Kurt Helin

Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers

Chalmers scores 29 to lead Grizzlies over Thunder 122-114

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) β€” Mario Chalmers‘ transformation from one of the most despised figures in Memphis basketball history to fan favorite has taken all of three games.

His season-best scoring performance Monday night completed the transition.

Chalmers scored 16 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Memphis Grizzlies held on for a 122-114 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As Chalmers got going in the final quarter, Memphis fans were on their feet cheering the guard acquired last week in a trade with the Miami Heat. One fan hollered: “I never thought I would cheer for Mario Chalmers.”

Before the trade, Chalmers was known in Memphis as the guy whose 3-pointer sent the 2008 national championship game against the Memphis Tigers into overtime – a game eventually won by Chalmers’ Kansas Jayhawks.

On Monday, he converted 6 of 13 shots, including 4 of 7 from outside the arc, as five Grizzlies reached double figures. Mike Conley had 22, Jeff Green scored 20, while Marc Gasol added 17. Zach Randolph finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 40 points, 12 in the fourth quarter trying to bring Oklahoma City back from an 11-point deficit. Serge Ibaka had 18 and Enes Kanter scored 16. Steven Adams and Dion Waiters finished with 14 apiece.

Oklahoma City shot 51 percent, including 10 of 24 from outside the arc. But Memphis converted 12 of 17 3-pointers, much out of character for the Grizzlies, who entered the game ranked near the bottom in 3-point shooting at 29 percent.

“I’ve always been a big believer that when the three-point shot goes up, it’s dangerous,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, adding: “To their credit, they made them.”

Westbrook tried to bring the Thunder back in the fourth, fueling a 10-2 rally that pulled Oklahoma City within 108-105 with 1:26 left.

But 3-pointers by Conley and JaMychal Green put the game away for Memphis, which won its third straight.

“They made some big shots at the end of the game,” Westbrook said. “.They just made the last run and won the game.”

Chalmers said the reaction of the Memphis fans despite his role in the national championship game has been refreshing.

“It actually gave me more motivation,” Chalmers said of the cheers. “Just to come out and prove to the fans that I want to be here. I belong here.

“And hopefully they’ll forget about 2008,” he said with a laugh.

 

Nowitzki, Mavericks send 76ers to 11th loss to start season

Dirk Nowitzki
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) β€” It was no surprise to see Dirk Nowitzki come up big late in the game for the Dallas Mavericks.

Nowitzki scored 21 points, including seven during a pivotal stretch late in the fourth quarter, to lead Dallas to a 92-86 victory over the winless Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

Jahlil Okafor had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who have lost all 11 games this season and 21 in a row dating back to last season. Philadelphia’s last win was March 25 at Denver, and the 76ers are within five defeats of matching the franchise’s all-time record for consecutive losses.

Chandler Parsons added 20 points – all in the first half – for the Mavericks, who needed a late push to hold off Philadelphia.

The 76ers trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half but battled back to take an 82-81 lead with 4 minutes, 23 seconds remaining on a free throw by Nerlens Noel before Nowitzki took over.

The 13-time All-Star had seven of nine Dallas points during a 9-2 Mavericks run over the next 2:36, ending with a 3-pointer that made it 90-84 with 1:47 left.

“That was the killer shot for the game,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It was huge. Hey look, he’s been doing that for almost two decades. You’re never shocked when it happens.”

The six-point margin was too much for Philadelphia to overcome.

Nowitzki returned to the lineup after sitting out, along with fellow starters Wesley Matthews and Parsons, to rest during the Mavericks’ 110-98 victory at Houston on Saturday night. Matthews had seven points.

“They kept staying in the game, clawing and scratching and they’re obviously desperate to get their first win,” Nowitzki said. “We had to dig deep and grind it out.”

Noel had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s 0-11 start is six losses shy of tying the franchise mark, set last season, for most defeats to start a season.

“We’ve got to do a better job executing down the stretch to close out a game,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “That’s part of growing up.”

Philadelphia bumbled its way to 15 points in a forgettable first quarter that ended with the Mavericks up 28-15. The typically small crowd rained down boos on the home team during one sequence midway through the period following consecutive turnovers by Nik Stauskas and Jerami Grant. The 76ers ended the quarter with eight turnovers, which led to 11 Dallas points.

They finished with 27 turnovers for the game.

“You’re not going to win any basketball games with 27 turnovers,” Brown said.

The 76ers were down by as many as 19 points in the second quarter before reeling off 25 of the final 36 first-half points to enter the locker room down just five, 49-44.

MORE MINUTES PLEASE

Parsons had his best game of the season, Carlisle said, while continuing to face restricted minutes following offseason knee surgery.

“It’s frustrating, especially in a close game like that when I have it going,” he said of watching from the bench. “You definitely want to play more. At the same time, they know what they’re doing and it’s a process.”

PHYSICAL TEAM

While praising the 76ers for their effort, Carlisle said Philadelphia is a team that gets rough with opponents.

“They’re playing on a go-hard basis,” he said. “If guys aren’t playing hard, they sit down. They have young, motivated guys on small contracts. . They try to rat up the game and try to get you to retaliate. Our guys did a great job with their composure in the second half.”

 

Suns’ Brandon Knight puts Marcelo Huertas in the blender, spins him

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Marcelo Huertas was a quality point guard from Brazil who spent most of his career as one of the better point guards in Europe. On the backside of his career, at age 32, he decided to come to the Lakers and give the NBA a shot this season.

It’s been a rough transition, especially on defense. But what the Suns’ Brandon Knight did to him Monday night was especially nasty. And it’s going to land him on a lot of highlight shows.

Knight picked up his first career triple-double in this game.

Spurs Kawhi Leonard skies, throws it down on Mason Plumlee

Kawhi Leonard, Mason Plumlee
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Kawhi Leonard is a bad man.

He’s been the Spurs best player this season, and he gave the home crowd a bit of a show on Monday night with one of the better dunks from a Spur this season (it’s not the longest list). That is vicious, and there was nothing Mason Plumlee could do about it, save to end up in the highlight.

Jordan’s jersey from last regular season Bulls’ game sells for $173,240

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There apparently is no limit to the Michael Jordan memorabilia market.

The jersey he wore in his final Bulls regular season game β€” not his last game, that was in the Finals, just from an April 18 game against the Knicks where he dropped 44 β€” went for crazy money, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

The jersey that Michael Jordan wore in his final regular-season game with the Chicago Bulls sold for $173,240 early Sunday.

The amount paid is the highest price paid for a Jordan collectible at auction, surpassing Jordan’s “flu game” shoes, which was sold last year for just under $105,000.

More than the flu game shoes? I’ll admit it, I don’t get it. I’m not much of a memorabilia guy, I admit, but that seems like crazy money for any jersey.

But as Nike will be more than happy to you that anything Jordan still sells. Like crazy.