National Basketball Association
NBA News Wire
  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Cuban stumps for NBA realignment
    By The Sports Xchange

    Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would like to see his team -- and seven other NBA teams -- change conferences.

    • The past few years, the NBA featured more strong teams in the West than in the East. Cuban's realignment plan might level the landscape, at least as rosters are currently structured.

      "I think we'd be better off re-aligning like the NHL did," Cuban told reporters Wednesday. "Take teams that are currently in the central in the East, put them in the West. I don't think it changes the travel, it doesn't change the considerations for the playoffs. And I think it shakes things up in terms of balance of power today but I think it makes things more interesting."

      Cuban advocates moving the Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs, the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans into the Eastern Conference. He would move the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers into the Western Conference.

      "It kind of shakes things up not just in interest but also in terms of how people rebuild," Cuban said. "It makes both conferences very competitive for the short term. And I think based off the history of the teams, for the long term, as well. Instead of the Southwest, it becomes the South."

      Cuban said he had not formally offered his plan to league officials.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Sagging Hornets sit Stephenson again
    By The Sports Xchange

    The 4-12 Hornets extended their losing streak to seven games Wednesday night, and head coach Steve Clifford is still waiting with more patience than most for offseason acquisition Lance Stephenson to contribute.

    • He was bothered by nagging injuries in the preseason but Clifford believes Stephenson's biggest issue is overcoming outside expectations.

      "To be fair, one of the things that's made it more difficult for him is that he came here and people proclaimed him as the next superstar," Clifford said Wednesday. "He's not a star. He's a guy that has talent to become a star. To be a star in this league, you have to do it over years."

      Stephenson never came off the bench for the entire fourth quarter for a second consecutive game. Clifford said Charlotte was better in a 105-97 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers that followed a 21-point defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers.

      "I think I'm getting there, getting more comfortable on the floor," Stephenson said. "I just need to work harder. Hopefully we can get through it and Coach can figure out what we need to do to win games."

      Stephenson signed a three-year, $27 million contract as a free agent in the offseason. He left the Indiana Pacers, who held firm with their offer of about $9 million per season when Stephenson was hoping for a four-year, $50 million deal.

      Stephenson averaged 13.8 points per game with the Pacers last season. He's averaging 9.7 points but leads the Hornets with 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

      Clifford said he was honest with Stephenson about reaching the star stratosphere many projected him to reach as a third piece on a Hornets team with Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker.

      "I've been fortunate," Clifford said. "I've been around Kobe (Bryant) and (Tracy) McGrady. They were superstars. I was also around Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell. They were two-, three-year All-Stars. (Stephenson has) got a lot of work to get to that level. Everybody proclaimed him as this guy, and if you remember the first time we got him, I said he's got to develop into that."

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Grizzlies earn workmanlike win over Lakers
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Center Marc Gasol said the Memphis Grizzlies did what they do best: grind out a victory.

    • Gasol and point guard Mike Conley each scored 19 points, leading the Grizzlies to a 99-93 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday at Staples Center.

      Gasol also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Grizzlies (13-2), who share the best record in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, captured their third in a row. Forward Zach Randolph added 16 points and nine boards.

      "We got more stops," said Gasol, who scored 16 points in the second half. "We got a little more physical with each possession and with rebounds. We put more pressure on the ball one-on-one ... what we should have done the first half. We got into the paint a lot more instead of settling as much."

      The Lakers (3-12) dropped their third consecutive game and fell to 1-7 at Staples.

      Gasol and Randolph said the Grizzlies' ability to limit the Lakers' offense and convert when they most needed to in the game's final minutes was a major key.

      "Everybody is playing together," said Randolph, who connected on seven of 10 shots from the floor. "We've got a good team; we've got a good bench. Players are hitting shots. We just have to stick to what we're doing."

      Guard Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 22 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Point guard Jeremy Lin contributed 14 points and five assists, and guard Nick Young came off the bench to score 13 points. Center Jordan Hill and reserve guard Ronnie Price added 11 points each. Hill also had seven rebounds.

      Los Angeles made 40.7 percent of its shots from the floor, while Memphis hit 45 percent.

      "We didn't make shots," said Bryant, who scored 14 points in the second half. "We did a pretty good job of moving the ball, and turnovers kind of got them going a little bit. They stepped up their aggressiveness a little bit; they stepped up their intensity and physicality."

      Two free throws by Bryant pulled Los Angeles within 89-87 with 6:38 remaining in the game. However, two foul shots by forward Quincy Pondexter and a bucket by forward Jon Leuer gave the Grizzlies a 93-87 cushion with 3:37 left.

      The Lakers managed just one bucket in the last seven minutes. They shot only 30 percent (six of 20) in the final period, including 1-of-8 shooting on 3-point attempts. The Grizzlies weren't much better, hitting six of 17 (35.3 percent) field goals and also managing just one of eight on treys, but it was enough for them to prevail.

      "It's never perfect, but that's what we do," Gasol said.

      Three free throws by Young cut the deficit to 95-92 with 2:15 left, but that was the closest the Lakers would get despite several opportunities.

      "Whether it's the beginning, middle or end of the season, there are going to be rough times," said Lin, who scored 13 points in the first half. "As long as we learn (from them), which I think we are, I think we will be able to use the losses and turn them into something better."

      The Grizzlies trailed by as many as nine points in the first half before cutting the Lakers' lead to 51-46 at the break.

      The teams exchanged leads in the third before a 3-pointer by Pondexter with 2:02 left gave Memphis a 72-69 advantage. The Grizzlies never trailed again.

      After outscoring the Lakers 34-23 in the third, Memphis held an 80-74 lead. Gasol scored 12 of his points in the third period.

      The Grizzlies finished just five of 22 on 3-pointers compared to eight of 19 for the Lakers.

      Memphis won each of its past four meetings with Los Angeles, including a 107-102 decision on Nov. 11 at FedExForum.

      NOTES: The injury-riddled Lakers are close to signing F Earl Clark to a deal, according to published reports. Clark, who played in 36 games for the Lakers during the 2012-13 season, averaged almost 29 points per game in four contests for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League. In addition to the Lakers, the 6-foot-10, 225-pound Clark, a first-round pick by Phoenix in the 2009 draft, has played for the Suns, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks during his five years in the league. ... Lakers F Carlos Boozer returned after missing one game with a strained left shoulder, but was largely ineffective, finishing with four points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. ... Memphis resumes its four-game road swing Friday at the Sacramento Kings. ... The Lakers wrap up their four-game homestand with games Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    NBA game roundup: Trail Blazers win ninth straight
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wesley Matthews scored a season-high 28 points and the Portland Trail Blazers ran their winning streak to nine with a 105-97 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

    • The Trail Blazers rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half, outscoring the Hornets 34-20 in the third quarter and then pushing the lead to as many as 14 in the fourth.

      They won despite an off night from leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, who made only two of his first 16 field-goal attempts and finished with a season-low nine points and 14 rebounds. The power forward ended up 3 of 18 from the field.

      The Hornets (4-12) have now lost seven straight and nine of their last 10.

      Nets 99, 76ers 91

      PHILADELPHIA -- Once again, it was not Philadelphia's night.

      Not even on a night when they erased a deficit that reached 20 in the first half and 17 in the third quarter. Or a night when they held a rare fourth-quarter lead.

      Once again they lost, this time to Brooklyn, to fall to 0-15 and match the worst start in franchise history.

      Two Nets reserves, guard Alan Anderson and forward Mirza Teletovic, combined for 16 fourth-quarter points, and veteran forward Kevin Garnett added a critical free throw and basket in the final 1:13.

      Cavaliers 113, Wizards 87

      CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as Cleveland beat Washington.

      James made a season-high 14 free throws on a night the Cavs were never really threatened. Forward Kevin Love added 21 points and five rebounds, guard Kyrie Irving tallied 18 points and five assists and forward Anderson Varejao recorded 10 points and seven rebounds as the Cavs (7-7) won their second straight after a four-game losing streak.

      Forward Paul Pierce scored 15 points for the Wizards (9-5), who lost for the second time in as many nights.

      Warriors 111, Magic 96

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hot-shooting guard Stephen Curry scored 28 points and Golden State won its seventh consecutive game by blistering Orlando at the Amway Center.

      The Warriors, who won by 17 points in Miami on Tuesday, dominated from the start to hand the Magic (6-11) their third consecutive loss.

      Curry, who played just 24 minutes, hit nine of 13 shots and six of eight from 3-point range. He made eight of 11 3-pointers and scored 40 points Tuesday in Miami.

      The Warriors (12-2) led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter then coasted through the fourth period with the reserves preserving the victory.

      Clippers 104, Pistons 98

      AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jamal Crawford piled up 25 points off the bench and Chris Paul had 23 points and seven assists, leading Los Angeles to a victory over floundering Detroit at The Palace.

      Power forward Blake Griffin added 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers (9-5), who are 4-1 on their seven-game road trip.

      Point guard D.J. Augustin had 19 points and five assists for the Pistons (3-12), who have lost six straight. That equals their longest losing streak of last season, when they finished 29-53.

      Raptors 126, Hawks 115

      ATLANTA -- Guards DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams combined for 49 points to lead Toronto to its sixth straight victory, a win over Atlanta.

      DeRozan hit his first five field-goal attempts and scored 14 points in the first quarter en route to a season-high matching 27 points. Williams, who played the previous two seasons in Atlanta, scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth

      quarter.

      Toronto improved to 13-2 with the win and has started the season 4-1 on the road for the first time in franchise history. The Raptors are 2-0 against the Hawks, having also beaten Atlanta in Toronto in the season opener. Toronto has won 11 of its last 12 games, which matches its best stretch of wins in team history.

      Thunder 97, Jazz 82

      OKLAHOMA CITY -- Guard Reggie Jackson scored 22 points to lead Oklahoma City to a victory over Utah at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

      Jackson shot 10-of-18 from the field as the Thunder (4-12) ended a six-game losing streak.

      With 6:42 left in the game, Utah forward Derrick Favors cut the Thunder lead down to nine with a driving layup. Oklahoma City guard Jeremy lamb answered with a 3-point to push the score to 86-74.

      Rockets 102, Kings 89

      HOUSTON -- With James Harden suffering through a miserable shooting night, Isaiah Canaan and Donatas Motiejunas delivered career-best scoring performances to help lift Houston to a win over Sacramento at Toyota Center.

      While Harden, Houston's star shooting guard, made just 10 of 31 shots en route to 26 points, Canaan poured in 24 points on 6-for-10 3-point shooting and Motiejunas added 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Rockets (12-3) to a wire-to-wire victory.

      Despite trailing by as many as 22 points, the Kings (9-6) closed to within two points early in the fourth quarter. Houston responded with an 11-4 push capped by Harden's 3-pointer with 5:09 remaining.

      Bucks 103, Timberwolves 86

      MINNEAPOLIS -- Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight each scored 15 points for Milwaukee as the Bucks took down Minnesota at Target Center.

      Six Bucks players scored in double figures in Wednesday's win, including 13 from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Veteran forward Corey Brewer led the young Minnesota squad in scoring with 19 points and added five rebounds in the loss.

      In the second battle of the season between the top two picks in this year's draft -- Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins and Milwaukee's Jabari Parker -- Parker and the Bucks had the upper hand in this meeting. Though Wiggins outscored Parker, 14-11, it was Parker whose Milwaukee team won the rematch after beating Minnesota 105-98 back on Oct. 17.

      Mavericks 109, Knicks 102

      DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki scored half of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and center Tyson Chandler was relentless against his former team with 25 rebounds and 17 points to slip Dallas past the shorthanded, but hustling New York Knicks at American Airlines Center.

      Nowitzki's free-throw line jumper with 43.5 seconds to go in overtime sealed a sloppy victory and kept Dallas from its first three-game slide of the season. It wasn't easy. The Mavs won despite shooting 42.4 percent from floor -- and below 40 percent for much of the game -- and they went an almost unfathomable 4-of-31 from beyond the arc on a night when the scrambling Knicks played without injured star and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony.

      The reeling Knicks, now 4-11, got careless late, throwing it away on three consecutive possessions after Chandler threw down an alley-oop dunk off a fortuitous loose-ball situation for a 101-99 lead with 1:37 left in OT.

      Spurs 106, Pacers 100

      SAN ANTONIO -- One of the staples of San Antonio's offense over the years is the corner 3-pointer. The Spurs got one from point guard Tony Parker and another on the next possession from small forward Kawhi Leonard during a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter, propelling the Spurs to their fifth straight win, 106-100 over Indiana at the AT&T Center.

      San Antonio was playing without coach Gregg Popovich, who underwent what the team called a minor medical procedure.

      Spurs guard Manu Ginobili also drained a 3-pointer during the decisive run on his way to a game-high 28 points. Leonard finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Parker added 21 points and six assists. San Antonio forward Tim

      Duncan scored 17 points.

      Suns 120, Nuggets 112

      PHOENIX -- Guard Gerald Green scored 24 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and Phoenix snapped Denver's five-game winning streak with a victory.

      Guard Eric Bledsoe shook off a third-quarter injury to add 21 points and 10 assists and backcourt partner Goran Dragic had 20 points and four assists for the Suns (10-6), who returned from a 4-1 Eastern road trip and kept the momentum going despite playing without leading scorer Isaiah Thomas (right ankle contusion).

      Forward Wilson Chandler led Denver (7-8) with 19 points and center Timofey Mozgov and guard Arron Afflalo had 18 points each. Guard Ty Lawson added 17 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who had won six of seven since starting the season 1-6.

      Grizzlies 99, Lakers 93

      LOS ANGELES -- Center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley each scored 19 points, leading Memphis to a victory over Los Angeles at Staples Center.

      Gasol also had 11 rebounds as the Grizzlies (13-2), who share the best record in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, captured their third in a row. Forward Zack Randolph added 16 points and nine boards.

      The Lakers (3-12) dropped their third consecutive contest. They have lost seven of eight at Staples.

      Guard Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 22 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Point guard Jeremy Lin had 14 points and five assists and guard Nick Young came off the bench to 13 points. Center Jordan Hill and reserve guard Ronnie Price had 11 points each. Hill also had seven rebounds.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Suns end Nuggets' winning streak
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHOENIX -- Missing newcomer and leading scorer Isaiah Thomas and playing the up-tempo Denver Nuggets, the Phoenix Suns took a step back in time and used the successful formula from last season to race to another win.

    • Guard Gerald Green scored 24 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic combined for 41 points and 14 assists as the Suns used the run and gun to snap the Nuggets' five-game winning streak with a 120-112 win Wednesday.

      "If felt a little like last year, the way we were pushing the ball, the fast breaks and whoever was open was jacking it up," said forward P.J. Tucker, who had two of Phoenix's 13 3-pointers and 10 points. "We miss Isaiah and he makes us a deeper team, but it was a little reminiscing there."

      Bledsoe shook off a third-quarter injury to add 21 points and 10 assists and backcourt partner Goran Dragic had 20 points and four assists for the Suns (10-6), who returned from a 4-1 Eastern road trip and kept the momentum going without Thomas (right ankle contusion).

      The teams will meet in a rematch in Denver on Friday, with the Suns seeking their sixth straight win over the Nuggets.

      The teams combined for 48 fastbreak points, 25 by Denver, and the game was tied at 64 at the half. But the Nuggets shot 36 percent in the second half and couldn't keep pace. Markieff Morris had a strong all-around game with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven assists.

      "That's how they like to play and that's how we want to play," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "I'm not sure if there was a whole lot of defense in the first half. We had a little stretch there in the third quarter when we played pretty good defense and that's what got us the lead."

      Forward Wilson Chandler led Denver (7-8) with 19 points and center Timofey Mozgov and guard Arron Afflalo had 18 points each. Guard Ty Lawson added 17 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who had won six of seven since starting the season 1-6.

      Denver has allowed an average of 115 points in their eight losses, and defense was again a problem against the hot-shooting Suns, who made 13 of 25 3-pointers (6 of 11 by Green). The Nuggets lost Danilo Gallinari to a left knee injury in the first half that hurt in the fast-paced game on a back-to-back.

      "I don't feel like we really took anything away," Denver coach Brian Shaw said. "We talked about taking away the paint but they still got in the paint (44 points) and they hit 3s on us.

      "Green's just been a Nugget killer. All last season and this season to this point, it's just like he has a target on us every time we play him."

      The Suns took a 93-86 lead to the fourth quarter and put the game away from long distance. Tucker and Bledsoe hit 3-pointers before Green took over. First was a soaring reverse baseline dunk off an inbounds pass from Tucker with one second left on the shot clock. Then he hit a 3-pointer before throwing down Bledsoe's alley-oop pass to extend the Phoenix lead to 110-94 with 6:46 left.

      Denver got as close as six at 118-112 on Chandler's 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left, but Dragic iced the game with a fast-break layup.

      "I told him, ‘Gerald, you're like you're in a video game,' " Dragic said of Green. "This is my second season with Gerald, and every time he makes some play I say, ‘Man, it that even possible?' The dunk on the baseline and those 3s at the end of the shot clock were huge."

      The first half featured 128 points but neither side led by more than eight points. The Suns opened the second half with a 14-4 run and took their biggest lead at 85-74 on a 3-pointer by Green with 4:25 left. Green and Dragic scored nine points each in the quarter.

      There was concern for the Suns when Bledsoe landed hard on his left hip on a drive to the basket and limped off to the dressing room with 4:37 left. But he returned for the start of the fourth quarter and helped the Suns close out the game.

      "I think it was how he fell and I think he fell on it twice," Hornacek said. "I don't know if it was his hip or his butt. But he's tough and I think he'll get ice and treatment and be ready to go."

      NOTES: Coach Jeff Hornacek said he expects Isaiah Thomas to play in Denver on Friday. ... The Suns lead the NBA with 83 percent shooting from the free-throw line and made 17 of 21 (81 percent) on Wednesday. ... Denver had averaged 10.7 3-pointers over the past seven games, going 6-1 in that span to offset a 1-6 start. The Nuggets were 8 for 25 against Phoenix. ... The Suns came into the game with five players averaging between 14.1 points (Gerald Green and Goran Dragic) and 15.5 points (Isaiah Thomas). In between were Eric Bledsoe (14.2) and Markieff Morris (15.1). "It's good to have balance," Hornacek said. "Who are they going to focus on? It would be nice to have one go-to guy that, when you need a bucket, he scores 90 percent of the time. But we've got a couple of guys who are making strides toward that."

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Spurs continue to roll with win over Pacers
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN ANTONIO -- One of the staples of the San Antonio Spurs' offense over the years is the corner 3-pointer.

    • The Spurs got one from point guard Tony Parker and another on the next possession from small forward Kawhi Leonard during a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter Wednesday, propelling them to their fifth straight win, 106-100 over the Indiana Pacers at the AT&T Center.

      San Antonio was playing without coach Gregg Popovich, who underwent what the team called a minor medical procedure.

      "It was obviously a big win for us," said Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina, who stepped in for Popovich. "We knew we were going to play against the team, even if they were missing a lot of great players. They are a tough team and very well-coached. They played hard coming in here, especially after the big win in Dallas, and they did extremely well. I think we started off a little awkward, and the fact that Coach Popovich wasn't here made us feel strange in the game."

      Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who played for Messina with Bologna in the Italian League, also drained a 3-pointer during the decisive run on his way to a game-high 28 points. Leonard finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Parker added 21 points and six assists. San Antonio forward Tim Duncan scored 17 points.

      "It was a flurry," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "It seemed like they scored on the last six or seven possessions in a row. The guys were battling, and (the Spurs) were making shots. Manu saves that one from out of bounds to the rim. Kawhi looks Solomon (Hill) in the eye and pulls a 3 on him and drills it. That's why they're the champs. I'm proud of our effort."

      The Pacers stayed in the game largely on the strength of their own 3-point shooting. The Spurs came in as the NBA's second-best team defending the 3-point arc, but Indiana wasn't impressed. The Pacers made 10 of 21 tries from long distance, including a four-point play from forward Chris Copeland with 1:36 to go that kept them in the game.

      However, Copeland air-balled another try from 3-point range with a minute to go, and Indiana never seriously challenged again.

      Guard Rodney Stuckey scored a team-high 22 points for Indiana, which has won six of its last nine despite the loss. Power forward Luis Scola, Copeland, guard A.J. Price and forward Solomon Hill also scored in double figures.

      "We have been playing well the last couple of games," Scola said. "We did enough to win the game tonight, but they hit jumpers in the third and fourth quarters and they got away with the win. It's hard to beat this team, especially on their home court."

      The Pacers took the lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from forward Damjan Rudez and Price in the first minute of the first quarter, and another trey from forward C.J. Miles pushed them in front 87-81 with 9:41 to go in the fourth.

      It was a five-point game after Stuckey drove to the basket for a layup at the 7:16 mark, but that was the Pacers' last basket for 4 1/2 minutes as the Spurs went on their run.

      Indiana led 27-25 after the first quarter and 55-50 at halftime, but the Spurs controlled the third. Personal runs of 6-0 by Parker and 7-0 by Ginobili pushed San Antonio in front 77-73 before a Miles 3-pointer at the buzzer made it a one-point game heading into the final 12 minutes.

      "It does not happen often that I feel and play like this," Ginobili said. "I would like to play like this every game, but it's just hard. The three days off helped, and we are a deep team. On any given night someone else can score in bunches, and I'm happy that it was me tonight."

      Indiana led by as many as nine in the second quarter after back-to-back Stuckey baskets, but the Spurs shot 63.9 percent in the second half to leave the Pacers behind.

      "I have a lot of respect for those guys coming in here," Duncan said. "They have had a lot of success on the road thus far, and we knew that. They played another great game tonight, and luckily we got to a point that we could make a couple of stops and get some shots. It was a really tough game tonight."

      NOTES: The Spurs lead the all-time series with the Pacers 49-35. The teams split the season series 1-1 last year, with Indiana winning in San Antonio for the first time in 12 tries, posting a 111-100 decision Dec. 7, 2013. ... Through Tuesday, San Antonio ranked in the top five in opponent's points-per-game (first, 91.5), opponent's 3-point percentage (second, .282), opponent's rebounds-per-game (third, 39.3) and opponent's field-goal percentage (fifth, .428). ... The Pacers have had seven players miss a total of 71 games, including four who have yet to play a game.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Thunder defeats Jazz to end skid
    By The Sports Xchange

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Long losing streaks are foreign to Oklahoma City. Since 2009, the franchise hadn’t lost more than six games in a row.

    • Yet, entering Wednesday's contest with Utah, the Thunder were in danger of tying the franchise record with a seven-game losing streak. However, guard Jeremy Lamb used the opportunity to break out of his own slump and help lead Oklahoma City to a 97-82 victory over the Jazz at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

      "It was a good team win," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We had been close so many times. I told the guys, we have a lot of things to be thankful for. We're not thankful for our record. We're thankful that we stuck together during the month of November when our record is not what we want it to be."

      Lamb scored 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 23 minutes before fouling out. In his previous outing, he was 0-for-6 from the field and didn't play in the second half.

      "I think this was a game that he needed," Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said of Lamb. "He is not satisfied. He still wants to work. One thing I love about Jeremy, even when he has bad games, he is consistent on his work. That's why we roll with him, even when he's going through down times."

      With 6:42 left in the game, Utah forward Derrick Favors cut the Thunder (4-12) lead down to nine with a driving layup. Oklahoma City guard Jeremy Lamb answered with a 3-pointer to push the score to 86-74.

      The Thunder came up with a defensive stop and forward Serge Ibaka made them pay by not settling for the mid-range jumper as Utah center Enes Kanter guarded him. Instead of taking the jumper, Ibaka drove to the basket for the finger roll and was fouled. He missed the ensuing free throw, but Oklahoma City still led 88-74.

      Perkins, guard Reggie Jackson and forward Anthony Morrow scored on the Thunder's next three possession to push their advantage to 20 points and put the game away.

      Jackson paced the Thunder with 22 points on 10-for-18 shooting. Ibaka added 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Morrow was 4-for-8 from 3-point range as he posted 12 points.

      Utah guard Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He also racked up eight rebounds, but ended the night 7-for-14 from the free-throw line.

      Kanter added 16 points and six boards while guard Alec Burks scored 16 points for the Jazz (5-11).

      "They got physical with us and took us out of what we wanted to do," Hayward said. "Unfortunately, we didn't respond. We probably should have."

      Utah coach Quin Snyder had said before the game he wanted to see his team get off to better starts. They seemed to heed his words as they jumped out to a 24-14 advantage.

      Thunder coach Scott Brooks countered by inserting his second unit. Led by Lamb, the Oklahoma City ended the period on a 16-4 run and led 31-29.

      Hayward scored 14 points in the second quarter on 4-of-6 shooting but Oklahoma City took a 56-48 lead at halftime.

      The Jazz couldn't gain any ground coming out of the break. Hayward stopped looking for his shot and the rest of the team went cold. Everything they had been able to get early in the contest was taken away by the Thunder's frenetic defense.

      "The game got more physical and knocked us back," Snyder said. "When that happens, particularly with a group that is dominant in that way and a very physically strong team. They clearly were hungry."

      NOTES: Oklahoma City F Serge Ibaka leads the team with a 37.1 percent average from behind the 3-point line. That's better than 3-point specialist F Anthony Morrow and G Reggie Jackson, who leads the team in 3-point attempts at 4.9. "Everybody on our team believes in his ability to make shots," coach Scott Brooks said. "I still think he has another level or two of improvement. Our job is to continue to get as much out of him as possible every year." ... Utah coach Quin Snyder knows he is expecting a lot of G Trey Burke in only his second year. "I think Trey went through some growing pains earlier in the year," Snyder said. "He had a lot of things kind of line up for him in the preseason. I think it's hard, especially when you have a scoring mentality. Now he has to do more." ... Starting with Utah, Oklahoma City will not face a team that made the playoffs last year until Dec. 18.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Knight guides Bucks past Wolves down stretch
    By The Sports Xchange

    MINNEAPOLIS -- Brandon Knight was quiet for three quarters Wednesday night at Target Center. The Milwaukee Bucks guard scored just two points to that point as his team struggled to break open the game.

    • Then came the fourth quarter, and Knight took over.

      The third-year guard scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 6:43 of the game -- going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line -- as Milwaukee ran away with a 103-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

      The Bucks (9-7) outscored the Timberwolves 31-16 in the final quarter.

      "Our team toughed it out," Knight said. "Defensively, we were able to get stops and really put pressure on them and force some turnovers. That was what I was most proud of."

      Seven Bucks players scored in double figures. Knight and center Larry Sanders each finished with 15, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 13. Sanders also chipped in a season-high five blocks and grabbed seven rebounds, while Antetokounmpo had a team-best eight boards.

      Sanders did most of his damage in the first quarter, pacing the Bucks with eight early points. He added two fourth-quarter dunks to help jumpstart Milwaukee's offense late in the game.

      "I'm just trying to be that spark, stay active, get my energy up, find my touch around the basket," Sanders said.

      Veteran forward Corey Brewer led Minnesota (3-10) with 19 points and added six rebounds. Rookie guard Andrew Wiggins had 14 points and eight rebounds, while guards Shabazz Muhammad (13) and Zach LaVine (12) and second-year forward Anthony Bennett (12) also scored in double figures for the short-handed Timberwolves.

      In the first regular-season meeting between the top two picks in this year's draft -- Minnesota's Wiggins and Milwaukee forward Jabari Parker -- Parker and the Bucks came out on top. Parker scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

      Neither team led by more than nine points until 4:05 remained in the fourth quarter. The Bucks pulled away thanks to a 19-3 run over the final seven minutes.

      The 16 fourth-quarter points were a season low for the Timberwolves.

      "We beat ourselves a lot today," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "I'm not going to fault our guys. I thought we did go out and compete for some stretches. We've got to play hard, but we've also got to play smart."

      Milwaukee took an 8-0 lead just 1:52 into the game. Minnesota cut its deficit to 26-24 at the end of the opening quarter and took its first lead of the game, 33-32, on a 3-pointer from forward Chase Budinger early in the second.

      The Bucks held a 51-47 lead at halftime, but Minnesota battled back after the break as the teams briefly traded leads.

      Minnesota dominated the free-throw department, shooting 34 free throws to Milwaukee's 19. However, the Timberwolves struggled at the line, making just 21, while the Bucks converted all but one of their attempts.

      The Timberwolves were down to just one healthy point guard Wednesday as Mo Williams was sidelined due to illness and Ricky Rubio remains out with a sprained ankle. That meant LaVine got the start, the fifth of his brief NBA career. LaVine handled 37 minutes of playing time just fine, dishing out four assists and committing three turnovers.

      NOTES: Timberwolves PG Mo Williams missed Wednesday's game due to strep throat and pink eye. ... Wednesday marked the first time in NBA history that four teenagers played in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Minnesota used 19-year-olds LaVine and F Andrew Wiggins, while 19-year-old forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker played for Milwaukee. ... Timberwolves players wore pink shoelaces to honor Lula Hall, the mother of Minnesota F Thaddeus Young. Hall died of breast cancer Nov. 13. ... Minnesota Lynx PG Lindsay Whalen was honored during the second quarter. Whalen won a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship with Team USA.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Nowitzki, Chandler lead Mavericks past Knicks
    By The Sports Xchange

    DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki scored half of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and center Tyson Chandler was relentless against his former team with 25 rebounds and 17 points to slip Dallas past the shorthanded, but hustling New York Knicks, 109-102, at American Airlines Center.

    • Nowitzki's free-throw line jumper with 43.5 seconds to go in overtime sealed a sloppy victory and kept Dallas from its first three-game slide of the season. It wasn't easy. The Mavs won despite shooting 42.4 percent from the floor -- and below 40 percent for much of the game -- and they went an almost unfathomable 4-of-31 from beyond the arc on a night when the scrambling Knicks played without injured star and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, who is dealing with back spasms.

      Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Chandler, who secured season highs in points and rebounds, was ready to face the Knicks.

      "To be honest," Chandler said, "it’s been more important that after the last couple of games that we just get a win. Coming out of the last two games, tonight was really special because I just wanted to get back on and get us a win."

      The reeling Knicks, now 4-11, got careless in crunch time, throwing it away on three consecutive possessions after Chandler threw down an alley-oop dunk off a fortuitous loose-ball situation for a 101-99 lead with 1:37 left in OT.

      "We made some mistakes down the stretch (that) you can't make on the road in particular," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. "We turned the basketball over 20-plus times."

      The Knicks, who had 22 turnovers that led to 29 Dallas points, nearly stole this one as guards Jose Calderon and Pablo Prigioni put on a shooting clinic, combining to make 11 of 14 shots from beyond the arc. Calderon, making his first return to Dallas after being traded to the Knicks in the Chandler deal over the summer, registered a rare double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He also had four assists. He knocked down 7 of 9 from 3-point range.

      Knicks guard J.R. Smith, who started in place of Anthony and struggled with his accuracy, managed to swish a difficult jumper, dribbling and then rising over the long arms of Dallas defender Al-Farouq Aminu to tie it at 95-95 with 0.9 seconds left in regulation.

      Dallas' alley-oop attempt to Chandler coming out of a timeout failed to materialize and the desperate-for-a-win Knicks sent it to overtime.

      The Mavs' high-octane offense was again out of sync most of the night. In the last three games, Dallas is an atrocious 18 of 90 from deep. They were in severe jeopardy of losing a third straight game to a shorthanded opponent. Houston without Dwight Howard beat Dallas on Saturday and Indiana, missing all five starters from last year's Eastern Conference finals team, got past the Mavs on their home floor on Monday.

      The Knicks jumped out to a 20-10 lead and led for nearly the entire first half on the strength of four 3-pointers from Calderon.

      But New York, shooting just 38 percent overall in the first half, struggled to close out the second quarter as Dallas used an 8-2 run in the final 2:57 to take a 46-42 lead into halftime.

      Dallas couldn't sustain the momentum, opening the third quarter 2 of 12 from the field and the Knicks surged back in front, 77-71, with a 14-2 spurt that started at the 2:57 mark of the third quarter and bled three minutes deep into the fourth quarter.

      From there, the teams swapped runs, 10-0 by the Mavs on six consecutive points from the previously struggling guard Monta Ellis for an 88-83 lead, and then 6-0 by the Knicks to reclaim the lead, 89-88, with 1:58 to go.

      Nowitzki scored 24 of his season-high 30 points in the second half with 11 coming in the fourth quarter, taking advantage time and again of the shorter Knicks forward Quincy Acy.

      "Vintage. Vintage Nowitzki," Carlisle said. "He was struggling from 3 as well, but it was his will that kind of carried us. Monta Ellis got going in the fourth quarter during a period where we really needed it. He was the one that got us back above water and we got a little bit of a lead, but New York kept coming back. We’re fortunate to win, but I thought we fought hard and deserved to win."

      Only two other Mavs reached double-digit scoring. Forward Chandler Parsons had 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting and just 1-of-8 from 3-point range. Guard J.J. Barea had 10 points.

      Smith finished with 15 points for New York, but went 7 of 20 from the floor and was 1 of 8 on 3s. Former Mavs center Samuel Dalembert did his best to match Chandler with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Prigioni finished with 12 points.

      NOTES: F Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' leading scorer, did not play due to back spasms he suffered in the first half of Monday's game at Houston. His return is uncertain. ... Knicks coach Derek Fisher turned to a small lineup, with reserve shooting guard J.R. Smith starting in Anthony's small forward spot. Fisher has now used nine starting lineups in 15 games. ... Mavs G Jameer Nelson was a late scratch with back spasms. The injury is not expected to be serious, coach Rick Carlisle said. ... Mavs G Raymond Felton, a former Knick, is finally eligible to play this season after recovering from a sprained right ankle suffered in the preseason and then completing a four-game suspension. But he aggravated the ankle at Tuesday's practice and did not play against the Knicks. ... Devin Harris and J.J. Barea are the only two healthy point guards left on the Mavs' roster. ... Mavs C Tyson Chandler played against his former team for the first time since the Knicks traded him to Dallas during the summer for G Jose Calderon, G Shane Larkin and C Sam Dalembert. ... Dallas plays Friday at Toronto. New York plays at Oklahoma City on Friday.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Bench propels Raptors past Hawks
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was ecstatic to see three of his guards combine for 70 points. He was even happier with the way it came about.

    • DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points, Lou Williams came off the bench to scored 22 and reserve Greivis Vasquez added 21 to lead the Raptors to a 126-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, extending their winning streak to six games. Casey was quite excited that the points came organically.

      "When you get 22 points and 21 points from your guards off the bench, that's big time, Casey said. "That tells you you're cooking with gas. Those two guys came in with tremendous confidence, but it wasn't anything forced. It was within the offense."

      DeRozan hit his first five field goals and had 14 of his points in the first quarter. He's averaging 24.1 points over his last 11 games against Atlanta. Williams, who played the last two seasons in Atlanta, scored eight in the fourth quarter, made four 3-pointers and is averaging 24.2 points over his last four games. Vasquez had three pointers and matched his season high.

      "Lou and Vasquez were great," Atlanta center Al Horford said. "Those guys came out with a lot of energy. They were very confident. They hit some tough shots. We were defending them, but they just made shots."

      Toronto improved to 13-2 with the win and has started the season 4-1 on the road for the first time in franchise history. The Raptors are 2-0 against the Hawks, having also beaten Atlanta in Toronto in the season opener. Toronto has won 11 of its last 12 games, which matches its best stretch of wins in team history.

      The Raptors also got 14 points and 13 assists from Kyle Lowry and posted their season high for points.

      "It was a good win for us," Williams said. "Three nights in a row it's been somebody different stepping up. It just shows the depth and character of this team. We're playing at a high level."

      Atlanta (7-6) was led by guard Jeff Teague with 24 points and 12 assists. Horford, who made 11 of 16 from the field, finished with 23 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

      Guard Kyle Korver made four 3-pointers, moving him into a tie for 17th on the NBA's all-time list, and scored 19. The loss ended Atlanta's two-game winning streak.

      "They deserve credit," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "They made a lot of shots, made a lot of plays. Defensively we'd like to play better. We'll continue to get better. For a lot of the night we were good, but you have to do it for 48 minutes against a good team."

      Both teams shot 51.2 percent from the floor, but the difference came at the line. The Raptors shot 33 free throws, nine more than Atlanta.

      "They drove the ball, they made contact and they make the referees make calls," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.

      The game was tied at 14 when the Raptors began to pull away, eventually taking a 30-22 lead after one quarter. Toronto stretched the lead to 10 at 34-24 on a runner by guard Greivis Vasquez and built the advantage to 13 a couple of times, the last at 50-37 with 6:51 left in the first half.

      That's when Atlanta began bombing its way back into the game. Korver connected on three 3-pointers and Jeff Teague added another during a 12-2 run that trimmed the lead to 52-49.

      The Hawks got within a point at 54-53, but could never tie the score. Toronto pulled ahead again by seven, only to have Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll knock down a 3-pointer that drew the Hawks to within 64-61 at the break.

      Atlanta was finally able to tie the game a couple of times in the third period, only to have Toronto immediately answer. Atlanta's Pero Antic made a 3-pointer that tied the game at 88-88 with 30 seconds left, but Lou Williams countered with a trey that put the Raptors ahead 91-88 to end the quarter.

      That started Toronto on a 17-5 run that put the game away.

      "Every mistake we made, they capitalized on it and made the most of it," Teague said. "We just have to be better."

      NOTES: Toronto coach Dwane Casey said F James Johnson was exhibiting flu-like symptoms but was going to play. Johnson is also trying to come back from a sprained right ankle that kept him out of three games and limited him to four minutes against Phoenix on Nov. 24. ... Inactive for the Raptors were F/C Tyler Hansbrough, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a right shoulder AC sprain, and F Bruno Caboclo. ... Atlanta was without G Thabo Sefolosha, who was sent home with flu-like symptoms. Sefolosha had played in all 12 previous games, starting four, and averages 5.8 points. Also inactive was rookie C Adreian Payne. ... The NBA corrected some erroneous figures from Friday's statistical box after the Atlanta-Washington game. The league added a missed field goal for Atlanta G Kyle Korver, who went 0-for-4 from the floor.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Crawford, Clippers get fourth win on trip
    By The Sports Xchange

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Scoring has never been an issue for Jamal Crawford. He didn't have any trouble doing that on Wednesday night, but the Los Angeles Clippers took greater satisfaction in his defense.

    • Crawford made a pivotal block in the late going then hit a game-clinching 3-pointer in the Clippers' 104-98 victory over the floundering Detroit Pistons at The Palace.

      "As much as he's scoring, the guys are giving him high-fives about the block," Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. "It was comical, and it was great. He felt great about that, and it makes the coaches feel good, too."

      Crawford, a shooting guard and the team's sixth man, piled up 14 of his game-high 25 points and added two assists during the fourth quarter when the Clippers outscored the Pistons 32-25. His block of Detroit shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's 3-point try stood above anything he did on the offensive end in his mind.

      "I want to be a better all-around player," said Crawford, a 15-year veteran. "Early in my career, I used to have the mentality where I felt I could outscore anybody. Since I've come here and Doc's been here and his team of coaches, I really take pride in my defense. I'm more mad at myself than they are at me if I make a mistake because they tell us exactly where to be."

      Chris Paul had 23 points and seven assists and power forward Blake Griffin added 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers (9-5), who are 4-1 on their seven-game road trip. They committed 15 turnovers and allowed 12 offensive rebounds as Detroit (3-12), which is tied for the second-fewest wins in the league, hung around until the final minute.

      "You're not going to have it every night," Paul said. "Tonight it was one of those games where you just find a way to win. A week from now, it's just going to say win-loss. That team fought hard and hit some big shots. We had a few defensive lapses and a lot of turnovers, especially turnovers that led to points for them. That's not like us."

      Point guard D.J. Augustin had 19 points and five assists for the Pistons (3-12), who have lost six straight. That equals their longest losing streak of last season, when they finished 29-53.

      Center Andre Drummond contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds, forward Josh Smith supplied 17 points and six assists and Caldwell-Pope also had 17 points for Detroit.

      "I thought we had a lot of guys play well tonight," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It came down the stretch and we couldn't stop their two main guys, and I couldn't find something for us to get similar quality shots."

      Paul, the Clippers' perennial All-Star point guard, scored 14 third-quarter points but the Pistons still clung to a 73-72 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The Clippers' bench, led by Crawford, carried them in the final 12 minutes by scoring 26 of their 32 points.

      "I thought the bench turned it around in that four- to five-minute stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter," Rivers said. "They got stops and scored every time. I thought that was the difference in the game."

      Crawford made a crossover move to free himself for a layup, then dropped in a 3-pointer to give the Clippers a 79-75 lead. Forward Hedo Turkoglu's trey with 5:49 remaining made it 88-79 and Crawford's baseline drive pushed the lead to double digits.

      Detroit roared back with nine unanswered points before Griffin ended the Clippers' drought with a dunk. After Caldwell-Pope missed a 3-pointer, Paul made an open 3-pointer for a 98-91 lead.

      Crawford's block and 3-pointer finished off the home team.

      "We just didn't get any stops to keep us ahead," Caldwell-Pope said. "They made open shots."

      NOTES: PG Brandon Jennings, Detroit's leading scorer, missed his second straight game with a sprained left thumb. ... Clippers SF Matt Barnes sat out his second consecutive game with a sore left calf. Reggie Bullock made his second career start in place of Barnes. ... Clippers SG Jamal Crawford, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, leads all NBA reserves at 18.1 points per game. "He's a professional scorer," coach Doc Rivers said. ... Los Angeles C DeAndre Jordan extended the league's longest active playing streak to 254 games. ... Detroit's last home win over the Clippers was a 108-90 blowout on March 20, 2009. ... Detroit PF Greg Monroe (15.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg) was one of 11 NBA players averaging a double-double entering Wednesday's action. ... Los Angeles will travel 7,231 miles during its seven-game trip.

  • Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Curry leads Warriors to win against Magic
    By The Sports Xchange

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- This is a good time to be guard Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. He can't miss. They don't lose.

    • Curry scored 28 points in 24 minutes Wednesday night, leading the Warriors to their seventh consecutive victory by blistering the Orlando Magic, 111-96, at the Amway Center.

      The Warriors (12-2) are riding the best start in franchise history and not shy about their championship aspirations this season.

      Curry, who scored 40 points the night before in Miami, made nine of 13 shots and six of eight from 3-point range. In the past two games, he has combined to make 14 of 19 3-pointers.

      "I always think he's going to make every shot," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "That's what you expect. He's got the most beautiful rhythm to a shot that I've ever seen. There's just a flow to his whole game now, and when everything is clicking, and you see him take a shot, it's a shock when it doesn't go in."

      The Warriors, who beat the Heat by 17 points Tuesday, dominated from the start and led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter Wednesday, coasting through the fourth period with the reserves preserving another easy victory.

      "We're playing some good basketball all around right now, and my confidence is pretty high now shooting the ball," Curry said. "We're expecting to win a championship. That's what we're working toward every day. We've got some pretty good tunnel vision right now."

      The Magic (6-11) lost their third consecutive game. They were led by forward Tobias Harris, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Center Nikola Vucevic had 11 points and 13 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season. Guard Victor Oladipo had 12 points. Rookie guard Elfrid Payton had 13 points and five assists.

      "They (Warriors) are good enough where they still make shots with hands in their faces," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We have to learn that when things aren't going well on offense, you can't let it affect you defensively."

      The Warriors, who lead the NBA in field-goal percentage, shot 51.8 percent (44 of 85) Wednesday, while limiting the Magic to just 41.4 percent (36 of 87).

      Forward Harrison Barns had 16 points and five rebounds. Reserves Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala had 15 and 13 points, respectively, for the Warriors. Center Andrew Bogut had 12 rebounds, seven assists and six points.

      "We've got to respect the process, but there is a championship caliber mindset in this locker room," Livingston said. "We want to be that elite team, and not just one of them. We want the top spot, and the potential to do that is here."

      The Warriors won 51 games last season, but lost to the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. They have not been past the second round of the playoffs since 1975.

      The Magic never got closer than 15 points in the fourth quarter, and never seriously challenged in the second half.

      The Warriors led, 65-52, at halftime, riding the early hot shooting of Curry. He had 25 points by intermission, and hit all five of his 3-point attempts. The Warriors shot 56.5 percent (26 of 46) from the field and 58.3 percent (7 of 12) from 3-point range in those first two periods.

      The Warriors jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first two minutes and led by as many as 16 points late in the second quarter. The Magic led once, 38-36.

      The Magic got 11 points and eight rebounds from Vucevic in the first half, but it was Curry stealing the show. He hit four 3-pointers in the first nine minutes of the game.

      NOTES: Magic F/C Kyle O'Quinn returned to the active roster after missing the previous 15 games with a sprained left ankle. He originally was hurt on opening night. "He gives us another rim protector, a presence in the paint," Coach Jacque Vaughn said. Also back for the Magic was F Tobias Harris, who missed the previous two games with a strained right calf. ... Warriors G Stephen Curry, who had 40 points Tuesday in a victory in Miami, now has seven 40-point games in his career. All have been away from home. "He's just incredibly skilled," coach Steve Kerr said. "It comes so natural to him." ... The Warriors came into the game leading the NBA in field-goal percentage (.491) and field-goal percentage defense (.408). ... Magic C Nikola Vucevic had a league-leading 12 double-doubles coming into the game.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    76ers tie their worst start after loss to Nets
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHILADELPHIA -- It was the night before Thanksgiving, and Alan Anderson and Mirza Teletovic set the table for the Brooklyn Nets.

    • Veteran forward Kevin Garnett was the one who ultimately left the Philadelphia 76ers with yet another case of indigestion, however.

      Anderson and Teletovic combined for 16 fourth-quarter points off the bench, and Garnett added a critical free throw and basket in the final 1:13, as the Nets beat Philadelphia 99-91, dropping the Sixers to 0-15.

      That matches the worst start in franchise history and is three losses away from equaling the NBA record. It came on a night when the Sixers erased a deficit that reached 20 points in the first half and 17 in the third quarter, and a night when they held a rare fourth-quarter lead.

      "You have to keep playing until the game is over," Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. "It's just the NBA way and the beauty of the NBA, and what makes it fun. It's never over until it's over."

      Anderson, a guard who scored 10 of his 12 points in the final period, broke the night's last tie, at 82-82, on a three-point play with 6:14 left.

      Teletovic, a forward who notched six of his nine points in the fourth, tacked on three free throws as the Nets pushed the lead to 90-83 with 2:45 remaining.

      Philadelphia answered with six consecutive points, four by guard Tony Wroten, to cut the gap to one, but Garnett was fouled by guard Michael Carter-Williams while jostling for rebounding position with 1:13 left. Garnett made the second of two foul shots and, after a Sixers turnover, he nailed a jumper to make it 93-89 with 32.8 seconds to play.

      "It's satisfying any time you get a win," said guard/forward Joe Johnson, who led the Nets with 21 points. "This is the NBA and you can't take a team for granted."

      Center Brook Lopez added 19 points for Brooklyn, which had lost six of its previous seven. Guard Deron Williams contributed 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

      Wroten had 18 points and 10 assists for the Sixers, who matched the 0-15 start of the 1972-73 team. That club finished 9-73, the worst full-season mark in league history.

      The worst start in NBA history was 0-18 by the 2009-10 Nets, then based in New Jersey. That club finished 12-70.

      Rookie guard/forward K.J. McDaniels also had 18 points for Philadelphia, the highest total in his 15-game career.

      "This game had so many mood swings, didn't it?" Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "I thought we played some of our best basketball of the year, and some of our poorest."

      The result, however, was the same.

      "I see good things," Brown said. "It's unfortunate for those guys. I bleed for those guys that they can't get a win to validate the work they have put in."

      Aided by 7-for-23 shooting and eight turnovers by Philadelphia, the Nets breezed to a 39-19 lead three minutes into the second quarter. Williams had 11 of those points, Johnson and Lopez nine each for Brooklyn, which shot 70.6 percent in the first quarter, equaling its season high for any period.

      The Sixers cut the gap to 49-41 by halftime, as center Henry Sims crammed eight points into the final 5:16 of the second quarter.

      Lopez finished the half with 13 points, and Williams had 11. Sims and forward Luc Mbah a Moute had eight each to lead Philadelphia.

      Brooklyn pushed out to a 58-41 lead behind five points from Johnson early in the third quarter, but the Sixers went on a 21-5 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Center/forward Nerlens Noel capped it with a pair of dunks, the second coming on a pick-and-roll feed from Carter-Williams with 10:25 left, giving Philadelphia a 74-72 lead.

      NOTES: G Tony Wroten had eight of the Sixers' 20 turnovers, including a bad pass with 51.2 seconds left that coach Brett Brown called "a head-scratcher." ... Brooklyn turned the ball over 24 times. ... C/F Nerlens Noel returned to the Sixers' starting lineup after coming off the bench Monday against Portland. ... Wednesday's game was the seventh in 11 days for the Nets. They play one in the next five, affording the team some time to practice and "just get better," coach Lionel Hollins said. ... With his team apparently headed for a dismal finish, Brown was asked before the game how he wants it to be remembered. "I want us to be remembered for building the program," he said. "I want us to be remembered as a coaching staff and players that took some hits -- we're all taking hits to try to grow this -- and we believe in what we're doing."

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    James leads Cavaliers to easy win over Wizards
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- David Blatt was surprised to hear his team's first game against the Washington Wizards, an early-season low point for his Cleveland Cavaliers, was only five days ago.

    • "I thought it was five months ago," he said.

      Indeed, the Cavs have transformed dramatically over the last week. Their 113-87 pounding of the Wizards on Wednesday night was another step on both ends of the floor.

      LeBron James had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, including a season-high 14 free throws, on a night the Cavs were never really threatened. Blatt said after last week's 91-78 loss to the Wizards that the Cavs were playing "in the dark" and needed to find their way out. They've done so with timely shooting and smothering defense.

      "We've been defending and we're not giving away opportunities and giving away points," Blatt said. "We've defended the last two games as well as we have the whole season."

      The Wizards shot 47 percent Wednesday but turned it over 18 times, leading to 24 points for the Cavs. The Cavs had similar numbers in last week's loss at Washington when they turned it over 19 times, leading to 24 points for the Wizards. In Wednesday's rematch, the Cavs shot 51 percent, recorded 23 assists and turned it over just 10 times.

      "When we've had high assists games and low turnovers, we've won," James said. "That's what it all comes down to."

      Forward Kevin Love added 21 points and five rebounds, guard Kyrie Irving tallied 18 points and five assists and forward Anderson Varejao recorded 10 points and seven rebounds as the Cavs (7-7) won their second straight after a four-game losing streak.

      Forward Paul Pierce scored 15 points for the Wizards (9-5), who lost for the second time in as many nights.

      "We pretty much trailed from start to finish," Pierce said. "We turned it over and gave them easy opportunities. They got confident and got out on the break. They either scored or we fouled them."

      The Wizards are at their best when they're running in transition, but they didn't have any fast-break points Tuesday in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks and they had only one fast-break basket against the Cavs.

      Washington guard Bradley Beal scored 10 points in his first start since returning from a broken wrist, while guard John Wall had a season-low six points and seven assists after entering the night averaging 21 points and 11.5 assists in his last four games at Quicken Loans Arena.

      "They hit us in the mouth first," Wall said. "Every team plays different at home. They let us back in the game a couple of times. Whenever we got close they made the big shot and the big play. Give them credit."

      The Cavs opened an 18-point lead late in the first quarter and still led 58-39 with 1:45 left in the first half. The Wizards scored the final seven points of the second quarter and briefly pulled within 60-51 early in the third quarter, but it didn't last.

      The lead was back out to 14 entering the fourth, allowing James to depart with eight minutes left. He watched the rest of the night while the Cavs pushed the lead to 29.

      Guard Dion Waiters scored 15 points and forward Tristan Thompson had 10 for the Cavs, whose last three wins have come by an average of 30.3 points.

      Blatt left the arena smiling and laughing, something that hasn't happened much during this turbulent start to the season.

      "The turkey is going to taste a little sweeter for the guys," Blatt said, "and I'm happy about that."

      NOTES: F Nene missed his second consecutive game with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The Wizards are hopeful he won't miss much more time. ... F Paul Pierce surpassed Jerry West for 17th in scoring in NBA history. Pierce entered Wednesday 77 points behind Reggie Miller for 16th place. ... After hinting for days that changes could be coming to the starting lineup, coach David Blatt left the same five starters intact. The Cavs have considered using both Mike Miller and rookie Joe Harris at shooting guard. ... F LeBron James, who has spoken often this year about this season testing his patience, was asked if having kids has increased his patience. "No," he joked. "It's made it worse."

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Matthews picks up slack as Blazers top Hornets
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wesley Matthews picked the right night to break out of a recent shooting slump.

    • On a night when leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge struggled mightily, Matthews erupted for a season-high 28 points with six 3-pointers and led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 105-97 victory over the Charlotte Hornets, extending their winning streak to nine straight.

      Matthews finished 10 of 15 from the field with six of nine from 3-point range, two nights after going six of 16 in a win at Philadelphia on Monday. He also struggled through a three of 13 shooting performance in a win over Brooklyn last week.

      "It felt good on my way to the arena," Matthews said. "I just tried to stay confident during this little shooting drought that I've been in. It's always easier when the team's winning. I know it's just a matter of time until that drought ends and I'm back to being myself, and hopefully tonight was a step in that direction."

      Aldridge, who came into the game ninth in the NBA in scoring at 22.2, went 3 for 18 from the field and finished with nine points and 14 rebounds.

      Blazers coach Terry Stotts was pleased to see Matthews step up.

      "Wes came out in the second half and was making his threes, took advantage of some post-ups, his defense is a constant," Stotts said. "LA obviously struggled, and to be able to have a game like this when LA's struggling, it was great to see him step up offensively."

      The Blazers (12-3) followed a similar script to their 102-100 win over the Hornets on Nov. 11 in Portland, when they rallied from a 23-point second-half deficit. This time, they trailed by 13 early in the third quarter, but outscored the Hornets 60-41 in the second half and led by as many as 14 down the stretch.

      Damian Lillard added 22 points and seven assists. Robin Lopez finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Kaman scored 12, and Nicolas Batum scored 10.

      The Blazers shot just 42.4 percent from the field for the game, but hit 44.4 percent from 3-point range, 12 of 27. In addition to Matthews' six, Lillard hit four.

      "The three-ball is a big part of the NBA game," Stotts said. "It's a big part of our offense. When we can get quality threes, we've got enough good shooters that I love for us to shoot 40 percent as a team. But we have too many good shooters not to take them that we want to take them and shoot them with confidence."

      The Hornets (4-12) suffered their seventh straight loss. They have now lost nine of their last 10.

      Brian Roberts came off the bench to score 24 points, and Al Jefferson finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson scored 15 each. Lance Stephenson continued his recent struggles and was benched for much of the second half, finishing four of 11 from the field for eight points.

      The Hornets led 56-45 at halftime.

      "Obviously we played a really good first half, then just started the third quarter with nothing and the game changed quickly," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "They're rolling right now. They shot the ball well. We had 29 assists and only six turnovers against a team that's the seventh-best defensive team in the league. But obviously their 3-point shooting hurt us."

      The Hornets lost by 21 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, and Clifford thought this was a much better effort.

      "Tonight we played better," Clifford said. "We played harder and smarter. We played with organization and purpose. It's going to start with playing the right way and doing the right things. I think the guys went out there and fought hard."

      NOTES: Hornets F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (stress reaction right foot) missed his eighth straight game and G Gary Neal (left shoulder sprain) was also missing. The Hornets also lost F Marvin Williams (strained shoulder) in the first half. ... The Blazers were without G C.J. McCollum (fractured right index finger). ... The Blazers are now 7-0 against Eastern Conference opponents, while the Hornets are just 1-8 against Western Conference foes. ... The Blazers had 21 assists on 39 field goals and are the only team in the NBA to have at least 20 assists in every game this season. ... Hornets G Jeffery Taylor continues to serve a 24-game suspension. ... The Hornets will close out this three-game home stand on Friday night against Golden State. ... The Blazers closed out a perfect 3-0 Eastern trip, with wins at Boston and Philadelphia previously. They will return home to face Memphis on Friday.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Rockets 102, Kings 89
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- With James Harden suffering through a miserable shooting night Wednesday, Isaiah Canaan and Donatas Motiejunas delivered career-best scoring performances to help lift the Houston Rockets to a 102-89 win over the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center.

    • While Harden, Houston's star shooting guard, made just 10 of 31 shots en route to 26 points, point guard Canaan poured in 24 points on 6-for-10 3-point shooting and forward Motiejunas added 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Rockets (12-3) to a wire-to-wire victory.

      Despite trailing by as many as 22 points, the Kings (9-6) closed to within two points early in the fourth quarter. Houston responded with an 11-4 push capped by Harden's 3-pointer with 5:09 remaining.

      Kings center DeMarcus Cousins produced a dominating effort against the Dwight Howard-less Rockets, posting 29 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. But the only other Sacramento players to reach double figures in points were guard Ben McLemore and forward Omri Casspi, who had 14 each.

      In line with their recent shorthanded performances, the Rockets raced to an early lead with exceptional shooting. Instead of relying on 3-pointers to ignite the attack, Houston parlayed the Kings’ sloppy ballhandling into an unselfish and efficient scoring display in the first quarter. While shooting 14 of 23, the Rockets recorded 12 assists.

      Meanwhile, the Kings committed nine turnovers that the Rockets converted into 16 points. Houston scored the first six points and answered a 9-3 Kings run with nine consecutive points. After Sacramento closed to within 24-16 on a dunk by forward Jason Thompson, Houston closed the first with a 13-3 blitz.

      Houston extended its lead to 43-21 on Trevor Ariza's reverse layup before the Kings finally got rolling.

      Sacramento answered with runs of 10-3 and 13-4 before tallying the final seven points of the first half to trail 57-50 at the break.

      To little surprise, Cousins was the linchpin, entering intermission with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The Kings shot 11 for 17 in the second quarter while playing sound enough defense to keep the Rockets off the free-throw line for the entire period.

      NOTES: The Kings were without a pair of starters -- G Darren Collison (left quad contusion) and F Rudy Gay (right Achilles) -- for a second consecutive game but were emboldened by the performances of F Omri Casspi and G Ramon Sessions. ... In three head-to-head matchups with Houston C Dwight Howard last season, Kings C DeMarcus Cousins averaged 18 points (on 20-for-40 shooting) and 10.6 rebounds. That does not count a Jan. 22 game when he departed with an injury after nine minutes. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale expressed hesitancy over allowing G Patrick Beverley (left hamstring) to talk his way back in the lineup. Beverley has twice been lost to leg injuries, the second time after rushing back to rejoin the rotation. Beverley, Howard (right knee) and F Terrence Jones (left leg nerve irritation) have missed a combined 24 games.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Spurs' Popovich out at least two games
    By The Sports Xchange

    San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich missed his team's game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday after undergoing what the team called a minor medical procedure, and Popovich was expected to miss at least one more game as well.

    • Assistant Ettore Messina, a two-time Euroleague coach of the year in his first season with the Spurs, will run the team in Popovich's absence. He said Popovich would be back soon, although Popovich is expected to miss the team's game against Sacramento on Friday.

      "It's not what you want, but the good thing is that obviously it's nothing big or you would not see me here so relaxed," said Messina, who on Wednesday became the first European-born coach to run an NBA team.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Pistons farm out F Mitchell to D-League
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Detroit Pistons sent forward Tony Mitchell to Grand Rapids of the NBA Development League on Wednesday.

    • Mitchell, the No. 37 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, played in 21 games for the Pistons last season and averaged 1.0 points and 1.2 rebounds. He also spent time in the D-League with Fort Wayne and averaged 7.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 10 games.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Nuggets defeat ailing Bulls for fifth straight win
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets made it back from the brink of destruction to reach .500, but they had to sweat it out to get there.

    • It was worth it for a team that two weeks ago was about to have its season go down the drain.

      Guard Ty Lawson had 20 points and 12 assists, including a big basket in the final moments, and the Nuggets won their fifth in a row, beating the injury-ravaged Chicago Bulls 114-109 Tuesday night.

      Guard Arron Afflalo added 19 points for the Nuggets, who are 7-7 after a 1-6 start to the season but had to hold off the Bulls at the end.

      "I liked everything but the finish," Denver coach Brian Shaw said. "We wanted to finish the day off well. We played pretty well throughout the game and then we had some weird things happen."

      Guard Jimmy Butler tied a career high in points (32) and tied a season high in rebounds with nine for the Bulls. Forward Pau Gasol contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds for a battered Chicago team.

      The Bulls, down two frontcourt players to start the game, lost guard Derrick Rose to left hamstring tightness in the first half.

      He was held out in the second half for precautionary reasons, but the guard said he didn't re-injury his hamstring.

      "It's nothing like I pulled it again or anything like that," he said. "It was just that I wasn't able to affect the game the way I wanted to."

      Rose played tentatively a night after logging 25 minutes in a win over Utah. At halftime, coach Tom Thibodeau told him he felt it was better to sit the former MVP and not risk further injury.

      "It was really nothing that happened other than I didn't want to take any chances," Thibodeau said. "The way the game was going, the way we were going, I just wanted to go a different way. He didn't re-injure it. I just didn't want to take a chance."

      Forward Joakim Noah had surgery on his left knee in the offseason, and the joint still isn't at full strength. Forward Taj Gibson's left ankle has been an issue since the offseason. It felt good until he rolled it against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 31. On Friday, Gibson landed on Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews' foot in the third quarter.

      Chicago (9-6) did get Kirk Hinrich back after the guard missed two games with a chest contusion.

      Hinrich's return came just in time. Rose, who has played in just seven games this season, had two points and three assists in 10 minutes.

      "We've got a lot of stuff going on here," Thibodeau said. "We've got to get people healthy."

      Injuries are nothing new to the Bulls, who sit atop the Central Division despite having just four players play in all 15 games this season.

      Butler has helped. He has scored at least 22 points in five of the last six games while playing heavy minutes.

      "I truly just want to win," Butler said. "Both of the games where I've scored 32 points we've lost. I'll take scoring two points and win than 32 and lose any day, every day."

      The Nuggets are dealing with injuries, too. Guard Randy Foye tore a muscle in his left quad in Sunday's game against the Lakers, and he will be out at least three weeks. Center JaVale McGee left the Los Angeles game with soreness in his surgically repaired left tibia.

      Denver had enough Tuesday to overcome those losses. Forwards Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried were the catalysts in the first half to help the Nuggets take a 56-49 lead at the break.

      Hinrich sparked a Chicago run that cut Denver's lead to 64-61 midway through the third. After the Nuggets increased its margin to eight, Hinrich fed forward Mike Dunleavy for a 3-pointer. Hinrich had seven points and four assists in the third quarter.

      The Nuggets led by as many as 14 but Chicago got within 107-103 with 1:02 left after guard Aaron Brooks hit a 3-pointer and a layup.

      They were aided by a reversal of forward Danilo Gallinari's desperation 3-pointer with 2:06 left. A review of the play showed he stepped out of bounds on the shot, and a 12-point lead turned to eight after a Gasol free throw.

      "They said that he stepped on the line so they took the three points off the board and Chicago comes down and hits a three," Shaw said.

      After an Afflalo bucket, Butler converted a three-point play to make it 109-106 with 30 seconds left.

      "We fouled a little too much," Gallinari said. "One of the reasons they were able to stay in the game was because they shot a lot of free throws."

      NOTES: The Bulls haven't won in Denver since 2006. The Nuggets have won 14 of 15 against Chicago at Pepsi Center. ... Denver led for the entire game for the first time this season. ... Chicago had 27 points on 14 Denver turnovers. ... Butler was 18-for-20 from the line. Both are career highs for him.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Lakers receive financial injury exception for Nash
    By The Sports Xchange

    The news likely comes as little consolation to a team that owns one of the four worst records in the NBA, but the league granted a $4.85 million disabled player exception to the Los Angeles Lakers for point guard Steve Nash on Tuesday.

    • The Lakers could add a player via trade, free agency or waiver claim for up to $4.85 million.

      Los Angeles previously received a $1.5 million exception for injured rookie forward Julius Randle, but the exceptions may not be combined. The amounts cover half of the players' annual salaries.

      The short-handed Lakers are 3-11, a half-game better than the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, the similarly injury-bitten Oklahoma City Thunder.

      Nash went down for the season due to a back injury prior to the opener. In the prior two seasons with Los Angeles, he was healthy enough to appear in a total of just 65 games.

      In 2013-14, Nash averaged 6.8 points, his lowest figure in 15 years, and 5.7 assists, his lowest mark in 13 years.

      For his career, Nash averages 14.3 points and 8.5 assists. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2004-05 and 2005-06 while playing for the Phoenix Suns.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Casspi, Cousins spark Kings win over Pelicans
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW ORLEANS -- The Sacramento Kings already were down two injured starters who account for 37 points and 10 assists per game -- small forward Rudy Gay and point guard Darren Collison.

    • And, suddenly, they were without their head coach, Michael Malone, who apparently said a few too many magic words to referee Eric Lewis and wound up receiving his first NBA ejection with 4:42 left in the first half.

      No Gay, no Collison, no Malone -- no problem.

      Reserve forward Omri Casspi scored 22 points in 36 minutes and center DeMarcus Cousins added 22 points and 12 rebounds to spark the Kings to a 99-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night at the Smoothie King Center.

      "It was not my intent to get thrown out of the game, obviously," Malone said, whose team led 40-35 at the time he locked horns with Lewis. "I apologized to our players for that, but (assistant coach) Tyrone (Corbin) and the entire coaching staff did a great job coaching them that second half. It was really tough to sit here in the locker room and watch the second half. The time went very, very slowly."

      Cousins and Casspi made it easier for Malone to watch. The pair combined for 19 third-quarter points -- with Casspi scoring nine straight in 3:02 stretch -- as Sacramento broke open a 49-49 halftime tie to take a 75-70 lead after three.

      Cousins came out in the third quarter and hit his first three shots, a power move to the basket, a 15-foot jumper and an 18-foot fallaway.

      "When I saw him score the first three baskets, I knew that he was going to do whatever he needed to do to put this team on his back to get the win," Malone said. "I’m very biased, but I think Cuz is the best big man in the NBA. ... He deserves the credit, not Team USA, not anybody else. DeMarcus Cousins deserves the credit."

      Cousins said he knew during halftime that he would have to take the lead on both ends of the court.

      "Absolutely," he said. "We had a little adversity at halftime with the whole coach situation and got a couple of calls that didn’t go our way. It would have easily went their way with the momentum. So I just tried to come out and be aggressive, hit them in the mouth early and get our team rolling."

      The Kings extended their lead to 88-79 with 6:46 left on two free throws by guard Ray McCallum. Casspi put away the game with a driving layup, which he then followed up with a steal of a Jrue Holiday pass and a full-court drive to the basket. When guard Ramon Sessions hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, Sacramento led 95-81 with 4:05 left. The Pelicans (7-6) never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

      Sacramento (9-5) is off to its best start since getting out of the gate 13-5 in 2004-05.

      Guard Tyreke Evans had 22 points for New Orleans, and forward Ryan Anderson added 20 points off the bench. Coach Monty Williams said he was most displeased that leading scorer Anthony Davis got only 12 shots. Davis finished with 14 points, 12 below his scoring average.

      "The guys don't recognize that he has to touch the ball, he has to get shots to help us be a good team," Williams said. "They have to understand that Anthony is our best player, and he's got get more opportunities."

      Cousins said the Kings tried to force Davis away from his "sweet spots," especially in the area around the basket where he usually swoops in for lob passes for slam dunks. Davis made just 4 of 12 from the floor.

      "I wasn't getting a lot of easy looks," Davis said. "They just outworked us and made sure that we didn't get easy catches and take easy shots. It's tough to play like that."

      Malone's ejection came after he was incensed that no foul was called on a driving layup attempt by Sessions. Malone argued the call, and Lewis immediately called him for two technicals.

      "I obviously was fighting for one of my players," Malone said. "Eric Lewis ... is a class act. I've got no problems with Eric. He’s a very good ref, a good guy. He made the call. Obviously, I didn’t agree with it."

      NOTES: Darius Miller went scoreless (on 0-for-3 shooting) after starting at small forward as the Pelicans shuffled their lineup due to the left shoulder injury suffered by SG Eric Gordon, who is out indefinitely. Tyreke Evans, who has played some small forward, rotated over to Gordon's guard position. "Eric is a guy who can shoot the ball and was starting to get his rhythm back," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "Without Eric, it takes away some of our shooting." ... C Omer Asik returned to the starting lineup after missing four games with back spasms. ... The Kings were without F Rudy Gay, who is resting right Achilles tendinitis, and PG Darren Collison, who has a left quad bruise. ... Williams said PF Anthony Davis' offensive efficiency reminds him of former Spurs teammate David Robinson, who "could fill up a stat sheet. I think A.D. does the same thing, but he does it so efficiently. He's not jacking up bad shots."

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    NBA game roundup: Curry scores 40 in Warriors' win
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- Point guard Stephen Curry scored a season-high 40 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 114-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

    • It was Curry's fourth 30-plus-point game this season. His eight 3-pointers -- out of 11 attempted -- represented a season high. He also had a game-high seven assists and three steals.

      The Warriors trailed by 16 points in the second quarter but rallied to win their sixth consecutive game. They are 11-2 overall -- just a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies for the best record in the NBA.

      At 6-1, the Warriors tied the Houston Rockets for the best road record in the league.

      Guard Klay Thompson added 24 points as the Warriors put together a 14-0 run late in the fourth quarter.

      Forward Chris Bosh had 26 points and nine rebounds to lead the Heat, who are 8-7 overall but just 4-5 at home.

      Bucks 98, Pistons 86

      MILWAUKEE -- Point guard Brandon Knight scored 20 and shooting guard O.J. Mayo had 17 as Milwaukee snapped a two-game losing streak.

      Moved into the starting lineup for the first time this season, Mayo made 5 of 10 shots from the field and accounted for three of Milwaukee's 10 3-pointers. The Bucks shot 43 percent from the field and also got double-digit scoring efforts from rookie forward Jabari Parker (14), forward Ersan Ilyasova (13) and center Larry Sanders, who scored 12 and grabbed five rebounds.

      Center Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

      Kings 99, Pelicans 89

      NEW ORLEANS -- Forward Omri Casspi, playing for injured starter Rudy Gay, scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and center DeMarcus Cousins added 22 points and 13 rebounds to lift Sacramento.

      Sacramento (9-5) is off to its best start since getting out of the gate 13-5 in 2004-05.

      Guard Tyreke Evans had 22 points for New Orleans, and forward Ryan Anderson added 20 points off the bench.

      Kings coach Michael Malone was ejected in the first half after being called for two technicals for arguing a call.

      Hawks 106, Wizards 102

      WASHINGTON -- Guard Jeff Teague scored 28 points and a 22-5 fourth quarter run propelled Atlanta.

      Reserve forward Mike Scott had 17 points and combined with guard Shelvin Mack for Atlanta's first 16 points in the fourth quarter. The bench pair sparked the final-period push as Atlanta (7-5) turned a tight game into a 92-78 lead with 4:03 remaining. All but five points in that stretch were scored by Scott or Mack, who had a season-high 13 points.

      Guard John Wall scored 21 points for the Wizards (9-4), who had won two straight and five of six before Tuesday.

      Nuggets 114, Bulls 109

      DENVER -- Guard Ty Lawson had 20 points and 12 assists as Denver won its fifth game in a row.

      The Bulls, down two frontcourt players -- Joakim Noah (knee) and Taj Gibson (ankle) -- to start the game, lost guard Derrick Rose to left hamstring tightness in the first half.

      Guard Arron Afflalo added 19 points for the Nuggets, who are 7-7 after a 1-6 start to the season.

      Guard Jimmy Butler scored 32 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and forward Pau Gasol contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds for a battered Chicago team.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Bucks beat Pistons on boards, in game
    By The Sports Xchange

    MILWAUKEE -- Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy didn't need too much time to think when asked what went wrong for his team Tuesday night in a 98-86 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

    • "We gave them 19 offensive rebounds, we had 19 turnovers and we were 7 for 17 at the free throw line," Van Gundy said. "They hit 10 3-pointers . Those were the four factors in the game. There's really nothing else to talk about."

      Center Andre Drummond did score a season-high 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds and forward Greg Monroe added 15 as the Pistons shot 46 percent from the field. But even with forward Josh Smith and point guard D.J. Augustin each adding 11, the Pistons were their own worst enemy.

      The offensive rebounds were especially problematic for Detroit, which only grabbed three in the second half as the Bucks turned a one-point game into a 15-point lead late in the game. Milwaukee scooped up 11 of its own misses -- which the Bucks turned into 12 points --to help make up for going 17-for-45 from the field in the final two quarters.

      Overall, the Bucks outrebounded Detroit, 50-36.

      "We talked about it the last two days that Detroit is a team that lives on the glass," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "Our objective tonight was team rebounding with everybody pitching in and everybody helping out; bigs helping the guards, littles helping the bigs. Everybody was involved and this is the way we have to rebound if we want a chance to win against a team like this."

      The 3-pointer was a reliable weapon for the Bucks who sunk 10 in the game and got a pair during a 12-1 run to close out the third quarter. Point guard Brandon Knight and shooting guard O.J. Mayo each sunk three from beyond the arc and led the team with 20 and 17 points, respectively.

      Moved into the starting lineup for the first time this season, Mayo made 5 of 10 shots from the field as the Bucks shot 43 percent and also got double-digit scoring efforts from forward Jabari Parker (14), forward Ersan Ilyasova (13) and center Larry Sanders, who scored 12 and grabbed five rebounds.

      Ten of Sanders' points came in the first quarter.

      "I was just trying to stay active," he said. "I have to find my place against these guys and I really want to be successful so whatever I can do to help them, I will."

      Detroit got off to a good start, scoring 31 points to take a five-point lead through one quarter but the Bucks made 10 of 19 shots and sank three 3-pointers in the second to go up 49-48 at halftime before breaking the game open with their run late in the third.

      "They hurt us on the hustle plays and the offensive rebounds," said Pistons forward Kyle Singler. "You could say we lost a little bit of focus in that area. Whether it was execution or lack of focus, we just, collectively as a team, have to play better."

      The Bucks and Pistons will meet once more this week, Friday night in Detroit.

      NOTES: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance for the game. Silver was in Milwaukee to meet with members of the Bucks' local investment group and also had discussions with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other business leaders regarding development of a new arena in the city. Silver and owner Wes Edens said they were optimistic that the progress was moving forward and a preferred site could be announced within the next 30-60 days. ... Pistons PG Brandon Jennings was not available Tuesday due to a sprained left thumb. D.J. Augustin started in place of Jennings. ... Bucks PG Brandon Knight was in the starting lineup Tuesday. He had been listed as questionable because of a strained right quad. Backup PG Nate Wolters, however, was not with the team and won't join the Bucks on their trip to Minnesota and Detroit while he battles the flu. ... Bucks coach Jason Kidd also adjusted his starting lineup, swapping G/F Khris Middleton for G O.J. Mayo, who is averaging 10.9 points per game. ... With a season-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, Pistons C Andre Drummond has recorded three double-doubles in his last four games.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Curry carries Warriors to win over Heat
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- Perhaps the Miami Heat should not have let Stephen Curry into their arena on Monday.

    • One day later, Curry made them pay.

      Curry scored a season-high 40 points Tuesday night to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 114-97 victory over Miami at AmericanAirlines Arena.

      "I got some nice shots in here yesterday filming a commercial for our Christmas game," said Curry, the Warriors' star point guard. "I shot about 100 3s for the camera. That might have helped."

      It was Curry's fourth 30-plus-point game this season. His eight 3-pointers -- out of 11 attempted -- represented a season high. He also had a game-high seven assists and three steals.

      Then again, Curry made eight three-pointers at AmericanAirlines Arena last season as well, scoring 36 points in a 123-114 Warriors win.

      "There are certain arenas where you see the rim better," Curry said. "This arena has a nice feel to it, and the weather is nice so that might inspire some good play."

      The Heat was inspired early, putting up its highest scoring quarter of the season in the first, leading 36-30. Miami point guard Mario Chalmers had 13 points, which was his best quarter of the season.

      But Chalmers scored only one more point for the rest of the game, and the Heat, which led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, crumbled late.

      Golden State, which also got 24 points from shooting guard Klay Thompson, rallied to trail by just one point at halftime.

      Miami led 95-93 with 7:25 left in the game, but that's when the Warriors went on a 14-0 run to end the Heat's chances.

      Thompson had six points and Curry five during that 14-0 run.

      "We were in a position to work the last five or six minutes of the game, grind it and have a chance to win in the end," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But we just couldn't sustain it.

      "They played their best basketball in the fourth quarter, and we got caught in some tough possessions."

      The Warriors' starting backcourt of Curry and Thompson combined for 64 points on 22 of 38 shooting, including 11 of 18 on 3-pointers.

      Miami's starting backcourt of Chalmers and Norris Cole combined for 18 points on 5 of 25 shooting, including 2 of 10 on 3-pointers.

      There were some extenuating circumstances to the comparison 00 Heat starting shooting guard Dwyane Wade is out due to an injured hamstring, and Cole played his first game since dislocating his left middle finger last week.

      Spoelstra said Cole's finger was not a factor, and Chalmers, Spoelstra and just about everybody else credited Curry for his outstanding performance.

      "Curry's an excellent shooter," Chalmers said. "We didn't keep a body on him enough. We started off doing a pretty good job, but he got free in the second half."

      By quarters, Curry was pretty consistent, scoring eight, 10, 12 and 10 points, respectively.

      "There's probably only two or three guys who can shoot those kind of 3s off the dribble," Spoelstra said. "That's the fastest release I've ever seen."

      The Warriors won their sixth consecutive game and are 11-2 overall -- just a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies for the best record in the NBA.

      At 6-1, the Warriors tied the Houston Rockets for the best road record in the league.

      The Heat (8-7) continued their struggles at home, where they are just 4-5 (44.4 winning percentage). They were 32-9 at home last season (78 percent).

      Miami, which got 26 points and nine rebounds from forward Chris Bosh, is also 2-3 against the Western Conference, losing to the Warriors, Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers -- all at home.

      As a team, Golden State shot 57.3 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent on 3-pointers (13 of 28).

      "That's winning pretty," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team also won the rebound battle 45-40. "It was a terrific effort by all our guys.

      "As a broadcaster, (Curry) is fun to watch. As a coach, it's ‘Yes! He's on our team!' I wouldn't trade him for any point guard in the league."

      NOTES: Miami waived SG Shannon Brown, who had started the previous two Heat games, both victories. In his place, Miami signed 7-foot, 260-pound C Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 22 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in his past three games in the D League. Whiteside, 25, was the Sacramento Kings' second-round pick in 2010. ... Miami is still without C Chris "Birdman" Andersen (ankle). ... Warriors starting F David Lee (hamstring injury) has played just seven minutes this season. ... Warriors C Andrew Bogut (right orbital contusion) returned to the starting lineup after playing just eight minutes on Sunday. ... Warriors G Leandro Barbosa (sprained knee) played four minutes off the bench after getting hurt on Sunday. ... The Warriors' five-game road trip continues Wednesday at the Orlando Magic. ... Miami gets a bit of a Thanksgiving break and won't play again until Sunday at the New York Knicks.

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Scott, Mack lead Hawks past Wizards
    By The Sports Xchange

    WASHINGTON -- Forward Mike Scott and guard Shelvin Mack don't start for the Atlanta Hawks. In a matchup with the Washington Wizards, however, the reserve pair finished off the Southeast Division leaders.

    • Scott and Mack sparked a 22-5 fourth-quarter run and guard Jeff Teague scored 28 points for the second straight game as the Hawks pulled away for a 106-102 win over the Wizards on Tuesday night.

      Scott had 12 of his 17 points in the fourth and combined with Mack for Atlanta's first 16 points in the final period. The duo sparked the final-period push as Atlanta (7-5) turned a tight -- albeit sloppy -- game into a 92-78 lead with 4:03 remaining.

      All but five points in that stretch were scored by Scott or Mack, who had a season-high 13 points.

      "When their number is called, they're always ready, always prepared," Teague said of Scott and Mack. "Tonight their number was called and they stepped up and made big plays."

      Forward Paul Millsap had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks, winners of two straight. Atlanta entered 1-4 on the road.

      "It means a lot especially early in the season we've been losing a lot of close games in a row," Mack said. "Earlier in the year, we probably would've lost that game. ... It's great to get those wins on the road especially against the team that's leading the division."

      John Wall scored 21 points for the Wizards (9-4), but had six turnovers, or one less than fellow guard Bradley Beal. Washington had won two straight and five of six before Tuesday. The Wizards committed a season-high 25 turnovers, leading to 25 points for Atlanta.

      "It was a bad game overall," said Beal after scoring 13 points to go with seven turnovers and zero assists. Looking to move on from the disappointing outing, the guard cracked, "I’ve got amnesia. I don’t remember anything from the game, so we can move on, if you guys want to."

      As the St. Louis native struggled, hundreds of people gathered near the Verizon Center, one of many nationwide protests following a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who shot teenager Michael Brown.

      As the game ended, the public address announcer instructed fans to exit in one direction only as the arena located in the District of Columbia's Northwest section closed doors leading to 7th Street.

      The Wizards sank four 3-pointers in the final 49.2 seconds and forward Paul Pierce's jumper cut the deficit to 105-102 with 2.4 seconds remaining. The Hawks made 6 of 8 free throws in the final 30 seconds, including one by Mack with 1.9 seconds left.

      Both teams were guilty of ineffective basketball most of the game. The Hawks led 41-39 at halftime and neither team held a lead larger than three points until Atlanta's decisive run.

      "A little sloppy game, but guys were playing hard defensively," said Teague, who made 12 of 14 free throws. "They're a really talented team. They play hard defensively and we were doing the same. It was hard to get a lead on either side. Back and forth game until we pulled it out."

      Humming for most of the season, the Wizards produced a disjointed first half, shooting 36 percent from the field and committing 13 turnovers. Washington averaged 13.9 turnovers per game through 12 games. Center Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

      "That was as bad as we could play offensively, for whatever reason," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "Trying to do too much. Over-dribbling, ball-sticking, predetermining, no matter what the defense was going to do, and we just get in trouble like that. ... That was just trying to do too much by everybody."

      Atlanta also coughed the ball up plenty, committing 15 turnovers, but only four in the second half. One of the top NBA teams in assists this season, the Hawks had four in the first half, but 12 over the final two quarters.

      NOTES: F Paul Pierce scored 14 points and passed Jerry West (25,192 points) for 17th on the NBA's All-time scoring list with a jumper 1:29 into the third quarter. ... Wizards F/C Nene did not play after he suffered a right plantar fasciitis injury during the first half of Saturday's road over the Milwaukee Bucks. He is unlikely to play in the Wizards' pre-Thanksgiving day matchup at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. Washington's top high post threat missed 50 games over the past two seasons. ... Atlanta F Kyle Korver entered Tuesday as the only NBA player shooting at least 50 percent from the field (50.0), 50 percent on 3-point attempts (56.7) and 90 percent from the free-throw line (92.0). He went 0-for-3 against the Wizards. ... Washington won last season's series 3-1.