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Associated Press

Will Barton’s two free throws lift Nuggets over Bulls, 110-107

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets defense was absent for most of the night. They got a stop with the game on the line and sent Chicago to another loss in Colorado.

Rookie Jamal Murray scored a season-high 24 points, Will Barton hit two free throws with 9.5 seconds left and the Nuggets beat the Bulls 110-107 on Tuesday night.

It was Denver’s 10th straight home win over the Bulls and its 16th in the last 17 meetings at Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets survived a 35-point, eight-rebound night from Jimmy Butler to keep Chicago winless in Denver since Feb. 8, 2006. Dwyane Wade had 22 points after sitting out Sunday’s game against the Lakers.

Butler insisted the streak wasn’t weighing on the team’s mind.

“It’s a basketball court with two rims, two backboards and a ball,” he said. “At the end of the day put the ball in the basket, do everything you can do in every other city and win the game.”

Chicago had a chance to end the streak but with the game tied Barton was fouled by Wade on a drive to the basket, and he hit two free throws left to give Denver a 109-107 lead.

“We are going to put the ball in Will Barton’s hands, let him attack downhill,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “If he draws a crowd, let him get the ball to Murray, who had been shooting the ball light’s out, on the back side to make a shot.”

The Bulls called timeout and Fred Hoiberg drew up a play for Butler, but Denver shut it down.

Kenneth Faried was standing in the paint so I didn’t have nowhere to go,” Butler said.

Wade got the ball to Isaiah Cannon, coming around the defense but shot an airball on a 3-point attempt and the Nuggets got the ball.

“We got a shot from a very good 3-point shooter. We’re fine with it,” Wade said. “We had a chance to come in and get one and we didn’t.”

The Bulls were in control early but the Nuggets used a 22-0 run at the start of the second quarter to take a 41-31 lead. Murray had 15 of his 17 first half points in the period and Wilson Chandler scored 12 of his 16 in the second quarter.

“It just takes one shot to have confidence,” Murray said. “It doesn’t take me long to get hot. I think every shot is going in. If I miss I don’t worry about it.”

TIP-INS

Bulls: Butler was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 27.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in four games. He scored a season-high 40 Sunday. … Michael Carter-Williams is still out with a left knee bone bruise and left wrist sprain. … Doug McDermott (concussion protocol) missed his fifth game.

Nuggets: Mike Miller is away from the team for family reasons. He is expected to rejoin the team later in the week.

ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID

The Nuggets courted Wade as a free agent this summer but he ultimately chose his hometown Bulls. He came away impressed with his meeting with Denver.

“Those guys, I was sold on them,” Wade said. “They made it a lot tougher than people think.”

Even though he didn’t sign with the Nuggets, they felt good about the process.

“To have a chance to sit down with a first-ballot Hall of Famer who was giving us serious considerations showed our fans of the positive vibes about this team, around the NBA,” Malone said.

RESERVE CLAUSE

The Nuggets’ bench scored 39 of their 41 points in the second quarter and outscored the Bulls reserves 61-13 for the game. Three of Denver’s double-digit scorers came off the bench.

“Our bench was phenomenal tonight,” Malone said.

 

Watch Nick Young’s game-winning three push Lakers past Thunder, 111-109

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nick Young hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play, and the Los Angeles Lakers blew a 14-point lead in the final minutes before rallying for a 111-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

Young finished with 17 points and Jordan Clarkson had 18 for the Lakers, who survived a monster performance by Russell Westbrook in the final minutes.

After Westbrook scored 17 points in a five-minute span to trim the Lakers’ big lead to one point, Steven Adams scored on a go-ahead putback of Westbrook’s miss with 13.9 seconds to play.

The Lakers then passed the ball around the perimeter before Young coolly drained his fourth 3-pointer of the night.

Westbrook missed a long shot shortly before the buzzer.

The Los Angeles native finished with 34 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, barely missing his sixth triple-double of his amazing season.

Timofey Mozgov scored 16 points for the Lakers, who ended a two-game skid with their seventh win in 11 games overall.

Adams had 20 points, including two baskets in the final minute, for the Thunder, who have lost six of eight.

Jose Calderon hit four 3-pointers and scored a season-high 12 points while filling in for D'Angelo Russell, who will miss at least two games to rest his sore knee.

The Lakers jumped to a 13-point lead in the first quarter, hitting five 3-pointers while the Thunder went 0 for 7. Westbrook led the Thunder’s comeback, but Young drained a 25-footer at the halftime buzzer to put the Lakers back ahead.

Los Angeles stretched its lead to a game-high 14 on Larry Nance Jr.’s fast-break dunk with 6:44 to play off a give-and-go with Brandon Ingram, who had 11 points and played in the final minutes.

Westbrook’s fourth 3-pointer of the night trimmed the Lakers’ lead to 108-105 with 1:38 left.

DLO SIDELINED

Russell sat out for the second time in three games to rest his knee, which prevents him from playing at full speed. He won’t play Wednesday, and the Lakers aren’t sure whether he’ll return Friday or Sunday or later. Calderon has played sparingly in his first season with Los Angeles, but the Spanish guard excelled in this spot start.

TIP-INS

Thunder: G Semaj Christon missed his second straight game with a concussion. … Westbrook committed a flagrant-1 foul in the second quarter, hitting Luol Deng around the head and neck. The veterans exchanged words and had to be separated.

Lakers: Julius Randle had three points in 21 minutes while playing with a hip bruise that nearly kept him out of the Lakers’ lineup. … Lou Williams converted a four-point play in the first quarter and finished with 13 points.

 

Watch Rajon Rondo show the behind-the-back fake to reverse layup

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Rajon Rondo has had the fake-behind-the-back pass in his back pocket for years, pulling it out now and then for a bucket.

He pulled it out against Denver. Rondo blew past Emmanuel Mudiay like he was a traffic cone, then when Jusuf Nurkic provided the help Rondo broke out the sick fake and turned it into a reverse layup.

It wasn’t enough. Denver executed better down the stretch and got a quality 110-107 win at home.

Watch Derrick Rose hit the dagger, seal Knicks’ win over Trail Blazers

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The Knicks are starting to figure things out after a slow start. Their defense has gone from worst in the NBA to average, and offensively they are finding rotations that work — particularly Carmelo Anthony at the four and Kristaps Porzingis at the five.

But in crunch time, teams need a guy who can just get a bucket. Tuesday night, Derrick Rose did just that. After Porzingis couldn’t create the shot he wanted and passed it back to Rose (who fumbled it for a second), Rose just drove on Maurice Harkless, stepped back a little, and nailed the shot. Ballgame.

The Knicks are now 7-7 and looking like a playoff team in the East.

Watch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receive Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is almost an underrated NBA legend. On the court there are six titles, six MVPs, Finals MVPs 14 years apart, 19 All-Star appearances, and he’s scored more points than anyone in the history of the game, often using one of the game’s most signature shots. Off the court, he’s been a historian of the game, as well as a noted voice speaking about race issues and being a Muslim in America.

Tuesday, President Barack Obama recognized Abdul-Jabbar for his leadership by awarding him the Medal of Freedom (along with Michael Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates, Robert DiNero, and a host of other deserving folks). Here is what the president said about Abdul-Jabbar.

“…as a surprisingly similar-looking co-pilot, Roger Murdock, once said in the movie Airplane — I mean, we’ve got some great actors here: Space Jam, Airplane — he did it all while dragging [Bill] Walton and [Bob] Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

“But the reason we honor Kareem is more than just a pair of goggles and the skyhook. He stood up for his Muslim faith when it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t popular. He’s as comfortable sparring with Bruce Lee as he is advocating on Capitol Hill or writing with extraordinary eloquence about patriotism. Physically, intellectually, spiritually, Kareem is one of a kind: an American who illuminates both our most basic freedoms and our highest aspirations.”