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Warriors rout weary Clippers

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OAKLAND, Calif. — After the Warriors’ disappointing home loss to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, Golden State coach Mark Jackson unhappily observed that his team was fully capable of playing to the level of any opponent.

That is not a good thing when the Wizards provide the opposition, but it is a whole different story when the Los Angeles Clippers come to town.

The Warriors used a 12-2 burst early in the second quarter to open a 19-point lead, then blew the game open by holding the Clippers to a franchise-worst one field goal in the third period en route to a 111-92 thrashing of the Pacific Division leaders Thursday night.

By beating the Clippers for the second time this season, Golden State (28-19) put a happy ending on a five-game homestand that featured losses to the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Washington plus a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I wish we had it figured out to do it every single game because that effort wasn’t there last game,” Warriors power forward David Lee said in comparing Thursday’s win with Tuesday’s 88-85 loss to the Wizards. “It’s just frustrating to know we have the talent in this locker room to be better. That’s what makes the Washington game really frustrating.”

The wins on the homestand came against teams with the second-best record (Portland) and fourth-best record in the Western Conference.

“We need to figure out a way to play like we did tonight and like we did against Portland more consistently,” said Lee, who shared game-high scoring honors for the Warriors, finishing with 22 points. “We’ve got to bring it to Utah (on Friday night).”

All-Star point guard Stephen Curry (22 points) joined Lee and four other Warriors in double figures. Golden State got 29 points from the league’s least productive bench while easily disposing of a tired Clippers club.

“What I liked about tonight was that we set the tone early and battled,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “That’s a pretty good basketball team with a lot of weapons. That was a quality win for us.”

Shooting guard Klay Thompson (16 points), center Andrew Bogut (14), backup big man Marreese Speights (12) and reserve forward Harrison Barnes (10) made solid contributions for the Warriors.

Bogut (17 rebounds) and Lee (11) both recorded double-doubles.

“It hasn’t been a happy place around here,” Bogut said. “A lot of guys are edgy right now, not in great moods because we haven’t been playing good basketball. We responded well.”

The Clippers (33-16) won each of their previous four games, but they did so over a six-day stretch leading into Thursday’s contest.

They had one big run in them in their fifth game in seven nights, cutting a 54-35 deficit to 62-56 shortly before halftime. Shooting guard J.J. Redick sank two 3-pointers in the comeback.

The Clippers, down by eight at the half, came back from the break as flat as they were to start the game, watching Golden State run off to a 90-67 lead from which Los Angeles could not recover. The visitors missed 14 of 15 shots in the third period.

“We couldn’t make a shot,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It was one of those nights. Bad night for us, good night for Golden State.”

Redick had the Clippers’ only basket of the third quarter, a 3-pointer that came 6:23 into the period. Getting six points from Lee, the Warriors turned a 64-56 halftime advantage into an 80-58 blowout by that point.

“It was a tough game coming into it. We knew that,” Rivers said of the busy schedule. “I told the coaches before (the Washington game on Wednesday) that if we can win one of these two, I’d be very happy. We just didn’t have it. We had nothing.”

The Clippers beat the Wizards 110-103 on Wednesday at Staples Center.

All-Star power forward Blake Griffin had 27 points Thursday for the Clippers, who lost for the 15th time in their past 17 visits to Oakland. Griffin scored 20 of his points in the first half.

Point guard Darren Collison added a season-high 22 points, and Redick scored 12 on four 3-pointers in the losing effort. Center DeAndre Jordan grabbed 20 rebounds to complement nine points.

The game featured none of the extracurriculars that marred Golden State’s 105-103 home win over the Clippers on Christmas night. That contest included two ejections, two flagrant fouls and three technical fouls.

The Warriors never trailed Thursday, jumping out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter behind a combined 16 points and 10 rebounds from frontcourt mates Lee and Bogut.

Golden State’s reserves, led by Barnes, Speights and guard Jordan Crawford, contributed 18 second-quarter points as the Warriors built as much as a 19-point lead.

Los Angeles got as close as six before halftime but never closer than eight in the second half.

NOTES: Los Angeles PF Blake Griffin was held to a season-low three rebounds as the Clippers lost the battle of the boards 53-34. … Clippers C DeAndre Jordan (.647) and Warriors C Andrew Bogut (.640) began the night Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in field-goal percentage, and each improved his mark. Jordan went 3-for-4, Bogut 7-for-11. … Bogut recorded three blocked shots, his sixth consecutive game with at least two. … Clippers PG Chris Paul was selected by the coaches to be among the seven Western Conference All-Star reserves for the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans. Paul currently is out of action with a separated shoulder. … The Warriors are assured of having at least two representatives in New Orleans. PG Stephen Curry was voted by the fans into a starting spot for the West in the All-Star Game, while reserve SF Harrison Barnes was picked to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 14.

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

The Sports Xchange

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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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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 News Wire

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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