Khris Middleton: Andre Drummond dislikes contact

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MILWAUKEE (AP) —Greg Monroe put together a big night against his former team. His new teammates also had a lot of fun.

Monroe had 20 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 109-88 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

“I am trying to win every game,” Monroe said. “They just happen to be my former team. No matter who comes in here, I going to come in with the same focus. That is do what I need to do to help my team win on that night. They just happen to be the only other team I have played for.”

Milwaukee had seven players score in double figures, including each of its starters. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points, Khris Middleton scored 16 and Jerryd Bayless had 14 points.

The Bucks had lost three straight and five of six.

Monroe was selected by Detroit with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft and played his first five NBA seasons with the Pistons. But he signed a free-agent deal with Milwaukee in July.

Monroe played a key role as the Bucks grabbed control by outscoring the Pistons 33-22 in the second quarter and 30-14 in the third period. Monroe’s putback lifted Milwaukee to an 88-62 lead heading into the fourth.

It was so bad that Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy ripped into his team before opening the locker room doors.

“Look, we didn’t match up to their intensity and energy,” he said. “If you play like that, you deserve to get blown out.”

Andre Drummond had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, but appeared to hurt himself late in the second quarter. He walked slowly up the court holding his left side after trying to defend Monroe.

Drummond started the third quarter, but the NBA’s leading rebounder wasn’t the same in the second half. He went 6 for 11 from the field in the first half and 0 for 3 in the second.

“We just tried to be physical,” Middleton said of the Bucks’ plan for Drummond. “We know he doesn’t like contact. Once he misses a couple, he is going to get down on himself and start forcing tough shots. Greg did a great job of just making him shot tough shots and not letting him get to his right hand.”

Van Gundy downplayed any idea of an injury to Drummond.

“Nah, he just got hit,” Van Gundy said. “He’s fine.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 17 points for the Pistons, who have dropped six of eight. Stanley Johnson had 16 points and Anthony Tolliver scored a season-high 13.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Darrun Hilliard, the 38th overall pick in the 2015 draft, made his Pistons debut at the start of the second quarter. … The Pistons were 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half.

Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker scored 12 points apiece, and Greivis Vasquez had 10. … The Bucks beat Detroit for the fourth consecutive game.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Host Miami on Wednesday night.

Bucks: Host Sacramento on Wednesday night.

SEVEN STITCHES

Milwaukee guard O.J. Mayo needed seven stitches to close a cut above his right eye.

“Caught an elbow,” he said. “Not a bad play. Things happen. It is all good. I don’t mind getting stitches if we get a W.”

ASSIST BATTLE

Milwaukee had 30 assists, including eight from Carter-Williams, while Reggie Jackson had seven of Detroit’s 19.

UGLY SHOOTING

Detroit was 31 of 91 (34.1 percent) from the floor, including a 6-for-28 performance from 3-point range.

Watch James Harden score 55, including 10 threes, to beat Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (AP) โ€” James Harden scored 55 points – 20 in the fourth quarter – and Russell Westbrook added 23 points as the Houston Rockets withstood an unexpected scare from Cleveland and held on for a 116-110 win Wednesday night over the free-falling Cavaliers, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15.

Harden matched Kyrie Irving‘s arena record for points in a game, and his fourth with 50 or more this season bailed out the Rockets, who allowed the Cavs to score 24 straight points in the second half.

Cleveland was still up 108-107 when Harden, who came in leading the NBA in scoring at 38 points per game, dropped a floater in the lane. After a turnover by Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson, P.J. Tucker hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Clint Capela had a dunk following another Cleveland miscue.

The inexperienced Cavs crumbled in the final minute, making three turnovers.

Capela added 13 rebounds for Houston, which figured to have an easy time with the Cavs, who are struggling under first-year coach John Beilein.

Cleveland, though, came to play and was led by rookie Kevin Porter Jr.‘s season-high 24 points. Collin Sexton added 18 and Kevin Love had 17 points and 11 boards.

Harden connected on a pair of 3-pointers during a 16-2 run in the third quarter when the Rockets, who were sleepwalking through long stretches of the first half, appeared to take control.

But Houston relaxed, and Cleveland went on a jaw-dropping 24-0 run – all without Love, who was on the bench with a head laceration – over a 4:43 stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to a take a 99-88 lead on Porter’s bucket.

 

Grizzlies’ Ja Morant absolutely destroyed Aron Baynes with dunk (VIDEO)

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We may have a new Dunk of the Year.

Memphis rookie Ja Morant is an athletic freak, one confident enough in his skills to go right at a big switched onto him. Say Phoenix’s Aron Baynes. On a critical fourth-quarter possession.

RIP Aron Baynes.

Memphis won the game 115-108.

Victor Oladipo not near return to Pacers rotation

Associated Press
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“But heโ€™s still a ways away.”

Those are not the words Pacers fans want to hear about Victor Oladipo. Their team is playing well โ€” 15-9 with a top-10 defense โ€” but they are not a real postseason threat without their best player, who is recovering from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Before the season, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said he was “hopeful” Oladipo would be back in December or January.

It looks like it’s going to be the back end of that timeline. At best. From J. Michael of the Indy Star, speaking to coach Nate McMillan.

Oladipo will have to be eased back in when he does return, he’s not going too hit the ground running at 40 minutes a night.

The Pacers look like a lock playoff team in the East even without Oladipo, they can afford to bring him along slowly. The hope would be to have the All-Star up to speed and integrated into the offense when the playoffs do start. If that happens, the Pacers become that team that the elite squads want to avoid early.

Lakers outscore Magic 26-9 in the first quarter. It got uglier after that.

Associated Press
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As has gotten a lot of publicity this season, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, sixth in the league in defensive rating coming into Wednesday night. Their combination of length and activity has thrown teams off their games.

Less well publicized, the Orlando Magic have been bad on offense this season, fifth-worst in the NBA.

What happens when the immovable object met a very soft force on Wednesday night, well…

Orlando shot 4-of-21 in the first quarter, missing all six of their threes, plus turned the ball over four times just to make things a little worse. Itโ€™s not that the Lakers were exactly tearing it up, as a team they shot just 35.7 percent in the first quarter (Orlando is a good defensive squad), but Anthony Davis saved their bacon with seven points plus three assists (all for threes, so 16 points generated by him in the first).

The Lakers stretched that out to a 24-point lead in the second quarter before a combination of Orlando stepping up their play and the Lakers taking their foot off the gas a little led to an 18-3 Orlando run that cut the lead to 13 at the half. LeBron James had 16 points to lead the Lakers.

By the middle of the third, Orlando had made a game of it.