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Lakers handle Celtics 117-102, split rivalry for season

9.4h ago 12/8/2021 12:42 AM ET By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer LOS ANGELES

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Unlike most of his Los Angeles Lakers teammates, Russell Westbrook grew up a Lakers fan who personally understood the yearly importance of their rivalry series with the Boston Celtics.

Leading a dominant victory over the Celtics while wearing the Lakers' gold jersey for the first time clearly made for a special night for the veteran guard.

“As a player like myself, you want to make sure you approach all games the same while also understanding the significance of this particular game,” Westbrook said. “That makes it a good win for us.”

LeBron James scored 30 points, Westbrook added 24 points and 11 assists, and the Lakers beat the Celtics 117-102 on Tuesday night in the latest chapter of the NBA's most storied rivalry.

Anthony Davis had 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers, who produced one of their best recent performances in their fourth victory in six games overall. With James and Westbrook playing dominant floor games, Los Angeles made 56.5% of its shots in the first three quarters and throttled Jayson Tatum's supporting cast defensively.

“I just like the way we competed tonight on both sides of the floor,” James said. “We had a lot of intensity, a lot of ball movement. Guys were attacking the rim. I think defensively, besides the first 14-point avalanche on Tatum’s part, we locked in from that point forward.”

Tatum scored 14 of his 34 points in an incredible early first-quarter blitz for the Celtics, who dropped to 1-2 on their four-game West Coast trip. Jaylen Brown sat out his third straight game with a strained right hamstring, and nobody else managed more than Robert Williams III's 13 points for Boston.

“I feel like our energy was great, especially starting off the game,” Williams said. “We just weren’t ready for the punch in the second half, so we’ve got to clean it up. ... We tend to lay back and get comfortable when the game is going our way, and it’s something we need to break.”

The Lakers got a much-needed comfortable victory in the 296th edition of the matchup between venerable franchises with a record 17 championships apiece and a record 12 NBA Finals meetings. Boston and Los Angeles split their season series 1-1 for the fifth straight campaign after the Celtics beat the Lakers last month behind Tatum's 37 points.

Westbrook staked the Lakers to a 19-point lead in the third by scoring 15 points in the quarter with a series of dominant drives against whatever Boston guard had the bad luck to be matched up with him. After a tentative start with his hometown team, Westbrook is averaging 23.5 points, 8.9 assists and 6.9 rebounds in the Lakers' last eight games.

“I think at the beginning of the year, Russ was a little bit passive,” Davis said. “He was trying to get guys involved, pass the ball. ... We told him, ‘The more you’re aggressive, the more it will open up for everyone else.’ The last seven to 10 games, he’s been very, very aggressive, and when he does that, it opens up the floor for everyone else as far as shooting. He’s just been in attack mode. That’s why we brought him here, to be Russell Westbrook and not anybody else but that.”

The Lakers have lost seven games this season in which they held a double-digit lead, but Boston never applied fourth-quarter pressure in this one.

“We’re disappointed as far as we were outhustled, out-toughed a little bit,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. “It hasn’t happened in a long time. They would put their head down, get to the basket and get whatever they wanted. We’re better than that defensively, but a lack of effort and a lack of toughness showed tonight.”

Tatum scored Boston’s first 14 points in the first 3:49, hitting four 3-pointers among his five shots without a miss. James kept the Lakers close with 16 points in the first quarter, and his assist to Westbrook right before the buzzer put Los Angeles up 60-55 at halftime.


Celtics: Bruno Fernando was inactive after feeling lower back spasms at their morning shootaround. ... Jabari Parker stayed at the team hotel with a non-COVID-19 illness. ... Romeo Langford played 16 minutes after missing Boston's last game with a sprained right ankle.

Lakers: Carmelo Anthony scored nine points. He was questionable earlier in the day after he fell ill, but the designation was removed later in the day. ... Malik Monk had a show-stopping breakaway dunk among his 10 points.


Dennis Schröder struggled for the Celtics, scoring 10 points on 1-for-6 shooting before sitting out in the fourth quarter. He was also booed regularly in the first half by Lakers fans still insulted by the German guard's handling of his free agency after his sole season with Los Angeles.

Schröder turned down an $84 million, four-year contract offer from the Lakers to test the market last summer, but he was forced to settle for a $5.9 million, one-year deal with Boston after finding nothing near the Lakers' offer. Los Angeles also lost out because it traded Danny Green and a first-round pick to get Schröder, only to see him walk for nothing.


Celtics: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Lakers: At Memphis on Thursday night.


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Blazers' McCollum has collapsed lung, out indefinitely

9.4h ago 12/8/2021 12:42 AM ET PORTLAND, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been diagnosed with a collapsed right lung and will be sidelined indefinitely, the team said Tuesday.

McCollum was injured in the final quarter of the Blazers' 145-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday. He was listed as probable with a rib contusion for Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, but did not play in the 102-90 loss.

McCollum's condition was revealed by a CT scan, the team said.

He is averaging 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season.

McCollum's injury is one of several to befall the struggling Blazers. All-Star Damian Lillard has missed four games with lower abdominal tendinopathy. Backup point guard Anfernee Simons is out with a right ankle sprain, while forward Nassir Little has missed four games with a left ankle sprain.

Guard Ben McLemore left the game against the Clippers with a bruised hip. Center Cody Zeller has a bruised right quad.


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Barrett makes 7 3s, Knicks beat Spurs to snap 3-game skid

10.9h ago 12/7/2021 11:12 PM ET By RAUL DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — R.J. Barrett made a career-high seven 3-pointers and scored 32 points, and the New York Knicks snapped a three-game skid, beating the San Antonio Spurs 121-109 on Tuesday night.

“Things may not be going well and, all of a sudden, you take a charge, get to a loose ball, you get a tip from behind, you get a block,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That could ignite you and all of a sudden you get an easy score, a couple of easy buckets and now you find your rhythm and things change quickly in this league. They can go from being terrible to being great real fast and vice versa. You’ve just got to keep going.”

Alec Burks scored 18 points, Immanuel Quickley added 16 points and Julius Randle had 15 for the Knicks, who won at San Antonio for the first time since Jan. 2, 2014.

“Heck yeah, we needed that,” New York center Mitchell Robinson said. “We needed that win bad. We’re desperate right now.”

Derrick White had a season-high 26 points along with six rebounds and seven assists for the Spurs, who have dropped two straight after a season-long three-game winning streak. Dejounte Murray added 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

“That first game, being a back-to-back, after a road trip, we knew that would be tough energy-wise,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “But I thought we competed our (butt) off. Guys gave their effort. I was really happy with that.”

The Knicks were 18 for 38 on 3-pointers, with Barrett going 7 for 8.

Barrett said he's feeling “a lot better” after suffering from a stomach bug for two weeks.

“It was annoying, but I tried to do my job to the best of my ability no matter what,” Barrett said.

Barrett, who finished 11 of 20 from the field overall, made two 3s during a 10-2 run that gave New York a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Spurs briefly got within nine points in the fourth but couldn’t trim the lead any further.

“I think the defense was really, really focused on Julius,” Barrett said. “They were doubling on him every time he had the ball and we just moved it. We moved it and I was able to knock them down.”

New York took advantage of the Spurs’ smaller lineups, out-rebounding the Spurs 56-49 and enjoying a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points.

San Antonio got even smaller when starting forward Keldon Johnson exited early in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle. Johnson was injured with 1:21 left in the first half after stepping on Poeltl’s foot. He started the second half but appeared to be in some pain before heading to the locker room.

Popovich said X-rays on Johnson's ankle were negative.


Thibodeau started Nerlens Noel at center instead of Robinson, who had started all 20 games he had played previously this season.

“We feel really strongly about both guys,” Thibodeau said. “We just wanted a different look. Those guys are interchangeable, just go as hard as you can for as long as you can and then the next guy comes in and does the same thing.”

Robinson had 11 points and 14 rebounds in 22 minutes. Noel had two points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes.

Robinson endured a scare when he injured his back with 56.4 seconds left in the third quarter after an awkward landing. He went flying after his legs were clipped when Spurs center Drew Eubanks dived for a loose ball.

Robinson stayed in the game but said he was in pain afterward. He walked gingerly into and out of the interview room.

“The ground ain’t never lost,” Robinson said.


Knicks: New York had lost seven straight at San Antonio. Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert each had 27 points to lead the Knicks in their previous win. ... New York is 7-4 on the road but entered having lost three of four away from home.

Spurs: G Devin Vassell missed his third straight game with a bruised right quadriceps. ... The Spurs entered Monday having played the fewest games of any NBA team. That will change quickly as the Spurs play five games in seven days. ... San Antonio is 4-7 at home and has not had a winning record at AT&T Center since winning its season opener.


Knicks: At Indiana on Wednesday.

Spurs: Host Denver on Thursday.


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Nets beat Mavs 102-99, hand Dallas 5th consecutive home loss

11.8h ago 12/7/2021 10:22 PM ET By SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer DALLAS

DALLAS (AP) — James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets were in danger of back-to-back losses for the first time this season, trailing Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks by 17 points in the third quarter after blowing a double-digit lead against Chicago.

The Eastern Conference leaders responded during Harden's “go” time this time.

Kevin Durant scored 24 points, Harden had 23 points and 12 assists, and the Nets beat Dallas 102-99 on Tuesday night, handing the Mavericks their fifth consecutive home loss.

“We’ve been in this league long enough to know it’s winning time. It’s go time,” said Harden, who also had nine rebounds. “Throughout the course of the game, I feel like we got good shots. We just missed them. We just kept sticking with it and kept sticking with it. You’ve got to just keep shooting, especially if that’s what you do.”

The Mavericks keep shooting — and missing.

Luka Doncic scored 28 points but had another rough night from 3-point range along with his teammates, except for the young sensation's 30-foot banked shot just before the first-half buzzer. Kristaps Porzingis had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Harden easily beat Doncic one-on-one for a layup and Brooklyn’s biggest lead at 100-97 with 1:23 remaining. The Nets didn’t take their first lead until the middle of the fourth quarter.

Dallas didn't make a basket after Doncic's short jumper with 3:51 to go and finished 9 of 46 (19.6%) from long range. Tim Hardaway Jr. missed all seven from deep, including an open look that bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

“We had a lot of open looks there in the fourth quarter that just didn’t go down,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “And then Timmy has a wide-open look. You couldn’t ask for a better look to tie up the game.”

The Nets trailed by 11 entering the fourth quarter before outscoring Dallas 27-13. Durant, who made 5 of 6 shots and scored 11 points in the final quarter, and Patty Mills hit consecutive 3s to cut a nine-point deficit to three early in the fourth. Mills scored 10 points.

“It's a character win where you just want to make the right plays to get back in the game and you want to turn the momentum to your side,” said Durant, who was 10 of 22 from the field and had seven rebounds. “I think we did that tonight.”

Nic Claxton missed two free throws with Brooklyn leading by three with 20 seconds remaining, but Doncic missed from beyond the arc before Hardaway's miss. Doncic was 3 of 11 from deep.

The Mavericks (11-12) dropped below .500 for the first time since getting blown out by Atlanta in their opener despite the return of both Doncic and Porzingis. They both missed the previous loss to Memphis, the first time that's happened this season.

In three games since setting a franchise record by shooting 68.7% in a 32-point victory at New Orleans, Dallas is at 38%.

“Missed shots have been our narrative for a while now,” said Jalen Brunson, who had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting. “But we’re getting the looks. We’re working on it. We’ve just got to translate it to the game.”


Nets: James Johnson had 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting against his former team. Johnson started the 2020-21 season in Dallas before a trade to New Orleans. He signed with Brooklyn as a free agent. ... LaMarcus Aldridge, playing in his hometown, had 15 points.

Mavericks: Doncic was called for a technical foul after he shoved Claxton in front of an official in the third quarter. Doncic appeared to think Claxton was crowding him after the whistle. Doncic tried to show his displeasure by sitting in an open courtside seat as Durant went to the other end to shoot the free throw, which he made. ... Dorian Finney-Smith scored 15 points and was the only Dallas player consistently hitting 3s, going 4 of 9.


Hardaway was joined in the oh-fer category for Dallas from beyond the arc by Reggie Bullock, who was brought in as a free agent to try to help Doncic by being a threat from deep. A career 39% shooter from long range coming into this season, Bullock is at 26% after missing all six attempts against the Nets.


Nets: The second game of a four-game trip is a back-to-back in Houston on Wednesday. Harden visited his former team in March last season, less than two months after forcing the trade to the Nets. He scored 29 points in a 132-114 Brooklyn win.

Mavericks: Their second back-to-back in a span of five days is Wednesday. Memphis is the opponent, just as it was in that 97-90 loss Saturday.


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George scores 21 as Clippers down shorthanded Blazers 102-90

1.4d ago 12/7/2021 12:59 AM ET By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer PORTLAND, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Paul George had 21 points, eight rebounds and four steals, and the Los Angeles Clippers handed the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers their third straight loss with a 102-90 victory Monday night.

Marcus Morris Jr. added 17 points and Luke Kennard, making his first start for the Clippers this season, finished with 15.

Jusuf Nurkic had a season-high 31 points for Portland, and Norman Powell scored a season-best 29.

It was a tight game throughout. Brandon Boston Jr. hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give the Clippers an 82-76 lead, but CJ Elleby answered with a 3 for the Blazers to keep it close.

Portland pulled to 88-86 on a pair of free throws from Powell with just under five minutes to go. After Reggie Jackson's driving layup, Nurkic sank a jumper.

George's dunk put the Clippers up 92-88 with 2:30 left. He added a pull-up jumper and, after Nurkic was assessed a flagrant foul on Isaiah Hartenstein, the Blazers couldn't get any closer. Jackson finished with 16 points.

“It was one of those nights where we had to do it with different people, we had to do it by committee, and we got the job done,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

The Clippers had lost four of their previous five games, including a 104-99 defeat at Sacramento on Saturday.

Portland, playing under first-year coach Chauncey Billups, has lost two straight games by discouraging margins. The Blazers fell at home to San Antonio 114-83 last Thursday before losing to Boston 145-117 on Saturday.

Billups praised his team for playing hard against the Clippers.

“That's what it's all about. You play hard, see what happens,” Billups said. “I say this all the time: I think every team that plays hard no matter what gives themselves a chance. And we did that tonight. As shorthanded as we were, we had opportunities to win that game.”

The Blazers were without All-Star guard Damian Lillard for the fourth game because of an abdomen injury. Backup point guard Anfernee Simons was out because of a sprained right ankle.

Star guard CJ McCollum was a game-time decision but did not play because of a rib contusion.

The Clippers led for most of the opening half, but Nurkic hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 36 and Portland pulled ahead on Powell's pull-up jumper.

Dennis Smith Jr.'s 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 49-48 edge going into halftime. It was just Smith's second start of the season.

George's layup gave the Clippers a 77-72 lead late in the third quarter. Los Angeles was unable to stretch it to double digits until the final moments of the game.

“Playing out of the post makes things a little easier because for a second there I have a chance to make a quick play before the double team comes,” George said. “It gives me a chance to play 1-on-1 from that position.”


Clippers: Billups was an assistant under Lue last season. ... It was the last of four meetings with the Blazers this season. Los Angeles went 3-1.

Trail Blazers: Adding to Portland's woes, Nurkic was called for two fouls before the midway point of the opening quarter and headed to the bench, where he stomped his feet in frustration. ... Powell led all scorers at halftime with 18 points. ... Ben McLemore exited with left hip pain.


George singled out Kennard's performance in a starting role.

“He's a floor spacer and he can be instant offense, especially when he gets hot,” George said. “He's another guy who can create opportunities with his shooting. It’s good to have him out there and I thought he did a great job tonight.”


The Clippers host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

The Trail Blazers visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.


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Curry, Wiggins lead Warriors to 126-95 victory over Magic

1.4d ago 12/7/2021 12:39 AM ET By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry keeps letting it fly from any spot on the floor, and he's suddenly within striking distance of overtaking Ray Allen as the NBA's all-time leader in made 3-pointers.

Curry had seven more 3s on the way to 31 points and eight assists, Andrew Wiggins hit a career-high eight 3s and finished with 28 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Orlando Magic 126-95 on Monday night.

Curry swished a half-court shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer and wound up shooting 8 of 16. He now has 2,958 career regular-season 3s, 15 from tying Allen's 2,973.

He's got the count in his head, of course he does — with admiration for the similar way Allen worked on his craft that Curry got to see up close attending Bucks shootarounds with his NBA-playing father, Dell, a teammate of Allen's in Milwaukee.

“I know what the situation is, yeah,” Curry said, smiling. “I always just play the game but obviously know I'm closing in. But try not to let it creep in to how you play and just enjoy the journey to get there ‘cause it does mean a lot to me as I do get closer. ... I’ll talk about it when it happens.”

Might he pull it off Wednesday night against Portland before the Warriors hit the road again? Coach Steve Kerr isn't putting that past the NBA's reigning scoring champ and two-time MVP, saying it “absolutely” could happen.

“He's Steph Curry, so anything's possible,” Kerr said. “He made half-court shots in back-to-back games.”

Before the game, after his dazzling, must-see pregame routine, Curry heaved a full-court shot from the far tunnel in Chase Center and just missed.

Wiggins scored 17 of his points in the third quarter, knocking down three straight 3s over a span of 1:14. He finished 9 of 17 from the floor to help Golden State bounce back from having its 11-game home winning streak snapped in a 112-107 loss Saturday night to San Antonio.

Jordan Poole struggled to find his shot, going 4 of 15 for 12 points and contributing seven assists and seven rebounds.

Gary Harris scored 17 points to lead the Magic, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

Cole Anthony had a tough sequence late in the second when he committed a loose ball foul, turnover then was whistled for a technical that allowed Curry to score five unanswered points – a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws for the technical.

That burst helped the Warriors build a 65-44 lead at the break and they kept pushing in the third. Nemanja Bjelica added 10 points off the bench.

Even Bjelica finds himself stealing a glance of Curry working before games since they are together for pregame warmups.

“He’s the best shooter ever,” Bjelica said. “I’m happy I can watch it in person. He’s amazing.”

Wendell Carter Jr. added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando.


The Warriors have held opponents below 50% from the field for 26 straight games dating to last season, limiting the Magic to 43.4% (33 for 76) — 11 for 38 from deep.


Magic: The Magic were outrebounded 43-38. ... Orlando has lost nine straight on Golden State's home floor since a 102-94 victory Dec. 3, 2012. ... The Magic have a seven-game road losing streak.

Warriors: G Klay Thompson will stay home from the next road trip and continue his rehab from surgery for a torn right Achilles. ... Otto Porter Jr. returned after sitting out Saturday to manage a left foot injury. ... Swingman Andre Iguodala, still dealing with soreness in his right knee, missed his 10th straight game but is back on the floor for practice work and that's considered encouraging progress. “I think he's going to play on this upcoming trip. He's doing a lot better,” Kerr said. “He's made great improvement and should be playing soon." ... Bjelica scored in double digits for the fifth time. ... Rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody were back up from the G League Santa Cruz Warriors and played, with Kuminga scoring nine points in 12 minutes and making a high-flying dunk.


Magic: At Sacramento on Wednesday night having lost six of the last nine overall vs. the Kings, but with wins in eight of their last 13 played in California's capital.

Warriors: Host Portland on Wednesday night having beaten the Trail Blazers at home 118-103 on Nov. 26.


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Paul posts 21 points, 10 assists, Suns beat Spurs 108-104

1.4d ago 12/6/2021 11:49 PM ET By DAVID BRANDT, AP Sports Writer PHOENIX

PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Paul's learned to pace himself over the years, paying attention to his 36-year-old body as he navigates the 30-35 minutes per night he usually spends on the floor for the Phoenix Suns.

There's a disclaimer, though: That pacing doesn't apply to the final minutes.

“The fourth quarter," Paul said. “That's when the game gets exciting.”

Paul had a few clutch plays late in the fourth and finished with 21 points and 10 assists, Jae Crowder added a season-high 19 points and the Suns held off the San Antonio Spurs for a 108-104 win on Monday night.

Phoenix was the first team to hit 20 wins this season, though the Golden State Warriors joined them about an hour later after a 126-95 win against Orlando. The Suns and Warriors have played twice this season with each team winning on their home floor.

Paul's first game-changing play on Monday came defensively with a stellar steal. He poked the ball away from a driving Dejounte Murray, who was about to score on a fast break with 1:30 left that would have cut the Phoenix lead to one point. Instead, the ball deflected off Murray and out of bounds.

“He's real crafty," Suns forward Cam Johnson said. “There's a reason he's one of the all-time steals leader. ... He's smart, quick with his hands and when you watch him do it, it's pretty impressive.”

The 11-time All-Star added a 16-foot jumper about a minute later while being fouled. Paul converted the free throw for a three-point play and a 108-102 lead.

Phoenix was playing its first game since having its franchise-record 18-game winning streak snapped against Golden State on Friday. The Suns didn’t appear fazed by the setback and won for the 19th time in 20 games dating to Oct. 27.

The Spurs had their four-game winning streak snapped. All five San Antonio starters scored in double figures, led by Murray's 17 points. Bryn Forbes added 15 points off the bench.

“We still fought and made it a game,” McDermott said. “We had a chance to win against one of the best teams in the league. Unfortunately, we lost, but I think we will learn a lot from this one.”

The Suns pushed ahead by 16 points late in the third quarter, but settled for a 79-70 lead going into the fourth. The Spurs chipped away at the lead until Doug McDermott made a 3-pointer with 6:10 left that tied it at 88-all.

“They forced the issue,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “They just kept attacking.”

It stayed tight from that point forward, though the Suns never trailed. Johnson — who had 13 points — made a corner 3-pointer with 1:10 left that pushed Phoenix ahead 103-97. JaVale McGee also had 13 points off the bench.

The Suns trailed for the majority of the first half, but used a late push to take a 51-48 lead at halftime. Phoenix had 32 points in the paint before the break, led by 10 each from Deandre Ayton and McGee. Jakob Poeltl had 10 points and six rebounds for the Spurs.


Spurs: G Devin Vassell (right quad) didn't play. ... Backup F Drew Eubanks didn't play in the first half but had eight solid minutes in the second half. He had four points and four rebounds. ... Doug McDermott and Poeltl both scored 14 points. McDermott had 12 of his 14 points in the fourth.

Suns: G Devin Booker (left hamstring strain) missed his third straight game. F/C Frank Kaminsky (right knee) and F Abdel Nader (right knee) also weren't available. ... The Suns missed their first seven 3-point attempts before Cam Payne knocked one down early in the second quarter.


Spurs: Begin a five-game homestand against the Knicks on Tuesday.

Suns: Host the Celtics on Friday.


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Antetokounmpo scores 27 on 27th birthday, Bucks win 112-104

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 10:49 PM ET By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer MILWAUKEE

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo came back from a two-game absence and scored 27 points on his 27th birthday to help the Milwaukee Bucks defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-104 on Monday night.

The two-time MVP made all three of his 3-point attempts and also had 12 rebounds in his return from a sore right calf as the Bucks won for the 10th time in 11 games. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter.

“Guys are playing with confidence, playing together," said Antetokounmpo, who went 6 of 7 on free throws. “We're guarding together. We’re in a very, very good spot right now.”

Milwaukee split the two games it played without Antetokounmpo, losing 97-93 at Toronto and rolling to a 124-102 home victory over Miami.

The Bucks broke a 29-all tie with seven straight points early in the second quarter and stayed ahead the rest of the way, though Cleveland made the Bucks work for it.

After trailing by as many as 13, the Cavaliers got the margin down to two in the fourth quarter. Cedi Osman missed a 3-point attempt with 6:14 left that would have given Cleveland its first lead since late in the first quarter.

Milwaukee's Bobby Portis got the rebound off Osman's missed shot. Khris Middleton then found Jrue Holiday, who hit a 3-pointer on the other end to extend the Bucks’ lead to 101-96 with 6:04 remaining.

It didn’t drop below five the rest of the way.

“I thought that pass and that shot might have been the biggest kind of swing because it was hanging there at two for a while,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We needed a play from somebody.”

Holiday had 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Khris Middleton provided 21 points and eight assists. Pat Connaughton scored 12, and Bobby Portis had 10 points and 16 rebounds.

The Bucks are undefeated this season when Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday are all in the lineup.

Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with 25 points and nine rebounds while shooting 10 of 12. Lauri Markkanen scored 20, Kevin Love 15, Evan Mobley 12 and Darius Garland 10.

The Cavaliers were playing one night after a 109-108 loss to Utah that snapped a four-game winning streak. Although they dropped each of the last two games, they still saw reason for encouragement.

“We’re going to fight till the end,” Allen said. “That’s the main thing I learned about this team, about the guys. No matter how we start the game, no matter who’s in front of us, big or small, we’re going to go out there and fight till the end. You look at these last two games, we came out flat in both of them. We could have just rolled over and gave the game up easily, but we came back and tried to stay in it till the end.”

Milwaukee has beaten the Cavaliers eight straight times. The Bucks are 43-4 against Central Division opponents since Budenholzer took over as coach in 2018.


Cavaliers: Garland entered the night having scored more than 30 points in each of his last two games, but he cooled off Monday and shot just 3 of 12. ... Allen was one rebound shy of his eighth consecutive double-double.

Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo was briefly assigned to the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks’ NBA G League affiliate, to get some practice sessions as he works his way back from a torn left ankle ligament. DiVincenzo hasn’t played since injuring the ankle in a first-round playoff series against Miami last season. Budenholzer said DiVincenzo “continues to do well and probably exceed our expectations” but didn’t offer a timeline for the former Villanova star’s potential return. ... George Hill missed a second straight game due to hyperextension in his right knee


Cavaliers: Host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

Bucks: At the Miami Heat on Wednesday in the first of four straight road games.


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Hawks use season-high 3s to beat Timberwolves 121-110

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 10:39 PM ET By BRIAN HALL, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Trae Young had 29 points and 11 assists, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 23 points and the short-handed Atlanta Hawks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-110 Monday night.

Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points off the bench for Atlanta, which was without injured wings Cam Reddish, Bogdan Bogdanovich, Solomon Hill and De’Andre Hunter on the second night of a back-to-back.

Luwawu-Cabarrot had a career-high seven 3-pointers, shooting 7 of 14 as the Hawks set a franchise record with 25 makes on a season-high 49 attempts from beyond the arc. Young was 4-of-9 shooting from 3 and Gallinari finished 4 of 6.

“Keep shooting them,” Young said. “They keep going in, keep shooting them. We were getting good looks, and we were making the right play and right read. It was just going in. It was one of those nights.”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota in his return after missing one game with a tailbone contusion. Anthony Edwards added 20 points for the Wolves, who were also short-handed without starting guards D’Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverly.

“Our urgency to contest shots was not there," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “As the game went on, we just kept stopping short and stopping short. The ball movement, we knew it was going to be there. We knew what we were trying to do. We didn’t run shooters off the line.”

Minnesota’s improved defense has been susceptible to 3s but has benefited from opponents’ poor shooting.

Atlanta came out firing from 3 and never stopped.

The Hawks, who started the day second in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 37.8%, hit eight of their first 12 from deep. Their nine 3s in the first marked their season high in any quarter and they tied it in the third.

“It’s relief,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “We feel all good, I would say, satisfied. It’s satisfying passing the ball like that, finding someone open and just making. We got to keep playing like that.”

Towns, clearly bothered by the tailbone injury, tried to keep the Timberwolves in the game.

Minnesota cut the lead to 11 three minutes into the second half, but Atlanta then scored 10 straight, including 3s from Luwawu-Cabarrot and John Collins.

Michael Beasley scored all 24 of his points in the second half for the Wolves, who closed within 10 in the fourth.

“Terrible,” Towns said of how he feels. “I wanted to come back. I knew we were down a little bit with D-Lo. I didn’t want to leave Ant out there by himself. Kind of pushed up the process a little bit. Happy to be back. Just wished we would’ve played with a little more umph. I think that’s what was a lacking, a little umph.”


Atlanta started the day tied for the fifth-fewest attempts from 3 in the league, averaging 32 tries per game, despite their strong percentage.

“Ball movement,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said about the increased attempts from 3 on Monday. “We shoot 3s that are open. We don’t want to come down and just jack a contested 3. If our offensive action can create those opportunities, the pick-and-roll or traps with good ball movement, you can get those shots. When we have moved the ball, tonight it was playing to our second and third option, we were getting wide-open looks and our guys were knocking those shots down.”

Over the past four games, the Hawks are averaging 17 made 3s per game on 47.7% shooting.


Hawks: Bogdanovich has missed four games in a row due to a right ankle sprain. Hill was out of the lineup with a hamstring injury from Sunday’s loss to Charlotte. Reddish missed his fourth straight game as he deals with a left wrist sprain. Hunter had surgery in November on his right wrist. ... The Hawks had lost three of four. ... Clint Capela added 16 rebounds.

Timberwolves: Beverly missed his sixth straight game with a left adductor strain. He was called for a technical foul while arguing a call against Leandro Bolmaro in the second quarter. Russell was out with right ankle soreness. ... Without Beverly and Russell, Bolmaro made his first career start. He had two points in 18 minutes. ... Jaden McDaniels returned to the lineup after an illness caused him to miss three games. Coach Chris Finch said McDaniels lost 10 pounds.


Hawks: Return home against Brooklyn on Friday.

Timberwolves: Host Utah on Wednesday.


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LaVine nets 32, Bulls overcome DeRozan's absence, top Denver

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 10:39 PM ET By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer CHICAGO

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls found out they had to get by without DeMar DeRozan, then showed they have enough to keep winning, even when they're missing one of their best players.

It sure is a welcomed change for Zach LaVine after years of losing.

“No idea, brother,” he said, laughing.

LaVine scored 32 points and the Bulls overcame DeRozan's absence to beat the Denver Nuggets 109-97 on Monday night.

The Bulls took a big hit a few hours before tipoff when DeRozan, their leading scorer, entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Even without the four-time All-Star, they dominated down the stretch and tied Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference lead.

It's just another sign of how far the Bulls have come. After four straight losing seasons, they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

LaVine had a season-high eight assists in a solid all-around game.

Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic each had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ball also blocked four shots. All five starters reached double figures in points, and Chicago outscored Denver 15-0 in transition.

"I feel really bad for DeMar," coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s worked really hard. I think to the best of his ability, he’s really tried to remain very, very careful during these times of COVID. Vuc is a heck of a player, has been an All-Star. Zach last year was an All-Star. Those two guys, I think from a leadership standpoint, did a great job tonight. A lot of these guys have done a terrific job keeping themselves ready.”

The Nuggets lost for the eighth time in 10 games despite a triple-double by Nikola Jokic. The reigning MVP finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 15 assists.

Will Barton and Monte Morris each scored 19. Aaron Gordon added 18 points. But the Nuggets got outscored 63-48 in the second half.

“This league is too good to come out lackadaisical,” Morris said. “It's a slap in the face to the coaching staff because we start off good and just — I don't know what's happening. They gave us a great game plan. And (when) we do that, that's not cool.”


LaVine scored 12 in the third, including seven straight late in the quarter, to extend Chicago's lead to 74-66.

Ball made a four-point play early in the fourth when Jeff Green knocked him to floor with a flagrant foul. Tony Bradley dunked, and Chicago product Ayo Dosunmu nailed a 3 to make it 86-73 with 9:50 left in the game, delighting the crowd.


Dosunmu found out about an hour before tipoff he would make his first career start, then came through with 11 points, six rebounds and eight assists. The second-round draft pick out of Illinois also made sure he was billed as from Chicago rather than his college in the pregame introductions, just like former MVP Derrick Rose.

“I like to be proud, to say I'm from Chicago because I know the ups and downs of the city,” Dosunmu said. “I've seen so many things, so many tragedies. For me to be in this position -- and I’m doing what I love at the highest level -- any time I get an opportunity to show love to where I came from, I always love to do that."


Nuggets: Coach Michael Malone didn't let a reporter finish the question when asked about DeRozan's absence. “Doesn't change,” he said, referring to Denver's approach.

Bulls: DeRozan participated in the morning shootaround prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets. Coach Billy Donovan said he wasn’t sure if the four-time All-Star tested positive. “I cannot really confirm and deny if it’s a false positive or is positive,” Donovan said. “I don’t know right now. Obviously, the medical staff works through the league on that and they come up with the guidelines to which he’s got to follow. And I hope we’ll be able to have more news one way or another in the next day or so.” ... Backup G Alex Caruso will also miss at least the next week because of a strained right hamstring, Donovan said. He left Saturday’s win at Brooklyn.


Nuggets: Visit New Orleans on Wednesday.

Bulls: Visit Cleveland on Wednesday.


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Bane, Brooks lead Grizzlies to fifth straight win

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 10:19 PM ET MIAMI

MIAMI (AP) — Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane scored 21 points each, and the surging Memphis Grizzlies beat the Miami Heat 105-90 Monday night.

Memphis has won five straight without leading scorer Ja Morant, who hurt his left knee against Atlanta on Nov. 26. The Grizzlies have not trailed during their streak.

All five Grizzlies’ starters finished in double figures. Steven Adams had 17 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyus Jones and Jaren Jackson scored 14 points each.

“Guys are buying in, guys are wanting to take that next step of being a great team and getting ready for what’s ahead,” Brooks said. “We are so unselfish. We respond with relentlessness that a lot of teams don’t have.”

The Grizzlies opened the game on a 20-6 run and built an 11-point halftime lead. Then they maintained the double-digit advantage throughout the second half.

Miami’s Jimmy Butler returned from a four-game absence because of a bruised tailbone and scored 10 points before leaving for the locker room midway through the third quarter. He didn’t return. Butler favored his back after a hard fall in a missed driving layup early in the first quarter.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there is no update on Butler’s status.

“He drew contact and got shoved and landed on his tailbone again,” Spoelstra said. “There could not have been a worst scenario for us to start the game. It is a contact sport. It’s an unpredictable thing. Insult to injury, we didn’t get the call on that either.

"But he definitely re-aggravated it. You can tell from that point on he was not his usual self. So we’ll re-evaluate him (Tuesday) and see where we are.”

Memphis scored 27 points off of 23 Miami turnovers and split the season series following a 129-103 home loss on Oct. 30.

“Just an ultra competitive game from our guys,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We definitely had a bad taste in our mouth from Game 1 against Miami at our place. We came in with the edge we’ve been building the last week plus.”

Tyler Herro had 24 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 17 points for the Heat, who have lost four of five and three straight at home.

“Any time you’re playing from behind, your game changes,” Herro said. “Especially early on when we dig ourselves a hole, it’s hard to generate good looks and not feel so much pressure on the offensive end. So we just need to be better on both ends of the floor. The last couple games, obviously, hasn’t been our best basketball.”


The Grizzlies beat a Southeast Division foe for the first time this year after losses to Miami, Washington, Charlotte and Atlanta. ... F Ziaire Williams was helped off the court after spraining his left ankle early in the second quarter and didn’t return. Jenkins had no update on Williams’ status. Williams played three minutes in his return from a three-game absence because of right knee soreness.

Heat: Monday’s game completed the Heat’s third home-and-home set against a Western Conference opponent. Miami already has finished its season series against the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets. ... F Markieff Morris (whiplash) participated in warm-ups but missed his 15th consecutive game.


Monday was the start of the Heat’s first homestand that goes beyond two games. The early schedule has featured trips of four and five away games. After the Heat complete this three-game home set against Chicago on Saturday, they will begin another four-game trip Dec. 13 in Cleveland.


Grizzlies: open a four-game homestand Wednesday against Dallas.

Heat: host defending league champion Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday.


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Embiid scores 43, 76ers hold off pesky Hornets 127-124 in OT

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 10:09 PM ET By STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer CHARLOTTE, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Joel Embiid had a season-high 43 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and the Philadelphia 76ers held off the short-handed Charlotte Hornets 127-124 in overtime on Monday night.

Tobias Harris returned from a one-game absence due to illness and had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the 76ers shot 52.9% from the field and earned back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 4-6.

Embiid had six of Philadelphia’s eight points in overtime and assisted on the other score.

“It’s what I have to do,” Embiid said. “Coaches trust me to put me in those situations. Sometimes I make mistakes, but I feel like I’m getting better and better in those situations. I just made the right plays and made some shots.”

Kelly Oubre Jr. had another standout game with 35 points with six 3-pointers for the Hornets, but missed a 3 at the end of the first overtime that would have tied the game and sent it to a second extra period.

Charlotte played without five players, including starters Lamelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Mason Plumlee because of NBA health and safety protocols.

The 76ers barely had a possession in which they weren’t looking to dump the ball in the paint to Embiid, especially with the Hornets lacking much rim protection and playing small ball for most of the game.

Embiid responded time and time again to the extra workload in what Doc Rivers likes to call a “feed the pig” game.

“He's so dominant out there, especially when he is able to get his position on the floor,” Harris said of Embiid, a four-time NBA All-Star. “He's able to punish a team. They threw different guys at him, but he's so much bigger and stronger."

Embiid said he's been watching film of some of last year's games and said he realized he needed to work harder to get a deeper position on the block. He feels like he's been doing that the last few games — and that now shots are dropping.

“I feel like the last couple of games I have really imposed myself inside,” Embiid said.

After a tight, back-and-forth fourth quarter, Embiid tied the game with a 18-footer with 29.4 seconds left.

Miles Bridges missed a step-back 3 as the shot clock was winding down on Charlotte's next possession, giving the 76ers a chance to win the game on the final possession of regulation. But, Embiid's fall-away jumper didn't drop.

But his jumper early in overtime put the 76ers up for good.

The Hornets, who played only eight players, were 2 of 9 from the field in overtime.

Despite the loss, Borrego had nothing but praise for the play of his short-handed team, which was coming off a win against Atlanta on Sunday night, calling it a “fantastic effort.”

“As proud as I was of them (Sunday) night, I was even more proud with them tonight,” Borrego said. “ Just their spirit, resiliency, but it is who we are and nothing is changing. We are building, we’re growing and we are on a mission here to get better, stronger, be a contender and basically keep climbing.”


Harris said he fought through fatigue after spending the last couple days in bed with an illness. He said once he got going, he felt better. He likes the idea that the 76ers don't have to travel and will play again in Charlotte in two nights, allowing him more time to rest and recover.

“I still have some symptoms,” Harris said.


Hornets' second-year center Nick Richards got the start for Plumlee and had a career-high 12 points. Rookie guard James Bouknight also had a career-best 11 points for Charlotte.


Tyrese Maxey (illness) did not play, meaning Milton got the start at point guard.

“Starting is something I definitely feel like I can do in this league,” Milton said.

Rivers called Milton's effort “up and down.”


76ers: Had 15 turnovers, which led to 23 Charlotte points. ... Took 20 fewer shots than the Hornets.

Hornets: Ish Smith became the fifth Hornets player to be placed into the health and safety protocols earlier in the day, leaving the team without its top three points guards. Cody Martin had to fill in as the starting point guard. ... Rookie JT Thor got a rise from the crowd when he dropped the hammer with a flying one-handed dunk over 6-foot-10 center Andre Drummond in the first quarter.


The teams meet again Wednesday night in Charlotte.


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Pacers pull away early, hold off Wizards for 116-110 win

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 9:39 PM ET By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis was ready to do whatever it took to snap a four-game losing streak.

Especially against the team that eliminated the Indiana Pacers from the play-in round in May.

So on Monday night, Sabonis did it all. He produced his 19th double-double of the season with 30 points and 10 rebounds while adding six assists and three steals, helping the Pacers hold off hard-charging Washington 116-110.

“He's a strong-willed guy and he was not going to be denied tonight," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “There was a lot of contact on some of those plays and it led to some frustration at one point, but he really played one massive game inside."

Sabonis' play also seemed to inspire his teammates.

Caris LeVert had 19 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who had lost five straight in the series including the play-in game. And it didn't take long for Indiana to show everyone it intended to change directions.

While three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal tried to bail out the Wizards with 34 points, Washington lots its third in a row and fell for the fourth time in five games. Beal appeared to hurt his left shoulder early in the fourth quarter during a tussle for a loose ball, but returned following a timeout and finished the game.

But the Wizards never recovered from an inexplicably slow, sloppy start on the second game of a back-to-back. After Oshae Brissett's 3-pointer to end the first quarter gave Indiana a 28-18 lead. The Wizards couldn't cut the deficit to fewer than eight points until their final basket.

“It is tough," Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “When you get behind in the first quarter and you're fighting uphill the rest of the game, it's tough. Twelve turnovers for 21 points, that's pretty insurmountable."

Washington cut the deficit to nine early in the second quarter only to watch Indiana retake a double-digit lead. The Pacers maintained that advantage through the rest of the first half and the entire third quarter.

Beal's put-back to open the fourth got Washington within 88-80, but Sabonis answered with a three-point play and Indiana methodically put this one away.

“We had a much stronger physically presence tonight," Carlisle said. “There was a collective will we played with tonight that we had not played with the last couple of games. I think our guys really understood this game was going to come down to how hard we could fight."

Carlisle won his 191st game with the franchise, breaking a tie with Larry Brown for the second-most wins in the franchise's NBA history.


Wizards: Daniel Gafford had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Kyle Kuzma finished with 14 points and four rebounds. ... Corey Kispert scored 10 points in his first game in Indianapolis since April when he was on the court as Gonzaga's perfect season ended in the national championship game loss to Baylor. ... Washington had 10 turnovers in the first half and wound up with 12.

Pacers: Brissett made all three of his 3s and finished with 12 points. Jeremy Lamb had 10 points. ... Chris Duarte had 13 points, five rebounds and four steals. ... The Pacers had all 10 of their steals in the first half, finishing one short of this season's single-game high.


The Holiday brothers reunion didn't pan out Monday night because the older brother, Justin, did not play because he's still in the health and safety protocols. Aaron Holiday made his seventh start of the season and scored 11 points in his first trip to Indianapolis since the Pacers traded him this summer. Justin Holiday went into the protocols Nov. 30.


After another slow start, Unseld acknowledged he would consider making a lineup change or rotational changes before concluding their road trip Wednesday.

“Everything's on the table," Unseld said. “We're not where we want to be, so we've got to take a hard look at it and see what we like and what we don't like and why things all of a sudden aren't working."


Wizards: Visit Detroit on Wednesday.

Pacers: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.


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Thunder rally, beat sliding Pistons to end 8-game skid

1.5d ago 12/6/2021 9:39 PM ET By DAVE HOGG, Associated Press DETROIT

Games: OKC@DET from 12/6/2021

DETROIT (AP) — Shea Gilgeous-Alexander had 30 points and 13 assists, Luguentz Dort scored 28 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied past the Detroit Pistons 114-103 Monday night in a battle of teams that entered with eight-game losing streaks.

“I thought our team showed a lot of heart and fight in the second half,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “We've lost all these games, so it would have been easy to give up when they came out making everything. They didn't do that.”

Detroit led by 16 in the third quarter and 12 early in the fourth, but the Pistons were outscored 25-8 in the final five minutes of their ninth straight loss.

“We played a great first half, but we forgot how to take care of the ball in the third quarter and we didn't play defense in the fourth,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We're a young team, but that's not an excuse. We have to learn to play 48 minutes a night.”

Gilgeous-Alexander's layup with 3:46 left gave Oklahoma City its first lead of the game, and after Cade Cunningham's miss, Mike Muscala made it 101-97 with a 3-pointer.

Another empty possession by the Pistons led to a three-point play for Dort, giving Oklahoma City a 104-97 advantage with 2:43 to play.

“We didn't focus on how far behind we were, we just tried to win the next possession,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I didn't know we were shooting (89.5%) for the quarter. I was just trying to get us a good look every time we had the ball.”

Cunningham had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons, while Jeremi Grant added 20 points.

“We talked before the game about how this was the night we were going to change this,” Cunningham said. “But we've got 19 losses now. We have to stop talking about fixing this and start doing something on the floor.”

Cunningham scored nine points in the first five minutes and finished with 15 in the first half. The offensively challenged Pistons shot 49% from the floor, including 52.6% on 3-pointers, to take a 63-50 lead into the half.

“They came out shooting that way, but we kept playing hard with the wind in our face,” Daigneault said, “That's the reason we were able to take advantage when we got the wind at our back down the stretch.”

Detroit only scored 18 points in the third quarter, turning the ball over seven times, but played enough defense to hang on to a nine-point lead.

“We stopped playing the way we are supposed to play,” Cunningham said. “Instead of following the game plan, we started freestyling."

Jordan Lyles opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, but the Thunder answered with a nine-point run. Casey called a timeout with 9:33 left and his team's lead down to 84-81.

“We could smell the win at that point,” Daigneault said. “We just had to keep up the effort.”


Thunder: Oklahoma City, the fifth-best rebounding team in the NBA, was outrebounded 52-40. The Pistons had 16 offensive rebounds.

Pistons: Detroit came into the game ranked second in the league in bench scoring at 39.4 points per game. However, the Pistons only got 12 points from the bench in the first half.


Thunder: Visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Pistons: Host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.


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Gordon, Wood guide Rockets past Pelicans for 6th win in row

2.5d ago 12/5/2021 9:49 PM ET By JOSHUA KOCH, Associated Press HOUSTON, Texas

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — Eric Gordon and Christian Wood both scored 23 points, and the Houston Rockets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-108 on Sunday night for their sixth straight win.

The Rockets have pieced together the run after losing 15 straight games.

“At the beginning, frankly, we didn’t really know what we were doing, we hadn’t been through those experiences,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “We had just had training camp and then game after game. Guys who hadn’t been through those moments and the more we do it, the better we get at it.”

Gordon said the keys to the winning streak were twofold: “Defensively, we're competing, and offensively, unselfish mentality."

Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 40 points for the Pelicans — the most since dropping 40 against Brooklyn on Nov. 4, 2019.

“I just got some open looks, got to my spots, getting to the rim and attacking mismatches,” Ingram said. “My teammates found me whenever I was open.”

Jonas Valanciunas finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 10, but New Orleans dropped their third game in the last five.

“Just seemed like we couldn't get into anything with enough force,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Then we just didn't get enough stops ... We tried to pick it up in the second half, it was a little better. Just got to make more shots, that's what it comes down to. We did a good job of not turning the ball over, our assists could be higher but we've got to make some shots out there.”

Houston's Daniel Theis netted 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field, and Alperen Sengun finished with 10 points.

New Orleans cut Houston's eight-point halftime lead to five with 10:48 left in the third quarter, but Gordon single-handedly expanded it back to double digits by scoring the Rockets' next 13 points over a span of 3:46 to balloon the lead to 72-61.

In the fourth quarter, KJ Martin electrified the crowd with a massive putback dunk, which extended the Rockets' lead to 98-87.

New Orleans clawed their way back to trail 111-103 with 3:04 left capped by a Valanciunas jumper.

Silas then called a timeout, having seen these types of situations where double-digit leads would slip away.

“This was a moment where we had to make sure that we maintained or increased it,” Silas said. “We did a good job. The bench guys were really good.”

Garrison Matthews, who hadn't scored since the second quarter, buried a corner 3 with 18.1 seconds left to extend the Rockets' lead to 118-108.

The 3 from Matthews was the 17th of the game for Houston. The Rockets finished 17 of 40 from beyond the arc, which was right at their average per game (17.4) during this streak.

“Having more shooting on the floor and being more confident in shooting the ball,” Silas said of the key to their 3-point shooting success. “Being more intentional about getting to drive and kick and making that extra pass.”


Pelicans: G Josh Hart (left knee soreness) missed his third straight game, though he did participate in some pregame shooting … Willy Hernangomez scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds off the bench for his second straight double-double.

Rockets: G Kevin Porter Jr. (left thigh contusion) is considered day-to-day at this point, Silas said. … Rookie Jalen Green missed his fifth straight game with a left hamstring strain.


Pelicans: Start a two-game homestand Wednesday, hosting Denver.

Rockets: Continue four-game homestand by hosting Brooklyn on Wednesday.


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Short-handed Hornets lean on 3-pointers, top Hawks 130-127

2.6d ago 12/5/2021 8:39 PM ET By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer ATLANTA

ATLANTA (AP) — Miles Bridges scored 32 points and the Charlotte Hornets, without four players, leaned on their 3-point shooting and beat the Atlanta Hawks 130-127 on Sunday night.

Bridges made each of his four shots in the fourth quarter, when he scored 13 points.

“I feel like that’s a statement game, let people know that we’re here,” Bridges said.

Kelly Oubre Jr. made six 3s and scored 28 points for Charlotte. The Hornets made 17 3s.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan said the Hornets, even when short-handed, are “probably the best catch-and-shoot team in the league.”

“We just really weren’t able to get stops when we needed to,” McMillan said. “We scored 127 points. That’s more than enough to win the game. It comes down to defensively being able to stop them and we weren’t able to do that.”

John Collins led Atlanta with a season-best 31 points and 12 rebounds.

Among the four Charlotte players held out after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols was leading scorer LaMelo Ball. Starting guard Terry Rozier, the third-leading scorer, and two more usual rotation players — center Mason Plumlee and forward Jalen McDaniels — also were held out. They’ll be sidelined for at least 10 days.

“It was about who wanted it more and we have some guys on our team who are just dogs and wouldn’t be denied,” Oubre said.

“It was a blessing for us to go out and just compete and hold it down for our brothers.”

Oubre, Ish Smith and Nick Richards moved into the starting lineup.

Bridges' 3 with 4:26 remaining gave Charlotte a 115-113 lead that it didn't relinquish. Oubre added another key 3 to push the lead to 122-116.

Trae Young's jumper with 22 seconds remaining cut Charlotte's lead to three points. Young scored 25 points and had a season-high 15 assists.

Atlanta's Kevin Huerter tried to counter Charlotte's long-distance game by making a career-best seven 3s, finishing with 28 points.

The Hornets made 53.5% of their shots from the field and 17 of 37 3s.

After trailing 74-63 early in the third quarter, the Hawks were boosted by three consecutive 3-pointers, including two by Collins, to cut the Hornets' lead to two points.

Atlanta led 89-87 before the Hornets regained momentum with a 12-0 run late in the third. Cody Martin had eight points, including two 3s, in the run.


Hornets: Charlotte's season high for 3s was 23 in a 133-115 win over Minnesota on Nov. 26. ... Martin had a career-high 19 points and Gordon Hayward added 18.

Hawks: F Solomon Hill was helped to the locker room after he slipped, did a split, and suffered a right hamstring injury late in the first quarter. Minutes later, he was ruled out for the remainder of the game. ... After winning eight of their first 10 home games, the Hawks have suffered back-to-back losses at State Farm Arena. ... F Cam Reddish (non-COVID illness) and G Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) did not play for the third consecutive game. ... Young was listed as questionable before the game with left knee soreness.


Smith, who led Charlotte with seven assists, started at point guard. Smith had help from Martin, who had four assists in addition to his scoring high.

“It’s not a coincidence we win this game with Cody out there 32 minutes and has a plus-22,” said Hornets coach James Borrego.


Huerter said Atlanta’s defense was “pretty bad, plain and simple.” He said inconsistency on defense has been an issue all season. “What that is I can’t put my finger on,” he said.


Hornets: Host Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

Hawks: Visit Minnesota on Monday.


This story has been corrected to show the Hornets' 17 3-pointers were not a season high.


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Siakam scores 31 to help Raptors beat Wizards 102-90

2.6d ago 12/5/2021 8:29 PM ET By IAN HARRISON, Associated Press TORONTO

TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam scored 31 points, Precious Achiuwa had 10 points and 14 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 102-90 on Sunday night.

Chris Boucher scored 14 points, Scottie Barnes had 11, and Fred VanVleet 10 to help the Raptors win back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game winning streak from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.

Toronto led by as many as 25 points, and beat Washington for the 11th time in 13 meetings.

The Raptors have held their opponent below 100 points in three consecutive games for the first time this season.

“We don’t have a 7-footer out there, but we have guys that can do multiple things and are great on defense,” Siakam said. “We’ve just got to bring the effort every single night.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse praised his team for their defensive effort in the first quarter, when Washington shot 5 for 22.

“I thought that group that started set the tone, but I also thought the guys who came off the bench brought the same kind of energy and maybe even a little more,” Nurse said. “That’s kind of what we’re hoping for it to look like. It was a good, all-around team effort defensively.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 26 points and Bradley Beal had 14 for the Wizards, who couldn’t dig out of a double-digit hole after their rotten first quarter.

“Early on, I thought we generated some pretty good looks, but they didn’t go in,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “That tends to have a snowball effect. It’s demoralizing.”

The Wizards have lost two straight, three of four and seven of 11 since their five-game winning streak ended Nov. 17. Washington also trailed by 25 or more in Friday’s home loss to Cleveland.

“In the early season, we bounced back from these stretches,” Unseld said. “This has kind of been the longest duration where things have been kind of tenuous for us. It’s certainly a test. We have no choice. We have to pull together and we have to dig ourselves out, and we’ve got to find a way.”

Siakam went 10 for 21 from the field, made his lone 3-point attempt, and made a season-high 10 of 12 free-throw attempts. He also had six rebounds and three assists.

Toronto led 23-12 after an opening period in which the Wizards scored 12 points, their fewest in any quarter this season.

“Shots just weren’t falling,” Caldwell-Pope said, “and I feel like we let that dictate our defense. We weren’t really playing hard and they were making everything that they threw up.”

Washington recovered with a 30-point second, shooting 10 for 17, but the Raptors answered with a 40-point effort — their highest-scoring quarter of the season.

“We didn’t help ourselves in that second quarter,” Unseld said.

Siakam scored 17 in the second as Toronto led 63-42 at the half. Caldwell-Pope had 10 points in the third but the Raptors took an 84-68 lead to the fourth, and weren’t threatened after that.


Wizards: G Spencer Dinwiddie started Sunday but will not play in Monday’s game at Indiana, Unseld, said. Dinwiddie had surgery after damaging a ligament in his right knee last December. … Montrezl Harrell led the Wizards with 14 rebounds. … Washington’s season-low for points in a half is 40, set Nov. 18 at Miami.

Raptors: F OG Anunoby (left hip) and F Khem Birch (right knee) sat for the ninth straight game. … G Dalano Banton had a career-high six assists. … Toronto is 4-8 at home.


Toronto matched a season-best by allowing 12 points in the first. The Raptors also allowed 12 points in the fourth quarter of their Nov. 19 win at Sacramento.


Wizards: Visit Indiana on Monday night.

Raptors: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.


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Mitchell scores 35, Jazz hold off Cavaliers 109-108

2.7d ago 12/5/2021 6:09 PM ET By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer CLEVELAND

CLEVELAND (AP) — Once the shot left Darius Garland's hands, the Utah Jazz couldn't do anything but hope it didn't drop.

Sometimes, defense comes down to a simple wish.

Garland missed a potential game-winner with 2.9 seconds left as the Jazz, who got 35 points from Donovan Mitchell, survived Cleveland's late surge for their fourth straight win, 109-108 over the Cavaliers on Sunday.

Rudy Gobert had 20 rebounds and five blocks, Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points and Rudy Gay had 15 for Utah, which made 20 3-pointers and gave away a 15-point lead in the fourth.

The Cavs had a chance to win, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff put the ball in Garland's hands. But his 28-footer was long, and Jarrett Allen couldn't get his tip to drop as Cleveland had its winning streak stopped at four.

“That last possession, I knew it was going to go to him because I’ve known J.B. as a head coach for quite a while," Jazz guard Mike Conley said. “I just tried to stay up as high as I could and make sure it was contested. I told him (Garland), it was like playing against myself.”

Bickerstaff didn't second-guess his decision.

“If I could do it over again, I would do the same thing and let him make a play,” he said.

Garland scored 31 points, Allen added 17 points and 11 rebounds and rookie Evan Mobley had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who were back at home after beating Dallas, Miami and Washington. It was the first time since 1975 that the Cavs won three straight on the road over teams with winning records.

“That’s a really good team and they made some shots," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said as his squad opened a four-game trip. “It’s a really good win for us — starting the trip with an early game in the East is not easy.”

Utah opened its 15-point lead in the early moments of the fourth on Conley's 3-pointer and seemed poised to put the Cavs away.

However, as has been the case all season, Cleveland fought back.

The Cavs reeled off 15 straight points to tie it 97-all on Ricky Rubio's scoop shot with 8:43 left. Cedi Osman contributed to the flurry with a dunk, 3-pointer and steal.

“We never gave up,” said Rubio, who finished with 15 points. “We've been in every single game this season.”

Mitchell had a chance to put the Jazz ahead by three, but Mobley came across the lane and blocked his layup with 22 seconds to go. The Cavs corralled the ball and called time to set up a final shot.

Garland initially drove the lane, but got turned away. He wound up with the ball at the top of the key and launched his deep 3 that was long, and the Jazz survived Allen's follow attempt.

“I work on that shot every day,” said Garland, who has scored 30 points in consecutive games for the first time. “It felt good. I was open.”


Jazz: C Hassan Whiteside (left glute bruise) missed his first game. ... Snyder said it doesn’t take long watching film for Mobley to stand out. “He’s going to be a star in this league, really soon,” Snyder said. “He’s a rare combination of size, length, quickness and skill.” ... Gay, who underwent right heel surgery in the offseason, isn’t technically on a minutes restriction. Gay is averaging 18.7 minutes coming off the bench. “There's the challenge of getting back into game shape,” Snyder said. “Fatigue can be an issue, especially the way we want to play." ... Gay topped 17,000 career points.

Cavaliers: Didn't get called for a foul in the first 17 minutes and finished with just eight, tying the league low this season. ... F Kevin Love entered the day leading the NBA with a .949 free throw percentage (37 of 39). The five-time All-Star is an 83% career shooter from the line, finishing above 90% just once. ... Garland and Atlanta's Trae Young are the only players averaging at least 19 points, seven assists and shooting over 45%.


Gobert’s size troubles most teams, but not the Cavs.

J.B. Bickerstaff countered the 7-foot-1, shot-swatting center by starting 6-foot-11 Allen along with 7-footers Mobley and Lauri Markkanenen, a “tall ball” lineup that has been a revelation for the Cavs.

"There were some moments when we were discombobulated because there was a lot going on in that game with Allen, Mobley and Markkanen,” Snyder said.


Garland added five assists, four rebounds and four steals. He's the first Cleveland player to score 30 points while reaching those other marks since LeBron James in 2018.

“Garland is going to be a hell of a player,” Mitchell said. "I was trash talking him all day, but l will say I respect his game."


Jazz: Continue a four-game trip Wednesday at Minnesota.

Cavaliers: Visit the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.


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Davis’ 28 lead Kings to 2nd straight win over Clippers

3.4d ago 12/5/2021 12:58 AM ET By BEN ROSS, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Terence Davis scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half and the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Clippers for the second time in four nights with a 104-99 victory Saturday.

Davis made all four of his 3-point attempts in the third quarter and finished 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.

“I think he’s getting a little more comfortable in stuff," Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry said. "I think with him, the whole idea is behind what is a good shot and what is not, or when do you shoot it and when do you not shoot it. I think he did a good job tonight of picking those opportunities."

Tyrese Haliburton added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for Sacramento, which beat the Clippers 124-115 on Wednesday in Los Angeles. De’Aaron Fox had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Marvin Bagley III recorded his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“When you make shots, everybody’s feeling good,” Haliburton said. “It feels like you’re throwing a rock in the ocean. It feels like everybody’s going and everybody’s having fun. It definitely feels good for us and we’ve just got to keep this momentum going.”

Marcus Morris Sr. led the Clippers with 21 points and nine rebounds. Reggie Jackson added 18 points.

Paul George had 15 points and nine assists, but shot just 5 of 21 from the field. Ivica Zubac had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“Terence Davis comes in to make six 3s, big shots, and momentum killers,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He had a great game — two great games. He was aggressive. Tonight he hurt us.”

Sacramento used a 12-2 run early in the fourth quarter to open its biggest lead of the game at 90-76. Los Angeles answered with nine straight points to get within 90-85, but Davis' three-point play pushed the lead back to eight with 4:24 remaining.

Morris made a deep 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining to cut the Kings’ lead to 102-99, but Buddy Hield made two free throws to seal the win.

Sacramento held the Clippers to just 38% shooting from the field, including 13 of 34 from 3-point range. The Kings shot 42%.

“I thought defensively, obviously, we were really good,” Gentry said. “We have to try to get to that consistent level where we’re doing it every night.”

Los Angeles opened the game on a 9-2 run and led by as many as eight in the first half. Sacramento went on a 10-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 50-45 lead into halftime.


The Kings’ win marked their first home victory against the Clippers since March 19, 2013, snapping a 15-game losing streak.


Clippers: Nicolas Batum missed his eighth straight game in the league’s health and safety protocols, but Lue said that he was nearing a return. ... Morris was assessed a technical foul in the third quarter.

Kings: Harrison Barnes (right foot sprain) missed his fifth straight game and Moe Harkless (left knee soreness) missed his fourth straight. Gentry was hopeful both could play next game. ... Bagley returned to the lineup after missing two games with a non-COVID-19 illness. ... Chimezie Metu had a career-high five blocks.


Clippers: At Portland on Monday night.

Kings: Host Orlando on Wednesday night.


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Celtics start fast, rout Trail Blazers 145-117

3.4d ago 12/5/2021 12:48 AM ET By ERIK GARCÍA GUNDERSEN, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schroder scored 31 points apiece and the Boston Celtics rode a sizzling start to a 145-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Enes Freedom grabbed 15 rebounds off the bench for the Celtics, who made 14 of their first 15 shots and built a 21-point, first-half lead.

Coach Ime Udoka believes Tatum’s recent success has been the product of attacking the basket. Tatum scored 37 on Friday night against Utah as well.

“He’s had some success driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line,” Udoka said. “That’s been encouraging him to drive more and not settle as much. With some of their guys out, we felt we could attack some mismatches and get to the basket without a ton of rim protection and he did that very well.”

CJ McCollum scored 24 points for the Trail Blazers.

Portland chipped away behind its bench before Boston took a 64-58 lead into halftime.

“I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire its starters,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “It should be the other way around.”

Boston took control in the second half with a good start to the third quarter. The Celtics pushed their lead to as high as 26 before Portland pulled its starters with 5:51 remaining.

The Celtics continued to pour it on. Former Oregon star Payton Prichard scored 16 points in the final six minutes, sending the Celtics bench into a frenzy. The bench was called for a taunting technical for celebrating Prichard’s 3-pointer to put Boston up 145-114.

“You want to see him do well,” Udoka said. “The crowd was very supportive of a hometown hero but it got a little out of hand with our guys getting overzealous and getting a technical. I did apologize to Chauncey at the end for that. I didn’t mean for it to get out of hand like that. You’re happy for him, but there’s a line not to cross there.”

Boston’s 145 points were the most ever scored in regulation by a visiting team in Blazers history.


Saturday night’s game was Portland’s first following the firing of President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey. With Joe Cronin assuming the role of interim general manager, Billups expressed his respect for Cronin’s new position and excitement about working together.

“I’m very much looking forward to building with Joe,” Billups said. “In all honesty right now, Joe is the man. I’m not overlooking that, I don’t think anybody should. He’s been in the game for a long time, he’s well thought of by many people and I think Joe is as qualified as most people. He’s very good. It’s easy to jump over that and look for the next move. But right now, Joe is the next move.”


Udoka was in his hometown for the first time as an NBA head coach, something he wasn’t taking for granted.

“There’s a first for everything, as I mentioned. But this one obviously means more coming home,” Udoka said. “A ton of family and friends here and the first time in this capacity, so obviously it means a lot. For me, it’s great to come back and see family and friends briefly, but it’s also time to handle business.”

Udoka visited Jefferson High School before the game.


Celtics: Romeo Langford missed the game with a right ankle sprain. … Jaylen Brown remains out with hamstring tightness and Udoka said he won’t return until he’s “100 percent, not 85 or 90”… Al Horford sat out with a stiff lower back. Grant Williams started in his place.

Trail Blazers: Anfernee Simons (right ankle sprain), Damian Lillard (abdomen) and Nassir Little (left ankle sprain) all missed Saturday’s game.


Celtics: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Trail Blazers: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.

Spurs withstand Warriors' rally for 112-107 victory

3.4d ago 12/4/2021 11:28 PM ET By GIDEON RUBIN, Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Derrick White scored 25 points, Dejounte Murray had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs held off a furious rally to beat the Golden State Warriors 112-107 on Saturday night.

The Spurs closed the game with an 8-1 run to win their fourth straight.

Stephen Curry scored 27 points and Jordan Poole added 15 for Golden State, which was playing a night after snapping Phoenix’s 18-game winning streak in a matchup of the NBA’s top teams.

White hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:43 left in the game to give the Spurs a 107-106 lead.

“We didn’t panic,” White said. “They were up three and we just answered and found a way to win. It’s not a good recipe for success. We want to keep the leads that we have, but just stay with it, compete and good things happened tonight.

“We knew they were going to go on a run. They’re the Warriors, they’ve been doing it for years.”

The Warriors trailed by as many as 22 early in the second quarter and by 18 in the third.

“We’re thrilled because they are who they are and we could still get the win, although we know we caught a break,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Murray hit a 3-pointer with 8:15 left in the third that gave San Antonio an 80-62 lead.

The Warriors rallied for a 104-103 lead on Curry’s step-back 3-pointer with 2:39 left that highlighted a 21-4 run.

Lonnie Walker IV scored 21 points coming off the bench and Keldon Johnson added 15 for the Spurs.

“The Spurs were great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They took it to us right from the outset. They came in playing well, they had a ton of energy, they ran right through us, right past us.

“We just had a tough time getting going, but the fact that our guys gave themselves a chance in the second half with that competitiveness was indicative of the kind of team we have and the kind of guys we have.”

Damion Lee scored 14 points and Draymond Green had nine points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Golden State.

“They really showed their championship mettle by coming back and playing as hard as they did,” Popovich said.

“You can see why it’s a special program and why they’re championship-caliber guys. It’s not just about the talent, it’s all the other stuff and they’ve got it in spades.”


The Warriors had won 11 straight home games, tied for their longest home winning streak since they won 54 straight from Jan. 3, 2015, to March 29, 2016. All 11 wins on their most recent home winning streak were by double digits.


Spurs: At Phoenix Monday night. Phoenix beat the Spurs 115-111 on Nov. 22 in the only meeting between the teams this season.

Warriors: Host Orlando Monday night. Golden State hasn’t lost to the Magic at home since Dec. 3, 2012.


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Grizzlies hang on to beat Mavericks 97-90 after 73-point win

3.5d ago 12/4/2021 11:18 PM ET By SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer DALLAS

DALLAS (AP) — The next time the Memphis Grizzlies trail in what is expected to be about two weeks without Ja Morant will be the first.

Desmond Bane scored a career-high 29 points, and the Grizzlies held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 97-90 on Saturday night in their first game since setting an NBA record with a 73-point victory.

Tyus Jones had 16 points and seven assists for the Grizzlies, who haven't trailed at all while going 4-0 since Morant, their star guard and leading scorer, was sidelined with a left knee sprain.

Memphis is the first team in the 25 seasons of the statistic being tracked to lead at least four consecutive games without even being tied after 0-0, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I think we’ve been getting off to good starts,” said Bane, who was 12 of 20 from the field. “We’ve been playing well on the defensive side, and that’s been allowing us to get out and run. That’s our best offense. The more we can get stops and get out in transition, the more I like our chances.”

The Mavericks dropped to 0-4 this season without young sensation Luka Doncic. They were also missing his European sidekick, Kristaps Porzingis, and lost their fourth consecutive game without their top two scorers going back to last season.

Dallas had little punch offensively until it was too late in a fourth consecutive home loss, shooting 34% in their second game since setting a franchise record at 68.7% in a 32-point victory at New Orleans.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter for the Mavericks, who cut a 15-point deficit to five in the final five minutes but couldn't get closer.

“You can get discouraged when you’re not playing well at home,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “I think the mental part is strong because it would be easy for them to let go of the rope, having the built-in excuse of no Luka and no (Porzingis) and end up losing by 20. But those guys that were in uniform fought and gave themselves a chance to get back in the game.”

Steven Adams had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 13 points for Memphis.

Doncic sat the second night of a back-to-back with left ankle soreness, which Kidd said was related to a sprain of his ankle, along with his left knee, sustained almost three weeks ago. Kidd said the two-time All-Star had an MRI but wouldn't reveal the results.

“It’s just been a busy stretch of games for us,” Kidd said before the game. “So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

The oft-injured Porzingis was out for a second consecutive game with a left knee contusion.

Two nights after a 152-79 victory at home against Oklahoma City, Memphis went up 10 points in the first six minutes and led by as many as 17 before holding on late and improving to a season-best three games over .500 (13-10).

“The first couple of possessions our activity, especially defensively, has been good for us,” coach Taylor Jenkins said. “That has allowed us to play with confidence on the offensive end. I think our spacing and ball movement is getting better, and now we are making some shots.”

The Mavericks have lost consecutive home games on either side of the victory at New Orleans that was the best shooting night in the NBA in almost 24 years. Dallas is at 37% in the two games since then, including a 107-91 loss to the Pelicans to finish a home-and-home set.


Grizzlies: F Brandon Clarke was out with right knee soreness, while rookie F Ziaire Williams, the 10th pick in the draft, missed his third consecutive game with left knee soreness. Coach Taylor Jenkins indicated both could return soon. ... Bane's previous career high was 28 at Utah on Nov. 22.

Mavericks: C Willie Cauley-Stein missed his fourth consecutive game, the past three of which have been for personal reasons. ... G Frank Ntilikina (right calf strain) played for the first time since Nov. 21, scoring three points in 13 minutes. He was active a night earlier against New Orleans but didn't play.


Bane, who spent four years on the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth area at TCU, scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help keep the lead comfortable until a late Dallas surge. He also set a career best with nine rebounds.

The 30th pick in the 2020 draft uses all the teams that passed on him as motivation, but that's especially true with the franchise closest to his college home. “I'm glad we got the win tonight, let me just say that,” Bane said.


Jalen Brunson, starting in place of Doncic when he normally replaces him off the bench, was just 7 of 21 from the field, including a missed jumper that could have pulled Dallas within three with a minute remaining. He had 15 points and eight assists.


Grizzlies: At Miami on Monday to complete the season series. The Heat won the first meeting.

Mavericks: Kevin Durant, James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets visit Tuesday. Dallas swept the two-game series last season, but Durant missed the first game and Harden the second.


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Bucks rout short-handed Heat 124-102 without Antetokounmpo

3.5d ago 12/4/2021 10:58 PM ET By CHARLES F. GARDNER, Associated Press MILWAUKEE

MILWAUKEE (AP) — It wasn’t exactly a revenge game for the Milwaukee Bucks, though it felt good.

Pat Connaughton made seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points, and the Bucks avenged an embarrassing loss from the second game of the season, beating the Heat 124-102 on Saturday night despite playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee led by as many as 31 points against a depleted Heat team missing Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo due to injuries. Antetokounmpo sat out with a right calf injury.

The Heat routed Milwaukee 137-95 in Miami but the Bucks dominated this time behind Khris Middleton, Connaughton and Jrue Holiday.

“We just wanted to go out there and build good habits, just be the best team we can on a day-to-day basis,” said Bucks center Bobby Portis, who had 19 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds. “It’s not about the Miami Heat and us playing against them.”

Connaughton was 7 of 13 on 3s, tying his career high, and Middleton had 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 30 minutes. Holiday scored all of his 16 points in the first half as Milwaukee sprinted to a 17-point lead at intermission.

“I thought he was great,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We needed that burst out of the gate. We got a little bit of separation in the first quarter (34-23) which I thought was important.”

The Bucks extended their lead to 105-76 after three quarters as Middleton and Portis took over.

DeMarcus Cousins added 11 points in his second game with the Bucks and Thanasis Antetokounmpo had 10. Cousins joined the team earlier in the week to help make up for the absence of Brook Lopez, out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery.

“He’s another big that we really needed,” Portis said. “We were thin on big men and he came in and did his thing. We can feed him in the post and he’s a great passer. He can shoot the ball and get to the free throw line. He can do a lot of things and he’s still a force.”

Max Strus scored 25 points for Miami, making five 3-pointers. Caleb Martin had 16 points and Herro scored 15.

The Bucks scored 26 second-chance points and outscored Miami in the paint, 48-26. Milwaukee also did a solid job on Herro and Duncan Robinson, who were a combined 8 for 27 from the field.


P.J. Tucker played a huge role in the Bucks’ playoff run to the NBA title last season, and he received a thunderous standing ovation from the Fiserv Forum crowd as he received his championship ring prior to the game.

The 36-year-old forward, who played physical defense against Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant in the Eastern Conference semifinals, is now making an impact as Miami’s starting power forward.

“It’s been a great fit,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have a lot of similar values in how we view competition. We’ve been a fan of his for a long time.

“Tonight is a special night as well. He was a big key to their championship run last year, and we want to celebrate that with him. It’s the toughest thing to do in this profession, to come collectively together and try to win a championship.”

Tucker soaked in the moment as he received his ring and said, “I love you forever, Milwaukee. We’ll always be dogs.”


Veteran guard Wesley Matthews was back with the Bucks after signing a one-year deal Friday. The former Marquette player, who was with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, had not signed with any NBA team this season.

Matthews averaged 7.4 points and shot 36.4% from 3-point range in 67 games (all starts) with Milwaukee during the 2019-20 season.

“Wesley is a guy who always takes pride in taking the best perimeter player on the other team,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He has incredible attention to detail and is a focused defender. Offensively, he has ability to spread the court and make shots, make 3s. I think we really need him and he’s going to help us in the short term and the long term, too.”

Matthews played 11 minutes and had three points.


Heat: Butler missed his fourth straight game after injuring his tailbone in a fall against the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 27. Butler leads Miami in scoring at 23.6 points per game. Adebayo is sidelined with a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo missed his second consecutive game with a right calf injury and starting guard Grayson Allen was out with illness. Veteran backup guard George Hill also was out with a right knee injury and two-way player Javonte Smart filled in as the backup point guard and had eight points in 29 minutes in his NBA debut. ... Rookie Sandro Mamukelashvili made his first NBA start. ... Antetokounmpo had played in all 21 games prior to Wednesday night in Toronto, when he sat out in Milwaukee’s 97-93 loss. … Team officials surprised retired broadcaster Jim Paschke by dedicating the Bucks interview room in his name. Paschke retired earlier this year after 35 years with the team.

LaVine, DeRozan lead Bulls to 111-107 win over Nets

3.5d ago 12/4/2021 10:48 PM ET By JEFFREY BERNSTEIN, Associated Press NEW YORK

NEW YORK (AP) — The Bulls were down, but not out.

Behind Zach LaVine’s 31 points and DeMar DeRozan’s 29, 13 in the fourth quarter, Chicago overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-107 on Saturday night.

“I thought they were the quicker, more responsive team earlier in the game,” said coach Billy Donovan. “Coming out of the half we talked about the adjustments we had to make, and they went out there and did it. What DeMar did out there in the third and fourth quarter was amazing.”

Nikola Vucevic and Ayo Dosunmu each added 11 points for the Bulls in a matchup of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” DeRozan said.

The Bulls also beat the East-leading Nets on Nov. 8 and have clinched the season series.

“We’re just going to keep coming,” DeRozan added. “We’re learning not to get down on ourselves if we’re missing shots. We’re learning a very critical part of the game is to stay level-headed and to stay balanced. There’s a lot of time in the game for things to turn over. Stay the course. That’s what we do.”

Kevin Durant led Brooklyn with 28 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20. James Harden added 14 points and 14 assists, but shot 5 for 21 from the field.

The Bulls opened the fourth on a 13-4 run and took their biggest lead at 92-86 on DeRozan’s short jumper with 7 minutes remaining.

“The greatness that DeMar displays each and every night in those crunch-time situations, to be able to witness what he’s doing on such a high level, making tough shot after tough shot while also being a leader just shows the type of person he is,” Sosunmu said.

Aldridge’s layup brought the Nets within 101-100, but they never got closer.

Durant’s 3-pointer with 39 seconds left cut it to 107-105, but Lonzo Ball answered with a 3 with 16 seconds remaining to end the threat.

Patty Mills, who scored 12 points, gave Brooklyn its biggest lead at 71-60 with 6:34 left in the third quarter.

Chicago rallied and LaVine’s 3-pointer trimmed it to 80-79 before Paul Millsap, who scored a season-high 13 points, hit a buzzer-beater to give the Nets an 82-79 lead after three quarters.

Brooklyn scored the first nine points of the game, all on 3s, and led 34-28 after the first quarter. The Nets were ahead 56-52 at the half.

“We did a lot of good things,” coach Steve Nash said. “Our guys did what we asked them to do. We got 111 shots at the basket. They just didn’t go tonight.”


Bulls: Javonte Green, who had appeared in each of Chicago’s first 23 games, did not play Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19. That leaves DeRozan, LaVine and Ball as the only Bulls to play in every game this season.

Nets: Brooklyn has had four back-to-backs so far this season and gone 1-1 each time. … The Nets had won eight of their previous nine home games against the Bulls. … James Johnson did not play due to left shoulder soreness.


Durant has played at least 37 minutes in each of his last seven games, including a season-high 45 vs. Phoenix on Nov. 21. “Kevin’s mentality is why he’s one of the best players of all-time,” Nash said. “He loves the game. To tell him we’re going to limit his minutes is not going to go over very well. We try to sneak minutes from him here and there and keep him on the bench for an extra 30 or 40 seconds when we can.”


In their two games prior to Saturday, LaVine, DeRozan and Vucevic all scored 25 or more points while shooting 50% or better from the field. It was the first time three teammates had reached those marks in consecutive games since Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway did it for Golden State in 1990.


Harden has shot 13 for 49 (26.5%) over his last three games.


Bulls: Chicago hosts Denver on Monday.

Nets: Brooklyn visits Dallas on Tuesday.

Pitt QB Pickett's stock surging after ACC championship

3.5d ago 12/4/2021 9:58 PM ET By STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer CHARLOTTE, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett has the records — and now he has an Atlantic Coast Conference championship to go along with it.

Pickett’s ascent to a likely Heisman Trophy candidate and a prospective first-round NFL draft pick took another big step forward as he threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a 58-yard score, helping Pittsburgh defeat Wake Forest 45-21 on Saturday night and giving the Panthers their first ACC title.

Along the way, Pickett set two passing records.

Pickett’s first touchdown pass of the game, a 22-yard toss on a swing pass to Rodney Hammond in the first quarter, broke Dan Marino’s school record of 79 career TD passes.

Pickett’s second TD pass, a 4-yard toss to Jared Wayne in the second quarter on a slant route, established an ACC record for touchdown passes in a season with 42, eclipsing the mark of 41 set by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016.

By midway through the fourth quarter, Pitt fans were chanting “Kenny Heisman.”

Alabama's Bryce Young is considered the heavy favorite to win the award, especially after he led the Crimson Tide to a big win against No. 1-ranked Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game earlier Saturday. But Pickett will get some consideration, something few expected when the Panthers were picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Coastal Division at the beginning of the season.

The recently named ACC Player of the Year got a huge assist Saturday night from his defense, which made adjustments in the second quarter and held the Demon Deacons scoreless on their 13 offensive possessions after spotting them three touchdowns and a 21-14 lead to open the game. The Panthers defense intercepted Sam Hartman four times and sacked him five times.

Pickett displayed all of the qualities of an NFL prospect, showing a strong arm to make difficult throws on out-routes, quality decision making and the ability to make plays when the pocket breaks down.

He also showed he has some tricks up his sleeve.

On the game's opening possession, Pickett escaped a pass rush and ran for a first down. As a defensive back approached, Pickett faked as if he was going to slide, but then stayed on his feet and ran another 40 yards for a touchdown, igniting the Pitt crowd.

Pickett relied heavily on his favorite receiver Jordan Addison, who finished with eight catches for 126 yards. Addison entered the game with 17 TD catches for the nation's fourth-highest scoring offense.

Israel Abanaikanda helped out with two rushing touchdowns.


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