MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The new-look Houston Rockets defeated Memphis 117-111 in overtime on Friday night at FedExForum to take the Southwest Division lead from the Grizzlies as guard James Harden scored 32 points and just missed a triple-double.
Houston (21-7) also got 21 points and eight rebounds from forward Josh Smith after signing him to a contract on Friday morning. Forward Trevor Ariza finished with 15 points and swingman Corey Brewer, playing in just his second game for the Rockets since being acquired from Minnesota, scored 13 points off the bench.
The Grizzlies (21-8) lost their season-high fourth straight game despite 29 points and eight rebounds from center Marc Gasol.
Trail Blazers 114, 76ers 93
PORTLAND — Portland Trail Blazers outscored Philadelphia by 45 points on 3-point shots and won easily at home.
Guards Damian Lillard (game-high 28 points) and Wesley Matthews (25) did most of the damage for the Blazers.
Portland played without front-line regulars LaMarcus Aldridge (upper respiratory illness), Robin Lopez (broken hand) and Chris Kaman (whose wife was expecting a baby). Still, using their backcourt standouts and a ragtag group of replacements and reserves at the other positions, the Blazers had little trouble leading nearly the entire game.
Suns 115, Kings 106
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Twin forwards Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris combined for 37 points and didn’t miss a 3-point shot between them until the fourth quarter, and Phoenix stayed hot with a victory over Sacramento at Sleep Train Arena.
The two Morris’ were a combined 7-for-8 from beyond the arc and also combined for 11 rebounds and six assists, and Phoenix won its fifth in a row. Four of those victories have come on the road.
Marcus Morris finished with 20 points, and Markieff Morris had 17 for the Suns. Guard Eric Bledsoe added 18 on 7-for-11 shooting, and former Kings guard Isaiah Thomas scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter in his first game back in Sacramento.
Mavericks 102, Lakers 98
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki reached another milestone and Dallas avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season by outlasting Los Angeles at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks not only took advantage of the Lakers playing on the second night of the back-to-back, but the visitors were without superstar guard Kobe Bryant. Dallas has won five straight against Los Angeles.
Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo scored 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists, as Dallas improved to 2-2 since the blockbuster trade landed the four-time All-Star from Boston.
Pelicans 97, Spurs 90
NEW ORLEANS — Forwards Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson scored 22 points each, and David added 12 rebounds and five blocked shots to power New Orleans past San Antonio.
In handing the defending NBA champions their sixth loss in seven games, Davis turned the tide with a monster third quarter. Davis scored 10 points, blocked four shots and grabbed four rebounds as the Pelicans opened a 70-64 lead. Davis made three consecutive mid-range jumpers from the right elbow, and then he clamped down defensively.
On three of the Spurs’ next possessions, Davis blocked a shot. He was an equal-opportunity rejecter, swatting away shots by guard Manu Ginobili, forward Boris Diaw and forward Tim Duncan. On the final block, he swallowed up a layup attempt by Duncan, forcing a jump ball, which he won.
The Spurs (18-13) were led by 20 points each by Duncan and point guard Cory Joseph, but they hurt their cause with 17 turnovers.
Nuggets 106, Timberwolves 102
DENVER — Forward Kenneth Faried had a career-high 25 rebounds to go with a season-high 26 points, and Denver rallied to beat Minnesota.
Faried had his best game since opening night when he had 22 points and 17 rebounds in a win over Detroit.
He has struggled at times this season but had a breakout game against the struggling Timberwolves. Faried had 14 points and 14 rebounds in just 15 minutes in the first half to lead the Nuggets to a 53-47 lead at intermission.
Forward Wilson Chandler had 21 points and guard Ty Lawson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Denver.
Thunder 98, Hornets 75
OKLAHOMA CITY — Guard Russell Westbrook scored 29 points to lead Oklahoma City to a win over Charlotte Hornets Friday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder moved to 15-16 on the season while the Hornets dropped to 10-20 as they watched their four-game winning streak end.
Oklahoma City was on its game early to start the night. Led by Westbrook’s constant attacking on the offensive end, the Hornets were thrown off kilter.
Cavaliers 98, Magic 89
ORLANDO — LeBron James scored 29 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Cleveland over Orlando.
Forward Kevin Love had 22 points and seven rebounds, center Tristan Thompson added nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and reserve Dion Waiters contributed 17 points.
The Cavs trailed for much of the game until James began to dominate late, including a 3-point play for a 95-89 lead.
Bucks 107, Hawks 77
ATLANTA — Forward Jared Dudley had one of those dream games for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The eight-year veteran from Boston College came off the bench to score a season-high 24 points and spark Milwaukee past Atlanta ending the Hawks’ five-game winning streak.
Dudley was 10-for-10 from the field, his most baskets in a game this season, and added four rebounds, four steals, two assists and one blocked shot. Dudley was 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts. He committed only one turnover.
Pistons 119, Pacers 109
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Center Andre Drummond led seven players in double figures with 20 points and Detroit snapped its 12-game home losing streak by pounding Indiana at The Palace.
Power forward Greg Monroe had 19 points and 15 rebounds while shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope supplied 15 points for Detroit.
Point guard Brandon Jennings added 14 points and 10 assists for the Pistons, who shot a season-high 54.7 percent from the field, ended an overall four-game slide and obliterated their previous season high of 106 points.
Nets 109, Celtics 107
BOSTON — Jarrett Jack was a jack-of-all-trades for the Brooklyn Nets.
The veteran guard and former Sixth Man of the Year candidate did it all, scoring a game-high 27 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out a team-high five assists in Brooklyn’s come-from-behind win over Boston.
Jack got the start in place of injured guard Deron Williams, who had missed his second straight game.
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.