ATLANTA — Forward Paul Milsap scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to help the Atlanta Hawks to a 109-101 win over the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
James missed the game with soreness in his left knee. That left guard Kyrie Irving to pick up the slack. Irving, who had missed the last two games with a sore knee, scored 35 points with nine assists and six rebounds for the Cavs.
Atlanta also got 23 points and 11 assists from guard Jeff Teague and 19 points and eight rebounds from guard Kyle Korver, who had four 3-pointers in the second half. Forward Mike Scott came off the bench to add 12 points and five rebounds.
Cleveland got 18 points and 13 rebounds from center Tristan Thompson and 13 points from rookie guard Joe Harris.
Pistons 109, Magic 86
ORLANDO, Fla. — Reserve guard Jodie Meeks hit nine of his 11 3-point shots and scored a season-high 34 points to lead Detroit to a victory over Orlando.
Center Andre Drummond had 17 points and 22 rebounds and reserve guard D.J. Augustin added 11 points for Detroit, which outrebounded Orlando, 54-42.
The Magic were led by guard Victor Oladipo with 16 points. Forward Tobias Harris had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Nets 96, Bulls 82
CHICAGO — Center Brook Lopez scored 29 points, and Brooklyn rolled to a win over Chicago.
Forward Joe Johnson added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who earned their fifth win in six games. Guards Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson notched 11 points apiece for Brooklyn.
Forward Mike Dunleavy scored 23 points to lead the Chicago. Center Joakim Noah tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.
Pelicans 110, Suns 106
NEW ORLEANS — Guard Tyreke Evans scored 24 points, including eight in the final 1:32, and forward Anthony Davis scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lift New Orleans past Phoenix.
Guard Jrue Holiday added 21 points and six assists for the Pelicans.
The Suns’ six-game winning streak ended. Phoenix was led by guard Goran Dragic with 22 points and guard Eric Bledsoe with 21.
Grizzlies 95, Spurs 87
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mike Conley carried Memphis early, then buried San Antonio late in the Grizzlies’ victory at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies’ veteran point guard scored a game-high 30 points and hit a key 3-pointer with 3:10 left to help Memphis close out 2014 with its second win over the Spurs in three meetings this month.
San Antonio, playing without point guard Tony Parker (left hamstring strain) and forward Kawhi Leonard (bruised right hand), got 18 points apiece from starting guards Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph.
Mavericks 114, Wizards 87
DALLAS — Six Mavericks scored double figures, led by guard Monta Ellis with 20 points, in Dallas’ third consecutive victory.
Washington, coming off a big 104-103 win Monday night at Houston, couldn’t get anything going and was exceedingly sloppy with 23 turnovers. The Mavs earned a 10th consecutive win in the series with the Wizards, their longest winning streak against any team.
Washington shooting guard Bradley Beal, who scored 33 points against the Rockets, missed nine of his first 11 shots and finished with 10 points Tuesday. Wizards power forward Nene left the game in the third quarter after twisting his ankle.
Lakers 111, Nuggets 103
DENVER — Guard Kobe Bryant had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and Los Angeles held on to beat Denver. It was the second triple-double of the season for Bryant and 21st of his career.
Forward Carlos Boozer had 19 points and nine rebounds and guard Ronnie Price scored 18 points for the Lakers, who had lost six of seven before beating Denver.
Guard Ty Lawson had 16 points and eight assists and rookie center Jusuf Nurkic scored a career-high 16 points for the slumping Nuggets, who have lost four of five. Denver forward Wilson Chandler didn’t play in the second half because of a right quad contusion suffered in the second half.
Jazz 100, Timberwolves 94
SALT LAKE CITY — Forward Gordon Hayward and guard Trey Burke each scored 26 points to help Utah rally for a victory over Minnesota.
Forward Derrick Favors chipped in 15 points and eight boards, while center Enes Kanter added 14 points and 12 rebounds to help the Jazz win for the fifth time in the last seven games.
Forward Shabazz Muhammad scored a career-high 30 points and forward Andrew Wiggins added 21 for the Timberwolves, who lost their ninth consecutive contest.
Warriors 126, 76ers 86
OAKLAND, Calif. — Shooting guard Klay Thompson scored 11 of his 14 points in the first quarter, and the Golden State Warriors built a double-digit lead within eight minutes en route to a 126-86 demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
A 10th consecutive win at Oracle Arena, their longest home streak in 25 years, allowed the Warriors to remain unbeaten against the Eastern Conference this season. At 9-0, Golden State is the only team in the league that is undefeated against the other conference.
The 40-point margin of victory was Golden State’s largest of the season, easily surpassing the 27-point win over the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this month.
Trail Blazers 102, Raptors 97 (OT)
PORTLAND, Ore. — Guard Damian Lillard scored 25 points and dished out nine assists as Portland rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Toronto Raptors in overtime.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge collected 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Guard Kyle Lowry had 25 points seven rebounds and five assists for the Raptors, who lost for only the second time in 10 games.
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.