MINNEAPOLIS — The Philadelphia 76ers avoided a dubious place in the NBA record books on Wednesday, as they snapped a 17-game losing streak with their first victory of the season in an 85-77 defeat of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Philadelphia entered the night one loss away from tying the 2009-10 Nets for the worst start to a season in NBA history, but a game-high 20 points from Michael Carter-Williams helped the 76ers preserve their first win.
Philadelphia was 5-of-24 from 3-point range, but forward Robert Covington converted on three shots from long-distance en route to posting 17 points.
Forward Thaddeus Young, who was traded to the Timberwolves in the offseason as part of a three-team deal that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland, opened 0-of-4 from the floor before finishing with 16 points against his former team. Luc Mbah a Moute, who was also part of the Love deal, was one rebound shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers.
Nets 95, Spurs 93 (OT)
NEW YORK — Brooklyn forward Mirza Teletovic led his team with 26 points in a win over San Antonio, snapping the defending NBA champions’ eight-game win streak.
Brooklyn also received 17 points and nine assists from guard Deron Williams and 16 points and 15 rebounds from center Brook Lopez. Guard Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points.
San Antonio was led by guard Danny Green, who scored 20 points while guard Manu Ginobili added 15 points.
Bulls 102, Hornets 95
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pau Gasol led the way with 19 points and 15 rebounds, and fellow big men Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic also had double-doubles in a solid performance from start to finish as Chicago topped Charlotte.
Noah finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Mirotic had 11 points and 12 rebounds, giving all three Chicago big men double-doubles. Chicago also got 15 points each from guards Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, and 12 points from guard Kirk Hinrich.
Guard Kemba Walker scored 23 and guard Lance Stephenson had 20 points and eight rebounds for Charlotte. But leading scorer Al Jefferson was held to 13 points and seven rebounds.
Wizards 111, Lakers 95
WASHINGTON — Guard Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, but the Los Angeles Lakers’ modest winning streak ended as Bradley Beal’s scoring, John Wall’s passing and Kris Humphries’ rebounding carried Washington to a victory.
Beal had 27 points and backcourt partner Wall finished with 17 points and a season-high 15 assists for Washington. Starting at power forward for the injured Nene, Humphries grabbed 20 rebounds. Forward Paul Pierce added 14 points, but he limped to the locker room in the third quarter and did not return with an injured right big toe.
For Los Angeles, guard Nick Young scored 21 points but guard Jeremy Lin missed all 10 of his field-goal attempts.
Hawks 112, Heat 102
MIAMI — Atlanta won its fourth game in a row, defeating Miami at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Atlanta was led by guards Jeff Teague (27 points), Kyle Korver (18 points) and reserve guard Dennis Schroeder (a career-high 16 points).
Miami was led by forward Chris Bosh (27 points, 11 rebounds) and guard Dwyane Wade (a season-high 28 points). Guard Mario Chalmers added 19 points and 11 assists.
Celtics 108, Pistons 102 (OT)
BOSTON — Forward Jared Sullinger scored 10 in overtime as Boston handed Detroit its 10th loss in a row.
Forward Jeff Green finished with 32 points, forward Kelly Olynyk came off the bench with 20 points and seven rebounds, Sullinger had 14 points and eight rebounds and center Tyler Zeller had eight points and 10 boards.
Swingman Greg Monroe, coming off the bench, had 29 points and seven rebounds, while center Andre Drummond posted 27 points and 14 rebounds For Detroit. Forward Josh Smith had 12 points and 11 rebounds and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 15 points.
Rockets 105, Grizzlies 96
HOUSTON — With all five members of their revamped starting lineup scoring in double figures, Houston ran past league-leading Memphis at Toyota Center.
Guard James Harden scored a game-high 21 points while rookie center Tarik Black recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds for Houston. Guard Jason Terry and forward Trevor Ariza scored 16 points apiece.
Guard Mike Conley paced Memphis with 15 points and six assists while swingman Tony Allen added 10 points, two steals and two blocks.
Mavericks 107, Bucks 105
MILWAUKEE — Monta Ellis scored on a 10-foot fadeaway jumper as time expired, giving Dallas a victory over Milwaukee at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Ellis scored 10 of his team-leading 23 points in the final quarter. Center Tyson Chandler scored 18 points for Dallas, which also got 14 from forward Chandler Parsons, 13 each from forward Al-Farouq Aminu and point guard Jameer Nelson and 10 off the bench from forward Richard Jefferson.
Forward Khris Middleton hit his first six from the field and finished 21 points, while guard Brandon Knight went 8-for-16 from the floor and led Milwaukee with 25 points.
Raptors 123, Jazz 104
SALT LAKE CITY — Guard Kyle Lowry led Toronto to its second win in as many nights, scoring a career-high 39 points in a victory over Utah at EnergySolutions Arena.
Lowry (15 first-half points) and Greivis Vasquez (14 of his 17 points) help established control before halftime as Toronto shot 64 percent took a lead to the locker room.
The Jazz got strong offensive contributions from their frontcourt, as both center Derrick Favors and power forward Enes Kanter finished with 19 points. Rookie forward Joe Ingles scored a career-high 12 points off the bench for Utah.
Clippers 114, Magic 86
LOS ANGELES — Forward Blake Griffin had 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 114-86 rout of Orlando at Staples Center.
Shooting guard J.J. Redick scored 20 points and point guard Chris Paul added 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds for Los Angeles, which captured its sixth consecutive win. Forward Matt Barnes, the only Los Angeles starter to play in the final period, finished with 17 points.
Forward Tobias Harris led Orlando with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair
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.
NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return
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.
Ginobili sprains ankle as Spurs rout Timberwolves
SAN ANTONIO — The fourth and final meeting of the season between the San Antonio Spurs and the Minnesota Timberwolves looked a lot like the first three.
Forward Kawhi Leonard scored a team-high 15 points as San Antonio defeated Minnesota 123-97 Sunday night at the AT&T Center. The only downside for the Spurs was losing guard Manu Ginobili due to a sprained right ankle.
Leonard was one of seven San Antonio players to score in double figures as the Spurs (41-24) completed a season sweep of Minnesota (14-51). The average margin of victory in the games as 23.
The Spurs earned their seventh win in eight games.
Guard Kevin Martin scored 19 points and guard Zach LaVine added 18 for the Timberwolves, who were missing many players on the final game of a four-game road trip. Minnesota lost its fourth game in a row.
“We moved (the ball) well, but it wasn’t a fair fight,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Their guys are devastated by their injuries, so I thought we had good focus under the circumstances. They still played the right way, so that was the best part of the game.”
The Spurs pulled away in the third quarter behind a 13-0 run. The Wolves only shot 27.3 percent in the third, and the Spurs made 63.6 of their field goals while outscoring Minnesota 33-13 in the period.
“That’s what great teams do,” Martin said. “We knew they were going to do that. Kawhi Leonard had a first half that he probably didn’t want to have, and I’m sure Pop let him know about it. He came out in the second half and changed the whole game.”
Ginobili had to be helped off the court late in the third quarter, and he did not return. He was hurt with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs up by 30 points.
Ginobili was taken immediately to the locker room and did not put any weight on his right leg, and he will be out for a to 10 days, Popovich said. Ginobili finished the game with 11 points in 19 minutes.
San Antonio forward Jeff Ayres sustained a rib contusion in the second half and also sat out the rest of the contest.
Sunday night marked the first time San Antonio stepped back on the court since a 128-125 overtime loss to the Cavaliers on Thursday that included a 57-point performance by Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving. The loss snapped the Spurs’ six game winning streak.
Minnesota dressed only eight players. Forward Kevin Garnett (knee), guard Ricky Rubio (ankle) and center Nikola Pekovic (ankle) were all ruled out by coach Flip Saunders before the game.
“It wasn’t a fair fight,” Saunders said. “We just weren’t alert mentally, as far as trying to play. They just mauled us basically.”
The Spurs took advantage of Minnesota’s depleted lineup and jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead behind guard Tony Parker, who made his first four shots of the game and finished the night with 11 points and eight assists. Minnesota trailed 60-50 at halftime.
The Spurs led by as many as 39 points in the fourth quarter.
Even though San Antonio was facing a team without a full complement of players, forward Tim Duncan said the final game of a 5-1 homestand was a sign of good things to come.
“We’re turning that corner,” said Duncan, who finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. “I think we’re heading the right direction. The huge loss last game, I felt like we gave that one away. But other than that, we’re on the right track.”
San Antonio will hit the road for back-to-back games in New York on Tuesday and in Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Timberwolves head home to face the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.
NOTES: San Antonio moved percentage points ahead of the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference standings. The Clippers lost Sunday, while the Mavericks were idle. … Minnesota F Kevin Garnett (knee) missed his fourth game in a row. … Spurs G Manu Ginobili was back in action against Minnesota after battling a stomach illness that caused him to miss the team’s game against Toronto on Tuesday and play less than 10 minutes against Cleveland on Thursday.