kurthelin

Associated Press

James Harden has 40 in triple-double, Rockets top Nuggets 109-105

Leave a comment

DENVER (AP) — James Harden scored 40 points and finished with a triple-double as the Houston Rockets snapped the Denver Nuggets’ four-game winning streak with a 109-105 victory Saturday night.

Harden, who shook off a hard fall in the third quarter, had 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

With his team trailing 107-105, Nuggets guard Will Barton missed a 3-pointer and a layup in the final 30 seconds.

After Barton’s errant 3-point attempt, Harden missed at the other end and Nikola Jokic corralled the rebound. But then Barton missed a layup that would have tied it with about five seconds left, and Harden drew a foul. He sank both free throws to reach 40 points for the second time in two nights.

The Nuggets missed five three throws late in the game, including two by Barton.

Nene, who played the first decade of his 14-year NBA career in Denver, had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets.

Gary Harris led Denver with 17 points.

Harden scored 18 points in the third quarter, including Houston’s final 16 of the period. He capped the run with a buzzer-beating 3 that gave the Rockets an 80-74 lead.

It wasn’t all rosy for Harden, however. He hit the floor hard on his right elbow after fouling Mason Plumlee in the final minute of the third quarter. Harden sat on the floor for about 30 seconds surrounded by his concerned teammates before getting up and shaking it off.

Before finding their touch late, the Rockets misfired from long range for much of the night.

They made just one of 15 shots from beyond the arc before Ryan Anderson swished one to break a 61-all tie late in the third quarter.

Nobody other than Harden scored again for the Rockets until Eric Gordon banked in a jumper a minute into the fourth.

The Nuggets built a 56-51 halftime lead behind 13 points from Juancho Hernangomez, who replaced Danilo Gallinari (left knee) in the starting lineup. Hernangomez didn’t do much after the break, though.

Also out for Denver were Wilson Chandler (groin) and Darrell Arthur (knees).

“We’re undermanned once again, but a great opportunity for all those other guys,” coach Michael Malone said before tip-off. “A great opportunity for guys like Juancho and Jamal (Murray) to go out there and compete for 48 and see where we are.”

At the end of the night, the Nuggets found themselves just 1 1/2 games in front of Portland for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers won in Atlanta, 113-97.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Were coming off a 128-112 loss at New Orleans on Friday night. Houston’s last visit to Denver also came 24 hours after the Rockets had played, but that time they built a 42-33 first-quarter lead on their way to a 128-110 win on Dec. 2. … Houston missed 10 consecutive shots from behind the arc during one stretch.

Nuggets: Play at Houston on Monday night for their second home-and-home of the season. They split their other one with Phoenix back in January. … Jokic took a seat after picking up his fourth foul with 10:17 left in the third quarter. Three of the fouls came on offense.

 

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Damian Lillard scores 27 as Trail Blazers start fast, top Hawks 113-97

Associated Press
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 27 points and the Portland Trail Blazers took control with a dominant opening quarter to beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-97 on Saturday night.

C.J. McCollum had 22 points and Allen Crabbe added 16 for Portland, which raced out to a 17-3 lead and never trailed.

The Trail Blazers, who have won seven of nine, began the night 2 1/2 games behind Denver for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

The Hawks have lost three straight, including the last two at home.

Atlanta held out four-time All-Star forward Paul Millsap after he experienced tightness in his left knee during pregame warmups. Ersan Ilyasova, who started for Millsap, had 23 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 22.

The Trail Blazers took command with a strong start, making 11 of their first 12 shots from the field. A jumper by Lillard pushed the advantage to 32-12, and Portland outscored the Hawks 40-18 in the quarter – its biggest margin in any period this season.

Atlanta’s Dwight Howard drew a technical foul after he swung his elbow and Jusuf Nurkic hit the floor midway through the third period. Nurkic was left sitting on the court, rubbing his chin. Officials called the technical following a review of the play.

The Hawks twice cut the deficit to 11 early in the fourth, including at 89-78 following a layup by Malcolm Delaney. The Trail Blazers quickly answered with a layup by McCollum.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer immediately called a timeout, charged onto the court and confronted Howard, apparently about the center’s lack of defense on the play.

Howard remained in the game, but the Hawks’ comeback attempt never regained its momentum. Lillard had a 3-pointer and three free throws in a 10-0 run that increased the lead to 101-80.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Portland forward Evan Turner had two points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes after missing 14 games with a broken right hand. The Blazers were 7-7 without Turner, who got hurt on Feb. 7. Turner entered with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter. He played with a protective pad covering part of his right hand. … Instead of returning to Portland, the Trail Blazers flew to Atlanta following Wednesday night’s 110-106 win at San Antonio. … Noah Vonleh had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Nurkic had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Hawks: Howard had 14 points and 10 rebounds. … Ilyasova hit two 3-pointers for six of Atlanta’s first eight points. … The Hawks tried to recover from their woeful 4-for-25 first quarter by shooting 60 percent (12 of 20) in the second. Even so, they outscored the Trail Blazers only 28-23 and still trailed 63-46 at halftime. … Kent Bazemore left in the fourth quarter with a bruised right knee.

 

Russell Westbrook splits defense and throws it down, leads Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Russell Westbrook was having his way against the Kings Saturday.

He finished with 28 points — which included two on the transition slam you can see above, a move where he just outhustled the Kings down the court then had space for the powerful dunk. He added 10 assists and eight rebounds for the game.

Doug McDermott added 21 off the bench for the Thunder, who won 110-94. Georgios Papagiannis had 14 points and 11 boards to lead Sacramento.

With the win, OKC moved into a tie for the fifth/sixth seed in the West with Los Angeles (the Clippers host the Cavaliers later on Saturday). That race will be huge down the stretch because the five seed will face a good but untested Utah team, while the sixth seed gets a borderline contender in the Houston Rockets in the first round.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love all sitting out for Cavaliers against Clippers

Getty Images
11 Comments

It’s happened for the second Saturday in a row.

Saturday night’s NBA showcase game on ABC is going to have a lot less glamor — Cleveland is going to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, coach Tyronn Lue said.

Last Saturday, Golden State’s Steve Kerr created a minor controversy when he sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala against the Spurs (who were without Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tony Parker due to injury). Kerr did it because that was the eighth game in 13 days, with a couple of cross-country flights for the Warriors.

Love is coming off missing time for a back injury and is not playing in both ends of a back-to-back (so Lue is sitting him for the first game rather than the Laker game Sunday), and Irving had a mild sprained ankle in their last game.

While the Cavaliers are on the first game of a back-to-back starting a four-game road swing, that game is in the same building Sunday against the Lakers. Before this, the Cavaliers hadn’t played since Thursday and were not in an unusually dense part of the schedule. That said, LeBron has had little rest this season and a crazy workload, and Lue has said he wanted to get his key players rest heading into the playoffs.

But all three in a nationally televised game?

This is again going to lead to a talking point around the league and on sports talk radio, plus you can be sure someone with ABC/ESPN/Disney is calling up Adam Silver to remind them exactly how much they paid in broadcast rights for quality games.

This summer the NBA league office, the players union, and representatives from the teams need to sit down and have a discussion about resting players. The analytics undeniably show rested players not only perform better but are far less likely to be injured — teams with massive financial investments in player and looking at the big picture understandably think rest first. However, there is a tipping point where fans and league sponsors are going to push back.

And we seem close to that point.

Report: NBA teams eyeing Carlos Boozer, Jimmer Fredette as they return from China

Leave a comment

Take this report with a grain of salt. That said as a caveat, each year a couple NBA players who had standout seasons in China get a chance with an NBA squad at the end of the season.

This year’s candidates are Jimmer Fredette and Carlos Boozer, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

Jimmer Fredette, fresh off an MVP season with the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks, is back in the United States and eagerly awaiting the phone call that affords him another NBA shot.

‎Carlos Boozer, meanwhile, remains in China but has also played his way back onto the NBA’s radar, having helped the Guangdong Southern Tigers, along with veteran guard Donald Sloan, advance to within one game of the Chinese Basketball Association finals…

One source plugged firmly into the Chinese scene says that the Miami Heat and the aforementioned Clippers are among the teams tracking the 34-year-old’s (Boozer’s) progress with Guangdong.

Do either of these guys really help an NBA team headed to the playoffs? I don’t see it.

Boozer makes a little more sense, and the report has actual teams attached to him. While he’s 35, has been out of the NBA two years, and has lost enough of his athleticism that nobody in the NBA gave him a contract this season, he still is a proven veteran who can get some buckets. Remember, he averaged 11.8 points a game while shooting 49.9 percent, and pulled down 6.8 rebounds a night for the Lakers two seasons ago. He could be a pick-and-pop threat who can bang inside during the postseason.

Fredette put up monster numbers in China averaging 37.6 points per game, but there’s a reason for that — that league plays no defense. Here’s a list of the other players who averaged more than 30 points per game in China this season: Errick McCollum, MarShon Brooks, Jared Cunningham, Jabari Brown, Jamaal Franklin, Lester Hudson, Dominique Jones, and Darius Adams (all fringe NBA guys at best). China has to feel like college again for Fredette because he’s got the ball in his hands and nobody has the athleticism or will to stop him. That doesn’t solve his issues at the NBA level on the defensive end or with his decision making. I’d say I’d be surprised if an NBA team was serious about giving him a short contract for the end of the season, but you never know. That said, give a 10-day contract to a D-Leaguer, it has a better chance of panning out.