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NBA game roundup: Fournier leads Magic past Knicks

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NEW YORK — Evan Fournier turned in his second superb performance in as many nights, scoring 28 points to lead Orlando Magic to a 97-95 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Fournier fired in 24 points in a 104-100 loss at Toronto on Tuesday. Nikola Vucevic posted his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

New York (2-7) has dropped six straight games. Carmelo Anthony topped the Knicks with 27 points and J.R. Smith added 19 off the bench.

Anthony’s 3-pointer with four seconds left to play drew the Knicks to within 96-95, but they were forced to foul Fournier, who sank one of two free throws with 3.5 seconds left.

Wizards 107, Pistons 103

WASHINGTON — Detroit’s Brandon Jennings scored 32 points, but John Wall finished with 27 points and 11 assists to lead Washington.

Rasual Butler scored 18 points off the bench and Marcin Gortat added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, winners of two straight and six of seven. Washington improved to 6-2 for the first since 1975-76. After struggling at the Verizon Center last season, the Wizards are 3-0 home this campaign, their best start since 2006-07.

The Pistons (2-6) scored 100 points for the first time this season but lost their third straight game and fell to 0-4 on the road.

The lead changed sides on five consecutive baskets in the fourth quarter. Wall’s floating jump shot with 1:11 remaining gave Washington the lead for good.

Thunder 109, Celtics 94

BOSTON — Former Boston College star Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow were too much for the Celtics to handle. A night after scoring a career-high 29 points in a loss at Milwaukee, Jackson scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half and Morrow had 19 of his 28 in the fourth quarter to lead injury-ravaged Oklahoma City.

The Thunder (3-6), without stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and four others and dressing just 10 players, fell behind by 15 points early but roared back to post their first win in six road games this season.

Jackson had 14 points and four of his eight assists in the third quarter, scoring five straight points in the final 49.8 seconds of the quarter to give the Thunder a four-point lead. Morrow, playing in just his second game of the season after returning from injury on Tuesday night, was 8 of 8 from the field in the fourth quarter.

Rajon Rondo just missed had a triple-double for the Celtics, scoring 20 points and adding 12 assists and nine rebounds. Avery Bradley contributed 17 points.

Pacers 81, Heat 75

MIAMI — Roy Hibbert had 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks as short-handed Indiana won its first road game of the season.

Chris Copeland, who was Indiana’s leading scorer with 17 points, hit a driving layup with 42 seconds left to break a 72-72 tie. Miami’s Mario Chalmers was then charged with an offensive foul and Indiana took control.

Indiana (3-6), which has six players on its injured list, won its second game in a row.

The Heat (5-3) had its modest two-game win streak snapped.

Miami was led by Dwyane Wade (20 points) and Shawne Williams (15 points). Chris Bosh, averaging 23.6 points and 10.3 rebounds, was held to nine points and two rebounds, his season lows in both categories.

Hawks 100, Jazz 97

ATLANTA — Paul Millsap had a game-high 30 points and 17 rebounds against his former team and Kyle Korver sparked a late fourth-quarter rally to lead Atlanta.

Alec Burks hit a jumper that put Utah up 97-89 with 4:33 to play before the Hawks made their closing run. Millsap hit a couple of buckets, sandwiched around Thabo Sefolosha’s layup off a nice feed from Korver to cut the deficit to two.

Korver then drained a deep 3-pointer that put the Hawks ahead 98-97 with a minute left. Jeff Teague made a couple of free throws to push the lead to three, and Atlanta came up with several key stops in the final minute to preserve its seventh straight win over the Jazz.

Teague had 20 points and eight assists, and Korver finished with 17 points. Burks paced a balanced Utah attack with 22 points.

Pelicans 109, Lakers 102

NEW ORLEANS – Anthony Davis had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six shots to help New Orleans hand Los Angeles its fourth straight road loss.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 33 points. He scored 14 in the first quarter but needed 28 shots from the field to get his game-high total. Carlos Boozer added 16 for the Lakers.

The Pelicans used a 19-5 run bridging a 5:20 span of the third and fourth quarters to build a 96-75 lead and pull away. Tyreke Evans scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday added 17 each for New Orleans.

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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