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  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Rose, Bulls snap Warriors' home streak in OT
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- The NBA's winningest road team encountered the most dominant home club Tuesday night, and a tie nearly occurred.

    • The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors battled evenly for 48 minutes of regulation play and 4:53 of overtime before Bulls star Derrick Rose hit a tiebreaking 21-footer with seven seconds remaining for a 113-111 victory.

      The Warriors' home winning streak ended at 19 games.

      Rose's field goal was one of just three the Bulls managed in the extra five minutes, but that was enough to produce Chicago's 17th road win of the season.

      "It puts tremendous pressure on you," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of having to defend Warriors guards Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. "So for (Rose) to play the way he did and have the ability to make that shot at the end, it was tremendous."

      The win added to a collection of impressive road victories for the Bulls, who earlier this season notched wins away from home over Toronto, the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis, Washington and Dallas.

      In the first of six consecutive games on the road, Chicago held the Warriors to 2-for-11 shooting in the overtime session and survived a controversial referees' decision with 2.9 seconds remaining to win for the third time in its past four games.

      After Rose's tough, difference-making hoop over Warriors defensive ace Thompson, Golden State went to backup forward Andre Iguodala under the basket with a chance to tie. The veteran pump-faked Bulls rookie forward Nikola Mirotic into the air and drew a foul as he flung a shot into the back of the backboard.

      However, instead of sending the Warrior to the free-throw line with a chance to draw his team even, the referees determined that Iguodala was not in the act of shooting when fouled, and they instead awarded Golden State the ball out of bounds.

      "We felt like we had it won a couple of times," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We just couldn't close it."

      After a timeout, Thompson, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, got a good look at a running 12-footer, but the shot banked too hard off the backboard, enabling the Bulls (30-17) to walk away with the tight win.

      "We have a resilient group, a group that is willing to fight and compete," Bulls veteran forward Pau Gasol said. "We just can't pick and choose wins. We can't come to Golden State and win the way they've been playing, and lose to under-.500 teams."

      Despite 13-for-33 shooting, Rose led the Bulls with 30 points. He also had seven rebounds but committed 11 turnovers.

      Gasol (16 rebounds) and center Joakim Noah (15) combined for 31 boards for Chicago, which outrebounded Golden State 61-48. The Bulls outscored the Warriors 24-14 on second-chance points, which helped them offset 21 turnovers and a 31-8 Golden State advantage on fast-break points.

      The Warriors (36-7) were playing without center Andrew Bogut, who was a late scratch because of the flu.

      Gasol and Noah each scored 18 points for the Bulls, who were without shooting guard Jimmy Butler (illness) and small forward Mike Dunleavy (sprained right ankle). Backup forward Taj Gibson nearly gave Chicago a third big man with a points/rebounds double-double, as he finished with 10 points and nine boards.

      Thompson's 30 points paced the Warriors, who were seeking their first season-series sweep of the Bulls since 2000-01. He also led the Warriors with 10 rebounds.

      Thompson shot 4-for-10 from beyond the 3-point arc for the Warriors, who missed their last 13 3-point attempts, including all four they tried in overtime. The league leaders in 3-point field-goal percentage went just 9-for-33 (27.3 percent) from long range in the game.

      "We're a team that thrives on that 3-point line," said Warriors backup forward David Lee, who totaled a season-best 24 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists. "We had some good looks. I'll take (my chances with those shots) 99 times out of 100."

      Curry added 21 points and nine assists for the Warriors, but he missed 14 of his 23 shots, including seven of his nine 3-point attempts.

      The loss was the Warriors' first of the season against Eastern Conference competition in 15 games, and Golden State's first at home against any competition since Nov. 11 against the San Antonio Spurs.

      "You are not going to win them all," Kerr said. "We won 19 straight games at home. We were probably due for one (loss)."

      The Warriors forced overtime after nearly throwing the game away in the final seconds of regulation. Power forward Draymond Green's tip-in over the taller Noah with 1.4 seconds remaining sent the game into the extra period tied at 107.

      The Warriors led 105-104 and got possession of the ball following a Noah miss with 22.7 seconds left. But instead of trying to dribble out the clock or perhaps draw a foul, Curry attempted to pass the ball upcourt, only to have it deflected into the Bulls' hands.

      Rose, who recorded the steal, then fed veteran guard Kirk Hinrich for a 3-pointer that stunningly gave Chicago its first lead of the second half, 107-105, with 15.8 seconds to go.

      NOTES: Bulls PG Derrick Rose became the first player in NBA history to record as many as 11 turnovers and just one assist in a game in which he scored at least 30 points. ... The Bulls' biggest lead of the game was two points. ... The Bulls' 61 rebounds were the most for a Golden State opponent this season. ... The Warriors were attempting to become the first San Francisco Bay Area professional team to win 20 consecutive home games since the Oakland Athletics accomplished the feat from Aug. 25, 2001, to April 3, 2002. ... Multiple sources reported Tuesday that Warriors backcourt mates Steve Curry and Klay Thompson will be among six players competing in the 3-point shooting competition on All-Star Weekend in New York. ... Bulls SF Mike Dunleavy participated in the club's morning shootaround but was not deemed ready to face the Warriors. He missed his 15th consecutive game.

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    After slow start, Wizards rally past Lakers
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- A second-half turnaround and the solid play of point guard John Wall allowed the Washington Wizards to run past the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

    • Wall had 21 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, leading the Wizards to a 98-92 victory at Staples Center.

      Wall, whose status was uncertain until game time due to a migraine and sore ankles, helped the Wizards rally after they trailed by as many 19 points in the first half.

      "We didn't come out with a sense of urgency and compete right away," said Wall, who hit eight of 12 shots from the floor. He also had three steals. "I've been on teams like that when we've played a good team and we come out aggressive and we feel like we have a chance to win. We gave them life. Luckily, we had opportunities to start competing to close out the second quarter and get it to a decent amount. But the first half, they were basically doing what they wanted."

      Guard Bradley Beal scored 19 points for the Wizards, who won their second straight. Washington (31-15) prevailed without starting forward Paul Pierce, who missed the game due to a sore right big toe.

      "We made it way too close," Beal said.

      After a strong first half, the Lakers' offense sagged in the second half. Los Angeles managed just 33.3 percent shooting after intermission compared to 47.6 percent for the Wizards. Overall, Washington shot 48.7 percent from the floor compared to 42.5 percent for the Lakers.

      "We got into a stretch where we just couldn't make shots," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "That was basically the game."

      Guard Wayne Ellington scored a career-high 28 points for the Lakers, who dropped their ninth consecutive contest. Point guard Jordan Clarkson also achieved a career best in scoring, finishing with 18 points. Reserve forward Ed Davis had 14 points for Los Angeles (12-34).

      Ellington and Clarkson outplayed counterparts Wall and Beal in the first half as Los Angeles took a 57-46 lead at the break. That changed, though, in the second half.

      "I made up my mind, I'm going to come out aggressive," Ellington said. "We are a team that needs to be hungry."

      The Lakers played without guard Nick Young, who sprained his right ankle in practice Monday. They already lost guard Kobe Bryant, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn right rotator cuff.

      "The biggest thing was that we were surprised by how confident they were coming in," Beal said. "That's what we really underestimated. We thought, given their record, given the guys who weren't playing tonight, we just thought it was going to be an easy game, and we can't approach it that way if we want to be the team we want to be."

      Los Angeles pulled within 90-88 after a free throw by forward Wesley Johnson with 3:30 remaining, but the Lakers managed little else when it mattered most. A three-point play by forward Nene, a bucket by forward Otto Porter and a jumper by Beal pushed Washington's lead to 97-90 with 43.4 seconds left.

      Los Angeles got off to a fast start. The Lakers took advantage of 10 Wizards turnovers, while committing five, en route to their 11-point advantage at the half.

      However, the Wizards rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers 29-19. A three-point play by Clarkson with 7:28 remaining in the period gave the Lakers a 68-54 advantage, but Washington went on a 14-0 run to tie the score on a three-point play by Porter five minutes later. Los Angeles ended the quarter clinging to a 76-75 lead.

      A layup by backup point guard Andre Miller gave the Wizards an 82-80 lead with 8:59 remaining, and Washington never trailed again.

      NOTES: The slew of injuries for Los Angeles and sometimes poor play of PG Jeremy Lin are allowing coach Byron Scott to speed up the development of rookie Jordan Clarkson, who started his third game in a row. "Like I told him, he has to be patient, slow down and let the game kind of come to him," Scott said. "The game is still probably going 100 miles per hour for him, so the more he gets experience for doing this, the more the game will slow down." ... The Lakers honored the late Jerry Buss, who would have been 81 on Tuesday, with a video tribute and gave fans commemorative rings with the late owner's image on them. ... The Wizards cap their four-game road trip Wednesday in Phoenix against the Suns. ... The Lakers host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    NBA roundup: Bulls end Warriors' home streak in OT
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Derrick Rose hit a tiebreaking 21-footer with seven seconds remaining in overtime Tuesday night, giving the Chicago Bulls a 113-111 victory that ended the Golden State Warriors' home winning streak at 19 games.

    • With two seconds left, Golden State guard Klay Thompson got a good look at a running 12-footer, but his shot banked too hard off the backboard, enabling the Bulls to begin a stretch of six in a row away from home with their NBA-best 17th road win of the season.

      Despite 13-for-33 shooting, Rose led the Bulls with 30 points. He also had seven assists but committed 11 turnovers. Power forward Pau Gasol added 18 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago, and center Joakim Noah had 18 points and 15 boards.

      Golden State played without center Andrew Bogut, who was a late scratch because of the flu. Thompson's 30 points and 10 rebounds paced the Warriors, who were seeking their first season-series sweep of the Bulls since 2000-01.

      Heat 109, Bucks 102

      MIAMI -- Miami first lost shooting guard Dwyane Wade to a right hamstring injury in the third quarter, then lost the game to Milwaukee. The Bucks, who topped the Heat in bench points by a 54-15 margin, improved to 3-0 against Miami this season.

      The Bucks had seven scorers in double figures, led by guards Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton, each with 17 points. However, starting forward Ersan Ilyasova left the game in the first quarter due to an apparent lower-body injury. Ilyasova played 10 minutes and scored four points.

      The Heat were led by forward Chris Bosh with 26 points and guard Mario Chalmers with 21. Center Hassan Whiteside had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Danny Granger, who started in place of injured forward Luol Deng, added 14 points.

      Cavaliers 103, Pistons 95

      AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kyrie Irving tied his season high with 38 points, and Cleveland extended its winning streak to seven games with a victory over Detroit.

      Irving, who also had six assists and three steals, reached the 30-point mark for the seventh time this season. Cavaliers All-Star forward LeBron James supplied 32 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

      Point guard D.J. Augustin led the Pistons with 19 points and nine assists. Power forward Greg Monroe had 17 points and 12 rebounds, while reserve forward Anthony Tolliver tied his season-high with 16 points. Center Andre Drummond chipped in 12 points, 17 rebounds and a season-high six blocks.

      Grizzlies 109, Mavericks 90

      DALLAS -- Power forward Zach Randolph scored 22 points, and All-Star center Marc Gasol added 15 points as Memphis won without point guard Mike Conley (wrist) and swingman Tony Allen (ankle).

      The Grizzlies won for the eighth time in nine games since Randolph's return from injury, with the lone setback being against Dallas last week. Randolph grabbed 10 rebounds for his 26th double-double and made 10 of 15 shots, including several confidence-draining jumpers as Dallas was trying to rally in the second half.

      The Mavericks were paced by 19 points apiece from forward Chandler Parsons and guard Monta Ellis. Power forward Dirk Nowitzki struggled, scoring just 11 in 28 minutes.

      Wizards 98, Lakers 92

      LOS ANGELES -- Point guard John Wall had 21 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, leading Washington past Los Angeles.

      Guard Bradley Beal scored 19 points for the Wizards, who won their second straight. Washington prevailed without starting forward Paul Pierce, who missed the game due to a sore right big toe.

      Guard Wayne Ellington scored a career-high 28 points for the Lakers, who dropped their eighth consecutive contest. Point guard Jordan Clarkson also achieved a career best in scoring, finishing with 18 points. The Lakers played without guard Nick Young, who sprained his right ankle in practice Monday.

      Raptors 104, Pacers 91

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlantic Division leader Toronto continues to beat sub-.500 opponents, using strong play during the final three quarters to defeat Indiana.

      Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan had 24 points, and guard Kyle Lowry added 19. Toronto improved to 21-4 against teams with losing records, which includes the Pacers.

      Guard Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 22 points, and forward Solomon Hill had 15.

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Randolph carries Grizzlies over Mavericks
    By The Sports Xchange

    DALLAS -- Big numbers from power forward Zach Randolph usually mean good things for the Grizzlies. Tuesday night against Southwest divisional rival Dallas was no exception.

    • Randolph scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, as Memphis overcame the absence of two starters to roll over the Mavericks 109-90 at American Airlines Center.

      All-Star center Marc Gasol added 15 points for the Grizzlies, who were without point guard Mike Conley and small forward Tony Allen. Memphis is 11-1 this season when Randolph scores at least 20 points and 22-4 when he records a double-double.

      "You can't say enough about what Zach got going in the second half, but I thought we were sharp," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "For coming off the second game of a back-to-back, I thought we played with a lot of force and we forced 14 turnovers in the first half."

      "They had some uncharacteristic turnovers, too. I kind of feel like they had an off night, but I thought we played really hard and I was very impressed."

      Midwest Division-leading Memphis (33-12) has won eight of nine games since Randolph's return from injury, with the lone setback being against Dallas last week.

      "They came in and got a win against us and left a sour taste in our mouth," Randolph said. "We wanted to come here and play good. Just get off to a fast start and compete and that's what we did."

      The Mavericks (30-16) weren't nearly as sharp this time out. Dallas, which started the day sixth in the Western Conference, has dropped three in a row. The Mavs also trail the season series with Memphis 2-1.

      Dallas coach Rick Carlisle had an explanation for the recent skid.

      "Right now, our inability to sustain a high level of full-capacity basketball is our nemesis," he said. "We got off to a great start tonight. We had great intensity in the game. Then we had a couple of turnovers late in the first quarter. We should have come out of that with at least a four- or six-point lead and it's tied."

      "It took some of the air out of us. Then their second unit stepped up and they played great and we struggled. You've got to give them a lot of credit. They stepped up their game in a big way and we just were poor tonight."

      Randolph made 10 of 15 shots, including several confidence-draining jumpers as Dallas was trying to rally in the second half.

      Memphis shooting guard Courtney Lee and reserve guard Nick Calathes each scored 13. Small forward Vince Carter chipped in with 12 points off the bench against his old team. The Grizzlies shot 53.2 percent.

      The Mavericks were paced by 19 points apiece from forward Chandler Parsons and guard Monta Ellis. Power forward Dirk Nowitzki struggled, scoring just 11 in 28 minutes. Center Tyson Chandler had 10 points and only five rebounds.

      "We definitely understand that we've got to come in, fix some things and make some adjustments," Chandler said. "This is the first time we've lost three games in a row this season and we're heading into a tough road trip. These games are very important."

      The bench came up big for the Grizzlies during a second-quarter surge which gave Memphis a lead it wouldn't surrender for the reminder of the night. Led by Calathes and Carter, the backups not only turned up the aggressiveness, but took advantage of Dallas' carelessness with the ball.

      The Grizzlies went into halftime up 54-44, having outscored Dallas' reserves 26-6. The Mavericks were outshooting the visitors at the break, but 14 turnovers led to 17 Memphis points.

      Parsons started the game red hot by knocking down his first four shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, for 10 of the Mavericks' first 14 points.

      The Mavs led throughout the opening quarter, but Calathes scored four points in the final six seconds of the first to tie it at 24-all.

      NOTES: Dallas owner Mark Cuban said the All-Star voting system is "absolutely, positively broken." He called the low number of votes cast for this year's starters "embarrassing" for league with global appeal. ... Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki was disappointed to learn that Lakers G Kobe Bryant was undergoing season-ending surgery. "It's tough, but he's a fighter," Nowitzki said. "He'll probably be back from that as well."... Memphis G Mike Conley (wrist) and G Tony Allen (ankle) were both out. ... Every Dallas matchup with Houston this season is the second half of a back-to-back, including Wednesday night on the road. "It's a bad break," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Reserves help Bucks beat Heat
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. sat across the court from each other Tuesday night.

    • The superstar boxers -- who have never met in the ring despite fans clamoring for years for this matchup -- are reportedly trying to set up a bout for May.

      But while Pacquiao and Mayweather added glitz to the crowd, the main event -- on this night at least -- was the Milwaukee Bucks defeating the Miami Heat 109-102 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

      Mayweather sat right next to the Heat bench -- unbeknownst to Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.

      "I met with Manny before the game -- I knew he was in town," Spoelstra said. "But I was totally shocked that Floyd was there. I heard his voice, I did a double take, and he was right behind me."

      In keeping with the night's boxing theme, the Heat took a body blow when star shooting guard Dwyane Wade left the game in the third quarter due to a right hamstring injury.

      He did not return.

      It is the third hamstring injury Wade has suffered this season. The first one was a left hamstring pull, which cost him seven games in November. The second one, also to the left side, sidelined him for two games earlier this month.

      The presence of Pacquiao and Mayweather and the injury to Wade overshadowed a strong effort by the Bucks' bench, which outscored the Heat reserves 54-13.

      Seven Bucks players scored in double figures, led by starting guards Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton, who had 17 points each. Reserve guard Jerryd Bayless scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to put Miami away.

      "We have a lot of veterans on our bench -- guys who have been (in the NBA) five, six, seven years," said reserve forward Jared Dudley, who is in his eighth year in the league.

      "We have guys like myself and (guard) O.J. Mayo who are on our second (contracts). No one is thirsty to get a contract. We are secure in ourselves, and you can see on the court that we will give up a good shot to get a great one."

      That unselfishness resulted in 25 assists, five more than the Heat. It also led to Milwaukee shooting 54.9 percent for the game, including 9 of 16 on 3-pointers (56.3 percent).

      Milwaukee outshot the Heat across the board -- field goals, 3-pointers and free throws -- and outscored Miami on fast-break points 10-5.

      The Bucks (23-22) have now won all three games against Miami (20-25) this season, which is important as the teams battle for playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

      "When you look at the teams that are behind us, chasing us, people are trying to get into the playoffs," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "We were up to the challenge."

      A win would have given the Heat its first three-game win streak since starting the season 3-0.

      Instead, the Heat lost despite strong play by forward Chris Bosh (a game-high 26 points) and guard Mario Chalmers (21 points). Danny Granger, who started in place of injured forward Luol Deng, added 14 points and became the 75th NBA player to make 1,000 3-pointers for his career.

      Miami center Hassan Whiteside, coming off a triple-double of 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks in his previous game, was not up to those high standards but was still solid. He had 16 points and 16 rebounds.

      Milwaukee led 30-29 in a hot-shooting first quarter. The Bucks shot 55 percent, including four of five on 3-pointers. Miami shot 70.6 percent, including three of five on 3-pointers.

      Bucks starting forward Ersan Ilyasova left the game in the first quarter due to a groin injury and did not return. He played 10 minutes and scored four points.

      There were 12 lead changes through the first three quarters, and the teams headed into the fourth tied 82-82.

      Miami was still alive, trailing 95-91 with 6:31 left in the game, when Bayless took over, scoring seven straight points to put Milwaukee up 102-91. Bayless hit a three-pointer and two jumpers during that span.

      "He was like (Lakers star) Kobe (Bryant), shooting fade-aways, knocking them down," Dudley said of Bayless. "It's been different guys on different nights -- that's been our motto."

      NOTES: Miami was without F Luol Deng (left calf) and C Chris Andersen (back, left elbow) after both were hurt on Sunday vs. Chicago. Deng has missed four games this season. Andersen has missed 16. ... The Bucks, who won a franchise-low 15 games last season, have exceeded expectations under new coach Jason Kidd. The Bucks have stayed in contention despite the season-ending knee injury suffered by F Jabari Parker, the second pick in the 2014 draft. Also out for the year are PG Kendall Marshall (knee) and rookie F Damien Inglis (ankle). ... Bucks C Larry Sanders, who has already missed 18 games this season, will have to miss at least five more games due to a suspension, reportedly for violating the NBA's drug policy as a repeat offender. ... Up next, Miami plays host to Dallas on Friday. ... Milwaukee plays at Orlando on Thursday

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Irving scores 38 as Cavaliers win seventh straight
    By The Sports Xchange

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Guard Kyrie Irving keeps strengthening his case for an All-Star berth while the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to enhance their reputation as an Eastern Conference power.

    • Irving tied his season high with 38 points and the Cavs extended their winning streak to seven games with a 103-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday at The Palace.

      Irving, who also had six assists and three steals, reached the 30-point mark for the seventh time this season.

      Cleveland coach David Blatt can't imagine his peers passing over Irving, the team's fourth-year point guard, as an All-Star reserve for next month's game in New York.

      "He's an All-Star player," Blatt said. "I sure hope he's there because he sure deserves it."

      Irving scored 16 fourth-quarter points to put away the pesky Pistons, who lost their third straight.

      "Just trying to take quality shots," said Irving, who was 13 for 23 from the field, including 6 for 10 on 3-point attempts, and 6 for 6 from the free throw line. "Having the luxury of having other great players with you opens up the floor for everyone. You've just got to be ready to knock down jump shots and be willing to make plays for anybody and everybody else."

      All-Star forward LeBron James supplied 32 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Cavs (26-20). Irving and James also hit the 30-point mark together against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 16.

      James gave his supporters a scare when he tumbled to the floor in the closing seconds of the third quarter and came up clutching his left wrist. He remained in the game and contributed 10 fourth-quarter points.

      "It was cause for worry," Blatt said. "If that's not the understatement of the year, I don't know what is."

      Point guard D.J. Augustin led the Pistons (17-29) with 19 points and nine assists. Power forward Greg Monroe had 17 points and 12 rebounds while reserve forward Anthony Tolliver tied his season high with 16 points. Center Andre Drummond chipped in 12 points, 17 rebounds and a season-high six blocks.

      Detroit was playing its second game without starting point guard Brandon Jennings, who suffered a season-ending, ruptured Achilles tendon injury at Milwaukee on Saturday.

      The Pistons were hampered by committing 18 turnovers and getting out-rebounded through the first three quarters, when Cleveland built a double-digit lead.

      "I don't think they're looking for any excuses," Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I don't think they're making any excuses. I don't think they have any lack of confidence in their ability to win. (Just) take care of the ball and rebound."

      Augustin's inability to contain Irving also played a big part.

      "He's a great player," Augustin said. "We knew coming into the game we had to stop him and LeBron, and I don't think we did a great job of that. Our effort was there, but like I said they're two great players."

      James and Irving combined for 30 first-half points as the Cavs took a 47-39 halftime lead.

      Cleveland's lead mushroomed to 14 midway through the third behind a 9-0 run. Power forward Kevin Love hit an open 3-pointer during that stretch and center Timofey Mozgov finished it off with a jump hook to make 67-53. Irving nudged the advantage to 15 at 73-58 with a three.

      James fed Irving for another three to start the fourth quarter to make it 78-64, then dunked a couple minutes later off an Irving steal for an 80-68 lead.

      The Pistons couldn't get closer than six the remainder of the game, as Irving never cooled off.

      "He's going to have nights when he's not at his best but if you look at his body of work pretty much from the get-go, you've seen a pretty good year out of one of the premier point guards in the NBA," Blatt said.

      NOTES: Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said the team would add another point guard to help replace starter Brandon Jennings, who is out for the season after undergoing surgery on Monday to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He's not planning on making a major move. "To go out and get a guy who would be a huge difference-maker, you'd probably have to give up something that would hurt you down the road," he said. "We're not in panic mode." ... Cleveland averaged 114.3 points on 49.2 percent shooting from the field while winning its previous six games. ... The Cavs began a stretch of four games in five nights that continues with a home game against Portland on Wednesday. ... Detroit PF Greg Monroe was averaging 16.5 points and 12.9 rebounds over the past 14 games. ... Cleveland won three of the last four meetings.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Wade leaves game with hamstring injury
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI - Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade left Tuesday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks midway through the third quarter after he suffered a strained right hamstring.

    • Wade, who did not return after the injury, finished with 12 points.

      This is the third time Wade, 33, has had a hamstring injury this season. He missed seven games in November with a left hamstring injury and then missed two more games earlier this month with the same injury.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Raptors 104, Pacers 91
    By The Sports Xchange

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The Atlantic Division-leading the Toronto Raptors continue to beat sub-.500 opponents, using strong play during the final three quarters to defeat the Indiana Pacers 104-91 Tuesday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

    • Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan had 24 points, and guard Kyle Lowry added 19. Toronto (30-15) improved to 21-4 against teams with losing records, which includes the Pacers (16-31).

      Guard Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 22 points, and forward Solomon Hill had 15.

      A 3-pointer from forward Patrick Patterson with 9:04 remaining gave the Raptors an 87-73 lead. A putback by forward Terrence Ross with 6:29 remaining pushed the Toronto advantage to 92-77.

      The Raptors took a 95-81 lead with 4:53 to play on a 3-pointer from guard Lou Williams.

      A pair of Lowry 3-pointers in a 20-second span gave Toronto a 64-53 lead with 5:37 left in the third quarter. Two free throws by Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas with 3:50 to play in the period extended the Raptors' advantage to 70-57.

      Forward Amir Johnson scored to give Toronto a 73-57 cushion late in the third quarter, prompting a quick timeout from Indiana coach Frank Vogel. The Pacers responded with an 11-4 burst to close the period and draw to within 77-68 with 12 minutes remaining.

      Thanks to a 20-0 second-quarter run, the Raptors managed a 50-44 halftime lead, led by DeRozan's 12 points.

      Indiana raced to an early 9-0 lead, then enjoyed a 32-21 second-quarter advantage before Toronto hit the Pacers was the 20-0 spurt to go ahead 41-32.

      A Stuckey jumper pulled Indiana into a 43-43 tie, but the Raptors outscored the Pacers 7-1 to close the half and lead by six through 24 minutes.

      Stuckey had 14 first-half points.

      The Raptors wound up shooting 46.6 percent from the floor, while the Pacers shot 41.5 percent.

      NOTES: Indiana was without G/F Paul George (fractured right leg) and G/F C.J. Miles (left groin strain). ... The game featured a coaching matchup between University of Kentucky products Dwane Casey of Toronto and Frank Vogel of Indiana. ... Only Atlanta and Washington entered Tuesday's action with more Eastern Conference victories than Toronto. Atlanta has 37, Washington has 30 and Toronto and Chicago each has 29. ... Raptors F Amir Johnson began the night tied for fourth in NBA field goal percentage at .575. ... Indiana C Roy Hibbert ranked seventh in blocked shots at 1.86 per game. ... Tuesday's game was the first in a five-game homestand for the Pacers. ... In the only previous meeting this season, the Raptors defeated the Pacers 106-94 on Dec. 12 in the Air Canada Centre. Toronto returns to Indianapolis for a March 16 game.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Four-man field set for dunk contest
    By The Sports Xchange

    The 2015 Slam Dunk contest during NBA All-Star weekend will return to a classic format when Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine, Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo and Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee compete for the title on Feb. 14.

    • The field was announced Tuesday by the NBA. All four participants will compete in the first round and the two top scorers advance to the final round.

      Also on the schedule for All-Star Saturday night will be the shooting stars, skills challenge and the three-point contest at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The 64th NBA All-Star Game is Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

      Antetokounmpo is in his second year in Milwaukee and the first Bucks player to appear in the slam dunk competition since Ray Allen in 1997. No Bucks or international player has won the title.

      Oladipo, the NBA Rookie of the Year runner-up last season, is averaging 16.5 points per game in his second year with the Magic.

      Plumlee will try to become the first Nets player to win the slam dunk competition and just the fourth in his home arena, joining Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (1988), Isaiah Rider of the Minnesota Timberwolves (1994) and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers (2011). Plumlee is averaging 10.4 points and 6.7 rebounds for Brooklyn this season.

      LaVine, the only NBA rookie in the field, could become at age 19 the second-youngest winner since Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers took the title when he was 18 in 1997 in Cleveland.

      Last year, the NBA used a team format in the dunk contest and the Eastern Conference trio of Paul George, Terrence Ross and John Wall claimed the title, with Wall named the dunker of the night. Ross was the individual winner in 2013.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    NBA notebook: Barnes fined $25,000, blames Suns owner
    By The Sports Xchange

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for inappropriate language toward a fan and then turned to Twitter to vent.

    • Barnes blamed Suns owner Robert Sarver for the incident that took place with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter of the Clippers' 120-100 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at US Airways Center in Phoenix. Barnes finished the game with four points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.

      "Another 25k! The part of the story the nba hasn't told you was my language wasnt directed at a fan, I was talkn to the owner of the Suns.... Who was sitting on the baseline & I only said something to him AFTER he cussed at me, BUT because I didn't SNITCH I get fined!! #thecode

      "I've been fined 50k in the last mnth for kicking a "PAPER"Gatorade cup that had alil bit of water in it that didn't even hit anyone &.... Responding to an OWNER who cussed at me first.. 50,000 dollars for that?? Come on now!"

      --Golden State's dynamic duo backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson head the list of players who will participate in this year's 3-point contest during next month's All-Star Weekend.

      Yahoo! Sports also reported that Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver and Portland Trail Blazer guard Wesley Matthews also will participate.

      Washington guard Bradley Beal, Houston guard James Harden and Trail Blazer guard Damian Lillard are among the players who might fill the final spot in the contest.

      --Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings underwent surgery in New York on a ruptured left Achilles tendon.

      The team said in an announcement that the repair performed at the Hospital for Special surgery by Dr. Martin O'Malley was successful.

      There is no timetable on when Jennings will be able to return

      --Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker unveiled a plan that would help fund a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Nearly $220 million of the projected $500 needed for the downtown Milwaukee facility would be funded by projected growth in income taxes from NBA players.

      The Bucks' new owners have pledged about $150 million toward the costs of the new arena. Former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has promised $100 million of his own money toward the project.

      The Bucks could leave Milwaukee in 2017 if there is no new arena.

      --The Cavaliers assigned guard Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers NBA Development League team.

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

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Clippers' Barnes fined again
    By The Sports Xchange

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for inappropriate language toward a fan and then turned to Twitter to vent.

    • Barnes blamed Suns owner Robert Sarver for the incident that took place with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter of the Clippers' 120-100 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at US Airways Center in Phoenix. Barnes finished the game with four points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.

      "Another 25k! The part of the story the nba hasn't told you was my language wasnt directed at a fan, I was talkn to the owner of the Suns.... Who was sitting on the baseline & I only said something to him AFTER he cussed at me, BUT because I didn't SNITCH I get fined!! #thecode

      "I've been fined 50k in the last mnth for kicking a "PAPER"Gatorade cup that had alil bit of water in it that didn't even hit anyone &.... Responding to an OWNER who cussed at me first.. 50,000 dollars for that?? Come on now!"

      Barnes has a history of drawing fines for his behavior on the court. In December, he was reprimanded by the league and docked $25,000 for throwing a water bottle and directing profane language at fans during a game against the Washington Wizards.

      The 34-year-old Barnes is averaging 9.8 points per game this season.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Pistons' Jennings has Achilles surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings underwent surgery Tuesday in New York on a ruptured left Achilles tendon.

    • The team said in an announcement that the repair performed at the Hospital for Special surgery by Dr. Martin O'Malley was successful.

      There is no timetable on when Jennings will be able to return.

      In 41 games this season, the 6-foot-1 Jennings averaged 15.4 points, 6.6 assists and 1.07 steals in 28.6 minutes.

      The injury happened during an inbounds play with 1:03 left in the third quarter of a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Jennings was guarding Bucks point guard Brandon Knight and was planting his left foot when he fell to the floor.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Wisconsin governor unveils plan to help finance arena
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker unveiled a plan Tuesday that would help fund a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Nearly $220 million of the projected $500 needed for the downtown Milwaukee facility would be funded by projected growth in income taxes from NBA players.

    • The Bucks' new owners have pledged about $150 million toward the costs of the new arena. Former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has promised $100 million of his own money toward the project.

      The Bucks have been playing in the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which was built in 1998.

      Walker says his plan protects taxpayers while ensuring the team stays in Milwaukee.

      The Bucks could leave Milwaukee in 2017 if there is no new arena -- a move that would cost the state nearly $10 million per year in income tax collections alone, Walker said.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Cavs assign G Harris to Charge
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday assigned guard Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers NBA Development League team.

    • Harris has played in two games for the Charge this season, averaging 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 39.5 minutes per game.

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

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Curry, Thompson to face off in 3-point contest
    By The Sports Xchange

    Golden State's dynamic duo backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson head the list of players who will participate in this year's 3-point contest during next month's All-Star Weekend.

    • Yahoo! Sports also reported that Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver and Portland Trail Blazer guard Wesley Matthews also will participate.

      "It's something that I've always wanted to participate in at least once in my career," Redick told ESPN Monday night. "I don't know if I've been in the conversation but I'm just excited and honored to be a part of All-Star Weekend."

      Washington guard Bradley Beal, Houston guard James Harden and Trail Blazer guard Damian Lillard are among the players who might fill the final spot in the contest.

      Korver leads the league in 3-point shooting at 53 percent while Matthews has made the most (138) as of Tuesday morning.

      All-Star Weekend is scheduled for Feb. 13-15.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Crawford's late spree lifts Clippers past Nuggets
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- With guard Jamal Crawford scoring 21 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers rallied past the reeling Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

    • Crawford's clutch performance allowed the Clippers to capture their fifth straight victory, a 102-98 decision at Staples Center.

      Crawford connected on five of eight field goals, three of five 3-pointers and eight of nine free throws in the final period, helping the Clippers wipe out a 10-point deficit. All of this occurred after he went scoreless in the first half, then missed five of six shots in the third quarter.

      "When I was struggling, my teammates and my coaching staff just told me to keep being aggressive and, 'We believe in you,'" said Crawford, who finished 6-for-14 from the floor overall, 3-for-7 on 3-pointers. "When you have coaches and teammates like that, it makes the game easier."

      Forward Matt Barnes was one of those encouraging Crawford.

      "I told him that he was a little out of it in the first three quarters and that he did not get many touches," said Barnes, who had 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and hit a pair of 3-pointers. "He is an amazing scorer, and it only takes one shot to get going."

      Point guard Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists, and forward Blake Griffin just missed a triple-double with 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the Clippers (31-14).

      Point guard Ty Lawson scored 19 points and handed out 11 assists, while forward Wilson Chandler and guard Arron Afflalo each scored 18 for the Nuggets (18-27), who lost their seventh in a row.

      "We have to have a killer instinct a little bit," said Affalo, who added six assists and three steals. "We jumped on them in the first half. They made some plays down the stretch."

      After trailing by 10 early in the final period, the Clippers rallied and tied the score at 92 on a 3-pointer by Crawford with 3:10 left. Crawford followed with another bucket for a 94-92 lead, but Afflalo answered with a jumper to knot the score again at 2:16.

      Barnes' layup gave Los Angeles the lead for good at 96-94 with 1:24 remaining. Three free throws by Crawford increased the advantage to 99-94 with 49 seconds left. Chandler hit a floater to cut the deficit to three with 35 seconds remaining, and Denver got two free throws by backup center Darrell Arthur to pull within one with 6.7 seconds left.

      Crawford hit a foul shot with 5.1 seconds left, missed the second, then secured his own rebound. He added two free throws to seal the win.

      "They just made basketball plays and we didn't," said Chandler, who scored 13 of his points in the first half. "They made the hustle plays, the game-winning plays, and we didn't basically."

      Crawford, though, made the biggest difference.

      "He was just being himself," Chandler said. "I played with him in New York, so I know he's a great scorer. He took shots and made them. He made some tough ones and got himself going."

      Denver, which led by as much as 16 in the first half, held a 41-28 advantage after a 3-point basket by guard Randy Foye midway through the second quarter. However, the Clippers launched a 22-6 run to close the half, capped by a reverse alley-oop dunk by center DeAndre Jordan, on a pass from Griffin, and a Griffin slam for a 50-47 lead at intermission.

      A basket inside by Barnes gave Los Angeles a 56-51 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Denver answered with an 11-0 surge for a five-point lead after a free throw by forward Kenneth Faried (14 points) with 6:27 left. The Nuggets increased the margin to 77-69 by the end of the third, outscoring the Clippers 30-19 in the quarter.

      NOTES: Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers says he is "softening" and reconsidering his opposition to a ban on intentional fouls. Clippers C DeAndre Jordan has been a frequent target because of his notoriously poor foul shooting. "I've been back and forth on it," Rivers said. "But I get (the strategy of it). Maybe we should change it." Jordan, a 41 percent foul shooter, went 5-for-5 after being intentionally fouled in Sunday's win over the Phoenix Suns. He made his only free throw Monday. ... The Clippers embark on a nine-game road trip beginning Wednesday at Utah. They won't play a home game until Feb. 11, when they host the Houston Rockets. ... The Nuggets visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Prince pushes Celtics past Jazz
    By The Sports Xchange

    SALT LAKE CITY -- Despite what some might believe, NBA veteran Tayshaun Prince still has a pulse.

    • Even his new coach admitted it is hard to see sometimes, but it is there.

      Prince helped revive his team's pulse, too.

      The 34-year-old forward scored 19 points, and the Boston Celtics won for the third time in four games Monday, posting a 99-90 victory over the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.

      "He knows what's going on. He's lived it all," Boston coach Brad Stevens said of Prince, a 13-year veteran. "A team's got you down by 20 in a quarter, it doesn't look like his pulse is moving. You go up by 20 in a quarter, it doesn't look like his pulse is moving. He's just playing. He's just playing the right way."

      Prince, who was picked up by the Celtics in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies two weeks ago, had a big first half off the bench to help Boston build a 24-point lead that proved large enough.

      Center Tyler Zeller scored 14 points in a reserve role, while guard Avery Bradley and forward Jared Sullinger, two starters, each pitched in 12 points.

      Boston, which ends its six-game road trip Wednesday in Minnesota, improved to 16-27 overall, 3-2 on its current Western trek.

      "Our older guys really made a lot of savvy basketball plays, and I thought our younger guys all played well," Stevens said. "We made some shots and got going, so it's nice to play that way."

      Utah small forward Gordon Hayward scored 26 points and grabbed six rebounds, but the Jazz couldn't overcome a devastating 31-point first half.

      Utah fell to 16-29 after winning its previous two games, including its biggest win of the season in terms of margin, 108-73 over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

      "We didn't play hard. It's a little more complicated than that," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We played soft as much as anything. There was nothing we did with any force."

      The Celtics dominated the first half despite playing the night after a 114-111 loss at Golden State.

      Boston exploded in the second quarter, turning a tie game after one quarter into a huge halftime lead by scoring 38 points on 60 percent shooting.

      Prince scored 12 of his points in the first half, and Bradley added 10 points before the break to help put Boston up 55-31.

      The Jazz only made 13 of 36 shots (36.1 percent) in that opening half.

      "We didn't come out mentally the way we needed to. Not just the guys on the court, the guys on the bench, too," said Jazz point guard Trey Burke, who scored 18 points in his third game as a backup. "We weren't into it. We didn't have the energy we needed to come out and win this game."

      Utah, which was hoping to get its first three-game winning streak since last February, made it interesting in the third quarter.

      Hayward scored 13 points in the period and the Jazz stormed back, cutting the Celtics' 24-point lead down to five going into the fourth quarter.

      "I think we just realized we could play a lot better and be more aggressive on both ends," Hayward said. "Coach didn't yell at us or anything (at halftime). It was more internal. We can't let them bully us. That's not who we are. We came out a little too cool in the first half."

      Boston took advantage of Hayward being on the bench to begin the final period. The Celtics scored eight straight points to re-establish a double-digit lead.

      Rookie guard Marcus Smart's putback dunk with 47.7 seconds remaining all but clinched the win for Boston, giving the Celtics a 93-85 lead.

      NOTES: Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if Jazz SF Gordon Hayward, who played for him at Butler, is underrated in the NBA. Stevens replied, "It's hard to say with the money he earns that he's underrated. Until he pays for his dinner the next time, that's what I'll say." ... Hayward, who is having an All-Star-like season, said he and other Jazz players will get more recognition with more wins. "I see myself as one of the elite players in the league," he said. "Whether you're popular or not, to me, doesn't matter." ... The Jazz signed 27-year-old rookie G Elijah Millsap for the rest of the season and for two additional years with a nonguaranteed contract. Millsap was signed to two 10-day contracts after being called up from the NBA Development League. ... Boston F Shavlik Randolph did not play because of a strained left hamstring.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    NBA roundup: Randolph's double-double leads Memphis
    By The Sports Xchange

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol combined for 40 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Orlando Magic 103-94 Monday night at FedExForum.

    • Randolph notched his ninth consecutive double-double with a game-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Gasol finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Reserve point guard Beno Udrih added 15 points, five assists and four steals.

      Memphis (32-12) swept the season series 2-0 from the Magic and earned its eighth consecutive victory over the Magic. The Grizzlies' last loss to Orlando was in November 2010.

      The Magic (15-33) dropped their sixth straight. The streak started with the Grizzlies' win at Orlando on Jan. 16.

      Pelicans 99, 76ers 74

      NEW ORLEANS -- Forward Anthony Davis scored a game-high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds -- the 26th double-double of the season -- to power New Orleans to a victory over Philadelphia at the Smoothie King Center.

      It was the 12th time this season Davis has scored at least 30 points, and his 12-of-19 shooting sparked the Pelicans (24-21) to their season-high fourth consecutive win. Davis, who sat the entire fourth quarter, also had four blocks and three steals.

      The win marked the first time the Pelicans have been three games above .500 since the 2010-11 season. The 76ers (8-37), who beat New Orleans 96-81 at home on Jan. 16 while Davis was sidelined with a sore toe, lost for the 10th time in 11 road games. The 76ers were paced by reserve guard K.J. McDaniels with 16 points.

      Thunder 92, Timberwolves 84

      OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 18 points, and Serge Ibaka grabbed 19 rebounds to lead Oklahoma City to a victory over Minnesota at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

      The Thunder (23-22) ended a two-game losing streak despite playing without injured forward Kevin Durant. The Wolves (7-37) lost their fifth game in a row.

      With 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, Minnesota guard Andrew Wiggins drained two free throws to cut the Thunder's lead to seven. However, Westbrook came back and knocked down a shot high off the backboard.

      Celtics 99, Jazz 90

      SALT LAKE CITY -- Forward Tayshaun Prince scored 19 points and Boston won for the third time in four games with a victory over Utah at EnergySolutions Arena.

      The 34-year-old Prince, who was picked up by the Celtics in a trade with Memphis two weeks ago, had a big first half off the bench to help Boston build a 24-point lead that proved big enough.

      Center Tyler Zeller scored 14 points in a reserve role, while starters Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger each pitched in 12 points.

      Boston, which ends its six-game road trip Wednesday in Minnesota, improved to 16-27 and 3-2 on this Western trek.

      Clippers 102, Nuggets 98

      LOS ANGELES -- Guard Jamal Crawford scored all 23 of his points in the second half, and Los Angeles captured its fifth straight victory, defeating Denver at Staples Center.

      Forward Matt Barnes finished with 18 points, point guard Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists and forward Blake Griffin added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers (31-14).

      Point guard Ty Lawson scored 19 points and handed out 11 assists, while forward Wilson Chandler and guard Arron Afflalo each scored 18 for the Nuggets (18-27), who lost their seventh in a row.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Clippers 102, Nuggets 98
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Guard Jamal Crawford scored all 23 of his points in the second half, and the Los Angeles Clippers captured their fifth straight victory with a 102-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night at Staples Center.

    • Forward Matt Barnes finished with 18 points, point guard Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists and forward Blake Griffin added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers (31-14).

      Point guard Ty Lawson scored 19 points and handed out 11 assists, while forward Wilson Chandler and guard Arron Afflalo each scored 18 for the Nuggets (18-27), who lost their seventh in a row.

      After trailing by 10 early in the final period, the Clippers rallied and tied the score at 92 on a 3-pointer by Crawford with 3:10 left. Crawford followed with another bucket for a 94-92 lead, but Afflalo answered with a jumper to knot the score again at 2:16.

      Barnes' layup gave Los Angeles the lead for good at 96-94 with 1:24 remaining. Three free throws by Crawford increased the advantage to 99-94 with 49 seconds left. Chandler hit a floater to cut the deficit to three with 35 seconds remaining, and got two free throws by backup center Darrell Arthur to pull within one with 6.7 seconds left.

      Crawford, though, hit a foul shot with 5.1 seconds left, missed the second, but secured his own rebound. He added two free throws to seal the win.

      Denver, which led by as much as 16 in the first half, held a 41-28 advantage after a 3-point basket by guard Randy Foye midway through the second quarter. However, the Clippers launched a 22-6 run to close the half, capped by a reverse alley-oop dunk by center DeAndre Jordan, on a pass from Griffin, and a Griffin slam for a 50-47 lead at intermission.

      A basket inside by Barnes gave Los Angeles a 56-51 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but Denver answered with an 11-0 surge for a five-point lead after a free throw by forward Kenneth Faried, who finished with 14 points, with 6:27 left. The Nuggets increased the margin to 77-69 by the end of the third, outscoring the Clippers 30-19 in the quarter.

      The Nuggets got rolling in the first quarter behind Chandler's 13 points. He nailed three of Denver's first-quarter treys and boosted it to a 31-20 cushion at the end of the period.

      NOTES: Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers says he is "softening" and reconsidering his opposition to a ban on intentional fouls. Clippers C DeAndre Jordan has been a frequent target because of his notoriously poor foul shooting. "I've been back and forth on it," Rivers said. "But I get (the strategy of it). Maybe we should change it." Jordan, a 41 percent shooter at the line before Monday's game, went 5-for-5 after being intentionally fouled in Sunday's win over the Phoenix Suns. He converted eight of 15 overall. ... The Clippers embark on a nine-game road trip beginning Wednesday at Utah. They won't play a home game until Feb. 11 when they host the Houston Rockets. ... The Nuggets visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Minus Durant, Thunder ends skid with win over Timberwolves
    By The Sports Xchange

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- When Oklahoma City announced 30 minutes before tip-off that forward Kevin Durant would not be playing, the expectations for a scoring fest went out the window. However, neither the Thunder coaches or players realized how much trouble they would have putting the ball through the hoop when they faced a struggling Minnesota Timberwolves squad.

    • Russell Westbrook scored 18 points, and Serge Ibaka grabbed 19 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a 92-84 victory over the Timberwolves on Monday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

      "I thought there was a peach basket out there for a second," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "It wasn't a good start. But one thing I love about the guys, that we continue to fight, scrap and find ways to get stops. That's what we did. We turned it into a straight defensive game."

      The Thunder (23-22) ended a two-game losing streak despite playing without an injured Durant. The Wolves (7-37) lost their fifth game in a row.

      "We executed and ran our stuff," Timberwolves forward Thaddeus Young said. "We just didn't make our shots at certain parts of the game. This is a game of runs and whoever makes the most runs is going to win the game."

      With 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, Minnesota guard Andrew Wiggins drained two free throws to cut the Thunder's lead to seven. However, Westbrook came back and knocked down a shot high off the backboard.

      Young sank a corner jumper for the Wolves, once again Westbrook had the answer. He scored three consecutive points to push Oklahoma City's advantage to 10 with 3:40 left in the game.

      Minnesota guard Mo Williams and Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson exchanged back-to-back 3-pointers before Wiggins hit one of two from the free-throw line.

      The backbreaker for the Timberwolves may have come when Oklahoma City guard Anthony Morrow hit a 3-pointer from the corner. Two trips later, Westbrook banked in a jumper, and the Thunder emptied their bench.

      "We are moving the ball well," Westbrook said. "Getting good shots. Defensively, we're locked in. I think that's the big thing for us."

      Wiggins led all scorers with 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Young added 22 points, while Wolves forward Gorgui Dieng pulled down 18 rebounds.

      Ibaka scored 13 points to go along with his work on the boards. Morrow and Jackson each came off the bench to post 14 points.

      As a team, the Thunder shot 4-of-20 from 3-point range and only 66 percent from the free-throw line.

      "You have to be able to win games like that,' Brooks said. "It's not an easy game."

      After playing a total of seven minutes in Oklahoma City's previous five games, forward Perry Jones got the start in place of Durant. He finished with six points and three rebounds.

      Wiggins drew the defensive assignment of guarding Westbrook in the opening quarter and held the explosive guard to four points.

      "I think I did pretty good," Wiggins said. "He's a hard player to guard. He missed shots that he usually makes. I just tried to make it rough on him."

      The Wolves had no answer for Ibaka, as the forward poured in eight points and grabbed five rebounds, guiding the Thunder to a 25-19 lead after the first period.

      After Oklahoma City built a 15-point advantage, Minnesota was able to whittle it down to eight at halftime behind Wiggins and Young. Minnesota kept feeding Young in the third quarter, and he scored 10 to get his team to within four.

      Waiters, Jackson and Morrow spurred the Oklahoma City bench and pushed the margin to nine heading into the fourth quarter.

      "They did a good job of playing together," Westbrook said of the reserves. "Kept the pace high, got to the line and scored in transition."

      NOTES: Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant was inactive due to a sprained left big toe. He was hurt Sunday in the Thunder's loss to Cleveland. Monday was the 23rd game this season Durant missed due to injury. ... Minnesota F Robbie Hummel sat out Monday after breaking his hand Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks. "I don't even know. I have to look at the play because it happened so fast," Hummel said. ... Despite not having a single player ranked in the top 30 in rebounding, Oklahoma City leads the lead at 46.5 boards per game. F Serge Ibaka and C Steven Adams lead the team at 7.3 per game. ... Even though Thunder F Kevin Durant and G Russell Westbrook weren't selected to start in the upcoming All-Star Game, Minnesota coach Flip Saunders had a message for them. "We have to let those guys know that when I voted for the All-Stars, they were the No. 1 guy at each position," Saunders said.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Randolph, Grizzlies overpower Magic
    By The Sports Xchange

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Zach Randolph knew. When it was mentioned that he flirted with a triple-double -- 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists -- the Memphis Grizzlies power forward nodded a little and laughed a lot.

    • "Just playing, man, feeling good," he said.

      Since he returned from a right knee injury, Randolph has nine consecutive double-doubles. As the Grizzlies defeated the Orlando Magic 103-94 Monday night at FedExForum, Randolph recorded his 14th in his last 15 games. As always, he did his work with a unique mix of muscle and deception, and little to no elevation. Although he did manage to dunk once.

      At age 33, he was supposed to be slowing down. Although he twice made the NBA All-Star Game with Memphis (in the 2009-10 and 2012-13 seasons), he believes his game is the most complete it has ever been.

      "All around, yes," Randolph said. "Especially on defense. I'm still in my prime."

      Point guard Mike Conley, who didn't play in the fourth quarter after spraining his left wrist, said of Randolph: "He might play till he's 40."

      No doubt, life is made easier playing next to center Marc Gasol, who will start this season's All-Star Game for the Western Conference. Gasol also had a double-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Reserve point guard Beno Udrih added 15 points, five assists and four steals.

      Memphis (32-12) swept the season series 2-0 from the Magic and earned its eighth consecutive victory over the Magic. The Grizzlies' last loss to Orlando was in November 2010.

      Orlando (15-33) dropped its sixth straight game overall.

      The Magic got within 81-69 when guard Victor Oladipo (18 points) made a tip-in with 3:43 to go in the third quarter. Memphis led 89-73 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Magic cut the advantage to nine points twice, but not until there was less than 1:10 left in the game.

      Memphis put up its season scoring high for a half and led 67-48 at the break. Randolph scored 18 points in the first half.

      "He got going early, even played 15 minutes straight and still got mad when I took him out," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.

      The Magic outscored Memphis 46-36 in the second half, but the outcome was never in doubt. Still, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn found encouragement from the second-half defensive effort.

      "I'm a pretty simple guy," he said. "I'm just asking them to play together and to play hard. Twenty-two points in the third and a 14-point fourth quarter (for the opponent) -- that'll give you a chance to win games and compete. It's a willingness to get dirty, playing together and not mind getting hit. Have confrontation and be OK with it and be scrappy."

      The Grizzlies made 36 of 76 shots, 47.4 percent. The Magic hit on 37 of 78 shots, 47.4 percent. Orlando recorded just 14 assists, while Memphis had 25.

      Magic center Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and reserve center/forward Dewayne Dedmon finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Elfrid Payton chipped in 12 points with six assists.

      Dedmon was inactive the previous two games and didn't play in the game before that. He entered Monday averaging 11 minutes per game, but he saw 30 minutes of action off the bench against the Grizzlies.

      "It will never affect me," he said of not playing. "Of course, I want to play basketball, but I'll always be ready when my number is called."

      Vaughn started the second half with Dedmon on the floor instead of forward Channing Frye.

      "I wanted a different look," Vaughn said. "Dedmon's energy was very spirited, and overall he was aggressive in guarding the post. He just tried extremely hard, and I appreciate it."

      NOTES: Grizzlies G/F Tony Allen was inactive Monday because of a left ankle sprain sustained in Saturday's victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Allen's 2.0 steals per game rank third in the NBA. ... Memphis F Jeff Green scored in double figures for the sixth time in seven games since being acquired from the Boston Celtics. He scored 12 points Monday. ... C Nikola Vucevic entered the night leading the Magic with averages of 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn says Vucevic is benefitting from the threat posed by guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. "He's been a recipient of it -- whether off their penetration, him following the shots or getting deep post position," Vaughn said. ... The Grizzlies recalled rookie G Jordan Adams from their NBA Development League affiliate, the Iowa Energy.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Davis, Pelicans soar past 76ers
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW ORLEANS -- This is rarefied air for the New Orleans Pelicans, and they love the crisp, sweet aroma of it all.

    • In routing the Philadelphia 76ers 99-74 Monday night at the Smoothie King Center behind forward Anthony Davis' game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, the Pelicans posted their season-high fourth consecutive victory.

      New Orleans (24-21) moved three games above .500 for the first time since the 2010-11 season, Monty Williams' first as head coach.

      After hovering around .500 for the first half of the season -- winning one and losing one with maddening consistency -- they now seem to be hitting their stride.

      With the Pelicans recording two straight wins to open a season-high, six-game home stretch, Williams wants the team to be anything but satisfied.

      "I told our guys tonight that there's going to be a lot of discussion about streaks and playoff contention," Williams said. "Our goal is to play one game at a time. We're thankful for the win, thankful for the winning streak. I'd like a 20-game win streak. We're don't want to try to talk like we're San Antonio or Golden State. I'm not downplaying it. I'm just sticking to the course."

      Davis made five layups and five dunks in shooting 12-for-19 from the floor, and he recorded his 26th double-double of the season. It was the 12th time this season Davis scored at least 30 points, and he credited the Pelicans' guards, especially Tyreke Evans, who had 12 assists.

      "They definitely set me up and gave me the ball where I could score," Davis said. "That's all they care about, moving the ball. It doesn't matter who scores. Hitting me early is going to open the lane for them later in the game."

      The Pelicans had 28 assists on 39 made field goals.

      The 76ers, who beat New Orleans 96-81 at home on Jan. 16 while Davis was sidelined with a sore toe, lost for the 10th time in 11 road games. Reserve guard K.J. McDaniels led Philadelphia (8-37) with 16 points.

      Sixers coach Brett Brown said watching Davis up close was similar to watching a thoroughbred going through his paces. Davis scored 19 of his 32 points in the first half as New Orleans built a 52-43 lead.

      "He is a stud," Brown said. "He is just one of those rare cornerstones of a program that you can build around. I think Monty has done an excellent job of featuring him and finding ways to go to him, and the other players complement him. He is just one of the elite players in the league."

      Playing its second game in two nights, New Orleans led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter and coasted home. Forward Ryan Anderson had 19 points off the bench, and guard Eric Gordon added 13 points.

      "We really moved the ball well tonight," Anderson said. "Tyreke can really control the game, and Anthony, man, he just showed what he could do all over the floor. It was just a fun game to watch him. Our team's confidence is at an all-time high. It's just fun basketball."

      The Pelicans' dunk fest continued in the third quarter, with Davis pouring in 13 points and flashing his jumping ability. His right-hand bank shot and free throw started a 20-6 run that built the Pelicans' lead to 81-59. Davis also had a fastbreak dunk down the middle off a three-on-two on a nifty feed by Gordon. The Pelicans outscored the 76ers 33-19 in the quarter to build an 85-62 lead.

      The Pelicans held the Sixers to just 31 second-half points, the second-lowest output for a half by Philadelphia this season. Second-year 76ers center Nerlens Noel, who like Davis played at Kentucky, struggled from the floor, hitting just one of nine shots and scoring two points.

      "I think I probably should have slowed my mind down," Noel said, referring to his nervousness about facing Davis for the first time. "I was thinking about my game too much. I need to have the mindset of playing within myself."

      Davis said the Pelicans are now poised to take off in the second half of the season.

      "We got tired of that .500 basketball," Davis said. "Coach told us we had to put a couple of wins together. We're just coming out playing hard and trying to rattle teams with our intensity and our energy and let the defense lead to our offense."

      NOTES: Philadelphia PG Michael Carter-Williams missed the game because of an upper-respiratory infection. "It's just been a progressive illness that has finally caught up with him," coach Brett Brown said. Larry Drew II, who is on his second 10-day contract, started in his place and scored four points. ... Pelicans coach Monty Williams said he was encouraged by his team's recent defensive efforts. In winning six of their past eight games, the Pelicans allowed only one opponent to break the 100-point mark, averaging 90.8 points allowed. "We've learned how to defend consistently," Williams said. ... Williams was still wowed by F Anthony Davis' swooping steal of an inbounds pass against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday that sealed the victory. "A.D. just made a great play," Williams said. "That's a testament to the workout regimen that he has in the summertime. His first year, he couldn't hold that position."

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Thunder's Durant inactive vs. Timberwolves
    By The Sports Xchange

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant was ruled inactive Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves because of a sprained big toe on his left foot.

    • He suffered the injury Sunday in the Thunder’s loss to Cleveland.

      Durant went through individual drills after shootaround Monday, working on his lateral movement. Afterwards, team officials ruled him out.

      This is the 23rd game this season Durant has missed due to injury.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    NBA notebook: Bryant to have surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will undergo surgery this week to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

    • The team said Monday that surgery has been scheduled for Wednesday morning. A timeline estimate for Bryant's return will be issued following the surgery.

      Bryant was examined Monday morning by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who confirmed an earlier diagnosis of a torn rotator cuff, and he advised the star player to have surgery.

      "Now we know Kobe is probably not going to play (the rest of the year)," Lakers coach Byron Scott said at practice Monday.

      It would be the third consecutive season-ending injury for the 36-year-old Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and former league MVP.

      Kobe, a 19-year veteran, has one year remaining on his contract, during which he is set to be paid $25 million.

      ---The Charlotte Hornets will be without guard Kemba Walker, forward Marvin Williams and center Bismack Biyombo indefinitely due to injuries.

      Walker will have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. The diagnosis was confirmed Monday in New York by Dr. David Altchek, who will perform the surgery.

      A timeline for his recovery will be determined after the procedure.

      Walker, who leads the Hornets with 18.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, has missed three of the Hornets' last five games.

      Biyombo (bruised right knee) and Williams (broken nose and concussion) were injured Saturday in Charlotte's 76-71 victory over New York. Biyombo will be evaluated in about 10 days, and Williams must pass the NBA's concussion protocol to return.

      ---The two NBA games scheduled for Monday night in New York were postponed due to the expected massive snowstorm hitting the area.

      The league announced that the Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 3, at 7 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.

      The Portland Trail Blazers at Brooklyn Nets game has been rescheduled for Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m. at Barclays Center.

      ---The Philadelphia 76ers signed guard Larry Drew II to a second 10-day contract Monday.

      In six games played since joining the Sixers, Drew is averaging five points and four assists in nearly 19 minutes per game.

      In 21 starts for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League this season, Drew has averaged 11 points and 10 assists.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Hornets without Walker, Biyombo, Williams
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Charlotte Hornets will be without guard Kemba Walker, forward Marvin Williams and center Bismack Biyombo indefinitely due to injuries.

    • Walker will have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee.

      The diagnosis was confirmed Monday in New York by Dr. David Altchek, who will perform the surgery.

      A timeline for his recovery will be determined after the procedure.

      Walker, who leads the Hornets with 18.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, has missed three of the Hornets' last five games.

      Biyombo (bruised right knee) and Williams (broken nose and concussion) were injured Saturday in Charlotte's 76-71 victory over New York. Biyombo will be evaluated in about 10 days, and Williams must pass the NBA's concussion protocol to return.

      Biyombo is averaging 4.6 points and 6.2 rebounds. Williams is averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.