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Warriors’ Curry favors Garden crowd with triple-double

The Sports Xchange

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NEW YORK — Point guard Stephen Curry posted his fourth career triple-double, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 126-103 win over the New York Knicks on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Curry finished with 27 points and had 11 points and 11 assists in 30 minutes. He did not play in the fourth quarter when the Warriors led by as many as 20 points.

Curry joined Miami’s LeBron James as the only players with at least 50 points and a triple-double at Madison Square Garden since its renovation in 1968. Curry scored 54 points at the Garden last season.

“It’s one of those arenas with history and you look forward to play here,” Curry said.

The fourth-year pro from Davidson rebounded from his worst performance of the season. Curry scored five points in a 103-83 loss to Chicago on Wednesday.

“We didn’t play our best in Chicago,” Curry said. “It was a big opportunity to come out and correct that and we did that from the start. It was a good 48-minute performance.”

Curry sank five of the Warriors’ 13 3-pointers. He leads the league in 3-pointers this season with 193 after setting an NBA season record with 272 3-pointers last season. The Warriors rank seventh in the league in 3-point field goal percentage.

“He (Curry) enjoys the bright lights,” Warriors coach and former Knicks guard Mark Jackson said. “Especially coming off a poor performance against Chicago, he was anxious about tonight.”

Shooting guard Klay Thompson popped in 25 points for Golden State (36-23). Curry and Thompson are averaging 41.6 points per game, making them the highest scoring backcourt in the league this season.

The Warriors scored their most points of the season.

The Knicks (21-38) were led by 23 points from forward Carmelo Anthony. New York was 2-11 in February and have lost by 20 points or more eight times this season. It surrendered its most points in regulation this season.

“Somewhere along the line, we have to draw the line and figure out if we are committed to making the playoffs,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We can’t beg for help. We have to win games.

“We got beat not in the half-court but more in transition. That is effort and running. Matching and making sure we pick up bodies. That was the worst of the year, I thought.”

The Warriors scored 15 fast-break points.

Thompson had 11 points in the third quarter when the Warriors built a 99-80 cushion and led by as many as 27 points.

Golden State used a 10-2 run during a 1:21 span late in the second quarter on the way to a 73-52 halftime cushion. It was the most points the Warriors scored in a half this season. Curry had 20 points in the half.

The Warriors shot 50 percent from the 3-point arc in the half and assisted on 16 of their 27 baskets.

The Knicks did a poor job of protecting the paint and defending the perimeter. The Warriors dominated in both areas in the first quarter, resulting in a 38-27 lead. Golden State scored 14 points in the low post while shooting 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

Curry deposited 12 points in the first quarter. J. R. Smith took 10 of the Knicks 25 shots from the floor, making four.

“He (Curry) is an incredible basketball player,” Jackson said. “He is unselfish and he showed his versatility. Tonight, he did an outstanding job of running the show, picking and choosing his spots and making his teammates better. Something he has been doing all year long.”

NOTES: Knicks F Amar’e Stoudemire was sidelined with a sore left knee. … Knicks F Carmelo Anthony leads the league in minutes per game (39.1). Golden State G Stephen Curry is sixth (37.4). … The Knicks signed G Shannon Brown and F Earl Clark to 10-day contracts Thursday. … Golden State coach Mark Jackson is second on the Knicks’ career assist list with 4,005. … Warriors C Andrew Bogut’s .632 field goal percentage is the second highest in franchise history for a season. … Anthony averaged 31.5 points and 8.0 rebounds for the Knicks in February. … Knicks rookie G Tim Hardaway Jr. had 22 points on Friday night, marking the fourth time this season that he has scored 20 or more points.

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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Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle

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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 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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