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Eastern Conference
Atlantic Div.
 1. Toronto R. 59-23 
 2. Boston C. 55-27 
 3. Phi.76ers 52-30 
 4. New York K. 29-53 
 5. Brooklyn N. 28-54 
Central Div.
 1. Cleveland C. 50-32 
 2. Indiana P. 48-33 
 3. Milwaukee B. 44-38 
 4. Detroit P. 39-43 
 5. Chicago B. 27-55 
Southeast Div.
 1. Miami Heat 44-38 
 2. Washington W. 43-39 
 3. Charlotte H. 36-46 
 4. Orlando M. 25-57 
 5. Atlanta H. 24-58 
Western Conference
Northwest Div.
 1. Portland TB 49-33 
 2. Oklah.City T. 48-34 
 3. Utah Jazz 48-34 
 4. Minnesota T. 47-35 
 5. Denver N. 46-36 
Pacific Div.
 1. Golden St.W. 58-24 
 2. LA Clippers 42-40 
 3. LA Lakers 35-47 
 4. Sacramento K. 27-55 
 5. Phoenix Suns 21-61 
Southwest Div.
 1. Houston R. 65-17 
 2. N.Orleans P. 47-34 
 3. San Antonio S. 47-35 
 4. Dallas M. 24-58 
 5. Memphis G. 22-60 
Full Standings
Stats Leaders
Points Per Game
  Houston R.
  Avg: 30.4
 1. Harden, Houston R.30.4 
 2. Davis, N.Orleans P.28.4 
 3. James, Clevelan.27.7 
 4. Antetokounmp., Milwauke.26.9 
 5. Durant, Golden S.26.5 
 6. Lillard, Portland.26.4 
 7. Curry, Golden S.26.4 
 8. Cousins, N.Orlean.25.2 
 9. Westbrook, Oklah.Ci.25.2 
 10. Booker, Phoenix .24.9 
Rebounds Per Game
  Avg: 16
 1. Drummond, Detro.16.0 
 2. Jordan, LA Clippers15.2 
 3. Cousins, N.Orlean.12.9 
 4. Howard, Charlott.12.5 
 5. Towns, Minnesot.12.4 
 6. Davis, N.Orleans P.11.2 
 7. Whiteside, Miami Heat11.1 
 8. Kanter, New Y.11.0 
 9. Capela, Houston R.11.0 
 10. Embiid, Phi.76ers10.9 
Assists Per Game
  Avg: 10.1
 1. Westbrook, Oklah.Ci.10.1 
 2. Wall, Washington W.10.0 
 3. James, Clevelan.9.1 
 4. Harden, Houston R.8.6 
 5. Rondo, N.Orleans P.8.5 
 6. Simmons, Phi.76ers8.2 
 7. Paul, Houston R.7.8 
 8. Green, Golden S.7.3 
 9. Ball, LA Lakers7.2 
 10. Lowry, Toronto R.7.0 
Steals Per Game
  Indiana P.
  Avg: 2.3
 1. Oladipo, Indiana P.2.3 
 2. Dunn, Chicago B.2.0 
 3. George, Oklah.Ci.2.0 
 4. Bledsoe, Milwaukee B.1.9 
 5. Butler, Minnesot.1.9 
 6. Harris, Denver N.1.8 
 7. Harden, Houston R.1.8 
 8. Simmons, Phi.76ers1.8 
 9. Westbrook, Oklah.Ci.1.8 
 10. Covington, Phi.7.1.7 
Blocks Per Game
 Anthony DAVIS
  N.Orleans P.
  Avg: 2.5
 1. Davis, N.Orleans P.2.5 
 2. Porzingis, New Y.2.4 
 3. Gobert, Utah Jazz2.3 
 4. Capela, Houston R.1.9 
 5. Embiid, Phi.76ers1.8 
 6. Turner, Indiana P.1.8 
 7. Whiteside, Miami Heat1.7 
 8. Drummond, Detro.1.7 
 9. Durant, Golden S.1.7 
 10. Cousins, N.Orlean.1.6 


Play-Off bracket1
Next Day Schedule

Day 5 (1/8 Finals)

Cleveland C 59% Apr.25 Indiana P.
Oklah.City T 54% Apr.25 Utah Jazz
Houston R. 54% Apr.25 Minn.T.
Toronto R. 68% Apr.25 Wash.W.
Boston C. 54% Apr.24 Milwaukee B
Phi.76ers 66% Apr.24 Miami Heat
Golden St.W 56% Apr.24 S.Antonio S
Ten games on Friday around the League - Jan 26, 2013

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Marc Gasol
Memphis G. - Brooklyn N. 101-77
Marc Gasol (7'1''-C-85, agency: Interperformances) had 20 points and nine rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies built a 30-point lead in the second half en route to a 101-77 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Gasol was 10 of 15 from the field, all of his points coming in the first half, as Memphis, which had seven players in double figures, won for the fourth time in the past five games. Mike Conley (6'1''-PG-87, college: Ohio St.) made six of seven shots, including 2 of 3 outside the arc, for 14 points, while Zach Randolph had 12 points and matched Gasol's nine rebounds. Rudy Gay, Jerryd Bayless and Tony Wroten scored 11 apiece, while Chris Johnson, on a 10-day contract with Memphis, had 10 points. Brook Lopez (7'0''-C/F-88, college: Stanford) led the Nets with 18 points, while Deron Williams scored 12, adding six assists. Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans scored 11 points each, with Evans grabbing 10 rebounds. Brooklyn's starting backcourt of Williams and Johnson both were 4 of 10 from the field, part of the Nets shooting 41 percent. Memphis' dominance on the inside was set early and continued through the game. The Grizzlies held a 62-40 advantage in the paint and outrebounded Brooklyn 45-37. Memphis had 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 27 second-chance points. Memphis played one of its best halves of the season in carrying a 67-44 lead into the break. Gasol had 20 points, while Randolph had scored 12 in the first two quarters. The 67 points were the most scored by the Grizzlies in a half this season. Memphis connected on 60 percent of its first-half shots as it worked the offense through Gasol early, and the Grizzlies center was 10 of 15 from the field in the first two quarters. The lead got to as many as 25 points before intermission. Lopez had 15 for the Nets, connecting on 7 of 12 shots. The Nets, who have had trouble handling the ball recently, committed only five turnovers in the first half, but shot 43 percent from the field, not near enough to keep pace with the Grizzlies. Memphis extended the lead to 30 in the early stages of the second half, but the Nets had a 13-3 run to get their deficit to 79-59. Memphis could not maintain its shooting touch from the first half, and turnovers were hurting as Memphis had four miscues in the period. Memphis held an 85-67 lead after three quarters, despite being outscored 23-18 in the period. The Nets actually could have cut into the lead at the start of the fourth as Memphis continued to commit turnovers, missed its first two shots and was scoreless through almost 3 minutes. Problem was, Brooklyn also was scoreless during the span, missing its first six shots to start the fourth. Courtesy of:

Chicago B. - Golden St.W. 103-87
One natural reaction after tasting some success is to settle, let the guard down a bit. Not in the world of Tom Thibodeau's Bulls. After a Friday morning in which Luol Deng and Joakim Noah talked eloquently about what making the All-Star Game meant to them, Thibodeau lauded that accomplishment and immediately switched the focus back to the task at hand. Willing players followed suit, stepping on the gas in a dominant first quarter and handily beating a solid Warriors team 103-87 before a crowd of 21,756 at the United Center. "Our readiness to play was very, very good," Thibodeau said. "It was important for us to get the lead. They're really good. They missed some shots they got good looks at. But our ball movement in the first half in particular was terrific. The rebounding was great." Noah, Carlos Boozer (6'10''-F/C-80, college: Duke) and Jimmy Butler - starting again for the injured Deng - posted double-doubles, Butler's first in the NBA. Kirk Hinrich (6'4''-G-81, college: Kansas) scored a season-high 25 points and tied his career-high with six 3-pointers. Nate Robinson, torching the team he played for last season, provided 22 points off the bench. All in all, there was plenty to like by an all-around effort that featured a 26-point lead midway through the second quarter. "Jo was terrific - offense, defense, rebounding, energy," Thibodeau said. "Carlos, I thought his rebounding and his presence inside - his cutting and screening - led to fouls. It got us established inside." The Warriors rank fourth in the league in rebounding but the Bulls throttled them on the boards 56-37. The Warriors didn't grab their first rebound in the second quarter until 4 minutes, 28 seconds remained. The Bulls also enjoyed a season-high 30 second-chance points against the Warriors' six. Noah, Butler and Boozer combined for 45 points and 41 rebounds. "They outworked us across the board," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "They defend. They compete every night. They trust one another. They play with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. And they have a great coach who does an outstanding job year in and year out. It's incredible they're doing this without Derrick Rose." The Bulls led by 18 following their dominant first quarter and then sank 9 of 10 shots to open the second. The Warriors showed some life with a 12-0 run but Hinrich sank a 3-pointer and then found Butler for a fast-break dunk as the Bulls scored a season-high 63 points in the first half. Butler continues to shine in place of Deng. "He's a pro," Thibodeau said. "He's a good player. He's hard-playing. I think he can do a lot better too. I love his toughness. He competes on every play. He's not afraid. Guys like that continue to get better." The Warriors' small lineup prompted Thibodeau to play Hinrich and Robinson together, a look Hinrich said they haven't even practiced. "Everything's just sort of clicking for us right now," Hinrich said. "There's a good calmness yet readiness about us at the same time. We kind of have that edge." Courtesy of:

Cleveland C. - Milwaukee B. 113-108
Kyrie Irving (6'3''-G-92, college: Duke) and a strong bench effort helped Cleveland rally from a 20-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Bucks, 113-108, on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Irving, named to the Eastern Conference all-star team Thursday, finished with 35 points and hit a clutch jumper late in the game to help the Cavaliers (12-32) secure their victory. The Bucks (22-19) failed for the third time this season to go five games over .500 and had a three-game winning streak snapped. Ersan Ilyasova (6'10''-F-87) led the Bucks with 30 points and Monta Ellis added 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Former Bucks guard Shaun Livingston (6'7''-G-85) led a huge Cleveland bench effort with 12 points and newcomer Marreese Speights added 10 points. Brandon Jennings was just 5 of 19 from the field and finished with 14 points, all in the second half, and 12 assists. The Bucks led 79-59 in the third quarter but the Cavaliers rallied within 90-81 after three periods and kept charging in the fourth quarter. Cleveland's bench group of Speights, Livingston, Daniel Gibson, Wayne Ellington and Luke Walton started the final quarter and led the Cavaliers to a 32-18 advantage in the period. "In the third quarter the starters cut it (the Bucks' lead) down, and the bench came in and gave us the energy we didn't have in the first couple quarters," Irving said. "They did a hell of a job maintaining the lead once we got it and getting stops when we needed them. "The energy in the whole arena was there. It was fun to watch." Milwaukee hit 14 of 28 three-pointers and built its big lead with hot perimeter shooting. Courtesy of:

Miami Heat - Detroit P. 110-88
Dwyane Wade (6'4''-G-82, college: Marquette) scored 29 points and sparked a pivotal run to help the Miami Heat earn their fourth victory in a row Friday by beating the Detroit Pistons 110-88. The Heat got even for a loss at Detroit on Dec. 28. They improved to 18-3 at home, while the Pistons fell to 4-16 on the road. After falling behind by nine points, the Heat outscored Detroit 26-4 during a seven-minute stretch in the second quarter to take a 60-47 lead. Wade scored 15 points during the spurt. LeBron James (6'8''-SF-84) had 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Heat, who shot 56 percent. Over the past two seasons, they're 34-2 when shooting at least 50 percent. Miami, last in the NBA in rebounds, also won the battle of the boards, 36-35. Greg Monroe (6'11''-C-90, college: Georgetown) scored 31 points for the Pistons, who never got close in the second half. One of the night's biggest cheers came when a 50-year-old computer technician from McHenry, Ill., made a half-court shot to win $75,000 and a hug from James. As part of a contest sponsored by James' foundation, Michael Drysch sank a one-handed hook shot from midcourt between periods. James watched from the bench, and when the shot swished in, he happily sprinted at Drysch and embraced him, and both tumbled to the court. Wade's most acrobatic basket was a fallaway jumper when he was fouled. He took a tumble and slid across the floor on his backside as the ball swished through the net. On three successive possessions late in the first half, James and Wade took turns feeding each other. First, James threw an alley-oop pass to Wade for an easy layup. The Heat then forced a turnover to start a fast break that ended with Wade's alley-oop pass to James for a dunk. Next came another Pistons turnover, and Wade flipped an underhand pass across the lane to James for another dunk and a 60-47 lead. Wade's final points came on a dunk to make it 99-79. He was then replaced by Chris Andersen, making his first appearance in an NBA game since playing with Denver last March. The veteran forward-center signed a 10-day deal with the Heat on Sunday. Andersen, who played the final 3 1/2 minutes, had two points and two rebounds. Courtesy of:

Atlanta H. - Boston C. 123-111 2OT
Can it get any worse? Can it? The Celtics looked as if they were determined to snap a five-game losing streak, jumping out to a stunning 27-point first-half lead against the Atlanta Hawks. Slowly but surely, the Celtics' battle with complacency and their lack of focus returned with a vengeance, setting up the club for its worst loss of the season. The Hawks rallied to take the lead, and then rallied again from a 10-point deficit with four minutes left in regulation to steal a 123-111 double-overtime win at Philips Arena, handing the Celtics their sixth straight defeat in maddening fashion. Boston simply fell apart in the second overtime as Atlanta scored the first 10 points with the Celtics feeling the effects of a back-to-back. The Celtics were putrid offensively for most of the second half and when they began scoring consistently, they couldn't stop the Hawks. Kyle Korver (6'7''-F/G-81, college: Creighton) drained eight 3-pointers in the third and fourth quarters to get Atlanta back into the game. He led the Hawks with 27 points. Alfred Horford (6'10''-F/C-86, college: Florida), despite playing several minutes with five fouls, was instrumental in the second half and both overtimes and finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Kevin Garnett (6'11''-F/C-76) led the Celtics with 24 points but fouled out in the second overtime. Paul Pierce's month-long slump continued as he finished with 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting. He forced a jumper against the bigger Josh Smith that was partially blocked to end the first overtime. A day after battling the Knicks to the final minutes, the Celtics were dealt a perhaps a season-altering defeat. The Celtics finished with 21 turnovers, 15 in the second half and both overtimes as the Hawks caught on to Boston's simplistic offense. Several times, Rajon Rondo attempted that pick-and-roll alley-oop to Garnett and the Hawks blocked the pass. It was seemingly the only offense the Celtics had down the stretch with Pierce unable to hit shots and Rondo also going cold. Rondo (16 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) collected his second consecutive triple-double and fifth of the season, but it hardly mattered. This could serve as the most painful loss of a disheartening season so far for the Celtics. Courtesy of:

Washington W. - Minnesota T. 114-101
John Wall (6'4''-PG-90, college: Kentucky) had 14 points and five assists in his first start of the season, and the no-longer-last Washington Wizards finally hit double digits in wins Friday night with a 114-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wall, who came off the bench for the first seven games after his return from a knee injury, had assists on the Wizards' first two baskets in a game in which Washington never trailed. He wowed the crowd with a nice spin move for a layup late in the first half and went 6 for 10 from the field in 21 minutes, his playing time still limited after missing 33 games with a stress injury to his left knee cap. The Wizards are 5-3 since Wall's return after going 5-28 without him. They've won four straight at home and no longer sit at the bottom of the NBA, their 10-31 record a half-game better than the Charlotte Bobcats' 10-32. Jordan Crawford (6'4''-G-88, college: Xavier) added 19 points, and Bradley Beal had 16 points and a career-high four blocks for the Wizards, who shot a season-high 58 percent. Beal had the best sequence for anyone not named Wall: The rookie chased down Luke Ridnour to block a fast-break layup, crashed into the front row, got up and hit a jumper at the other end to make the score 70-51 in the third. Derrick Williams (6'8''-F-91, college: Arizona) had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost six straight on the road and eight of nine overall. Ricky Rubio, who, like Wall, has been playing limited minutes after returning from a knee injury, had four points, six assists, five rebounds and five turnovers, a day after apologizing to acting coach Terry Porter for an outburst over the team's loss earlier this week to the Brooklyn Nets. Rubio was upset that he sat out the final minutes of the Timberwolves' 91-83 loss Wednesday night. With head coach Rick Adelman away tending to his sick wife, Porter and Rubio met Thursday to clear the air. "I don't think it ever was really an issue," Porter said. "He was frustrated like any player would be who wants to be playing the fourth quarter." Rubio had been on a strict limit of 28 minutes per game since returning last month from reconstructive left knee surgery, but he played 31 minutes Friday night for the depleted Timberwolves, who are missing Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved - all with injuries. The Wolves never made anything resembling a run to get back in the game after the first quarter. The Wizards led by four after the first, by 18 at halftime and by 18 after three. Courtesy of:

LA Lakers - Utah Jazz 102-84
Kobe Bryant (6'6''-SG-78) finished one assist shy of his career high and one rebound short of his second triple-double of the season, and the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Utah Jazz 102-84 Friday. Bryant finished with 14 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. It was his first 14-assist game since Nov. 14, 2010, in which he picked up 25-14-9 against the Phoenix Suns. His career high is 15 dimes, which he recorded Feb. 12, 2002 against the Washington Wizards. He picked up his 14th assist Friday with 1:26 to play on an and-one to Dwight Howard (6'11''-C-85). Bryant was pulled from the game at the ensuing dead ball. The Jazz were kept at a marginal but reasonable distance throughout Friday's game but never led. Utah didn't get any closer than four points at any point in the game's final 40 minutes. A Randy Foye three brought the game to 67-63 with 1:24 left in the third quarter, but Bryant picked up two of his assists on consecutive possessions-on a Metta World Peace 3-pointer and a Jodie Meeks dunk-to distance the Jazz to two possessions for the balance of the game. Bryant was one of five Lakers in double figures Friday. Howard finished with 17 points and 13 boards. Courtesy of:

Sacramento K. - Oklah.City T. 95-105
Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas) had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Kevin Martin (6'7''-G/F-83, college: W.Carolina) scored 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a slow start to overwhelm the Sacramento Kings 105-95 on Friday night. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and a season-high 14 assists to anchor a 28-10 run to start the third quarter. The spurt helped Oklahoma City go ahead by 25 points and improve to 3-2 on its season-long six-game road trip, which ends Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers The Thunder have won eight of 10 to climb to the top of the NBA standings. Tyreke Evans (6'6''-PG-89, college: Memphis) scored 16 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points and eight rebounds on a difficult night shooting for the Kings, who have lost three straight and four of five. Oklahoma City outshot Sacramento 48 to 41 percent. Sacramento's pending purchase agreement to a group that wants to relocate the team to Seattle still didn't stop an announced crowd of 15,022 from showing up. In a strange twist, both teams have ties to the Pacific Northwest city. The Maloof family has a signed agreement to sell the Kings to a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who intend to move the franchise to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name next season. The NBA Board of Governors must still approve the sale. The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. Ironically, Thunder owner Clay Bennett is the head of the league's relocation committee now. Mayor Kevin Johnson, who sat courtside, is mounting a counteroffer to try to block the move. Fans still keep coming to games in Sacramento, though outside of a few "Save Our Kings" signs and others supporting Johnson's efforts, the focus remained watching the defending Western Conference champions. With a rowdier home crowd than in recent weeks since the sale surfaced, Sacramento stunned the Thunder at the start. Evans made a 3-pointer and Cousins followed with a dunk to cap a 23-9 run to open the game. Once Oklahoma City found its stride, the Kings couldn't keep pace. Durant, Westbrook and Martin - who played for the Kings from 2004-10 - eventually mowed down Sacramento on both ends of the floor. The trio helped the Thunder shoot 52 percent from the floor in the first half, with Westbrook taking an outlet pass from Durant for an uncontested dunk in the final seconds to go ahead 58-51 at the break. About the loudest noise the Kings made in the second half came from the sideline. Kings point Isaiah Thomas was called for a technical foul for barking out something from the bench in the third quarter. Both teams were given a warning to stop back-and-forth chatter at each other and the officials. The Thunder's leading men quieted the Kings with near-flawless basketball. Serge Ibaka shut down Cousins, Westbrook orchestrated the offense and Durant often finished in spectacular fashion during a 28-10 spurt to start the third quarter that gave Oklahoma City an 86-61 lead and put the game away. Kings rookie Thomas Robinson was called for a technical foul for slapping away Hasheem Thabeet's hand in frustration in the fourth quarter. Courtesy of:

Dallas M. - San Antonio S. 107-113
The Dallas Mavericks lost to the San Antonio Spurs 113-107. Rodrigue Beaubois (6'1''-PG-88, agency: Court Side) led the Mavs with 19, Vince Carter (6'6''-G/F-77, college: N.Carolina) had 17 while Tony Parker (6'2''-PG-82) and DeJuan Blair (6'7''-F/C-89, college: Pittsburgh) combined for 45 on 65% shooting. Nothing signifies the new era of Mavs basketball more so than how much first quarters matter. For years, you could set your watch to it-whatever happened in the first two or three quarters, it'd be close in the end. In 2010-2011, the year they won the championship, if you discount the games Dirk was out for injury, the Mavs lost exactly two games by double-digits-an 11-point loss to Denver in the 5th game of the season, and a 28-pointer to LA in the 8th to last game of the season. These days, if the Mavs go down by 10 points in the first, they have a pretty good chance of losing by ten points. Tonight, they should have, and would have, if there hadn't been a weird 5 point sequence with 4 seconds left. The good news is, the Mavs have only lost to the Spurs and Thunder since January 10th, and there's no real shame in that. The bad news is, those are exactly the teams the Mavs will play should they succeed in making the playoffs-and it will be hard to take even that prospect seriously until the Mavs beat a couple of good teams. I don't think they can't, or won't, they just haven't much. Today was a decent game for Dirk, who cooled down in the second half, and that's good news. Chris Kaman found himself at the far end of the bench, which was surprising only because no one else was playing defense either. So did Shawn Marion, who was 1-5 and finished the night -28. On the other side of the coin, Roddy Rodrigue Beaubois had a great night, 6-8, 5 free throws, whatever, but also threw the ball away pretty hard and often. I almost spit out a drink I wasn't drinking when, the Mavericks having narrowed a huge deficit to 13 with 6:31 to go, Roddy threw it to Mike James for the worst-looking jumper in history, followed by Roddy throwing the ball directly to the Spurs on the next trip down. A special note here, for Jae Crowder, who was horrible. Or, should I say, he LOOKED horrible, going 1-6, taking some horrible momentum killing shots, sending people to the free throw line without fouling hard enough for them to miss the shot, failing to box out---but he ended up +28 in 26 minutes? I know +/- is a worthless stat, but that seems mathematically impossible. And finally, this game was not without its Bennett Salvatore (the ref) comedy. At one point, Jae Crowder went to the line, made a free throw, then apparently the refs decided Bernard James had been fouled, so he stepped in and took two free throws. Later in the game, the refs called an offensive interference on Vince Carter, then a tech on Carlisle for arguing, then rescinded the offensive interference but KEPT the tech, so a 12-point Spurs lead with 4 minutes left turned into a 10-point lead, turned into a 13-point lead, turned into an 11-point lead. Good times. The game wasn't really ever as close as it looks like from the final score. That was courtesy of Aron Baynes, in his first NBA minutes. After Jae Crowder hit his first shot of the game, dragging the Spurs lead down to 6, Baynes threw It in to Darren Collison, making it a 4-point game. But there were two seconds left, so the Spurs won anyway. The only really interesting part of this game was that Carlisle finally played with his lineups. Sarge got 10 minutes, Kaman only 12. Shawn Marion played 20, Roddy 16. We'll see where all that goes. Courtesy of:

N.Orleans H. - Houston R. 82-100
The New Orleans Hornets couldn't make jump shots, struggled with their transition defense and were unable to make a decisive push against the Houston Rockets like they did two weeks ago. Instead of successfully bouncing back from Wednesday's defeat to San Antonio Spurs, the Hornets experienced another setback with Friday's 100-82 loss to the Rockets in front of 15,302 at the New Orleans Arena. The Hornets beat the Rockets 88-79 on Jan. 9 at the Arena, allowing just 10 points in the fourth quarter. But the Hornets didn't give that kind of effort Friday. The Rockets controlled the pace, shooting guard James Harden (6'5''-SG-89, college: Arizona St.) scored 30 points and forward Patrick Patterson (6'9''-F-89, college: Kentucky) finished with 18 points on eight- of- 11 shooting. The Rockets (23-22) outscored the Hornets 20-9 on fastbreak points, and Houston made 11 3-pointers. ''We didn't have the kind of focus that is necessary to play against an NBA team, especially one that has beaten you pretty good,'' Hornets Coach Monty Williams said. ''The last time we played them and won, I thought we did some extraordinary things to get back in the game. ''But (tonight) we gave up a lot of points in transition not being able to guard the ball. There were breakdowns and that's on me. I have to get the team ready to play and try to find combinations that are going to go out there and play hard and focus on the game plan.That's a coach's problem.'' The Hornets (14-29) had averaged 105.8 points and shot 49.9 percent from the field in the last three games. But on a night when the Hornets' flashed their new blue, red and gold Pelicans logo on the video screen and some in the crowd booed, the Rockets held the Hornets to under 30 points in each quarter, including just 17 in the fourth. Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon (6'4''-G-88, college: Indiana) led the Hornets with 20 points, but he was held to four points in the second half. Gordon missed all four attempts from the field in the second half but made six- of- eight free throws. Point guard Greivis Vasquez had averaged 16.6 and 10.4 points in his last 14 games, but he took a step back Friday after scoring a season-low two points with six assists. Williams benched him for the entire fourth quarter, saying he's got to play better. Vasquez missed six of seven shots and turned the ball over twice. ''They came out and punched us a couple of times and we didn't punch back,'' Vasquez said. ''They got us on our heels and beat us pretty good. We just got to find our niche again.'' From the Hornets' starters to the backups, they overshot layups and missed open jumpers.The Hornets experienced problems immediately after misfiring on 17 of their first 23 attempts. The Hornets trailed by as much as 19 after they were held to 65 points after three quarters. The Hornets experienced problems immediately after misfiring on 17 of their first 23 attempts. The Hornets trailed by as much as 19 after they were held to 65 points after three quarters. ''We struggled and really didn't stick to the game plan,'' said backup forward Ryan Anderson (6'10''-F-88, college: California). ''They really did a good job of scoring off their fastbreaks and creating big gaps in our defense.'' The Hornets dropped to 1-18 when they allow an opponent to score at least 100 points. It was their fourth consecutive game allowing at least 100 points. Their lone victory during the stretch came last Monday when they beat the Sacramento Kings 114-105. ''These teams that we've been playing against lately they are not just slow it down type offenses,'' Gordon said. ''We know that haven't been playing well defensively. Sometimes it gives and take and this team was hitting 3-pointers. We're a help defensive team and we don't teams to penetrate into our paint. We just got to be more consistent.'' Harden was able to make shots after coming off screens and the Hornets' help defense was repeatedly late after he penetrated into the lane. He emerged after the Rockets opened the third quarter on a 16-6 run. During the spurt, Harden scored 10 of his 12 points in the quarter. The Hornets' couldn't establish a rhythm offensively nor they could they challenge the Rockets' shooters enough to force a high percentage of missed shots. The Rockets shot better than 47 percent for the entire game. Despite coming in losing eight of their previous 10 games, it was the Rockets' third victory in four games against the Hornets. ''This game was probably our best defensive game all year as far as four quarters really locking in,'' Harden said. ''It's just a good feeling when you play well when you haven't been playing well on both ends of the floor.'' Other than a 10-0 spurt that cut Rockets' lead to 38-36 with 3:03 remaining, the Hornets' struggling most of the first half. Near the end of the first quarter, the Hornets made only two shots from the field in the final 5:04 that forced them to trail by nine. The Hornets couldn't prevent the same problem in the second quarter, when they went scoreless in the final 1:06 that led to the Rockets' taking a 48-40 halftime lead. ''I think it's really just going back to drawing board tomorrow at practice and refocused,'' said Hornets forward Jason Smith, who scored four points. ''We just didn't have it tonight.'' Courtesy of:   

Mitchell scores 33, Jazz rout Thunder 113-96 - 5 minutes ago
Shutting down the Utah Jazz offense is proving easier said than done for the Oklahoma City Thunder. For a second straight game, a late second-quarter surge by Utah carried over into the second half and it allowed the Jazz to pull away for a 113-96 victory Monday night. The Jazz used a 20-3 run spanning the end of the second quarter and the start of the third to break open the game. Utah takes a 3-1 series lead back to Oklahoma City. Game 5 in the best-of-seven playoff is Wednesday night   [read more]

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Alvin Gentry
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