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NBA game roundup: Raptors extend winning streak

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TORONTO — Guards Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry each scored 22 points as Toronto defeated New York Knicks.

Lowry added nine assists as the Raptors extended their winning streak to six games to equal a season high and gave the Knicks their fifth loss in a row.

Reserve guard Greivis Vasquez added 21 points for the Raptors who also got 18 points from guard Terrence Ross and 10 each from forward James Johnson and center Jonas Valanciunas. Forward Amir Johnson had nine points and nine rebounds.

Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 28 points with reserve center Jason Smith scoring 16 points and guard Jose Calderon adding 15 points and 10 assists. Center Cole Aldrich had 11 points for New York and guard Tim Hardaway, Jr., contributed 10.

Cavaliers 105, Grizzlies 91

CLEVELAND — In what has been a turbulent season for Cleveland reserve guard, Dion Waiters finally had the chance to show his strength in a win over short-handed Memphis.

Waiters scored 21 points off the bench, guard Kyrie Irving had 17 points while tying his career high with 12 assists and the Cavaliers handed the Grizzlies their worst loss of the season on a day they were playing without two starters in forward Zach Randolph and swingman Tony Allen.

Forward LeBron James scored 25 points and handed out 11 assists, guiding the Cavaliers to an early 14-point lead while center Marc Gasol compounded the Grizzlies’ problems by sitting much of the first quarter with foul trouble. The Grizzlies never recovered and trailed the rest of the way, dropping consecutive games for just the second time this season.

Heat 100, Celtics 84

MIAMI — Forward Luol Deng had 23 points as Miami snapped its five-game home losing streak, defeating Boston at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The skid at home was the Heat’s longest since March of 2008. Even with the win, the Heat are just 5-9 at home this season. That’s in contrast to last season, when the Heat went 32-9 at home.

Boston (10-15), despite center Tyler Zeller’s 22 points, had its three-game win streak snapped.

Miami (13-15) prevailed on Sunday despite injuries to three of its starters: forwards Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts and guard Dwyane Wade. McRoberts is the only one of the three who is not expected back this season.

Nets 110, Pistons 105

NEW YORK — Center Mason Plumlee collected 21 points and 12 rebounds and Brooklyn held on for a victory over Detroit at Barclays Center.

Making his seventh straight start in place of Brook Lopez (back), Plumlee shot 9-of-10, had four dunks and posted his fourth double-double, equaling his total in 70 games from his rookie season.

Guard Jarrett Jack also filled in competently for point guard Deron Williams (calf) with 15 points and 10 assists. It marked the sixth different team that Jack recorded a double-double for and was his first since March 23 against the New York Knicks for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Suns 104, Wizards 92

WASHINGTON — Forward Markieff Morris and guard Eric Bledsoe each scored 17 points, guard Goran Dragic tallied 12 of his 16 points in the decisive third quarter as Phoenix beat Washington.

After the game was tied 50-50 at halftime, the Suns heated up quickly in the third quarter, exploding for a 77-64 lead following back-to-back 3-pointers by Dragic. Suns forward Gerald Green scored 13 points. Forward Marcus Morris added 11, and guard Isaiah Thomas had 10. Phoenix (15-14) finished its road trip 3-0 after losing six straight overall.

Reserve swingman Rasual Butler led the Wizards with 17 points. Center Kevin Seraphin scored 16, and guards John Wall and Bradley Beal had 14 points apiece for the Wizards, who had won six consecutive games and eight in a row at home.

Washington (19-7) missed out on a chance to record the best start in franchise history. With a win over the Heat in Miami on Friday, the Wizards matched the 1974-75 Washington Bullets’ 19-6 record for the best opening to a season.

76ers 96, Magic 88

ORLANDO, Fla. — Guard Michael Carter Williams scored 21 points and Philadelphia won just its third game of the season by pounding hapless Orlando at the Amway Center.

Center Nerlens Noel had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia. Reserve center Henry Sims had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and forward Robert Covington had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Sixers (3-23) trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but roared to a 14-point lead midway in the fourth and withstood a late Magic (10-20) rally. The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak as they outrebounded the Magic 52-42 and overcame their 19 turnovers.

Kings 108, Lakers 101

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With all the turmoil surrounding Sacramento since it fired head coach Mike Malone last week, a win against Los Angeles came at the perfect time. The Kings used hot shooting, including 29 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 23 points from Ben McLemore to beat the Lakers at Sleep Train Arena.

The game featured a tug of war, as both teams seized momentum several times throughout the contest. The Kings, losers of a season-high five consecutive games before Sunday, jumped out to a 22-12 lead in the opening minutes, shooting 55 percent from the field. The Lakers, on the other hand, struggled to find a rhythm on offense, making only 39 percent of their shots.

Led by Nick Young, the Los Angeles reserves got the Lakers back into the game. Young paced the bench with 26 points, including four 3-pointers, and helped spearhead a 37-point second quarter.

Pelicans 101, Thunder 99

OKLAHOMA CITY — Anthony Davis posted 38 points and 12 rebounds to lead New Orleans to a win over Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The win pushed the Pelicans to 14-13 on the season as they held on to eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

With 4:53 left in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans cut the Thunder’s lead to 97-96. New Orleans came up with a defensive stop and Davis scored on the other end to put the Pelicans back in front 99-97.

Pacers 100, Timberwolves 96

MINNEAPOLIS — Forward David West hit a jumper with 34.3 seconds left, snapping a 94-94 tie and helping Indiana win for just the second time in its past 12 games, as it beat Minnesota.

C.J. Miles came off the bench to lead all scorers with 28 for Indiana (9-19), which was playing the second of back-to-back road games, after a loss in Denver on Saturday night. The Pacers forward hit four free throws in the final 11.7 seconds to seal the win.

Minnesota got 24 points from guard Mo Williams, and another 21 from guard Shabazz Muhammad, but could not overcome a cold start. The Wolves (5-21) trailed by 14 at halftime and by as many as 19 in the third before mounting a furious comeback, but still and lost their fifth consecutive game.

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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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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Ginobili sprains ankle as Spurs rout Timberwolves

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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.

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