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Mavericks hand Pacers a rare home loss

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INDIANAPOLIS– The Dallas Mavericks earned few style points, but they still emerged with a win Wednesday night.

Fresh off a drubbing by the Charlotte Bobcats, the Mavericks bounced back Wednesday night to hand the Indiana Pacers their third loss in 28 home games, 81-73.

“We limited mistakes,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were able to make enough plays. We were able to get out of here alive.”

Neither team shined offensively at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana and Dallas each shot more than 10 percent below their season averages.

Dallas, now 14-14 in road contests, went 30 of 84 (35.7 percent) from the field, and Indiana connected on 27 of 84 (32.1 percent).

Guard Monta Ellis led the Mavericks (32-22) with 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the floor, 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. He also posted team highs with nine rebounds and six assists. All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki added 14 points, sinking half of his 14 field-goal attempts.

“The defenses tonight were unbelievable,” Nowitzki said. “We knew it was going to be a physical battle.

“Last night (in Charlotte), they got whatever they wanted, and Coach got on us pretty good this morning.”

The Pacers’ 73-point output was their lowest of the season.

Nowitzki played despite spraining his left ankle in Tuesday night’s game, and he showed few effects from the injury in his 34-plus minutes of action.

However, it was Brandan Wright’s 11 minutes that gave the Mavericks a boost, and more important, the lead.

With 5:19 to play in the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-10 forward took the pass from guard Shane Larkin and hit a jumper to put Dallas on top 68-66.

The Mavericks stretched the margin to eight points with 3:47 minutes to play after Nowitzki converted two free throws.

Wright, who tallied all of his seven points in the fourth, gave the Mavericks a lead earlier in the fourth by hitting the second of two free throws. He upped the lead to three on a dunk, with the assist going to guard Vince Carter.

Carlisle said it was strictly a coach’s decision to call on Wright late in the game.

The Pacers (40-12) clawed back from a seven-point, second quarter deficit to take a five-point lead in the third. They then tried to late re-enact that rally in the fourth, but to no avail.

Guard Lance Stephenson penetrated the Mavericks’ defense for a finger-roll layup with 2:06 to play to cut the lead to six. Indiana forward Paul George drained a 3-pointer following a Pacers timeout with 37.3 seconds to play, slicing the margin to 76-73.

The Mavericks sealed the game by shooting 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the closing seconds, with Ellis going 4-for-4.

Indiana had five players finish in double figures, led by point guard George Hill, who scored 14 points. Stephenson and forward Danny Granger added 13 apiece. Stephenson also pulled down 10 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.

“They beat us at our game,” Hill said. “You have to tip your hat to them. They played well tonight, and we just didn’t play good enough.”

Dallas outscored Indiana 21-11 in the fourth quarter.

Three technical fouls were issued in the first half, two against the Pacers (Stephenson and forward David West), and one against the Mavericks (guard Jose Calderon).

“We knew we needed to be aggressive, we knew we needed to be physical,” Carter said. “We knew the kind of game we were walking into tonight.”

Each team will have five days off for the All-Star break. The Pacers play host to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, the same day Mavericks face the visiting Miami Heat.

NOTES: Mavericks G Devin Harris sat out due to a right knee/ankle injury. … Dallas averaged 44.8 points in the paint during its five-game winning streak, which was snapped Tuesday night against Charlotte. During the same span, the Mavericks allowed just 32.4. In the loss to the Bobcats, the Mavericks were outscored 60-42 in the paint. Dallas bounced back Wednesday to top Indiana 32-22 on inside points. … The Pacers allow an NBA-low 35.1 points per game in the paint. … The Pacers swept the 2012-13 season series with the Mavericks, 103-83 at home and 103-78 in Dallas. … Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spent four seasons as the coach of the Pacers (2003-2007), leading them to the Eastern Conference finals in 2004. … Before Wednesday’s loss, the Pacers were 8-0 in the second game of a multi-game homestand.

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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