MIAMI — Sunday is a day off for the New Orleans Pelicans players — but not for their team doctors.
MRIs are scheduled on power forward Anthony Davis’ right shoulder and stretch forward Ryan Anderson’s right ankle, and those results could go a long way toward determining the fate of the Pelicans’ season.
For now, the Pelicans can quietly celebrate the end of their four-game losing streak and a 105-91 win over the Miami Heat on Saturday night at American Airlines Arena.
“When A.D. and Ryan went down, I didn’t see anyone buckle,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “We beat a good team on their home floor.”
Davis collided with Heat center Hassan Whiteside with 3:07 left in the first quarter, causing a reaggravation of an existing injury. Davis, who finished with six points and six rebounds in nine minutes, had missed the NBA All-Star Game and two games before returning on Friday — only to get hurt again.
Anderson exited with 9:41 left in the second quarter when Heat guard Mario Chalmers came down on his right ankle. Anderson finished with four points.
The Pelicans, who never trailed, got a game-high 24 points from guard Eric Gordon, who made 6 of 11 3-point shots.
New Orleans also got a boost from backup point guard Norris Cole, who was acquired from Miami in a three-team trade on Wednesday. Cole had 12 points, three assists and one steal in 30 minutes.
“It was awkward at first (playing against Miami),” said Cole, who came out of college and made three straight NBA Finals while playing for the Heat. “I’m still figuring out the plays.”
New Orleans also got 15 points and nine rebounds from center Omer Asik and 13 points and six assists from guard Tyreke Evans.
That helped give New Orleans (28-27) a much-needed road victory, improving to 11-17 away from home. The Pelicans also snapped a four-game skid against teams with sub-.500 records.
The Pelicans’ win came on an emotional night for the Heat. Point guard Goran Dragic, an All-Star last year who was acquired by the Heat from Phoenix on Wednesday, had 12 points and one assist.
“I felt slow,” Dragic said. “I need to adjust to all the players because I’m new here.”
Dragic was scoreless in the first half with one turnover and no assists.
“It was tough,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t know where to go. I’m probably the most critical toward myself, sometimes too much. I feel like I didn’t play well.”
Dragic’s arrival was somewhat overshadowed by the official news that forward Chris Bosh is lost for the season because of blood clots in his lungs.
“It’s a tough blow,” Chalmers said. “But more importantly, it’s about his health.”
Chalmers, who came off the bench on Saturday, led the Heat with 20 points.
With the loss, Miami (23-31) falls to 9-16 at home this season.
New Orleans started the game quickly, taking a 25-14 lead after the first quarter. The Pelicans led throughout the quarter and held the Heat to 25 percent shooting from the field.
The Pelicans led 52-42 at halftime despite an outburst by Chalmers. He had 16 of Miami’s 19 points during one stretch between the first and second quarter.
But the Heat struggled to finish in the paint, missing 10 shots within 5 feet during the first half.
New Orleans led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter. Gordon had 16 points in the third, making 5 of 7 shots from the field, including 4 of 4 on 3-pointers.
His outburst helped the Pelicans take an 85-65 lead heading into the fourth quarter and New Orleans cruised from there.
“We’ve got some work to do,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It was a very emotional day, but we’re not going to make excuses.”
NOTES: Just five Heat players remain from last season’s roster, and one of those, F Chris Bosh, is out for the season (blood clots in his lungs). … Veteran F Udonis Haslem is starting for Bosh. Miami has lost two starting forwards to season-ending injuries, Bosh and Josh McRoberts. … New Heat PG Goran Dragic was an All-Star last year when he averaged 20.3 points for Phoenix, but he is scoring four points less per game this year. … Of the three players the Pelicans acquired from Miami on Wednesday, two were active on Saturday: PG Norris Cole and C Justin Hamilton. Cole scored 12 points in 29 minutes while Hamilton did not play. … The third, SF Shawne Williams, was put on the injured list. The Pelicans waived PG Ish Smith and G Toney Douglas to make room. … Pelicans PG Jrue Holiday, who has been out since Jan. 12 with a right leg injury, will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
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.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
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.
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.