Kurt Helin

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, left, drives to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 17, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 118-110. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Associated Press

LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard lead Spurs to 34th straight home win

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge each had 22 points and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-110 Thursday night to secure the second-best home start to a season in league history.

The Spurs have won 34 straight at home to open the season and only trail the 37 wins by the Chicago Bulls during their historic 72-victory season in 1995-96. The Orlando Magic won 33 straight to open the season that same season.

A dominant third quarter enabled San Antonio to sit its starters for much of the fourth quarter in advance of Saturday’s showdown with Golden State. The Warriors and the Spurs have both clinched playoff berths and division titles and are on pace to finish with two of the three best single-season records in league history.

Tony Parker had 18 points and a season-high 16 assists. The Spurs shot 52 percent while committing seven turnovers, which was one off its season low.

C.J. McCollum had 26 points and Damian Lillard had 23 for Portland.

San Antonio only had two turnovers in the first half while shooting 50 percent from the field but had trouble gaining any separation from Portland.

But as they have done throughout their home winning streak, the Spurs dominated the start of the second half to take command of the game. San Antonio opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run, with Aldridge scoring seven points and Leonard igniting the run with a 3-pointer. The Spurs had 14 assists on 16 field goals in the third quarter.

Leonard had 11 points in the third quarter, providing a boost on offense and defense. The 6-foot-7 forward wrapped a pass to Duncan for an uncontested dunk after drawing three defenders in the lane. Leonard then disrupted a 3-point attempt and then drained his own 3 on the ensuing possession.


Trail Blazers: Portland forward/center Meyers Leonard is expected to miss at least three games after dislocating his left shoulder in practice Wednesday. The injury occurred after Gerald Henderson swiped at his arm. Leonard dislocated the same shoulder against San Antonio on Nov. 11, leading to a seven-game absence. … The Trail Blazers have won 16 of their past 24 games. … Portland is 20-1 when leading at the half and 2-13 when trailing. … The Trail Blazers, who play Friday in New Orleans, are 12-17 in back-to-back games.

Spurs: Aldridge has averaged 17 points and six rebounds in three games against the Trail Blazers this season. The 6-foot-11 forward left Portland to sign with San Antonio in the offseason. … The Spurs have won 54 of its past 62 games. … San Antonio took a 56-54 lead at the half when Patty Mills drained a pair of free throws after being fouled near midcourt by Lillard with 0.1 seconds remaining.


Hornets top Heat 109-106, rallying from 15-point deficit

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 17: Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 17, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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MIAMI (AP) — Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker each scored 21 points, and the Charlotte Hornets overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to beat the Miami Heat 109-106 on Thursday night.

Nic Batum scored 19 for the Hornets, who split four games with Miami this season and now have the same 39-29 record as the Heat in the jampacked Eastern Conference playoff chase. The Hornets are now 15-3 in their last 18 games.

Charlotte trailed 45-30 in the second quarter, then took the lead by halftime and held it for most of the second half. Courtney Lee had 13 and Marvin Williams scored 12 for the Hornets.

Luol Deng led the Heat with 22 points. It was the 10th time this season that Miami lost a game in which it led at one point by double figures, with six of those coming at home.

Charlotte led by six with 3:24 left, but couldn’t shake the Heat.

Dwyane Wade started 1 for 10 from the floor, but made a pair of layups in the final seconds – each getting Miami within a point. Charlotte’s Jeremy Lin got sent to the foul line after each of those baskets by Wade and went 4 for 4 from the stripe in those moments, the last of those coming with 3.8 seconds left to restore the Hornets’ three-point lead.

And that would be enough, as Wade’s 3-pointer with a second left missed.

Josh Richardson scored 18, Hassan Whiteside had 17, Goran Dragic finished with 16 and Joe Johnson added 13 for Miami.

Miami used a 12-0 run to take the 15-point lead at the exact midpoint of the second quarter, and every bit of it was gone by halftime. Walker had 13 points in less than 5 minutes to fuel what became a 24-7 burst by the Hornets to close the half, including a 3-pointer that sent them into the locker room with a 54-52 lead.

The Heat briefly had the lead twice in the third, but a 13-5 run to close that quarter sent Charlotte into the final 12 minutes with an 82-73 edge.

In the fourth, Whiteside and Richardson either scored or had the assist on the first six Miami baskets. Richardson – who is averaging 15.8 points in his last five games on 66 percent shooting, including 15-for-21 from 3-point range – made a 3 to get the Heat within 91-90 midway through the fourth, but Charlotte would not lose the lead at any point in the final quarter.


Hornets: Charlotte lost starting C Cody Zeller at halftime with left knee soreness. Zeller played 14 minutes before the break, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds. He made his last three shots from the floor. Jefferson started the second half in his place. … The Hornets are now 11-3 with Lee as a starter.

Heat: Miami reached 100 points for the ninth consecutive game. … Richardson made 7 of his 9 shots. … Wade scored 11 points, getting him within 13 of 20,000 for his career. … A trio of former Miami Hurricane football standouts – Stephen Morris, Jon Feliciano and Ryan Williams – were in attendance, seated near the Heat bench.


Chris Bosh, who was on the Heat bench Monday for the first time since a blood clot forced him away from the court in February, was not with his team Thursday night – for a good reason. Bosh and his wife Adrienne welcomed twin sons on Tuesday. The boys, Lennox Noel and Phoenix Avery, met their three siblings for the first time on Thursday.


Charlotte’s schedule for the rest of the season seems favorable. Of the Hornets’ last 14 games, as few as four could be against teams that actually make the playoffs. And the Hornets still have a total of four games left to play against Brooklyn and Philadelphia, the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference. That being said, nine of Charlotte’s last 12 are on the road.


John Henson ejected for taunting after blocking Matt Barnes, then Barnes chases him down tunnel


League disciplinarian Kiki Vandeweghe is going to be busy watching film tonight. A suspension for Matt Barnes and maybe some other fines coming from this one.

The game was over, there were less than 10 seconds left and Milwaukee was ahead of short-handed Memphis by 10. The Grizzlies had the ball, but usually a player just dribbles it out, hands it to the referee, and starts getting ready to go to the club.

Matt Barnes, who had scored 18 first quarter points, decided he was going to take one last shot, drove into the lane and shot a little floater — and John Henson rejected it.

Then Henson mean mugged.

Henson was ejected for taunting. He was good with that, high-fiving fans and throwing his jersey to them as he left the arena.

An ejection was not enough for Barnes — he eventually chased Henson down the tunnel. Watch Grizzlies’ coach Dave Joerger try to hold Barnes and call security over before Barnes breaks free and goes running after Henson.

Barnes got all the way to the Bucks locker room but did not find Henson.

Barnes is going to get a multi-game suspension for this. Henson may be writing a check to the league. Ke

Markieff Morris ejected after flagrant-2 foul on Isaiah Canaan


The Wizards were getting frustrated. They had led Thursday night’s game by 24, but the Sixers had made a comeback and were making it a game.

Markieff Morris took it a step too far. The Sixers’ Isaiah Canaan was on a breakaway and Morris raced up with the chance to challenge the shot, but instead, he ended up hitting Canaan in the head.

Intentional or not, it was a blow to the head and that’s an automatic ejection. Morris may see a fine for that.

The Wizards held on to win, 99-94, another needed victory in their efforts to make the playoffs in the East.

Dunks, blocks, Hassan Whiteside putting on show against Hornets


This is why Hassan Whiteside is going to become a very wealthy man this summer.

He’s a big with ridiculous athleticism and hops, and while he doesn’t have a lot of offensive moves he can finish the alley-oop with the best of them.

And of course, he can block shots, just ask Frank Kaminsky. The Hornets’ rookie had backed down Justice Winslow and went up for the shot, but Whiteside marked it return it to sender.

It wasn’t enough, Charlotte beat Miami 109-106, in a battle of teams that could climb to the three seed.