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  • Pacers bringing back Stephenson after waiving Stuckey
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    The Indiana Pacers waived veteran guard Rodney Stuckey on Wednesday, clearing the way for Lance Stephenson to return to the team.

    • Stephenson, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound free agent swingman, reached an agreement with the Pacers on a three-year, $12 million deal, league sources told ESPN.

      Stephenson, 26, spent the first four years of his career with the Pacers before he left for the Charlotte Hornets via free agency in the 2014 offseason. He also had stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves.

      Stephenson owns career averages of 8.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 352 NBA games (189 starts).

      Stuckey, 30, has been plagued by injuries all season. His departure comes a day after the Pacers announced he would miss four to six weeks with a strained left patellar tendon suffered Sunday.

      Stuckey appeared in 39 games off the bench for Indiana this season while averaging 7.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

      In his three seasons with the Pacers, the 6-5, 205-pound Stuckey recorded averages of 10.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over 168 appearances.

      "We want to thank Rodney for his commitment to our franchise in his three years with the Pacers," Indiana president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement. "He was a positive influence not only to our team but also in the community. We wish him nothing but the best in the future."

  • Bulls recall G Payne
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    The Chicago Bulls recalled guard Cameron Payne from the Windy City Bulls of the NBA Development League on Wednesday.

    • In Windy City's 101-92 win over the Erie BayHawks on Tuesday night, Payne finished with 20 points, nine assists and five steals in 39 minutes.

      Payne, 22, has appeared in 30 games combined this season with Chicago and the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is averaging 5.4 points and 14 minutes in 10 games with the Bulls.

      The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Payne was a first-round draft pick (14th overall) of the Thunder in 2015.

  • East-leading Celtics host burgeoning Bucks
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics take the TD Garden floor for their game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night as the first-place team in the Eastern Conference for the first time in six years.

    • After their win Monday night moved them to within percentage points of the first-place Cleveland Cavaliers, the defending NBA champions lost (badly) at San Antonio to give the Celtics the conference lead for the first time since March 22, 2011.

      "I want this to be a special season for our team," Avery Bradley said Tuesday. "We have a special group of guys, and I feel like we deserve it."

      The Celtics have won the first four contests of a six-game homestand that concludes Friday night against the Orlando Magic. They have won 14 of their last 15 home games, and their 48 wins match last year's total, with eight games left.

      They have a head-to-head meeting with the Cavaliers at TD Garden next Wednesday -- Cleveland holding a 2-1 lead in the season series.

      Said coach Brad Stevens: "I still think we can play a lot better and that's where my focus is, and I think we have to keep it there."

      And they also know the Cavaliers may well just be saving it for the games that "really" count.

      "They've been struggling, for whatever reason, but it's still an NBA championship-caliber team," Boston's Isaiah Thomas said. "They're the defending champions, so it goes through them until someone eliminates them.

      "I don't think you can be too worried about the things that they're struggling with right now. They're a really good team. Sooner or later they'll probably figure it out."

      The hard-charging Bucks, fighting to get one of the final Eastern playoff spots, reeled off their 12th win in the last 15 games by cruising to a 118-108 victory over the Hornets in Charlotte on Tuesday night.

      The win left Milwaukee tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the fifth spot in the conference, a game ahead of the Indiana Pacers and two up on the Miami Heat.

      Tony Snell (career-high 26 points) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (20) combined for 46 points on 18-of-27 shooting, 5 of 9 from 3-point range, in Tuesday night's win. The Bucks were 14-for-30 from behind the arc.

      "I thought the guys came in with the right mindset to be aggressive on the road, knowing what was at stake," coach Jason Kidd said. "It carried over from shoot-around and yesterday's practice. I thought the focus was at a very high level. I thought the ball movement got us going early, and I thought the guys shared the ball, and it was a team win."

      As far as the race goes, Kidd said before the game, "This is the fun part of the year; they call it scoreboard watching. This is an exciting part of the year for different teams because they're jockeying for seedings and there's a lot of basketball to be played."

      Thomas scored 37 points and dished out eight assists in the Celtics' 112-108 win at Milwaukee on Jan. 28, and the teams meet again in Boston to close the season on April 12.

  • NBA roundup: Whiteside's tip-in lifts Heat past Pistons
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Hassan Whiteside scored on a tip-in just before the buzzer, giving the Miami Heat a 97-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

    • Whiteside scored after a wild scramble during which the Heat missed two attempts on their final possession. He finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. Goran Dragic scored a game-high 28 points for the Heat. Miami scored the final five points after giving away a nine-point lead.

      Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's 25 points led the Pistons, who have lost eight of their last nine.

      Warriors 113, Rockets 106

      HOUSTON -- Stephen Curry scored a game-high 32 points and Draymond Green did a little of everything to help Golden State beat Houston.

      Curry drilled a 3-pointer with 1:46 left to rebuild a double-digit lead for the Warriors, who stretched their winning streak to eight games. Green finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Klay Thompson added 25 points.

      Houston's James Harden posted his 20th triple-double, producing 24 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. But he was just 5 of 20 from the field, including 1 of 9 on 3-pointers.

      Timberwolves 115, Pacers 114

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Ricky Rubio sank three free throws with 3.4 seconds left to lift Minnesota past Indiana. The Pacers' Monta Ellis missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer.

      Karl-Anthony Towns delivered a team-high 37 points for the Timberwolves. Rubio finished with 21 points and Gorgui Dieng added 19.

      Paul George had 37 points for the Pacers.

      76ers 106, Nets 101

      NEW YORK -- Dario Saric scored 23 points, and Philadelphia outlasted Brooklyn.

      Saric led the 76ers in scoring for the 17th time as the 76ers beat the Nets for the third time this season in a game that featured 21 lead changes and 12 ties. Robert Covington added 21 points and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 17 for the Sixers, who had nine available players due to injuries.

      Brook Lopez led the Nets with 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

      Hawks 95, Suns 91

      ATLANTA -- Dennis Schroder scored 27 points and helped Atlanta recover from blowing an 18-point lead against Phoenix.

      The Hawks snapped a seven-game losing streak. Atlanta got a double-double from Ersan Ilyasova, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Taurean Price scored 15 points and Dwight Howard had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

      Phoenix was led by TJ Warren's 24 points and eight rebounds.

      Bucks 118, Hornets 108

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Milwaukee bounced back after a 15-point home loss to Chicago on Sunday with an emphatic victory over Charlotte.

      The Bucks shot 72.5 percent in the first half in rolling to a 22-point lead and then pushed the margin to 26 in the second half. Milwaukee finished at 62.2 percent. Tony Snell led the way with 26 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 20 points.

      Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 26 points.

      Wizards 119, Lakers 108

      LOS ANGELES -- John Wall scored 34 points and handed out 14 assists, and Washington used a fourth-quarter rally to defeat Los Angeles.

      Otto Porter Jr. and Bradley Beal added 16 points apiece for the Wizards, who clinched the Southeast Division with the win. Kelly Oubre Jr. chipped in 14 points.

      D'Angelo Russell scored 20 of his 28 points in the first half for the Lakers, who lost to the Wizards for the fifth straight time on their home court. Jordan Clarkson finished with 22 points and Tyler Ennis had 11 for Los Angeles.

      Trail Blazers 122, Nuggets 113

      PORTLAND, Ore. -- CJ McCollum scored 39 points and Jusuf Nurkic delivered a career-high 33 points and added 16 rebounds as Portland posted a victory over Denver.

      Damian Lillard contributed 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who recorded their 12th win in the last 15 outings.

      Jameer Nelson scored 23 points for the Nuggets, who fell a game behind Portland in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Nikola Jokic collected 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets.

  • NBA notebook: Pacers' Stuckey, Jefferson out with injuries
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey has a left patellar tendon strain and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

    • In addition, center Al Jefferson will miss at least two weeks with a sprained left ankle. Both players sustained their injuries in Sunday's win over Philadelphia.

      Glenn Robinson III remains out with a left calf strain and will be re-evaluated late next week.

      Stuckey is averaging 7.2 points in 32 games this season, and Jefferson is averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 66 games. Robinson is averaging 6.1 points in 69 games.

      The injuries could end the season for all three, depending on whether the Pacers make the playoffs and how far they advance.

      --Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson could be shut down for the season due to his left knee injury, coach Stan Van Gundy said.

      Jackson isn't expected to play in Tuesday's pivotal game against the Miami Heat at a time when Detroit trails eighth-place Miami by 1 1/2 games for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

      Jackson has played in just 52 games this season while averaging 14.5 points and 5.2 assists.

      --Suspended New York Knicks center Joakim Noah admitted to using an over-the-counter supplement and said the decision "backfired."

      Noah was suspended 20 games for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy. The NBA said he tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 when it announced his suspension last week.

      "This was a tough moment, but I'm going to learn from it," Noah told reporters. "I tried to take a supplement to help me with everything I've gone through. I've gone through a lot of injuries, and I tried to take something to help me and it backfired."

      Noah averaged just 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season in the first campaign of a four-year, $72 million contract.

      -- Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will miss Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks due to an ankle injury.

      Booker became a household name when he scored 70 points in a loss to the Boston Celtics last Friday.

      "We're about 70 points shorthanded," coach Earl Watson cracked.

      Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap (knee) will sit out for the sixth consecutive game. Atlanta's Kent Bazemore (knee) and Thabo Sefolosha (groin) are also sidelined.

  • Suns' Booker out with ankle injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will miss Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks due to an ankle injury.

    • Coach Earl Watson divulged the news when he met with reporters prior to the game.

      Booker became a household name when he scored 70 points in a loss to the Boston Celtics last Friday.

      "We're about 70 points shorthanded," Watson cracked.

      Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap (knee) will sit out for the sixth consecutive game. Atlanta's Kent Bazemore (knee) and Thabo Sefolosha (groin) are also sidelined.

  • Stuckey, Jefferson among injured Pacers
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey has a left patellar tendon strain and is expected to miss four to six weeks, the Pacers announced Tuesday.

    • In addition, center Al Jefferson will miss at least two weeks with a sprained left ankle. Both players sustained their injuries in Sunday's win over Philadelphia.

      Glenn Robinson III remains out with a left calf strain and will be re-evaluated late next week.

      Stuckey is averaging 7.2 points in 32 games this season, and Jefferson is averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 66 games. Robinson is averaging 6.1 points in 69 games.

      The injuries could end the season for all three, depending on whether the Pacers make the playoffs and how far they advance.

      Indiana began Tuesday tied for fifth place with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference. However, the Pacers are just 2 1/2 games ahead of the ninth-place Chicago Bulls with nine games left.

  • Pistons might shut down G Jackson
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson could be shut down for the season due to his left knee injury, coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters.

    • Jackson isn't expected to play in Tuesday's pivotal game against the Miami Heat at a time when Detroit trails eighth-place Miami by 1 1/2 games for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. He also sat out Monday's 109-95 loss to the New York Knicks.

      "We've been thinking about this, actually for a long time," Van Gundy said about shutting down Jackson. "He's probably been playing at 80 percent. When you get into this stretch of games in March, where we're playing at, the fatigue is just making it worse."

      Jackson has played in just 52 games this season while averaging 14.5 points and 5.2 assists.

      He missed the beginning of the season after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma injection during training game. His play has never reached the level of last season when he averaged a career-high 18.8 points per game.

      Van Gundy attributes the drop-off to the knee issue.

      "It wasn't really fair to him -- we were running him out there, putting pressure on him and he's seeing things he should be able to do and he just can't do them," Van Gundy said. "He's not feeling pain, but he just can't make the plays he wants to make. And we're trying to put him out there."

      The Pistons have dropped seven of their last eight games.

  • Knicks' Noah admits to taking over-the-counter drug
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Suspended New York Knicks center Joakim Noah admitted to using an over-the-counter supplement on Tuesday and said the decision "backfired."

    • Noah was suspended 20 games for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy. The NBA said he tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 when it announced his suspension last week.

      "This was a tough moment, but I'm going to learn from it," Noah told reporters. "I tried to take a supplement to help me with everything I've gone through. I've gone through a lot of injuries, and I tried to take something to help me and it backfired."

      Noah had dealt with hamstring and knee injuries this season. He said he was looking for something that would help him heal and recover from his various ailments.

      "I wanted to do something to help myself, help my body and like I said it backfired on me," Noah said. "I tried to take the right measures when I was taking the supplements and it wasn't enough."

      Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are a non-steroidal bodybuilding supplement that contain properties similar to anabolic substances. Noah said he is aware of the protocols where NBA players are warned about outside supplements.

      "So I know it didn't come from a bad place," said Noah, who has been sidelined since early February due to his knee and returned to practice Tuesday.

      However, Noah said he feels a 20-games penalty was overly severe.

      "It is what it is and I've got to bounce back," Noah said.

      Noah said he apologized to teammates, coach Jeff Hornacek and the organization.

      "You can't do anything about it now. We're just glad to see him back on the court today, doing some things," Hornacek said. "We'll miss him the rest of the year and the beginning of next year. But he'll be ready to go next year."

      Noah averaged just 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season in the first campaign of a four-year, $72 million contract.

  • Hawks' Millsap (knee) out at least three more games
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Atlanta Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap will miss at least three more games due to tightness in his left knee, the team announced Tuesday night.

    • Millsap already has sat out five consecutive games due to the issue. He was diagnosed with synovitis in the knee when he visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday in Pensacola, Fla.

      Millsap, who averages 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, will be re-evaluated after sitting out the three games.

      The Hawks have struggled without Millsap, losing seven consecutive games entering a Tuesday game against the Phoenix Suns.

      Swingman Kent Bazemore (knee) will miss his fifth straight game, and forward Thabo Sefolosha (groin) will sit out for the second game in a row.

      "At this point, it doesn't matter who's out on the floor," Atlanta center Dwight Howard said. "The guys who step on the floor have to get the job done."

  • NBA roundup: Spurs knock Cavs into 2nd place
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points before leaving to a standing ovation with 10:32 to play as the San Antonio Spurs clobbered the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday.

    • The loss dropped the Cavaliers a half-game behind idle Boston for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland's 74 points were a season low.

      Cleveland's LeBron James took a blow to the back of his neck in the final minute of the third quarter after a collision under the basket with the Spurs' David Lee. He slumped to the floor near midcourt and stayed there for several minutes before walking to the bench on his own. With the Cavaliers trailing 81-58 entering the fourth quarter, James -- who had 17 points, eight assists and eight rebounds -- did not see the court again.

      San Antonio, which has won five straight games, pulled back to within two games of idle Golden State in the race for the best record in the NBA. The Spurs and Warriors play in San Antonio on Wednesday.

      Thunder 92, Mavericks 91

      DALLAS -- Russell Westbrook racked his 37th triple-double with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, and he finished off a 14-0 game-ending run with an 18-foot jumper to lift Oklahoma City past Dallas.

      The Thunder trailed by as many as 14 in the fourth, but after the Mavericks went up 91-78, they wouldn't score again.

      Westbrook's final shot from just inside the top of the key connected with 7.1 seconds left. Harrison Barnes missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Mavericks.

      Knicks 109, Pistons 95

      NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis came through for New York with 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Carmelo Anthony, who missed the previous two games with a sore knee, had 21 points, and Derrick Rose added 27 points.

      The Pistons have lost four straight and seven of their last eight. The loss dropped the Pistons 1 1/2 games behind the Heat for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

      Marcus Morris led the Pistons with 20 points.

      Raptors 131, Magic 112

      TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points to lead Toronto to its sixth straight victory.

      Cory Joseph added a double-double for the Raptors with 15 points and a career-best 13 assists.

      Elfrid Payton led Orlando with 22 points and nine assists.

      Kings 91, Grizzlies 90

      SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Darren Collison scored 23 points and made two free throws with 5.7 seconds left, and Sacramento edged Memphis for its second win in two days in the final seconds.

      Memphis guard Mike Conley missed on a drive to the hoop with 14 seconds left, and Collison rebounded, drove the length of the court and drew a foul. His two free throws gave the Kings their first winning streak since February.

      Sacramento was coming off a 98-97 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers that came courtesy a 22-3 run over the final 5:23 of the contest.

      Jazz 108, Pelicans 100

      SALT LAKE CITY -- Rudy Gobert scored 20 points, collected 19 rebounds and blocked five shots to lead Utah past New Orleans.

      Rodney Hood also scored 20 points while Joe Ingles added 19 and George Hill tacked on 17. That trio combined to make a dozen 3-pointers. Utah swept the season series 3-0 after dominating from the perimeter for four quarters.

      Anthony Davis scored 36 points, collected 17 rebounds and had three blocks to lead New Orleans. Jrue Holiday added 19 points. The Pelicans lost for only the third time in nine games, but they fell 4 1/2 games back of the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, who are tied for the final Western Conference playoff position.

  • Jeanie Buss seizes control of Lakers
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    The Buss family's fight for control of the Los Angeles Lakers is officially over after the two brothers of Jeanie Buss agreed in court that she will serve as controlling owner and on the team's board of directors as long as the family owns the franchise.

    • Jeanie Buss and brothers Jim and Johnny on Monday morning asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to issue an order to that effect, according to the Los Angeles Times.

      "The message is clear here: Do not underestimate Jeanie Buss," her attorney, Adam Streisand, told the newspaper. "There is not going to be a palace coup. Not now. Not ever."

      Jim Buss previously attempted a takeover attempt over his sister, costing him a spot as a co-trustee for the four trusts through which the Buss family own 66 percent of the team.

      According to the Times, Jim Buss resigned as co-trustee Thursday as part of a requirement by Jeanie Buss to resolve the dispute. Her younger sister, Janie, replaced Jim Buss, joining Jeanie and Johnny Buss as co-trustees.

      The three-paragraph stipulation requires the brothers to "take all actions reasonably available to them, including voting the Trust's shares" to ensure Jeanie Buss is elected each year as controlling owner and a director, the newspaper reported. Janie Buss signed a separate document agreeing to be bound by the stipulation.

      "Now with the Lakers having the ability to focus on the basketball court and not on the legal court, I think all Laker fans can breathe a sigh of relief," Streisand said.

      The sibling feud erupted last month when the brothers called an annual shareholders meeting, three days after Jeanie Buss overhauled the front office when she hired Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations and removed Jim Buss as executive vice president of basketball operations. In addition, Jeanie Buss fired general manager Mitch Kupchak, who was later replaced by Rob Pelinka.

  • Thunder look to regain momentum in Dallas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    DALLAS -- After seemingly finding their stride lately, the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped their last two outings against marquee opponents badly.

    • The Rockets were the latest to deliver a beat-down, easily racing to a 137-125 victory over the Thunder on Sunday in Houston.

      The Golden State Warriors administered a 16-point whipping on March 20 in Oklahoma City to snap the Thunder's five-game winning streak.

      Oklahoma City arrives in Dallas on Monday needing to regain a measure of momentum with the playoffs less than three weeks away.

      The Thunder (41-31) lost their last visit to Dallas earlier this month by 15 points. Defeats such as that one and the one Sunday at Houston are a concern.

      "We cannot play like that on the road," Thunder center Enes Kanter said. "We just have to do a better job defensively, because we know we have enough talent here to score the ball, and right now the most important thing is defense and just lock in on defense."

      Houston shot 63.3 percent, hit 20 3-pointers and rolled to a 20-point lead by halftime. That offensive display was more than enough to offset another triple-double by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook.

      "They hit a lot of shots," Westbrook said. "They got hot and especially with a team like that, they get hot and it can be trouble. I think there's some things that we can do so hopefully we can look at that and see what we can kind of change."

      The Thunder star had game highs of 39 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, his 36th triple-double of the season. Only Oscar Robertson had more in a single season, posting 41 in 1961-62.

      However, the Thunder saw an 11-game winning streak end when Westbrook records a triple-double.

      "I just play, man," Westbrook said. "I go out and play every night and play at a high level like I do every single night and try to help us win. It just didn't work out that way (Sunday), so I have to get ready for (Monday's) game."

      While the Thunder continue to angle for playoff position in the Western Conference, the Mavericks (31-41) are likely looking at the lottery. Dallas trails Denver (35-38) and Portland (35-38) -- tied for the eighth spot -- by 3 1/2 games with 10 games left in the regular season.

      The rest of the season for the Mavs appears to be focused on player development. For instance, coach Rick Carlisle moved Seth Curry to starting point guard and has brought rookie Yogi Ferrell off the bench the last two games.

      "I don't really look at it as if I'm starting or coming off the bench," Ferrell said. "My mindset is going to be the same -- just trying to bring energy on the defensive end and offensively, just get in the paint and find guys."

      Curry had 11 points, two assists and one steal in Saturday's 94-86 loss to Toronto, Dallas' fifth setback in the last eight games. Ferrell recorded 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and one steal in 18 minutes.

      Harrison Barnes tallied a game-high 23 points to go along with seven rebounds and a team-high three steals. It was his 36th game with at least 20 points after tallying just 19 such efforts in his first four seasons combined with Golden State.

      Dallas is also one defeat away from securing its first losing season since 1999-2000. The run of non-losing seasons beginning in 2000-01 coincided with Mark Cuban's first full season as owner.

  • Pelicans' Cousins ruled out vs. Nuggets
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    DENVER -- The New Orleans Pelicans will be without half of their twin-tower frontcourt against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, as DeMarcus Cousins was ruled out with a right ankle injury.

    • Cousins hurt his ankle Friday during New Orleans' 117-107 loss to the Houston Rockets and was still sore by the Sunday morning shootaround.

      "He doesn't feel comfortable enough to go out there," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "There's no way we're going to stick him out there and risk further injury for one game. We'll sit him out and see what happens tomorrow."

      Cousins, who was traded from Sacramento last month, appeared to be meshing better with Anthony Davis in recent games. The two big men combined to score at least 60 points in their previous two games.

      The Pelicans were five games behind eighth-place Denver heading into Sunday's contest.

  • NBA roundup: Kings beat Clippers on Cauley-Stein's basket
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- Willie Cauley-Stein scored on a putback with 1.8 seconds remaining, allowing the Sacramento Kings to stun the Los Angeles Clippers 98-97 at Staples Center on Sunday.

    • Darren Collison scored 19 points to lead the Kings, who trailed by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter. Kings rookie guard Buddy Hield, who hit two clutch 3-pointers in the rally, and forward Anthony Tolliver each had 15 points.

      DeAndre Jordan collected 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, while Chris Paul had 17 points and nine assists.

      The loss prevented the Clippers from pulling into a tie with the idle Utah Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

      Celtics 112, Heat 108

      BOSTON -- Boston held off a late Miami charge and moved into a virtual tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with a victory over the Heat.

      The win moved Boston to just four percentage points behind the idle Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed in the conference. The teams meet April 5 in Boston.

      Isaiah Thomas, the league's leading fourth-quarter scorer, tallied eight points in the final 4:58 after the Celtics, who rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit, blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead and trailed by two with 4:13 remaining.

      Pacers 107, 76ers 94

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored 21 points to lead seven Pacers in double figures as Indiana beat Philadelphia at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

      Myles Turner contributed 17 points and a team-high 16 rebounds. Also in double figures for the Pacers were Jeff Teague (16 points) and Al Jefferson (14). C.J. Miles, Monta Ellis and Aaron Brooks each scored 10 points.

      Jefferson suffered a leg injury with 9:43 left in the fourth quarter. He was taken to the locker room in a wheelchair.

      Indiana snapped a two-game losing streak and moved into a three-way tie with Atlanta and Milwaukee for the No. 5 spot in Eastern Conference.

      Hornets 120, Suns 106

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker had 31 points and nine assists to lead Charlotte.

      The Hornets pounced on the Suns quickly, racing to leads of 17-1, 22-3 and 30-7 before eventually leading 38-18 after one quarter. The Hornets went on to lead by as many as 25 in what was their second wire-to-wire victory of the season.

      Charlotte has won four of its last five and continues to hang around in the Eastern Conference playoff race with nine games remaining.

      Nets 107, Hawks 92

      ATLANTA -- Veterans Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez combined for 42 points to help Brooklyn outlast short-handed and struggling Atlanta, handing it a seventh straight loss.

      Lopez had 23 points and seven rounds and Lin scored 19 points, his most since getting a season-high 24 on March 14. Lin added eight assists, two steals and four rebounds for the Nets.

      Brooklyn has won three of its last four, improved to 8-8 in March and broke a five-game losing streak in Atlanta.

      Rockets 137, Thunder 125

      HOUSTON -- Lou Williams paced a quartet of 20-point scorers for the Rockets in their win. Williams finished with 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting, hitting 7 of 8 3-pointers to help carry the Rockets to their third win in four meetings with the Thunder this season.

      Aid came in the form of guards James Harden (22 points, 12 assists) and Eric Gordon (24 points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting), and forward Trevor Ariza, who made 9 of 11 shots while also chipping in 24 points. Houston shot a robust 63.3 percent from the floor.

      Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook recorded his league-leading 36th triple-double. He finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.

      Bulls 109, Bucks 94

      MILWAUKEE -- Nikola Mirotic hit six 3-pointers and scored 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting for the Bulls.

      Jimmy Butler scored 20 points while adding 14 of the Bulls' 33 assists. Robin Lopez and Rajon Rondo each scored 18 points for Chicago, with the latter adding nine rebounds and nine assists.

      Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 22 points.

      Pelicans 115, Nuggets 90

      DENVER -- Anthony Davis scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in only 28 minutes to lead New Orleans to a victory over Denver.

      Jrue Holiday and Jordan Crawford each scored 13 points, and the bench contributed 49 as the Pelicans earned their sixth win in eight games. New Orleans is now four games behind the Nuggets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

      The Pelicans won without DeMarcus Cousins, who sat out due to an ankle injury. Cousins got hurt Friday during New Orleans' 117-107 loss to the Houston Rockets and was still sore at the Sunday morning shootaround.

      Warriors 106, Grizzlies 94

      OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry contributed two 3-pointers to a 14-5 fourth-quarter run that enabled Golden State to pull away from Memphis en route to a victory.

      Curry finished with 21 points and Klay Thompson a game-high 31 for the Warriors, who extended the league's longest active winning streak to seven games while squaring the season series 2-2 with the Grizzlies.

      Mike Conley had 29 points and a team-high six assists for Memphis, which lost ground in its pursuit of the fifth and sixth playoff spots in the West.

      Trail Blazers 97, Lakers 81

      LOS ANGELES -- Damian Lillard led the way with 22 points, and Portland cruised past Los Angeles at Staples Center.

      Allen Crabbe added 18 points and CJ McCollum contributed 13 as the Trail Blazers beat the Lakers for the 12th consecutive time. Portland has won seven in a row over Los Angeles at Staples. The win allowed the Trail Blazers to tie the Denver Nuggets for eighth place in the Western Conference race.

      D'Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 22 points.

  • NBA roundup: Walker, Hornets too hot for Suns
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker had 31 points and nine assists, and the Charlotte Hornets rolled to a 120-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon at the Spectrum Center.

    • The Hornets pounced on the Suns quickly, racing to leads of 17-1, 22-3 and 30-7 before eventually leading 38-18 after one quarter. The Hornets went on to lead by as many as 25 in what was their second wire-to-wire victory of the season.

      Charlotte has won four of its last five and continues to hang around in the Eastern Conference playoff race with nine games remaining.

      Nets 107, Hawks 92

      ATLANTA -- Veterans Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez combined for 42 points to help Brooklyn outlast short-handed and struggling Atlanta, handing it a seventh straight loss.

      Lopez had 23 points and seven rounds and Lin scored 19 points, his most since getting a season-high 24 on March 14. Lin added eight assists, two steals and four rebounds for the Nets.

      Brooklyn has won three of its last four, improved to 8-8 in March and broke a five-game losing streak in Atlanta.

  • Grizzlies recall G Baldwin, C Davis from Iowa
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    The Memphis Grizzlies recalled guard Wade Baldwin IV and center Deyonta Davis from the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League on Sunday.

    • Baldwin, 20, appeared in 33 games (22 starts) for the Energy this season and averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 28.2 minutes per contest.

      The 6-foot-4, 202-pound Baldwin has been in 24 games (one start) for the Grizzlies during his rookie season, averaging 3.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He was selected by Memphis in the first round (17th overall) of the 2016 NBA Draft following his sophomore season at Vanderbilt.

      Davis, 20, appeared in 11 games (10 starts) for the Energy and averaged 10.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.36 blocks in 27.9 minutes.

      The 6-11, 237-pound Davis has come off the bench in all 30 of his appearances for the Grizzlies during his rookie season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 6.4 minutes. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the second round (31st overall) in 2016 following his freshman season at Michigan State, and his rights were then traded to the Grizzlies on draft night.

  • Cavaliers sent C Sanders back to Canton
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    The Cleveland Cavaliers assigned center Larry Sanders to the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League on Sunday as he continues to work his way back into shape.

    • Sanders, 28, was out of the NBA for more than two years before signing with the Cavs on March 13.

      The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Sanders has appeared in two games for Cleveland in limited action and one contest with Canton.

  • NBA roundup: Clippers earn sixth straight playoff berth
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers are heading to the playoffs for the sixth season in a row. Still, they need to improve their game if they expect to make a deep run, guard Jamal Crawford says.

    • Crawford came off the bench to deliver 17 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and the Clippers rolled past the Utah Jazz 108-95 on Saturday at Staples Center.

      Blake Griffin contributed 15 points and six rebounds for the Clippers (44-30), who clinched a playoff berth with the win and pulled within a half-game of the Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

      Chris Paul scored 14 points, J.J. Redick added 12 and Austin Rivers and Marreese Speights had 11 apiece for Los Angeles. DeAndre Jordan grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds to go with seven points.

      Wizards 127, Cavaliers 115

      CLEVELAND -- John Wall erupted for 37 points and Washington tightened the race atop the Eastern Conference considerably with a victory over Cleveland.

      The Wizards, third in the East, now trail Boston by two games and the Cavs by 2 1/2 for first place. Also, the Cavs' lead over Boston is now just a half-game.

      Wall scored 18 points in the first quarter on 8-of-8 shooting. Cleveland never recovered. Bradley Beal added 27 points for the Wizards, who are now 19-7 when all five starters score in double figures.

      LeBron James shook off the eye injury suffered Friday night to score 24 points, grab 11 rebounds, and dish out eight assists. James needed seven assists to pass Maurice Cheeks (7,392) for 12th place in NBA history, which he reached with his first assist in the fourth quarter. He also now has a career-high 37 double-doubles.

      Spurs 106, Knicks 98

      SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol collected double-doubles as San Antonio dispatched New York as the AT&T Center.

      The Spurs won their fourth straight game but had to work harder for this one than they wanted to, especially after forging a 20-point lead in the second quarter.

      New York did little in the first half and trailed by 18 points at intermission before rushing back into the game by outscoring San Antonio 31-17 in the third quarter. The Spurs hit only eight of their 27 shots in the period.

      Raptors 94, Mavericks 86

      DALLAS -- Toronto bolted out to a 13-2 lead and never looked back in taking out Dallas at American Airlines Center.

      The Raptors clinched a playoff spot with their 44th victory of the season, which was also their fifth win in a row as they head home to begin an important string of four games at Air Canada Centre.

      DeMar DeRozan, coming off consecutive 40-point games, needed only more of a mortal night to get past Dallas for the second time this month. DeRozan and forward Serge Ibaka each scored 18 points to lead the Raptors. DeRozan was 8 of 17 from the floor with six assists.

      Trail Blazers 112, Timberwolves 100

      PORTLAND, Ore. -- CJ McCollum bombed in 32 points as Portland downed Minnesota at Moda Center.

      Damian Lillard contributed 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter for the Trail Blazers, who won for the 10th time in their last 13 outings.

      Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points and Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio added 16 apiece for the Timberwolves, who lost their fifth straight game.

      McCollum enjoyed his best shooting game of the season, knocking down 11 of 13 shots from the field -- including 4 of 5 3-point attempts -- and was 4 of 4 from the free-throw line.

  • NBA notebook: Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    New York Knicks center Joakim Noah was suspended 20 games for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy, the league announced Saturday.

    • Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is banned under the NBA's current collective bargaining agreement

      "Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended without pay for 20 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 ... Noah's' suspension will begin with the first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play," the NBA's statement said.

      Noah, 32, has not played since Feb. 4 and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Feb. 27 to remove a loose body. His suspension would carry into the 2017-18 season.

      Noah would not have been penalized under the league's new CBA agreement that is set to begin next season, according to ESPN.

      The National Basketball Players Association later announced that neither Noah nor the union would appeal the suspension.

      Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million free agent contract he signed last July after playing nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, who drafted him ninth overall in 2007.

      The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Noah is averaging 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in 46 games (all starts) this season. For his career, he owns averages of 9.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.

      --The Brooklyn Nets signed guard Archie Goodwin to a second 10-day contract.

      Goodwin, 22, was originally signed by the Nets on March 15 and appeared in four games with averages of 9.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 13.4 minutes per contest while shooting .650 (13 of 20) from the field and scoring in double figures three times.

      In 157 games in four NBA seasons with Brooklyn, New Orleans and Phoenix, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Goodwin owns averages of 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 14.4 minutes.

      --The Cleveland Cavaliers recalled guard Kay Felder from the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League.

      Felder has appeared in 11 games for the Charge this season, averaging 29.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 36.0 minutes per game. In 37 games for the Cavs this season, Felder averaged 4.0 points in 9.5 minutes per game.

  • G Felder recalled by Cavaliers
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    The Cleveland Cavaliers recalled guard Kay Felder from the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League on Saturday.

    • Felder has appeared in 11 games for the Charge this season, averaging 29.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 36.0 minutes per game.

      In 37 games for the Cavs this season, Felder averaged 4.0 points in 9.5 minutes per game.

  • Nets sign G Goodwin to second 10-day contract
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    The Brooklyn Nets signed guard Archie Goodwin to a second 10-day contract on Saturday.

    • Goodwin, 22, was originally signed by the Nets on March 15 and appeared in four games with averages of 9.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 13.4 minutes per contest while shooting .650 (13 of 20) from the field and scoring in double figures three times.

      In 157 games in four NBA seasons with Brooklyn, New Orleans and Phoenix, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Goodwin owns averages of 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 14.4 minutes.

      Goodwin was selected with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to Phoenix via Golden State on draft night. He spent one year at the University of Kentucky, earning SEC All-Freshman team honors.

  • Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games for banned supplement
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    New York Knicks center Joakim Noah was suspended 20 games for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy, the league announced Saturday.

    • Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is banned under the NBA's current collective bargaining agreement

      "Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended without pay for 20 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 ... Noah's' suspension will begin with the first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play," the NBA's statement said.

      Noah, 32, has not played since Feb. 4 and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Feb. 27 to remove a loose body. His suspension would carry into the 2017-18 season.

      Noah would not have been penalized under the league's new CBA agreement that is set to begin next season, according to ESPN.

      The National Basketball Players Association later announced that neither Noah nor the union would appeal the suspension.

      "We believe that this isolated occurrence was a regrettable mistake," the NBPA said in a statement. "Joakim has offered his deepest apologies for this infraction."

      The union said Noah "did not intentionally or knowingly" violate the CBA and that he was "completely forthcoming and cooperate" throughout the investigation.

      Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million free agent contract he signed last July after playing nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, who drafted him ninth overall in 2007.

      The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Noah is averaging 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in 46 games (all starts) this season. For his career, he owns averages of 9.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.

  • Cavs' James suffers corneal abrasion
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Cleveland star LeBron James suffered a corneal abrasion of his right eye during the second half of the Cavaliers' 112-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.

    • As a result of the injury, it is uncertain whether he will play in Saturday's game against Washington Wizards.

      James suffered the injury when he was fouled by the Hornets' Jeremy Lamb while driving for a basket with 31.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

      James immediately covered his face and sat on the floor for a few moments before signaling for a timeout and heading to the bench.

      Cavaliers' trainer Steve Spiro looked at James' eye, but he returned to the game and made the free throw that resulted from Lamb's foul on the play.

      James finished the game and scored 10 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter.

      After the game, James said his vision was blurry in his right eye, and the Hornets' team eye specialist examined him.

      Cavaliers forward Kevin Love suffered a corneal abrasion during the 2014-15 season and he missed one game.

  • NBA roundup: Booker scores 70, but Suns lose
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    BOSTON -- Devin Booker erupted for an NBA season-high 70 points, the most points ever scored in a game against the Boston Celtics, but it wasn't nearly enough for his Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

    • Isaiah Thomas accumulated 34 points and seven assists, and the Celtics scored the game's first six points and never looked back en route to a 130-120 victory.

      The undermanned Suns lost their seventh in a row, but it wasn't because of Booker, who got the TD Garden crowd on his side as he ran wild in the closing minutes -- scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter.

      Booker, who also had eight rebounds and six assists, scored the most points ever in either of the Celtics' two home buildings. His free throw with 45.2 seconds left broke Elgin Baylor's 1959 record of 64 points against Boston. Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors had the previous season high in the league with 60.

      Cavaliers 112, Hornets 105

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- LeBron James narrowly missed a triple-double with 32 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and the Cavaliers completed a season sweep of Charlotte.

      Kyrie Irving added 26 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who had lost six of their previous 10 games.

      The Hornets had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost vital ground in their quest to grab an Eastern Conference playoff berth. Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 28 points.

      Nuggets 125, Pacers 117

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Nikola Jokic had 30 points and 17 rebounds and Wilson Chandler added 24 points to lead, the Nuggets, which withstood a Pacers' rally.

      The Nuggets led by 23 points with eight minutes left, but the Pacers got the margin down to 113-108 with Paul George made a 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining. But Jokic answered with a 3-pointer.

      George led the Pacers with 27 points. The Nuggets have won nine of their last 13 games.

      Magic 115, Pistons 87

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Elfrid Payton had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists -- his fourth triple-double of the month - to lead the Magic, who have won three of their last four games.

      The Pistons have lost six of their last seven, including five by at least 10 points, and have faded from the playoff race.

      All Magic starters reached double figures before the third period ended. None played in the fourth. Reserve Jon Leuer led the Pistons with 16 points.

      Wizards 129. Nets 108

      WASHINGTON -- John Wall scored 22 points and Bradley Beal had 19 as the Wizards concluded a four-game season sweep of the Nets.

      Brandon Jennings had 18 points and nine assists off the bench for the Wizards, who shot 50.5 percent from the field, made 21 of 22 free throws and led by as many as 28 points.

      The loss snapped Brooklyn's first two-game winning streak of the season. Justin Hamilton scored 20 points for the Nets.

      Bucks 100, Hawks 97

      MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points as the Bucks continued their charge up the Eastern Conference standings.

      Antetokounmpo hit 13 of 22 shots, grabbed 13 rebounds and added five assists with three blocked shots for the Bucks.

      Atlanta received 28 points from Dennis Schroder, and 25 from Tim Hardaway Jr. but lost for the sixth consecutive game.

      Rockets 117, Pelicans 107

      HOUSTON -- James Harden paired 38 points with a career-high-tying 17 assists for Houston, which shot 7 for 12 on 3pointers in the final period.

      Patrick Beverley finished with 17 points and six rebounds.

      Anthony Davis had 33 points and 16 rebounds and DeMarcus Cousins added 29 points for the Pelicans.

      76ers 117, Bulls 107

      CHICAGO -- The 76ers only had 10 players in uniform but still beat Chicago, which had won the last 12 games against Philadelphia.

      Dario Saric had a career-high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead five players in double-figure scoring for the Sixers, who had lost their last nine straight games in Chicago.

      Jimmy Butler had 36 points and 11 assists to lead the Bulls, who trail the Miami Heat by 1 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

      Warriors 114, Kings 100

      OAKLAND, Calif. -- Draymond Green connected on three 3-pointers in a crowd-pleasing, third-quarter runaway that helped the Warriors extended the NBA's longest active winning streak to six games.

      Green finished with 23 points and Stephen Curry had a 27-point, 12-assist double-double for the Warriors (58-14), who moved 2 1/2 games ahead of San Antonio (55-16) for the best record in the league.

      Rookie Buddy Hield had 22 points for the Kings, who lost their eighth consecutive game in Oakland.

      Lakers 130, Timberwolves 119 (OT)

      LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Clarkson scored a career high 35 points, helping the Lakers end a six-game skid with an overtime victory.

      Clarkson converted a career-best eight 3-pointers, missing just two attempts. Julius Randle had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

      Andrew Wiggins scored 36 points to lead the Timberwolves, who lost their fifth in a row.

      Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 13 rebounds before sitting out the final 1:23 of overtime after a heated verbal exchange with Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau.