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Bridges scores 29, Suns pull away late, beat Raptors 114-106

1.7h ago 1/30/2023 11:37 PM ET By DAVID BRANDT, AP Sports Writer PHOENIX

PHOENIX (AP) — Deandre Ayton had to do a double-take in the final minutes as his Phoenix Suns pulled away for another win.

His eyes weren't playing tricks. That was Mikal Bridges getting big mid-range buckets during crucial possessions in the fourth quarter, not injured All-Star guard Devin Booker.

Bridges had one of his best games of the season with 29 points, Ayton added 22 points and 13 rebounds and the Suns won for the sixth time in seven games by beating the Toronto Raptors 114-106 on Monday night.

“I told Booker — ‘You know what’s crazy? These are your plays,'” Ayton said, teasing his teammate. “These are Mikal's plays now.”

The Suns are on a bit of roll despite missing Booker the past several weeks. The 6-foot-6 Bridges has always been a solid player — mostly known for his defense and 3-point shooting — but he has morphed into a lead scoring option with Booker on the shelf with a groin injury.

The fifth-year player is averaging 23 points per game over his last nine contests, which has coincided with a Suns revival after an extended midseason swoon. He shot 12 of 19 from the field against the Raptors, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

“I'm loving it,” Suns guard Chris Paul said. “It's a confidence thing and I think it just keeps building.”

Neither team led by more than 10 points in a contest that featured 16 lead changes and five ties.

The Raptors trailed by nine to start the second half but scored 12 straight points in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to take a 65-62 lead. Toronto took an 84-82 advantage into the fourth.

The game stayed tight from that point forward until Phoenix pulled away in the final minutes. Bridges had a pair of clutch jumpers before Paul made a 3-pointer to push the Suns ahead 106-102 with 1:30 left. Ayton added a tip-in with 51.4 seconds left to extend the advantage to 108-102.

Paul finished with 19 points and nine assists.

“They threw some shots in that we needed to miss,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. “We fought hard, we competed, but give them credit.”

Toronto was led by VanVleet's 24 points and nine assists. Gary Trent Jr. added 21 points while Pascal Siakam had 19.

“We were playing really hard, really well,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We could have down a few things and shored up the rebounding, but it didn’t really bounce our way when it needed to.”

Bridges scored 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting to push the Suns to a 62-53 halftime lead.

“I felt it for sure,” Bridges said. “The crowd had me all gassed up. The crowd and our bench. I felt it from both of them.”

TIP-INS

Raptors: G O.G. Anunoby (wrist) and F Otto Porter Jr. (foot) were out. ... Shot just 9 of 33 (27.3%) from 3-point range.

Suns: Guards Devin Booker (groin), Cameron Payne (foot) and Landry Shamet (foot) were out. ... Hosted a 53rd straight sellout crowd. ... Paul hit a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to give the Suns a 32-28 lead. ... Dario Saric added 11 points over 14 minutes off the bench.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Travel to face Utah on Wednesday night.

Suns: Host Atlanta on Wednesday night.

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Irving leads Nets past Lakers 121-104 as James, Davis sit

2.2h ago 1/30/2023 11:07 PM ET By The Associated Press NEW YORK

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-104 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Lakers, who played without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Patty Mills and Cam Thomas added 21 points apiece for the Nets, who won their second straight and are 4-6 since Kevin Durant sprained a ligament in his right knee.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham said James was experiencing “really significant soreness” in his left foot and would be evaluated Tuesday to see if he could play at the New York Knicks that night.

It was a planned day off for Davis so he didn’t play both ends of a back-to-back after returning last week from a 20-game absence due to a right foot injury,

Thomas Bryant had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, while Russell Westbrook finished with 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

WARRIORS 128, THUNDER 120

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Stephen Curry had 38 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, and Golden State defeated Oklahoma City for its third straight win.

Curry made 8 of 14 3-pointers and 12 of 20 shots overall. Klay Thompson added 28 points and hit six 3s for the Warriors.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half for the Thunder. Josh Giddey had 21 points and Jalen Williams added 19 for Oklahoma City, which missed out on a chance to even its season record.

MAGIC 119, 76ERS 109

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 29 points and 10 rebounds as Orlando stormed back from a 21-point first-quarter deficit to beat Philadelphia.

Mo Wagner scored 22 points and younger brother Franz Wagner added 19 for the Magic, who stopped a three-game skid and ended the Sixers’ seven-game winning streak.

Joel Embiid had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia, his 27th game this season scoring 30 or more and his ninth in the past 10.

MAVERICKS 111, PISTONS 105

DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic had 53 points in his return to the lineup and Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 of his 12 in the fourth quarter as Dallas rallied past Detroit.

Four of Doncic’s five career 50-point games have come this season. He scored a career-best 60 against the New York Knicks in a game that went to overtime on Dec. 27.

Doncic had 24 points in the first quarter and 18 in the third. Second in the NBA going in with an average of 33 points per game, he returned after spraining his left ankle early in last Thursday’s game at Phoenix and then missing Saturday’s game at Utah.

Bojan Bogdanovic had 29 points for the Pistons, who have lost six of seven.

KINGS 118, TIMBERWOLVES 111, OT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — De’Aaron Fox had 32 points and Trey Lyles scored eight of his 11 in overtime as Sacramento outlasted Minnesota.

Domantas Sabonis had 17 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out for the Kings, and Keegan Murray added 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Lyles took over for Sabonis at center and started the extra period with a 3-pointer. He dunked on Rudy Gobert for a three-point play and got wide open for another slam with 37.8 seconds left in overtime for a five-point lead to give the Kings a split of this two-game set after a 117-110 loss Saturday night.

Anthony Edwards had 33 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, hitting the 30-point mark for the fifth time in the last six games. Gobert added 19 points and 14 rebounds.

WIZARDS 127, SPURS 106

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Deni Avdija scored a career-high 25 points, Bradley Beal added 21 and Washington ended a 22-game losing streak in San Antonio.

Kristaps Porzingis had 17 points and nine rebounds after a fast start for the Wizards, who hadn't beaten the Spurs on the road since Dec. 11, 1999. Washington has won six straight for its longest winning streak since a six-game run in 2015.

Keldon Johnson had 26 points for the Spurs, who have lost six in a row to fall to 2-13 this month.

SUNS 114, RAPTORS 106

PHOENIX (AP) — Mikal Bridges scored 29 points, Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Phoenix pulled away late to beat Toronto.

The Suns won for the sixth time in seven games despite missing All-Star guard Devin Booker for the entire stretch.

Chris Paul hit a crucial 3-pointer to push the Suns ahead 106-102 with 1:30 left. Ayton added a tip-in with 51.4 seconds remaining to extend the advantage to 108-102.

Paul finished with 19 points and nine assists.

Fred VanVleet had 24 points and nine assists for the Raptors.

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Wizards end 22-game skid in San Antonio, beat Spurs 127-106

2.6h ago 1/30/2023 10:47 PM ET By RAUL DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Deni Avdija had a career-high 25 points, Bradley Beal had 21 points and the Washington Wizards ended a 22-game losing streak to the Spurs in San Antonio with a 127-106 victory Monday night.

Washington, which last won in San Antonio on Dec. 11, 1999, has won six straight for its longest winning streak since a six-game run in 2015.

“You never want to be on the losing end of that streak, but it’s good to get that one off our chest,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was an advance scout with the team in 1999.

Kristaps Porzingis added 17 points and nine rebounds after a fast start for Washington.

Keldon Johnson had 26 points, Jeremy Sochan added 17 and Zach Collins had 16 for the Spurs, who have lost six straight to fall to 2-13 this month.

The Wizards led 63-55 at halftime and never trailed in the second half. The Spurs closed within four points midway through the third quarter, but Washington responded with an 8-0 run to regain a double-digit advantage.

San Antonio is 0-35 this season when trailing by double digits.

“We had more fast-break points,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We had more second-chance points. We had fewer turnovers. We had more points in the paint but shot 20-something from 3 and they shot 50 or something. Game over.”

San Antonio was 7 for 29 on 3-pointers while Washington shot 16 for 30 on 3s.

Porzingis scored 13 of the Wizards’ first 19 points. Jakob Poeltl picked up two fouls in the opening four minutes, forcing the Spurs to bring Zach Collins in sooner than usual.

After his early scoring burst, Porzingis was scoreless in the next two periods and had four points in the fourth.

Avdija responded by scoring 23 points in the final three quarters to help the Wizards win here for the first time since he was 2 years old.

“The streak is done,” Avdija said. “Just to close that circle and be here and having a good game versus the Spurs and end that streak. I think everybody did a really great job competing. When we’re focused and sharing the ball, we’re a really dangerous team.”

Avdija was 10 for 12 from the field and made both his 3-point attempts. Kendrick Nunn added 10 points, giving him double-digit scoring in all three games since being acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers for Rui Hachimura.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Washington’s longest winning streak in franchise history is nine straight, which it accomplished in 2002, 1979, 1975, 1970 and 1969. ... Washington is 12-16 on the road, two victories shy of matching last season’s win total away from home. ... Kuzma and Delon Wright were reunited with Poeltl, their teammate with the Utah Utes in 2015. ... Nunn received a technical foul 7 seconds into the second quarter after complaining about a non-call. After stripping possession from Blake Wesley, Nunn thought he was fouled on a layup attempt that was knocked out of bounds by the Spurs’ rookie. San Antonio F Doug McDermott missed the free throw.

Spurs: San Antonio has allowed 100-plus points in six straight games and in all but one of its past 27 games. .. Sochan has scored in double figures in seven straight games and in 10 of his past 12. ... G Josh Richardson did not play after being upgraded to probable several hours before tipoff. Richardson missed his third straight game with a sore left knee. ... Collins suffered a bloody nose that forced officials to stop play with 2.8 seconds left in the first quarter. Keldon Johnson re-entered the game in place of Collins.

TURBO

Avdija’s recent rise has coincided with the team bestowing the nickname “Turbo” on the 22-year-old forward.

Wizards veteran Monte Morris unknowingly gave Avdija the nickname while the two were playing 1-on-1. Morris playfully remarked that Avdija’s hustle reminded him of the “turbo and square” move in NBA2K.

“They really want me to succeed and be aggressive,” Avdija said. “Since they gave me that nickname, I really just am being more aggressive. I’m just enjoying, that’s the most important for me.”

UP NEXT

Wizards: At Detroit on Wednesday night.

Spurs: Host Sacramento on Wednesday night.

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Fox, Lyles help Kings outlast Timberwolves 118-111 in OT

2.6h ago 1/30/2023 10:47 PM ET By DAVE CAMPBELL, AP Sports Writer MINNEAPOLIS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — De'Aaron Fox scored 32 points and Trey Lyles had eight of his 11 points in overtime for the Sacramento Kings, who outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-111 on Monday night.

Malik Monk scored 19 points, Domantas Sabonis had 17 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out and Keegan Murray added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the upstart Kings, who produced another signature win in their promising quest to end an NBA-record 16-year absence from the playoffs.

The Kings had a season-high 15 steals and turned 18 turnovers by the Timberwolves into 21 points.

“It’s just trying to be disruptive. If we get a deflection and it turns into a steal, great,” Fox said.

Lyles took over for Sabonis at center and started overtime with a 3-pointer. He dunked on Rudy Gobert for a three-point play and got wide open for a slam with 37.8 seconds left for a five-point lead that put the game away and gave the Kings a two-game split after a 117-110 loss on Saturday.

“Both those games were kind of ugly to our standards, so I thought we did a good job maintaining our composure down the stretch,” Murray said.

Anthony Edwards had 33 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, hitting the 30-point mark for the fifth time in the last six games, but he had six turnovers amid heavy double-teams down the stretch.

“He’s drawing a big crowd,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “For the most part, he’s trying to make the right play. Maybe he needs to see it a little earlier.”

Gobert added 19 points and 14 rebounds in a classic big man battle with Sabonis, who was whistled for a technical after a missed contested layup that had him screaming at the officials about the no-call with 3:57 left.

Neither team led by more than five points for the entire fourth quarter, when Edwards went to work once again for the Wolves and made baskets on three straight possessions for a 98-95 lead with 2:12 to go.

Fox is one of those clutch players, too. He gave the Kings the lead twice with shots in the final 1:48 and had the chance to win it at the regulation buzzer, when his fadeaway fell short.

Jaden McDaniels hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 13.5 seconds left for the Wolves, but they failed to take advantage of the absence of Sabonis in overtime and hurt themselves anew with unforced errors on both ends. In another sign of the crowded Western Conference race, they fell from fifth place to ninth. The Kings are in third, with just one more win than the Wolves.

“To go into overtime in someone else’s building and gut out a win is definitely big,” Fox said.

EARLY BRICKS

The rims on both ends were in an unforgiving mood. The Wolves had a season-low 17 points in the first quarter. D'Angelo Russell missed his first three free throws after missing a total of twice from the line in his previous 13 games.

“We tried to scrape this one out, and we made too many mistakes to get the win,” Russell said.

GHOST TOWNS

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has missed 32 games with a strained right calf. He posted an Instagram photo over the weekend showing his right foot in a walking boot.

“No setbacks at all,” Finch said. “Just part of the process.”

TIMES CHANGE

Three years and three days ago, the Kings stunned the Timberwolves by overcoming a 27-point deficit — they were still down 17 with 2:49 left in regulation — to win in overtime.

Only three players remain on each team's roster from that night. The only ones who saw the floor in both the Jan. 27, 2020, game: Fox and Harrison Barnes for Sacramento and Naz Reid for Minnesota.

TIP-INS

Kings: SG Kevin Huerter went 5 for 19 from the floor and 2 for 12 from 3-point range in the two-game series. ... SG Deonte Burton was signed to a 10-day contract prior to the game, plucked from the G-League affiliate in Stockton.

Timberwolves: Backup SF Taurean Prince returned from a four-game absence with a sprained left ankle. ... The Wolves shot 13 for 25 from the free-throw line.

UP NEXT

Kings: Visit San Antonio on Wednesday.

Timberwolves: Host Golden State on Wednesday.

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Curry has 38 points, 12 assists as Warriors top Thunder

2.7h ago 1/30/2023 10:37 PM ET By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer OKLAHOMA CITY

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The defending NBA champions are starting to hit their stride.

Stephen Curry had 38 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-120 on Monday night for their third straight win.

Curry made 8 of 14 3-pointers and 12 of 20 shots overall. Klay Thompson added 28 points and hit six 3s for Golden State.

It was the opener of a three-game road swing for the Warriors, who are two games above .500.

“This was really a key game for us on the trip,” coach Steve Kerr said. “To start out with a win puts us in a good position to get some rest tomorrow, prepare for Minnesota, go attack that game and see what happens. ... So we needed this one tonight, and guys did a great job of winning and getting it. Now, we’ve got to get greedy and go get the next one.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half for the Thunder. Josh Giddey had 21 points and Jalen Williams added 19 for Oklahoma City, which missed out on a chance to even its season record.

The Warriors led 63-48 at halftime behind 18 points from Curry and 16 from Thompson. Golden State made 12 of 25 3-pointers and had 21 assists on 23 baskets before the break.

The Thunder said they failed to execute their defensive game plan early.

“We’ve kind of got to dictate terms from the jump and make teams play how we want to play," Giddey said. “It's hard to beat a team like that going back and forth and trading baskets because they've got so many weapons."

The Thunder hung tough, and a 3 by Mike Muscala as time expired in the third quarter cut Golden State's lead to 94-85.

“I thought there was a little bit of a boogeyman there in the first quarter,” coach Mark Daigneault said. “And then, you know, once we opened the closet and realized there’s no one there, then we started playing.”

Oklahoma City trailed by just two in the fourth before Golden State responded. A 3-pointer by Curry pushed the advantage to 115-107 with 2:35 remaining, and the Warriors remained in control from there.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain for most field goals in franchise history. ... The Warriors shot 62.5% in the first quarter to take a 38-20 lead. ... F Draymond Green finished with seven points, nine rebounds and 12 assists.

Thunder: G Lu Dort sat out with a strained right hamstring. ... Daigneault said F/C Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is nearing a return from a sprained right ankle, but he would start off with the G-League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue before playing for the Thunder again.

REAL RECOGNIZES REAL

Curry, the NBA's career leader in 3-pointers, chatted with University of Oklahoma women’s basketball star Taylor Robertson before the game. Robertson, who wears No. 30 like Curry and wore a Curry jersey to the game, set the NCAA women’s career record for 3s on Saturday.

WIGGINS IS BACK

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins returned after missing two games with an illness. He scored 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Between the illness and injuries, Wiggins has played just 30 games this season.

“He’s lost some conditioning, lost some rhythm,” Kerr said. "He had a great practice yesterday. You could see this coming, just from the way he was moving and how aggressive he was. I love the way he played tonight.”

UP NEXT

Warriors: Visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

Thunder: Visit the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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Irving has 26, Nets beat Lakers 121-104 as James, Davis sit

2.9h ago 1/30/2023 10:27 PM ET By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer NEW YORK

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-104 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Lakers, who played without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Irving had scored 30 or more in a career-best six straight games but didn’t have to carry as heavy a load with some good play from Brooklyn's backup guards.

“It's nothing but joy in my eyes when I see them get rewarded for the hard work they’ve put in,” Irving said. “It makes my job a lot easier.”

Patty Mills and Cam Thomas added 21 points apiece for the Nets, who won their second straight and are 4-6 since Kevin Durant sprained a ligament in his right knee. They won just five times in 21 games last season when he sprained the other knee.

“I think from a big-picture standpoint we’ve just worked out how to navigate the ship, I guess,” Mills said, “and it definitely does feel a lot different than last year in that sense.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham said James was experiencing “really significant soreness” in his left foot and would be evaluated Tuesday to see if he could play at the New York Knicks that night.

James, who is 117 points shy of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA's career scoring record, sat at the end of the Lakers bench.

It was a planned day off for Davis so he didn’t play both ends of a back-to-back after returning last week from a 20-game absence due to a right foot injury,

Thomas Bryant had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, while Russell Westbrook finished with 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. The 2017 NBA MVP moved past Gary Payton into 10th place on the career assists list, something he never would have imagined when he was younger.

“In the NBA, I never dreamt of being in this position, nor getting to the point to where I’m next to some of the greats,” Westbrook said, “and I’m just truly grateful and thankful for an opportunity to keep playing at the highest level and I don’t take any of it for granted.”

The Lakers trailed by 12 at halftime but opened the third quarter with a 14-0 run for a 60-58 lead. Irving finally got the Nets going, but the Lakers built a seven-point lead later in the period after some strong work from Wenyen Gabriel, who scored nine straight Los Angeles points. Brooklyn recovered to close the period with a 10-0 spurt to grab an 85-82 lead.

Mills and Thomas made consecutive 3-pointers after the Lakers cut it to two in the fourth, and Brooklyn went on to lead by 14 before putting this one away.

The Lakers missed 11 of their first 14 shots and the Nets soon led 19-6. Brooklyn extended it to 19 points a few times in the second quarter but didn't close the half well, allowing the Lakers to pull within 58-46.

The Lakers were hoping to move on after an infuriating loss in Boston, when referees acknowledged they missed James being fouled on his drive to the basket at the end of regulation.

But it was clear early on they hadn't fully left their frustrations behind. Patrick Beverley, who got a technical foul in overtime Saturday, got another one in the first quarter Monday when he was called for a foul on Irving's 3-point attempt. Referee Ben Taylor then walked away from Beverley to the other side of the court to avoid having to call another one and issue an ejection.

TIP-INS

Lakers: With James and Davis out, Rui Hachimura made his first start for Los Angeles and scored 16 points. It was his third game with the Lakers since being acquired from Washington. ... Troy Brown Jr. had 11 points and 17 rebounds.

Nets: Brooklyn was also short-handed, as Ben Simmons missed his second consecutive game with left knee soreness. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said the hope is Simmons can return Wednesday. ... Day'Ron Sharpe grabbed 14 rebounds and Nic Claxton had 12.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Nets: At Boston on Wednesday.

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Joe Mazzulla, Celtics staff will coach at NBA All-Star Game

3.1h ago 1/30/2023 10:17 PM ET By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

Joe Mazzulla started the season as an assistant coach. He then became interim head coach of the Boston Celtics, in a most unexpected way.

And now, the NBA's youngest head coach is headed to the All-Star Game.

The 34-year-old Mazzulla and his Celtics staff of assistants will coach Team Giannis — the team that will be captained by Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo — in the Feb. 19 game at Salt Lake City. They clinched that chance Monday night when Philadelphia lost to Orlando, an outcome that ensured Boston would have the leading record in the Eastern Conference at the close of play on Sunday.

Sunday is the cutoff for the league to determine All-Star coaches; the teams with the best records to that point get the right to send their coaching staffs to the game, provided they hadn’t had the job the year before. Denver’s Michael Malone is currently the front-runner to coach Team LeBron, the squad that will be captained by the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James.

“It definitely hasn’t been easy the whole time," Mazzulla said last week when asked about the challenges of the season to this point. “But it’s been fun. It’s been rewarding.”

Mazzulla has the Celtics, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, off to an NBA-best record of 36-15 so far this season.

They haven't missed a beat despite going through a tumultuous beginning of the year once Boston suspended coach Ime Udoka for the season; an investigation by an external law firm found Udoka committed multiple violations of team policies for what sources told The Associated Press involved an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the organization.

“You’ve just got to move on,” Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum said. “Nobody’s going to feel bad for us. We’ve got games to play, we’ve got work to do. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough in the beginning with the injuries and obviously getting a new coach two days before the season started. But I think we did a great job of managing that and it’s showing.”

Mazzulla is believed to be the first interim coach in NBA history to have the All-Star coaching opportunity. He will coach the team that Antetokounmpo drafts shortly before the game; the captains, in a change this season, won't pick their teams until game night in Salt Lake City.

Mazzulla is the first Celtics coach to get the All-Star nod since Brad Stevens — now the Celtics' president of basketball operations — in 2017. He becomes the eighth Celtics coach to serve as an All-Star coach. Red Auerbach, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Doc Rivers, Chris Ford, Bill Fitch and Stevens are the others.

Mazzulla had been a Boston assistant for the last three years, and until this season his only head coaching experience was a two-year stint from 2017-19 at Division II Fairmont State in West Virginia.

But he's made coaching the Celtics look easy.

“Overwhelming? No. Has it been hard? Yeah,” Mazzulla said. “Has there been moments where you’ve kind of had to trust, has there been moments of being uncomfortable? Absolutely. But it hasn’t been overwhelming, just because of the guys, the organization, the people that were here getting through it together."

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Banchero, Magic rally from early hole, beat 76ers 119-109

3.4h ago 1/30/2023 9:57 PM ET By ANTHONY SANFILIPPO, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Orlando Magic stormed back from a 21-point first-quarter deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-109 on Monday night.

Mo Wagner scored 22 points and his younger brother Franz Wagner scored 19 for the Magic, who stopped a three-game skid and ended the Sixers' seven-game winning streak.

It was the latest win over one of the NBA's top teams for the Magic, who improved to 15-11 since their 6-20 start.

“They are learning from experiences,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “They are finding ways to bounce back and believe in each other and understand that it’s got to start on the defensive side of the ball.”

Orlando has beaten Boston three times, Golden State twice, Dallas, Phoenix and now Philadelphia.

“We are a very good team,” Banchero said. “We just have to learn how to put this effort out every night. We have to be able to take this game and take it to the next game and the game after that no matter who the opponent is.”

Joel Embiid had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia, his 27th game this season scoring 30 or more and his ninth in the past 10. But he also led the Sixers in turnovers with six, got into foul trouble in the fourth quarter and was visibly frustrated by Orlando's physical defense.

The Magic forced 19 turnovers and held Philly to 19 points in the fourth quarter. The 21-point deficit was the largest Orlando has overcome this season and the sixth-largest in franchise history.

The Magic methodically worked their way back from the early hole, trimming the Sixers' lead to 10 points at halftime. Orlando went ahead for the first time on a 3-pointer by Gary Harris in the third quarter.

“We just wanted to challenge them and turn the heat up,” Banchero said. “We weren’t doing that in the first half and gave them too many easy buckets. You’re not going to stop Embiid, you just have to challenge him and make it difficult on him and we did a good job.”

The Magic took the lead for good with 7:03 to play when Mo Wagner made a reverse layup, was fouled and converted the free throw. Wagner converted another three-point play 19 seconds later when he was fouled by Embiid on a driving layup.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers unsuccessfully challenged the foul call on Embiid, insisting his big man had established defensive position.

Cole Anthony followed with a 3-pointer to complete a 9-0 Orlando run, and the Sixers got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

“I don’t think we played with any pace,” Rivers said. “Their pressure, their physicality ... they got into us. We turned the ball over. We were flopping to try to draw fouls. We just turned it off and couldn’t get it back.”

Tobias Harris and James Harden scored 17 points apiece for the Sixers.

TIP-INS

Magic: Almost four years after the Sixers traded him to Orlando, Markelle Fultz played his first game in Philadelphia as a visitor. The former No. 1 overall draft pick has been injured each time the Magic played in Philly since the trade, although he played a road game against the Sixers in 2020 during the pandemic bubble in Florida. Fultz finished with 12 points and 10 assists and said the experience was “amazing.”

76ers: Philadelphia has been the hottest team in the NBA for nearly two months but has benefited from playing the league's third-easiest schedule entering Monday night's game. The Sixers have the second-toughest remaining schedule and will play 17 games in March, including 11 on the road.

UP NEXT

The teams play again at Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

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Turner finds security in new deal, Pacers add flexibility

5.6h ago 1/30/2023 7:47 PM ET By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner grew tedious of the semiannual trade rumors.

Each February and each summer in recent years, the 6-foot-11 former Texas star would hear and see his name linked to a new deal. Virtually every time, Turner explained his preference was to stay with the team that drafted him in 2015 and help chase a championship.

Now he could be getting three more chances to achieve his dream. On Monday, after a month of negotiations, Turner signed a two-year contract extension that takes him through the end of the 2024-25 season — and perhaps finally end all the distracting speculation.

“Definitely there's a sense of relief knowing there's some security and you can just play the game,” he said following the news conference. “It (the trade rumors) is something I've been through my entire career. But I wanted to be here in Indy."

The two-year extension, plus a renegotiated contract for the rest of this season, gives Turner an additional $60 million and is salary-cap friendly to the Pacers.

Indiana was under the salary-cap floor this season, a situation that would have required additional payouts anyway, and with the next two years and all five of this year's starters locked into deals for next season, the Pacers now have even more flexibility heading into the Feb. 9 trade deadline and offseason.

One big factor in Turner's decision to sign now rather than test the free-agent market this summer was that he had returned to his natural position following last February's swap that sent All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento for point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The trade, coupled with Haliburton's presence, has helped the 26-year-old Turner post the best season of his eight-year career. He's averaging 17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks while shooting 54.4% from the field and 39.3% on 3-pointers. Plus, he's still one of the NBA's top rim protectors.

“As a staff, we were hoping this day would come very desperately,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Over the last year and a half, since he transitioned back to his natural position, the five, we've seen tremendous things.”

Still the rumors persisted, with the Los Angeles Lakers being the focus of the most recent speculation starting last summer. Turner helped fuel the discussion in October when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi asked Turner to assess a possible deal involving himself and two potential draft picks.

“If I’m the Lakers, I take a very hard look at this with the position that you’re in,” he said.

That possibility now appears dead even though Turner realizes there are no guarantees in the NBA.

In July, the Pacers signed Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton to the richest offer sheet in league history, four years for $133 million, only to watch the Suns quickly match the offer.

The move, Pritchard said, spurred “100 conversations” between himself and Austin Brown, Turner's agent, as the two sides negotiated. Pritchard declined to provide specifics about those discussions.

Since then, it appears things have changed.

Pritchard believes the evolving bond between Turner and Haliburton could create a stronger foundation for a franchise that has all five starters under contract through next season and most of its key rotational players locked up through 2024-25.

And with more certainty about his future, Pritchard thinks Turner will continue thriving.

"It's disappointing because a trade rumor can come when a team calls you about a player and somehow you get offered,” Pritchard said. “It hurts players, it does. We've had two players come up in the last week and ask ‘Am I getting traded?'"

But after walking into a Gainbridge Fieldhouse lobby filled with teammates, coaches, Pacers employees, a speaker set blaring calls from Turner's career and a large videoboard posting a slide show of some of Turner's favorite moments, the longest-tenured Indiana player seemed right at home back where it all began as the No. 11 overall draft pick.

“I think it made it easy, when given the full-time position at the five. That's something I was definitely what I was looking for," Turner said. “Given the situation I'm in now where I do get to see expanded minutes at the five, that was one of the main things I was looking for.”

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Paolo's diary: The Magic are figuring out what it takes

15.9h ago 1/30/2023 9:26 AM ET By PAOLO BANCHERO, For The Associated Press

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Orlando Magic rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Paolo Banchero is doing a periodic diary with The Associated Press this season to chronicle his first year in the NBA. This is his third installment. The Magic had the worst record in he league through the first 25 games of his rookie campaign, then won 14 of their next 25 games. He’s averaging 20.5 points and 6.3 rebounds.)

Everything started to get better when we started to get healthy.

We were 5-20 in our first 25 games, then 14-11 in our next 25 games, and a lot of that was about health. Getting Markelle Fultz back was a huge help. And a lot of other guys have gotten healthier. But I think once we got some wins and saw how we were winning, we realized we could sustain it.

Obviously, you have to have a certain level of focus to do it. But we saw in our six-game winning streak, the teams we were beating and the way we were beating them, that it wasn’t a fluke. I think that just kind of motivated us and it still motivates us. We’ve got places we want to reach and we’ve got to stay focused. But it all changed when we got guys healthy, saw what we’re supposed to look like and how well we played together.

That just speaks to the guys that we have on this team and the confidence we have in each other — the confidence we have in ourselves as players. Markelle’s a No. 1 pick. He’s not scared of anything. He feels he’s the best at what he does. Franz Wagner is a star. I mean, look at the leap he’s taken in in his second year. In my opinion, he’s the best second-year player in the league. And I’m a No. 1 pick and I feel the same way about myself as those guys do. We’ve just got guys who aren’t scared of the moment, aren’t scared to be great.

We’ve almost matched last season’s win total already. I wasn’t here last year, but just talking to the guys who were, you see how much they appreciate where we’re at right now. When you really think about it, it’s crazy. It makes me want to be part of the change around here even more. It’s exciting and it’s motivating. It makes you want more. And winning makes you want more winning.

The Orlando Magic, around the league, we’ve kind of been not taken seriously. We’ve been looked at as a franchise that’s struggling. So, we just continue to earn the respect. We’re going to have to go out and take it. Teams aren’t just going to give it to us. It’s fun, though. I like winning games and like seeing the look on other people’s faces, you know, you can tell they’re kind of sick when they lose to us. But it’s lovely. I like it.

We got another big boost when Jonathan Isaac came back. I was in high school when he hurt his knee, my junior year. Which is crazy. We’ve all seen the work he was putting in at the AdventHealth Training Center every day, trying to get back out there after 2-1/2 years. And when he got to play finally, it did a lot for me and the rest of the guys. Most of us had never played with him. Just seeing him get out there was crazy, just really encouraging. When someone’s out that long, it’s hard to comprehend them even coming back on the court. To see him actually get out there and be comfortable, making plays, making shots, getting steals, it made me super excited. It was great. It was a special moment to be a part of, and then him hitting his first shot, it was impressive.

I got to catch up recently with my college coach Mike Krzyzewski on his radio show. Coach K, he was in the spotlight for 40 years, so he’s enjoying retirement, enjoying spending time around his family, watching everything from afar. I hadn’t talked to him in probably like two months. I didn’t expect to get the invite to his show so soon, but I definitely wasn’t going to say no. That’s my guy. I love him. It was great. He checks in with his NBA guys here and there, lets you know he’s watching. He’s always watching. I know that. But he gives you space.

So now we’re in the second half of the season. We’re going to play some meaningful games. We’re playing well right now. We’re in the mix for the play-in. But we’re not getting caught up in that, not looking too far ahead, just taking it game by game and having laser focus for each game. We’ve learned that when we do that, we tend to win.

We’re not there yet, but we’re trying to get there. We’re getting there.

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Antetokounmpo scores 50 for Bucks; Pelicans lose 8th in row

1.1d ago 1/29/2023 10:36 PM ET By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer MILWAUKEE

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo says he wants to keep producing outstanding performances that he can show his kids one day when they're old enough to appreciate them.

The two-time MVP added one more to the list Sunday night.

Antetokounmpo scored 50 points while playing only 30 minutes as the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 135-110 victory over the slumping New Orleans Pelicans. Antetokounmpo shot 20 of 26 from the floor – including 3 of 4 from 3-point range – and 7 of 12 from the foul line.

“They might say, ‘Daddy, you’re boring. You're lame. We don't want to see your highlights. We've heard so much about you. We want to watch Scooby-Doo' or whatever the case might be,” Antetokounmpo said. “I'm just going to keep creating the way people in the past created, the way I can go back and watch Magic Johnson highlights, Kevin Garnett highlights, Kobe Bryant highlights, Allen Iverson highlights, KD's, LeBron's. They've created so much art throughout the years, and we can go back and see it and admire what they did. Tim Duncan."

Antetokounmpo's 50 points were five off the career high he set Jan. 4 in a 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Jrue Holiday scored 17 and Brook Lopez added 15 for the Bucks, who shot 55.2%.

New Orleans never led and lost its eighth straight. The Pelicans were playing for the second consecutive night - they lost 113-103 at home to the Wizards on Saturday - and were missing their top three scorers.

Zion Williamson hasn't played since Jan. 2 due to a strained right hamstring. Brandon Ingram (toe injury on left foot) and CJ McCollum (sprained right thumb) also were out Sunday.

Jose Alvarado stepped up to lead the Pelicans with 18 points, while Trey Murphy III and Jonas Valanciunas had 16 each.

“I thought our effort was there,” Pelicans coach Willie Green. “I thought we fought. It just wasn't enough tonight.”

Even at full strength, the Pelicans would have struggled to slow down Antetokounmpo on a night when he seemingly couldn't miss.

This marked the 10th time this season that Antetokounmpo has scored at least 40 points, matching the career high he set last year for 40-point games in a single season.

“He made it look easy all night long,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “He’s playing efficient. He’s playing dominant. He’s playing unstoppable. He’s playing like the MVP again. We need that from him every night, and he knows that.”

Antetokounmpo already had 16 points midway through the first quarter. He went 8 of 9 for 18 points in that opening period, nearly matching New Orleans’ scoring total while helping the Bucks build a 37-19 advantage.

He finished the night as well as he started it.

Antetokounmpo scored 12 straight Bucks points during a stretch that began with less than four minutes left in the game. Antetokounmpo capped that spurt by making consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which put him at the 50-point mark with 1:38 remaining.

“It's one of those moments you can never take for granted because you never know if you're going to have that moment again,” Antetokounmpo said.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr. played for the first time since Jan. 18 and scored 15 points. .... Larry Nance Jr. had a season-high 12 rebounds ... The Pelicans were outrebounded 57-38. They had a minus-11 rebound margin Saturday against the Wizards.

Bucks: The Bucks reached the 130-point mark for the fifth time in their last seven games. ... Middleton came off the bench for a fourth straight game and had nine points in 17 1/2 minutes as the Bucks continue to monitor the three-time All-Star's workload in his return from right knee soreness. Middleton has played just 11 games this year, missing time first to recover from offseason wrist surgery and later to deal with his knee issue.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Denver on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game road swing. The Pelicans have split two home matchups with the Nuggets this season.

Bucks: Host Charlotte on Tuesday. The Bucks won at Charlotte, and a month later lost to them at home.

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Osman ties career high with 29 points, Cavs rout Clippers

1.1d ago 1/29/2023 9:46 PM ET By BRIAN DULIK, Associated Press CLEVELAND

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cedi Osman tied his career high with 29 points and matched the franchise record by making all seven of his 3-pointers as the Cleveland Cavaliers built a 40-point lead on their way to a 122-99 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night.

All-Star starter Donovan Mitchell had 11 points in his return for Cleveland after missing three games with a strained groin. The Cavaliers never trailed and took their largest lead of the season at 82-42 on Jarrett Allen’s first 3-pointer since Nov. 5, 2021.

“It was a great feeling, everybody was sharing the moment with me,” Osman said. “We played great offensively, and it was a great game for everybody. We’ve got such a good group of guys who support each other at all times.”

The Clippers, who had won five in a row, opted not to dress Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Reggie Jackson, all of whom played Saturday in Atlanta. Officially, George and Leonard did not play because of right knee trouble and Jackson has a sore right Achilles.

Turkey national team member Osman made 11 of 13 shots on Turkish Heritage Night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. He joined Kyrie Irving and Mo Williams as the only Cavaliers to go 7 of 7 beyond the arc in a game.

“That’s what Turkish Heritage Night will do for you,” Allen said, laughing. “Every single thing, except for his layups, went in. He did everything he was supposed to all night.”

Darius Garland collected 16 points and 10 assists, and Allen had 15 points and eight rebounds for Cleveland, which has the best home record in the East at 21-5.

The performance was in stark contrast to the Cavaliers’ 120-114 home loss to Golden State nine days earlier, when the Warriors sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.

“Tonight was a similar situation, but we took it serious,” Osman said. “We knew Golden State was missing a lot of pieces and learned a tough lesson from it.”

Brandon Boston Jr. scored 24 points and Moses Brown had 13 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles. Rookie Jason Preston from Ohio University had season highs of 12 points and eight assists.

The Clippers are 1-1 on a six-game road trip that ends Feb. 6 in Brooklyn. They missed 16 of their first 17 3-pointers and finished 2 of 19.

“I had a couple of friends and family here, so it was a good night, for sure,” Preston said. “The more I was out there, I kept getting a little more confident.”

WELCOME BACK

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue took the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals appearances, winning their lone championship in 2016. F Kevin Love and Osman are the only remaining players who played for Lue.

“When you lose LeBron (James) and Kyrie (Irving), usually it’s going to take a long time to get back,” said Lue, who went 128-83 in four seasons with the Cavaliers. “To be where they are now, they’ve done a great job putting together this team.

“It started with the trade for Jarrett Allen, which was out of this world, and getting Donovan Mitchell this year took them to the next level.”

TIP-INS

Clippers: G Terance Mann had the sole assist by a Los Angeles starter in the first half. … F Marcus Morris (bruised rib) missed his third consecutive game and F Robert Covington (personal reasons) sat out his second. G John Wall (abdominal soreness) last played on Jan. 13 against Denver. … Two-way C Brown was recalled from Ontario in the G League.

Cavaliers: Love (low back spasms) was inactive for the third straight game. The 34-year-old has missed six contests with the injury since the start of December. … Cleveland must win its next game to finish a winning record for the fourth consecutive month. It hasn’t started a season with four straight winning months since its 2015-2016 title campaign.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Visit Chicago on Tuesday night.

Cavaliers: Host Miami on Tuesday night.

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Grizzlies use Morant's triple-double, rally to beat Pacers

1.2d ago 1/29/2023 8:56 PM ET By CLAY BAILEY, Associated Press MEMPHIS, Tenn.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 27 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 28 points and the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a lackluster first half to defeat the Indiana Pacers 112-100 on Sunday.

Brandon Clarke had 13 points, hitting all five of his shots as Memphis snapped a five-game losing streak and ran its home record to 21-3. It was Morant's fifth triple-double of the season and second in a row.

“We needed it,” Morant said. “Obviously going through a terrible slump that we haven't been in in years, dropping five games on the road. That's not our identity. That's not us.”

But the game started as if Memphis was going to continue its losing ways. The Grizzlies were down by 12 at half, but the second-half change, fueled by defensive adjustments, allowed them to outscore the Pacers 62-38 in the final two quarters.

“Pretty clear that the first half was really excellent and exactly what we were trying to do, which was make it tough on them with solid defense," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “... The second half, they were able to flip the whole thing.”

Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth pick in the 2022 draft, led the Pacers with 27 points and eight rebounds. Aaron Nesmith had 16 points and Myles Turner added 15 points. Indiana has lost 10 of its last 11.

The Pacers dominated the first half, leading by as many as 19. Indiana's first-half shooting, which hovered at 60% at the midway point of the second quarter, helped it to a 62-50 lead at the break.

But 14 straight points brought Memphis back into the game early in the third quarter, and the Grizzlies outscored Indiana 30-17 in the third to retake the lead.

“It's hard to play away,” Mathurin said of the second-half collapse. “They had momentum. The crowd got into it. ... We should have stayed locked in. Defense was pretty bad in the second half.”

Memphis' 13-2 run to open the fourth opened the game up.

“We just accepted the challenge,” said Jackson, who also had five blocks. “We have to come out and compete every night. This is nothing new. We're just glad to be back home and get a nice win.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Guard Tyrese Haliburton continued to sit out with left knee and elbow sprains, but there were indications Indiana's top scorer could return to action soon. Carlisle expects Haliburton to practice this week “and looking toward the real possibility that he could play this weekend.”

Grizzlies: Have won eight straight at home; their last home loss was Dec. 27 to Phoenix. ... Guard Desmond Bane sat out with right knee soreness. Coach Taylor Jenkins classified Bane as day-to-day and expects him to return this week.

TURNER EXTENSION

Turner will stay with Indiana after agreeing to a two-year contract extension. Carlisle said the team has a news conference planned for Monday.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

Sunday was the Grizzlies' first home game since the video was released of Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after a traffic stop. The Grizzlies held a pregame moment of silence for Nichols, 29, who died three days after the confrontation with police. Five officers were fired and indicted on an array of charges, including second-degree murder.

“Obviously, our city is going through a really tough time right now, I'm kind of focused on that more than basketball,” Jenkins said, adding that the video was “very disturbing.”

Guard Tyus Jones, who was in Minnesota at the time of George Floyd's death, said it is hard to deal with the emotions when it happens in your city.

“It's a sad situation. It's unfortunate,” Jones said. “A lot of emotions flowing. ... Anger because that shouldn't happen That's not supposed to happen.”

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host the Lakers on Tuesday.

Grizzlies: Host Portland on Wednesday.

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Turner agrees to stay with Pacers on 2-year extension

1.2d ago 1/29/2023 7:36 PM ET By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Myles Turner is staying with the Indiana Pacers a while longer.

The two-time NBA blocks champion has agreed to a two-year contract extension, keeping Indiana's starting five intact through next season. Terms of the deal have not been released but The Athletic and espn.com first reported the deal is for $60 million and will pay Turner an additional amount this season to help Indiana spread the money out for salary cap purposes.

Coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Sunday, before Indiana's game at Memphis, that a news conference to officially announce the deal will be held Monday when the team returns.

“It’s just great news that there’s an agreement in place for Myles Turner,” Carlisle said. “He’s been amazing for two years. I can’t talk in detail about it, but it’s just great news for the franchise and the city, obviously for him and for the organization. That’s great and that’s it.”

In recent years, Turner has widely been rumored to be on the move. Many thought that the former University of Texas star would be dealt last summer when the Pacers were revamping the roster.

Instead, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and Carlisle continued saying they thought Turner could be part of what Indiana's future, and Turner's commitment to the Pacers never wavered.

“My job is to come in here and help these young guys out,” Turner said when training camp opened in September. “As long as I’m in this uniform, I’m going to go out there and represent the state how I’m supposed to represent it and represent my team in the same manner.”

Playing alongside point guard Tyrese Haliburton for most of this season has helped Turner deliver a long-awaited breakthrough since he was drafted at age 19 with the 11th overall selection in 2015.

Turner has consistently been one of the league's top rim protectors.

But with Haliburton running the show, his offense has improved, too. Turner is averaging 17.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, shooting 54.4% from the field and 39.1% on 3-pointers — all career bests — while still blocking 2.4 shots.

The other concern has been injuries. Turner has missed at least 17 games in five of the previous seven seasons and played in only 89 total games in 2020-21 and 2021-22 with an assortment of ailments. He even missed five of this season's first seven games because of an ankle injury he suffered during warmups for October's season opener.

Since returning, Turner has played a key role in helping the surprising Pacers win 24 of their first 50 games and stay in playoff contention.

The extension also may give Indiana even more leverage moving forward.

All five of this season's starters are signed through next season and two, Haliburton and forward Aaron Nesmith, won't become restricted free agents until 2024-25 — the same year Turner's new deal expires.

Plus, the rookie deals of starting guard Andrew Nembhard and scoring sensation Bennedict Mathurin won't expire until 2026-27.

That leaves only Buddy Hield's long-term future in doubt. The contract of the NBA's current leader in 3-pointers made runs out after next season. Hield will be 31 years old in December.

Salary cap projections also have the Pacers ranked among the top seven teams with the most space each of the next three seasons and they could have up to three first-round draft picks in June to continue building around a nucleus that now includes Turner.

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AP freelancer Clay Bailey in Memphis, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

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Chasing Kareem: Tracking LeBron James' pursuit of NBA record

1.3d ago 1/29/2023 5:36 PM ET By The Associated Press

A look at LeBron James’ pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s scoring record. Abdul-Jabbar has held the record since April 5, 1984:

Abdul-Jabbar points: 38,387.

James points: 38,271.

Difference: 116 points.

James’ latest game: He scored 41 points Saturday night in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 125-121 overtime loss at Boston.

James’ scoring average this season: 30.2.

Potential record-breaker: At his current rate of 30.2 points per game, with 117 points needed to pass Abdul-Jabbar, it would take James four more games to become the NBA’s scoring leader. The Lakers say James will not play at Brooklyn on Monday. Assuming he does not miss any more games, he would be on pace to break the record Feb. 7 at home against Oklahoma City.

Next Lakers game: Monday at Brooklyn. They play at New York on Tuesday.

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Referees' union says James was fouled on controversial play

1.3d ago 1/29/2023 5:36 PM ET By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

The National Basketball Referees Association said Sunday that LeBron James was fouled on the last play of regulation in the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Boston Celtics.

The NBA office also confirmed for the second time that a foul should have been called.

“Like everyone else, referees make mistakes,” the union wrote in its tweet. “We made one at the end of last night’s game and that is gut-wrenching for us. This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.”

James got the ball about 35 feet from the basket, with 4.1 seconds remaining in what was a tied game at Boston on Saturday night. He split two defenders as he got into the lane, then went airborne and got past Jayson Tatum as well.

James laid the ball up with his left hand, Tatum clearly made contact with James’ shooting arm, no foul was called and the game went to overtime. Had a foul been called, James would have gone to the free-throw line with an opportunity to put the Lakers ahead with 1.8 seconds remaining.

The Celtics wound up winning the game in overtime, 125-121.

“We got cheated tonight, honestly. ... It’s unacceptable,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said after the game.

The NBA acknowledged shortly after the game that a foul should have been called — “There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play,” crew chief Eric Lewis told a pool reporter — and reaffirmed that Sunday in the report detailing calls made and missed in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime.

The Lakers entered Sunday 13th in the Western Conference at 23-27, only two games back of the final play-in spot and four games back of the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers. But the Lakers have also spent virtually the entire season on the outside of the playoff picture.

“We don’t have room for error,” James said after Saturday’s game. “And it’s one of the best games we played all year. For it to fall on somebody else’s judgment, or non-judgment, it’s just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.”

Neither James nor Davis will play in the Lakers’ next game on Monday at Brooklyn, the team said. Injuries are the reason; James has left ankle soreness and Davis continues to deal with a right foot stress injury.

James reacted with no shortage of animation after the missed call on the Tatum play, immediately pointing to his arm and eventually slumping to the court, resting on his knees and elbows as he tried to come to grips with no foul being called.

Lakers guard Patrick Beverley brought a camera onto the court during the ensuing stoppage to show Lewis an image of the contact; Beverley got a technical foul, and the Celtics wound up starting the overtime with a 106-105 lead because of the resulting free throw.

It marked at least the fourth time in recent weeks that the Lakers felt a late-game call went against them in what became a loss.

“I don’t see it happening to nobody else,” James said. “It’s just weird.”

Added Lakers coach Darvin Ham: “As much as you try not to put it on officiating, it’s becoming increasingly difficult.”

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Giannis goes off in 1st half, scores 50 in Bucks' win

1.4d ago 1/29/2023 4:16 PM ET By The Associated Press MILWAUKEE

MILWAUKEE (AP) —

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 50 points and 13 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks trounced New Orleans 135-110 on Sunday, handing the Pelicans their eighth straight loss.

Anteotkounmpo’s 50 points were five off the career high he set Jan. 4 in a 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards. He shot 20 of 26 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range, and went 7 of 12 on free-throw attempts.

Antetokounmpo collected 29 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone. Jrue Holiday scored 17 and Brook Lopez added 15 for the Bucks, who shot 55.2%.

New Orleans was missing its top three scorers, so Jose Alvarado led the Pelicans with 18 points, while Trey Murphy III and Jonas Valanciunas had 16 each.

HORNETS 122, HEAT 117

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Terry Rozier scored 31 points, P.J. Washington had 27 and Charlotte stopped Miami’s three-game win streak.

LaMelo Ball scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as Charlotte improved to 7-16 at home. Gordon Hayward was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field for 20 points.

Rozier also had seven assists and six rebounds. He was 11 for 19 from the field, including a 5-for-11 performance from 3-point range.

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points for Miami, and Tyler Herro had 24.

Charlotte shot 54.2% from the field and outrebounded Miami 47-36.

GRIZZLIES 112, PACERS 100

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 27 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 28 points and Memphis overcame a lackluster first half to defeat Indiana.

Brandon Clarke had 13 points, hitting all five of his shots as Memphis snapped a five-game losing streak and ran its home record to 21-3. It was Morant’s fifth triple-double of the season and second in a row.

Benedict Mathurin, the sixth pick in the 2022 draft, led the Pacers with 27 points and eight rebounds. Aaron Nesmith had 16 points and Myles Turner added 15 points.

CAVALIERS 122, CLIPPERS 99

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cedi Osman tied his career-high with 29 points, Darius Garland had 16 points and 10 assists, and Cleveland led Los Angeles wire-to-wire for a win.

All-Star starter Donovan Mitchell had 11 points in his return for Cleveland after missing three games with a strained groin. Osman, a member of Turkey's national team, drained all seven 3-point attempts on Turkish Heritage Night

Brandon Boston Jr. scored 24 points and Moses Brown had 13 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles, which had its five-game winning streak snapped. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard didn’t dress for the Clippers because of knee issues and Reggie Jackson didn’t play because of a sore right Achilles.

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Rozier, Washington help Hornets rally past Heat 122-117

1.4d ago 1/29/2023 3:56 PM ET By STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer CHARLOTTE, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Terry Rozier scored 31 points, P.J. Washington had 27 and the Charlotte Hornets stopped Miami's three-game win streak with a 122-117 victory over the Heat on Sunday.

LaMelo Ball scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as Charlotte improved to 7-16 at home. Gordon Hayward was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field for 20 points.

Rozier also had seven assists and six rebounds. He was 11 for 19 from the field, including a 5-for-11 performance from 3-point range. He made two buzzer-beater 3s at the end of quarters.

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points for Miami, and Tyler Herro had 24.

The Hornets, who have been hampered by injuries all season, have won four of six for the team's best stretch of the season. Washington believes it's a reflection of the team getting healthier.

Charlotte's projected starting five to begin the season is finally back on the floor and appears to be starting to mesh.

“Everybody is back and everybody is healthy — and that is a major difference,” Washington said. “At the end of the day we have to keep going the way we are right now.”

Hayward has struggled with shoulder and hamstring issues, limiting the team's highest-paid player to just 24 games.

Sunday marked his best game in months.

“He's playing confident and getting easy baskets and just bullying guys down low,” Washington said. “He's playing great basketball and I expect that of him every night.”

Whether a now healthy Hornets team can make a playoff push remains to be seen, but coach Steve Clifford remains optimistic.

“Getting ’Melo and Gordon back, obviously you’re a different team,” Clifford said. “If we can get into playing set groups then we’ll have a good chance to hopefully put some good stretches together. (It helps) when they know who they’re playing with and they know where the shots are coming from.”

The Heat led 62-58 after Rozier banked in a 3 from the midcourt logo to close out the first half.

Miami went on a 10-1 run to start the third quarter. Herro knocked down two 3-pointers to help the Heat open a 13-point lead.

But Charlotte came storming back behind Washington and Rozier, who began knocking down shots from deep.

Charlotte pushed the lead to 12 with 5:54 left on a turnaround jumper by Rozier.

Miami rallied with a 10-0 run. Kyle Lowry found Bam Adebayo inside for a layup to cut the lead to 108-106.

But Charlotte had another burst as Mason Plumlee got the ball after Rozier won a jump ball and drove to the basket for a score. Ball canned an open 3-pointer to put Charlotte back up 114-106 with 1:50 left.

Washington's rebound and score off his own miss kept Charlotte up by seven and Plumlee dunked off a pass from Washington to put the game away in the final minute.

Charlotte shot 54.2% from the field and scored 25 points in transition. The Hornets also outrebounded Miami 47-36.

“They have had a lot of injuries but when they have been fully healthy, this team can score much different than their numbers may suggest for the season,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We did not step up defensively, they got a lot of easy run-ups that quickly changed the momentum of the game."

TIP-INS

Heat: Adebayo scored 17 points, but he only had four rebounds.

Hornets: Plumlee entered the game shooting 76.5% from the field over his last 20 games, the highest percentage by any player in any 20-game span since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77, per Stathead. ... Charlotte's career leading scorer Kemba Walker attended the game.

UP NEXT

Heat: Continue a four-game road trip Tuesday at Cleveland.

Hornets: Play five of their next six games on the road beginning Tuesday at Milwaukee.

___

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Achiuwa leads Raptors to 123-105 win over Trail Blazers

2.0d ago 1/29/2023 12:46 AM ET By ERIK GARCÍA GUNDERSEN, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Precious Achiuwa scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in place of the injured OG Anunoby to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 123-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 19 against his former team for the Raptors, who led by as many as 23 and never trailed. Scottie Barnes had 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The Raptors were without Anunoby after he injured his left wrist Friday against Golden State. Coach Nick Nurse said X-rays were negative, but the team was still awaiting results of an MRI taken Saturday. Achiuwa stepped up in Anunoby's absence.

“He was in the right place at the right time a lot tonight and that’s a good sign that he’s making himself available,” Nurse said. “He made really good reads and (teammates) found him and he made a couple of plays on his own.

"I was happy that he was available because teams will step up to Pascal when he’s driving.”

Damian Lillard scored 30 points and Jerami Grant 28 for Portland, which had 12 turnovers that led to 22 points for Toronto. The Trail Blazers were also outrebounded 45-27.

Lillard’s 3-pointer cut the Raptors' lead to 94-90 with 8:41 left, but that was the closest the Blazers would get.

“They came out and imposed their will against us,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said.

The Raptors answered with baskets on their next three possessions to make it 100-90 and forcing a timeout by the Blazers with 7:24 left. Blazers coach Chauncey Billups was called for a technical foul during the timeout and Fred VanVleet extended the lead to 101-90.

A 3-pointer by Siakam made it 108-90 to send Portland fans to the exits.

“You’re on the road in a tough environment and they really banded together tonight really well,” Nurse said.

Nurse was also proud of the job Toronto did on Lillard, who was averaging over 38 points in his last 10 games entering Saturday.

“It was a pretty hard working 30," Nurse said.

Toronto jumped out to a 37-14 lead after the first quarter, shooting 69% from the field while the Trail Blazers shot just 27%.

“I think the bad starts have become a trend,” Lillard said of the Blazers, who fell to 2-3 on their six-game homestand. “They came out with more energy than we did and more urgency than we did and they jumped out on us.

'It was an uphill battle from that point on.”

The Blazers made a few runs in the first half, getting within 12 at 51-39 after a 3-pointer by Nassir Little. It wasn’t long before the Raptors extended their lead again. Achiuwa had two three-point plays to help the Raptors take a 63-44 lead into the break.

Grant hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and Portland cut into the deficit to make it 68-56.

Behind Grant’s scoring and better defense, the Blazers cut the Raptors' lead to 88-83 heading into the fourth quarter. In addition to Grant’s 14 points in the third quarter, Anfernee Simons scored on consecutive possessions to end the quarter, including a buzzer-beating layup.

“Any time you dig yourself a hole in this league, on the one hand, you can always get back into the game because teams play so fast and the game is so long,” Lillard said. “On the other hand, you’re wearing yourself out trying to get yourself back into the game because you have to be close to perfect.”

TIP INS

Portland C Jusuf Nurkic (calf) and F Josh Hart (hamstring) both missed Saturday night’s game. Without two regular starters, the Blazers inserted C Drew Eubanks and Little into the starting lineup.

IN THE CROWD

Actor Will Ferrell was sitting courtside. After being introduced to the crowd, most of the arena stood to welcome him.

UP NEXT

Raptors: At Phoenix on Monday night.

Trail Blazers: Host Atlanta on Monday night.

More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Brown forces OT, Celtics snap skid by beating LA 125-121

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 11:46 PM ET By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer BOSTON

BOSTON (AP) — Lakers guard Patrick Beverley grabbed a courtside camera in an effort to show referee Eric Lewis what everyone who'd watched the replay already knew: LeBron James was fouled on his missed layup at the end of regulation.

Instead of getting the call, Beverley drew a technical foul that gave Boston the lead to start overtime and the NBA-leading Celtics went on to beat Los Angeles 125-121 on Saturday night.

“The best player on Earth can’t get a call. It's amazing,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “As much as you try not to put it on the officiating, it's becoming increasingly difficult.”

Jaylen Brown scored 37, completing a tying 3-point play with 4.1 seconds left in regulation and adding 11 more points in overtime to help the Celtics snap a three-game losing streak. Brown added nine rebounds, Jayson Tatum had 30 points and 11 rebounds, and Malcom Brogdon scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half of a seesaw game that had 19 lead changes — six in the fourth quarter — and 15 ties.

James had 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. But it was his missed layup at the end of regulation that enraged him on the court and left him simmering at his locker afterward.

“I don't understand. I don't understand what we're doing, and I watch basketball every single day," said James, who sat with a towel covering his head during overtime and barely looked up as he spoke from at his locker. "I watch games every single day and I don't see it happening to nobody else. It's just weird.”

Anthony Davis had 16 points with 10 rebounds, coming off the bench for the second game in a row after missing 20 with a foot injury. Beverley scored 15, twice giving the Lakers the lead in the final minute of the fourth. But he also missed a foul shot that might have clinched it, and his technical gave the Celtics the lead to start overtime, and they never trailed again.

“At the end of the day, the players decided that game,” Brown said. “We made plays down the stretch; they made plays down the stretch. And I thought it was a good game. It was probably one of the greater games in our recent Lakers-Celtics matchup. And I’m happy we came out on top.”

With Celtics Hall of Famer Paul Pierce cheering his former team on from the sideline and the team’s broadcasters — Boston’s Cedric Maxwell and LA’s Mychal Thompson — talking trash on press row, the Celtics swept their longtime rivals in the two-game season series. There was a vocal contingent of Lakers fans making noise when the visitors opened an 11-point lead in the third quarter. But they were out-shouted by the locals when Tatum, who scored 15 in the third, including three 3-pointers, helped erase an 11-point deficit.

Beverley hit a 3-pointer to give the Lakers the lead with 52 seconds left and then, after Boston tied it, scored on a putback dunk that made it 104-102 with 19 seconds to play. But after Brown missed a 3, Beverley missed one of two free throws; Al Horford missed a 3, and Brown scored on the putback and picked up a delayed foul call.

“That was just the craziness of the game,” Brown said. “It looked like they might have missed a call on their end toward the end of the game. But that’s just life. They’ll be all right.”

One game after missing a pair of free throws with 8 seconds left in a one-point game against the Knicks, Brown hit this one to tie it 105-all with 4.1 seconds to play. The Celtics (36-15) have the NBA’s best record despite losing their previous three games.

TIP-INS

James is 116 points away from matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA record for career points, 38,387. … Pierce was wearing what appeared to be shamrock pajama pants. … Westbrook missed his first six shots, as the crowd taunted him to shoot, before finishing with 12 points on 4 of 14 shooting. … Brown picked up his fifth foul on the first possession of the fourth quarter. … The Celtics beat the Lakers 122-118 in LA on Dec. 13. Tatum scored 44 points. Davis had 37 points and 12 rebounds. James scored 33 with nine boards and nine assists. … The Celtics were without point guard Marcus Smart and big man Robert Williams III, who both have sprained ankles.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Brooklyn on Monday night.

Celtics: At Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

___

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Jazz hold off late rally, beat Doncic-less Mavericks 108-100

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 11:36 PM ET By JOHN COON, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points, Malik Beasley added 19 and the Utah Jazz took advantage of Dallas star Luka Doncic’s absence to beat the Mavericks 108-100 on Saturday night.

Doncic sat out because of a sprained left ankle.

Jordan Clarkson added 14 points for Utah, and Walker Kessler had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.

The Jazz rolled out three big men in their starting lineup with great success. Kessler is 7-foot-1, Markkanen stands at 7-foot, and Kelly Olynyk 6-11.

Their presence helped the Jazz go 12-of-18 from the field in the first quarter and shoot 60% from the field overall in the first half. Defensively, Utah finished with a 49-31 advantage on rebounds.

“I think it’s a good look,” Markkanen said. “It’s gonna be a tough matchup. And we just got to be able to dominate the rebounds with that lineup, so we’ll get better.”

Spencer Dinwiddie had 35 points and eight assists for Dallas. Reggie Bullock had 19 points, and Josh Green and Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in 11 apiece.

“With this game, we left some things on the floor for sure,” Dinwiddie said.

After trailing by double digits for much of the game, Dallas cut it to 103-98 on Bullock’s 3-pointer. Markkanen countered with a 3-pointer on the other end to keep the Mavericks from drawing closer and the Jazz held Dallas without a basket over the final 2 1/2 minutes.

“We’re getting better at closing the games and that’s what’s important,” Beasley said. “We’re learning as a team and learning as (individual) players what it takes.”

STEPPING UP

With Doncic sidelined and his status still day-to-day, Dinwiddie has emerged as the Mavericks’ primary offensive threat while filling in for the All-Star point guard. He has averaged 35.5 points and 8.5 assists over his past two games – while making 21 total baskets and 11 3-pointers in that stretch.

“You can’t change everything,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “You’re gonna try to put these guys in a position to be successful. Spencer has taken that challenge. You saw that in the Phoenix game. He’s not a rookie, so he understands what it means to be a leader.”

Dinwiddie’s elevated production highlights a comeback season for the veteran guard. He has started in 50 games for the Mavericks this season and missed only one contest after playing in just three games two seasons ago after tearing his ACL.

His presence offers a steadying influence to a Dallas offense missing its biggest star.

“Luka is one of a kind and you can’t replicate him, but Spencer Dinwiddie does a pretty good job of getting close in terms of their style of play,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.

TIP INS

Mavericks: Finney-Smith finished with a team-high nine rebounds and a season-high four assists. … Dallas scored 16 points off 17 Utah turnovers.

Jazz: Kessler blocked four shots in the first half. … Mike Conley finished with a game-high 11 assists. … Kelly Olynyk returned to action after missing eight games with a left ankle sprain.

UP NEXT

Mavericks: Host Detroit on Monday night.

Jazz: Host Toronto on Wednesday night.

___

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Chasing Kareem: Tracking LeBron James' pursuit of NBA record

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 11:36 PM ET By The Associated Press

A look at LeBron James’ pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s scoring record. Abdul-Jabbar has held the record since April 5, 1984:

Abdul-Jabbar points: 38,387.

James points: 38,271.

Difference: 116 points.

James’ latest game: He scored 41 points Saturday night in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 125-121 overtime loss at Boston.

James’ scoring average this season: 30.2.

Potential record-breaker: At his current rate of 30.2 points per game, with 117 points needed to pass Abdul-Jabbar, it would take James four more games to become the NBA’s scoring leader. Assuming he does not miss any games, that makes the potential record-breaking game Feb. 4 at New Orleans.

Next Lakers game: Monday at Brooklyn.

___

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Paul, Bridges help Suns escape Spurs in overtime, 121-116

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 10:56 PM ET By RAUL DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Chris Paul scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges had 25 and the Phoenix Suns escaped with a 128-118 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.

San Antonio never led and trailed by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but forced overtime with an 18-7 run in the final four minutes of regulation.

Bridges had eight points in overtime in scoring 20-plus points for the eighth time in his past 11 games.

“With guys out, dude is stepping up,” Phoenix center Deandre Ayton said. “The confidence is not coming out of nowhere; it’s been there since the season (began). Mikal was working on his game. He’s pretty consistent, just working on his craft and tonight was a time for it show. He took over the game.”

Keldon Johnson had 34 points and Jeremy Sochan added a season-high 30 points for the Spurs.

Johnson scored seven straight points for the Spurs, cutting the Suns’ lead to 103-102 with three minutes remaining in the game. After a series of baskets, Sochan’s 3-pointer cut it to 108-107 with a minute remaining.

“Really proud,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Great effort against a good basketball team, a very good basketball team. Lot of guys played, a lot of guys participated. They played physically, they played hard, did everything they could do. A couple of guys, Chris and Mikal took over during the overtime, made shots. Keldon tried to keep us in it, those guys kind of took over.”

After Bridges hit an 11-footer, Johnson responded with a three-point play to tie it at 110 with 47.8 seconds left.

Ayton completely missed the rim on an attempted hook shot with 31.1 seconds remaining and the Spurs missed a series of shots as regulation ended.

“They’re not just not a prideful team, they have championship DNA all through the organization,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “We knew any Pop-coached team was going to evaluate and look at things they could do better.”

Ayton finished with 23 points.

Playing without Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet and Jae Crowder, the Suns still managed to overcome the beleaguered Spurs. San Antonio has lost five straight and 10 of its past 11 games.

“It’s big. (The injuries have) forced him to be more aggressive,” Paul said of Bridges.

Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and Doug McDermott added 10 points for the Spurs.

Cameron Johnson had 15 points for the Suns.

Phoenix has won six straight in San Antonio and its last seven against the Spurs.

TIP-INS

Suns: Phoenix’s last loss in San Antonio was Jan. 29, 2019, when San Antonio forward Rudy Gay hit a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer for a 126-124 victory. The Suns’ previous loss to the Spurs was 111-85 on April 17, 2021. … A strained left groin has kept Booker out of the lineup since Dec. 25. Phoenix is 7-10 without Booker. … Payne and Shamet both sat out with foot injuries.

Spurs: George Karl, who played three seasons in the ABA with the Spurs and two in the NBA, was honored following the first quarter. Karl played his entire career with the Spurs before embarking on a 27-year coaching career in which he won 1,175 games for six franchises. Karl received an ovation after a video highlighting his time in San Antonio was played as part of the team’s 50th anniversary celebration. … Vassell missed his 13th straight game with a left knee injury that resulted in surgery Jan. 11. … Langford missed the game with left abductor tightness and Richardson was out with sore left knee.

LITTLE HELP

Ayton was forced to use an iPhone charger as a belt after forgetting to pack his. The Suns center wore the charger to the AT&T Center but took it off after initially wearing it after getting dressed following the game.

Booker, who did not play but was with the team, understood. Booker showed Ayton he had to use a shoelace as a belt.

UP NEXT

Suns: Host Toronto on Monday night.

Spurs: Host Washington on Monday night.

___

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Gafford double-double leads Wizards past Pelicans 113-103

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 10:56 PM ET By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer NEW ORLEANS

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Daniel Gafford had a season-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Washington Wizards beat the reeling New Orleans Pelicans 113-103 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory.

“No matter what, I just kept playing," said Gafford, whose production helped mitigate the absence of 7-foot-3 star Kristaps Porzingis, who missed his third straight game with an ankle injury. "We’ve got KP out. So, really just stepping up was the main thing on my mind … just locking in and being able to play physical throughout the full game.”

Bradley Beal scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and Deni Avdija scored 13 for Washington, which also won its fourth straight on the road while sending New Orleans to its seventh straight loss overall.

“The beauty of it is we’re constantly building on the game before,” Beal said of the winning streak. "We’re not getting tired of doing the right things.”

Washington led most of the game and by as many as 16 points when Kendrick Nunn's driving layup made it 96-80 with 8:16 to go.

The Pelicans briefly seized momentum with a 10-0 run that included Brandon Ingram's fadeaway and Herb Jones' breakaway dunk.

It looked as if New Orleans was going to have a chance to pull within three when officials called a foul on Washington during Jose Alvarado's drive to the hoop. But the Wizards challenged the call and it was overturned. Moments later, Beal hit a pullup as he was fouled by Ingram and completed the three-point play to make it 100-92.

The Pelicans did not threaten again.

“Fourth quarter, coach just told me to be aggressive and attack and that’s what I did,” Beal said.

Corey Kispert and Nunn each scored 12 for Washington, while Kyle Kuzma added 10 points and won teammates' praise for his defensive on Ingram, who scored 22 points but made just 8 of 22 shots.

CJ McCollum scored 24 points for the Pelicans, whose string of losses has “kind of jolted us in a negative way,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said.

“We’ll get back to playing our style and playing with joy,” Green said. "Right now, like I told our team, nobody’s going to rescue you. We have to be a part of our own rescue.”

New Orleans played most of the game without top rebounder Jonas Valanciunas. He was ejected after a his elbow struck Taj Gibson in the head as the Pelicans center made a move toward the basket. Valanciunas indicated that contact was inadvertent, but officials ruled it a Flagrant-2 foul after video review.

Valanciunas laughed incredulously as he walked to the locker room.

Green said Valanciunas made one of his normal spin moves to the hoop, but that “it just looked like Taj Gibson had got so low” that the defender's head was in the path of Valanciunas' elbow.

Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said it would not be like Gibson to go down as he did “unless there's significant contact there.”

“He felt it was a dirty play,” Unseld added.

Gafford had 14 of his points in the first half, highlighted by his soaring alley-oop jam of Beal's lob, which the center caught with one hand high above his head and slammed down hard in one motion.

While Beal acknowledged his lob that set up Gafford’s big alley-oop dunk was on the high side, he added, “Gaff can go touch the top of the backboard. So, anywhere you can throw it in the vicinity, he can go get it.”

Added Gafford: “I tell them you can throw it to the moon, I’m going to bring it back down. I’m always prepared for anything around the rim.”

Delon Wright's driving finger roll as time expired made it 59-50 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Monte Morris returned from a sore right hamstring that sidelined him in Houston on Wednesday and scored 10 points. … Gibson grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked a shot to go with nine points. ... Outrebounded New Orleans 53-42. ... Converted 13 offensive rebounds into 25 second-chance points.

Pelicans: Trey Murphy III, who scored 10 points, missed a two-handed alley-oop dunk attempt in transition early in the fourth quarter. ... Ingram has reached 20 points in nine of the 17 games he's played in this season. ... All-Star power forward Zion Williamson missed his 13th straight game with a right hamstring injury.

UP NEXT

Wizards: At San Antonio on Monday.

Pelicans: At Milwaukee on Sunday.

___

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Edwards scores 34, Timberwolves beat Kings 117-110

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 10:46 PM ET By BRIAN HALL, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards had 16 of his 34 points in the pivotal third quarter, D’Angelo Russell scored 25 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves held on for a 117-110 win against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Rudy Gobert added 13 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, which has won five of six and took the first of two straight meetings between the teams at Target Center. Naz Reid added 14 points off the bench, including 10 in the Timberwolves’ big third.

“We’re taking a lot of pride in defense and it feels like our urgency is at a much higher level than it was earlier in the season,” Gobert said. “It’s exciting because it’s what you need to be a really good team in this league."

Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento, which has lost three of four after a six-game winning streak earlier in January. De’Aaron Fox had 21 of his 29 points in the fourth as the Kings closed within 114-110 with 37.9 seconds left before Edwards hit a 3-pointer to put the game away.

“That is fool’s gold if we think as a team and organization that we’re going to just beat teams by outscoring them,” Sacramento coach Mike Brown said. “It’s not going to happen, especially come playoff time. So, somehow, someway, I have to find combinations of players that can score and that are willing to get stops for us.”

Russell got Minnesota started with 12 points in the first and he hit his first six 3s to continue his torrid shooting. In his previous 12 games, Russell was hitting 49.1% from the field and 47.1% from 3. His season average from 3-point range coming in was 38.1%.

Sacramento later closed the first half on a 26-14 run to lead 59-57. But the defensive issues again were an issue in the second half.

“We can’t let teams just run their stuff, get their spots and shoot the ball right over us,” Fox said. “You don’t want to pick up fouls, but you want to try to be physical as much as possible without picking up silly fouls.”

Edwards put the Timberwolves back in front as he scored 10 points during a 13-2 third-quarter stretch that saw Minnesota regain control. The Wolves outscored the Kings by 11 in the quarter, a night after the third was the key in a win over Memphis.

“I don’t know if it’s intentional, but it’s kind of how they’re doing it,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said of Russell scoring early and Edwards taking charge later. “DLo is staying ready. His catch-and-shoot is really on point. That’s big for him, and for us. And, obviously, he exits and Ant is out there by himself and kind of turns it up a notch.”

TURN THE THIRD

Minnesota has been outscored by 106 points in the third, the second-highest total in the NBA and the 2.1-point average per game was tied for second. But in January, when Edwards has taken over in the period, the Wolves are a plus-26 in the third in 15 games.

Edwards is averaging 8.5 points in the third in January, which is the 12th-highest total in the league during that span.

“I feel like I can’t miss right now, to be honest,” Edwards said of his 3-point shooting. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but right now, I feel like I just can’t miss. I put a lot of work in, man. So, I’m happy it’s showing.”

TIP-INS

Kings: Sacramento entered shooting 37.2% from 3 this season, the eighth-best total in the NBA. But the Kings were 9 of 33 (27.3%) from 3 in the game. ... Harrison Barnes was 10 of 11 from the line and scored 13.

Timberwolves: Taurean Prince missed his fourth straight game with a left ankle sprain, but he could be nearing a return. He was able to work out on the court before the game. ... Minnesota committed 20 turnovers, leading to 21 points for Sacramento. ... Edwards has scored at least 31 in four of the last five games. He added 10 rebounds in the game.

UP NEXT

The second game between the teams is Monday night.

___

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Leonard scores 32, Clippers beat Hawks for 5th straight win

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 10:06 PM ET By GEORGE HENRY, AP Sports Writer ATLANTA

ATLANTA (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points, including a season-high five 3-pointers, Paul George added 23 points and the Los Angeles Clippers won their fifth straight game, a 120-113 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

“We limited them to 25% from 3 tonight, under 50% from the field, I think that’s big-time for us right now on defense," Leonard said. “That was one of the things that got us in a slump. We shot the ball well tonight."

Trae Young had 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter for the Hawks, who whittled a 14-point deficit down to four on De’Andre Hunter’s left corner 3 with 2:09 remaining. But they couldn’t get any closer after George buried a baseline jumper and Nicolas Batum hit a right corner 3 with 49.3 seconds to go.

George knocked down two free throws at the 17.6-second mark to put the game out of reach.

“I think we’re just taking the steps to grow as a team," George said. “We’re sharing the ball. We’re playing the right way. We’re playing for one another, and I think our defense has been impactful. It’s starting to affect games.

"I think when we went through a stretch where we weren’t playing well, we were giving up a lot of points. I think we’re starting to cut that down."

The Hawks dropped to 8-6 in January, including 6-3 in their last nine outings.

The Clippers used an 8-1 run early in the fourth to build an 11-point lead on Reggie Jackson’s layup. Atlanta called timeout, but it made no difference as Los Angeles went up by 12 on Norman Powell’s left corner 3 with 9:13 remaining. A pair of free throws by Ivica Zubac and Zubac’s putback dunk made it a game-high 14-point lead at the 5:22 mark.

“You’ve got two guys out there that are all-NBA type players," Young said. “It’s easier said on how to stop those guys than just doing it. They played really good tonight. Kawhi did a really good job of scoring when he needed to and P.G. got everybody involved when he was getting in traps and stuff, but he was scoring early.

“Those guys played really well. You’ve got to give them credit."

The Hawks pulled within one midway through the third, but the lead swelled to 71-66 on a pair of 3s by Luke Kennard. Leonard followed with two 3s that made it 76-68, and Los Angeles entered the fourth leading 84-81.

“I was able to get some open looks and if it’s open, I’m going to shoot the ball," Leonard said. “It felt good."

Atlanta took the game’s first double-digit lead at 41-30 on Dejounte Murray’s 10-footer, but the Clippers went on a 26-8 run to go up 56-49 on Zubac’s dunk late in the second. They didn’t trail again for the rest of the game and led 58-53 at halftime.

“I think we limited them to one shot attempt and got the rebound, came back on the offensive end with pace and made shots," Leonard said. “We were able to control the game from there."

TIP-INS

Clippers: F Marcus Morris Sr. was held out with a rib contusion. ... F Robert Covington was not available due to personal reasons. ... Los Angeles has scored over 100 points in 12 straight games. ... The Clippers improved to 20-6 when leading after three. ... They shot 48.7% on 39 attempts on 3s.

Hawks: Outscored Los Angeles 62-32 on points in the paint. ... Young went without a 3 for the third time in the last four games, and Atlanta dropped to 1-5 when he fails to connect beyond the arc. He was 0 for 2. ... All five of the starters scored in double figures. ... Young had 10 assists. ... Clint Capela had 12 rebounds.

UP NEXT

Clippers: At Cleveland on Sunday.

Hawks: At Portland on Monday.

___

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Rockets beat Pistons 117-114 in matchup of NBA's worst teams

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 9:56 PM ET By DAVE HOGG, Associated Press DETROIT

DETROIT (AP) — Kenyon Martin Jr. had a four-point possession with 31 seconds left to help the Houston Rockets beat the Detroit Pistons 117-114 on Saturday night in a matchup of the NBA's worst teams.

The Rockets had a 16-8 advantage in offensive rebounds, a 21-4 edge in second-chance points and outscored the Pistons 70-42 in the paint.

Houston played without Jalen Green (calf), Kevin Porter, Jr. (foot) and Apleren Sengun (non-COVID illness), while coach Stephen Silas missed the game to attend a memorial for his father Paul, who played and coached in the NBA for 48 years.

“I would say 98% of this win came from hustle and hard work,” Rockets interim coach John Lucas said. “With three key scorers out, I think a lot of guys were excited because the ball would be moving and they would get a chance to play.

“Coach has already texted us about getting a good win. Today was a celebration of his dad's life, but I hope this made it a little easier.”

Eric Gordon led the Rockets (12-38) with 24 points. Martin had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Tari Eason added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“This is a really good road win,” Martin said. “We got some stops, made some plays and now we can get out of this cold and get back home.”

Alec Burks had 21 points for the Pistons (13-38). They have lost five of six.

“It seems like all these games come down to the end, but it is all the small things that we aren't doing earlier in games that hurt us,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We aren't a good enough team to take anyone lightly. We can't do that."

With the Pistons leading 112-109, Martin was fouled as his layup bounced twice off the rim before dropping in. He missed the free throw, but Jae'Sean Tate kept the ball alive and Martin's putback gave the Rockets a 113-112 lead.

“Coaches start teaching you to box out on free throws in junior high,” Casey said. “In that situation, you almost have to be face guarding, because you know they will be crashing with a bad free-throw shooter on the line.”

Jabari Smith Jr. then tied up Burks, and the Rockets won the jump ball.

Gordon hit two free throws to make it 115-112, but Jalen Ivey's layup spun in to make it a one-point game with 10 seconds to go.

Gordon added two more free throws, making it 117-114, and Ivey's tying 3-point attempt was off the rim.

The Rockets were 3-of-20 on 3-pointers in the first 39 minutes but made five in a row to stay alive in the fourth quarter.

“We normally struggle in the fourth quarter by turning the ball over and getting pushed around,” Lucas said. “This time, we didn't let that happen.”

TIP INS

Rockets: Houston has won three straight in Detroit, but is still just 21-49 in the Motor City. However, they are 49-22 at home against the Pistons.

Pistons: Detroit was trying to win two straight games for only the second time this season. They beat the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz on Nov. 22-23.

LOPSIDED BATTLE ON THE GLASS

Neither team has done much right this season, but Houston’s biggest strength was a perfect match for Detroit’s most significant problems. The Rockets came into the game leading the league in offensive-rebound percentage at 29.6%, while the Pistons are one of the worst defensive-rebounding teams at 74.2%. Saturday, the Rockets grabbed 36.4% of their offensive-rebound attempts.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

Pistons: At Dallas on Monday night.

___

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DeRozan, LaVine lead Bulls to 128-109 win over Magic

2.1d ago 1/28/2023 9:46 PM ET By DICK SCANLON, Associated Press ORLANDO, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine each scored 32 points, Nikola Vucevic added 26 points and 13 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls turned back a late rally and beat the Orlando Magic 128-109 on Saturday night.

Mo Wagner led the Magic with 27 points, combining with Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs to lead a furious second-half rally that cut a 25-point deficit to six with 5:08 remaining.

“I thought we controlled most of the game,” said Vucevic, who had 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half. "They made a really good run and they cut it close. It's been an issue for us all year long, playing with big leads. We let them back in the game, but this time we were able to finish the game off.”

Patrick Williams had 16 points and six rebounds for the Bulls, who shot 59.3% for the game just two nights after getting outscored by 23 points in the second half of a loss at Charlotte.

“In the Charlotte game we never responded,” coach Billy Donovan said. “The encouraging part is we did respond (tonight). I think it’s good that we had that. ... Being pressed against it, we needed a game where we could respond and come out on the winning side.”

The Bulls led 60-47 at halftime. A 3-pointer by Vucevic, who played more than eight seasons in Orlando, stretched their lead to 24 points and a free throw by LaVine made it 89-64, Chicago's largest lead of the game, with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

“I don’t know how, but we found some energy and we went on a run, got some easy buckets, hit some shots,” said Anthony, who finished with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Wagner scored the Magic's final 11 points in the third period and their first five points in the fourth, pulling the Magic back into contention. But when the Bulls' lead got down to six, DeRozan and LaVine responded with baskets, and a 3-pointer by Williams made it 116-106 with 3:29 left.

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley thought the bad start cost his team the game.

“Obviously the energy level wasn’t where we wanted it to start the game,” he said. “I really think sometimes it falls down to taking the easy route, in some ways. When it’s hard, you just want to catch and shoot. But we weren’t making shots, and that takes its toll on the defense. But we have to be a defensive team first, whether the shots are falling or not.”

“This is not an excuse but we were just flat,” said Mo Wagner, “and part of that was we put our head down too quickly. We kind of let go of our focus.”

TIP-INS

Bulls: G Lonzo Ball, who has not played since tearing his left meniscus on May 10, 2021, is not yet back to running on a consistent basis and will likely not play this season, unless he is making progress by the All-Star break, according to coach Billy Donovan. ... F Derrick Jones Jr., limped off the floor in the third quarter, but came back to play four minutes in the fourth. . . . G Goran Dragic had seven points in 13 minutes after missing three games due to illness. ... DeRozan, who came into the game with a 26.3 scoring average, played eight scoreless minutes in the first quarter without taking a shot.

Magic: F Jonathan Isaac had five points and four rebounds in nine minutes in his third game back from a knee injury. ... The Magic missed their first eight 3-point attempts and finished 10 for 28. . . . Anthony has scored 18 or points in four of his last six games, all off the bench.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Host the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night.

Magic: Play at Philadelphia on Monday night.

___

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Irving has 32 points, Nets beat Knicks for 9th straight time

2.2d ago 1/28/2023 8:16 PM ET By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer NEW YORK

Games: NYK@BKN from 1/28/2023

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving grew up in New York and New Jersey, so he knows better than most whether the Knicks against the Nets is a real rivalry.

“If the NBA calls it rivalry week, then it’s a rivalry,” Irving said.

Only a one-sided one.

Irving scored 21 of his 32 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes, carrying Brooklyn to its ninth straight victory over the Knicks, 122-115 on Saturday.

Irving's sixth straight game of 30 or more points gave him a career high and the Nets an NBA franchise record. He didn't seem headed that way when he was only 4 for 14 with 11 points early in the fourth quarter.

But he took over from there to make sure the Nets turned away every Knicks rally, including a deep 3-pointer with 50 seconds to play after New York was within five. The All-Star guard also had nine assists and six rebounds.

“That’s why it’s so great to have the basketball in his hands,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He can attack by himself, he can draw and kick and the defense has to react.”

Joe Harris added 16 points and Nic Claxton had 13 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Nets. The NBA leader in field goal percentage shot 6 for 6. Royce O'Neale and Seth Curry chipped in 14 points apiece as Brooklyn finished 22 for 40 from 3-point range.

Jalen Brunson scored 26 points and RJ Barrett had 24 for the Knicks. They had won consecutive games against Eastern Conference contenders Cleveland and Boston.

But they can't find a way to beat Brooklyn. The teams separated by about five miles made for a natural addition to the NBA’s “Rivals Week” schedule, now a decade since the Nets played their first season in Brooklyn following their move from New Jersey.

But the Knicks haven’t defeated the Nets in Tom Thibodeau’s 2/12 seasons and their last victory was on Jan. 26, 2020, when Kevin Durant still wasn’t playing for the Nets and Irving left Madison Square Garden after learning of Kobe Bryant’s death that afternoon.

“For me, I love beating the Knicks and playing against them, but all in all, it’s just about the objective and that’s to win the ballgame,” Irving said. “Nothing personal.”

The Knicks got the first basket of the fourth quarter, getting within five points as their fans were fully into the game after being held largely silent for 2 1/2 quarters. But Irving hit his next three shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Brooklyn went up 104-90.

“He made some tough plays. Those were deep 3s that he made on us,” Thibodeau said.

New York would later get within three, but Curry hit a 3 and Irving made a pair to keep Brooklyn safely ahead.

Playing without Durant and Ben Simmons, the Nets led by as much as 19 before the Knicks cut it to 88-81 after three.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Thibodeau said starting center Mitchell Robinson, who had surgery Jan. 19 to repair a broken right thumb, is running and other work can do, but won't know more about when he can return until after he is examined again, which was expected to be three weeks after the procedure. ... Thibodeau said he didn't feel any extra pressure after owner James Dolan said during a radio interview this week that he expected the Knicks to make the playoffs. “If you’re doing all you can each and every day, you never feel pressure,” Thibodeau said.

Nets: TJ Warren also missed the game with a bruised shin, an injury that coach Jacque Vaughn thought was a knee injury. ... The Nets' longest winning streak against the Knicks is 11 in a row from 1984-86.

HALL OF FAME FANS

Former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Irving, Barrett, Curry and Knicks reserve Cam Reddish, was at the game. Thibodeau was also one of his assistant coaches with the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. Former New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera was also in attendance.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Nets: Host the Lakers on Monday night.

___

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NBA-leading Celtics outlast LeBron, Lakers 125-121 in OT

2.2d ago 1/28/2023 8:16 PM ET By The Associated Press BOSTON

BOSTON (AP) — Jaylen Brown scored 37 points, making a tying 3-point play with 4.1 seconds left in regulation and adding 11 more in overtime as the NBA-leading Boston Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the archrival Los Angeles Lakers 125-121 on Saturday night.

Brown added nine rebounds, Jayson Tatum had 30 points and 11 rebounds, and Malcom Brogdon scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half of a seesaw game that had 19 lead changes — six in the fourth quarter — and 15 ties.

LeBron James had 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Anthony Davis had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Patrick Beverley scored 15 points, twice giving the Lakers the lead in the final minute of the fourth, but he also missed a foul shot that might have clinched it and was called for a technical foul on the contentious last play of regulation.

76ERS 126, NUGGETS 119

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid won the battle of MVP rivals with 47 points and 18 rebounds and Philadelphia extended its winning streak to seven games, beating Nikola Jokic and Denver.

Jokic and Embiid have finished first and second in voting for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award over the last two seasons. Both are among the top candidates for MVP as this season hits the halfway mark.

Jokic had 24 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. The Nuggets have lost three of four.

James Harden had 17 points and 13 assists for Philadelphia.

NETS 122, KNICKS 115

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 21 of his 32 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes, carrying Brooklyn to its ninth straight victory over New York. The All-Star guard also had nine assists and six rebounds.

Joe Harris added 16 points and Nic Claxton had 13 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Nets.

Jalen Brunson scored 26 points and RJ Barrett had 24 for the Knicks. They had won consecutive games against Eastern Conference contenders Cleveland and Boston.

CLIPPERS 120, HAWKS 113

ATLANTA (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points, including a season-high five 3-pointers, Paul George added 23 points and Los Angeles beat Atlanta for its fifth straight victory.

Trae Young had 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter for the Hawks, who whittled a 14-point deficit down to four on De’Andre Hunter’s left corner 3 with 2:09 remaining. But they couldn’t get any closer after George buried a baseline jumper and Nicolas Batum hit a right corner 3 with 49.3 seconds to go.

SUNS 121, SPURS 116, OT

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Chris Paul scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges had 25 and Phoenix escaped with an overtime victory over San Antonio.

San Antonio never led and trailed by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but forced overtime with an 18-7 run in the final four minutes of regulation.

Bridges had eight points in overtime.

Keldon Johnson had 34 points and Jeremy Sochan added a season-high 30 points for the Spurs.

JAZZ 108, MAVERICKS 100

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points, Malik Beasley added 19 and Utah took advantage of Dallas star Luka Doncic’s absence to beat the Mavericks.

Doncic sat out because of a sprained left ankle.

Jordan Clarkson added 14 points for Utah, and Walker Kessler had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 35 points and eight assists for Dallas.

TIMBERWOLVES 117, KINGS 110

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards had 16 of his 34 points in the pivotal third quarter, D’Angelo Russell scored 25 points and Minnesota held off Sacramento.

Rudy Gobert added 13 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, which has won five of six and took the first of two straight meetings between the teams at Target Center. Naz Reid added 14 points off the bench.

Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento, which has lost three of four after a six-game winning streak. De’Aaron Fox had 21 of his 29 points in the fourth.

ROCKETS 117, PISTONS 114

DETROIT (AP) — Kenyon Martin Jr. had a four-point possession with 31 seconds left to help Houston beat Detroit in a matchup of the NBA’s worst teams.

Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points. Martin had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Tari Eason added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Alec Burks had 21 points for the Pistons. They have lost five of six.

WIZARDS 113, PELICANS 103

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Daniel Gafford had a season-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots and Washington beat New Orleans for its fifth straight victory.

Bradley Beal scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for Washington, which also won its fourth straight on the road while sending New Orleans to its seventh straight loss overall.

CJ McCollum scored 24 points for the Pelicans.

RAPTORS 123, TRAIL BLAZERS 105

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Precious Achiuwa had 27 points and 13 rebounds in place of the injured OG Anunoby to lead Toronto past Portland.

Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 19 against his former team for the Raptors.

Damian Lillard scored 30 points for Portland.

BULLS 128, MAGIC 109

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine each scored 32 points, Nikola Vucevic added 26 points and 13 rebounds and Chicago beat Orlando.

Mo Wagner led the Magic with 27 points, combining with Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs to lead a furious second-half rally that cut a 25-point deficit to six.

___

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Embiid scores 47 as 76ers beat Jokic, Nuggets 126-119

2.3d ago 1/28/2023 5:56 PM ET By KEVIN COONEY, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid won the battle of MVP candidates with 47 points and 18 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers extended their winning streak to seven games with a 126-119 win over Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

Jokic and Embiid have finished first and second in voting for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award over the last two seasons. Both are among the top candidates for MVP as this season hits the halfway mark, although Embiid was not named among the All-Star starters from the Eastern Conference.

“I'm used to it and it's not the first time," Embiid said. “I think it's more of a motivation to go out there and try to win the whole thing. That's the only way that I'll get that respect.”

Jokic gave Embiid a nod for his play.

“He’s really talented,” Jokic told the Denver Post of Embiid. “Really shifty.”

James Harden had 17 points and 13 assists, and Tobias Harris scored all 14 of his points in the second half after being shut down by Denver's defense in the first half.

“We were able to figure some things out and get some stops,” Harris said. “Guys stepping up and making shots was huge for us to cut the deficit in the fourth quarter to try and make something happen.”

Jokic had 24 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for Denver, which has lost three of its last four games. Jamal Murray chipped in 22 points and Michael Porter added 20.

“We turned it over and they just turned up the pressure on us,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “They got to the basket way too easy with their attack mentality. And we just got way too careless with the basketball."

Embiid has scored 40 or more points nine times this season and 35 times in his career. In addition to the All-Star snub, Embiid was also given a $25,000 fine by the NBA on Friday for an on-court demonstration after-basket celebration during Wednesday night's win over Brooklyn.

“Let's keep offending Joel by fining him and not putting him among the All-Star starters,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said sarcastically.

The Nuggets began the day with the second-best team field goal percentage at 50.7% and tops in 3-point percentage at 39.5%. In the first half, they overwhelmed Philadelphia's perimeter defense, shooting 65.9% (29 for 44) from the floor and 10 of 17 (58.8%) from beyond the 3-point line. The hot shooting helped the Nuggets to a 73-58 lead at halftime.

Embiid started to take over toward the end of the third quarter, putting together a 16-point quarter on 5-of-6 shooting that keyed a 14-0 run that allowed the Sixers to close within 99-98 early in the fourth.

In the final quarter, Philadelphia wore down a Nuggets team playing the final game of a three-game, week-long trip. P.J. Tucker- who had switched defenively to Jokic and slowed him down in the second half- followed a Harden missed 3-pointer with a tip-in with over a minute left to stretch the lead to five. Embiid then hit a 3-pointer to restore an eight-point lead.

“I've always like to think I am a closer and I am,” Embiid said. “Taking the last shot or taking a last second shot with the clock ticking is fun for me. I love getting into those types of possession where you have to make the plays. That's where you find out who is who and who is made up for those kinds of moments.”

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Jamal Murray did start after being listed as questionable with a left hip sprain. Murray missed the game at Milwaukee on Wednesday night. There were times in the third and fourth quarter where Murray appeared to try to stretch things out, but remained in to score 22 points.

76ers: For the second straight game, Embiid did start after being listed as a game-time decision with left foot soreness. Embiid had missed the final game of Philadelphia's five-game trip in Sacramento last Saturday night. .. Philadelphia was issued a third-quarter technical foul for only having four players on the floor.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Start a three-game homestand against New Orleans on Tuesday.

76ers: Play the first of back-to-back home games against Orlando on Monday.

___

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Curry's 35 points send Warriors past Raptors, 129-117

3.0d ago 1/28/2023 12:40 AM ET By SONJA CHEN, Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry had 35 points and 11 assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Toronto Raptors 129-117 on Friday night.

The high-scoring affair was close until the Warriors pulled away with a 31-point fourth quarter, securing a sweep in the season series.

“It feels like we took better care of the ball tonight,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “When Steph plays like that, the whole game opens up. The whole floor opens up.”

Klay Thompson added 29 points, knocking down six 3-pointers despite beginning the night 0 for 5 from beyond the arc. Though Thompson played in the Warriors' 126-110 victory in Toronto on Dec. 18, the game Friday was his first time facing the Raptors at home since he tore his ACL in his left knee in the deciding Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals won by Toronto in Oakland.

Kevon Looney returned to the starting lineup and had 12 points and eight boards as six Warriors players scored in double figures.

The Warriors have won consecutive home games after dropping four straight at the Chase Center.

“We've been teetering on either side of .500 for a very long time. I'm kind of sick of it at this point," Curry said. “(We've) got to figure out how to keep moving in the right direction and stack wins no matter how we can get 'em.”

Golden State's bench outscored Toronto's 39-26, highlighted by 15 points from Jonathan Kuminga. The 20-year-old missed his first three shots from deep before making four straight 3s in the final three minutes of the third quarter, giving the Warriors a 98-94 lead they did not relinquish.

“He just showed another element to his game that some might have doubted,” Thompson said. “To get on the hot streak he did was very impressive, and for that man, the sky's the limit for his talent.”

Donte DiVincenzo had a career-high 11 assists and the Warriors outscored the Raptors by 24 points in his 33 minutes off the bench.

“We knew what we were coming up against, and we've had fairly good success guarding and executing, and tonight we just didn't do it,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We missed a lot of communication, we just got beat physically.”

Fred VanVleet had 28 points and 10 assists for the Raptors, who began their season-high, seven-game road trip 1-1. Scottie Barnes had 24 points and Pascal Siakam had 21, while Gary Trent Jr. added 17.

Precious Achiuwa contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

CURRY FINED

Curry was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Friday for throwing his mouthpiece into the stands in a moment of frustration during the Warriors' 122-120 win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Curry was whistled for his fifth technical foul of the season and subsequently ejected from the game.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Achiuwa's double-double was his third in his last four games. ... Entering Friday, Toronto ranked second in the league in opponent turnovers — forcing 16.8 per game — but only induced 12 Golden State turnovers. ... The Raptors have gone 2-7 in the first game of back-to-backs and 3-5 in the second game this season after posting winning records in both categories in 2021-22.

Warriors: F Andrew Wiggins missed his second straight game with a non-COVID illness. ... Golden State logged a season-high 40 assists. ... G Jordan Poole scored a career-high 43 points on Dec. 18 vs. Toronto but was held to just nine on 4-of-8 shooting Friday. ... Curry received his ninth All-Star nod Thursday and is the only player in franchise history with nine starts in the league showcase.

UP NEXT

Raptors: At Portland on Saturday.

Warriors: At Oklahoma City on Monday.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Heat rally again, top Magic 110-105 to close 3-0 homestand

3.1d ago 1/27/2023 10:50 PM ET By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer MIAMI

MIAMI (AP) — Bam Adebayo has a theory. All these close games that the Miami Heat are playing now, in his mind, are providing valuable lessons to draw upon later this season.

And the fact that they're winning a lot of those games right now is an added bonus.

Jimmy Butler had 29 points, Adebayo added 20 and the Heat rallied again in the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic 110-105 on Friday night. It capped a 3-0 homestand for the Heat, with those wins coming by three, four and five points.

“I don't know if we just like dogfights," Adebayo said. “I don't know if we just like to make it interesting."

Max Strus scored 17 points, 15 of them on 3-pointers, for Miami — which moved a season-high six games over .500 at 28-22. Caleb Martin scored 13 points, Gabe Vincent had 11 and Tyler Herro had 10 for the Heat.

Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony all had 19 points for the Magic, while Wendell Carter Jr. had 16 and Markelle Fultz added 10. Orlando is 14-10 in its last 24 games, after starting the season 5-20.

Turnovers simply doomed the Magic. They had 20, compared to 11 by Miami — and the Heat turned Orlando’s giveaways into 32 points. Orlando scored 13 off Miami’s turnovers.

“We turned it over,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “When it comes down to it, you’ve got to take care of the basketball. I loved our fight. I loved the fact that we were in it, in a great environment, on the road, against a tough team. But you’ve got to take care of the basketball.”

Strus’ 3-pointer with 3:01 left in the third put Miami up 73-69. The rest of the quarter was all Orlando. The Magic closed the third on a 10-0 run, then scored the first basket of the fourth to go up 81-73 on a dunk by Moritz Wagner.

And then the momentum swung right back to Miami. The Heat scored 19 of the next 25 points to go up 92-87, setting up yet another down-to-the-wire finish — the theme of this now-completed three-game Miami homestand.

The Heat beat New Orleans by four on Sunday, then Boston by three on Tuesday.

“Anytime we win, it's a good thing," Butler said.

TIP-INS

Magic: Jonathan Isaac, who returned to the Magic lineup for the first time in 2-1/2 years earlier this week after knee and hamstring injuries, was inactive on the first night of a back-to-back. He played in Orlando’s games on Monday and Wednesday. ... Anthony had 17 points by halftime, matching his best first half of the season. He also had 17 by intermission against Atlanta on Oct. 21.

Heat: Rapper and record executive – and the star of one of Miami’s pregame intro videos this season – Rick Ross was at the game celebrating his birthday. He turns 47 on Saturday. ... It was Miami’s 50th game of the season and 37th decided by single digits; the Heat are 21-16 in those games. ... The Heat outscored the Magic 54-32 in the paint.

FIRST OF 4

It was the first of four meetings between the Florida rivals this season. They’ll meet again Feb. 11, March 11 and on the season’s final day — April 9.

The Magic have now played all other teams in the league at least once this season. Miami has yet to face New York or Philadelphia.

UP NEXT

Magic: Host Chicago on Saturday night.

Heat: At Charlotte on Sunday.

___

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Gilgeous-Alexander has 35, leads Thunder past Cavs 112-100

3.1d ago 1/27/2023 10:40 PM ET By JOE BUETTNER, Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points, his fourth consecutive game with at least 30, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-100 on Friday night.

Gilgeous-Alexander made 12 of 21 shots and added eight assists and five rebounds. Jalen Williams added 17 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts.

“Much better than the first time we played them,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said of a 110-102 loss in December.

"I thought the guys played with great force. The physicality tonight, you’re not beating a team like that the way that we did unless you’re physical. And I thought we were physical on both ends.”

Darius Garland had 31 points and 13 assists for Cleveland, which played again without All-Star Donovan Mitchell because of a groin injury.

The Thunder won for the sixth time in eight games as they contend for a Western Conference play-in berth, while the Cavaliers finished their three-game road swing at 30-21.

“They just made more plays than we did,” said Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “I give them credit, that’s who they are. They’re a team that plays the entire 48, no matter what’s happening. As a basketball fan, it’s fun to watch.”

Oklahoma City jumped out to an early lead before Cleveland’s imposing frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen slowed Oklahoma City’s attack.

Cleveland led 54-47 at halftime, despite shooting an abysmal 3 of 16 from 3-point range.

The Thunder erased the deficit to enter the fourth quarter tied at 78 and outscored Cleveland 34-22 in the final 12 minutes to run away with the win.

Josh Giddey had 15 points for the Thunder, which included a crafty reverse layup to put the Thunder ahead 83-81 with nine minutes remaining. Oklahoma City never lost its lead.

“Defensively, we were locked in and executed what we wanted to,” Giddey said. “We spoke prior to the game, we knew they were the best defense in the league. They’ve got a lot of length in the frontcourt. We knew getting stuff at the rim wasn’t going to be easy, so guys made the right plays. … We did a lot of really good things down the stretch there and that’s a really good team. So, I think the way we closed that game out shows we’re trending in the right direction.”

The Thunder shot 52.6% from the floor, while Cleveland finished at 44.3% and made just 8 of 29 attempts from 3. Oklahoma City outrebounded Cleveland 46-37.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Aaron Wiggins scored 10 points and grabbed seven boards. The Thunder are now 8-0 when Wiggins starts. … Starting guard Lu Dort, who’s averaging 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds this season, missed Friday’s game with a hamstring injury. … Daigneault drew his third technical foul of the season following Cleveland’s early 10-0 run, which erased the Thunder’s early 12-4 advantage.

Cavaliers: The Cavaliers were also without Kevin Love (back). ... Ricky Rubio took Friday night off after playing 17 minutes in a 113-95 win over the Rockets on Thursday. … Mobley surpassed 1,000 career rebounds in just his second NBA season.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Host Clippers on Sunday night.

Thunder: Host Warriors on Monday night.

Timberwolves beat Grizzlies; moment of silence for Nichols

3.1d ago 1/27/2023 10:40 PM ET By The Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards scored 13 of his 25 points in the third quarter as Minnesota extended its lead, D’Angelo Russell added 19 points and the Timberwolves topped the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies 111-100 on Friday night.

The Grizzlies took the court minutes after video footage was released of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols being beaten by Memphis police officers.

There was a moment of silence prior to the game but no demonstration by the Grizzlies or Timberwolves. Both teams offered thoughts to Nichols’ family and friends in messages tweeted before the video was released. Speaking pregame, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins wasn’t sure if the team would watch the footage together or on their own.

Kyle Anderson had 23 points for Minnesota, which has won four of five.

Ja Morant had 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for Memphis. The Grizzlies were 0-5 on a trip in which they lost Steven Adams, Desmond Bane and John Konchar to injuries.

WARRIORS 129, RAPTORS 117

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry had 35 points and 11 assists and Golden State beat Toronto, pulling away with a 31-point fourth quarter.

Klay Thompson added 29 points, hitting 3-pointers despite beginning the night 0 for 5 from beyond the arc. The Warriors have won consecutive home games after dropping four straight at the Chase Center.

Fred VanVleet had 28 points and 10 assists for Toronto.

BUCKS 141, PACERS 131

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 41 points, 12 rebounds and six assists and Milwaukee fended off Indiana’s second-half rally.

Jrue Holiday added 23 points and nine assists for Milwaukee. The Central Division-leading Bucks won their third straight, this one coming in front of a surprisingly friendly road crowd.

Myles Turner led the struggling Pacers with 24 points. Buddy Hield added 22 as Indiana lost for the ninth time in 10 games — after nearly overcoming a 33-point first-half deficit.

THUNDER 112, CAVALIERS 100

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points, his fourth consecutive with at least 30, and Oklahoma City beat Cleveland.

Gilgeous-Alexander made 12 of 21 shots and had eight assists and five rebounds. Jalen Williams added 17 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts.

Darius Garland had 31 points and 13 assists for Cleveland, which played again without All-Star Donovan Mitchell because of a groin injury.

HEAT 110, MAGIC 105

MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler had 29 points, Bam Adebayo added 20 and the Miami Heat rallied again in the fourth quarter to beat Orlando.

Max Strus scored 17 points, 15 of them on 3-pointers, for Miami — which moved a season-high six games over .500 at 28-22.

Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony all had 19 points for Orlando.

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Timberwolves top Memphis after moment of silence for Nichols

3.1d ago 1/27/2023 10:30 PM ET By BRIAN HALL, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards scored 13 of his 25 points in the third quarter as Minnesota extended its lead, D’Angelo Russell added 19 points and the Timberwolves topped the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies 111-100 on Friday night.

The Grizzlies took the court minutes after v ideo footage was released of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols being beaten by Memphis police officers.

There was a moment of silence prior to the game but no demonstration by the Grizzlies or Timberwolves. Both teams offered thoughts to Nichols’ family and friends in messages tweeted before the video was released.

“There’s way harder things going on in the city versus what’s going on with our basketball right now,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I’m proud of our guys going out there. As I said before the game, we’re playing with heavy hearts, but we’re also playing for our city that’s going through a lot right now."

“So, it’s hard, but our guys went out there and competed. I told them the last two games, as we’ve been talking about everything that’s been going on in Memphis with the tragedy to Tyre Nichols, we’ve been staying together.”

Jenkins said he had not watched the video footage of the incident when speaking after the game and didn’t think the team had a chance to watch before the game. The Memphis locker room was closed to media after the game and no players were made available.

Kyle Anderson had 23 points for Minnesota, which has won four of five. Nathan Knight added 10 points off the bench. The Timberwolves scored 58 points in the paint

“I thought we were pretty decisive, drawing a crowd and then making the right play,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “They were pretty heavy in the gaps and do a good job of having multiple bodies at the rim. So, I thought we generated a lot of really, really good looks.”

Ja Morant had 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for Memphis. Dillon Brooks scored 17 for the Grizzlies.

Minnesota established a double-digit lead in the first quarter and made it stand. Memphis’ only lead was 7-6.

Edwards had eight points during a 12-4 run in the third to give the Timberwolves a game-high 17-point lead.

“I’m not worried, I know it’s going to come,” Edwards said. “I’m going to keep making the right play until they loosen up, and then when they loosen up, that’s when I’m going to go. And that’s what I did tonight.”

PRAISE FOR ANT

Edwards came in averaging 27.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game over his previous 10 games. He’s scored at least 20 points in 10 of his last 11 games.

Anderson told the Target Center crowd after the game that Edwards could be in the MVP conversation every season.

“He’s playing as an All-Star starter, like and All-Star starter right now, like one of the best 10 players in the league these last few games,” Anderson said later in the locker room. “He’s shown it. And he has a higher ceiling, a lot more room to grow, it’s scary.”

ROUGH TRIP

Memphis finished its season-long road trip 0-5 during which it lost Steven Adams, Desmond Bane and John Konchar to injuries. Three of the losses were by a combined five points, but there was also a 33-point loss at Sacramento and Friday’s showing at Minnesota.

“I called it the road trip of revelations,” Jenkins said. “We’re just learning a lot about ourselves, meat of the season. Told the guys at the end of the game, we’ve put ourselves in a still really good spot. We’ve got 30-plus games left and this happens during a season where you have ups and downs.”

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Bane, who’s second on the team with 21.6 points per game, was held out with right knee soreness. Adams (right knee PCL sprain) missed his third straight game. Konchar (concussion protocol) was out for the second straight game. … Ziaire Williams started for Bane and had seven points.

Timberwolves: Taurean Prince missed his third straight game with a left ankle sprain. … Minnesota had 20 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Grizzlies. The Timberwolves scored 12 points on Memphis’ 21 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Return home to host Indiana on Sunday.

Timberwolves: Play two in a row against Sacramento at home, beginning Saturday night.

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Antetokounmpo scores 41 points, Bucks beat Pacers 141-131

3.1d ago 1/27/2023 9:50 PM ET By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When the Milwaukee Bucks needed a steadying presence Friday night at Indiana, Giannis Antetokounmpo provided it — even from the free-throw line.

The Eastern Conference All-Star captain finished with 41 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and made five of eight free throws during the final four minutes to help Bucks fend off Indiana's second-half rally for a 141-131 victory.

“We had a good rhythm and were able to just hang on in the second half," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “These road wins are pretty sweet and there were some real positive things, especially in the first half.”

Jrue Holiday added 23 points and nine assists for Milwaukee, Khris Middelton added 17 despite playing just 15 minutes.

Budenholzer even liked Antetokounmpo's form on his late free throws as the Central Division-leading Bucks won their third straight, this one in front of a surprisingly friendly road crowd.

For the Pacers, it was a familiar script — slow start, deep hole and late comeback. They've won an NBA-leading 11 times after trailing by double digits this season, twice after trailing by 20 or more points.

This time, though, the 33-point first-half deficit was simply too much. Myles Turner led the Pacers with 24 points and Buddy Hield added 22 as Indiana lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

“The starts we've been getting off to have been atrocious,” T.J. McConnell said after finishing with 19 points and nine assists. “It was the pace. When we get out and run and play with pace, we're pretty good. When we can't get a stop, you see what happened in the first half.'

Milwaukee took control quickly with a balanced attack and incredible 3-point shooting. The Bucks' ninth 3 capped a 15-3 run to close the first quarter and gave them a 45-30 lead. The charge continued through the second quarter as the margin expanded to 85-52 in the final minute of the half.

But Indiana finally answered in the third quarter, trimming it to 114-99 and then methodically got closer in the fourth while repeatedly sending Antetokounmpo to the free-throw line. With 3:27 to go, they were within 131-124 but the Bucks didn't let Indiana get any closer.

TIP-INS

Bucks: The 85 first-half points were a season high. ... Antetokounmpo was playing his third straight game since missing five games with an injured right knee and was 7 of 18 on free throws. ... Brook Lopez had 15 points and Pat Connaughton had 14 as the Bucks made 19 3s.

Pacers: Indiana lost its 10th straight in the series and its fourth straight to the Bucks in Indy. ... Hield made five 3s to break a tie with Jason Richardson (1,608) for No. 31 on the NBA's career list. Hield now has 196 this season and 1,613 in his career. ... Rookie Bennedict Mathurin had 21 points and eight rebounds.

THE CAPTAIN

One day after Antetokounmpo was selected to his seventh All-Star Game and again selected as captain of the Eastern Conference squad, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle made it clear how much he thinks of the one-time NBA champion and two-time league MVP.

“He's as difficult a guy to guard as there is,” said Carlisle, winner of 885 career games and the 2010 championship. “Giannis is very unique, and I don't think there will ever be a player quite like him in this league, maybe ever. He's a beast, just an absolute beast."

HALIBURTON UPDATE

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton missed his ninth consecutive game since spraining his left elbow and left knee. When he initially got hurt against the New York Knicks on Jan. 11, team officials said he would be re-evaluated in two weeks. Apparently, that timeline has been revised.

“I think maybe early next week,” Carlisle said when asked for an update. “But he's doing well, doing well."

UP NEXT

Bucks: Host New Orleans on Sunday.

Pacers: At Memphis on Sunday.

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Grizzlies, other NBA teams speak out on Tyre Nichols' death

3.2d ago 1/27/2023 9:20 PM ET By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins watched a televised interview on Friday of Tyre Nichols’ mother speaking about the loss of her son, and lost control of his emotions.

“I cried,” Jenkins said.

The outrage, frustration, sadness and anger was evident around the NBA on Friday, the day that video was released showing how Nichols, a 29-year-old father, was killed by five Memphis police officers. Several teams released statements of support for the family, as did the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

And the emotions around the league were palpable, as has been the case so many times after so many other incidents of violence by police against Black men and women in recent years.

“This is just crazy,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who opened his pregame news conference Friday by speaking about Nichols before any questions were even asked.

The officers, all of whom are also Black, all face second-degree murder charges, as well as charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. And the Grizzlies played a game in Minneapolis — the city where George Floyd, a Black man, was killed after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck in an act that sparked protests worldwide over police brutality and racism — on Friday night with heavy hearts.

“The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard,” Jenkins told Bally Sports, the Grizzlies’ broadcast partner, in a pregame interview from Minnesota. “It’s been tough being on the road, not being home. I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They’re going through a lot.”

There was a moment of silence before the game in Minnesota. And afterward, Jenkins continued speaking out about what it means to the Grizzlies to represent Memphis at such a trying time.

“There’s way harder things on in the city versus what’s going on with our basketball right now,” Jenkins said after Memphis’ 111-100 loss in Minnesota. “I’m proud of our guys going out there. We’re playing with heavy hearts, but we’re also playing for our city that’s going through a lot right now.”

Several teams, including Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota and Milwaukee, along with Memphis, released statements.

“We are outraged by the deadly beating that Tyre Nichols received from five Memphis police officers,” the Bucks said in their statement. “While the police officers being charged for their heinous actions is an important step for justice, this incident further highlights the need for progress in improving police-community relations.”

The NBA released its statement about two hours after the video of Nichols' death was released, while protests were going on in multiple cities in reaction to the images.

“The images of Tyre Nichols' life needlessly cut short are horrifying,” the league said. “While there have been steps toward accountability in this instance, the NBA family remains committed to partnering with advocates, policymakers and law enforcement to work toward solutions to the issues we continue to face.”

Nichols was on his way home from taking pictures of the sky on Jan. 7, when police pulled him over. He was just a few minutes from the home he shared with his mother and stepfather.

Video of the killing was released Friday evening.

“Our hearts go out to the entire Memphis community as they are processing and dealing with this horrible tragedy, and we stand by the rightful arrest of all officers involved,” the NBPA said. “Such aggressive policing and excessive force illustrate the continued need for accountability in the justice system.”

The union said it would “continue to monitor the investigation and legal proceedings in search of justice for Tyre and his family.”

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace.

Jenkins also said he hopes citizens of Memphis rally around one another.

“My words will only mean so much,” Jenkins said. “I want to continue to encourage people to put their arms around each other, put their arms around the Nichols family, the Wells family to remember a beautiful life in Tyre Nichols — who I did not know, but I’m learning about."

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