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Blazers cruise to 44-point rout of Nets

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PORTLAND, Ore. — The Brooklyn Nets experienced an energy crisis. The Portland Trail Blazers enjoyed a surplus.

The result was the most one-sided victory for the Trail Blazers in more than two years.

Guard Mo Williams came off the bench for season highs in points (21) and rebounds (six) to go with seven assists as Portland blew out Brooklyn 124-80 Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

It was the largest margin of victory for Portland since a 112-68 rout of the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 1, 2012.

“I didn’t see that one coming,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “It was a good effort by everyone who played.”

Forward Nicolas Batum contributed 19 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Trail Blazers (40-18), who won for the fourth straight game. Reserve guard Will Barton also had a big night for the winners, finishing with a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Seven Blazers scored in double figures, including guard Damian Lillard with 14, forward Victor Claver with 13 and guard C.J. McCollum and center Robin Lopez with 11 apiece. The Portland bench accounted for a season-high 68 points.

“That’s a lot of points from the bench,” Batum said. “It was great the way they have stepped in the last couple of games with the guys we have injured. Will, C.J., Vic, Mo — they did their job tonight. That was a big part of the win.”

Portland never trailed from midway through the first quarter on and led by as many as 45 points.

“We came out with energy,” Williams said. “That set the tone for us, we never looked back.”

Guard Deron Williams led the Nets (26-29) with 12 points, and guard Joe Johnson added 11. The result tied the third-largest margin of defeat in franchise history.

Portland shot 53.5 percent from the field — including 41.9 percent (13 for 31) from 3-point range. Brooklyn shot 39.5 percent from the field and made only four of 22 3-point attempts (18.2 percent).

“We just had a lack of energy,” Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t make shots and kind of felt sorry for ourselves, which carried over to the defense end.”

When Portland jacked a 24-point halftime lead to 69-40 midway through the third quarter, the Nets’ starters were done for the night. The Blazers extended their advantage to 104-70 midway through the fourth period, and the difference grew to 45 points near game’s end.

“We lose like this, it’s just a complete lack of focus,” said Brooklyn forward Paul Pierce, who had only six points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. “No way should we lose by 40 with the guys we’ve got. We could have played against the Eastern Conference All-Stars, we shouldn’t lose by 40. We just didn’t show up tonight.”

Portland jumped to a 13-6 lead, but Brooklyn rallied to go ahead 16-15. The Blazers answered with a 10-0 run to go back on top 25-16, then carried a 29-20 advantage into the second quarter.

The edge was hiked to 35-22 before Portland closed the first half on a 13-0 run to take a 58-34 lead into intermission. Batum had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists; Barton 12 points, six rebounds and two assists and Mo Williams 11 points, five assists and four rebounds at the break. Portland shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, Brooklyn only 33.3 percent.

NOTES: Portland was both short and short-handed. Four of the team’s five big men were missing due to injury — starting F LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), backup F Thomas Robinson (knee) and reserve centers Joel Freeland (knee) and Meyers Leonard (ankle). The only big man left standing was starting C Robin Lopez. … Portland yielded its lowest single-game point total of the season. … The last time Portland had two reserves score 20 or more points in a game was Dec. 12, 2007 (James Jones, Travis Outlaw) against the Golden State Warriors. … The Blazers are 20-3 this season when G Mo Williams scores in double figures. … Portland won the rebounding battle 53-29 after getting hammered 64-41 on the boards in a 100-95 win at Denver on Tuesday night. The Nuggets had 27 offensive rebounds in that one — 15 by former Blazers C J.J. Hickson.

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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