Kurt Helin

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard shoots during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Associated Press

Spurs, missing 3 starters, improve to 30-0 at home

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Manu Ginobili added 22 points in his return from a gruesome injury, leading short-handed San Antonio to a 104-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night as the Spurs improved to 30-0 at home.

The Spurs won their eighth straight and extended their franchise record start to 53-9 despite the absence of starters LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and Danny Green.

Manu Ginobili had 22 points in his return from a 12-game absence, showing no physical or psychological effects from testicle surgery on Feb. 5. The 38-year-old veteran fearlessly drove into the lane from the right side of the key in the third quarter, going between Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Omri Casspi to score on a left-handed layup on the left side of the rim. Ginobili earlier stood in front of a charging Cauley-Stein and fouled the 7-foot center while stripping him of the ball on the layup attempt.

The dynamic Argentine’s return was a needed boost with Duncan and Green sitting out to rest and Aldridge out due to a migraine headache.

DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo had an easier time running the pick-and-roll with Duncan and Aldridge out. Quincy Acy also benefited early, scoring 14 points in the first half on 6-for-6 shooting. Cousins finished with 31 points.

Acy only had two points in the second half, though, as the Spurs’ interior defense stiffened.

Sacramento was unable to score in the opening 5 1/2 minutes of the second half. The Kings were 0 for 7 with three turnovers before Casspi made a 6-foot floating jumper with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter. Sacramento finished with 13 points in the third, avoiding matching a season-low for a Spurs’ opponent in the quarter when Casspi threw down a dunk with 28.6 seconds left in the period.

TIP-INS

Kings: Rondo had nine points and eight assists in 37 minutes despite a multitude of ailments. The Kings’ point guard has a right ankle sprain, sprained right thumb, sprained right first metatarsophalangeal joint sprain and turf toe. … C Kostas Koufos missed the game with food poisoning. … The Kings have lost seven straight in San Antonio. Their last victory here was Jan. 20, 2012.

Spurs: San Antonio has the fourth-longest home winning streak in league history, breaking a tie with the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. The Golden State Warriors have won 44 straight home games dating back to last season, tying the ’95-’96 Bulls for the league’s longest winning streak. … Simmons made his first career start, filling in for Green. The rookie missed his only two shots, going scoreless in 16 minutes.

 

LeBron scores 28, leads balanced Cavs past Celtics 120-103

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, drivers past Boston Celtics' Jae Crowder in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 120-103. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half, and Cleveland had seven other players in double figures as the Cavaliers shook off a slow start for a 120-103 win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.

The Cavs were down 18 points in the first quarter but regrouped and stopped Boston’s winning streak at five games.

Kyrie Irving added 21 points and Iman Shumpert busted out of a shooting slump to add 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for Cleveland, which moved 2 1/2 games ahead of Toronto for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

James also passed Tim Duncan for 14th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. He added 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 27 points and Jared Sullinger had 17 with 13 rebounds.

The Cavs were clinging to a seven-point lead in the fourth when they opened some distance over the up-and-coming Celtics with a 7-0 run triggered by a 3-pointer by J.R. Smith. On Cleveland’s next possession, James blasted down the lane for a layup and Shumpert capped the spurt with a jumper. Smith, who added 14 points, later knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:03 left, ending any thought Boston had of a late comeback.

On their previous visit to Cleveland, the Celtics rallied in the final seconds to beat the Cavs 104-103 on Feb. 5. Avery Bradley hit a game-winning 3-pointer from the corner at the horn for Boston, which trailed by four with 7 seconds remaining.

“Let’s be honest, we were really lucky to win here last time,” coach Brad Stevens said. “That was a very fortunate deal.”

Stevens said the Celtics would have to play better this time, and his team came out determined not to fall behind.

Boston came out with confidence and quickly took control, opening an 18-point lead in the first quarter. The Celtics were still up by 14 midway through the second quarter when the Cavs, who gave up 35 points in the first 21 minutes, began to buckle down on defense.

Irving and Smith made 3-pointers and Iman Shumpert, who came in 1 for 11 in his last four games behind the arc, knocked down a deep shot from the corner to tie it 53-all.

James, though, scored 13 in the third quarter, helping the Cavs open 91-83 lead going into the fourth.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Boston began a stretch of six straight games against probable playoff teams. After the Cavs, the Celtics face Memphis, Houston, Indiana, Oklahoma City and Toronto. … Stevens is as competitive as they come and the former Butler coach said it’s never easy for him to shake a loss. “I don’t know if it’s a college thing or a pro thing, I remember every loss vividly,” he said. “Even if it’s Scrabble with the family.” … C Kelly Olynyk missed his ninth straight game with a sprained right shoulder. Stevens believes Olynyk, who separated Love’s shoulder in last year’s playoffs, will return to practice “soon” but would not give a timetable. … Thomas is one of six players this season averaging at least 20 points and 6.5 assists.

Cavaliers: James scored in double figures for the 700th straight regular-season game. His streak began on Jan. 6, 2007. Michael Jordan holds the NBA record, scoring at least 10 points in 866 consecutive games. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it 787 times in a row. … C Timofey Mozgov was nailed in the throat by an elbow from Amir Johnson, who was called for a Flagrant 1 foul in the third quarter. … James came in needing 17 points to pass Duncan (26,366). Next up for James is John Havlicek (26,395).

 

Report: Raptors’ DeMarre Carroll working out one-on-one

Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll left, and Patrick Patterson, right, walk down court in the closing moments of the Raptors 107-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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The Toronto Raptors need help at the four, and there was some surprise (and frustration by Raptors’ fans) that they didn’t make a move at the trade deadline. For now, it is still the Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson show, and that could be trouble come the playoffs.

The guy who would be a fantastic four for them in the playoffs? DeMarre Carroll.

And it sounds like he is getting closer to a return, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

There have been questions about whether the Carroll will be back from his knee injury in time for the playoffs, but if this is any indication he might make it.

Integrating him into the lineup will not be simple (he averaged 11.7 points in the 23 games he played, and he was still trying to find a role), but it’s their best chance at improving at the four and making a serious run in the playoffs.

Chris Bosh says he’s ‘feeling good,’ but status still a mystery

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MIAMI (AP) — Chris Bosh offered a slight update Saturday on his health, his first public hint of how he’s doing since withdrawing from the NBA All-Star Game three weeks ago.

“Feeling good! Feeling great!” Bosh wrote on Twitter, along with a separate mention that he worked out Saturday. He also posted a blog about things he wished he knew in his 20s, but made no reference to his health status there.

Bosh was ruled out of the All-Star Game with what was described as a calf strain. A person with knowledge of the situation later told The Associated Press that a blood clot was found in Bosh’s calf, and that he was back on blood-thinning medication – just as he was last year when his season ended at the All-Star break.

Neither the team nor Bosh has confirmed the second clot, although this situation clearly is not as severe as what he faced last year. At that time, he was hospitalized for several days after a clot worked its way to one of his lungs.

Athletes on blood thinners typically are prohibited from contact sports, given the higher risk of bleeding. It’s unclear if Bosh is still on blood-thinning medication.

He will not play Sunday when Miami, a winner of four straight games, hosts the Philadelphia 76ers. Bosh has been around the team at times since the All-Star break, even doing some shooting on occasion, according to teammates.

Heat President Pat Riley said late last month he believes Bosh is trying to find a way back to the court this season, but did not elaborate.

Miami is 7-2 since Bosh was sidelined. Bosh is averaging 19.1 points this season, his 13th in the NBA and his second year in a five-year, $118 million contract.

Report: Suns waive Sonny Weems

Phoenix Suns' Sonny Weems (10) shoots over Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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After four seasons out of the NBA and bouncing around Europe, Sonny Weems was back in the league this season thanks to the Phoenix Suns, who took a flier on him. They thought he could be a “3&D” guy.

That ended on Saturday when Phoenix waived Weems, reported Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

It’s unlikely anyone will claim Weems off waivers. He was going to be waived before July 11 anyway so his contract would not become guaranteed for next season.

Part of the motivation here is the Suns clearing out another roster spot to bring in Chase Budinger, who reportedly is coming to Phoenix.

The Suns hoped that Weems would be a rotation player, but he was beat out by Devin Booker over the course of the season, plus Ronnie Price and Archie Goodwin were ahead of Weems in the rotation. Weems had a lot of success in Europe and may be headed back there next summer.