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Lakers overcome fouls, injuries to beat Cavs 119-108

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CLEVELAND — The Los Angeles Lakers had just five healthy players on the roster at the end of the game.

And one of them was playing with six personal fouls.

Despite all the wackiness, the Lakers prevailed over the Cleveland Cavaliers, 119-108, on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Lakers (17-32) dressed just eight players and seven of them scored in double figures. The only player who didn’t, guard Nick Young, left the game with a twisted left knee in the first half and didn’t return.

“It was interesting, to say the least,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Center Robert Sacre picked up his sixth foul with 3:32 to play. However, the Lakers’ only player on the bench, guard Jordan Farmar, had his leg iced because of cramping. So, Sacre remained in the game.

“I knew they would attack him,” D’Antoni said. “I didn’t think he would foul that many times to where it would kill us. We had a big enough lead to where I thought we were OK.”

Guard Steve Nash was active, but was in street clothes. He switched to his uniform in the late going.

“I wasn’t going to go to (Nash),” D’Antoni said. “That wouldn’t be fair to him. Jordan Farmar could have just stood out there somewhere, but that wouldn’t have been the best thing.”

Lakers power forward Ryan Kelly finished with a career-high 26 points and six rebounds.

Farmar added 21 points and eight assists, while forward Wesley Johnson had 20 points and nine rebounds.

The Lakers were leading by 18 after three quarters, 98-80, then had to hold on for dear life.

A clutch 3-pointer by Steve Blake with 1:17 left iced the contest. He had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, a game-high 15 assists and seven turnovers.

Guard C.J. Miles had a game-high 27 points for the Cavs (16-33), who have now lost six in a row, as well as eight of their last nine.

Center Anderson Varejao added 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Cavs.

Cavs coach Mike Brown benched all his starters for the fourth quarter, with the exception of Varejao.

“That last group on the floor gave us a chance to win,” Brown said. “Maybe we can learn something from what that group did on the floor.”

Brown sent C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova, Anthony Bennett and Varejao into the game.

They outscored the Lakers in the fourth quarter, 28-21, and narrowed their deficit to six points at one juncture.

“Our second unit did a heck of a job,” Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said. “They believed they could get back in the game. They fought their butts off.”

Irving said he doesn’t think a message was sent to the players on the bench.

“If I were the coach, I would have played that second unit to the end,” he said.

The ending was an odd one, even for veterans who thought they’d seen it all.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Lakers center Chris Kaman said. “I asked (assistant coach Kurt Rambis) and (athletic trainer Gary Vitti), they’ve been around 30 years and neither one of them have seen anything like that. It was interesting. I don’t think you’ll ever see anything like that again.”

If Sacre had committed another personal foul, he would have been assessed with a technical foul.

The Lakers connected on 18-of-37 3-point goals (48.6 percent), compared to the Cavs’ five-of-33 (15.2 percent).

Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Cavs.

“I liked his assertiveness,” Brown said. “He’s not getting down on himself. He’s just playing the game. When he does that, he can do a lot of things. He will be able to do some things that will wow people.”

Dellavedova finished with eight points, four rebounds and five assists.

“He was a presence on both ends of the floor,” Brown said. “He was a big part of us having a shot at winning the game.

“We had dug ourselves such a big hole, it was difficult for that group to overcome. We wanted this group to have an opportunity to finish the game.”

Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson contributed 13 points and eight rebounds.

Irving was limited to 11 points in 28 minutes.

NOTES: Former Cavaliers legend Austin Carr’s No. 34 banner has been replaced in the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena. It mysteriously disappeared sometime after the wrestling event and before the New Orleans game on Jan. 28. The Cavs replaced the banner in time for Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. … Lakers G Manny Harris’ second 10-day contract expired on Tuesday in Minnesota. The Lakers either had to sign him for the rest of the season or kick him loose. They chose the latter. He had 19 points and eight rebounds against the Timberwolves. Harris had two stints with the Cavs in 2010-11 and 2011-12. … The Cavs need locker room leaders in the worst way. G Jarrett Jack might be turning into that guy. “He’s probably our most vocal guy,” Brown said. “His communication skills on both ends of the floor have been pretty good.” … Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni wouldn’t say his team was snake bit with injuries. “We can play better,” he said. “We’re not concentrating on the other things. We have to stay positive.” It seems as if D’Antoni changes his starting lineup on a daily basis. He started Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake in the backcourt, Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson at forwards and Robert Sacre at center. Missing are Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, among others. … Blake suffered a burst ear drum recently. “I just can’t talk to him on the left side,” D’Antoni joked. “He’s fine.” … Guard Steve Nash was held out of the game because it was the second night of a back-to-back. … There are no restrictions on minutes on Cavs G Anderson Varejao, who has returned from a hyperextended left knee.

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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