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Late run pushes Grizzlies past Knicks



MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a season full of disappointing losses, New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson liked his chances with a five-point on the road and just 2:39 to play.

The Knicks had battled back from an 18-point first-half deficit and rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was carrying the team with 14 fourth-quarter points.

It was not enough.

Memphis outscored the Knicks 13-3 in the final 2:39 and grabbed a 98-93 victory on Tuesday night at FedExForum.

“We fought back,” Woodson said. “We were 18 down and kept chipping away. We couldn’t close.”

Two reasons they could not close: Memphis point guard Mike Conley, who scored 22 points, 10 of them in the fourth quarter, in his first game back from an ankle injury. And veteran Mike Miller, who had a season-high 19 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, and 5-for-7 from 3-point range for the game.

Miller’s 3-pointer with 45.9 seconds left took Memphis from two down to one ahead at 94-93. Miller said Conley “set a little wedge screen” to get him the open look.

“We had a lapse, just a defensive lapse,” Woodson said. “It was the biggest shot of the night.”

Conley had missed seven games with a sprained ankle and was just 6-for-15 from the floor but made 10-of-12 from the free-throw line.

“I was frustrated at times, missing shots I normally make,” he said. “I started getting a little rhythm (in the fourth quarter), getting to the free-throw line, making my floater.”

After trailing by 13 at the half, the Knicks outscored the Grizzlies 27-16 in the third quarter and were only down 66-64 going into the fourth quarter. A 20-11 run put the Knicks up 84-77 with 5:39 remaining.

Hardaway Jr. finished with 23 points and hit 4-of-9 3-point shots. New York forward Carmelo Anthony had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Pablo Prigioni had 10 assists, seven points and five rebounds.

The Knicks (20-33) trailed 96-93 with 21 seconds left after two Conley free throws. Hardaway Jr. and Prigioni each missed 3-point attempts, shooting guard Courtney Lee grabbed the rebound and then hit two free throws to wrap things up for Memphis.

The Knicks missed six of their last seven shots from the field and the last four straight. One of those shots was a 3-pointer from guard J.R. Smith, who is playing with a mask because of broken bone in his face. He finished with four points on 2-for-8 shooting.

“It is terrible to play with,” Smith said of the mask. “I’m just going to have to deal with it.”

Memphis (30-23) rallied with a smaller lineup after coach Dave Joerger took out center Marc Gasol with 4:49 to play.

“They ran Tim Hardaway Jr. with some catch-and-shoots, J.R. Smith would be running one way, Carmelo Anthony was playing the four. That’s a problem,” Joerger said. “We felt like we just weren’t punishing them enough with our size on the offensive end to stay big.”

The Knicks had a 39-38 rebounding edge; Memphis won points in the paint 42-32. The Grizzlies shot 49.3 percent from the field (37-of-75).

Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph had 13 points and eight rebounds and rookie point guard Nick Calathes had 11 points and five assists off the bench. Forward Tayshaun Prince finished with 10 points and four rebounds and spent much of his 39 minutes trying to contain Anthony.

“I had five, six days off so my legs were fresher,” Prince said. “You just hope (Anthony’s) All-Star weekend was big for him.”

Conley said the victory was definitely big for the Grizzlies: “First game off the break, we come back and get a gritty win.”

As for the Knicks, who were right there, still leading by two until Miller hit the 3-pointer with 45 seconds left?

“We have to win those games,” Smith said.

NOTES: Knicks F Carmelo Anthony set an NBA record by knocking down eight 3-pointers in the NBA All-Star Game. He scored 30 points to help the East win for the first time since 2010. … A report from indicated that Memphis and Minnesota are in trade talks before Thursday’s deadline and considering a deal that would have Memphis SF Tayshaun Prince and SG Tony Allen going to the Timberwolves for F Chase Budinger and G J.J. Barea. “News to me,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. … Memphis PG Mike Conley returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an ankle sprain. … The Knicks’ pregame notes package said the team was “enjoying a winning new year.” Yet before Tuesday’s game, the Knicks were 11-11 (.500) since Jan. 1. However, that was a big improvement from 9-21 through the first 32 games of the season.

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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