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Wizards win fourth straight, 107-94 over Pelicans

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) John Wall had 18 points and 19 assists, Bradley Beal scored 27 points, and the Washington Wizards extended their winning streak to four with a 107-94 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.

Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Markieff Morris added 21 points for the Wizards. They briefly squandered a 17-point halftime lead, but regained control for good with a pivotal 8-0 run in the middle of the third quarter that was highlighted by 3s by Beal and Morris.

Anthony Davis had 36 points, 17 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots, but as with a handful of Pelicans losses this season, he didn’t have enough help. Jrue Holiday had 26 points and 11 assists, and Donatas Motiejunas added 10 points.

`New Orleans made the game competitive by outscoring Washington 33-17 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to improved 3-point shooting. After going 3 of 16 from deep in the first half, the Pelicans hit six of seven 3s in the third. Holiday hit all three 3s he took and Davis added another that pulled New Orleans to 70-68.

Davis, who scored 16 points in the third on 7-of-10 shooting, briefly gave New Orleans a 73-72 lead with his pull-up jumper.

Wall responded with an 18-foot jumper, and Washington began to rebuild its lead early in the fourth quarter, never trailing in the final period.

New Orleans briefly got as close as 83-80 when Davis scored while fouled and added a technical free throw for a four-point possession after Wizards coach Scott Brooks was whistled for arguing. But Washington scored the next eight points and New Orleans never got closer than nine again.

Washington scored the first nine points of the game and led by 11 when Otto Porter Jr.’s second 3 of the first period made it 24-13.

The Pelicans appeared to be settling into a rhythm when they briefly got as close as 32-28 in the second quarter, but the Wizards then went on a 19-3 run capped by Morris’ right corner 3 that gave Washington its largest lead – 18- at 49-31.

New Orleans briefly got back within 13 points on Holiday’s floater, but the Wizards scored twice to close out the half, capped by Wall’s horn-beating 18-foot step-back jumper, after which he skipped out toward mid-court, emphatically pumping his right fist.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Beal has led the Wizards in scoring 17 times and scored 20 or more 26 times. … Gortat has 26 double-doubles this season. … Wall, who entered the game ranked second in the NBA in steals with 2.2 per game, had x against the Pelicans. … Wall has six games with at least 15 points and 15 assists. … Washington arrived in New Orleans 0-5 on the road against the Western Conference.

Pelicans: Wrapped up a six-game home stand at 3-3 and now play their next three on the road. … New Orleans wore its “Mardi Gras Pride” uniforms, which are purple with gold and green trim, for the first time this season. They’ll wear them at home three more times before Mardi Gras Day on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

UP NEXT

Wizards: Host New York on Tuesday night.

Pelicans: Visit Toronto on Tuesday night.

Watch all of LeBron James’ 46 points in Game 6

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There is going to be a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday because of LeBron James.

George Hill had a strong game (20 points), Jeff Green and Larry Nance Jr. had their moments, but it was all about LeBron — 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in 46 brilliant minutes.

Rather than try to describe his game to you — including the dagger threes late — just watch.

And enjoy. There are still some people out there (mostly on Twitter, it seems) who just want to tear LeBron down for some reason. I pity them. Not just because they are wrong, although they are. Rather, it’s because they are depriving themselves of enjoying one of the greatest players ever to lace them up. LeBron can bully people in the paint, hit step back threes, is as gifted a passer as the game has seen, and just plays a smart, high-IQ game we have got to watch grow over the years. If you can’t enjoy that, you don’t love basketball.

LeBron James is a force nature, scores 46, wills Cavaliers to win forcing Game 7

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What more can be said about the brilliance of LeBron James?

We can point to his 46 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists Friday night in a win-or-go-fishing elimination game. We can point to how he lifted the team up when Kevin Love went down after a blow to the head (more on that later). We could talk about how this is his seventh 40+ point game of the playoffs, the last guy to do that since Michael Jordan in 1989 (when Jordan was 25 and had yet to win a title).

Or, we can just show you his back-to-back dagger threes in the fourth quarter over Jayson Tatum.

That is art on a basketball court.

LeBron got a little help Friday night at home, and with that the Cavaliers won Game 6 109-99, forcing a Game 7 back in Boston on Sunday night.

“It feels good just to play for another game, and like I’ve always said ‘Game 7’ is the best two words in sports,” LeBron said. “And for us to be on the road in a hostile environment where we have had no success up to this point, we should relish the opportunity and have fun with it.”

LeBron was nothing short of brilliant (remember 10-12 years ago people were trying to say he was afraid of the big moment, damn that sounds silly now). He is historically brilliant in Game 7s, but he can’t do it alone.

George Hill, the second best shot creator on the team, had 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Jeff Green had 14 off the bench, and Larry Nance Jr. had a timely 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Nance’s play was crucial because Kevin Love went down 5 minutes into the game after banging heads with Jayson Tatum while setting a screen.

Love’s was being checked for a concussion and his status for Game 7 is not known. (If he does have a concussion, it’s unlikely he clears the league protocol in time to play in two days.)

Despite LeBron and all of it, the Celtics had their chances in this one.

Boston got off to a fast start because Jaylen Brown had 15 first-quarter points and the Celtics shot 61 percent as a team, none of which seemed sustainable but it got them out to a 25-20 lead after one. Then the Cavaliers came on in the second with a 20-4 run behind LeBron, and once they had the lead the Cavaliers never let it go.

Boston will look back on not grabbing rebounds — Cleveland grabbed the offensive rebound on 36.6 percent of their missed shots, a very high percentage — and the fact the Celtics missed nine free throws and think things could have been different.

Boston is going home, where they are 10-0 these playoffs and for some reason inexplicable even to Brad Stevens, they play much better. The Celtics have a great defense, smart players, and a real chance.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James. That may be enough.

“We have one more game to be able to compete for a championship, what more can you ask for?” LeBron said.

Kevin Love being evaluated for concussion, out for second half

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It happened just five minutes into the game — Cleveland’s Kevin Love and Boston’s Jayson Tatum banged heads.

Love was in the midpost and part of his job was to set a screen for George Hill, who was racing out to the arc. In doing so, Love and Tatum banged heads and it wasn’t pretty.

Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and has not returned to the game.

Tatum did not leave the game.

There still is no official word on if Love has a concussion. If he does, he will go into the league’s mandated concussion protocol — which means to be cleared he has to be symptom free through a series of physical tests — and it would be a challenge for him to be back for a Game 7, if there is one.

And their likely will be one. After struggling in the rest of the first quarter without Love, the Cavaliers have gotten solid performances out of Hill, Jeff Green, and of course, LeBron James has been brilliant. The Cavaliers have a comfortable 15-point lead late in the third quarter.

NBA Finals schedule drops, Game 1 Thursday, May 31

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We don’t know where the NBA Finals will be played, but we know when.

Next Thursday the eyes of the NBA world could be focused on Oakland or Houston, and the following Wednesday that may shift to Boston or Cleveland. All four of those teams still have a chance to make the NBA Finals.

What we know is the dates for the games. Here is the schedule:

Game 1, Thursday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Game 2, Sunday, June 3, at 8 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Game 3, Wednesday, June 6, at 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 4, Friday, June 8, at 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 5, Monday, June 11, at 9 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Game 6, Thursday, June 14, at 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 7, Sunday, June 17, at 8 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Games 5, 6, and 7 are if necessary. All games will be broadcast on ABC.

There were no surprises here. The date of the start of the NBA Finals has been set since before the season started (it always is, to help broadcast partners and international media plan). The game pattern follows the same as last year, when the NBA changed it to make sure there was at least one day off in addition to travel days when the venue switches cities.