. Millsap topped 20 points for the third straight game and finished just two points shy of his season high.

      Atlanta improved to 15-0 in January. The winning streak is tied for the 14th longest in NBA history.

      The Hawks also got 20 points and 10 rebounds from center Al Horford, 17 points from guard Kyle Korver, 13 each from guard Dennis Schroder and guard Jeff Teague and 12 points from forward DeMarre Carroll. Brooklyn was led by guard Joe Johnson, who had 26 points against his old teammates.

      76ers 89, Pistons 69

      PHILADELPHIA -- Forward Robert Covington scored 19 points and guard Michael Carter-Williams had 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds as Philadelphia beat Detroit.

      Guard JaKarr Sampson added 13 points for Philadelphia, which limited the Pistons to a season-low point total on 30.7 percent shooting from the field, another low. The Sixers, who jumped out to a 24-4 lead at the beginning of the game, had dropped their previous six.

      Forward Greg Monroe had 20 points and 11 rebounds to pace Detroit, which lost its fourth straight. Guard Jodie Meeks, an ex-Sixer, scored 19 points.

      Raptors 119, Kings 102

      TORONTO -- Reserve guard Lou Williams scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as Toronto defeated Sacramento for its fourth win in a row.

      Rudy Gay, a former Raptors forward, scored 22 points for the Kings, whose losing streak stretched to seven games.

      The game was tied at 54 at the half before the Raptors took over the game by outscoring the Kings 39-22 in the third quarter.

      Timberwolves 110, Celtics 98

      MINNEAPOLIS -- Guard Kevin Martin returned to action and poured in a game-high 21 points, leading Minnesota past Boston. Martin, playing for the first time since fracturing his right wrist Nov. 19 against the New York Knicks, came off the bench and shot 7-for-18 in 29 minutes.

      Guard Zach LaVine added 17 points for Minnesota, and center Gorgui Dieng had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

      Seven Boston players scored in double figures, led by forward Jared Sullinger, who had 16 points.

      Knicks 100, Thunder 92

      NEW YORK -- New York won a third straight game at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season, knocking off Oklahoma City. The Knicks won for the fourth time in five games overall. The Thunder played their second straight game without forward Kevin Durant, who was out with a sprained big toe.

      Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points and 10 rebounds, guard Langston Galloway scored 18 points and forward Lance Thomas added 17 points. Thomas is playing on his second 10-day contract of the month.

      Guard Russell Westbrook poured in 40 points to lead Oklahoma City.

      Rockets 99, Mavericks 94

      HOUSTON -- Dallas center Tyson Chandler missed two free throws with 16.3 seconds remaining, stalling a comeback bid as Houston held on.

      Chandler went to the line after Rockets guard James Harden earned a flagrant foul attempting to prevent a Chandler layup in transition. Chandler rimmed out both free throws, and Dallas followed with a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass for its fourth consecutive loss.

      Mavericks guard Monta Ellis scored a game-high 33 points, but he scored just two in the fourth quarter. Former Rockets forward Chandler Parsons chipped in 21 points for the Dallas, while forward Dirk Nowitzki added 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Forward Josh Smith paced Houston with 18 points.

      Nuggets 93, Pelicans 85

      NEW ORLEANS -- Guard Arron Afflalo made a 3-pointer from the right wing and a critical 12-foot baseline jumper in the final 2:27 for a team-high 20 points, leading Denver Nuggets to a victory over New Orleans.

      Afflalo was one of five Denver players in double figures -- center Jusuf Nurkic had 15, forward Kenneth Faried 14, forward Danilo Gallinari 11 and forward J.J. Hickson 10 -- as the Nuggets snapped a seven-game losing streak.

      Guard Tyreke Evans led New Orleans with 25 points.

      Clippers 94, Jazz 89

      SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford each scored 21 points to help Los Angeles begin a long, eight-game road trip with a victory.

      Power forward Blake Griffin had a quiet night for him, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds. Small forward Matt Barnes added 14 points, while reserve guard Austin Rivers chipped in with 12 points.

      Power forward Enes Kanter led the Jazz with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double.

      Griffin hit a key jumper with 1:44 remaining to give the Clippers a five-point lead and squelch Utah's final push.

      Spurs 95, Hornets 86

      SAN ANTONIO - The Spurs let most of an 18-point, second-quarter lead disappear, but used a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to help beat the Hornets for the ninth straight time.

      Charlotte, trailing by 17 at the half, made a 16-3 push in the third quarter, cutting the Spurs lead to two, which was the margin when Spurs forward Matt Bonner and guard Manu Ginobili hit 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give San Antonio a comfortable lead again.

      Guard Tony Parker led the Spurs with 17 points, and guard Danny Green scored 16, making four 3-point baskets. Guard Gerald Henderson led Charlotte with 18 points. Center Al Jefferson scored 17.

      Suns 106, Wizards 98

      PHOENIX -- Forward P.J. Tucker scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, helping Phoenix avoid a collapse.

      The Suns gave back almost all of a 22-point, second-quarter lead, then coughed up all but four points of an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter before finally sweeping the season series from the Wizards for the sixth time in eight seasons. Phoenix guard Goran Dragic had 20 points, and guard Isaiah Thomas scored 18.

      Forward Otto Porter Jr. had all 14 of his points in the second half for the Wizards, who were playing for the fourth time in five nights and were without forward Nene (sore right foot).

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Clippers top Jazz to kick off extended trip
    By The Sports Xchange

    SALT LAKE CITY -- One game down. Seven to go for the roving Los Angeles Clippers.

    • Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford each scored 21 points and the Clippers began a long road trip with a 94-89 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena.

      The Clippers outscored the Jazz 26-17 in the fourth quarter to improve to 32-14.

      "We didn't get it going offensively tonight, not in a great way. Give them credit," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought they defended us well. (They were) very well prepared, but we just hung in there. We got key stops, and the stops were the difference in the game for us."

      That was especially true in the fourth quarter when the Jazz only shot 6 of 24 en route to their 13th straight defeat to the Clippers. L.A. won the season series 4-0.

      "If we keep banging on the door like this," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, "one of these nights we're going to go 15-for-24 and have a breakthrough game like that."

      Power forward Blake Griffin had a quiet night for him, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds. Small forward Matt Barnes added 14 points, while reserve guard Austin Rivers chipped in with 12 points.

      Power forward Enes Kanter led the Jazz with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double.

      Ultimately, though, a 39-point second-half doomed Utah, which dropped to 16-30 despite having a lead for a good portion of the second half. The Jazz didn't score for the final 2:15.

      "They just made some shots and we just couldn't," Kanter said. "I think the rest of the game we guarded them pretty well."

      This kicked off an eight-game road trip for Los Angeles, which visits New Orleans, San Antonio, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Toronto, Oklahoma City and Dallas before returning home for one game ahead of the All-Star break.

      Things got chippy in the fourth quarter, resulting in a technical foul against Griffin. The Jazz, however, couldn't recover after the Clippers went on a 9-2 run to go ahead 90-85.

      Griffin hit a key jumper with 1:44 remaining, reestablishing the Clippers' five-point lead and squelching Utah's final push.

      Those were the final points by either team.

      "It was kind of a sluggish game. We never got stops, and that hurts," Griffin said. "We like to get on transition. We like to play a little bit differently. We played their pace for most of the game."

      Jazz point guard Trey Burke forced up an off-balanced 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining, but it hit the side of the backboard to spoil Utah's best shot to trim into the lead into the final minute.

      Utah has lost two in a row at home after winning two straight for only the second time this season.

      Center Derrick Favors scored 18 points with nine rebounds, while small forward Gordon Hayward and Burke added 11 apiece. Shooting guard Joe Ingles, who was cut by the Clippers just before the season began, finished with 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Utah.

      NOTES: Clippers SG J.J. Redick did not dress because of back spasms. ... Three Jazz players were selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend (Feb. 13-15). Aussie rookie PG Dante Exum and French C Rudy Gobert will be on the World team, while G Trey Burke, an Ohio native, will be on the U.S. squad in the competition of first- and second-year standouts. ... Burke expects to participate in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night. He won the event with Damian Lillard last year. ... The Jazz signed SF Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract Wednesday morning. He was playing for Rio Grande of the NBA Development League.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Reserves lead Rockets past Mavericks
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- Rockets guard James Harden harkened to the days of his past professional life in Oklahoma City when the onus was his to provide a boost off the bench on those nights when the starters stalled.

    • On Wednesday night, the Rockets' bench carried the weight in a 99-94 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center, with a trio of reserves helping build just enough of a cushion to stave off a late rally.

      Mavericks center Tyson Chandler missed two free throws with 16.3 seconds remaining and Dallas trailing 97-94 to stall a failed comeback.

      Chandler went to the line after Harden earned a flagrant foul attempting to prevent a Chandler layup in transition. Chandler rimmed out both free-throw attempts and Dallas (30-17) followed with a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass for its fourth consecutive loss.

      "We just need to stay together and believe in each other and trust each other," Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons said. "We're an older team and we'll stick with it and this will make us stronger in the long run."

      Before Harden hit a pair of free throws with 8.9 seconds left to set the final margin, reserve forward Josh Smith scored five consecutive points to help Houston (32-14) build two separate two-possession advantages.

      "It's going to be like that sometimes. Sometimes the second unit is going to have to come in and save us," said Harden, who totaled 17 points, five rebounds, eight assists and four steals. "I was on that back end a few years ago where if we had some slow starts with that first unit, it was my job to come in and change the game and change the tempo,"

      Smith led the Rockets with 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks; swingman Corey Brewer added 14 points and four steals. Forward Terrence Jones, seeing his first action after missing 41 games with nerve damage in his left leg, chipped in 10 points, five boards and two blocks.

      Mavericks guard Monta Ellis posted a game-high 33 points, but he scored just two in the fourth quarter. Parsons, formerly with the Rockets, added 21 points while Chandler had a game-high 15 rebounds.

      Ellis practically willed the Mavericks from slipping into a sizable hole in the third quarter, scoring 14 points in the period on 6-of-7 shooting. His lone miss came on a hurried 3-pointer with 34 seconds left in an attempt to win Dallas an extra possession as the period came to an end.

      Ellis and Parsons worked in concert throughout the first half, attacking the Rockets defense while combining for 30 points by the break. Dallas' execution was acceptable when turnovers didn't undermine its offense as the Rockets scored 31 points off Dallas' season-high 24 turnovers.

      "It was the decisive factor in the game, without question," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Twenty four turnovers for 31 points. We had chanced but that ultimately killed us."

      After Dallas built a 10-point lead in the first quarter, the Rockets bench whittled that deficit to 25-24 by the close of the period, with Smith and Brewer draining 3s in succession before Smith close the 13-4 push with a driving layup at the 1:02 mark of the opening quarter. Jones made his mark during his second run, scoring eight points in the second.

      "We're excited to have him back," Smith said of Jones. "It's just an added piece to our roster that makes us that much deeper."

      NOTES: After missing 41 games due to left leg nerve inflammation, Rockets F Terrence Jones returned and played 20 minutes off the bench. Jones started the first four games of the season before being lost to an injury that left several inside the organization concerned over his NBA future. "It was very tough," Jones said. "It was a very scary moment in my life where I couldn't move my leg, move my toes, and the doctors couldn't tell me what was going on. I was nervous not knowing what was going to be the outcome." ... Rockets C Dwight Howard missed his second consecutive game because of a right ankle sprain. An MRI revealed an edema in his right knee. He will be re-evaluated in the coming days. ... In six losses this month prior to Wednesday, the Mavericks were ranked 28th in defensive rating, allowing 114.3 points per 100 possessions. The Rockets' 115.6 defensive rating in January losses ranked last in the NBA.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Spurs give Popovich a birthday win over Hornets
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN ANTONIO -- After the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night, the team serenaded coach Gregg Popovich with a rendition of Happy Birthday.

    • Popovich, who turned 66 Wednesday, doesn't like that kind of attention.

      "He hates it," guard Tony Parker said.

      Popovich's night could have been worse. The Spurs allowed an 18-point lead to nearly evaporate, but just in time they turned into something resembling the team celebrated by so many for their offensive precision and defensive prowess.

      They made 3-point shots. They passed the ball for layups. They made stops. They made a 12-0 push in the fourth quarter and beat the Hornets 95-86.

      San Antonio (30-17) has won nine straight games against the Hornets. The latest victory elevated the Spurs into a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference with Dallas, which lost at Houston on Wednesday.

      "We had great moments in spurts," Spurs guard Danny Green said. "The full 48 (minutes) is what we are looking for. It's what we need."

      Charlotte (19-27), trailing by 17 at the half, made a 16-3 push in the third quarter, cutting the Spurs lead to two, and then settled for a five-point deficit at the end of the period. The Spurs scored just 14 points in the quarter, converting 4 of 21 shots.

      When Hornets guard Gary Neal opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point basket, San Antonio found itself ahead by just two again.

      But forward Matt Bonner and guard Manu Ginobili responded with 3-pointers, and then Tim Duncan made a remarkable play for 38-year-old forward wearing a brace on his left knee. After Ginobili missed a 3-pointer, Duncan chased the rebound into the corner and threw it off Charlotte guard Lance Stephenson, the ball landing out-of-bounds.

      Duncan then converted a pass from Ginobili into a short bank shot and a 10-point lead with 9:37 left.

      The Spurs limited Charlotte to 37 percent shooting accuracy in the fourth quarter. Duncan made four blocks and grabbed four defensive rebounds in the quarter. Reserve guard Cory Joseph made several hustle plays in the fourth quarter and other parts of the game.

      "I think he was the most important part of the game," Popovich said. "His defense, his 50-50 balls, rebounds. The things he did were huge in keeping the run going."

      Charlotte hurt itself with four turnovers in the final quarter, and the Spurs turned those into nine points.

      "San Antonio is a team that will make you pay for every mistake that you make," Hornets center Al Jefferson said.

      Parker led the Spurs with 17 points. Green scored 16, making four 3-point baskets, including two in the fourth quarter. He blocked three shots. Duncan produced 12 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

      Guard Gerald Henderson led Charlotte with 18 points, but he missed four of five shots in the fourth quarter, when Joseph guarded him. Jefferson scored 17 and grabbed 16 rebounds.

      Charlotte played its second game of a long stretch -- at least six weeks -- without point guard Kemba Walker, the team's leading scorer who has a torn meniscus in his left knee. Brian Roberts replaced Walker in the starting lineup. Roberts had eight points and six assists without a turnover.

      Coach Steve Clifford said the Hornets are capable of succeeding without Walker.

      "To me, there is a toughness and intelligence about the group of guys that are able to play right now that should allow us to win going forward," Clifford said. "We need everybody ready and playing well, trying hard to do the right things."

      NOTES: The Hornets were without two starters. G Kemba Walker, who averaged 23 points in his past 21 games, underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. He will be out at least six weeks. F Marvin Williams sustained a broken nose and a concussion when he took an inadvertent elbow from New York Knicks F Jason Smith on Saturday. ... C Bismack Biyombo, a key reserve for Charlotte, has a bone bruise on his right knee and will miss at least 10 days. ... The Spurs played their third of six consecutive home games. After that stretch, they will turn the AT&T Center over to the rodeo. The Spurs' annual rodeo road trip is nine games. ... The Spurs signed journeyman F Reggie Williams to a 10-day contract Wednesday. ... Spurs G Marco Belinelli missed his 10th straight game with a strained groin.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Knicks win third straight home game
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK - Fresh off signing a contract that will keep him with the New York Knicks for the remainder of the season, Langston Galloway provided a spark with 18 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals in New York's 100-92 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

    • The Knicks (9-37) have won three straight at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season and have claimed four of their last five games overall.

      The Thunder played their second straight game without forward Kevin Durant, who was out with a sprained big toe. Russell Westbrook poured in 40 points for Oklahoma City (23-23). The sixth-year guard was 13 of 29 from the floor and 12 of 12 from the line.

      Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Lance Thomas added 17 points and five rebounds. Thomas is playing on his second 10-day contract of the month.

      "My approach is not going to change," said Thomas. "I am going to continue to be a professional, put in my work and do everything in my power to help us win games."

      Galloway, a 6-foot-2 guard, was signed for the remainder of the season Tuesday after playing on two 10-day contracts. The undrafted rookie from St. Joseph's has averaged 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds while starting the last five games. He was the Knicks first-ever call-up from the D-League.

      "He (Galloway) is not fearful of any moment when he's out there," said Knicks coach Derek Fisher. "He trusts himself and he plays with a confident toughness that has been really good for our group.

      "Those are the kind of guys we want to have to build this thing out."

      In just three weeks with the team, Galloway has impressed Anthony.

      "Langston can play," he said. "I don't think a lot of people know about him, He is great at getting in the paint and scoring the basketball."

      Forward Lou Amundson, who is also playing on his second 10-day contract for the Knicks, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots -- both season highs for him.

      The Thunder got to within 82-80 with 5:03 remaining, but the Knicks sealed the win with a 10-0 run to move ahead 92-80. Anthony scored four points in the burst and guard Tim Hardaway Jr. drilled a 3-pointer.

      Hardaway Jr. scored all of his 14 points in the second half.

      "The second half he (Hardaway) had tonight won the game for us," said Fisher. "He's growing up before us and I'm happy for him."

      New York scored eight straight points to grab an 82-73 lead with 6:03 to play. Hardaway Jr. fueled the run with two 3-pointers. But the Thunder stormed back on the strength of seven straight points from Westbrook in 43 seconds, cutting the Knicks lead to 82-80.

      "I thought they outworked us throughout the game and that enabled them to have a hot fourth quarter," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We have to do a better job at playing the entire game and player possession.

      "Tonight wasn't the way we built our team. Give (the Knicks) credit, they outworked us."

      Westbrook and Anthony put on a shooting display in the third quarter. The duo scored 11 points each in the period, but it was Hardaway Jr.'s 3-point pull-up jumper with nine seconds left that gave the Knicks a narrow 68-67 edge going into the fourth.

      The Knicks' 20-19 first quarter lead was erased by a 13-4 Thunder run to open the second, providing them with a 32-24 advantage. Guard Reggie Jackson contributed three steals, six points and a rebound in the burst.

      NOTES: Knicks F Jason Smith posted 11 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. ... Thunder F Serge Ibaka scored 10 points and recorded 10 rebounds for his 12th double-double this season. ... Knicks C Amar'e Stoudemire missed his 14th game of the season with a sprained left ankle, and F Travis Wear was sidelined with a strained left hip. ... The Knicks had been off for three days after Monday's home game against Sacramento was postponed due to a snow storm. The game has been rescheduled for March 3. ... Knicks F Carmelo Anthony is averaging 29.5 points against the Thunder since 2005-06, his highest mark against any team during that span. ... Thunder G Russell Westbrook is averaging 24 points in 11 games against New York, the most against any opponent for him. ... Oklahoma City C Steven Adams was selected for the second consecutive season to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge to be held on Friday, Feb. 13, at Barclays Center as part of All-Star weekend.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Davis hurts groin as Pelicans fall to Nuggets
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW ORLEANS -- The crowd at the Smoothie King Center instantly hushed Wednesday night, which told the story.

    • New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis vaulted down the lane late in the third quarter in search of an alley-oop feed, attempting to complete another of his trademark dunks.

      However, after the 21-year-old All-Star stretched for a lob that was just beyond his reach, he landed awkwardly on his left leg and wound up writhing in pain under the basket for several minutes. He was helped into the locker room by two assistants, one under each arm.

      The Denver Nuggets scored the game's final seven points over the last 2:27 to snap a seven-game losing streak with a 93-85 victory over the Pelicans, but all anyone could talk about was Davis' scary-looking groin injury, the severity of which remains undetermined.

      Even though Davis came out of the tunnel with 8:44 left and returned to action, New Orleans coach Monty Williams pulled Davis with 46 seconds remaining and the Pelicans trailing 91-86.

      "I just didn't feel good about him being on the floor," Williams said. "I just didn't like the way he looked. ... He started slowing down and started dragging his leg a little bit, so I thought he was, as they say, laboring. I can't do that. ... You can't risk a guy's career."

      Although it looked at first as though Davis might have sustained a knee injury, Williams said the initial diagnosis is a groin injury.

      "They'll MRI it tomorrow morning to find out for sure," Williams said. "The doctors wouldn't have allowed him to come back in the game if they didn't think it was safe, but I think he probably pushed the issue a little bit so he could get back on the floor."

      Davis, who scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 37 minutes for his 26th double-double of the season, was unavailable for comment because he was taking treatment after the game. His status for Friday night's home game against the Atlanta Hawks is uncertain.

      "It looked like he kind of overextended when he was going for that lob pass, and I thought it was going to be a severe groin injury from the way that it looked," Denver coach Brian Shaw said. "Hopefully it's not anything serious, because he means so much to them."

      The Nuggets (19-27) overcame their recent tendency to finish games poorly by outscoring New Orleans 23-15 in the fourth quarter. The Pelicans (24-22) shot 5-for-19 in the quarter and went scoreless in the final 2:55.

      Denver guard Arron Afflalo made a 3-pointer from the right wing and a critical 12-foot baseline jumper in the final 2:27 and wound up with a team-high 20 points. Afflalo was one of five Denver players in double figures: Center Jusuf Nurkic had 15, forward Kenneth Faried 14, forward Danilo Gallinari 11 and forward J.J. Hickson 10.

      "We lost seven games in a row, and if you want to change that, then you have to change your behavior out on the floor," Shaw said. "Some of the loose balls we were able to come up with (were the type) that we had not been coming up with. And we didn't go into a shooting slump in the last couple of minutes."

      The Nuggets made of 10 of 17 from 3-point range. Gallinari hit two quick 3-pointers and then a driving layup at 6:39 of the fourth quarter to push Denver's lead to 84-78 with 5:21 left.

      "I was able to be aggressive," Gallinari said. "I was able to drive to the basket. They were playing very aggressive on me, so the paint was open."

      Guard Tyreke Evans led New Orleans with 25 points. He said he didn't know what to think when he saw Davis, the Pelicans' franchise player, crumple to the floor.

      "I didn't really know what was going on, but hopefully he'll be all right," Evans said.

      New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson added, "I didn't see what happened. I was just hoping he got up, and he did. Obviously, it was great to see him come back in the game and great to see the crowd get involved in that."

      NOTES: Pelicans coach Monty Williams said his team's improved 3-point shooting during a four-game winning streak was a result of good defense setting up the offense. "When we get stops, we usually are in our game-time offense, and that opens up the floor with AD's (Anthony Davis) ability to rim-run," Williams said. "When Ryan (Anderson) is in the game, he spaces the floor. Eric (Gordon) can space the floor. It can wear on teams if we're getting out and running and finding guys who are open." ... Pelicans G Tyreke Evans was running a low-grade fever after back-to-back 12-assist games, but he played Wednesday. ... Nuggets C JaVale McGee missed his 24th consecutive game due to a strain near his surgically repaired left tibia. He hoped to return to the lineup Wednesday night, but he was not 100 percent. "I probably can't jump as high off my left as I want to," McGee said. "My right is a lot stronger."

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Raptors run past Kings in second half
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- Picking up their offensive tempo in the second half, the Toronto Raptors picked up a 119-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

    • "That was huge," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the increased pace. "That's something we weren't doing in the first half."

      After the game was tied 54-54 at halftime, the Raptors took control with a 39-22 third quarter and extended their winning streak to four games.

      Guard Lou Williams made sure the Raptors would not let the Kings back into the game by scoring 14 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter.

      Former Raptors forward Rudy Gay scored 22 points, 17 in the first half, but that was not enough to prevent the Kings' seventh loss in a row.

      "We did a pretty good job of weathering the storm in the first half," Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. "The game was at a pace that we liked. ... In the third quarter, I don't know how many transition points they had, but they had 16 for the game."

      Guard Greivis Vasquez added 18 points for the Raptors, while center Jonas Valanciunas scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Guard Kyle Lowry and guard/forward Terrence Ross each had 13 points for Toronto, with guard/forward DeMar DeRozan adding 12 and forward Patrick Patterson scoring 11.

      "I thought the defense set the tempo for our offense," Casey said. "We started being more aggressive offensively. Physicality was big. It was almost like we were afraid to touch them in the first half, and once we got into them physically, putting our hands on them and touching them, that's when our offense started clicking."

      Guard Ben McLemore added 17 points for the Kings, reserve forward Carl Landry had 14 points and seven rebounds, center DeMarcus Cousins chipped in with 13 points, and guard Darren Collison had 12.

      "Whichever team decided to be the first to play defense was going to win the game," Cousins said. "And they decided to play defense first. ... They had a lot of time."

      The Kings (16-28) returned from a four-day break, as their scheduled game Monday against the Knicks in New York was postponed due to an impending blizzard. The Raptors (31-15) were playing on back-to-back nights after winning at Indiana on Tuesday.

      The Raptors led 26-22 after the first quarter with DeRozan scoring seven points. Gay put the Kings ahead 47-46 on a 3-pointer with 3:51 left in the first half.

      After dropping behind by three points early in the second half, the Raptors took a 73-66 lead midway into the third quarter on a pair of 3-pointers by Vasquez, who scored 12 points in the quarter.

      "Greivis did a good job of making two big shots right out of the locker room after halftime," Williams said. "I think that is what sparked us. After that, it is contagious when the ball is flying around and everyone is playing together. We were just able to continue it for the whole quarter."

      The Raptors used a 10-0 run late in the third to lead by 18 points with 49.9 seconds left before taking a 93-76 lead into the fourth quarter.

      Toronto shot 14-for-21 from the field in the third quarter, including 8-for-10 on 3-point attempts.

      "It was too much to overcome," Corbin said.

      The Kings cut the lead to 13 points early in the fourth quarter, but a pair of free throws by Williams with 6:11 to play pushed the Raptors' lead to 20.

      Guard Ray McCallum scored on a driving layup with 3:20 to play as the Kings pulled within 14. Williams made all three free throws after being fouled attempting a 3-pointer with 3:05 to play to get the margin back to 17.

      NOTES: The Raptors reached 30 wins before the All-Star Game for the first time in franchise history on Tuesday when they defeated the Indiana Pacers. ... Kings F Carl Landry (sprained right wrist) returned to action after missing five games. ... The Raptors wore their camouflage uniforms on Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night on Wednesday. ... Sacramento G Nik Stauskas, a Toronto-area native, had about 200 friends and relatives at Air Canada Centre to watch his first game in Toronto against the Raptors. He was the Kings' first-round draft choice out of Michigan in 2014. He scored eight points Wednesday... The Raptors will visit the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The Kings head to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Hawks defeat Nets to stretch winning streak to 17 games
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was familiar with Paul Millsap from the years both spent in the NBA's Western Conference, Budenholzer as an assistant coach at San Antonio and Millsap as a player for the Utah Jazz.

    • But Budenholzer didn't realize the depth of Millsap's abilities until he was named head coach at Atlanta and Millsap joined the team as a free agent. He's gained a new appreciation from watching Millsap play every night.

      "I don't think the whole league, the East, the West, all of us maybe didn't appreciate Paul for everything he's doing the last year and a half," Budenholzer said. "When you're around somebody like Paul every day, you see the different things he does on both ends of the court. I didn't realize Paul could do this much."

      Millsap, a 6-foot-8 forward, made his case for a second straight appearance in the NBA All-Star Game on Wednesday when he scored 28 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help the Hawks to their 17th consecutive victory, a 113-102 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

      Millsap topped 20 points for the third straight game and finished just two points shy of his season high. He made a career-high 15 of 16 from the free-throw line. Millsap was 5-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.

      Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of its last 33 games and improved to 15-0 in January. The winning streak is tied for the 14th longest in NBA history.

      The Hawks also got 20 points and 10 rebounds from center Al Horford, who picked up his eighth double-double of the year and second in three games. It was the 182nd double-double of his career, moving him past Dikembe Mutombo for ninth place on the club's all-time list.

      Atlanta also got 17 points from guard Kyle Korver, who made five 3-pointers. Point guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder each scored 13 points and forward DeMarre Carroll added 12. Teague had 11 assists and surpassed 2,000 for his career.

      Brooklyn (18-27) was led by guard Joe Johnson, who had 26 points against his old teammates. Center Brook Lopez scored 18 points and guard Alan Anderson bounced back from a scoreless appearance in his last game with 15 points. Forward Mason Plumlee and guard Jarrett Jack each scored 14.

      "I thought we competed and played well," said Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins, whose team lost its third straight. "We made shots and gave ourselves a chance. It was a good game."

      Brooklyn seized the momentum early and raced to a 13-5 lead on Plumlee's running dunk. The Nets maintained control and led 21-13 with 4:30 left in the first quarter on guard Jack's floating jumper.

      That's when the Hawks took over. Atlanta went on an 11-2 run and took the lead on a 3-point basket by guard Dennis Schroder. The Hawks closed the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers by Korver and led 30-27 after one period.

      "Brooklyn competed and gave us some problems," Budenholzer said. "They put us in some tough spots defensively."

      Brooklyn wouldn't let Atlanta pull away and the game was tied five different times in the second quarter before the Hawks went on a 9-0 run. A pair of free throws by center Pero Antic gave Atlanta a 52-44 lead with 4:33 left. Atlanta went on to stretch the lead to 64-53 at halftime.

      "The second quarter has been good on a number of nights when we've been able to make a push before halftime," Budenholzer said.

      Brooklyn tried to get back into the game in the third quarter, once cutting the lead to 73-69. But Korver responded with a 3-pointer and the Nets never got closer than four the rest of the game.

      "Unfortunately we couldn't get the stops we needed down the stretch," Hollins said. "You look at Millsap and Horford and what they do and that's why they've won 17 in a row. They produce every night."

      NOTES: Atlanta G Dennis Schroder was chosen to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge during the NBA All-Star weekend. The second-year player is averaging 8.1 points and 3.3 assists in 17.7 minutes per game. ... Brooklyn had not played in Atlanta since 2013. Last year, the home game for Atlanta in the series was played in London. ... Inactive for Atlanta were G Shelvin Mack (left calf strain) and C Adreian Payne. Mack has missed five games but might be ready to play Friday. Inactive for Brooklyn were F Deron Williams (fractured rib cartilage) and F Mirza Teletovic (pulmonary embolus). Teletovic remains in Los Angeles, where he was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in the lungs on Jan. 22. Once he is cleared for travel, he will return to Brooklyn for treatment. ... Atlanta plays again on Friday night at home against Portland. Brooklyn returns home on Friday to face Toronto.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Martin leads Timberwolves past Celtics
    By The Sports Xchange

    MINNEAPOLIS -- If there is one thing Kevin Martin is good at, it's making baskets.

    • Martin returned from a fractured wrist Wednesday and scored a game-high 21 points, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 110-98 win over the Boston Celtics at Target Center.

      "I'm just a scorer," martin said. "At the end of the day, I can put it in the hole. It felt good early on to see a couple go in."

      The victory snapped a 10-game home losing streak for Minnesota, which has won an NBA-low eight games overall this season.

      Martin came off the bench and entered the game with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter, seeing game action for the first time since mid-November. He promptly knocked down an 18-foot jumper and scored seven first-quarter points as the Timberwolves led by four after one.

      "It gives you a better balance," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "We had seven guys in double figures; (assistant coach) Sam (Mitchell) asked me 'When was the last time we had that,' probably the first three or four games of the year when we had Ricky (Rubio) and everyone else in there."

      Rookie guard Zach LaVine, starting in place of veteran Mo Williams, added 17 points and six assists for the Timberwolves. Forward Gorgui Dieng scored 16 points and had 14 rebounds for his 12th double-double.

      Boston (16-28) went on an 8-0 run to finish the first half and grab a one-point lead at the break. Center Brandon Bass and guard Avery Bradley led the Celtics with eight first-half points apiece.

      But LaVine came out scorching hot in the second half, scoring the first six points of the third quarter as Minnesota began the half on a 10-0 run. LaVine scored 13 points in the third quarter as the Timberwolves led by seven headed to the fourth.

      "They were playing well," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "They made plays, they shared the ball, they were the aggressor. You go through all the adjectives there and we didn't provide enough resistance."

      Reserve guard Marcus Thornton scored six points through the first four minutes of the final quarter, pulling Boston to within four points of Minnesota with eight minutes to play.

      But Martin countered with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a three-point play to push Minnesota's lead back to double digits and giving the Timberwolves their largest lead of the night at 95-82.

      Martin finished 7 of 18 from the floor and played 29 minutes in his return.

      "I wasn't tired in the fourth," Martin said. "I was hitting shots."

      "That's K-Mart, that's what he does," said Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins. "That's what he's known for. He's one of the best scorers in the league. We know what we'll get from him every night."

      Minnesota (8-37) had seven players finish in double figures, including all five starters. Forward Thaddeus Young had 12 points and nine rebounds and center Nikola Pekovic added 14 points. Wiggins scored six of his 12 points in the final quarter to help close out the win.

      Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, keeping Boston in the game until the fourth quarter. He finished with 12 points.

      Seven Boston players also scored in double figures, led by forward Jared Sullinger, who had 16 points. Thornton added 15 points for the Celtics, who finished their season-high, six-game road trip 3-3.

      Smart, Thornton and forward Tayshaun Prince all came off the bench to provide an offensive spark. Prince added 12 points in nearly 23 minutes of action.

      "They gave us a tremendous boost," Sullinger said of Boston's bench play. "Marcus came off the bench and played well, Smart played well, Tayshaun's been giving us great minutes."

      NOTES: Celtics F Kelly Olynyk missed the game with a sprained right ankle. Olynyk had a team-leading 21 points in a 114-98 win against Minnesota on Dec. 19 in the teams' other meeting this season. ... The Timberwolves signed G Lorenzo Brown to a 10-day contract. Brown had been playing with the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA Development League. ... Boston returns home for a game against the Houston Rockets on Friday. ... Minnesota hits the road for one game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday before returning home to host former Wolves F Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Irving's 55 lead Cavaliers past Trail Blazers
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving missed his first seven shots Wednesday night and still went on to the finest night of his career.

    • The Cleveland Cavaliers guard scored a career-high 55 points, the highest scoring output in the NBA this season, to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94 in a thriller despite not having LeBron James.

      James missed the game with a sprained right wrist that is also expected to keep him out of Friday's home game against the Sacramento Kings.

      Irving dazzled in James' absence, scoring 14 consecutive points and 24 of their last 28 while setting a franchise record for 3-pointers in a game (11) and a Quicken Loans Arena scoring record. He fell one point shy of James' franchise mark of 56 points.

      "I've started worse than that before," Irving said of his sluggish start. "It's just part of the game and part of competing. The shots ended up falling. I was thankful."

      Irving scored the Cavs' last 11 points of the first quarter, their final eight points in both the second and third quarters and 10 of their last 12 to end the game. He surpassed the NBA season high of 52 points by Minnesota guard Mo Williams and Golden State guard Klay Thompson. The Cavs won their eighth straight to match their longest winning streak of the season.

      "Kyrie was exceptional," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "That's a bit of an understatement."

      Irving, who is expected to be named an All-Star reserve Thursday, also scored a then-season-high 38 points in Tuesday's win at Detroit, giving him 93 points while shooting 17 of 29 on 3-pointers in the last two days.

      Irving won Wednesday's game with a 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left. With the score tied at 94, he walked the ball down the floor and shot it over Portland forward Nic Batum, who has five inches on Irving but was defenseless to stop it.

      "He's so quick you don't want to get too close," Batum said. "You have to control the drive. I tried to contest the shot. I was on him, but he made a big shot."

      Irving outdueled Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who fell one point shy of his season high and finished with 38 points and 11 rebounds while playing with a torn ligament in his left thumb.

      The Blazers had a chance to tie the score at 97 in the final seconds, but guard Damian Lillard missed an open 3-pointer from the corner. Irving grabbed the rebound and made two free throws to end it.

      These two teams are used to fantastic finishes in Cleveland. Lillard's 3-pointer in the final second gave the Blazers a 119-116 win over the Cavs last season, while Batum's 3-pointer in the final second gave the Blazers a 118-117 win in double overtime two years ago.

      "He carried them," Lillard said of Irving. "He played great. I've seen him get on streaks before, but usually they're mid-range pull-ups and nice layups, not 11 3s. He's in a good rhythm."

      James injured his right wrist when he landed awkwardly late in the third quarter of Tuesday's win at Detroit. He left the game briefly, then returned to start the fourth quarter and left the arena believing the injury wasn't serious. But he woke up with soreness in the wrist and an MRI revealed the sprain.

      James declined to address the media because of Irving's incredible night.

      "I'm going to kindly decline to talk to you guys," James said before leaving the locker room with his right wrist taped. "This is his night."

      NOTES: The Blazers flew into New York on Sunday, but when Monday's game at the Brooklyn Nets was postponed, they instead traveled Monday to Cleveland. "Flying cross-country and having another long travel day was tough," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "I was glad we could get out of New York when we did. The travel could have been much worse." ... F LaMarcus Aldridge played in his second game on Wednesday with a torn ligament in his thumb. "I like the fact he was very aggressive," Stotts said. "He didn't shy away from contact. He didn't show any ill effects of the hand bothering him at all." ... F LeBron James broke his left wrist during an AAU game while he was in high school. He had flashbacks to that when he fell Tuesday at Detroit. "My arms, both of them, numbed up and I was a little scared for sure," James said. "I was trying to brace my fall on my hands." ... The Cavs began the night 21-1 when scoring at least 102 points in a game, the second-best mark in the league behind Memphis (23-1).

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Sixers run past weary Pistons in 89-69 win
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams had no idea he was within a rebound of his fifth career triple-double on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.

    • He was thinking only of the fact that the Pistons were a tired team.

      "We wanted to run them and use that (fatigue) to our advantage," he said of Detroit, which was playing for the second straight night and the fourth time in five days. "The pace really started with me. I was trying to run them up and down."

      He did that, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Sixers routed the Pistons 89-69.

      Only when Carter-Williams reached the locker room afterward did someone inform him that he came so close to a triple-double.

      "It's crazy," he said with a laugh.

      Forward Robert Covington led the Sixers (9-37) with 19 points and rookie guard JaKarr Sampson had career highs of 13 points and eight rebounds.

      Philadelphia, which ended a six-game losing streak, limited Detroit to a season-low point total and the fewest points by a Sixers opponent this year.

      The Pistons, who were led by forward Greg Monroe with 20 points and 11 rebounds, shot 30.7 percent from the floor, their poorest showing since making 27.9 percent against Toronto on Dec. 23, 2009. It was also the lowest by a Philadelphia opponent since Charlotte shot 30.7 percent on Feb. 9, 2013.

      Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by his team's performance.

      "We weren't ready to play," he said. "I don't think I've ever coached a game where one team's effort was that much better than my team's effort. I mean, it was a joke."

      The Pistons were outrebounded 48-38 and made 2 of 20 3-point attempts, just the second time in franchise history they have made two or fewer while attempting 20 or more.

      "They played so much harder," Van Gundy said of the Sixers. "They ran harder, they cut harder, they drove it harder, they defended harder, they were into us more, they went to the boards harder, everything. ... I told them in there (in the locker room), 'I'm embarrassed as a coach that I did that poor a job,' and if they're not embarrassed, they don't belong in the NBA."

      Sixers coach Brett Brown had reminded his team beforehand that the Pistons were at a difficult point in their schedule.

      "We wanted to turn this into a track meet as much as we could," he said.

      At the same time, Brown believes his team is showing improvement at the defensive end.

      "Sixty-nine points against any NBA team is a fantastic effort," he said. "I think the thing that stands out most to me is I feel like we're doing a better job of contesting when we guard the paint."

      In jumping out to a 24-4 lead, the Sixers nailed 11 of 15 shots from the field and limited the Pistons to 2-of-11 shooting. Forward Luc Mbah a Moute had eight points to key Philadelphia's hot start.

      The Pistons scored the last eight points of the quarter, four of those by center Andre Drummond, to slice the deficit to 28-16. Monroe later scored nine of his 13 first-half points in the final 7:07 of the second quarter, cutting the halftime gap to 48-37.

      Center Henry Sims and Mbah a Moute each scored eight first-half points to lead the Sixers. Philadelphia shot 51.1 percent from the field in the half and Detroit 30.2 percent.

      The Pistons were twice within nine in the third quarter, the second time after a jumper by forward Jonas Jerebko made it 59-50. But Carter-Williams started a 9-1 run by sinking a 3-pointer and feeding backup forward Jerami Grant for a ringing slam, and by the end of the quarter Philadelphia led 68-55.

      The Pistons drew no closer than nine the rest of the way, the last time when guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drilled a jumper from the right wing to make it 72-63 with 7:46 to play.

      Mbah a Moute then dunked, and after Sampson made a free throw, Mbah a Moute nailed a jumper as well, leaving the Sixers with a 77-63 bulge.

      NOTES: G Tony Wroten, the Sixers' leading scorer, said before the game that he will undergo surgery on his right knee after partially tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament. He added that he is not sure when the procedure will be performed, who will do it or how much time he will need to make a full recovery. "Obviously, you never want to get injured, but it's a part of the game," he said. "I feel like I was having a good season, but it's just a process to still make my story even better." ... Philadelphia G Michael Carter-Williams and C/F Nerlens Noel have been selected to play in the Rising Star Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Brooklyn. Noel said he was "extremely grateful" to be chosen, but Carter-Williams was not available to address it before the game. Coach Brett Brown called it "a great statement for our program." ... Detroit G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will also take part in the Rising Stars Challenge. ... Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said the team will make a roster move, likely no later than Sunday, after the recent loss of G Brandon Jennings for the season to an Achilles tear. "There's some things out there that are possible," Van Gundy said, "but you just have to see if they come true." He added that there might be a trade or a call-up from the Development League.

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Pelicans' Davis returns after leaving with injury
    By The Sports Xchange

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis was helped off the court with 1:56 left in the third quarter of Wednesday night's game after landing awkwardly on his left leg during a layup attempt against the Denver Nuggets.

    • He was taken to the locker room for treatment, but returned from the tunnel and re-enetered the game with 8:44 left. The Pelicans said Davis tweaked his groin on the play.

      The 6-foot-10 Davis, who last week was named a starter for the All-Star Game, had 22 points and eight rebounds at the time of the injury, but the Pelicans trailed Nuggets 68-65 when he left the game.