Minnesota T. - Denver N. 108-105 MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Love (6'10''-PF-88, college: UCLA) spent the morning backpedaling and Nikola Pekovic spent the evening plowing full steam ahead. Pekovic had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves used a big advantage at the free throw line to overcome Love's shooting struggles in a 108-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Love finished with eight points on 3-for-17 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds on a day he had to explain to Minnesota's owner and his teammates some critical comments he made about the franchise. The Timberwolves shot under 40 percent for much of the game, but made 30 of 37 from the free throw line. The Nuggets were just 14 of 24 at the line. Kenneth Faried (6'8''-F-89, college: Morehead St.) had 26 points and 14 rebounds for the road-weary Nuggets, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game. JJ Barea had 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 points for Minnesota. The Wolves led by 11 with less than two minutes to play, but the Nuggets pulled within three and had the ball with 34 seconds to play. Ty Lawson's 3-pointer at the buzzer was short, and the Wolves breathed a sigh of relief. Lawson had 17 points and 11 assists, and Danilo Gallinari scored 24 for Denver. Love met with reporters after shootaround to explain some harsh comments he made about the organization to Yahoo! Sports. Love vowed not to discuss his disappointment at not getting a five-year deal from here on out and said he was generally pleased with the direction the franchise was headed. He addressed the situation with teammates and owner Glen Taylor before the game - then played like a guy with other things on his mind. He missed his first six shots and couldn't contain Faried's boundless energy on the defensive end. Faried has gone through peaks and valleys this season and entered the night with 22 points total in his previous four games. The Manimal got off to a ferocious start on Wednesday night, scoring 14 points and grabbing five boards in the first quarter alone. He gobbled up rebounds then blew the doors off the Minnesota big men in transition for easy buckets. That it was coming on the second night of a back-to-back against a Wolves team that had the previous four days off was even more impressive. Then again, the Nuggets have been hardened by a grueling schedule to open this season. They've played just nine of their first 23 games at home and were finishing up a five-game road trip. 'I don't know what George Karl did to Commissioner Stern to deserve this schedule,' Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. The last time these two teams met, the Timberwolves sprang quite a surprise on Karl and the Nuggets. Love made his season debut on that night, which came more than a week before anyone expected. His activation wasn't known until about an hour before game time, and Karl wondered if the Wolves might throw Ricky Rubio out there on Wednesday night for his first game of the season. Karl said he received a text earlier Wednesday that 'guaranteed' Rubio would not be playing that night. 'That made me even more suspicious,' he said. Rubio did not play. He's expected to play Saturday night against Dallas. NOTES: Gallinari entered the night shooting 28 percent from 3-point range. He was 4 for 5 on Wednesday night. Timberwolves G/F Josh Howard missed the game because of an illness. Wolves SG Malcolm Lee left the game just before halftime with a hyperextended right knee and did not return. Courtesy of: www.sctimes.com
Oklah.City T. - N.Orleans H. 92-88 OKLAHOMA CITY-Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas) scored 35 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder extended their winning streak to nine games with a 92-88 victory over the New Orleans Hornets 92-88 on Wednesday night. The Thunder rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit and matched their longest streak since the franchise moved from Seattle. At 18-4, the Thunder matched the second-best start in franchise history. Seattle started 20-2 in the 1993-94 season and the Thunder started 18-4 last season. It was the Thunder's third win over the Hornets in the past four weeks and seventh straight in the series. Brian Roberts scored 16 points to lead New Orleans, which lost its fifth straight game. Greivis Vasquez missed a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds that would have given New Orleans the lead. Thabo Sefolosha corralled the rebound and made the clinching free throws for the Thunder. Oklahoma City, the league's highest-scoring team, entered the game with a 106 point average, but had its run of 12 straight triple-digit games end as it had to fight back simply to win against the worst team in the Western Conference. The Hornets, who fell 77-70 on Tuesday night against Washington, figured their best chance to stay with the Thunder was to keep the game low-scoring and that strategy worked for most of three quarters. The Hornets led 62-51 after a basket by Austin Rivers with 2:01 left in the third quarter. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks then went with a small lineup, inserting seldom-used guard Reggie Jackson alongside backup point guard Eric Maynor, Kevin Martin and Durant, and closed the quarter on a 7-0 run. A 9-2 run, capped by a dunk by Durant, put the Thunder ahead 67-64. The Hornets regained the lead twice after that, but a 3-pointer by Martin put the Thunder ahead for good at 73-72 with 6:20 left, but Oklahoma City never could pull away. A three-point play by Durant with 1:12 left pushed the Thunder's lead to 89-84, but Anthony Davis made 1 of 2 free throws with 18.5 seconds left and New Orleans grabbed the rebound on the miss. Roberts made a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to pull the Hornets within 89-88. Durant made 1 of 2 free throws with 8.1 seconds left. The Thunder scored 34 points in the fourth quarter, two fewer than they did in the first half. With help from 12 points by Ryan Anderson (6'10''-F-88, college: California), New Orleans led most of the way in the first half and was up 44-36 at halftime. Oklahoma City, which entered the game second in the NBA in field-goal shooting at 49.1 percent, shot 30.6 percent from the field, including 0 of 3 from 3-point range. Oklahoma City led briefly by one point on two occasions in the second quarter before a 13-3 run by the Hornets gave them a 36-26 lead. Anderson finished with 14 points for the Hornets. Martin scored 17 for Oklahoma City while Russell Westbrook added 14. NOTES: The Thunder's first-quarter (17) and first-half (36) point totals were season lows. ... The Hornets' only lead over the Thunder in the first two meetings of the season came in the second game, when they were up 2-0 . New Orleans coach Monty Williams said before the game he's still not sure how long Eric Gordon, who has a sore left knee, will be out of the lineup. Courtesy of: www.sgvtribune.com
Houston R. - Washington W. 99-93 HOUSTON - Perhaps it was the wide open spaces in Texas, or having friends and family in the stands. Whatever the case, being back in his hometown of Houston had a positive effect on Emeka Okafor (6'9''-F/C-82, college: Connecticut). In his best game of the season by far, the Washington Wizards center topped his previous season-high of 17 with 19 points and six rebounds. Emeka Okafor's inspired performance was a nice change for Wizards fans who have seen Emeka Okafor struggle with his consistency. Still, it wasn't enough to stop James Harden and the Houston Rockets, who defeated the Wizards 99-93 on Wednesday at the Toyota Center. 'Shots just fell tonight,' Emeka Okafor said. '[I] came with the mindset, like, Alright. Trying to get a win, try to make it two in a row.' The Wizards (3-16) come home to face the Los Angeles Lakers at Verizon Center on Friday and the Heat in Miami on Saturday. It was another slow start for the Wizards, who scored just 17 points in the first quarter, but still an improvement over their Tuesday start in New Orleans, when they scored a season-low 11 points. By halftime in Houston, they were down just three to the Rockets, 45-42. The Wizards relied on a strong performance by rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal who had 20 points and six assists and a gutsy performance by Nene, who doesn't relish playing consecutive nights with his ailing left foot. Nene had 13 points and nine rebounds. 'It's hard really because we always have chances to win,' said Jordan Crawford (17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists). 'We got two big ones coming up and we want to play well.' The Rockets were led by their prized offseason acquisition, guard James Harden, formerly part of the Big Three with the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Harden, 23, is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic Team, and played in the NBA Finals last season against the Heat, who went on to the win the NBA title. Harden got off to a blistering start, and had the same number of points at the end of the first quarter, 17, as the entire Wizards team. Harden finished the game with 31 points and shot 50 percent from the floor. Point guard Jeremy Lin, Houston's other prized offseason acquisition isn't quite the sensation he was last year when he played for the New York Knicks and the term 'Linsanity' was coined to describe his sudden meteoric fame. Lin and Harden are learning to mesh together in the backcourt, with Harden the as the scorer and Lin the facilitator. Lin finished the game with 10 points and six assists. For the Wizards, the tale of two squads again reared its ugly head. The starters played well, with four of the five scoring in double figures except Chris Singleton who was held scoreless on 0 for 7 from the floor. But the bench had a rough night with only Nene making any kind of offensive contribution. Wizards coach Randy Wittman used just nine players. '[We've] got to play more inside-out,' Wittman said. 'We just [take] too many tough, bad shots sometimes. We've got to move the ball and we don't and that gets you in trouble when you fall in a hole. So, we'll correct those things. We're going to get out of here one of these days with a 50 percent shooting night.' Defensively, the Wizards managed to hold Houston, the league's third highest scoring team, to less than their average (104.5), but the Rockets also give up more points on average (105.4) than they score. But the Wizards came nowhere near that mark and remained the worst team in the league. 'There were moments when we just didn't make shots,' Beal said. 'I think we were getting the stops that we wanted, making them take the shots that we wanted as well. Its was a game of runs. Sometimes the other team goes on a bigger run than you do.' Courtesy of: www.washingtontimes.com
Milwaukee B. - Sacramento K. 98-85 MILWAUKEE -- Brandon Jennings (6'0''-PG-89) scored 19 points, Monta Ellis had 17 points and 11 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Sacramento Kings 98-85 on Wednesday night. Ersan Ilyasova added 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored a season-high 17 points in his first start of the season for Milwaukee (11-9), which has its best 20-game start since 2005-06. Tyreke Evans had 17 points in his return to Sacramento's lineup after missing three straight games - and five of six - with a sore left knee. John Salmons (6'7''-F-79, college: Miami, FL) added 16 points. The Kings were without center DeMarcus Cousins, suspended one game by the NBA earlier in the day striking Dallas' O.J. Mayo in the groin area in their road loss Monday night. The Bucks never trailed and used a 12-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take a 79-64 lead and put the game away. Both teams were short-handed. Besides Cousins, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, the Kings were without key reserve forward Marcus Thornton (personal reasons). The Bucks were missing their two starting forwards, Larry Sanders (illness) and Epke Udoh (left wrist sprain), and key reserves Mike Jr. Dunleavy (6'9''-G/F-80, college: Duke) (bruised left knee) and Beno Udrih (right ankle sprain). The offenses struggled as the Bucks shot 41 percent (39 for 96) from the field to Sacramento's 37 percent (32 for 86), and the Kings were just 3-of-19 (16 percent) on 3s. The missed shots led to a lot of rebounds and Milwaukee finished with a 60-50 edge. Drew Gooden finished with 10 boards in his first extended playing time (22 1/2 minutes) of the season. He was inactive much of the year before making his debut last Friday. Jason Thompson had a season-high 15 rebounds for Sacramento. The Bucks jumped to an early 20-10 lead and led 29-19 after the first quarter, as Ellis sank a half-court shot to beat the buzzer. Sacramento used a 10-0 run to tie it at 32. Two Bucks players picked up technical fouls with 2:04 left in the second quarter after exchanging words with referee Ken Mauer. Tobias Harris was whistled after arguing over a no-call following a layup attempt. Then, as Harris was getting taped up near the bench, Mauer whistled Gooden, who was sitting on the bench. The technical free throws made it 43-39, but Milwaukee scored the last six points of the half to lead by 10 at the break. Mbah a Moute had 13 in the half. Ellis added eight rebounds in his bid for his third career triple double. NOTES: Milwaukee started 12-8 in 2005-06 en route to a 40-42 season. . Dunleavy has missed four straight games, and Udrih has missed six straight. . The teams' last meeting came on Jan. 5, when the Kings came from a 21-point halftime deficit to beat Milwaukee 103-100 in Keith Smart's coaching debut. Courtesy of: http://www.sacbee.com
Utah Jazz - San Antonio Spurs 99-96 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Mo Williams (6'1''-PG-82, agency: Priority Sports, college: Alabama) ' 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Utah Jazz to a 99-96 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping the Spurs' five-game winning streak.Paul Millsap led Utah with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Al Jefferson scored 21 points and Gordon Hayward added 19. The Jazz trailed by eight with a little more than 4 minutes remaining but fought back. Williams' winning shot was his only 3 of the night and he finished with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field.Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each scored 22 points to lead the Spurs, who swept the Jazz out of the playoffs in the first round and had won 11 of the last 12 meetings. Danny Green's 19-footer gave the Spurs a 96-94 lead and Millsap tied it with 40 seconds left. Millsap's offensive rebound gave the Jazz the final shot. Williams made it and turned and ran toward the other end of the court only to be mobbed by his teammates. It was the biggest win of the season for Utah, which was coming off a road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.This one went back and forth.Patty Mills' 3-pointer and a driving layup by Tiago Splitter (6'11''-C/F-85, agency: Interperformances) put the Spurs ahead 80-75, and Parker's 3-pointer gave San Antonio a six-point lead midway through the fourth.They led by eight after Boris Diaw's 3 with a little more than 4 minutes remaining.The Jazz fought back as Jefferson hit a 16-footer and Randy Foye scored on a fastbreak layup. Jefferson's steal and jam tied it at 94 with 1:47 left.Green gave the Spurs a 96-94 lead and Millsap tied it on his 11-footer in the lane.Parker missed a 21-footer and Williams had his first chance to win it but his 25-footer missed. Millsap was there to grab the rebound with 8.3 seconds left.After the Jazz had to call time out because they couldn't inbound, this time they got it to Williams, who took several dribbles and let it fly..The Spurs trailed by nine entering the second half, a stark contrast to the first game the teams played Nov. 3 in San Antonio. In that game the Jazz trailed by 19 but outscored the Spurs 35-17 in the third to get even before losing by 10 at the end.On Wednesday, the Spurs opened the second half with a 20-11 run, as Parker's fastbreak layup tied it at 64 with 3:18 left in the quarter.The teams were tied at 71 entering the fourth.Both teams came in on a roll, with the Jazz having won three straight. The Spurs had won five straight, including a 134-126 overtime win Monday at Houston.The Spurs led by 10 points twice in the first quarter as Duncan started strong inside and Danny Green couldn't miss from outside.The Jazz fought back behind a pair of 3-pointers from Foye then got a spark from the energizing second unit. The highlight was a block from behind by Gordon Hayward as Gary Neal attempted to jam on the fast break.The Jazz went on a 14-7 run to open the second quarter and took the lead on Millsap's 19-footer with 6:29 left in the half. Jefferson's three-point play on a fastbreak gave Utah a seven point lead, and Millsap's layup capped a 7-0 run to put the Juzz up 53-44 at the break .Millsap made his first five shots and was 6 of 7 at halftime with 13 points.NOTES: The Jazz social media site proclaimed Wednesday "John Stockton Day" because of the number worn by the Jazz great. "It was fun watching him. If he was playing I'd just be staring at him, and Karl (Malone)," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. Stockton holds the Spurs' opponent record for most assists in a game, with 28 at Salt Lake City on Jan. 15, 1991. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said Stockton was one of the "toughest competitors I played against and with as a teammate." Jazz CEO Greg Miller tweeted that he had a 'nice visit with Stockton on this 12-12-12" and thanked him for all he's done. ... Jazz F Derrick Favors was back after missing the previous five games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He was averaging 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds and had a team-leading 32 blocks. He played (6 minutes in first half) and finished with six points and four rebounds. Courtesy of: knoxnews.com
Boston C. - Dallas M. 117-115 BOSTON - The Boston Celtics have a tendency to make things much harder on themselves than they should be. If ever there was a game that was indicative of that, it was Wednesday night's 117-115 double overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks. Paul Pierce led all scorers with 34 points which included him making five of his last six free throws in the final seconds of Boston's second overtime. Dallas had one last shot at tying up the game, but Darren Collison (6'0''-PG-87, college: UCLA) threw the ball away with 5.3 seconds to play in the second overtime, a fitting end to the night for a Dallas team that turned the ball over 28 times that resulted in 34 points for the Celtics. Collison then fouled Courtney Lee with 4.1 seconds to play. Lee went to the line and made both to secure the Celtics victory. O.J. Mayo led the Mavericks with 24 points which included an end-of-the-game buzzer beater that meant nothing other than another 3-pointer to pad his individual stats line. Rajon Rondo, who came about as close as you can to a triple-double, finished with 16 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds. So much of the chatter leading up to Wednesday's game against Dallas was centered around Celtics guard Jason Terry seeing his former team for the first time since leaving. But that wasn't the reunion of sorts that had the Celtics feeling good afterward. It was them re-introducing themselves to an old friend called winning streak, a friend they haven't seen much of this season. Bringing the two together was not easy as the Celtics made a slew of miscues in the fourth that led to the first of two overtime sessions. Boston led most of the night, but the Mavericks chipped away at Boston's lead and eventually tied the game at 92 on a driving lay-up by Collison with 2:20 to play and then took their first lead of the night on a 3-pointer from Derek Fisher, 95-94, with 1:47 to play in the fourth quarter. Boston regained the lead just 17 seconds later on a jumper by Pierce. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle came into Wednesday's game well aware that the Celtics were a better team than their slightly-above .500 record. "I like their team," Carlisle, a former Celtic, said prior to the game. "I like their veteran savvy. They have a real good mixture of different kinds of players. They're tough and physical and they're obviously well coached. They're a team that's going to get better as the year goes on." Boston (12-9) is three games over .500 for the first time this season after winning their second straight game -- something they had not done since wins on Nov. 23 and 25 against Oklahoma City and Orlando, respectively. The Celtics also snapped a four-game losing skid to the Mavericks. Getting off to a great start for the Celtics was Kevin Garnett, who made his first three field goals before finishing the night with 16 points and five rebounds. Boston pushed its lead back to double digits in the third quarter after a Brandon Bass put-back basket gave the Celtics a 63-52 lead. The first half belonged to Boston which led by as many as 10 points, only to see its lead cut down to 48-43 at the half. Courtesy of: www.csnne.com
Miami Heat - Golden St.W. 95-97 MIAMI -- Draymond Green (6'7''-F-90, agency: Interperformances, college: Michigan St.) made a layup with 0.9 seconds left to give the Golden State Warriors a 97-95 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Klay Thompson tied a season high with 27 points to lead the Warriors, who have won five straight. LeBron James (6'8''-SF-84) led Miami with 31 points as he reached the 20-point mark for the 25th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the NBA. Jarrett Jack dribbled the ball at the top of the key for the Warriors as the clock ticked down before finding Green open underneath the basket. Green caught the pass in mid-air and made the basket. James' jumper from the baseline banged off the rim giving Golden State the win as Miami lost for just the second time in 12 home games. David Lee scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Jack added 20 points off the bench for the Warriors. Golden State took a 77-74 lead into the fourth quarter after leading for most of the third. After hitting a 3 to tie the game at 87, James gave the Heat their first lead since early in the third with a turnaround 18-footer with 6:41 left for an 89-87 advantage. The teams played a one-possession game over the next four minutes before Lee knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 95 with 1:54 left. The score was still tied at 95 with under a minute remaining. Ray Allen had a chance to give the Heat a lead with 45 seconds left. Lee followed by missing a driving layup. Shane Battier's miss from the corner with 12 seconds left gave the Warriors an opportunity in the closing seconds. The Heat received a scare in the second quarter when Lee sent James to the floor with a flagrant foul sending James to the floor on his back. James popped up quickly, but spent the next couple of minutes stretching out his right shoulder before knocking down the free throw and hitting a shot on the ensuing possession for a 47-43 lead. Moments later, Dwyane Wade was poked in the eye by Thompson while trying to fight through a screen. With Wade's head down, Chris Bosh ran into Wade knocking him to a floor. After staying down on the floor, Wade eventually got to his feet and went to the locker room holding the back of his neck with 3:11 left in the half. Thompson helped the Warriors take a 53-52 lead into halftime by scoring 21 points including five 3-pointers. Thompson scored 14 points in the second quarter, including 11 in a four-minute span. Wade returned for the second half and opened the scoring with a dunk. Both teams got off to a good start offensively, but it was defensive efforts by both teams which sparked the first highlight of the game. After Stephen Curry picked off a pass by James, Wade returned the favor deflecting Curry's pass and ran toward the sideline saving the ball with an around-the-back pass to Mario Chalmers. Chalmers then found James, who tipped a pass to Wade for a layup and a 23-22 lead. NOTES: Thompson has made at least five 3-pointers in three of his past five games. ... Prior to the game, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said he believes Wade is the third-best shooting guard in NBA history behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. ... Curry had his career-best streak of eight consecutive games with at least 20 points snapped as he scored nine points. Courtesy of: http://abclocal.go.com
Charlotte B. - LA Clippers 94-100 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Chris Paul (6'0''-PG-85, college: Wake Forest) had 19 points and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Charlotte Bobcats 100-94 Wednesday night for their eighth straight win. Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes also scored 19 points for the Clippers, who maintained sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. The win streak is their longest since an eight-game run during the 1991-92 season. Byron Mullens had 19 points and eight rebounds and Kemba Walker chipped in with 17 points to lead the stumbling Bobcats, who have lost nine straight since starting the season 7-5. The Bobcats trailed 78-71 entering the fourth quarter and got as close as three before Barnes scored on a fast break dunk off an alley-oop pass from Jamal Crawford. Barnes followed up by knocking down a 3-pointer from the corner on the next possession to push the lead back to eight. Charlotte could never make another serious run at the lead, shooting just 32 percent from the field in the fourth quarter. Paul struggled from the field hitting just 5 of 13 shots, but had a big 3 in the fourth to essentially put the game away. Griffin had some magnificent dunks early on, including a baseline move to get by Bismack Biyombo before curling up on the other side of the rim and slamming it home hard. Griffin also did it on the defensive end. When Byron Mullens tried to dunk over Griffin, the Clippers' star deflected the ball and it got wedged between rim and the backboard resulting in a jump ball at midcourt. With his former coach at Kentucky, John Calipari, sitting courtside, rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looked sharp in the early going and finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Bobcats. Kidd-Gilchrist attacked the rim strong, but his awkward jump shot continues to be an issue that will need to be addressed. The Clippers took a 49-44 lead at the break with 34 points coming inside the paint and 10 of those off fast breaks. The Bobcats, meanwhile, didn't score at all in transition in the first half. Things began to get physical near the end of the first half. At one point Walker and Griffin went diving for a loose ball near midcourt. Both grabbed on to the ball and as Griffin tried to wrestle it away from the much smaller Walker, Charlotte's point guard got tossed on to his head. A short while later Mullens was involved in a collision near half court while diving to make a play at the end of the first half and was slow to get up. And then later in the third quarter Lamar Odom went down to the floor in a heap after falling for a pump fake by Brendan Haywood and had to leave the game. NOTES: North Carolina Tar Heels football coach Larry Fedora was attended the game. ... Walker came in averaging 22 points in his last five games. Courtesy of: http://www.sacbee.com
Philadelph.76 - Chicago B. 89-96 PHILADELPHIA - One of Tom Thibodeau's favorite sayings is you can find an excuse any night you look. It means, of course, that he doesn't accept them. So on a Wednesday night when the Bulls lost Kirk Hinrich to a left knee injury on top of already being without Derrick Rose (6'3''-G-88, college: Memphis) and Richard Hamilton, will was on full display rather than whining. Is now the time to mention the Bulls arrived at their local hotel rooms past 4 a.m. locally after Tuesday night's late tipoff? Bulls 96, 76ers 89. Rarely has such fortitude looked so matter-of-fact. "We're a no-excuse team," Joakim Noah said. "We play hard and are always prepared. That doesn't mean we're not tired. But we have good character." And characters, as Noah purposely egged on the notoriously tough 76ers' crowd en route to 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks over 44 minutes. Noah always enjoys playing the crowd villain. Just ask Cavaliers fans. But he admitted memories of this crowd cheering his gruesomely sprained ankle in Game 3 of last season's first-round playoff series served as major motivation. "I couldn't wait to come back here," Noah said. "When I went down last year and people were cheering, I felt that was real disrespectful. And I will use that as motivation every time I come into this building. And I'm going to (egg the crowd on) for the rest of my career every time I come here." Noah had help. Luol Deng bounced back from his tough outing Tuesday with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and shook off a hard fall late. "This goes back to what Luol does for our team - whatever we need," Thibodeau said. "And that's what makes him so special. We weren't rebounding well and he got in there and started fighting." Nate Robinson started for Hinrich and had 14 points and just two turnovers. Jimmy Butler hit a huge, fourth-quarter 3-pointer. Thibodeau closed with Marquis Teague over Robinson, and the rookie contributed solid defense and six fourth-quarter points, including two big free throws as the Bulls sank 24 of 26 overall. "We're a resilient group," Noah said. Hinrich suffered his latest injury at some point during Tuesday's game. Thibodeau said Hinrich didn't undergo an MRI and tested the knee pregame Wednesday in an attempt to play, both signs that the injury likely isn't serious. "He's day-to-day," Thibodeau said. Nevertheless, this marks the fifth separate nagging injury Hinrich has suffered since training camp began. For a player who endured an injury-plagued stint with the Hawks, this isn't a good sign, even if he has missed only 21/2 regular-season games. "He's not a big-minutes guy right now," Thibodeau said. "That's part of the league. You're going to get banged up. When one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up and get the job done." Mission accomplished Wednesday. Courtesy of: http://www.chicagotribune.com
Indiana P. - Cleveland C. 96-81 INDIANAPOLIS - Paul George (6'9''-G/F-90, college: Fresno St.) scored 27 points, and the Indiana Pacers overcame a 16-point deficit to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-81 on Wednesday night. David West had 18 points and nine rebounds and George Hill added 17 points for the Pacers, who snapped a two-game skid. Indiana, third in the NBA in scoring defense and No. 1 in opponent field-goal percentage coming in, held the Cavaliers to 23 points on 8-for-41 shooting in the second half. It was Cleveland's lowest-scoring half of the season. The Cavaliers couldn't build on Tuesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers. C.J. Miles scored 28 points for the second straight game, but Kyrie Irving was held to nine points on 4-for-12 shooting in his second game back after missing 11 straight with a broken finger. George is averaging 24.4 points and 7.6 rebounds his past five games. Perhaps the most excitement in the second half came when Cleveland's Tristan Thompson (6'8''-F-91, college: Texas) hit Indiana's Ben Hansbrough with an errant elbow early in the fourth quarter and big brother Tyler stepped in and angrily protected his younger brother. Thompson was issued a flagrant foul and Ben Hansbrough made one of two free throws to give the Pacers an 83-73 lead. The Pacers remained in control the rest of the way. It was all Cleveland early. The Cavaliers took a 54-38 lead on a jumper by Samardo Samuels with 3:39 left in the first half. Indiana closed the half with a 14-4 run to close the gap to 58-52. George hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 58-57 in the first two minutes of the second half, then Hill made a reverse layup and was fouled. His free throw gave Indiana a 60-58 lead. The 3-point play gave the Pacers their first lead since it was 2-0. A 3-pointer by Hill gave the Pacers a 73-66 lead and the Cavaliers called a timeout. A putback by West in the closing seconds of the third quarter gave Indiana an 80-70 lead heading to the fourth. Indiana held Cleveland to 4-for-23 shooting in the third quarter and outscored the Cavaliers 28-12 in the period. Hill had 10 points in the third quarter and George had nine. NOTEs: Miles scored 16 points in the first quarter to help the Cavaliers take a 29-25 lead. Miles shot 4 for 7 from the field in the first 12 minutes while his teammates were 4 for 14. ... Cleveland didn't have a turnover until 1:59 remained in the second quarter. ... Pacers G Lance Stephenson left the game in the third quarter after spraining his right ankle. He did not return. ... Tyler Zeller, brother of Indiana University star Cody Zeller, fouled out with eight points for the Cavs. ... Indiana C Roy Hibbert had three blocks to notch his 16th consecutive game with multiple swats. Courtesy of: www.heraldonline.com
Orlando M. - Atlanta H. 80-86 The momentum the Orlando Magic built on their West Coast road trip evaporated Wednesday night. The Atlanta Hawks brought the Magic back to earth by dominating most of the first quarter and by converting one turnover after another into easy points. And after the Magic fell to the Hawks 86-80 in front of 16,992 people, the smallest announced crowd to see a regular-season game at Amway Center, one of the team's veteran leaders said something has to change. "You have to compete to get energy in the building, to get your juices going," said shooting guard Arron Afflalo, who scored a team-high 16 points. "We have to do something, whether it's pick [it] up defensively maybe to get our legs going or something. "But we cannot afford to sleepwalk into the game. That falls a lot on the guys who start the game more so than anybody. The coaches can't do it for us, and obviously the guys coming off the bench can't do it. So, for the five guys that do start, we have to make some changes to something we do to get us more in an aggressive mindset." The Magic have reason to be upset at themselves. The Hawks jumped out to a 16-2 lead midway through the first quarter - the eighth time in 21 games this season an opponent has built a double-digit lead in the opening period. And the Hawks led 20-15 after the quarter - the 17th time this season an opponent outscored the Magic in the first period. "It's killing us," power forward Glen Davis said. The continued slow starts are leaving the Magic (8-13) exhausted at the ends of games. They expend so much energy to battle back that they often lack that extra gear late in games. How do they change things? "I don't know," said sixth man J.J. Redick. "I don't know. I don't know. Honestly, that's not something that I can control necessarily. I'm worried about how we finish the game, the [end of the] first quarter, second quarter, all that stuff." The Magic committed 16 turnovers, and the more athletic Hawks converted those miscues into 24 points. The game reminded Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn of his team's game against Atlanta on Nov. 19. That night, the Magic turned the ball over 19 times, resulting in 24 Hawks points. Wednesday's loss extended the Magic's regular-season losing streak to the Hawks to eight games. "We didn't want this crowd to be involved in the game and give them confidence early," said Hawks power forward Josh Smith. Atlanta (13-6) gave the crowd few opportunities to cheer, especially early. During the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, the Magic exploited matchup advantages over the Hawks. But the key advantages now belong to the Hawks, whose center, Al Horford, and Smith, are more dynamic and explosive than their Magic counterparts, Nik Vucevic and Davis. Horford scored 13 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Smith scored 16 points, collected 11 rebounds and blocked five shots. Davis, meanwhile, scored 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting. "I wasn't here today, point blank," Davis said. "I didn't show up today." Neither did most of the Magic. They made just 38 percent of their shots. "The guys that are starting the game need to change the way they play, which includes myself," said Afflalo, who had three turnovers. "The way we start the game has to just be with a lot more energy," Afflalo added later. "One of us next game will take it upon ourselves to make sure that happens. You can't predict the score or making shots, so it's hard to say we're going to make shots in the first quarter. But next game, we will play with more focus and passion in the first quarter." If that happens, the Magic can regain some of the momentum they lost Wednesday. Courtesy of: http://www.orlandosentinel.com
Toronto R. - Brooklyn N. 88-94 TORONTO -- Joe Johnson had 23 points Wednesday as the Brooklyn Nets handed the short-handed Toronto Raptors their sixth straight loss, 94-88 at Air Canada Centre. C.J. Watson chipped in with 16 points for the Nets (12-9), who snapped a season-high five-game losing streak, including a crushing 100-97 loss to the cross-town rival New York Knicks at home Tuesday. Ed Davis had a career-high 24 points with 12 rebounds and rookie centre Jonas Valanciunas (6'11''-C-92) added 15 points for Toronto (4-19), which was coming off a winless western road swing that saw the team's roster ravaged by injuries and a suspension. The Raptors have now lost 12 of their last 13 games. Toronto's infirmary includes Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry (right tricep), Linas Kleiza (sore right knee), Alan Anderson (sprained left foot) and Landry Fields (right elbow surgery). The Raptors announced during the game that Lowry is expected to be out 10 days, while Bargnani, who has a ligament tear in his right elbow and a strained right wrist, is out indefinitely. Toronto was also missing reserve forward Amir Johnson, who served his one-game suspension for throwing his mouthguard at official David Jones during Monday's loss in Portland. Johnson found his rhythm in the final quarter with seven points in the first four minutes. He hit a three, swished a fadeaway jumper and then made 1-of-2 free throws to make it 77-68 for Brooklyn. He then found Watson in the corner for a three to stretch the Nets' lead to 12. Boos rained down with five minutes left and fans headed for the exits as Toronto eased off their defence. Andray Blatche met little resistance when he drove in and made an easy finger roll layup to give the Nets a 86-71 advantage. Toronto crawled back to make it 90-86 with 17 seconds left to play, but Watson made both his free throws and John Lucas III missed a three from the corner to stall the late rally. Toronto came out aggressively in the third with Jose Calderon finding Davis for an easy layup to give the Raptors a 53-42 edge. But Brooklyn cut the lead to five with quick back-to-back threes by Deron Williams and Johnson, forcing Raptors head coach Dwane Casey to call time out. Johnson hit another three with just over two minutes left to tie the game 60-60 before Watson gave Brooklyn its first lead with another dagger from behind the arc. The Raptors opened a 33-24 cushion four minutes into the second when Lucas made an easy layup as Toronto capitalized on some sloppy ball handling by Brooklyn. The Nets had 10 turnovers to Toronto's three midway through the quarter. With 26 seconds left, Lucas hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe and Aaron Gray tipped in DeMar DeRozan's jumper to finish the half with Toronto up 45-37. Valanciunas and Davis combined for 17 points to give the Raptors an 20-15 lead with three minutes left in the opening quarter. Davis pushed the lead with a driving hook before Terrence Ross slammed it home off a turnover to make it 26-17 with a minute left. Davis finished the frame with 11 points. The Raptors' depleted roster forced forward Quincy Acy to be rushed from the team's developmental league in Bakersfield, Calif., only to land in Toronto an hour before tip-off. Notes: The Nets were missing starting centre Brook Lopez (sprained right foot), who did not travel with the team. ... Toronto will play 10 of its next 14 games at Air Canada Centre. ... the Raptors began the season with 15 of their first 22 games on the road -- second in the league for most away games this season (Denver is first). ... Toronto lost to Brooklyn 107-100 in its season opener, the first ever Nets game at the Barclay Center. ... The Raptors continues their three-game home stretch with a visit from Vince Carter and the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. ... Michael K. Williams, who played Omar Little from the hit HBO show "The Wire" sat courtside. Courtesy of: www.vancouversun.com
Phoenix Suns - Memphis G. 82-80 PHOENIX - Goran Dragic (6'3''-PG-86) made a short hook shot from the left baseline with 0.5 seconds remaining and the Phoenix Suns edged the Memphis Grizzlies 82-80 on Wednesday to snap a seven-game losing streak. Dragic had 12 points, and Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley scored 15 each for the Suns, who won for the first time since Nov. 27 at Cleveland. Rudy Gay scored a game-high 21 points with 11 rebounds and Zach Randolph added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season. Gay tied the game at 80-80 on a turnaround jumper from just to the right of the free-throw line with 46.8 seconds remaining. He had a chance to give the Grizzlies the lead with 12 seconds left, but his 17-foot jumper bounced off the rim, setting up Dragic's shot. A lob attempt off the inbound pass by the Grizzlies was broken up by a pair of Phoenix defenders as time expired. After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Suns took their first lead since the opening minutes on a layup by Dudley with 8:03 left in the third quarter before setting for a 63-all tie at the end of the period. The teams traded baskets to open the final quarter before the Suns took a 73-72 lead on a 15-footer by Jermaine O'Neal with 7:35 remaining. Phoenix stretched the lead to 80-76 on a hook shot by Marcin Gortat with 4:05 remaining, but missed a pair of shots, turned the ball over twice and did not score again until Dragic's decisive basket. NOTES: The Suns have won five games this season after trailing by double digits, all at home. ... Phoenix is 4-3 in games decided by three points or fewer. ... Luis Scola returned to the Phoenix starting lineup after coming off the bench in the team's past 11 games. ... Memphis has not won in Phoenix since Dec. 8, 2010. Courtesy of: www.idahostatesman.com
Magic Exercise 2017/18 Options On Gordon, Hezonja, Payton - 16 hours ago
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The Magic have exercised three of their four available team options for 2017/18, announcing today that Aaron Gordon (6'9''-PF-95, college: Arizona), Mario Hezonja (6'8''-G/F-95), and Elfrid Payton (6'3''-G-94, college: La-Lafayette) are now locked in for that season. Gordon's fourth-year option is worth $5.504MM, Hezonja's third-year option is worth $4.078MM, and Payton's fourth-year option is worth $3.332MM. C.J. Wilcox(6'5''-G-90, college: Washington) also has a team option for 2017/18... [read more]
The Magic have exercised three of their four available team options for 2017/18, announcing today that Aaron Gordon (6'9''-PF-95, college: Arizona), Mario Hezonja (6'8''-G/F-95), and Elfrid Payton (6'3''-G-94, college: La-Lafayette) are now locked in for that season. Gordon's fourth-year option is worth $5.504MM, Hezonja's third-year option is worth $4.078MM, and Payton's fourth-year option is worth $3.332MM. C.J. Wilcox (6'5''-G-90, college: Washington) also has a team option for 2017/18 available on his rookie contract, but he wasn't mentioned in the press release issued today by Orlando. That likely means that Wilcox's option will be declined, but the club has a few more days to officially make that call. October 31 is the deadline for teams to exercise '17/18 options on rookie contracts. Gordon and Payton are expected to have significant roles in the Magic's rotation this year after each player took a step forward in 2015/16. Gordon, averaging 23.9 minutes per contest, posted 9.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG, while Payton put up 10.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 29.4 minutes per contest. As for Hezonja, he should have the opportunity to increase his role as well, since Orlando isn't exactly loaded with shooters. In his rookie season, he shot 34.9% from three-point range in 79 games. With their fourth-year options now exercised, Gordon and Payton will be eligible for extensions in 2017 and restricted free agency in 2018. Hezonja, one year behind them, has one more team option for 2018/19, which the Magic will have to make a decision on next fall. Courtesy of: hoopsrumors.com
Phoenix Suns (NBA) cut 22-year old guard Archie Goodwin (196-90kg-94, college: Kentucky). Goodwin played there last season where in 57 NBA games he averaged 8.9ppg, 2.5rpg and 2.1apg. Three years ago he was drafted by Oklahoma City Thunder in first round (29th overall). Goodwin attended University of Kentucky until 2013 and it is his fourth season in pro basketball. Among other achievements his team won D-League Showcase Cup in 2015. Goodwin received also SEC All-Freshman Team award back... [read more]
Phoenix Suns (NBA) cut 22-year old guard Archie Goodwin (196-90kg-94, college: Kentucky). Goodwin played there last season where in 57 NBA games he averaged 8.9ppg, 2.5rpg and 2.1apg. Three years ago he was drafted by Oklahoma City Thunder in first round (29th overall). Goodwin attended University of Kentucky until 2013 and it is his fourth season in pro basketball. Among other achievements his team won D-League Showcase Cup in 2015. Goodwin received also SEC All-Freshman Team award back in 2013 at his college time. Goodwin has played also professionally in D-League (Northern Arizona Suns).
Philadelphia 76ers released 23-year old forward James Webb III (206-92kg-93, college: Boise State). Webb III has never been drafted by the NBA. He just graduated from Boise State and it is his first season as a pro. He was also voted All-MWC 1st Team in 2016 at his college time. Webb III's team made it to the MWC Tournament Semifinals in 2015. By Eurobasket Data Center (via @GoodmanESPN) Check also Complete Transfers List in NBA [read more]
Philadelphia 76ers released 23-year old forward James Webb III (206-92kg-93, college: Boise State). Webb III has never been drafted by the NBA. He just graduated from Boise State and it is his first season as a pro. He was also voted All-MWC 1st Team in 2016 at his college time. Webb III's team made it to the MWC Tournament Semifinals in 2015.
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