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Pacers finally win in Atlanta

The Sports Xchange



ATLANTA –Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was pleased to put an end to another streak of futility, this time in Atlanta.

George and forward David West combined for 40 points and helped the Pacers to an 89-85 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, giving Indiana its first regular-season win in Atlanta since 2006.

George scored nine of his 18 points in the third quarter and West had eight of his 22 points in that period, when the Pacers erased a one-point halftime deficit to help end a 12-game regular-season losing streak in Atlanta. Earlier this year the Pacers ended losing streaks at Utah and San Antonio.

“We struggle here,” said George, who is averaging 23 points and 9.5 rebounds against Atlanta this season. “I was aware of it. I don’t want a losing streak anywhere, so that was another edge to get a win tonight.”

The Pacers (38-10) rallied for eight straight points to break open a 47-47 tie in the third quarter.

Indiana led by as many as 16 points with 8:10 left in the game and withstood an Atlanta comeback that trimmed the margin to two points on a 3-pointer by forward Cartier Martin with 14 seconds remaining. Pacers forward Danny Granger iced the game by making two free throws with 3.9 seconds left.

“We’ve had some struggles here, but not anything we’re going to lose sleep over,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “We were confident we could get a win here.”

Indiana’s main problem in the first half was turnovers. The Pacers committed 14, which led to 17 Atlanta points and allowed the Hawks to lead 43-42 at the break.

“We turned the ball over way too many times in the first half,” George said. “The message at halftime was for us to take care of the ball.”

Indiana had only five turnovers in the second half and limited Atlanta’s all-star forward Paul Millsap to seven points on 2-for-11 shooting.

“We’re very happy with the win,” Vogel said. “For the most part we held a pretty explosive offense down to 85 points, a pretty strong effort. If we get the turnovers under control we have a double-digit road win.”

Atlanta (25-22) had its two-game winning streak stopped. The Hawks’ top two scorers came off the bench. Forward Mike Scott scored 15 points and center Elton Brand added 12. Martin, who was re-signed to a 10-day contract on Feb. 1, scored all eight of his points during Atlanta’s failed fourth-quarter comeback.

“Offensively it wasn’t one of our better nights,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You have to give Indiana and their defense credit for that. They’re one of the best defensive teams in this league for a reason.”

Atlanta played much of the second half without point guard Jeff Teague. He left with 3:11 left in the third quarter and didn’t play in the fourth period due to the coach’s decision. He had nine points and seven assists.

Indiana forward Lance Stephenson was shaken up midway in the third quarter on a drive to the basket. Stephenson was fouled by Millsap as he attempted to split two defenders, and he landed on his back when he fell. He remained in the game to shoot the free throw but left with a sore lower back and did not return. He finished with 10 points.

The game was much different from the last meeting in Atlanta on Jan. 8 when the Hawks won 97-87. Atlanta started that game with a 12-0 lead and held Indiana to a season-low 12 points in the first quarter and 32 in the first half.

“It was the defensive effort by them and we were out of sync,” Brand said. “We missed some shots that we normally knock down.”

NOTES: Indiana is now 5-0 when F David West records a double-double. … Indiana C Andrew Bynum, signed as a free agent on Saturday, was inactive. … Atlanta G Kyle Korver extended his NBA-record streak for consecutive games with a 3-point basket to 116. Korver knocked down his first attempt with 9:11 left in the first quarter against the Pacers. … Atlanta G John Jenkins had lower-back surgery on Monday and will miss the remainder of the season. The second-year player from Vanderbilt, the team’s first-round draft choice in 2012, had been limited to 13 games this season. Jenkins has not played since Dec. 26, when the injury flared up. He was averaging 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.2 minutes. … Atlanta assigned G Jared Cunningham to the Bakersfield Jam of the Development League. He had appeared in five games for the Hawks. … Atlanta plays again Wednesday at New Orleans and has four of its next five games on the road. Indiana hosts Portland on Friday and plays four of its next five at home.

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

The Sports Xchange



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

The Sports Xchange



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

The Sports Xchange



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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