Wizards win fourth straight, 107-94 over Pelicans

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) John Wall had 18 points and 19 assists, Bradley Beal scored 27 points, and the Washington Wizards extended their winning streak to four with a 107-94 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.

Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Markieff Morris added 21 points for the Wizards. They briefly squandered a 17-point halftime lead, but regained control for good with a pivotal 8-0 run in the middle of the third quarter that was highlighted by 3s by Beal and Morris.

Anthony Davis had 36 points, 17 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots, but as with a handful of Pelicans losses this season, he didn’t have enough help. Jrue Holiday had 26 points and 11 assists, and Donatas Motiejunas added 10 points.

`New Orleans made the game competitive by outscoring Washington 33-17 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to improved 3-point shooting. After going 3 of 16 from deep in the first half, the Pelicans hit six of seven 3s in the third. Holiday hit all three 3s he took and Davis added another that pulled New Orleans to 70-68.

Davis, who scored 16 points in the third on 7-of-10 shooting, briefly gave New Orleans a 73-72 lead with his pull-up jumper.

Wall responded with an 18-foot jumper, and Washington began to rebuild its lead early in the fourth quarter, never trailing in the final period.

New Orleans briefly got as close as 83-80 when Davis scored while fouled and added a technical free throw for a four-point possession after Wizards coach Scott Brooks was whistled for arguing. But Washington scored the next eight points and New Orleans never got closer than nine again.

Washington scored the first nine points of the game and led by 11 when Otto Porter Jr.’s second 3 of the first period made it 24-13.

The Pelicans appeared to be settling into a rhythm when they briefly got as close as 32-28 in the second quarter, but the Wizards then went on a 19-3 run capped by Morris’ right corner 3 that gave Washington its largest lead – 18- at 49-31.

New Orleans briefly got back within 13 points on Holiday’s floater, but the Wizards scored twice to close out the half, capped by Wall’s horn-beating 18-foot step-back jumper, after which he skipped out toward mid-court, emphatically pumping his right fist.


Wizards: Beal has led the Wizards in scoring 17 times and scored 20 or more 26 times. … Gortat has 26 double-doubles this season. … Wall, who entered the game ranked second in the NBA in steals with 2.2 per game, had x against the Pelicans. … Wall has six games with at least 15 points and 15 assists. … Washington arrived in New Orleans 0-5 on the road against the Western Conference.

Pelicans: Wrapped up a six-game home stand at 3-3 and now play their next three on the road. … New Orleans wore its “Mardi Gras Pride” uniforms, which are purple with gold and green trim, for the first time this season. They’ll wear them at home three more times before Mardi Gras Day on Tuesday, Feb. 28.


Wizards: Host New York on Tuesday night.

Pelicans: Visit Toronto on Tuesday night.

League’s Last Two Minute Report backs referees (mostly) in Raptors/Thunder game

Associated Press
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Anyone who watched the Thunder’s win over the Raptors Sunday afternoon in Toronto — especially the final few minutes — thought it was not referee Marc Davis and crew’s finest hour. There were missed calls and three-straight ejections of Raptors players, which all seemed rather hair-trigger (especially coach Dwane Casey, who was tossed for something a fan behind him said).

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report doesn’t see it that way — it says the referees nailed it.

According to the report, there was only one missed call in the final two minutes: Carmelo Anthony held Pascal Siakam as a pass came to him with 11.7 seconds left, and that should have been called.

What about the play that set DeMar DeRozan off and ultimately got him ejected, the drive to the basket with 33 seconds left (and the Raptors down two) where DeRozan thought Corey Brewer fouled him? The report said that was a good no call:

DeRozan (TOR) starts his drive and Brewer (OKC) moves laterally in his path and there is contact. The contact is incidental as both players attempt to perform normal basketball moves….

RHH shows Brewer (OKC) make contact with the ball and the part of DeRozan’s (TOR) hand that is on the ball. The hand is considered “part of the ball” when it is in contact with the ball and therefore, contact on that part of the hand by a defender while it is in contact with the ball is not illegal.

(I didn’t see it that way, I think the contact was more than incidental, and to me looking at the replay Brewer catches some wrist and impedes the shot in a way that was not legal. Just my two cents.)

The report does not cover the ejections, which are reviewed by league operations but not part of this report.

Three thoughts out of all this:

1) Raptors fans/management/players have every right to feel the calls went against them in this game. As for calls always going against them — as DeRozan complained about after the game — 29 other teams and fan bases are convinced the officials have it out for them, too. I never bought that.

2) The Raptors didn’t lose this game solely because of the officiating. Russell Westbrook was clutch down the stretch, the Thunder were part of it, and the Raptors had other issues, too (Serge Ibaka had a rough game, for example).

3) This loss also does not say a thing about the Raptors in the postseason (even if they went a little too much isolation at the end) — this was their third game in four days, they looked tired and flat at the end. That will not be the case in the playoffs.

Rumor: Injured Jimmy Butler wore his jersey under shirt and jacket on Timberwolves bench

AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King
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Jimmy Butler‘s competitive fire burns hot.

How hot?

Butler is chomping at the bit to return from his knee injury. He sat on the Timberwolves’ bench during their loss to the Rockets last night wearing what appeared to be typical attire for a sidelined player. But dig deeper, and…

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This story is too good to check out.

Kevin Love returns to Cavaliers lineup Monday vs. Bucks

Associated Press
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The last time Kevin Love suited up for the Cavaliers, it was still January and Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder were still on the team.

That is about to change tonight — Love will return from a fractured hand and play for the Cavaliers, but on a minutes restriction to start, interim coach Larry Drew confirmed.

Cleveland needs Love back. The Cavaliers went 11-9 without him in this stretch (and 6-7 since the All-Star break) with an offense that has still been top 10 in the NBA but a defense that is holding them back. The Cavaliers’ defense is just not on the same page right now, and the more time the regular rotations guys get to play together, the better they should be before the playoffs start.

As Love rounds into form, the Cavaliers have to figure out their rotations. Does Love start Love next to Larry Nance Jr., or does Nance come off the bench again? Probably the latter, but the Cavaliers will toy with the rotations (and do that more when Tristan Thompson returns).

Former NBA All-Star Steve Francis cited for public intoxication

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What happened to Steve Francis [after his playing days]? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad (as drug use). In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.”
—Steve Francis, writing in the Players’ Tribune earlier this month, about his journey from selling crack to the NBA, and what happened after.

Addiction, once it’s got you, never goes away. The fight to stay sober/clean is a new one every day.

Steve Francis was cited for public intoxication in Burbank, Calif., after an incident at a hotel bar, according to TMZ (since confirmed by other reports).

Francis, 41, was arrested around 11:40 PM after police were called for a disturbance between two men at a hotel in Burbank.

Law enforcement sources tell us when cops arrived, Francis was intoxicated. He was arrested for being drunk in public.

Francis was transported to jail … before being given a citation and released around 7 AM Monday morning.

Francis denied in the Players’ Tribune article rumors he had a drug problem, but he owned up to drinking.