Category Archives: NBA

Butler leads Heat to 4th straight win, 116-108 over Raptors

Jimmy Butler went to the foul line in the final moments of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, talking and smiling the entire time.

There’s a lot for Butler and the Miami Heat to be happy about right now.

Butler scored 27 points, 14 of them in the final quarter, and the Heat won their fourth straight game by topping the Toronto Raptors 116-108 on Wednesday night.

Butler also had 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Heat, plus a season-high three 3-pointers — two of them in the final minutes. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, Duncan Robinson added 17 points and Goran Dragic scored 15 in his return from an ankle injury.

“We’re just out there having fun,” Adebayo said.

It was the eighth win in the last 11 matches for the Heat, who started the season 7-14.

“Everybody that played really contributed at different points in the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And then Jimmy’s game was the quintessential, all-around winning basketball game.”

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Kyle Lowry, returning from a thumb injury, scored 24 for Toronto. 

Fred VanVleet also had 24 for the Raptors, Norman Powell scored 17 and OG Anunoby had 14 for Toronto.

“I thought we outplayed them,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse stated. “I thought we outplayed them in almost all facets. … The ball just bounced their way a lot.”

Powell made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to get Toronto within 100-98 before Butler had the game’s next three plays of any significance — a 3-pointer, a steal on the ensuing possession and a layup to push Miami’s lead back to seven.

Another 3-pointer by Butler with 3:23 left restored the seven-point edge, and Miami kept the lead the rest of the way.

“He’s our leader and we need him,” Dragic said.

Lowry scored 12 of Toronto’s first 20 points in the opening 6½ minutes, and he made a 31-footer over Miami’s zone midway through the second quarter to tie it at 48.

The next 2:51 belonged to Miami.

The Heat went on a 17-2 spurt in that time, six players scoring during the run, to open a 15-point lead and took a 66-56 edge into halftime.

Toronto scored the first 10 points of the second half, erasing the deficit, but a 17-6 answer by the Heat helped them take a 92-85 lead into the fourth. And the Raptors never led at any point in the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“It was fun to be back out there with the fellas,” said Lowry, who acknowledged that his thumb was hurting at times after contact Wednesday. “We gave it a tough fight, but we didn’t pull it out at the end.”

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Curry leads Warriors past Knicks as fans return to MSG

Stephen Curry welcomed fans back to Madison Square Garden with another big night in the building, scoring 37 points and leading the Golden State Warriors to a 114-106 triumph over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Curry, who owns a 50-point game and a triple-double in the arena, returned from a one-game absence to make the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 left. He scored 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds and six assists.

This performance came in the first NBA game at Madison Square Garden with fans since the Knicks defeated Detroit last March 8, days before the season was suspended as the coronavirus was about to start pummeling New York.

Julius Randle went from the high of his first All-Star selection to the low of getting thrown out in the final seconds after picking up his second technical foul. He had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted New York’s arenas to open to fans at 10% capacity, which meant roughly 2,000 at Madison Square Garden.

They greeted the Knicks with loud cheers early on, but there were the familiar noticeable groans after a turnover during a dismal stretch of the third quarter, when the Warriors opened a 13-point lead.

New York recovered from that and had the game tied at 97 before Curry’s 3-pointer. He converted a three-point play about two minutes later to make it 105-100 and helped finish it off at the foul line.

Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for the Warriors, who got centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney back from injuries and won for the first time after two rough losses on their four-game trip.

They blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost by four in Orlando, then fell 102-100 in Charlotte when Draymond Green got two technical fouls and was ejected in the closing seconds before Terry Rozier made a jumper at the buzzer.

Randle was the first Knicks player selected to the All-Star Game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Randle addressed the crowd before the game, but the start of his remarks were drowned out by fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”

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LaVine leads Bulls over Pistons in newly scheduled game

Zach LaVine scored 37 points and the Chicago Bulls defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102 Wednesday night on short notice.

The Bulls were programmed to visit Charlotte, with the Pistons at Dallas. Those matches got called off Tuesday by the NBA because of COVID-19 contact tracing concerns with the Hornets and power outages in Texas.

The Bulls and Pistons were then scheduled to play each other, instead. Chicago made two 3-pointers late in the game to hold off Detroit. 

Coby White made his shot from the corner to give the Bulls a 100-96 lead with just over a minute remaining before Patrick Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to make it 103-98.

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LaVine made a free throw to ice the game in the final seconds.

He scored 15 points in the third quarter to help Chicago come back from a 25-point, second-quarter deficit.

Wendall Carter Jr. added 18 points while Williams had 15. Chicago won its second consecutive game overall and fifth in a row versus Detroit.

Jerami Grant scored a career-high 43 points for the Pistons, who cooled off after a strong start.

Delon Wright scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half while Dennis Smith Jr. added 10 points off the bench.

Detroit started the second quarter on a 12-0 run and Chicago failed to score until Carter’s follow dunk midway through the period.

Chicago outscored Detroit 27-12 in the third quarter and retook the lead when Garret Temple made a layup with 10 minutes left to make it 74-73.

Pistons play Friday in Memphis, where they have lost seven of the last nine while the Bulls visit Philadelphia on Friday. They have lost five consecutive there.

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Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney out at least two weeks with sprained ankle

Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney will be out at least the next two weeks as he keeps to recover from a sprained left ankle, the team informed Wednesday.

Looney suffered the injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics and had an MRI late Tuesday night that confirmed the sprain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks as he continues rehab.

“This was a fluke,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”

Looney’s injury comes at a bad time for the 11-10 Warriors. They are already playing without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in last Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and will be reevaluated in a week.

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Backup big man Marquese Chriss has been out since the first week of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury during a practice in Chicago.

It still unclear if he will comeback this season.

In the short term, Kerr noted that Eric Paschall, Draymond Green and two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson will all get minutes at the 5 spot.

“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond will play a lot of 5 and Eric will get more minutes, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is hopeful that the Warriors can use the small-ball lineup to their advantage as they get set for a four-game road swing to Dallas and San Antonio over the next week. “You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said after Tuesday’s loss.

“Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup, but we can focus on what we can do and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you up the paint on the defensive end. So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball, too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”

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James, Davis lead Lakers past Hawks 107-99

Anthony Davis scored 25 points and LeBron James dominated down the stretch as the Los Angeles Lakers closed out a nearly two-week trip with a 107-99 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

The Lakers took control with a 16-0 run bookended around the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.

Atlanta rallied, closing to 98-97 on Trae Young’s 3-pointer. But James responded with a 3 of his own from the top of the key, came up with a huge block at the other end on Clint Capela, and finished off the Hawks with a layup off a pass Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

James tacked on four straight free throws to seal the win. He concluded with 21 points after managing only nine through the first three quarters. Young led the Hawks with 25 points and 16 assists.

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Los Angeles went 5-2 while playing seven road matches in 12 days, certainly looking like the fresher team in the closing minutes versus the Hawks.

Atlanta appeared to be taking control, ripping off eight straight points late in the third for a 76-70 lead. But the Lakers stifled that run, scoring the final five points of the period, and followed with an 11-0 outburst to start the fourth quarter.

James and Kyle Kuzma hit 3-pointers and Alex Caruso finished off the run with a dunk, pushing the Lakers to the first double-digit lead for either team to that point.

In a brutal start to the fourth, the Hawks missed three consecutive shots, Danilo Gallinari committed two turnovers, and Bruno Fernando was whistled for an offensive foul. Davis went 10 of 14 from the field for the Lakers. Montrezl Harrell added 19 points, while James had nine assists.

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Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard hits two 3s in 8.9 seconds to bury Chicago Bulls late

Down five points to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night with 8.9 seconds left, the Portland Trail Blazers entered what NBA fans have come to know simply as “Dame Time.”

Damian Lillard hit a 37-foot 3-point shot with less than 10 seconds left to put the Blazers within two points. The Blazers then tied up Bulls star Zach LaVine and won the jump ball — which eventually ended up in Lillard’s hands.

Lillard proceeded to drill a buzzer-beating, step-back 3 over the long arms of Lauri Markkanen to defeat Chicago 123-122.

“This one is special because in these situations where we’re down five, I think, with 11 seconds left, those are the moments where the winning team thinks they’ve got the game pretty much wrapped up,” said Lillard, who scored 14 points in the fourth. “And the opposing team is discouraged.”

Not Lillard. Blazers coach Terry Stotts struggled with words to describe Lillard’s clutch gene after the triumph.

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“It’s innate. It’s God-given,” Stotts said. “He’s born with it, and you can’t teach it.”

Lillard finished with a game-high 44 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds and hit his third career game-winning buzzer-beater, including the playoffs. That is the most in Trail Blazers history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

For Lillard, it was also his 35th career 40-point game, more than double of any other player in franchise history. Clyde Drexler has the next-most with 17.

Lillard’s teammates Enes Kanter and Gary Trent Jr. weren’t surprised by his late-game heroics.

Inside the fanless United Center in Chicago, Kanter was among the first of his teammates to greet him with a hug. Kanter stated he’s “used to that shot” but also recognizes that it’s “unbelievable what he can do.”

Chicago trailed by as many as 19 points on the night before, clawing back to make it a close game in the second half. Markkanen ended with a team-high 31 points with six rebounds, and LaVine contributed 26 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

Portland was playing without Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture), CJ McCollum (midfoot sprain), Derrick Jones Jr. (left foot sprain) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau data, this is the first time a jump ball and a game-winning buzzer-beater occurred on the same possession inside the final 10 seconds since April 30, 2006. On that date, the Los Angeles Lakers won a jump ball against the Suns, and Kobe Bryant hit the game-winning buzzer-beater.

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Durant’s 32 points lead Nets past Young, Hawks 132-128 in OT

Kevin Durant scored 32 points and James Harden had 31 to lead a productive night for Brooklyn’s big three scorers and the Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks 132-128 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Harden added 15 assists and eight rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored 26 points for Brooklyn.

Trae Young had 28 points and 14 assists for Atlanta. Cam Reddish scored a season-high 24 points while John Collins and De’Andre Hunter each had 21 points.

Durant’s dunk gave the Nets a 127-121 lead in the extra period. After Young made one of two free throws to trim Brooklyn’s lead to 129-126, Durant’s turnover with 40 seconds left gave Atlanta an opening. Hunter missed a long jumper that would have tied the game.

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Harden stretched the lead by sinking two free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining.

Durant’s 3-pointer tied the match at 106 in regulation before Kevin Huerter quickly answered with a 3 for Atlanta.

Following a foul by Young, Harden’s two free throws with 2:41 remaining gave Brooklyn a 112-111 lead. Collins’ three-point play gave Atlanta the lead before Irving’s short jumper tied the game at 114-all.

Following a missed jumper by Reddish, Jeff Green’s layup gave the Nets a 116-114 lead. A layup by Reddish tied the game again before Harden missed a 3-foot shot with less than a second remaining.

After scoring only two points in the opening period, Harden passed up a scoring opportunity on the Nets’ first possession of the second quarter. He then looked toward the Nets bench, gestured in a shooting motion and then nodded as if to confirm he should have taken the shot.

Harden made a 3-pointer to spark his scoring spree. He scored 16 points in the second period. The Hawks called a timeout about three minutes into the period after Harden’s step-back 3 over Huerter.

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Kyrie Irving relishes ‘winning time’ after coming up big late for Nets in bounce-back win

With a once double-digit lead whittled down to just one point in the final quarter of the Brooklyn Nets’ Saturday night game versus the Miami Heat, Kyrie Irving took over. He splashed in clutch 3-pointers, had driving layups and made key free throws to help lift the Nets to a 128-124 triumph.

Down the stretch, Irving said his mentality was: “It’s winning time.”

“I’ve always said that throughout my career,” Irving said. “When it gets down to that point, obviously you just want to buckle down on the defensive end, get stops, and I felt like we did that.”

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Nets, who dropped a pair of games at the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week. Irving’s 18 fourth-quarter points were the most he has scored in a final quarter since joining Brooklyn.

“We had two losses where we had to learn a lot very quickly,” Irving said. “And we just moved on to the next night. And I feel like we gave the effort in spurts, and obviously we want to have more consistency in that — and that’ll take time. I’m happy with the effort tonight.”

Irving finished with 28 points. Kevin Durant had a team-high 31-points for the Nets, while Joe Harris added 23 points, including seven 3s. James Harden added 12 points and 11 assists.

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Bam Adebayo finished with a career-high 41 points, five rebounds and nine assists for the Heat.

“It was about time Bam had 40 in terms of getting a lot of those moves that he’s been working on in the offseason,” Irving said. “Just watching him grow since high school, be able to take over at this point for kind of an undermanned Miami team, it’s good to see.”

The Nets came into Saturday’s game with the goal of improving defensively. While they couldn’t fully contain Adebayo, there were glimmers of improvement.

After being outrebounded 50-29 on Friday in Cleveland, the Nets buckled down in defensive rebounding versus the Heat. Brooklyn had an 81.3% defensive rebound rate on Saturday — its third highest in a game this season — as compared to just 58.1% the night before.

Nets coach Steve Nash continued to experiment with lineups involving the team’s three All-Stars. Harden played 11 minutes with both Durant and Irving on the bench. And while Harden’s 12 points were his fewest since January 2020, his five consecutive games with double-digit assists have already tied for the fourth longest such streak in Nets history.

“It feels good not to have to score so much to give ourselves a chance to win a game,” Harden said. “I can go out there and just be a playmaker and shoot my shot when it’s available and still get guys involved — and still have a chance to win the game.”

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving returns, scores 37 points in double-overtime loss to Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving returned after a two-week hiatus on Wednesday, scoring 37 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ 147-135 double-overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In his first match with Kevin Durant and James Harden, Irving played 48 minutes and made 15 of 28 field goal attempts. Durant concluded with 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Harden had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Before the game, coach Steve Nash stated he was “curious” to get a look at the Nets’ All-Star trio in a game together, but was trying to avoid putting too much weight on a single game.

“We will have good nights, we will have great nights, but it is how we galvanize this group together and how we sacrifice and compromise for the greater good,” Irving said.

“That still remains to be seen, obviously one game is out the way, but I am excited for what’s to come.” Patience may be an important virtue for this Brooklyn team. The Nets had visible kinks to work through in the trio’s debut.

After building a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run late in the first quarter stretching into the second and built a nine-point advantage.

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“We seemed a little lost at times, which is natural because we haven’t played together. So there’s a little indecision,” Nash said after the loss. “We started the game turning the ball over, we had seven or eight in the first quarter. We cleaned it up and got ourselves back in the game, but obviously we have to defend better.”

He added: “We’re just getting a feel for each other and this is a process that’s gonna take the entire year.”

At the half, the Cavaliers held a two-point edge over the Nets.

Harden didn’t score his first points until the final minute of the half, when Larry Nance Jr. fouled him, sending Harden to the line where he sank two free throws.

Coming into Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday, Harden had made a shot in the first half in 325 consecutive games, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. Over the last 10 seasons, the only players with longer streaks are LeBron James and Durant.

Brooklyn’s fragmented play bled into the second half. While Harden buried a three early in the third quarter — his first field goal of the game — to briefly give the Nets the lead, Cleveland quickly surged back.

The Nets struggled on the defensive end. In the third quarter alone, 13 of the Cavs’ 22 field goal attempts were uncontested. Cleveland went 11-for-13 on those open looks, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In the fourth, Brooklyn’s fortunes started to turn. The Nets ended the quarter on a 21-9 run and were able to force overtime, with the score knotted at 113. Irving, Durant and Harden combined for 28 of the Nets’ 35 fourth-quarter points.

It wasn’t enough, however, as Cavs guard Collin Sexton led all scorers with 42, including 15 points in the second overtime to put Brooklyn away.

Wednesday marked Irving’s first game since Dec. 5. He had missed the Nets’ past seven games — five for personal reasons and two while conditioning.

During Irving’s time away for personal reasons, the league fined him for violating health and safety protocols and attending what appeared to be a family birthday party. He also lost over $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while in quarantine.

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Rockets rally past Spurs 109-105 in 1st game without Harden

Houston’s first game without James Harden went better than anyone could have expected.

Christian Wood had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and the Rockets rallied to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 109-105 on Thursday night in their first game since trading away the franchise cornerstone.

“It was fun. It was really cool stuff,” Houston’s first-year coach Stephen Silas said.

Sterling Brown, who took Harden’s spot in the starting lineup, had 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes. Jae’Sean Tate added 13 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.

San Antonio forward Keldon Johnson had a career-high 29 points and Lonnie Walker IV added 16 points while tying a career-high with four 3-pointers. Houston sent Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team blockbuster trade on Wednesday. 

Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs, who the Rockets acquired along with numerous draft picks and draft swaps for Harden, are not with the team yet.

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It was Houston’s first match without Harden since 2012, when Oklahoma City traded its young guard to the Rockets primarily due to salary cap constraints.

Harden remained publicly quiet through months of rumors about his unhappiness with the Rockets, but he broke that silence following a second blowout loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. He bluntly said the Rockets were “just not good enough” and that he did not believe the situation could be fixed.

Houston showed otherwise, at least in their first chance to do so.

“We had a team meeting after that last game against the Lakers and we drew the line there,” Tate said. “Everybody has so much to prove.”

The Rockets were also without John Wall and Eric Gordon due to injuries. The upheaval led to more minutes for the remaining roster, and they took advantage of it.

“Spirit is something I believe a lot in and talk a lot about,” Silas said. “We had spirit tonight.”

Seven players scored at least nine points, with Mason Jones scoring a career-high nine points.

The Rockets staged a 15-2 run to lead 105-101 with 1:46 left.

“It’s got nothing to do with defense (or) offense,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the late swoon. “It has to do with between the ears and being ready to play. And we had four or five guys who were out to lunch.”

Brown had a wild, overhead shot land on the top of the backboard for an out-of-bounds call with 9.5 seconds remaining. San Antonio veteran DeMar DeRozan missed a 15-footer with 0.4 seconds left, and the Spurs fouled P.J. Tucker, who made two free throws to seal it.

DeRozan had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds in his return from a two-game absence due to personal reasons.

The teams meet again Saturday at the AT&T Center in the finale of a two-game set in San Antonio.

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