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George powers Pacers past Lakers

The Sports Xchange



INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — All Indiana Pacers forward Paul George needed was one brilliant quarter to help put away the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

George scored 12 of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter, more than double any other player, and led the Indiana Pacers to a 118-98 victory over the Lakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. His offensive spark had a sellout crowd of 18,165 on its feet as the Pacers won an NBA-best 27th at home.

The highlight point: George put the Pacers up by 10 points, 71-61, when he stripped the ball from Lakers guard Kendall Marshall and then drove the length of the floor for a three-point play on a reverse layup. That basket was one of three straight for George and energized a 12-3 Pacers run.

But as much as the offense brought the cheers, it was a suffocating defense and dominating inside game that did the job for the Pacers (43-13). They are now 27-3 at home.

The 62 rebounds were just one short of the season-high total of 63 by Indiana in its previous game this season against the Lakers.

“Everybody has to come in and crash the boards,” said Lakers forward Wesley Johnson, who scored 15 points and had five rebounds. “We have to rebound.”

The Pacers held the Lakers to six baskets and two offensive rebounds in the difference-making third quarter.

“We do a great job of getting stops,” George said. “Once we go through that point during the game where we’re getting stop after stop, I think that kind of energizes us. We’re hungry for another one after that.”

“We came out the second half and played a lot better,” Indiana’s C.J. Watson said. “We turned up the defense a little and got some stops and got some easy buckets.”

It deflated the Lakers (19-38).

The Lakers were outscored 34-16 in the third quarter and out-rebounded, 13-9. They lost to the Pacers in Indianapolis for the first time since 2008.

“We didn’t move the ball,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “When they turned the heat on, we just put our head down. We fell into it.”

Forward David West had a game-high 12 rebounds and 11 points for Indiana. Guard George Hill added 14 points and guard Lance Stephenson had 13. All five Pacers starters and two bench players reached double figures in scoring.

Guard Kent Bazemore scored a career-best 23 points for the Lakers in just his second start. He also had four rebounds and three steals. Forward Wesley Johnson scored 15.

“No individual milestone is more important than the team,” Bazemore said. “I just want to come in and give my all. But scoring that many points doesn’t mean anything.”

George, who this year became just the third All-Star Game starter in Pacers history, turned the third quarter into his own highlight video. In addition to scoring 12 points, he had three rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. George’s offensive punch turned a three-point Pacers halftime edge into a 21-point margin.

George added a slam dunk, his fourth basket of the quarter, when he took a long pass from center Ian Mahinmi and slammed the ball home with one hand.

The Pacers outscored the Lakers 34-16 in the third quarter and forced seven Lakers turnovers. Hill and guard C.J. Watson of Indiana each had five points in the quarter.

“It was kind of similar to a lot of the games we’ve played this year. Feeling the game out in the first half and taking over in the second half,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

NOTES: Pacers F Lavoy Allen and G/F Evan Turner, who were obtained Thursday in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, were activated for Tuesday’s game. Turner received an ovation when he made his Pacers debut in the first quarter. “Hopefully, this will be a little bit of a spark for our team and help springboard us forward,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. … The Pacers entered the game with an NBA-best 26 home wins, nearly triple that of the Lakers. … Pacers G Lance Stephenson’s four triple-doubles are one short of a single-season club record. … Among the Lakers not making the trip included G/F Nick Young, G Kobe Bryant and PG Steve Nash. Young scored 10 points Sunday vs. Brooklyn, but is now out again because he isn’t fully recovered from a fractured knee. … Tuesday’s start was just the second career NBA start for Lakers G Kent Bazemore.

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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NBA News Wire

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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NBA News Wire

NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return

The Sports Xchange



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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