Associated Press

Paul George leads Pacers over Timberwolves, 109-103

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — On a night when he was picked for his fourth All-Star game, Paul George looked every bit the part.

Karl-Anthony Towns was right there with him, but the young Minnesota Timberwolves star will not be joining George in New Orleans next month.

George scored 32 points after being picked for his fourth All-Star game to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 109-103 victory over the Timberwolves on Thursday night.

“I’ve got to bring it,” George said. “I’ve got to be ready at all times, always got to have the mindset to be aggressive.”

Myles Turner added 23 points, and Jeff Teague had 20 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds to help the Pacers snap a three-game losing streak. Indiana outrebounded Minnesota 44-34 and shot 52 percent.

Towns had 33 points and 10 rebounds, Zach LaVine scored 23 points, and Andrew Wiggins had 21 for Minnesota. But the Timberwolves missed a chance for their first four-game winning streak since 2012.

“It felt like we were a step slow all night,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said.

The Pacers had lost three in a row and four of six since a trip to London snapped a five-game winning streak.

“Ever since we got back from London we haven’t been the same team since before we left,” Teague said. “We had to come out tonight and play with a lot of energy, played hard, and just got to continue to keep going.”

George was named a reserve for the Eastern Conference about an hour before tipoff, and he came out firing with the 21-year-old Wiggins checking him. George hit 3 of 4 3-pointers and got Wiggins to foul him on a 3-pointer with seven minutes to play. Thibodeau picked up a technical foul for arguing the call and George, the leading free throw shooter in the league, made all four foul shots for an 86-81 lead.

Towns hit a pair of 3-pointers to try to jumpstart a Wolves charge and LaVine hit another to cut the deficit to 96-90. But Teague and C.J. Miles each hit 3-pointers late in the shot clock down the stretch to turn back the Wolves.

“We almost pulled it off,” Towns said, “but almost isn’t good enough.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana is 12-2 this year in games in which they shoot 50 percent. … F Kevin Seraphin was scratched with a sore right knee. Coach Nate McMillan said he tried it in practice on Wednesday and was still sore so they held him out. … The Pacers shot 55.6 percent (10 for 18) from deep.

Timberwolves: Nemanja Bjelica struggled offensively, making just 1 of 6 shots and 1 of 5 3-pointers, many of them open looks. … Minnesota had been one of the best rebounding teams in the league over the last month, but were soundly beaten in that category on Thursday night and were outscored 13-5 in second-chance points. … Towns had his 35th double-double of the season.

ALL-STAR GEORGE

“I think being a reserve is personally special because the coaches are voting you in and have more respect for your game. Obviously, I love being a starter as well, but it’s always a special and a humbling opportunity to be an All-Star in this league.” – George on his selection.

BIG MOMENT

After Wiggins made a layup to pull Minnesota to 106-103 with 15 seconds to play, Teague took the inbounds pass and headed up the sideline. It appeared that he stepped out of bounds, which would have given the Wolves the ball with 12 seconds left. But officials didn’t call it, Teague squirted up the sideline and fed Turner for a dunk to seal it.

“He was out of bounds, so it’s (down) three with a chance to tie,” Thibodeau said. “But we put ourselves in a bad position.”

ROUGH NIGHT

The Towns family had a rough night. Karl-Anthony was left off the All-Star team and his father, Karl, was hit by Wolves mascot Crunch during a stunt in the second quarter. Crunch slides down the stairs on a sled, but he hit Karl Towns’ leg. Big Karl stayed in the game though, watching the second half with an ice pack on his right knee, but needed crutches to leave the arena.

 

Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills lead Spurs by Grizzlies for 3-2 series lead

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kawhi Leonard had 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs rebounded from two discouraging road losses to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 116-103 on Tuesday night and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

San Antonio shot 14 for 28 on 3-point attempts, two off its postseason record, including 5-for-7 shooting by Patty Mills.

Mills finished with 20 points and Tony Parker added 16.

Mike Conley had 26 points and Marc Gasol added 17 for the Grizzlies, who have lost nine straight postseason games in San Antonio.

With each team winning on its homecourt, Game 6 is Thursday night in Memphis.

The Spurs went on an 11-0 run shortly after switching Leonard onto Conley defensively, holding the Grizzlies scoreless for 2:46 midway through the first quarter.

But it was the few times either team had success defensively.

San Antonio shot 53 percent from the field and Memphis shot 52 percent in a surprisingly explosive game between teams renowned for their defense.

Conley had seven points during a 17-3 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to pull Memphis within 87-83 with 9 minutes remaining.

The teams exchanged baskets over a 3-minute span before consecutive 3-pointers by Mills helped break the game open for San Antonio.

After failing to score in the first four games, Manu Ginobili had six points in 33 seconds in the first quarter and finished with 10 points.

James Ennis III had 11 points and Andrew Harrison added nine, as both took advantage of Leonard leaving them to help defensively during the second and third quarters.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Conley and Gasol are the only Memphis players to score in double figures in all four games. . Zach Randolph had nine points and six rebounds Tuesday after averaging 17 points and 9.7 rebounds in the previous three games. Randolph was held to six points and three rebounds in Game 1. . Tony Allen remained out with an injury to his right leg after being kicked in the calf during Memphis’ regular-season finale against Dallas. . Ennis was 4 for 9 from the field in scoring 11 points after averaging 7.0 points in the previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio’s franchise record for 3-pointers made is 16 against Miami in the 2013 NBA Finals. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 25 straight playoff games, the longest streak in franchise history since Tim Duncan had 26 from 2011-2013. . The Spurs have lost three straight only once this season, dropping their final three games of the regular season after clinching the second seed. They have lost two straight on four occasions, including back-to-back losses in Memphis in this series. . Dewayne Dedmon returned after missing Game 4 due to an illness. . Ginobili’s eight points in the opening quarter are the most he scored in any quarter of a playoff game since scoring nine in the 2014 NBA Finals.

Watch Houston’s Eric Gordon yam it down over Thunder forward Jerami Grant (VIDEO)

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Eric Gordon is a leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the Houston Rockets for one reason: he can shoot the lights out.

But that didn’t stop Gordon from surprising a few folks during Tuesday night’s closeout Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gordon scored just eight points in Houston’s 105-99 win, but two of those points came on a thunderous dunk over Oklahoma City’s Jerami Grant.

Via Twitter:

Wasn’t expecting him to get up like that.

Houston will go on to play the winner of the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies series.

Rockets advance with 105-99 win, Thunder eliminated despite 47 from Westbrook

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 34 points and his supporting cast helped the Houston Rockets overcome a 47-point game by Russell Westbrook to get a 105-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Thunder head home a year after advancing to the Western Conference finals after Houston took this series 4-1.

The Rockets used a 5-1 run, with all their points coming on free throws, to pull away from the Thunder and make it 98-91. Victor Oladipo threw a pass about 5 feet above Westbrook’s head and out of bounds on the next possession and Harden made a layup on the other end with about 3 minutes left.

The Rockets began eating up the clock after that and Oklahoma City missed shot after shot that could have closed the gap.

Houston couldn’t add to its lead though and the Thunder cut it to 4 points twice in the final seconds, with the second one coming on a basket by Alex Abrines. But Harden made two free throws both times they got close to secure the win.

After scoring 20 points in the third quarter, Westbrook made just 2 of 11 fourth-quarter shots in a disappointing end to a stellar season where he became the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double by scoring an NBA-best 31.6 points a game, with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists. He also set an NBA record for most triple-doubles with 42 to help the Thunder withstand the loss of All-Star Kevin Durant in free agency.

He had 11 rebounds and nine assists to come just shy of his fourth straight triple-double in this series, but he made just 5 of a career-high 18 3-point attempts.

Lou Williams added 22 points and Patrick Beverley had 15 to help the Rockets get out of the first round for the second time in three seasons in front of a crowd that included Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, rapper Travis Scott and his rumored girlfriend and reality star Kylie Jenner.

The Thunder had a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter and led by 3 after a jump shot by Jerami Grant early in the quarter. The Rockets then used a 10-2 run to take an 86-81 lead with about 9 minutes left. Williams made the last eight points in that stretch, making three free throws to start it and capping it with a 3-pointer from way behind the line.

Houston was up by 6 early in the third quarter before using a 7-2 spurt to make it 61-50 with about 7 minutes left in the quarter. Harden got things going in that span and Beverley capped it with four straight points.

The Thunder started rolling after that, using a 12-3 run, with seven points from Westbrook, to get within 2 with about 5 minutes left in the quarter. Houston’s offense went cold in that span with its only points coming on free throws by Harden.

Five straight points by the Thunder a couple of minutes later, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Westbrook, gave the Thunder a 69-68 lead.

Harden made two free throws after that before Westbrook hit two 3-pointers in about 30 seconds to extend Oklahoma City’s lead to 77-70.

The Rockets were unhappy with a few calls in the first quarter and team owner Leslie Alexander got up from his courtside seat and walked over to a referee during play late in the quarter apparently to express his displeasure before sitting back down.

Houston led 51-44 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Led by as many as 8 points early. … Oladipo had 10 points and eight rebounds. … Abrines had 11 points. … Westbrook received a technical for arguing with Beverley in the fourth.

Rockets: Made just 1 of 13 3-point attempts in the third quarter. … Williams has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games. … Houston made just 6 of 37 3-point attempts overall. … Beverley received a technical for arguing with Westbrook in the fourth. … Harden made 16 of 17 free throw attempts.

 

Did Gregg Popovich leave a $5,000 tip at a Memphis restaurant? (PHOTO)

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Gregg Popovich seems like a nice, considerate dude with a good head on his shoulders. The San Antonio Spurs coach made headlines this season as a leading advocate against many of the political changes occurring since the election of Donald Trump. He’s a thoughtful guy.

Popovich is also apparently a big tipper. A photo recently surfaced via Reddit and MySA.com that showed Popovich’s signature on a bill that had a $5,000 tip on it.

Nope, not a typo. $5,000.

Via MySA.com:

If you’re ever waiting on Pop, be sure to come back to refill his water as much as you can. It looks like it might be worth it for you.