NEW YORK (AP) John Wall scored the pivotal points and made the saving steal, though the Knicks thought the Wizards had another defender who impacted their final possession even before Wall ended it.
Carmelo Anthony and Courtney Lee said a Washington assistant coach standing on the court too close to Lee kept him from taking a tying 3-point attempt. He instead passed to Brandon Jennings, who had the ball stolen by Wall.
“He was on the court,” Anthony said. “They had six players on the court.”
Wall didn’t need extra help. He had 29 points and 13 assists and scored the surging Wizards’ final four points in the last 32 seconds of their 113-110 victory Thursday night.
Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall to win their fourth in a row.
He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Anthony’s miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.
“Just trying to make the big-time plays,” Wall said. “But, if it’s me scoring or me passing, I’m going to live with the results if it’s the right read and the right play, and tonight I came up with some big shots and we won.”
Anthony finished with 34 points but threw the ball to Lee near the Wizards’ bench on the last possession. Lee said he heard someone standing close to him and yelling as if he was a nearby defender, confusing him enough into thinking that if he took the shot, it could be blocked.
Replays showed Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe standing on the court near Lee, who dribbled left and passed the ball hurriedly to Jennings, who had it knocked away by Wall.
“I’m not sure if he had his hands up or not, but I mean, he fooled me,” Lee said, adding he thought the NBA should look into the play. “I still should’ve took the shot, I mean it’s at the end of the game, but I drove and tried to make a play. I seen Brandon standing there but it didn’t work out.”
The Wizards trailed 67-66 at halftime after Anthony scored a Knicks-record 25 points in the second quarter, then outscored New York 34-19 to take a 100-86 lead into the fourth.
The Knicks came all the way back to take a 110-109 lead when Rose put back his own miss with 48 seconds to play. Wall handled things from there as the Wizards won for the seventh time in eight games. They are 20-10 following a 3-9 start.
“It’s good to get a road win. We’ve had so many last-second shots on the road that didn’t go our way,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s nice to get a close-out tonight.”
Porter, who matched the career high for 3-pointers he set Wednesday against Memphis, had 15 points in the third quarter. The Wizards are 12-2 when he makes three or more 3s.
Wizards: Wall, the NBA leader in total steals, has one in a career-best 30 straight games. … The Wizards have won six straight at Madison Square Garden.
Knicks: Joakim Noah missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. The Knicks lost for the first time in six games this season without their starting center. … Hall of Famer Willis Reed and Allan Houston shared the previous franchise record, having both scored 24 points in a quarter. Reed also did it in the second period, while Houston’s outburst came in the fourth.
Washington improved to 2-7 on the second night of back-to-back games – with both victories against the Knicks, who are even worse in that situation. New York is 1-9, including a loss at Washington on Nov. 17.
Wizards: Visit the Pistons on Saturday. The Wizards won 122-108 at home against Detroit on Dec. 16 behind 29 points and 11 assists from Wall.
Knicks: Host the Suns on Saturday as coach Jeff Hornacek tries to beat his former team for the first time. Phoenix pulled out a 113-111 overtime victory against New York on Dec. 13.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the short-handed San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.
Denver’s three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.
Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.
The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.
Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson‘s shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.
X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol’s return.
Murray started in place of Parker, who sat out with a sprained left foot. The rookie responded by shooting 7 for 11, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers.
Popovich did not get to see the Spurs improve to 15-2 at home since Nov. 11 after picking up his fifth and sixth technical fouls. Zach Zarba ejected Popovich with 1:36 remaining in the first half after he became incensed over a foul called on Davis Bertans against Jokic.
Minutes earlier, Popovich was upset over a non-call for Bertans.
Nuggets: Jokic has led the team in scoring or shared the high mark in 10 of Denver’s past 18 games after doing so just once in the previous 22 games. . Jokic was the only Denver player who did not have a losing record as a starter until Thursday’s defeat. He is 11-12 as a starter. . C Jusuf Nurkic had five points, leaving him one shy of 1,000 for his career. . F Juancho Hernangomez made his second career start. . During Popovich’s ejection, Nuggets G Emmanuel Mudiay shadowed Zarba and mimicked the official calling a technical foul and ejecting the Spurs’ coach. . Denver has had two three-game winning streaks this season. The previous streak was snapped 119-102 by the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 20.
Spurs: Gasol missed his first game due to injury this season. He sat out two games for rest. He is averaging 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in 39 games. . Parker has missed eight games this season, including two for rest. The point guard missed three games with a sore right knee, one due to a bruised left quadriceps and another because of a bruised left knee. . At least one Spurs player has appeared in the All-Star Game in all but two of the franchise’s 40 years in the NBA – 1989 and 1997. … Leonard has scored in double figures in 74 straight games, the longest streak by a Spurs player since Duncan had 75 in 2004-05.
Nuggets: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Spurs: At the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
MIAMI (AP) Just like in 2006 and 2011, the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are essentially in the same place.
Different spot in the standings, though.
“Like an old-school Miami-Dallas game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
He said it with a smile, not entirely serious, of course. The stakes in Heat-Mavs games are far different now, with both teams languishing in the bottom half of their respective conferences and not going back and forth in the NBA Finals. But both franchises have been a bit better of late, providing hope for the second half.
“We worked hard for this, the whole team,” Dragic said. “We lost a lot of close games, but we’re getting better in those close games and we feel like tonight we defended well, the ball was moving and we made the right plays.”
Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points for Dallas, which went 1 for 8 from the field during a late stretch of the fourth quarter and never got the lead again.
“It was a really tough stretch for us,” Nowitzki said. “We went from being up a couple to down seven or eight and then we put the starters back in or the other unit, so that was a bad stretch … and after that we had to play catch-up.”
“It’s not exactly 2011,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s two franchises that are competitive, and that are playing a little better in recent games. It’s a competitive game. We’ve had health issues. They’ve obviously had health issues.”
Nowitzki made two of three free throws with 18.5 seconds left to get the Mavs within 95-92. The Heat needed to burn two timeouts before even getting the ball inbounded on the ensuing possession, and Johnson hit two from the line five seconds later to help seal the win.
Mavericks: J.J. Barea scored 13 points and has reached double figures in 11 of his 17 games this season. At 32, he’s on pace to average more than 12 points a game for the first time. … Dallas took only 11 free throws to Miami’s 29.
Heat: Miami improved to 3-21 when trailing at halftime. Dallas led 53-44 at the break. … Okaro White made his NBA debut. He was signed to a 10-day deal earlier this week. … Wayne Ellington got his 1,000th career rebound and is one 3-pointer shy of 500.
A fan avoided injury when a door – depicting a hotel room door – on a wheeled frame fell over during a promotion after the first quarter. The promotion had several fans slide hotel “keys” into the door, and the one that worked won a hotel stay. The floor was slightly damaged near midcourt.
Dallas center Andrew Bogut missed his fourth straight game with a right hamstring strain. He worked out on the court before the game and is improving, though he isn’t expected to play Friday against Utah.
Mavericks: Host the Utah Jazz on Friday. Dallas is 0-7 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.
Heat: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Miami is 1-1 against the Bucks, with both teams winning at home.
CLEVELAND (AP) Before their first home game following a long trip that ended with a miserable thud at Golden State, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue showed his team video clips to remind them who they are.
“Do that,” LeBron James said.
Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, James, his All-Star teammate, had 21 points and 15 assists, and Cleveland looked more like an NBA champion in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road swing (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss to the Warriors. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance, ball movement and defense while improving to 30-11 – the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA title season.
“Coming off our road trip we just weren’t playing Cavalier basketball,” said James, “and getting the ball popping from one side to the other. It was good to get back to the way we’ve been playing for most of the season.”
Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games.
Phoenix closed within 12 in the fourth, but was unable to get any closer.
“They always make the right play offensively and defensively,” said Suns guard Devin Booker, who finished with 21 points on 4-of-12 shooting. “They’re always on a string together on both ends of the floor. You can hear them talking out there. You can hear them communicating. I guess that’s one thing you can learn from them, how comfortable they are with themselves and the way they talk to each other.”
Already thin on their front line with Love out, the Cavs lost forward Tristan Thompson in the second quarter with a dislocated left index finger. However, Thompson returned after halftime.
And Cleveland’s offense was in a much better rhythm from the start after a trip that wasn’t always pleasing to the eye.
Irving and James shined as always, but it was the contributions of Cleveland’s supporting cast that made the difference.
“We definitely needed it,” James said. “We needed guys to step up and you know, we had that tonight out of everybody, especially Channing.”
While trying to integrate newly acquired Kyle Korver into their rotation on the road, the Cavs got into some bad habits as they forced passes to one of the league’s best shooters. A couple of practices seem to have helped as Korver made a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter of his home debut to help Cleveland open a 21-point lead.
The Suns made a brief run in the third and got within 12 before Shumpert hit a pair of 3s and Jones hit one from long range.
Thompson injured his finger when he got it caught on Chandler’s jersey. For a moment, he was worried it might affect his consecutive games streak that now stands at 411 – the longest current run in the league.
“Once they told me it was only dislocated, I knew the streak was still alive,” he said.
Suns: G Brandon Knight returned after missing two games with a sprained right wrist, but had a short night after committing four fouls in four minutes in the first half. … Chandler has at least 15 rebounds in six straight games, matching the club record set by Jim Fox in 1969. … Booker had averaged 30 points in his past six games.
Cavaliers: Korver finished with nine points. … James, who missed his 46th career triple-double by one rebound, will be making his 13th consecutive All-Star Game appearance next month. He said the honor never gets old. “Just means I’ve been doing something right in this league,” he said. “Means I’m consistent and taking pride in my individual ability to go out and produce for the team every night, and whatever team I’ve been on in my career. It’s always great to see my name up there with the best guys in the league, so it’s a pretty cool thing.” … G J.R. Smith has had the hard cast removed from his surgically repaired thumb. He’s expected back in late March. … Jones made his first start since April 2, 2015.
Suns: At the New York Knicks on Saturday. Phoenix won the first meeting this season in overtime.
Cavaliers: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday in a matchup between two of the NBA’s best teams.