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Lee’s 23 help push Warriors over Kings

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — David Lee was fatigued in the final quarter Wednesday, but the Golden State forward pushed through it and provided some key support for the Warriors’ usual backcourt tandem.

Now, the team hopes that a trade will help out guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson even more.

Lee’s 23 points included some big shots in the final quarter and helped to lift the Warriors (32-22) over the Sacramento Kings 101-92 on Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena in the first game for each team since the All-Star break. Lee’s big effort helped offset a less-than-stellar combo effort by guards Curry and Thompson, who combined for 31 points, 12 fewer than they normally average.

“I was a bit more winded than normal, because we hadn’t played in a week,” said Lee, who was playing only this third game since Feb. 8 because of shoulder and hip injuries, as well as the six-day layoff for the All-Star break. “Fortunately, I was able to make some shots.”

Lee’s shot from inside the key ended a stretch of nine straight Warriors possessions without a basket bridging the third and fourth quarters, and a layup two possessions later was followed by a Thompson 3-pointer, as Golden State used a 13-4 run at the start of the fourth period to pull ahead to stay.

Fatigue is a feeling not unfamiliar to Curry and Thompson. Curry was tied for fourth in the NBA with an average of 37.7 minutes per game before the all-Star break, and Thompson was seventh at 37.6. Against the Kings, Thompson scored 18 points in 38 minutes and Curry had 13 on only 5-for-14 shooting in 36 minutes.

The Warriors moved to alleviate the minutes needed from those two by acquiring guard Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers for guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. Blake, who turns 34 next week, averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 assists in the final year of a four-year, $16 million contract for the Lakers.

“We’re getting a big-time basketball player,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “He can play the one or the two, he’s a professional, he’s not afraid of the big shot. We’re happy to have him.”

Guard Isaiah Thomas led Sacramento with 24 points, 12 of them in the third quarter when he led the Kings on a 15-4 run that erased the last vestiges of Golden State’s 54-39 second-quarter lead. But the Kings (18-36) lost for the fourth time in five games and for the 11th time in 14 despite their second big trade of the season.

Sacramento sent guard Marcus Thornton to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for two veterans, guard Jason Terry and forward Reggie Evans. Terry, who has averaged 15.4 points and 4.4 assists over a 15-year career, is a veteran presence that coach Michael Malone said can help with changing the losing culture that has enveloped the franchise. Evans, in his 12th season, will bring additional rebounding and hustle.

“Adding Jason and Reggie provides our roster with toughness and veteran leadership,” Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said. “They bring a wealth of NBA experience that will undoubtedly make a positive impact on our younger players.”

Thornton’s $8.2 million salary made him the Kings’ second-highest paid player this season, but he was scoring only 8.3 points per game, a career-low.

The Kings did not say whether the two would be in uniform in time for Saturday’s contest against the Boston Celtics.

Sacramento didn’t need its new additions to erase a 15-point second-quarter deficit, its largest of the game. Thomas scored 10 points during the final 5:26 of the third quarter to spark the Kings’ 15-4 run that put them ahead 76-75 going into the final period. Thomas and guard Quincy Acey also helped slow down Curry and Thompson, picking them up early in Golden State’s possessions and limiting them to a combined three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the third quarter.

The two opened up on fire, with Curry nailing 4 of 5 shots in the opening period and Thompson 3 of 4. Curry made only one more shot from the field after that, a driving layup during Golden State’s early fourth-quarter run.

Forward Andre Iguodola added 13 points for the Warriors. Forward Travis Outlaw scored 18 points and forward Rudy Gay had 16 for the Kings.

The Warriors have won twice in Sacramento this season, the first time that’s happened since the 2004-05 season.

NOTES: Warriors F Andrew Bogut missed his fifth straight game with left shoulder inflammation. Bogut ranks seventh in the NBA with 1.9 blocks per game. … With the trade of G Marcus Thornton to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, the Kings have only five of 17 players — C DeMarcus Cousins, G Isaiah Thomas, G Jimmer Fredette, F Jason Thompson and F Travis Outlaw — remaining from those who suited up for them last season … Warriors C Jermaine O’Neal returned after missing the previous two games with inflammation in his right wrist and made only his fourth starts of the season. O’Neal played in only 20 of Golden State’s 53 games during the first half. … Kings C DeMarcus Cousins (left hip flexor sprain) missed his eighth game because of injury this season. He missed 10 in his first three seasons, and only nine because of injury.

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

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NBA News Wire

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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NBA News Wire

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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