NEW ORLEANS — Guard Stephen Curry scored a team-high 34 points, including eight in overtime, and Klay Thompson added 29 to lift the Golden State Warriors a 128-122 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans and extend their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games on Sunday night.
The Warriors (21-2) are off to the third-best start in NBA history, but this one was a struggle on the second game of a back-to-back.
After regulation ended 111-111, the Warriors outscored the Pelicans 17-11 in the extra period, and Curry was nearly perfect, making three consecutive shots, including two 3-pointers, in the eight-point flurry. His 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:35 left in overtime gave Golden State a 123-114 lead.
The Warriors have not lost since Nov. 11, a 113-100 defeat to the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
New Orleans played without All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who bruised his chest in a Friday night victory over Cleveland. The Pelicans were led by forward Tyreke Evans’ season-high 34 points and guard Jrue Holiday’s 27.
Raptors 95, Knicks 90 (OT)
NEW YORK — Forward Patrick Patterson and point guard Kyle Lowry hit clutch shots in the early stages of overtime and Toronto pulled out a victory over New York at Madison Square Garden.
Guard Terrence Ross led the Raptors with a season-high 22 points with 13 coming during the third quarter when they rallied from a six-point deficit and took a 72-67 lead entering the fourth. Lowry finished with 21 points, reserve Lou Williams added 15 and Patterson added 13 for the Raptors, who were getting loud cheers from fans who made the trip by the end of the game.
New York’s Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points but was 0-for-3 and was forced into an offensive foul by Patterson in the extra session. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. started in place of J.R. Smith (left foot) and added 18 points but shot 4-of-14.
Lakers 100, Timberwolves 94
MINNEAPOLIS — On the night he surpassed Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant put up a team-high 26 points in his team’s win over Minnesota.
Bryant overtook the Chicago Bulls legend with a free throw in the second quarter. Bryant (32,310) now sits behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928) in career points.
Lakers forward Carlos Boozer scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, which proved key to helping keep Minnesota at bay late in the game. Boozer added 13 rebounds to notch his fourth double-double of the season.
Minnesota forward Shabazz Muhammad came off the bench to tie his career high with 28 points, his third 20-point performance in his past six games. Rookie forward Andrew Wiggins finished with 16 points, shooting 4-for-12 from the floor but hitting all eight of his free throws.
Bulls 93, Heat 75
MIAMI — Chicago, with the best road record in the Eastern Conference, easily defeated Miami.
Small forward Mike Dunleavy scored all 22 of his points in the second half to lead the Bulls. His only better scoring game this season came on Nov. 7 against Philadelphia (27 points).
The Bulls are 11-3 on the road, including four straight wins. They are also 8-0 on the road against Eastern Conference teams. Chicago, the most improved offensive team in the NBA so far this season, had its streak of 100-point games snapped at eight.
The Heat were without forward Chris Bosh, who missed his first game of the season with a calf injury. Guard Dwyane Wade had an off night, scoring just 10 points through three quarters — on 4-of-13 shooting — when the game was decided. He finished with 17 points.
Wizards 93, Jazz 84
WASHINGTON — Guard Bradley Beal scored 22 points and fueled a second-half surge along with backcourt partner John Wall as Washington took control in the second half for a victory over Utah.
Wall had 16 points, eight assists, six rebounds, five steals and three blocks for the Wizards, who outscored the Jazz 30-16 in the third quarter after trailing 42-37 at halftime. Forward Paul Pierce had 15 points.
The Wizards have won eight of nine games overall and seven straight at home.
Thunder 112, Suns 88
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 51 points and 16 rebounds to lead Oklahoma City to a win over Phoenix at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Westbrook led all scorers with 28 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists in only 26 minutes of work. Durant added 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Forward Serge Ibaka added 12 points.
Guard Gerald Green paced the Suns with 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting. Guard Eric Bledsoe was held to 12 points and four assists.
Spurs 99, Nuggets 91
DENVER — Forward Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points and added six blocked shots and five steals, and San Antonio beat Denver.
Forward Tim Duncan had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, who held off a late Denver rally for the win.
Guard Ty Lawson committed four turnovers in one of his poorest games in a while. He had six points and 10 assists despite suffering a laceration over his left eye when he collided with Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in the second quarter. Guard Arron Afflalo led Denver with a season-high 31 points but had a game-high six turnovers. Center Timofey Mozgov had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets.
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.
Irving leads Cavaliers to rout of Magic
ORLANDO — Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving is in the midst of an incredible shooting zone. And he’s loving every minute of it. Irving followed his NBA-best, 57-point scoring burst on Thursday with a more-efficient, 33-point effort Sunday, leading the Cavaliers to a 123-108 victory over the outmatched Orlando Magic.
Irving was sensational again.
In the last two games, Irving has made 12 of 13 shots from 3-point range. He has made 32 of 47 shots overall. He made the Cavs look unstoppable.
“It’s just a feel, an overall body feel right now,” Irving said. “The basketball feels a little bit better. It’s a fun game right now, and it’s fun to be part of something like this.”
Irving made 12 of his 15 shots Sunday and hit five of six from 3-point range, finding time to add four rebounds and four assists in leading the Cavs (43-25) to their fourth consecutive victory.
“Someone did ask me (before the game), what does he do for an encore (after his 57 point effort),” said Cavs coach David Blatt. “I didn’t have a good answer, But 12 of 15 from the field, in 34 minutes. That’s a pretty good encore. And he played right, which is the most important thing. It’s not the scoring as much as it is him just being engaged, locked in.”
LeBron James happily provided the perfect complement and setup man. He had 21 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds, and three steals, creating opportunities for everyone else. The Cavs buried the Magic by making 18 of 35 3-point shots, most of which were wide open.
Guard J.R. Smith scored 25 points, leading the 3-point onslaught by making six of his 10 from long range.
“I thought LeBron seemed to be seeing everyone in the gym tonight,” Blatt said. “And he threw it to them in the shooting pocket, and it seemed like that made every one. It seemed like he found guys in the eighth row that could make an open shot tonight.”
The Cavs received a brief scare midway in the third period when James went up to contest a shot and landed awkwardly, twisting his right knee. He continued to play and looked fine, but he raised the issue about his availability for Monday’s game in Miami.
“A scary moment for myself obviously,” he said. “I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there. I haven’t had one of those falls in a pretty long time. I was happy to stay in the game.”
The Cavs made 45 of 76 shots (59.2 percent). The Magic (21-47) made 42 of 88 (47.7 percent, but they never seriously challenged in the second half, even though they closed to nine points twice in the fourth quarter.
Magic guard Victor Olidipo had 25 points and seven assists. Center Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton had 13 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Forward Tobias Harris had 24 points and eight rebounds. Reserve guard Luke Ridnour had a season-high 15 points.
Irving made his first four 3-point attempts, giving him 11 consecutive 3-pointers without a miss, dating back to his 7-for-7 effort Thursday against San Antonio. He finally missed from 3-point range midway in the third period.
The Magic twice fouled Smith while he was shooting beyond the 3-point line, accounting for all five of his free throws.
“That’s a tough team. You have to give them credit,” Harris said. “They have a lot of options out there, and guys who can make tough shots. It’s just overall tough for us against a team like that.”
The Cavaliers led 100-86 going into the fourth quarter. Smith made a trio of 3-pointers in the third period, helping hold off every Magic charge in the period.
Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Cavaliers a 84-68 lead. Irving hit a pair of 3-pointers earlier in the period.
The Cavaliers led 66-55 at intermission, riding a red-hot shooting start and a 40-point second quarter. They made 26 of 42 shots (61.9 percent) and eight of their 16 3-point attempts in the first half.
Irving hit both of his 3-pointers in the first half. The Magic held a 28-16 rebound edge in the first half, but they couldn’t keep pace with the Cavaliers, who exploded in the second period when they made 16 of their 20 shots.
The Magic led the entire first quarter. Forward James Jones gave the Cavaliers their first lead when he opened the second with a 3-pointer.
Vucevic and Harris each had 14 points by halftime. James had 15 points and six assists before intermission. Irving made six of his first seven shots for 14 points.
NOTES: The Cavaliers were without PF Kevin Love (sore back), but they were helped by the return of veteran Shawn Marion, who missed the past three weeks with a strained hip muscle. F Tristan Thompson started in Love’s place. … The Magic were without reserve G Willie Green, who missed his third consecutive game with lower back spasms and F Evan Fournier, who missed his eighth consecutive game with a sore right hip. … A quirk in the schedule gave the Cavs two-plus days in balmy Orlando before the game Sunday. The extra time gave one fan of James the opportunity to invite him Friday to his wedding reception Saturday night at the posh hotel where the Cavs were staying. James politely declined.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
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.