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Crawford leads Clippers past Ross, Raptors



TORONTO — Guard Jamal Crawford said he was in such a groove that he felt he might have been able to reach 50 points in the Los Angeles Clippers 126-118 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

But the game dictated otherwise and he started to dish off more and he left it to Raptors guard/forward Terrence Ross to reach the magic number by equaling the club record set by guard Vince Carter on Feb. 27, 2000, with 51 points.

Crawford, who had 26 points in the first half, did finish with a season-best 37 points, shooting 12-for-23 from the field, and added 11 assists. Forward Blake Griffin added 30 points as the Clippers (31-15) won their second game in two nights.

“Honestly I think this could have been a 50-point night because you kind of know when you have it,” said Crawford, whose career best is 52 points. “This could have easily been a 50-point (night). But the way the game went they started doubling me more and I started finding my teammates more.”

Ross tied Carter’s record with four seconds left in the game but missed the second one that would have given him the record.

Ross said he never scored 50 in a game.

“No, it’s my first time past 30,” Ross said. “It feels good. You don’t think about it. When you’re trying to win the game you don’t realize how many points you have until it’s all over.”

Ross was 16-for-29 from the field, including 10-for-17 from 3-point range and 9-for-10 in foul shots.

“I just focused on being ready to play,” he said. “My teammates had confidence in me, every time I was open they passed it to me and I shot because that’s what they want me to do. Just catch it and shoot.”

The game was tied at 93 after Ross ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer.

When center Jonas Valanciunas made a dunk with 6:35 to play in the game, Toronto (22-21) led 107-106 , but guard J.J. Redick, who was out for most of the first half with back spasms, came back with a 3-pointer to return L.A. to the lead. Guard Darren Collison and Redick then hit consecutive jumpers and the Clippers led 113-107 with 5:01 to play ad grabbed control of the game.

“It was an interesting game,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Sometimes it’s about winning the game and that’s what happened tonight. We found a way on an unconventional night to win the game.”

Ross had 23 points and seven 3-pointers in the first half and started driving more to the basket.

“That was a good adjustment on his part,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “They were running at him. He wasn’t going to get a 3 all of a sudden so he did a good job of reading what the defense gave him and got to the free throw line also.”

“He has confidence,” Rivers said of Ross. “He’s one of those young guys … they just need to get going. He’s been up and down. But you could just see that he got a couple to go and the rim was really big for him.”

The Clippers got 18 points from Redick, including 10 in the fourth quarter after he came back to start the third quarter following his injury. Guard Darren Collison added 12 points and forward Matt Barnes scored 11 for the Clippers.

Guard DeMar DeRozan scored 10 points for the Raptors in slightly more than 21 minutes before he left the game with a sprained left foot in the third quarter and did not return. Casey said X-rays were negative. Casey said forward Patrick Patterson also suffered a broken nose.

Valanciunas added 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Toronto while guard Kyle Lowry had 11 points and 12 assists.

The Clippers ended a four-game losing streak at Air Canada Centre, where they had not won since Feb. 8, 2008.

The Clippers opened up a 117-108 lead when Griffin made a jumper and a layup on driving plays with less than four minutes left. Griffin scored again to give the Clippers at 121-112 lead with two minutes to go. Lowry made only one of three free throws and Redick made another 3-pointer to increase the lead to 11.

The Clippers stretched a six-point halftime lead to 12 when Barnes hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the third quarter. But the Raptors responded with a 13-0 run capped by consecutive dunks by Ross for a 78-77 lead with 5:55 left in the quarter.

NOTES: Raptors F Tyler Hansbrough (left ankle) missed his 13th consecutive game with a bone bruise that first was first reported as a sprain. … After their win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday, the Clippers were 7-3 without G Chris Paul (right shoulder), who was injured Jan. 3. … The triple-double by G Kyle Lowry (18 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists) in the win over the 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday night was the fourth of his career and the 14th in Raptors history. … Clippers F Blake Griffin entered Saturday averaging 26 points in his previous 20 games during which the team was 14-6. … The Raptors’ next game will be Monday when they visit Brooklyn to play the Nets. … The Clippers end a seven-game trip in Milwaukee on Monday that has them traveling approximately 11,275 miles.

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



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



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



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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