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Carroll helps Hawks blitz Nets

The Sports Xchange



NEW YORK — The Atlanta Hawks enjoyed DeMarre Carroll’s production and shooting touch in the first half, but when they watch the film, the defensive effort will likely provide more thrills.

Carroll scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half and the Hawks dominated the Brooklyn Nets during the decisive second quarter of a 98-75 rout Friday night at Barclays Center.

The Hawks extended their winning streak to five games but opened the game trailing 16-10 as they missed nine of their first 13 shots and allowed the Nets to make seven of their first 14. After coach Mike Budenholzer called the first timeout with 4:33 remaining, the Hawks outscored the Nets 88-59 the rest of the way.

“I haven’t watched the film yet,” Atlanta forward Kyle Korver said. “It just felt like we forced them into the shots we wanted them to shoot and we were able to get the rebound and we were able to get out and run.”

During the second quarter, the Hawks outscored the Nets 36-13 in a stretch that was virtually flawless. That included a 14-0 blitz that spanned 4:21 and was highlighted by Carroll hitting two of his career-high tying five 3-pointers and a reverse layup.

“We’ll go back and watch the film and find mistakes,” Budenholzer said. “But I think if we can play with that kind of activity and that kind of effort defensively that’s going to give ourselves a chance to be as good as you just described.”

Atlanta never was threatened again and for good measure Carroll added a 3-pointer with four-tenths of a second remaining in the first half for a 52-31 edge at the break.

“I think we got more excitement off the defensive end,” Carroll said. “We were getting stops, guys were trapping, guys were getting blocks and guys were getting steals. So I think when I was in the game there was more excitement on the defensive end than on the offensive end.”

Carroll shot 7 of 10, making six of his final seven shots. He also added six rebounds and likely would have surpassed his previous season high of 19 points and approached his career high of 24 points if Atlanta did not maintain the rout. Instead he sat with 2:17 remaining in the third and the Hawks holding a 20-point lead.

“He got a good couple good looks and he made a couple end of the (shot) clock,” Budenholzer said. “He had a heckuva night and I think the ways he plays and the energy he plays with he’s capable of doing that. We got a lot of confidence in him shooting and playing. It was great, obviously a big boost for us.”

Forward Paul Millsap added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 31 of 68 after the slow start. Point guard Jeff Teague contributed 14 points and five assists, reserve guard Dennis Schroder chipped in 13 as Atlanta reached 100 points for the seventh straight game and 14th time in 18 games this season.

Center Brook Lopez scored 20 points for the Nets, who shot 37.5 percent (30 of 80) and were handed their sixth double-digit loss of the season. Former Atlanta forward Joe Johnson added 12 in his 1,000th career game but point guard Deron Williams was held to eight points and the Nets committed 19 turnovers and were denied their first three-game winning streak of the season while falling to 1-8 against teams with a winning record.

“It really got away from us there and we kind of got away from things we’ve been doing well the past few games.”

After taking the six point lead, the Nets shot 23-of-66 the rest of the game, including 1-of-14 in the decisive second-quarter spurt when Atlanta surged ahead.

“They played good defense but also there were times we made bad decisions,” Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. “But 19 turnovers wasn’t the game, it’s that we couldn’t score consistently against them.”

NOTES: The Nets had Thursday off from practice, but coach Lionel Hollins spent time on New York sports talk station WFAN discussing the team. His most notable answer pertained to the Nov. 9 comments made by F Joe Johnson about selfish teammates. “When the comments were made, I did talk to him, I talked to the team,” Hollins said. “We’ve had numerous conversations about it. My feeling is every player has the right to his opinion — whether it be right or wrong — but there is a place and a time to do things.” … Among second-year players, G Dennis Schroder ranks first in field goal percentage and free throw percentage. Asked about Schroder’s development, Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said, “He’s really playing well, his confidence has grown. His understanding of both ends of the court has grown a lot. He’s really helped us.”… The Hawks were unable to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor and at least 80 percent from the foul line for the sixth straight game which would have broken the franchise record set in March 1982. It also would have marked the first time any team did in six straight games since the Boston Celtics in March 1990. … Brooklyn F Andrei Kirilenko was inactive for the ninth straight game.

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


NBA News Wire

Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair

The Sports Xchange



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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Irving leads Cavaliers to rout of Magic

The Sports Xchange



ORLANDO — Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving is in the midst of an incredible shooting zone. And he’s loving every minute of it. Irving followed his NBA-best, 57-point scoring burst on Thursday with a more-efficient, 33-point effort Sunday, leading the Cavaliers to a 123-108 victory over the outmatched Orlando Magic.

Irving was sensational again.

In the last two games, Irving has made 12 of 13 shots from 3-point range. He has made 32 of 47 shots overall. He made the Cavs look unstoppable.

“It’s just a feel, an overall body feel right now,” Irving said. “The basketball feels a little bit better. It’s a fun game right now, and it’s fun to be part of something like this.”

Irving made 12 of his 15 shots Sunday and hit five of six from 3-point range, finding time to add four rebounds and four assists in leading the Cavs (43-25) to their fourth consecutive victory.

“Someone did ask me (before the game), what does he do for an encore (after his 57 point effort),” said Cavs coach David Blatt. “I didn’t have a good answer, But 12 of 15 from the field, in 34 minutes. That’s a pretty good encore. And he played right, which is the most important thing. It’s not the scoring as much as it is him just being engaged, locked in.”

LeBron James happily provided the perfect complement and setup man. He had 21 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds, and three steals, creating opportunities for everyone else. The Cavs buried the Magic by making 18 of 35 3-point shots, most of which were wide open.

Guard J.R. Smith scored 25 points, leading the 3-point onslaught by making six of his 10 from long range.

“I thought LeBron seemed to be seeing everyone in the gym tonight,” Blatt said. “And he threw it to them in the shooting pocket, and it seemed like that made every one. It seemed like he found guys in the eighth row that could make an open shot tonight.”

The Cavs received a brief scare midway in the third period when James went up to contest a shot and landed awkwardly, twisting his right knee. He continued to play and looked fine, but he raised the issue about his availability for Monday’s game in Miami.

“A scary moment for myself obviously,” he said. “I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there. I haven’t had one of those falls in a pretty long time. I was happy to stay in the game.”

The Cavs made 45 of 76 shots (59.2 percent). The Magic (21-47) made 42 of 88 (47.7 percent, but they never seriously challenged in the second half, even though they closed to nine points twice in the fourth quarter.

Magic guard Victor Olidipo had 25 points and seven assists. Center Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton had 13 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Forward Tobias Harris had 24 points and eight rebounds. Reserve guard Luke Ridnour had a season-high 15 points.

Irving made his first four 3-point attempts, giving him 11 consecutive 3-pointers without a miss, dating back to his 7-for-7 effort Thursday against San Antonio. He finally missed from 3-point range midway in the third period.

The Magic twice fouled Smith while he was shooting beyond the 3-point line, accounting for all five of his free throws.

“That’s a tough team. You have to give them credit,” Harris said. “They have a lot of options out there, and guys who can make tough shots. It’s just overall tough for us against a team like that.”

The Cavaliers led 100-86 going into the fourth quarter. Smith made a trio of 3-pointers in the third period, helping hold off every Magic charge in the period.

Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Cavaliers a 84-68 lead. Irving hit a pair of 3-pointers earlier in the period.

The Cavaliers led 66-55 at intermission, riding a red-hot shooting start and a 40-point second quarter. They made 26 of 42 shots (61.9 percent) and eight of their 16 3-point attempts in the first half.

Irving hit both of his 3-pointers in the first half. The Magic held a 28-16 rebound edge in the first half, but they couldn’t keep pace with the Cavaliers, who exploded in the second period when they made 16 of their 20 shots.

The Magic led the entire first quarter. Forward James Jones gave the Cavaliers their first lead when he opened the second with a 3-pointer.

Vucevic and Harris each had 14 points by halftime. James had 15 points and six assists before intermission. Irving made six of his first seven shots for 14 points.

NOTES: The Cavaliers were without PF Kevin Love (sore back), but they were helped by the return of veteran Shawn Marion, who missed the past three weeks with a strained hip muscle. F Tristan Thompson started in Love’s place. … The Magic were without reserve G Willie Green, who missed his third consecutive game with lower back spasms and F Evan Fournier, who missed his eighth consecutive game with a sore right hip. … A quirk in the schedule gave the Cavs two-plus days in balmy Orlando before the game Sunday. The extra time gave one fan of James the opportunity to invite him Friday to his wedding reception Saturday night at the posh hotel where the Cavs were staying. James politely declined.

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Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle

The Sports Xchange



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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