NEW YORK — Dion Waiters admitted to sneaking a few peeks in the crowd to see Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton.
The looks that the reserve guard had at the basket were even more important for the surging Cleveland Cavaliers.
Waiters scored a season-high 26 points, and the Cavaliers stretched their winning streak to seven games with a 110-88 rout of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at Barclays Center
“I glanced,” Waiters said. “You always got to check your surroundings and see how things are going. I wanted to see why everyone started going crazy. It’s always good to see things like that that you don’t get to see, and I’m happy that they were able to come to our game and we were able to put on a show for them.”
Forward LeBron James scored the first nine points of the third quarter and totaled 18 points and seven assists as the Cavaliers (12-7) improved to 10-3 against Eastern Conference opponents. Afterward, he gave the royal couple a Cleveland jersey for 1-year-old son, George.
“They took time out of their busy lives to come here and to watch our sport and watch our team, and it means a lot,” James said.
Forward Kevin Love added 19 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth consecutive double-double and 10th overall, helping Cleveland to a 55-33 advantage on the glass.
Waiters led a reserve unit that totaled 59 points and surpassed his previous season high of 20 set Nov. 17 against the Denver Nuggets. He shot 11-for-21 from the floor in 30 minutes on a night when point guard Kyrie Irving was held to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. Waiters shot 12-for-37 over his previous five games after being the most productive reserve in the Eastern Conference last season.
“I couldn’t miss so much,” Waiters said. “I worked so hard, they got to fall, they got to fall, and tonight they fell.”
Added Cleveland forward James Jones: “It’s not going to be perfect, but I think he’s learning how to deal with the frustration and how to overcome the frustration and how to deal with it. I think he’s turned that corner.
Half of Waiters’ points came before the royal family arrived to their courtside seats next to former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo near the seven-minute mark of the third quarter with the game tied 61-61. Waiters had six points as Cleveland surged ahead with a 24-6 run over the final 6 1/2 minutes for an 85-67 lead heading into the fourth.
“Waiters played a great game at both ends of the court,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “Everybody that stepped on the court gave us something. When we get that kind of bench contribution, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Cleveland took the lead for good on a 16-footer by Love midway through the third. The Nets were within 68-65 on a layup by backup center Jerome Jordan but missed 10 of their final 11 shots of the period and never threatened again.
“Early on in the third, we were scoring and kind of staying with (Cleveland), but we had that lull, not making shots and turning the ball over, and next thing you know, we are down 10, 11,” Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. “Then next thing you know, we are down 19, and we weren’t able to sustain or make a push back after that.”
Kevin Garnett started at center in place of Brook Lopez (back) for the Nets and had 14 points and seven rebounds. The Nets also were without forward Joe Johnson (flu).
“We have to be prepared for the third quarter,” Garnett said. “I think we put together a good half, but when you’re playing a team like this that’s contending for a title and trying to find an identity, I think it’s important to come out and put two halves together.”
Nets guard Deron Williams was held to 13 points on 3-of-14 shooting from the floor, though he added 11 assists.
Besides playing without Lopez and Johnson, the Nets also lost forward Mirza Teletovic in the third quarter because of a hip pointer and a facial laceration that required four stitches.
NOTES: Cleveland F LeBron James and G Kyrie Irving wore T-shirts that said “I Can’t Breathe” during pregame warmups as their way of speaking out about the non-indictment in the Eric Garner case. The shirts were given to them by Nets G Jarrett Jack, who also wore one, as did three of his teammates. “It’s more a notion to the family than anything,” James said. “Obviously, as a society we have to do better, we have to do better for one another. It doesn’t matter what race you are.” … Brooklyn C Brook Lopez (back) missed his 140th game since the start of the 2011-12 season, but it was the first time he was absent due to a non-foot injury. Lopez is expected to miss three more games after Monday. … Cleveland F Mike Miller (concussion) missed his second game in a row.
Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair
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.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
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.
NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return
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.