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NBA roundup: Irving, Cavs extend roll



ORLANDO — All-Star guard Kyrie Irving scored 33 points while hitting 12 of 15 shots, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a dominating 123-108 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.

Irving, who scored an NBA-high 57 points Thursday in San Antonio, also made five of six shots from 3-point range. The Cavaliers (43-25) won their fourth consecutive game and their 10th consecutive over the Magic.

Guard J.R. Smith scored 25 points, leading the 3-point onslaught that buried the Magic. They made 18 of 35 from long range. Smith hit six of 11.

Forward LeBron James had 21 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. Reserve guard James Jones had 12 points and made four of eight from 3-point range.

The Magic (21-47) were led by guard Victor Olidipo had 25 points and seven assists. Center Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton had 13 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Forward Tobias Harris had 24 points and eight rebounds. Reserve guard Luke Ridnour had a season-high 15 points.

Trail Blazers 113, Raptors 97

TORONTO — Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge continued his dominance over Toronto, leading the Trail Blazers past the Raptors.

Aldridge, who entered the contest averaging 25.9 points and 12.9 rebounds in his last nine meetings with the Raptors, finished with a game-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. The 29-year-old has double-doubles in 10 straight games against the Raptors.

Blazers guard Damian Lillard added 23 points, five assists and four rebounds while guard Arron Afflalo chipped in with 14 points. Portland won for the 12th time in the last 13 meetings with Toronto. The Blazers won for the eighth time in nine games overall.

Nuggets 118, Pelicans 111 (2OT)

NEW ORLEANS — Forward Danilo Gallinari scored five points in the second overtime, including an open 3-pointer from the top of the key, and center Kenneth Faried added a layup to lift Denver to a victory over New Orleans.

The game was tied 109-109 at the end of the first overtime, but the Nuggets outscored the Pelicans 9-2 in the second overtime. The Pelicans went scoreless in their first five possessions of the second extra period. Faried gave the Nuggets the lead for good on a rebound follow, and Gallinari nailed his jumper from long range with 1:29 left, putting Denver up 114-109.

The Nuggets had five players score in double figures, led by guard Will Barton with a career-high 25 points and Faried with 20. The Pelicans wasted a monster game by forward Anthony Davis, who had 36 points, 14 rebounds, nine blocks and a career-high seven assists.

Spurs 123, Timberwolves 97

SAN ANTONIO — Kawhi Leonard scored a team-high 15 points as San Antonio defeated Minnesota, but the Spurs lost guard Manu Ginobili due to a right ankle sprain. Ginobili is expected to be out at least one week.

The forward was one of seven San Antonio players to score in double figures as the Spurs completed a four-game season sweep of Minnesota. The Spurs earned their seventh win in eight games.

Guard Kevin Martin scored 19 points and guard Zach LaVine added 18 for the Timberwolves, who were missing many players on the final game of a four-game road trip. Minnesota lost its fourth game in a row.

Rockets 100, Clippers 98

LOS ANGELES — Guard James Harden scored 34 points, and Houston held on for a victory over Los Angeles. Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.

The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets. Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points, while forward Terrence Jones added 16.

Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games after surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Forward Matt Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers.

Thunder 109, Bulls 100

OKLAHOMA CITY — Guard Russell Westbrook scored 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Oklahoma City to a victory over Chicago.

The Bulls lost for the fifth time in six games and are tied in the loss column with the Washington Wizards for fourth in the Eastern Conference Standings. The Thunder are one game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for eighth place in the Western Conference.

Thunder center Enes Kanter posted 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth double-double since being traded to Oklahoma City. Center Steven Adams added 14 points and 11 boards. Forward Nikola Mirotic paced the Bulls with 27 points off the bench.

Suns 102, Knicks 89

PHOENIX — Brandan Wright stepped up for injured center Alex Len and produced 18 points and 11 rebounds as Phoenix shook off a poor first quarter and beat New York.

Suns guard Eric Bledsoe had 21 points and 11 assists. Forward Markieff Morris added 20 points.

Center Andrea Bargnani and guard Alexey Shved had 18 points each for the Knicks, who are 5-30 on the road this season after finishing a 1-4 Western road trip. New York lost two players during the game: guard Tim Hardaway Jr. with a sprained right wrist and forward Cleanthony Early with a sprained left ankle.

Hawks 91, Lakers 86

LOS ANGELES — Guard Dennis Schroder scored 24 points and handed out 10 assists, and center Al Horford added 21 points, guiding Atlanta to a win over Los Angeles.

Hawks eserve guard Shelvin Mack contributed 18 points. Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer rested point guard Jeff Teague and forwards Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll. Shooting guard Kyle Korver started but sustained a broken nose in the second quarter and did not return.

Forwards Ryan Kelly and Carlos Boozer each finished with 13 points to lead the Lakers, who fell for the seventh time in eight games.

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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