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Big third quarter lifts Nets over Lakers

The Sports Xchange

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LOS ANGELES — A pivotal third-quarter run lifted the Brooklyn Nets past the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Forward Joe Johnson scored 23 points and backup center Brook Lopez had 22 points and 14 rebounds, guiding the Nets to a 114-105 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center.

Point guard Deron Williams finished with 12 points and 15 assists as the Nets (22-31) snapped a three-game slide. Forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Alan Anderson scored 18 and 14 points, respectively.

“We were just getting out and running,” said Williams of the Nets’ play in the third quarter, when they outscored the Lakers 40-20. “We hit shots, got layups. I just think we had everything going at one time.”

Guard Jeremy Lin led six Lakers in double figures with 18 points and forward Ed Davis had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Center Robert Sacre had 13 points and seven rebounds for Los Angeles (13-41), which dropped its seventh straight game and the 16th in the past 17 contests.

“This is a game that we could have won, we should have won,” said Davis, who hit eight of his 10 shots. “We had a lapse in the third quarter. We have to keep fighting, stick together, stick through these tough times and these tough stretches.”

The Lakers held a 57-56 lead at the break before the Nets took control in the third quarter. Johnson had 13 points — 12 of those coming on four 3-pointers — and Lopez scored eight in the quarter.

“We made shots. That was probably the main thing,” said Johnson, who made six of 11 attempts from the floor overall, including five of seven on 3-pointers. “Great ball movement. Guys were attacking and making plays and knocking down shots.”

After a bucket by Lakers center Jordan Hill — who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds — cut the Nets’ cushion to 79-73 with 4:22 left, Brooklyn responded with a 17-4 to close the period for a 96-77 advantage.

A 3-pointer by guard Nick Young and a basket by Davis cut the deficit to 107-100 with 2:29 remaining in the game, but a layup by Williams with 2:13 left pushed the lead back to nine. The Lakers got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

“I thought we played really well,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “We attacked and shared the basketball. We had 29 assists on our 42 field goals, and that is awesome. We made 10 3’s and just kept attacking and spreading the court and sharing the ball.”

The Nets shot a sizzling 71.4 percent in the third to only 38.1 percent for the Lakers. They also connected on six of seven from 3-point range while Los Angeles misfired on its three attempts.

For the game, Brooklyn hit 47.2 percent of its shots to 46.1 percent for Los Angeles. The Nets were 10 of 21 on 3-pointers compared to four of 23 for the Lakers.

“I thought the first half we played pretty well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “In the third quarter, (assistant coach) Paul Pressey said ‘Let’s see if we can turn it up because we know they are.’ They came out, jumped on us and basically, in boxing terms, they punched us and we just started trying to do the rope-a-dope. We just got on our heels.”

Newly-acquired forward Thaddeus Young made his debut in a Brooklyn uniform. Young, who was obtained by the Nets from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal for forward Kevin Garnett, scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 12 minutes.

NOTES: The Lakers held a moment of silence for former NBA player Jerome Kersey, who died Wednesday from a blood clot in his lungs. Kersey, who was 52, played one season with the Lakers. … Brooklyn played without G Jarrett Jack, who sat out with a sore left hamstring. … Lakers coach Byron Scott dismissed a story by the Hollywood Reporter that said G Kobe Bryant had confirmed that next season would definitely be his last in the NBA. “Until I hear it from the horse’s mouth, which is Kobe Bryant, I’m not going to believe it,” said Scott, who has previously commented that he wouldn’t be surprised if Bryant played beyond next season. … Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins praised former Nets F Kevin Garnett, who the club dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday for F Thaddeus Young. “I texted him and told him personally before he left that I was privileged and honored to have the opportunity to coach him,” Hollins said. … The Lakers host the Boston Celtics on Sunday, while the Nets visit the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair

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If James Harden needed any extra motivation against the Los Angeles Clippers, he found it in the first half.

Harden scored 34 points, and the Rockets held on for a 100-98 victory over the Clippers in a sometimes testy affair on Sunday at Staples Center.

Point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a contested shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.

“It was very important for us just to go out there and play well,” said Harden, who hit seven of 16 shots from the floor, three of five from 3-point range and 17 of 18 free throws. “The last two games we kind of struggled a little bit, but we got our pop back a little bit today, and it was a good win for us.”

Harden provided much of that pop, particularly in the second quarter after Clippers forward Matt Barnes was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after pushing Harden to the court at 6:02. Harden scored 15 of his 18 points in the period after that, leading the Rockets to a 58-50 halftime lead.

Did the flagrant foul add more fuel for the Rockets’ All-Star guard and MVP candidate?

“Yeah. Things like that are fun,” said Harden, who had 24 points in the first half. “We have fun, we got boosted off of that.”

The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets (44-22). Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while forward Terrence Jones added 16 points and 12 boards.

“This was a win that we needed, especially on the road,” Ariza said. “Going into the home stretch, these are the types of games we have to win.”

Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games due to surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but committed five turnovers in 41 minutes.

“I didn’t think I played well,” said Griffin, who managed 4-of-10 shooting. “I was out of rhythm. Way too many turnovers, obviously.”

Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers (42-24), who fell into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks.

Paul lamented a host of turnovers in the defeat, including a critical one involving center DeAndre Jordan.

“I had some bad turnovers,” said Paul, who committed three of the Clippers’ 20 miscues compared to 13 for the Rockets. “On one, I drove it off DeAndre’s foot, the other one I lost towards the end of the half. We have to take better care of the ball. We still had an opportunity to win, but we just didn’t do it.”

The Clippers came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul scored seven straight points, capping it with a 3-point basket to tie the score at 96 with 3:05 left in the game. Houston got a 3-pointer by Jones, but Barnes countered with a basket to keep Los Angeles within 99-98 with 1:35 left. Los Angeles, though, never scored again.

Griffin got a steal as Ariza attempted a pass to Harden, but Ariza drew a charging foul as Griffin bolted to the bucket with 12 seconds remaining. Griffin remained unhappy about the call after the game.

“If I speak on that, I’ll get fined,” Griffin said.

Harden hit one of two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, capping the scoring before Paul failed to connect on a jumper in the lane with Ariza defending.

The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 36-20 in the second quarter despite making just 38.5 percent of their shots compared to 44.4 percent for the Clippers. Overall, the Clippers hit 43.9 percent to 37.2 percent for the Rockets. They also held an edge in 3-point shooting, converting 12 of 26 attempts to seven of 30 for Houston. The Rockets, though were 29 of 36 from the foul line to 14 of 24 for Los Angeles.

Jordan finished with 20 rebounds and four blocks.

NOTES: F Blake Griffin’s return benefits PG Chris Paul as much as any Clipper. “Teams have been able to trap (Paul) far more than they can when Blake is on the floor because of (Griffin’s) ability to pass,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m sure CP is the happiest of all to have him back.” … Rivers isn’t sure if injured G Jamal Crawford would return before the playoffs. Crawford has missed six games with a right calf contusion. … Rockets C Dwight Howard sat out his 18th game with a right knee edema. “He’s doing everything he can, he’s trying to get better, but until you’re on the floor, it’s impossible to say,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said regarding Howard’s return. … Both clubs resume play Tuesday. Houston hosts the Orlando Magic, while Los Angeles plays the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.

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Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle

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SAN ANTONIO — Guard Manu Ginobili was helped off the floor late in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to a sprained right ankle.

Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points. He was immediately was led to the locker room, and he did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court. He did not return to the game.

In 19 minutes during the Spurs’ 123-97 win over the Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and leading him to play limited minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

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NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return

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Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, out the last 15 games with an elbow injury, was cleared to return Sunday against the Houston Rockets.

Griffin had surgery five weeks ago to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.

“He said, ‘I’m ready,'” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “Yesterday the trainers called me and said, ‘If he can go, he can go. He’s been cleared.'”

Rivers said timing likely will be an adjustment for Griffin.

“Timing is timing,” Rivers said. “You lose it when you don’t play in an NBA game. Sometimes you come back and you play great the first game and then you lose your timing. Sometimes it doesn’t. As far as the way we play, it won’t be hard for him at all.”

In 51 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

–Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had to be helped off the floor late in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday. Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points.

He was helped off the floor and immediately was led to the locker room. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court.

Up to that point, Ginobili had scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against Toronto and play limited minutes against Cleveland on March 12.

–Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent emails to three fans who were disappointed that he rested several prominent players, including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver.

“There’s two really good sides to the story,” Kerr said, according to the Associated Press report. “Nobody’s wrong here. … I can’t argue with them.”

Kerr received an email from a family that drove from South Dakota to Denver to see Curry, Thompson and the entertaining Warriors play. But Curry, Thompson, center Andrew Bogut and reserve guard Andre Iguodala did not play so they could be rested, and the Warriors lost 114-103.

“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.

–The Dallas Mavericks recalled center/forward Dwight Powell from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League on Sunday.

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell played in one game during his most recent assignment to the D-League and finished with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Legends in a 115-89 win over the Austin Spurs on Saturday night.

Powell has appeared in 19 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.

–The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Austin Daye to a 10-day contract Sunday.

Daye appeared in 26 games (four starts) earlier this season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.

In 10 games this season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Daye has averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 28.5 minutes.

–The Miami Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League on Sunday.

Zoran appeared in four games (one start) and averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals, helping the Skyforce to a 3-1 record over that span.

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