Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon lead Rockets past Kings, 105-83 (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets could not have been happier to be home.

After a 2-3 trip and 10 of their last 14 games on the road, the Rockets were revved up again back at Toyota Center.

Ryan Anderson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Eric Gordon added 17 points and Houston used a big second-quarter run to beat the Sacramento Kings 105-83 on Tuesday night.

“It just felt good to be back at home,” James Harden said. “It felt like we were on the road for so long, that we are home, we are comfortable. We got to sleep in our own bed. Tonight, we came out and played hard. We had energy at the beginning of the game and carried that through all four quarters.”

Anderson shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range and Houston went 14 of 45 from behind the arc as a team.

Harden, who banged knees early in the first quarter, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He said he would be ready to go Thursday against Atlanta.

Clint Capella had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets.

“We have a lot of weapons on our team,” forward Trevor Ariza said. “On any given night, anyone can step up and be our leading scorer. Tonight with Ryan he shot the ball extremely well like we know he can. We just rode that.”

Houston used an 18-3 run over the first nine minutes of the second quarter to extend its lead to 47-27 on Nene’s dunk. Gordon had eight points in the run, and Nene added six.

The Kings shot 3 for 16 from the field, committed six turnovers and were outscored 25-11 in the second quarter as Houston opened up a 54-35 halftime lead.

“They defensively played real well,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of his Rockets. “Now, we played good the first quarter, but that second quarter was excellent, and that kind of set the tone.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who shot 35 percent. Kosta Koufos added 12 points.

“We ran out of gas there in the last game against (Philadelphia), but I thought we really ran out of legs tonight,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We didn’t shoot it well; they are obviously very offensively potent.”

Sacramento got no closer than 19 in the second half.

TIP-INS

Kings: Garrett Temple exited with 9:29 left in the third quarter with an apparent left hamstring injury. Temple fell to the ground and immediately grabbed his left hamstring after a steal. He limped off the court and straight to the locker room. Temple said he is going to have an MRI to see the severity of the injury. He finished with three points. … Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and six rebounds.

Rockets: Nene finished with 11 points. …The Rockets outrebounded Sacramento 60-45. … Houston wore its Lunar New Year uniforms Tuesday for the first time this season.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Sacramento finished its eight-game road trip 3-5 after losing its third out of the last four games. The trip featured three back-to-backs in which the Kings went 1-2 in the second game, including Tuesday’s loss. The road trip included an awkward Philadelphia to Houston back-to-back after the game against the 76ers, originally scheduled for Nov. 29, was rescheduled for Monday due to wet floor conditions.

“I think we progressed as a team,” Cousins said. “It’s been a tough road trip with a lot of unfortunate things happened. A lot of things didn’t go our way, but through it, I think we got better as a team.”

HALL OF FAMERS IN THE HOUSE

Houston honored Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo during the second quarter of Tuesday’s game as part of the team’s 50th season celebration. Mutombo played parts of five seasons with Houston at the end of his career. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was also at the game, sitting courtside next to Mutombo.

UP NEXT

Kings: Return home to start a six-game homestand against Phoenix on Friday.

Rockets: Will continue their four-game homestand and welcome former Rockets center Dwight Howard on Thursday when they host Atlanta.

Gregg Popovich will not coach Game 4 following death of his wife, Erin

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will not be on the sidelines again for Game 4 Sunday following the death of his wife, Erin, to a lengthy illness.

Ettore Messina will again coach the Spurs.

Popovich also missed Game 3. His San Antonio Spurs are down 3-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the first-round matchup. None of that matters compared to the loss of a woman he loved and was married to for four decades.

Erin Popovich’s passing has cast a pall over the series, especially with Warriors coach Steve Kerr being very close to the Popovichs dating back to his playing days with the Spurs.

The reaction and sadness about Erin’s passing has reached well beyond this series.

Our thoughts are with the Popovich family in this difficult time.

Anthony Davis’ 47 points, Pelicans sweep Trail Blazers out of playoffs

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.

Jrue Holiday capped his 41-point performance with an 18-foot pull-up jumper that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.

Rajon Rondo added 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 for the Trail Blazers, who responded to a blowout loss in Game 3 by keeping Game 4 close until the final minute. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27, Damian Lillard added 18 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.

Lillard’s difficult driving layup had just tied the game at 60 when the Pelicans briefly pulled away, going on an 11-2 run capped by Davis’ 3.

Soon after, Nikola Mirotic added step-back 3. Davis, who scored 19 in the third quarter, then added a layup while falling down after a hard foul by Aminu, after which Davis flexed both biceps while still sitting on the court.

Holiday’s transition 3 made it 87-72, prompting Portland to call timeout while Holiday walked slowly toward mid-court, nodding and smiling wide as he soaked in the crowd’s adulation.

New Orleans led by 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Portland refused to wilt, opening the period on a 15-4 run that included Nurkic’s hook shot, 20-foot jumper and dunk. McCollum’s transition layup made it 104-102 with nearly nine minutes to play.

Portland got as close as a single point on Aminu’s layup with 5:08 to go, but Davis responded with 12 points over the final 4:56, starting with a layup as he was fouled and a 3-pointer. Holiday scored six points during the final 2:52, starting with his 3-pointer. The pair combined for all but one of New Orleans’ points during that pivotal stretch.

Leading up to Game 4, Lillard spoke of the need for the Blazers to ramp up their intensity and physicality. From the tip, it looked as though they’d done so.

In stark contrast to Game 3, when New Orleans led by 18 in the first quarter, this game was tight and testy.

Anthony and Ed Davis received double technical fouls after bumping one another following one of Anthony Davis’ dunks – and that was just the beginning.

McCollum was called for a flagrant foul when he stormed into the lane behind E'Twaun Moore and grabbed the Pelicans guard by the shoulders to thwart a driving layup attempt. Moore then shoved McCollum and was assessed a technical foul.

And in the final seconds of the half, double technicals were assessed to Rondo and Portland center Zach Collins after Rondo lowered his forehead into Collins’ chest and Collins shoved back.

When halftime arrived, New Orleans led 58-56.

 

 

Twins Marcus, Markieff Morris each fined by league for separate instances

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Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris have a special bond, one that includes doing so much together on the basketball court — playing at the same high school, the same AAU team, then going to college together at Kansas, and even playing together in the NBA for a while together with the Suns (they are now on separate teams).

That includes them both getting fined Saturday by the NBA for recent actions during the playoffs.

Washington’s Markieff Morris picked up a $25,000 fine for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official,” the league announced. Here is the play in question, just minutes into Game 3.

Toronto’s OG Anunoby draws a foul knocking Morris to the ground, but Morris starts the incident with an elbow to Anunoby’s back, and he does push referee Kenny Mauer. Considering all that, a $25,000 fine is not that severe.

His twin Marcus Morris picked up a $15,000 for “public criticism of the officiating,” which he certainly did following the Celtics’ Game 3 loss to the Bucks. Here are his comments, and they are NSFW.

That $15,000 fine is pretty much the going rate for ripping the referees after the game.

Markieff outdid his brother on this one… if you consider getting the larger fine the “win.”

As expected, likely top-three pick Luka Doncic files to enter NBA draft

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Luka Doncic — the 6’8″ point forward who is putting up impressive numbers against men at the highest levels of European basketball — is bringing is game to the NBA. As expected.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the expected is now official.

Doncic, 19, submitted draft paperwork this week to formally enter his name, league sources said. Doncic is arguably the most decorated European player to make a jump to the NBA, a wunderkind who’s been playing in the EuroLeague since 2015. He is currently leading Real Madrid in the EuroLeague playoffs, averaging 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season.

The 6-foot-7 Doncic has the ability to play multiple positions, from being a primary ball-handler to shooting and playmaking off the ball. His season in Europe could continue into late May or June. NBA executives have long been intrigued by Doncic’s potential stardom, and several are continuing to make scouting trips for him.

Doncic is expected to go in the top three (likely the top two) come this June’s draft.

If you’re about to bring up Darko Milicic or some other European bust, just stop. This Slovenian has proven he can play — in 54 games this season between Liga ACB (Spain’s league, second best in the NBA) and the Euroleague, Doncic is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. He has shown a gift for passing that should blossom in the more open play of the NBA, plus he just knows how to run a team and make plays. He can score when called upon and has three-point range, can shoot off the bounce, and if you switch a smaller guy onto him, Doncic can just post him up.

He’s not going to be a bust.

However, what his ceiling is remains the debate. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards who has struggled at points for Real Madrid when guarded by borderline-NBA level Americans in Europe. Can he defend at the NBA level? Can he be consistent with his jumper? He may be elite, but it’s no given.

He’s going to be good, and his floor is higher than a lot of the other top prospects in this draft class. However, if a GM thinks that Marvin Bagley III or Mohamed Bamba both have a higher ceiling and can reach it, they may go with the Americans. Doncic is going to put some GMs in an interesting position.