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Farmar, Brooks, hot shooting carry Lakers

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LOS ANGELES — Point guard Jordan Farmar and forward MarShon Brooks were teammates in New Jersey, and on a Los Angeles Lakers roster consisting mostly of strangers this season, the previous connection worked out well on Friday night in a 126-122 come-from-behind victory over the Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center.

Farmar scored a career-best 30 points, hitting 8 of 10 3-point tries, and Brooks produced 21 of his 23 points in the second half, making all three of his 3-point shots, as the Lakers (20-38) overcame the Kings (20-38) mostly from long distance. Los Angeles made a franchise-record 19 3-pointers in a regulation game on 27 attempts.

“We were shooting the ball really well tonight,” said Farmar, who came off the bench and got the Lakers going late in the third quarter after they fell behind by 15 points at 92-77. “I just made a couple of shots. We were losing and I wanted to try to spark it up and make some things happen.

“MarShon did a really good job. I played with him in Jersey and I kind of know what he could do, so I was going to him often.”

Forwards Rudy Gay (32 points) and Derrick Williams (26) led the Kings, who lost the game despite winning the rebounding battle 44-31 and making only 11 turnovers to the Lakers’ 17.

Lakers center Pau Gasol and guard Jodie Meeks scored 22 each as the Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak. But it was Farmar who got most of the credit for the comeback.

“In the third quarter, he brought us back,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They were making twos and we were making 3s, so we caught up.

“I just thought the spirit was right, and the ball movement was better.”

The Lakers had a season-high-tying 35 assists, including seven by Farmar, and 10 from starting point guard Kendall Marshall, who was held scoreless for the third game in a row.

“They shot the lights out,” said Sacramento coach Michael Malone, who added the biggest difference was the Kings “allowed their bench to score 58 points. Jordan Farmar got 30 … I knew we would be able to get whatever we wanted on offense because they don’t defend, either, but this was two bad defensive teams playing basketball tonight.

“If we are going to think these last 24 games remaining in the season, that this is who we are going to be, then it’s going to be a long 24 games. I am embarrassed by the defensive effort we put forth tonight. We allowed the Lakers to get whatever they wanted against us. Hopefully, we make a change and have a much different mindset than tonight.”

The Lakers hit 10 consecutive 3-point shots during one stretch. Farmar connected from long distance with 8:34 remaining for a 108-105 lead, then again with 7:06 left — surpassing his previous career high of 28 points — for a 111-107 advantage.

A 3-pointer by guard Isiah Thomas gave Sacramento its largest lead at 92-77 with 3:44 left in the third quarter. But the Lakers, led by Farmar, Brooks and Meeks, hit 9 of 12 3-point tries in the quarter to cut their deficit to 99-95 entering the final 12 minutes.

The Kings opened the second quarter on an 11-3 run behind the play of Gay, then went on to build a 65-54 halftime lead. Gay had 10 of his team-leading 15 first-half points in the quarter.

Farmar scored or assisted on the Lakers’ first 15 points in the second quarter, keeping them in it when the Kings threatened to break away. But he and Gasol, who had 18 first-half points, were the only consistent sources of offense for Los Angeles. Farmar had 11 points and four assists in the first half.

The Kings shot 58.7 percent from the field in the first half, converting 27 of 46, and outrebounded the Lakers 22-14. Los Angeles shot 54.8 percent from the field (23 of 42) but had two more turnovers (8-6) than Sacramento.

Sacramento led 31-27 after one quarter. Williams, starting in place of suspended center DeMarcus Cousins, led the Kings with eight points. Gasol paced the Lakers with 10, including a lob-city-type dunk on the fast break off a Meeks feed.

Gasol complained earlier this week about D’Antoni’s penchant for using small lineups with just one true post player. The Lakers opened that way again and led 21-17 before D’Antoni opted to go with two bigs. The Kings outscored the Lakers 14-6 the rest of the quarter, then got off to a quick start in the second before the Lakers went small again.

NOTES: Kings C DeMarcus Cousins served his one-game, NBA-mandated suspension for throwing a punch at Houston G Patrick Beverley on Feb. 25. … Kings F Carl Landry (knee) also missed the game and so coach Michael Malone deployed a small lineup with Jason Thompson at center and Derrick Williams at power forward. Malone stressed that he wants Williams to stay aggressive at all times “so that he can be the best player that he can be.” … The Lakers again went with their small lineup by choice, with 6-7 Wesley Johnson at power forward and center Pau Gasol the lone true big. “What it does is, it spreads the floor for Kendall Marshall, Jordan Farmar and Jodie Meeks,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of the lineup. “For them to be effective, you have to spread them out.” … Lakers G-F Nick Young missed his third consecutive game because of a sore left knee. He has missed nine of the past 10 games. … Lakers G Xavier Henry continues his D-League assignment on Saturday. D’Antoni said Henry will rejoin the Lakers on Sunday. … Lakers backup C Chris Kaman (back spasms) returned to action after missing one game.

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

The Sports Xchange

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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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