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Curry, Warriors rolls past Spurs

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry says he doesn’t need any extra motivation in order to be at his best.

But when it does make itself available, he demonstrated Friday night he has no problem using it to catapult him to even greater heights.

Curry rallied the Warriors into a halftime lead with nine late second-quarter points after getting nailed with a technical foul, and Golden State rolled on from there to a 110-99 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

“I try to have an edge every time I start a game,” the All-Star said. “But things happen and you react to it. That technical foul lit a little fire under me. I enjoy playing in that moment.”

The technical occurred when Curry reacted in disbelief to having been called for a foul on the Spurs’ Tony Parker with 5:08 remaining in the first half. Warriors coach Steve Kerr also got nailed with a “T” for backing his star, and when Parker hit both free throws, San Antonio held a 44-41 lead.

A fired-up Curry responded by nailing a 3-pointer shortly thereafter, then added six more points before halftime as Golden State built a 62-55 lead at the break and never trailed again.

“I wanted my opinion to be heard,” Curry said of drawing the technical. “It is good at times to show that. We were playing pretty good at that point. That was a little something to get us over the edge.”

Playing for the second consecutive night, the Spurs stayed within arm’s length for most of the third quarter, before reserve forward Andre Iguodala buried a pair of 3-pointers in an 11-0 burst at the end of the period that propelled the Warriors to what turned out to be a comfortable win.

“We really didn’t play badly,” observed Spurs veteran backup Manu Ginobili. “They were just inspired.”

The Warriors (43-9), who had lost five in a row to the Spurs, improved to 24-2 at home by opening their post-All-Star Game schedule with the same type of dominant win that that had been so prominent while building the league’s best record entering the break.

Curry hit four of his eight 3-point attempts overall en route to a game-high 25 points for the Warriors, who had lost to the Spurs 113-100 at home on Nov. 11. Curry also found time for a game-high 11 assists to complete a double-double.

Shooting guard Klay Thompson backed Curry with 20 points, small forward Harrison Barnes added 16, and Iguodala (14) and forward David Lee (11) also reached double figures in scoring off the bench.

Twelve of Iguodala’s 14 points came on a season-high four 3-pointers, as Golden State connected on 17-of-33 (51.5 percent) from beyond the arc. The Warriors shot 48.6 percent overall.

“It’s pretty simple for us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr noted. “Defend like crazy, take care of the ball and move the ball. When we do that, we have enough weapons to score enough points. That’s it.”

Small forward Kawhi Leonard and center Aron Baynes had 12 points apiece for the Spurs (34-21), who were coming off 119-115 loss in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

Power forward Tim Duncan, who played 32 minutes in the L.A. loss, was limited to eight points and three rebounds in 21 minutes in the second half of the back-to-back. Parker, who had played a team-high 35 minutes the night before, endured an 0-for-4, two-point nightmare against the Warriors.

“It was just one of those games,” Parker lamented. “I was never able to get into a rhythm. I had six assists but only took four shots. It just happens sometimes.”

The Spurs, who shot 48.1 percent overall but missed 13 of their 19 3-point attempts, were playing their fifth consecutive road game sandwiching the All-Star break, with still four games remaining on their trip. They get the weekend off before resurfacing in Utah on Monday.

NOTES: The last time the Warriors had beaten San Antonio was in the second round of the 2013 playoffs during a best-of-7 that was won 4-2 by the Spurs. … The double-digit margin of victory was the 32nd of the season for the Warriors, which already ties the franchise record set in 1975-76. … The Warriors were playing their second and final home game in February. The Spurs also have just two home games this month. … Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took a few steps out of the locker room after a brief cooling-off period following the loss, but then returned to his office without taking any questions from the media. He could be subject to an NBA fine. … The Warriors debuted a Chinese New Year uniform for Friday’s game, becoming the first team in NBA history to do so.

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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