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Kings rally to edge Knicks in OT

The Sports Xchange



NEW YORK — A double-digit, second-half deficit and the loss of their top player, center DeMarcus Cousins, wasn’t enough to derail the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

The Kings turned back the New York Knicks 106-101 in overtime at Madison Square Garden.

Sacramento got a career-high 24 points from guard Jimmer Fredette, who hit six of eight 3-point attempts. Forward Rudy Gay added 20 points for the Kings (18-35).

The Kings ended their seven-game road losing streak, and they finished 1-3 on their East Coast trip. The last game Sacramento won on the road was Jan. 21 at New Orleans.

Cousins scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds before limping off the court with a strained left hip flexor with 3:15 to go in regulation. He recorded a double-double for the 21st time in the past 22 games.

Forward Carmelo Anthony topped New York with 36 points, but he scored only four points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He made only one of eight shots over the final 17 minutes.

Anthony was on the court for the entire fourth quarter and OT.

“I didn’t even give him (Anthony) a chance to get a break,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “When Iman (Shumpert) went out, I elected to ride Melo the rest of the way, and we didn’t get it done.”

Shumpert left the game in the third quarter with a strained left hip flexor. He finished with eight points, three steals and two turnovers.

Forward Amar’e Stoudemire continued his stellar play off the Knicks’ bench, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

The Knicks, who scored just two baskets in overtime, fell to 2-2 in OT games. The Kings are 3-2 in overtime.

New York (20-32) lost for the fifth time in six games. The Knicks head into the All-Star break in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff position.

“I didn’t expect us to be in the situation that we are in right now,” Anthony said. “We have to fight through t.”

A 3-pointer from Gay and a breakaway dunk from forward Derrick Williams gave the Kings a 98-93 lead with 2:28 to go in overtime. The Knicks didn’t score their first field goal in the extra session until 1:37 remained.

Forward Jason Thompson increased the Kings’ lead to 102-98 on a layup with one minute left.

Gay sank a midrange jumper to knot the score at 93-93 with 20.8 remaining in regulation. Fredette drained two long 3-pointers, the second with 1:25 to play, to draw the Kings to within 93-91.

“My shots were falling, so I continued to be aggressive,” Fredette said. “It was there for me, but I was also trying to create.”

Sacramento coach Michael Malone credited Fredette, who led Division I in scoring in 2010-11 and was named the National Player of the Year at BYU, with altering Wednesday’s game.

“I give him credit,” Malone said. “This hasn’t been an easy season for Jimmer, and I realize that. At times his playing time has been a little inconsistent. But one thing I’ve been telling him lately, and I sent him a text the other night, is that I still believe in him.”

Sacramento tied it at 81-81 on two free throws from Williams with 6:43 to play, but Stoudemire scored six straight points to give the Knicks an 87-83 edge with 4:58 to play.

The Knicks led 74-72 after three quarters despite going 6:22 without a bucket from the floor. Anthony provided the offense with 10 points in the period.

Fredette sat the entire third quarter, and the Kings trailed 64-52 early in the period.

New York ended the second quarter on an 8-2 run to grab a 54-48 halftime lead. Stoudemire scored four of his 10 first-half points in the blitz.

Sacramento opened the second quarter with a 21-6 burst, ignited by 15 points from Fredette off the bench, to move ahead 43-39. The Kings sank eight of their 12 shots in the sequence.

“It was about to be a 25-point game, and (Fredette’s) ability to come in that first half and get us back into it was huge,” Malone said.

Anthony connected on seven of nine shots in the first quarter, scoring 17 points to help the Knicks to a 33-22 advantage. New York shot a blistering 70 percent in the quarter.

NOTES: Knicks C Tyson Chandler recorded a season-high 17 points and hauled in 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double this season. … F Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring for the 46th time this season. … The Knicks were without G J.R. Smith, who is sidelined due to a fractured left cheekbone. … Sacramento C DeMarcus Cousins is one of only three players this season averaging at least 22 points and 11 rebounds. … Kings G Isaiah Thomas (20 points) scored in double figures for the 48th time in 53 games this season. … The Knicks play eight of their next 10 games on the road.

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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