MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, the only one-loss teams left in the NBA, could have been expected to play one of the most competitive games of the young season Monday night.
Instead, the Grizzlies emphatically defended their home court at FedExForum with a 119-93 victory. Memphis led by as many as 36 points in the fourth quarter and finished with its largest margin of victory this season.
Houston, playing for the second night in a row, never pulled closer than 20 points after halftime.
Point guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies (10-1) with 19 points and six assists. Guard Courtney Lee scored 15 points, swingman Quincy Pondexter and forward Jon Leuer each had 13 points off the bench, and reserve point guard Beno Udrih finished with 13 points and six assists.
Forward Trevor Ariza paced Houston (9-2) with 16 points. Center Dwight Howard had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Memphis shot 53.5 percent (46-for-86) and scored 31 points off 21 Houston turnovers. The Grizzlies gave the ball away just 11 times, leading to 11 points.
The Rockets shot 43.6 percent (34-for-78). Memphis outscored Houston 64-50 in the paint.
The Grizzlies won their 20th consecutive regular-season home game. Houston lost on the road for the first time this season (6-1).
Spurs 100, 76ers 75
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has been known to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker a night off even against top opponents in an effort to keep them fresh for the long season.
With the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA’s most ineffectual team in town Monday night, the Spurs coach didn’t hold any of the team’s Big Three out of the game; he just deployed them for fewer minutes than they normally play.
That hardly mattered. With neither Duncan, Ginobili nor Parker logging more than 18 minutes, the Spurs defeated Philadelphia for their fourth victory in the last five games.
Heat 95, Nets 83
NEW YORK — Guard Mario Chalmers scored 22 points, and short-handed Miami dominated the second half en route to a victory over Brooklyn at Barclays Center.
Center Chris Bosh contributed 15 points and nine rebounds for Miami, which outscored Brooklyn 57-40 in the second half. Guard Norris Cole added 12 points, while rookie guard Shabazz Napier added a career-high 11 points and first-year forward James Ennis contributed a career-best 10 points.
The Heat snapped a three-game losing streak on a night when they were without guard Dwyane Wade (strained left hamstring) and forwards Luol Deng (wrist) and Josh McRoberts (left foot).
Rookie forward Bojan Bogdanovic tied a career high with 22 points, and reserve guard Jarrett Jack added 15 for the Nets, who dropped their fourth straight. Brooklyn shot 11-for-30 from the field in the second half and 16-for-26 from the foul line overall.
Suns 118, Celtics 114
BOSTON — Phoenix blew double-digit leads in both halves but still pulled out a victory over Boston.
The Suns (6-5 after ending a two-game losing streak) led by 13 points in the first half, lost the lead and then led by 14 in the second half — and lost that lead, too.
But guard Eric Bledsoe stole an Avery Bradley pass and scored, breaking a 114-114 tie with 29.5 seconds left.
The Celtics suffered their third straight tough home loss to fall to 3-6.
Magic 107, Pistons 93
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Nikola Vucevic powered for 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Orlando defeated Detroit and former coach Stan Van Gundy at The Palace.
Magic forward Tobias Harris scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half to spoil Van Gundy’s first game against the team he coached for five seasons. Shooting guard Evan Fournier supplied 14 points and eight assists, power forward Channing Frye contributed 12 points, and guard Victor Oladipo added 11 points for Orlando (5-7).
Orlando forward Aaron Gordon, the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, missed his first game after fracturing his left foot Saturday in the Magic’s 98-93 loss to the Washington Wizards.
Nuggets 106, Cavaliers 97
CLEVELAND — Arron Afflalo had a season-high 23 points, guard Ty Lawson had 24 points and 12 assists and Denver ended Cleveland’s four-game winning streak with a victory on the road.
The Nuggets (3-7) led throughout the second half, building a 96-84 lead on a 3-pointer from forward Darrell Arthur, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
The Nuggets rebounded from a 16-point loss at New York on Sunday to take two of three on this brief East Coast trip, including a surprising win over what many expect will be the best team in the East this season.
Forward LeBron James, named Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier in the day, battled a head cold that forced him to miss the team’s morning shoot-around. He missed his first five shots before recovering to finish with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists. But the Cavs (5-4) turned the ball over six times in the third quarter and allowed the Nuggets to shoot 48 percent on the night.
Mavericks 107, Hornets 80
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Guard Monta Ellis scored 18 points and forward Chandler Parsons added 17 points and nine rebounds as Dallas routed Charlotte for its fourth consecutive win..
The Mavericks rolled to a 24-point halftime lead by shooting 61.9 percent from the field, then led by as many as 33 in the second half before resting their starters the entire fourth quarter.
The Mavericks also got points from 14 points and nine rebounds from center Tyson Chandler and 13 points from forward Dirk Nowitzki, who surpassed the 27,000-point plateau for his career. Nowitzki is one of four players in NBA history to score more than 27,000 points with one franchise, joining Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Trail Blazers 102, Pelicans 93
PORTLAND — Portland outscored New Orleans 34-13 in the fourth quarter to erase a 15-point deficit and escape with a victory at the Moda Center.
Guard Damian Lillard scored 24 points and dished out seven assists as the Trail Blazers (8-3) won their fifth straight game. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points with nine rebounds for the Blazers.
Forward Anthony Davis collected 31 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots for the Pelicans (5-4).
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.