Monta Ellis, Mark Cuban

Too much Monta Ellis for Spurs to handle, Mavs comeback forces Game 7 against Spurs

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San Antonio tried everything — including putting six players on the floor for the final shot and the referees not noticing — but in the end there was too much Monta Ellis.

Ellis had 12 fourth-quarter points (eight of them during a key 14-2 run) plus deflected the inbounds pass on the attempted 6-on-5 final shot attempt to help spark a come-from-behind Mavericks win 113-111 at home. That forces a Game 7 Sunday in San Antonio.

As has been the case for most of the games in this series, this one was thrilling and down to the wire.

San Antonio led going into the fourth quarter (they were 55-1 when leading going into the fourth quarter this season) and had the lead up to seven at one point. It was all classic Spurs, balanced scoring, sharing the basketball, and getting role players to step up — Tiago Splitter had 19 points and played good defense most of the night. Tony Parker had 22 points on the night but needed 23 shots to do it. That said he made some huge layups late.

Dallas made its comeback starting midway through the fourth and took lead on Ellis three where Manu Ginobili got hung up on a Dirk Nowitzki screen and couldn’t recover, part of an 9-0 run for Dallas in middle in fourth.

Ellis kept making plays — drawing and-1 on cut to basket in transition that ended with a swooping lay-up. He had another bucket on a big drive and floater. The run extended to 14-2.

But the Spurs would not quit. Do not quit.

Tony Parker almost single-handedly led a comeback to win the game, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the final frame. They had one final chance down 2 with 1.3 seconds left when the Spurs had six players out on the court and the referee didn’t notice (that should have been a technical foul on San Antonio). Fortunately for everyone, Ellis knocked the ball out of bounds (it was him that threw the ball out of bounds to give the Spurs a chance in the first place) and a referee error did not change the course of this game.

The Spurs offense did its part, scoring 30 points in the fourth.

But as was the real culprit all night long for San Antonio, their defense couldn’t get stops. The Mavericks shot 57 percent in the fourth quarter, 51.7 percent for the game. We could nit-pick as to why Gregg Popovich didn’t move Kawhi Leonard off Vince Carter onto Monta Ellis at the end, but everyone on Dallas was killing the Spurs.

To go with Ellis’ 29, Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and four others were in double figures.

Parker had 22 for the Spurs but Tiago Splitter with 19 points and 8 boards may have been their second best player. Tim Duncan had 16 points and 9 rebounds.

San Antonio gets Game 7 on their home court and I expect to see better defense out of them. More Spurs like defense. But in a Game 7 anything can happen — especially when Dallas will bring Nowitzki and Ellis to the court.

Dwyane Wade apologizes to Bulls fans after ugly Chicago loss

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Even for an up-and-down Bulls team that has seen some sloppy losses, Friday night’s was ugly. The Atlanta Hawks went on a 36-11 run between the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, they led by as many as 34, and cruised in for the 103-92 win. The game wasn’t that close, the Hawks thoroughly outplayed the Bulls, and after the game ended coach Fred Hoiberg said he and his staff need to reexamine everything.

Dwyane Wade went another direction, apologizing to fans.

Wade was 2-of-10 shooting on the night.

Despite the loss, the Bulls remain tied with the Bucks for the final playoff slot in the East, a race that will likely include Detroit and New York (and maybe Charlotte) and go down to the final days of the season. The Bulls (21-23) can’t have many more games like Friday.

Warriors get 6th straight win, 125-108 over Rockets

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry reacts after making a 3-point basket late in the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Houston. Golden State won 125-108. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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HOUSTON (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 32 points and the Golden State Warriors used a big third quarter to build a huge lead and coast to their sixth straight victory, 125-108 over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

In a matchup of two of the best teams in the Western Conference and All-Star starting guards Stephen Curry and James Harden, the Rockets fell short. Houston, which entered the game leading the NBA with 667 3-pointers, was just 7 of 35 behind the arc. Harden went 0 for 5 and Eric Gordon, who entered the game leading the NBA with 160 3s, missed all seven attempts.

Clint Capela had 22 points and Harden added 17 points with 11 assists for the Rockets, who are third in the West behind Golden State and San Antonio.

The Warriors were up by five at halftime and used a 12-4 run to open the second half and stretch their lead to 74-61 with about nine minutes left in the quarter. Golden State got six points from Durant in that span, including a dunk and a nifty reverse layup.

Houston got four points from Capela after that before Golden State used a 10-2 run, with 3s from Draymond Green and Curry, to make it 84-67 midway through the period.

Golden State pushed the lead to 99-79 entering the fourth quarter.

Houston won the first game against Golden State this season in two overtimes to snap an eight-game, regular-season losing streak to the Warriors. But it was clear the Rockets wouldn’t make it two in a row after they scored just 22 points and went 0 for 10 on 3-pointers in the third quarter.

Houston scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 99-84. But Golden State used a 9-4 run after that to extend its lead to 20 points by the midpoint of the quarter, and many fans started heading for the exits.

Curry finished with 24 points and made five 3-pointers, including one with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining that left the Warriors up 117-93. Both teams cleared their benches after that.

The Warriors led 62-57 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Golden State made 15 of 38 3-pointers. … Klay Thompson added 16 points. … Green had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Rockets: Ryan Anderson had one rebound in nine minutes in his return after missing two games with the flu. … Capela played 21 minutes off the bench in his third game back after missing a month with a fracture on his left fibula. … Sam Dekker had 17 points for his 11th double-digit game this season. …

CHEERING ON THE HOME TEAM

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt cheered the Rockets on from a courtside seat. He received a huge ovation when he was shown on the Jumbotron during a timeout in the second quarter. Watt, who won NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, played just three games this season before having season-ending back surgery.

 

Penny Hardaway inducted into Magic Hall of Fame (VIDEO)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 15:  Penny Hardaway attends the Sears Shooting Stars Competition 2014 as part of the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Smoothie King Center on February 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic have inducted Penny Hardaway into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.

Hardaway, a game-changing point guard at 6-foot-7, becomes just the fifth player in franchise history to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. He was enshrined during a pregame ceremony Friday and will be honored during a special halftime presentation during Orlando’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Amway Center.

Acquired by the Magic during the 1993 NBA Draft, Hardaway spent six seasons in Orlando where he averaged 19 points, 6.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.95 steals per game. Hardaway and center Shaquille O’Neal guided the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 where they lost to the Houston Rockets.

Hardaway remains third on the team’s all-time steals list (718) and fourth in assists (2,343).

Robert Covington with deep, contested three game-winner for Sixers (VIDEO)

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The Sixers have just become fun.

It’s not just Joel Embiid, it’s guards and wings feeling fearless in big game situations. A few games ago it was T.J. McConnell. Friday night, it was Robert Covington.

Down two with 13 seconds left after Damian Lillard missed a free throw, Brett Brown chose not to call a timeout and count on getting a good shot out of the chaos. What the Sixers got was Covington a full step behind the arc with Evan Turner in his face contesting.

It didn’t matter. Bucket. Ballgame.

The Sixers were down 13 at the half and came back to get the win. Sixers fans did get a scare in this one when Embiid left the game for a while and went to the locker room after tweaking his knee landing from a dunk. It proved to be nothing serious and he returned to the game, at which point you could hear and audible sigh of relief from the entire city of Philadelphia.