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Hassan Whiteside leaves game vs. Suns with hand injury

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MIAMI (AP) Hassan Whiteside now has more rebounds in a season than any player in Miami Heat history.

Now Miami needs him to rebound from another hand injury.

Whiteside had 23 points and 14 rebounds before leaving late in obvious pain and with blood on his right hand, and the Heat beat the Phoenix Suns 112-97 on Tuesday night. He was getting stitches postgame to repair a cut between his middle and ring fingers, and the team said he will be evaluated again on Wednesday.

Whiteside had a similar injury – same place, same hand – late in the 2014-15 season and missed three games.

“It’s in the awkward place in his hand,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I know everybody will be thinking, `Oh, is this the same, is it worse, how do you compare it to two years ago?’ We’ll see.”

Whiteside now has 936 rebounds in 66 games this season, two more than Rony Seikaly had in 79 games in 1991-92. He was hurt with 2:08 left and the Heat leading by 24, when his hand got caught in the foam attached to the bottom of the backboard. He let out a loud scream and headed to the locker room.

Tyler Johnson scored 17 for the Heat (35-36), who had seven players in double figures. Goran Dragic scored 16, Josh Richardson had 14 and Willie Reed added 12 for Miami.

Marquese Chriss scored 24 for Phoenix (22-49), which lost its fifth straight and used only an eight-player rotation until the final minutes. Leandro Barbosa scored 13, Alex Len scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and T.J. Warren scored 12 for the Suns.

Miami trailed by five midway through the second quarter, and then outscored Phoenix 53-27 over the next 20 minutes. And it came on a night where the Heat were far from sharp offensively – they shot 44 percent, with Whiteside and Dragic combining to miss 16 of their first 20 shots.

It didn’t matter.

The win, combined with Detroit’s loss in Brooklyn, moved Miami back into a top-eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Heat are a game ahead of the Pistons.

TIP-INS

Suns: Phoenix listed rest as the reason for sitting Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler. Knight – a native of nearby Fort Lauderdale – also missed Phoenix’s game in Miami last season. … Barbosa returned after missing two games with an illness. … The Suns’ starting frontcourt outscored Miami’s 23-2 in the game’s first 18 minutes.

Heat: Dragic was fouled while attempting 3-pointer for the 24th time this season. He has yet to record a four-point play. … Tyler Johnson had three first-quarter baskets in March, and then made five in a five-minute stretch of the first quarter Tuesday. … The Heat are 14-15 this season against the West. They can finish .500 against the league’s other side with a win over Denver on April 2.

MORE WHITESIDE

Whiteside now has 57 double-digit rebound games this season, a Heat record – one more than Seikaly in 1991-92. Whiteside also extended his franchise records for consecutive double-digit rebound games (17) and consecutive double-doubles (13). His 49th double-double of the season is four shy of Seikaly’s record in that department, also in 1991-92.

SETTING SUNS

The loss was Phoenix’s 49th of the season. The Suns are one defeat away from consecutive 50-loss seasons, something the franchise hasn’t endured since the 1973-74 and 1974-75 campaigns.

UP NEXT

Suns: Visit Brooklyn on Thursday, the third game of a six-game trip.

Heat: Host Toronto on Thursday, the finale of a five-game homestand.

Cavaliers, Warriors sweeps mean time to rest, get mental breather

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant can take some pressure off that tender left calf. LeBron James has extra time to recoup after barely leaving the floor in the first round.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr scheduled some medical appointments as he deals with debilitating symptoms still affecting him nearly two years after complications from a pair of back surgeries.

The two star-studded teams expected by many to face off once more in the NBA Finals each swept through their respective first-round playoff series in four games, leaving ample time for the Cavaliers and Warriors to rest up, heal up and prepare for the next opponent.

“It gives me a mental break. As far as physically, I am who I am,” James said. “I’ve played so many games over the years, the best break for me is probably when I’m done.”

Of course guys like James and Draymond Green are already eager to get back on the court.

Cleveland now knows its next opponent is Toronto, while the Warriors were still waiting out the Clippers-Jazz series.

“Definitely have gotten antsy to play,” Green said Friday. “But you see that break and you’re excited about it, just to get that time to rest and get everybody back as close to 100 (percent) as possible for the next round. At the same time you do get antsy to get back on the floor and back in the rhythm of things. I think it’s been a good week for us to sweep and get this time off.”

Durant, still receiving treatment on his left leg and knee, spent Thursday at a San Francisco Giants baseball game. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue threw a huge watch party Thursday night so players and members of the organization could see the Raptors close out the Bucks in six games.

Golden State scrimmaged Friday to stay sharp, while Cleveland players have competed in such ways as racing on cardiovascular machines in the weight room to stay fresh and motivated.

James led the league in minutes during the regular season then played nearly 44 per game in the first-round sweep of Indiana – familiar territory after the Cavs also swept Detroit in the first round last season, then followed by eliminating Atlanta in the minimum four games.

“I’m ready to get this thing going, but obviously I’m not going to rush the process,” James said. “… But, yeah, I don’t like the way I feel when we’re not playing.”

In 2015, when the Warriors captured their first championship in 40 years, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving suffered a freak Game 1 injury when he fractured his left kneecap, and Kevin Love was already lost to a dislocated left shoulder.

Last June, Stephen Curry had returned from a knee injury but never fully got healthy and the thought was the Warriors wore down after chasing and breaking the Chicago Bulls’ regular-season wins record with 73 victories.

“If you could sweep every series that would be perfect,” Durant said, “because you just want to play well and then you’ll worry about the rest afterward. That’s the situation we’re in. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up, so it’s good to have a few days to get your bodies right and your mind right and just get back to the drawing board in terms of individual work, team work.”

In the Warriors’ case, it also has meant more time working with Mike Brown as acting head coach while Kerr is away. The reigning NBA Coach of the Year missed Games 3 and 4 at Portland because he was in such discomfort, having dealt with headaches, neck pain and nausea that recently became worse.

While Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is most known for sitting several star players at once without regard to anything but his team’s best interest, others have caught on and replicated the strategy of spelling players in order to pace for the long haul.

In March 2015, the Warriors lost at Denver with Curry watching – along with Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut – in the first game of a back-to-back. Oh, did Kerr take heat for it, even personally answering a few emails. And the Warriors reached out to other upset fans and sent along care packages.

“As a coach your responsibility is to keep your players healthy and there are times when guys need a night off,” Kerr said.

In December, Cleveland caused an uproar by resting James, Love and Irving in a loss at Memphis. Lue then sat several starters for the final game of the regular season against Toronto, and the teams will meet again in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Monday.

Now, the Cleveland coach insists, James can handle the heavy minutes when it matters most.

“His body can take it,” Lue said, “so I’m not worried about what outside people say.”

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

 

Chris Paul told Paul Pierce: “You’re not ending your career in Utah”

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When the Clippers lose their final game this season — maybe Sunday, maybe not for weeks — the Hall of Fame career of Paul Pierce will come to an end.

It’s not why Doc Rivers was leaning so heavily on Pierce Friday night, that’s more desperation on a shorthanded (and not that deep to start with) lineup. The Clippers got away with 20+ minutes of Pierce on Friday and still got the win.

He even served as an inspiration for Chris Paul, as CP3 said in his postgame press conference.

The best part of that video? DeAndre Jordan‘s reaction.

You can be sure Utah Jazz fans will take this comment as a slight and let CP3 hear about it next season. As for the Jazz players, they are heading into Game 7, how much more motivation do they need.

John Wall’s chasedown block of Dennis Schroder, layup saved game for Wizards (VIDEO)

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Washington had been up 22 points in the third quarter and seemed to be cruising to a win in Atlanta, and with it a trip to the second round… but it would not be that easy. The Hawks made their push back, knocking down threes and chipping away at the Wizards lead until it was all the way down to 93-90, a one possession game.

Then John Wall took over.

It started with the big play you see above — a chasedown block on Dennis Schroder, which turned into a Wall layup on the other end.

That play changed the momentum. Washington closed the game on a 22-9 run where Wall scored the final 13 points on his way to 42 for the night on just 25 shots. The end result was a 115-99 Wizards win to close the Hawks out 4-2.

Steve Ballmer loses control after Austin Rivers three, creates another meme

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Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer has been a meme machine this series. First, there was the sad face after the Clippers Game 5 loss at home.

Then Friday, there was his reaction to an Austin Rivers three.

Ballmer’s reactions may be the best part of the Game 7 between these teams Sunday.