Blake Griffin’s season-high 28 lead Clippers in San Antonio 116-92

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich are not fans of the congested early schedules the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs are playing.

But the Clippers can rest easier after their largest victory over the Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back for both teams.

Blake Griffin scored a season-high 28 points and the Clippers handed the Spurs a second straight home loss, 116-92 on Saturday night.

“It was great to win,” Rivers said. “It’s always great to win here, but these games shouldn’t happen. You could literally see both teams, they couldn’t even walk in the middle of the third quarter. A national TV game with two elite teams should be (played) with a day off.”

The Spurs have dropped two straight at the AT&T Center after losing just two regular-season home games in the previous 600 days, including a 40-1 mark last season.

San Antonio had not lost consecutive home games since dropping back-to-back triple-overtime games to Memphis (117-116) and Portland (129-119) in December 2014.

“We feel like we gave two away,” San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard said, “but we’ve just got to learn from our mistakes. Teams that are good learn from their failures.”

It was the Clippers’ most lopsided victory in 160 games against the Spurs and it started on a historic note. Los Angeles scored the most points in the opening half in Popovich’s 21 seasons, rolling to a 73-55 lead.

The Clippers shot 50 percent from the field while dominating the battle between one-loss teams.

“We got some stops and got out in transition,” said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who had nine points and 10 assists. “We played a lot of faster than we’ve been playing and we got some easy buckets.”

After giving up eight straight points to open the game, the Clippers made eight consecutive stops to take a 16-8 lead they would never relinquish.

“After that it was just survival for us because we had a big enough lead,” Rivers said.

Jamal Crawford finished with 16 points, J.J. Redick had 14 and Luc Mbah a Moute had 14 points while shooting 2 for 4 on 3-pointers.

But it was Griffin who keyed the early run.

The 6-foot-10 forward had 26 points in the first half, shooting 12 for 16 from the field.

“Our offense was clicking so well I got out in transition, got some easy ones there,” Griffin said. “But I also got some easy looks from C.P. and (DeAndre Jordan) rolling. It’s nice to have those easy looks go down and that kind of builds your confidence.”

Griffin finished 13 for 19 from the field, banking in shots and rising up for jumpers against LaMarcus Aldridge.

“I’m no dummy, I just told them to get it to him,” Rivers said. “I didn’t care where, but through movement. They did a good job of not just handing it to him they swung it, swung it and then dropped it. But when he’s that hot, you just try to get it to him and space the floor.”

Aldridge had 19 points and Leonard added 14, but the duo shot a combined 10 for 26.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Redick has the longest active streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer at 62 straight. He was 2 for 3 on 3-pointers. … Crawford raised his career total to 17,145 points, passing Grant Hill (17,137) for 88th on the career scoring list. … Redick completed a four-point play in the first quarter, the 26th of his career. He is second in league history, trailing Crawford’s 47.

Spurs: C Pau Gasol had one assist, becoming the third 7-footer in league history with 3,500 in his career. Lakers greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 5,660 assists and Wilt Chamberlain had 4,643. . Leonard was 8 for 8 on free throws, raising his season total to 61 for 63. He is the first Spurs player with 60-plus free throws in the team’s first seven games since Tim Duncan in 2007.

UNSUNG HERO

Mbah a Moute shot 5 for 9 from the field and helped hold Leonard to 3-for-13 shooting.

“We are just always trying to tell Luc that we’ve got the utmost confidence in him,” Paul said. “Luc put in some great work this summer. Sometimes I think we believe in him more than he believes in himself.”

Mbah a Moute entered the game averaging 2.4 points.

VOTE EARLY

Popovich wore a “Vote Pedro” shirt to his pregame interview, which was the same one worn by Napoleon Dynamite in the 2004 cult movie classic.

Popovich was asked recently if he would ever consider running for president, but the matter-of-fact coach said he would never make it through the first debate.

 

Watch Bam Adebayo score 38, lift Heat to win over Wizards

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MIAMI — Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 38 points and the Miami Heat beat the Washington Wizards 110-107 Friday night.

Caleb Martin added 20 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 13 points while Tyler Herro had 11 points and 10 assists for the Heat, who won their second straight at home against Washington after their 113-105 victory Wednesday.

Adebayo’s two free throws with 1:37 remaining put Miami ahead 105-104 lead then extended the advantage on a short jumper with 38 seconds left.

“It was one of those things where my teammates gave me the ball and I was taking advantage of the mismatch,” Adebayo said. “They were shots (Washington) let me have.”

Adebayo has scored in double digits in all 18 of his appearances this season. He’s had double-doubles in half of those games; Miami is 6-3 in those contests.

“He had a lot on his shoulders, really the last several games with a lot of different lineups and everything,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You need that stability from your leaders. I think at some point we’ll print up these shirts, `Mr. Reliable,’ and I’ll wear them, probably.”

Lowry also had eight assists, seven rebounds and a four-point play with 3:15 left for a 103-102 lead – the 11th of what would be 13 lead changes on the night.

And it was another close game for the Heat, who are already 4-3 in games decided by three points or less this season.

“That’s what’s happened really for, it seems like several weeks,” Spoelstra said. “It just feels like every single one of these games is going down to the last possession.”

The Wizards cut the deficit on Bradley Beal‘s dunk before Martin made two free throws with 12.5 seconds for the final margin, then hounded Beal defensively on the game’s last possession and forced the Wizards’ All-Star into a miss to end the contest.

“I take pride in trying to make stops,” Martin said. “Those are the types of situations you dream about, game on the line against a guy like Bradley Beal with the ball late shot clock. I just tried to make it as tough as possible.”

Beal and Kyle Kuzma finished with 28 points Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points for the Wizards.

“We did enough throughout the course of the game to put us in position to win,” said Beal, who returned from a one-game absence because of a quadriceps contusion. “We had several leads and ended up giving up those leads late. It was a matter of us getting stops at the defensive ends.”

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler (right knee soreness) missed his fifth straight game because of right knee soreness while shooters Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) and Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) also sat out.

The Heat rallied from a 12-point deficit late in the first quarter and cut it to 59-56 at halftime.

“Obviously, we had shots late that were makeable to keep them at bay,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

Another Hornets injury: Hayward out indefinitely with fractured shoulder

Philadelphia 76ers v Charlotte Hornets
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
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The basketball gods have not been kind to the Hornets this season. LaMelo Ball missed the start of the season with a sprained ankle, got back and played just three games before re-injuring it by stepping on a fan’s foot while chasing a loose ball out of bounds. Miles Bridges will not be with the team. Cody Martin had his knee scoped and is out, and Dennis Smith Jr. is out with a sprained ankle — and that’s just the guys out right now.

Now add Gordon Hayward to the list. He is out indefinitely with a fractured shoulder. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

Hayward has a long history of injuries and has battled shoulder issues all season. There had been hope in Charlotte that he could stay healthy long enough to contribute to some wins and build up some potential trade interest (his name came up in Russell Westbrook scenarios, for example). In the 11 games he played, he averaged 16.3 points and shot 38.1% from 3. Of course, a trade was always a longshot because Hayward is owed a fully guaranteed $31.5 million next season, no team was taking that on without sweeteners.

With him injured, a trade is out of the question (other than part of a salary dump).

Kevin Durant says ‘it’s cool to see’ LeBron break all-time scoring record

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LeBron James remains on target to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring record, although with the games he has missed this season the target date now looks more like late February/early March.

Kevin Durant is excited to see it, as he told Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“To be the No. 1 in anything, there’s 8 billion people in the world, we just figured that out last week, so to be the No. 1 of all time at scoring the basketball, I’m sure it’s going to be a range of emotions for him,” Durant said at Friday’s shootaround, in advance of a game against the Indiana Pacers. “But to be in an era where we see this live is pretty cool as well. You probably can’t even describe the emotions and feelings him and his family and his friends are going to go through, but it’s cool to see it up close.”

Durant is currently 18th on that all-time scoring list (having just moved past Kevin Garnett), which is impressive in its own right even if he is not going to catch LeBron. LeBron’s feat has taken all of his 20 NBA seasons, and that is what impressed the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.

“LeBron is taking care of himself so well that he’s been able to play a bundle of games for a lot of years. And that’s what he takes,” Popovich said before his Spurs took on the Lakers. “But he gets credit for taking care of himself and being able to be out there. The way a lot of players don’t even come close to. His commitment to the game and to what he has to do, has allowed him to be in this position.”

LeBron’s quest continues to generate a lot of buzz around the league. He just hopes it’s not the lone bright highlight out of this Lakers’ season, but his team has a lot of work to climb up to the postseason out of a 5-11 start.

 

Leonard, George both out for Clippers Friday, Jokic probable for Nuggets

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When Kawhi Leonard returned and was put in the starting lineup, the Clippers said it was time to buckle down and truly start their season.

Instead, how about another round of injuries?

Paul Goerge is missing his third consecutive game with a hamstring tendon strain, while Leonard has a sprained right ankle and this is his second game out.

Adding to the troubling news for the Clippers in this game, Nikola Jokic is probable.

The Clippers won the first three games Leonard was back, and they have a ridiculous +31.7 net rating in the limited minutes that George and Leonard are on the court together. But the question heading into the season — even among those backing the Clippers to come out of the West (*raises hand*) — was whether would they stay healthy enough to live up to that potential? So far, the signs are not promising.

Yet, the Clippers are 11-8 despite the injuries and just a game back of the top-seeded Suns in a West where no team has run away with it. They are not out of it, but they must find a way to get their stars on the court together for an extended period.