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Nets end long road trip with win in Milwaukee

The Sports Xchange



MILWAUKEE — At long last, the Nets are heading back to Brooklyn.

Displaced for nearly two weeks by the circus’ visit to Brooklyn, the Nets wrapped up their six-game journey on a happy note with a 107-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“The last game is always the hardest because you’re thinking of getting back home after 10 or 11 days,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “I thought the guys came out from the start and put themselves in a position to win the game.”

Including a game at Chicago just before the All-Star break, the Nets played their last seven games on the road and finished with a 4-3 record after a 25-point effort from guard Marcus Thornton against the Bucks.

Thornton, acquired just over a week ago from the Sacramento Kings, came off the bench and hit his first four shots from the field to finish 8 of 13 in just short of 24 minutes.

He scored 13 points in the second quarter and 12 in the fourth while Kidd was resting his starters.

“We know he can shoot the ball and put it in the basket, but coming down the stretch, we needed to find out if he can make plays,” Kidd said. “This was a great opportunity to see that. He stepped up and it gave guys like (Deron Williams) and Joe (Johnson) a chance to breathe.”

Thornton also knocked down four 3-pointers, including one with 2:47 to play that gave the Nets a nine-point lead and snuffed out a late Bucks rally.

“He got some great looks,” Kidd said. “Coming down the stretch, we played through Paul (Pierce) and Marcus was wide open, so he got some great looks. He didn’t make them all, but we trust making the play for one another and that’s what helped us win the game tonight.”

Brooklyn (27-29) led by 11 points early in the fourth quarter at 85-74 after turning a turnover by Bucks guard Ramon Sessions into a 3-pointer by forward Mirza Teletovic with 10:04 to play.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s steal and dunk got the Bucks within six with 6:11 left.

Brooklyn could not cash in on its next three possessions and Antetokounmpo came through again for Milwaukee, sinking two free throws to make it 89-85 with 5:15 left before the Nets responded with a 3-pointer from Pierce.

Sessions answered with a 3-pointer and Antetokounmpo sank two more free throws to make it a 97-91 game with 3:06 left, but on the Nets’ next possession, Thornton buried a shot from 26 feet to give Brooklyn a 100-91 lead.

“He’s always been a guy that brings it and moves fast,” forward Andrei Kerilinko said. “He can really shoot the ball, so he isn’t surprising me at all.”

Center Andray Blatche had 19 points and 13 rebounds, point guard Deron Williams finished with 15 points, guard Shaun Livingston hit 7 of 11 shots from the field for 14 points and forward Paul Pierce made 5 of 7 from the free throw line for 12 points as the Nets shot 45 percent from the field and made 10 of 25 from beyond the arc.

“It was good seeing some of our pieces coming together,” Livingston said. “Marcus had a good game offensively and kind of jelled with the second unit. We’re trying to form some consistency and played very well together tonight.”

Bucks forward Khris Middleton hit all five of his first-half shots from the field and had 10 points at halftime. But with nine turnovers in the half, the Bucks trailed Brooklyn 55-53 at intermission.

In all, the Bucks committed 18 turnovers that Brooklyn turned into 21 points.

“There were too many mistakes and bad rotations,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “We did some good things, but we didn’t do enough good things. They’re a veteran ballclub; they have guys that are really good down the stretch. They made plays and we didn’t.”

Middleton and Sessions each finished with 16 points to lead the Bucks (11-46), who have lost two in a row and four of their last five.

NOTES: Limited to 26 total minutes in the Nets’ last two games, PF/C Kevin Garnett was not available on Saturday because of a sore back. Rookie Mason Plumlee started in Garnett’s place. … Bucks G Ramon Sessions was 11 of 11 from the free throw line on Saturday night and has scored in double figures in each of his last three games. He is averaging 13.0 points per game since joining the Bucks.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.


NBA News Wire

Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair

The Sports Xchange



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 News Wire

Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle

The Sports Xchange



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 News Wire

NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return

The Sports Xchange



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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