Today is Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
|Tuesday, January 23, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Kings||vs.||Magic||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Magic host Kings, aim for 2nd straight win
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:34 AM (EST)
Positive momentum for a team with the second-worst record in the NBA is hard to quantify, but the Orlando Magic are feeling better about the events of the last week.
In the last week, the Magic faced four winning teams and split those games. They beat Minnesota and Boston while sustaining close losses to Washington and Cleveland.
On Tuesday, Orlando gets a crack at getting consecutive wins for the first time in over two months when it hosts the Sacramento Kings.
The Magic (14-32) are tied with Atlanta for the second-worst record in the league. The last time they won consecutive games occurred with wins over New York and Phoenix Nov. 8-10.
Those victories were part of a surprising 8-4 start. Since then, the Magic are 6-26 in their last 32 contests. They were dealt five single-digit losses during a seven-game losing streak from Dec. 30-Jan. 12.
The last game of that skid was a 125-119 loss at Washington. Orlando then beat Minnesota by six last Tuesday and nearly completed a comeback from 23 points down at Cleveland Thursday. On Sunday, the Magic recorded a 103-95 win at Boston despite allowing 40 points to Kyrie Irving.
"I think it says a lot about our toughness because we played well today," Orlando's Elfrid Payton told reporters. "Everybody, collectively, all played well and it's all about transferring it over to the next game. ... We're scratching for wins anywhere and not just (in Boston). It feels good to get a win because we felt we played well against the Cavs (on Thursday) and to get the win this time feels great."
Payton scored 22 while Evan Fournier added 19. Both of Orlando's starting guards are trending upwards.
Although Payton scored six last Tuesday, he is averaging 18.5 points in his last four games. Fournier is averaging 22.6 in his last three games.
"I don't know if you can talk about momentum," Fournier told reporters at practice Monday. "I just think we are playing really hard right now. We're not thinking about the next game or the next 30 games or the All-Star break right now. We're just being in the moment competing right now, and I think that's why we play good."
Orlando also posted 62 points in the paint and is averaging 55.7 inside during the last seven games despite missing center Nikola Vucevic for the last month due to a broken bone in his left hand.
Sacramento (13-33) holds the league's worst record and is on a season-high eight-game losing streak. The Kings also are 2-13 since getting a 104-99 win at Brooklyn at Dec. 20.
Sacramento is on an eight-game skid for the third time in four seasons. Its last nine-game skid occurred from March 31-April 13, 2009.
During this skid, Sacramento is averaging 99.3 points, shooting 44.8 percent, including 38 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, the Kings are allowing 110.8 points and opponents to shoot 48.8 percent.
Sacramento's skid continued with Monday's 112-107 loss at Charlotte. The Kings trailed by 17 after the third quarter after allowing the Hornets to shoot 50.8 percent and make 15 of 30 3-pointers but they outscored Charlotte by 12 in the final 12 minutes.
"We've all got to come collectively as a group and want to win," Sacramento's Buddy Hield told reporters. "It's tough when you're not winning. You've got to learn how to win and it's a learning process right now how to finish games when you're down 10, 12, with five minutes to go and try to find a way to execute."
Skal Labissiere led the Kings with 23 while Hield added 18. Center Willie Cauley-Stein shot 5 of 20 and is shooting 23.3 percent (7 of 30) in his last two games after getting 26 Wednesday vs. Utah.
Garrett Temple and Zach Randolph sat out Monday as the Kings continue to rest veterans to get a look at younger players. George Hill, who was the starting point guard, only played 19 minutes and is a candidate to be traded before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
The teams are meeting in Orlando for the first time since the Magic posted a 102-94 win on Nov. 3, 2016. Of the 10 players to appear in that game for Sacramento, only Kosta Koufos, Cauley-Stein and Temple remain on the team.
|Cavaliers||vs.||Spurs||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Spurs, Cavaliers looking for answers
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:09 AM (EST)
In previous seasons, Tuesday night's game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AT&T Center in San Antonio would have been one of the marquee contests of the NBA calendar, with the two teams among the short list of the best in the league and bragging rights between superstars on the line.
But the 2017-18 season has been different for the Spurs and the Cavaliers. Both teams are in third place in their respective conferences and -- because of injuries for San Antonio and a dead-legged and greying roster for Cleveland -- not in the discussion as teams that can win the league championship.
That doesn't mean that Tuesday's game will not be entertaining. After all, the Cavaliers still have arguably the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, and the Spurs feature LaMarcus Aldridge, who's had 20 double-doubles this season and been San Antonio's leading scorer in 36 of its 48 contests while taking the team's starring role in the absence of the injured Kawhi Leonard.
San Antonio (30-18) limps into the matchup with the Cavaliers on the heels of a 94-86 loss to Indiana on Sunday that was just its third home setback of the season.
Pau Gasol scored 14 points to lead the Spurs in that defeat while Bryn Forbes and Tony Parker, who came off the bench, added 12 each, Aldridge hit for 10 points and 10 rebounds and Kyle Anderson also scored 10 for San Antonio, which has lost three of its past four games and six of its past 10 outings.
Parker came off the bench for just the 14th time in 1,165 career games. He was told about being replaced in the starting lineup earlier on Sunday by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
"Pop told me," Parker said before the game. "He told me he thought it was time, and I was like, 'No problem.' Just like Manu (Ginobili), just like Pau (Gasol), you know that day is going to come. If Pop sees something that is good for the team, I will try to do my best. I will support Pop's decision."
Most of the Spurs' woes have been on the offensive end, as San Antonio is 28th (out of 30 teams) in scoring (100.6 ppg) and 18th in field goal percentage.
"We're holding people to under 100 points per night, and on defense I'm impressed with our effort," Popovich said. "It's hard to do that night after night, especially when you're not making shots, but in the end it's a combination of playing good 'D' with that effort and the ball's also gotta go in the hole."
Cleveland (27-18) heads to the Alamo City after coming up on the losing end of a 148-124 shootout with Oklahoma City at home on Saturday. Isaiah Thomas registered a season-high 24 points in the loss while James tallied 18 points, Jae Crowder posted 17 points, Jeff Green and Derrick Rose added 12 points each and Dwyane Wade recorded 11 points off the bench against Oklahoma City.
The Cavaliers lost two of the three games on their most recent homestand and have dropped seven of their past 10 contests.
So how do the Cavaliers get out of this miserable rut?
"I don't know. I mean, listen. I come to work every day," James said. "Eleven o'clock practice -- I'm here at 9. Game started at 3:30, I'm here at 11:30. I punch my clock in every single day, give everything to the game and to this team, so I can't focus on what the lineup change may be or if there is or if something's going on with our coaching staff, things of that nature.
"I'm going to play my game and I'm going to give my attention to the coaching staff when we're going over our game plan. I'm giving all my effort and my energy to my teammates, when we're getting ready to go out there and play. I can control what I can control and that's always how I lived my life."
Wade suggested that the Cavaliers need to police themselves.
"We have to take accountability," Wade said. "We want it because we want to win. We're looking for it. So hopefully in these next few weeks before the All-Star break we can start getting a little more accountable to ourselves and to this team and just play a little better."
James is just seven points away from becoming just the seventh player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points, as well as the youngest to do so at 33 years and 24 days of age (supplanting Kobe Bryant, 34 years and 104 days).
James currently leads the NBA in field goals made this season (463). Over his career, he has made 10,886 field goals, which is 19 away from surpassing Dirk Nowitzki (10,904 FGM) for eighth all-time in league history.
|Nets||vs.||Thunder||8:00 (EST) Preview|
Thunder focus on streak, avoiding slip-up vs. Nets
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:18 AM (EST)
OKLAHOMA CITY -- More than halfway through the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still searching for consistency.
The Thunder are riding a wave of momentum entering Tuesday's home game against the Brooklyn Nets but know that can be fleeting.
They've shown that all season.
The Thunder have won four consecutive games and they're coming off a 148-point output in Cleveland on Saturday.
Oklahoma City has gone a combined 5-2 against Golden State, Cleveland, Houston, San Antonio and Toronto -- five of the best teams in the NBA.
The Thunder is 4-5 against the teams sitting in the final three spots in each conference entering Monday's action -- Atlanta, Brooklyn, Dallas, Memphis, Orlando and Sacramento.
"We know we can not only play with the teams that are considered to be the best in this league," Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony said. "Not only play with them but win. We're very capable of winning those games and we've showed that playing against the best team that we can beat the best teams.
"I don't think that's ever been our issue as a team, it's beating the teams that we're supposed to beat. Sometimes it's night and day."
Those struggles included a 100-95 loss to the Nets in Mexico City on Dec. 7.
While the Thunder have shown the ability to get the job done against the league's better teams, if they aren't able to find a way to beat the teams lower in the standings, it could be difficult to advance in the postseason.
Brooklyn enters the game having won consecutive games for the fourth time all season, hoping to win a third straight for the first time all year in the second of a five-game road trip.
The Nets have improved with the recent return of D'Angelo Russell, who continues to shake off rust after missing more than two months after having surgery on his left knee but whose presence has helped Brooklyn during this recent two-game stretch.
Another of the catalysts for the Nets' recent success has been the uptick in production for fourth-year guard Joe Harris.
Harris has reached double figures in scoring in six consecutive games, averaging 12.1 points in the last 10 games and shooting 53.9 percent from the field.
"I'm just trying to be as efficient as possible," Harris told the New York Post. "My job is just to create spaces on the floor, allow our ball-handlers to facilitate and have room to work and knock down shots when they're there, and be opportunistic when you have driving lanes.
"But really my job is to create space for everybody else, (and) play tough on the defensive end."
Of course, with the Nets well out of playoff position and Harris in the last season of his contract, his surge has made him a frequent topic of trade conversations.
"At the end of the day, you can't really get caught up in worrying about all that stuff. It'll drive you crazy for sure," Harris said. "You've just got to live with the ambiguity.
"There's a lot of uncertainty in the league, and you just do your part and focus on what you can control."
|Celtics||vs.||Lakers||10:30 (EST) Preview|
Celtics look to avoid 4th straight loss
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:18 AM (EST)
The Boston Celtics were in the middle of a 16-game winning streak when they beat the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this season. Heading into their rematch on Tuesday night at Staples Center, the Celtics are on the verge of losing four in a row for the first time in nearly two years.
Boston (34-13) is reeling from three straight losses at home, most recently a 103-95 defeat Saturday night against the Orlando Magic, who had lost 17 of their previous 19 games.
The Celtics are determined to halt the losing streak at three.
"In my eyes, I feel like we're fighting for our lives right now," Celtics forward Al Horford told the Boston Herald on Monday. "That has to be our mindset going into (Tuesday's) game, and we'll take it a game at a time, focus on (the Lakers) and make sure we come out with a lot of energy and that we're able to sustain it throughout the game."
The Lakers (17-29) have regrouped following a nine-game losing streak and won their past two games and six of eight. They matched their largest margin of victory in a 127-107 win against the visiting New York Knicks on Sunday.
Lakers coach Luke Walton saw better results when he removed his starters while trailing by four points early in the third quarter against New York and inserted rookies Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma with Corey Brewer, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. They led the Lakers to their fifth straight home victory.
"During our home winning streak, we have been really, really good defensively," Walton told reporters after the game. "I was searching out a group that was willing to play that type of defense. ... We got a group in there that was committed to that end of the floor, and then we just stuck with them because they were playing hard and playing the right way."
Walton has been especially impressed with Caruso, an undrafted point guard who has been given a bigger role as injuries have sidelined starting guards Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He had nine points, eight assists and no turnovers against the Knicks.
"I'm super happy we have him and I hope we keep him," Nance told the Los Angeles Times. "He may not look the part, but that is an NBA player. There's no doubt in my mind. It doesn't shock us. We've seen it in practice; we've seen it in training camp. Seeing it in the game is no surprise."
The Celtics didn't have Horford available when they beat the Lakers 107-96 on Nov. 8 for their 10th straight victory. Horford sat out after taking an elbow to the head two nights earlier against the Atlanta Hawks and being placed in concussion protocol.
Celtics leading scorer Kyrie Irving (24.5) was held to 19 points in the last game against Los Angeles, but he's coming off a 40-point effort in the loss to the Magic.
"I try to be motivated every game, man," he told reporters after the game. "I try to come out and put my team in a great position to win and be there for my guys. I try my hardest to be consistent."
|Knicks||vs.||Warriors||10:30 (EST) Preview|
Porzingis leads Knicks against Warriors
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:44 AM (EST)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry gets a first-hand look at a probable All-Star he might have the option of drafting for the Feb. 18 showcase when Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks visit the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
The Knicks have alternated wins and losses in their first four outings on a seven-game trip necessitated by "The Grammys" using Madison Square Garden for rehearsals leading up to the big show Sunday night. They are coming off a 127-107 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Porzingis has averaged 20.5 points on the first four games of the trip and almost surely will be named among the seven Eastern Conference reserves when the full All-Star Game rosters are officially announced shortly before Tuesday's tip-off.
Curry, as the leading vote-getter in the Western Conference, will join LeBron James as captains for the game. Under a new format, they will pick their teams from the 24 selected All-Stars, with James getting first pick among the starters.
Porzingis was not among the 10 starters -- five from each conference -- announced last week.
Curry in turn will get the first selection when the reserves are drafted. That assures he will get a shot at Porzingis -- presuming he earns an All-Star spot as expected -- although Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are others who figure to be available when Curry makes the first pick among the reserves.
Porzingis was not happy to be beaten out by Philadelphia's Joel Embiid for a starting spot among the Eastern players. The Knicks star was chosen for the spot in a vote among players, but Embiid got the nod from coaches and fans, giving him the edge.
"Players know," Porzingis insisted. "That's all I'm going to say."
The last time the third-year NBA player went up against the Warriors in Oakland, he was held to eight points in a 103-90 loss in December of 2016.
He was even less productive on his visit as a rookie, shooting 1-for-11 and totaling just two points.
All told, he's faced the Warriors four times in his career and averaged 10.0 points, about half his overall career average (17.8). He also has never beaten Golden State, going 0-4 with a 19.3-point average margin of defeat.
The clubs have not faced each other this season.
To make matters worse for Porzingis and the Knicks, the Warriors are coming off a loss at Houston as they prepare to open a five-day, three-game homestand.
The Warriors have rebounded from their previous nine losses this season with a win each time, with a 17.9-point average margin of victory.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr is well aware his club has been better on the road (21-4) than at home (16-6) this season.
"Actually, I feel better on the road than I do at home right now," he said with a smile. "But that'll change."
The Warriors had won 14 in a row on the road -- the third-longest streak in NBA history -- before completing a five-game trip Saturday with a 116-108 loss at Houston.
|Monday, January 22, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Walker brushes off trade rumors, Hornets top Kings 112-107
By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 23 at 12:41 AM (EST)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Kemba Walker thinks the Charlotte Hornets can still be a playoff team, and the All-Star point guard would like to be around to see that happen.
However, Walker has resigned himself to the fact there is little he can do about reports the Hornets have put him on the block before the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline.
''I'm over it,'' Walker said. ''I'm not even thinking about it anymore. I just want to win.''
Walker helped his team do just that on Monday night, scoring a game-high 26 points as the Hornets bounced back from a tough loss to beat the Sacramento Kings 112-107.
Hornets owner Michael Jordan told the Charlotte Observer on Monday night that ''It's not like we are shopping him. We would not just give him up. I love Kemba Walker. I would not trade him for anything but an All-Star player.''
Jeremy Lamb had 18 points, and Dwight Howard added 14 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks for the Hornets, who have won six of their last nine to improve to 19-26. Marvin Williams and Nic Batum each had 14 points.
Walker made five 3s, but struggled shooting the ball over finishing 6 of 20 from the field.
That all didn't matter to coach Steve Clifford, who was happy his team could get a win.
''They won at Golden State. They won at Philly. They beat Denver,'' Clifford said of the 13-33 Kings. ''It's the NBA so you have to understand this league.''
The Hornets were coming off an emotionally crushing 106-105 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night in which they surrendered a five-point lead in the final 34 seconds and lost on a last-second free throw following a disputed call.
However, they came out with a purpose against the Kings, closing the first half with an 11-2 run to build a 12-point lead at the break. They extended the lead to 20 in the second half before allowing the lead to dwindle to three with 1:25 remaining after a 3-pointer by Bogdan Bogdanovic.
But there would be no collapse on this night.
Howard hit two clutch free throws and Willie Cauley-Stein was called for goaltending on a put back by Howard. Walker added two more free throws after two Kings misses to push the Charlotte lead to nine with 23 seconds left.
Skai Labissiere had 23 points and Buddy Hield added 18 for the Kings, who have lost eight straight games and 11 of their last 12. The Kings trailed by 20 in the third quarter, but battled back late behind Hield's shooting. He had 10 points in the fourth quarter.
''We've all got to come collectively as a group and want to win,'' Hield said. ''It's tough when you're not winning. You've got to learn how to win and it's a learning process right now how to finish games when you're down 10, 12, with five minutes to go and try to find a way to execute.''
Kings: The starting backcourt consisted of Vince Carter and De'Aaron Fox. Fox was 11 months old when Carter played in his first NBA game. ... Rookie Justin Jackson, who played at North Carolina, got a nice hand from Tar Heels fans when he checked into the game late in the first quarter.
Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did not play because of an abscess in his first arm, which meant Treveon Graham got the start this season. Kidd-Gilchrist is expected back in the starting lineup on Wednesday, Clifford said... Howard picked up his ninth technical of the season.
WHEN TWO TREES COLLIDE: There was a crazy play in the third quarter when Cauley-Stein went up for a monster dunk in the lane but was rejected by Howard. However, the impact of the collision sent Howard to the floor, allowing Cauley-Stein to corral the loose ball and come back with a two-handed, hang-on-the-rim-for-emphasis dunk.
GOOD FROM DEEP: The Hornets made 16 of 40 shots from 3-point range, but got plenty of open looks from deep that didn't go down.
''Just moving the basketball,'' Walker said. ''Whenever you have an open shot just being aggressive and making them. We're all creating for each other to get the best shots possible and whenever we did we just knocked them in tonight.''
Kings: Visit the Magic on Tuesday.
Hornets: Host the Pelicans on Wednesday.
Schroder scores 20 points, improving Hawks beat Jazz 104-90
By PAUL NEWBERRY - AP Sports Writer
Monday, January 22 at 10:58 PM (EST)
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Hawks are starting to see some results from their improved play.
Dennis Schroder scored 20 points , Taurean Prince broke out of a slump with 17 and Kent Bazemore did a stellar job defensively, leading the Hawks past the Utah Jazz 104-90 on Monday night.
Still saddled with one of the league's worst record, Atlanta (14-32) has won three of its last four, four of six and is .500 over its past 14 games.
''We've got to keep it going,'' said Prince, who matched his scoring output from the last four games combined.
The Hawks began to pull away late in the third quarter, closing with a 13-3 run for a 74-63 lead that was their largest to that point. Dewayne Dedmon knocked down a 3-pointer, Malcolm Delaney converted a four-point play and Schroder scored off a couple of drives.
It got totally out of hand at the start of the fourth.
The Jazz missed their first five shots, and the Hawks put the game out of reach with a 10-0 spurt that included a three-point play from rookie John Collins and Bazemore's jumper beyond the arc.
Atlanta led by as many as 26 in the final period .
Bazemore and Marco Belinelli had 11 points apiece for Atlanta, which knocked down 12 of 26 from 3-point range . The Jazz, on the other hand, made only 4 of 15 outside the stripe.
''There were times it looked like we didn't want to play. Including me,'' said Donavan Mitchell, who was held to 13 points by Bazemore.
Battling a hand injury, Prince had hit 7 of 24 shots for 17 points over the last four games. He made 6 of 11 - including a couple of 3s - against the Jazz.
''It's OK to get tired of yourself sometimes,'' Prince said. ''You've just to work through it. I've got to continue to take my shots and continue to play defense.''
Alec Burks came off the bench to lead the Jazz with 17 points. Utah's starters combined for just 40 points.
Mitchell , averaging 19.3 points a game, was limited to 5-of-13 shooting
''He's a good player,'' Bazemore said. ''I just tried to match his energy.''
At the end of the first half, the officials checked out the replay of a long jumper that Belinelli took with more than four minutes to go in the second quarter.
Originally ruled a 2-pointer, it was changed to a 3 after the replay showed Belinelli's foot behind the stripe. So, when the Hawks returned for the third quarter, they had a 42-41 lead instead of being tied at 41.
Belinelli also had the best shot of the night, though this one didn't count.
After a frenetic last few seconds of the first half, in which both teams turned it over and the Jazz failed to get off a shot before the buzzer, Belinelli hurled one up from a 3-point line at his own end of the court - about a 65-footer.
Nothing but net.
Jazz: Missed their first 10 shots but bounced back to lead 20-19 by the end of the opening period. ... Former Hawks star Joe Johnson had four points in 16 minutes. The 36-year-old Johnson played for the Hawks from 2005-12, making the All-Star game in six of seven seasons. Utah is the third team he's played for since being traded by Atlanta. ... Rudy Gobert had 10 rebounds.
Hawks: Coach Mike Budenholzer picked up a technical with 3:55 left in the game with his team up by 21 points. After the Jazz made the free throw, Budenholzer yelled at official Courtney Kirkland, ''The game's not over.'' ... Eight players hit 3-pointers. ... Ersan Ilyasova was held to five points but grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
A THREE ... AND ONE MORE
Both teams converted four-point plays.
Just before the midway point of the first quarter, Joe Ingles hit a trey - Utah's first points of the game - and tacked on a free throw after being fouled by Prince.
Then, late in the third quarter, Delaney swished a 3 from the corner. He was fouled by Royce O'Neale and made the free throw, giving Atlanta a 72-63 lead.
Jazz: Travel to Detroit on Wednesday to face the Pistons.
Hawks: Wrap up a six-game homestand, their longest of the season, by hosting the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry
For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Gasol, Evans fuel rally as Grizzlies overcome Sixers 105-101
By CLAY BAILEY - Associated Press
Tuesday, January 23 at 12:21 AM (EST)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans led the Memphis Grizzlies in scoring, yet it was the play of a recent two-way signee that provided the spark for a fourth-quarter comeback.
Myke Henry connected on a 3-pointer late in the third quarter - his first NBA points - then added nine more points in the fourth as Memphis erased a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 105-101 on Monday night.
Henry, who was signed by the Grizzlies on Jan. 13, was 3 of 5 from the field in the fourth, including converting two of his three 3-point attempts. That and 10 fourth-quarter points from Evans, who finished with 18 points and eight assists, helped Memphis come back from 10 down with 9:45 left.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Henry started the Grizzlies in the right direction. Eventually, Memphis used a 13-2 burst to take their first lead of the night.
''Life comes at you fast, and you, obviously, have to be ready for changes,'' Henry said. ''I was ready. It's been a journey, and I'm just taking it day-by-day.''
Memphis took the lead for good when Gasol's 3-pointer broke a 95-all tie with 4:16 remaining.
Gasol scored 19 points, Mario Chalmers added 17 points, including a pair of free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining, to seal a victory that seemed unlikely when Memphis faced a 15-point deficit late in the third and trailed 83-74 entering the fourth.
''When we were up 14 or 15 points, we come in and we let them sort of back in, get a little momentum,'' Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the difference. He later added that ''we started the fourth period pretty poorly.''
Dario Saric led the Sixers with 22 points and added 10 rebounds, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarott finished with a season-high 20 points. Robert Covington added 18 points and Joel Embiid had 15 points and 14 rebounds as the Sixers ended a three-game winning streak.
The Sixers hurt themselves with 10 of their 24 turnovers in the fourth. Memphis collected 20 points off Philadelphia's 10 miscues down the stretch.
''Poise. Lack of judgment. Leadership. I thought that we had not much leadership,'' Brown said of the play down the stretch. ''I thought our poise was poor.''
Evans said the key for the Grizzles was young players stepping up and helping Memphis overcome the third-quarter deficit.
''He was just playing the game, taking what the defense gave him,'' Evans said, adding: ''That's the first time seeing him play like that. He helped a lot.''
Sixers: Have reached 100 points in 34 of 43 games and 10 of last 11. ... Have lost 10 straight in the series. ... Saric has reached double figures in 24 straight games. ... Luwawu-Cabarott started his third game of the season. ... Ben Simmons, the Sixers third-leading scorer at 16.6 points a game, was limited to six points on 3 of 8 from the field.
Grizzlies: G Wayne Selden received two technicals - the second in the third quarter. ... Has a five-game home winning streak. ... Memphis shot 42 percent in the game, compared to 45 percent for Philadelphia - only the third time this season Memphis has won when shooting a lower field goal percentage. ... The 15-point deficit was the largest the Grizzlies have overcome in a win this season.
FLYING WITH THE EAGLES
To no one's surprise, the Sixers have a seat on the Philadelphia Eagles bandwagon headed to the Super Bowl. The Sixers left Philly earlier than planned Sunday so they could arrive in Memphis before the NFC Championship game between the Eagles and Vikings.
''What an amazing event for (Philadelphia),'' coach Brett Brown said.
He said enthusiasm is clear across the city, including during the Sixers' win at home Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
''The place (was) about the blow up.'' He said the atmosphere is ''just maniacal, just bananas what's going on in our city.''
Sixers: Host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Grizzlies: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
For more NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Cousins' historic triple-double lifts Pelicans over Bulls
By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:32 AM (EST)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) DeMarcus Cousins considered the most impressive statistical night of his career and only half-jokingly asserted that he was most proud of the stamina he needed to log a career high of more than 51 minutes on the court.
Cousins had 44 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists, Anthony Davis scored 34, and the All-Star pair led a 17-point New Orleans comeback in the final five minutes of regulation before the Pelicans pulled out a 132-128 victory over the Chicago Bulls in double overtime Monday night.
''My strength coach had the nerve to ask me, do I want to lift after this game? I almost lost it. If I had some energy, we would have fought,'' Cousins said. ''I'm just glad it's over. Seriously. I think (the Bulls) feel the same way, too.''
In between several moments of brilliance in the second overtime, Cousins' body language suggested he could barely stand. His feet hardly left the floor on a 3-pointer that rolled around the rim and in. He also managed to hit a turnaround jumper and calmly made two free throws to ice the game with eight seconds left.
Davis, who fouled out in the first overtime, called Cousins' performance ''legendary,'' adding that his fellow big man - more than anyone - earned the day off from practice the Pelicans were given on Tuesday.
When the game was finally over, an excited Davis jumped on Cousins and wrapped his arms around his neck.
''He played his heart out,'' Davis said.
Cousins became the first NBA player since Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 to have as many as 40 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Few others have done it.
Cousins' assists included alley-oop lobs to Davis and a couple of long passes to him for breakaway baskets.
''You dream about moments like that as a kid - a game coming down to the line and just making big plays down the stretch,'' Cousins said. ''I think we just willed our way through this game.''
And yet Cousins' heroics nearly never happened. Even after the Pelicans' stunning 23-4 run in the last five minutes of regulation gave them a 114-112 lead on Davis' free throws with 3.2 seconds left, Chicago's Justin Holiday was fouled by Darius Miller attempting a 3-pointer in the final second of the period.
Holiday's first two free throws looked perfect. His last, for the win, rattled out.
''It wasn't meant to happen,'' Holiday said. ''I had the opportunity. I don't miss free throws. Obviously after the game we can talk about things we did wrong, but when we get an opportunity like that, that's what is on my mind right now.''
After Holiday had swished the second free throw, Davis recalled, ''I looked at DeMarcus and we both just shook our head with sad faces, like, `We had this one.'
''And then he missed, and it was, `All right. Let's go get it.'''
Jerian Grant had 22 points and 13 assists, and Robin Lopez also scored 22 for the Bulls, who appeared well on their way to their fifth victory in six games when they opened the fourth quarter with a 23-5 run to take their largest lead at 104-86.
''A lot of good things and obviously we had a chance to win it at the end,'' coach Fred Hoiberg said. ''A lot of things we can learn as well and grow from.''
Bulls: Lauri Markkanen had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Zach LaVine had 19 points, Holiday 15 and Nikola Mirotic 14. ... Came in having made at least 10 3s in 10 straight games and in 32 games total this season, but went 8 of 31 from deep in New Orleans. ... Chicago shot 48.9 percent (45 of 92) overall.
Pelicans: E'Twaun Moore scored 15 points, including a 3 in the second overtime to help the Pelicans win for the fifth time in six games. .... Often guarded by his brother, Jrue Holiday had one of his lowest recent scoring totals, with 12 points, after averaging 25.6 points in his previous five games. ... Miller scored 10 points. ... Won despite shooting only 41.6 percent (47 of 113).
Chicago still led by 17 when Bobby Portis hit a pair of free throws with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans tied it at 110 on Jrue Holiday's 3 with 46 seconds left. Davis gave New Orleans its first lead of the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk of Jrue Holiday's lob.
Markkanen tied it with a driving layup before Davis and Justin Holiday each hit two free throws in the final seconds.
New Orleans had a chance to win at the end of the first overtime, but Ian Clark's 3-point attempt was short and Jrue Holiday's rushed putback also rattled out.
Bulls: Visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
Pelicans: Visit the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.
This story has been corrected to show that Cousins became the first NBA player since Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 to have as many as 40 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Harden's 28 help Rockets rally for 99-90 win over Heat
By KRISTIE RIEKEN - AP Sports Writer
Monday, January 22 at 11:38 PM (EST)
HOUSTON (AP) Chris Paul wasn't thrilled with how the Houston Rockets played Monday night.
The veteran was perfectly happy with the outcome though.
James Harden scored 28 points and the Rockets overcame a big early deficit to beat the Miami Heat 99-90.
''You have those games during the season where (you) win the game and move on ... out of 82 of them sometimes it's going to be ugly, but you just want to win,'' Paul said.
Miami led by double digits before halftime, but the game stayed close throughout most of the second half. It was tied with about three minutes left when Harden hit a 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired. That was the start of a 7-2 run that made it 95-90 with 38 seconds left.
James Johnson missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but Miami's Hassan Whiteside grabbed the rebound. Harden blocked his layup, and Houston added a dunk by Clint Capela with 18 seconds left.
''They did a really good job of trying to run you off the 3-point line,'' Harden said. ''So that was kind of tough for us tonight, but defensively that second half we locked up, controlled the game and that was it.''
Whiteside led the Heat with 22 points and 13 rebounds. The team was missing Goran Dragic for the second straight game because of a bruised left knee.
''They finished and finished in high fashion, making shots, and we struggled to get clean looks on the other end,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Houston was at full strength for the first time in a while with Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green back after serving two-game suspensions for an altercation with the Clippers. Ariza had three points and five rebounds in 29 minutes, but Green did not play.
Paul added 16 points as Houston won its third straight, and Eric Gordon had 16, too, despite continuing to struggle from long range. Gordon ranks fourth in the NBA with 136 3-pointers this season, but has gone a combined 0 for 16 the last two games.
Houston led by 3 entering the fourth, and the teams exchanged leads several times in the first few minutes of the quarter.
The Rockets led by a basket after a 3-pointer by Paul with about eight minutes left before Miami scored the next four points to go up 83-81. Houston then used a 5-1 spurt, with a 3 from P.J. Tucker and a dunk from Capela, to make it 86-84 with about five minutes left.
After ending Golden State's 14-game road winning streak with a victory in their last game, the Rockets looked sluggish early in this one and trailed by 14 during the first quarter. The Heat got a boost in the first quarter from Whiteside, who scored 14 points. The Rockets got going late in the first quarter and had cut the deficit to 50-46 by halftime.
''We get an emotional victory on Saturday and then ... we just didn't come out of the gates very well,'' coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''But after that our defense was solid ... (and) it just came down to James and Chris just creating and getting buckets.''
Heat: Jones had three blocks. ... Josh Richardson finished with 12 points. ... Miami made 7 of 30 3-pointers.
Rockets: Capela had 14 points with eight rebounds. ... Paul had six assists and five rebounds. ... Monday was Houston's first win this season when scoring below 100 points after losing the first three. ... Houston made 15 3-pointers to improve to 25-4 this season when making at last 15.
Houston improved to 18-0 this season in games where Capela, Harden and Paul all play, including 14-0 when starting those three with Ryan Anderson and Ariza. Monday was the first time since Dec. 31 D'Antoni has been able to use that lineup.
THEY SAID IT
Paul on the improvement of the Heat, who have won 9 of 12: ''(Spoelstra's) really got those guys playing hard, playing with the right spirit and it was a really good test for us.''
Heat: Host Sacramento on Thursday night.
Rockets: Visit Dallas on Wednesday night.
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Bucks beat Suns 109-105 hours after firing Jason Kidd
By GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 23 at 12:03 AM (EST)
MILWAUKEE (AP) Khris Middleton spent three-plus years under Jason Kidd's tutelage, blossoming into a dangerous scorer with the Milwaukee Bucks.
He showed off what he learned in the Bucks' first game without Kidd.
Middleton scored 35 points, Malcolm Brogdon added a career-high 32 and Milwaukee beat the Phoenix Suns 109-105 on Monday night hours after firing Kidd.
''It's tough for me,'' Middleton said. ''He took my game to another level. He took this team to a whole other level. Today was a tough day.''
Assistant Joe Prunty was promoted to replace Kidd for the rest of the year. After a slow start, the Bucks heeded the new coach's call to focus.
The sharpshooting Middleton couldn't miss in the final minute.
Brogdon had a steal with 40 seconds left after the Bucks double-teamed guard Devin Booker in the backcourt. Brogdon lobbed a cross-court pass to Middleton, who hit a jumper from the left corner with 24 seconds left for a 105-100 lead.
Middleton also hit a fade-away jumper from nearly the exact same spot with defender Isaiah Canaan in his face with 54 seconds left for a three-point edge that roused the crowd at the Bradley Center.
''We're professionals. It's about regrouping and coming out there and doing your job,'' Brogdon said.
T.J. Warren had 23 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five. Troy Daniels added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point territory.
''To me it felt like a playoff atmosphere game,'' Daniels said. ''They were physical, we were physical. We were right there trying to fight back.''
It was an emotional night for the Bucks following the surprise firing of Kidd. His three-plus season tenure included two playoff appearances but stretches of inconsistency on both ends of the floor. Other than a 33-win season in 2015-16, the Bucks hovered around .500 under Kidd as a young core of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Brogdon turned into top-flight players.
''He's been a great teacher for me. Mostly, I was a spot-up shooter. He allowed me to post up and expanded my game to pick-and-rolls and driving,'' Middleton said.
The Suns fell to 17-30, making them an ideal opponent for the Bucks to beat in their first game under Joe Prunty, the former assistant who will replace Kidd the rest of the season.
Prunty was fiery at times on the sideline and jawed with an official, a contrast from Kidd's typically mild-mannered demeanor.
Middleton and Brogdon sparked the Bucks in the closing minutes by dominating in the backcourt.
Eric Bledsoe added 19 points for the Bucks against his former team. He was dealt to Milwaukee earlier this season in a trade that sent Greg Monroe to Phoenix.
Monroe finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
The Bucks started slow, then used a 24-10 in the first quarter to get back in the game that was tied at 53 at halftime.
Suns: Monroe played for the first time in three games, and his 30 minutes were his most since playing 34 on Jan. 3 against Denver. Coach Jay Triano said he wanted to give a break to Tyson Chandler, the 35-year old starting center averaging about 26 minutes over his previous nine games. ''He has been going hard,'' Triano said. ''We'll give (Monroe) a chance to come back home where he was and see how he plays.''
Bucks: Prunty stuck with a plan put in place by Kidd to rest Antetokounmpo for a second straight game because of knee soreness.
Turnovers punctuated sloppy stretches during the night, with the Bucks coughing up the ball 18 times. But Milwaukee also forced 22 turnovers, including four steals by the lightning-quick Bledsoe.
''They were more aggressive than we were. They were aimed at the ball,'' Triano said.
Booker was 2 of 14 from the field and finished with 14 points but added eight assists. ... F Jared Dudley had a season-high nine assists.
''Once they made the decision, which was a tough one, that they did, they put the onus on the players. We understand that it's going to take us as a group collectively.'' - veteran Bucks G Jason Terry, who also played with Kidd in the NBA.
Suns: At the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Bucks: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
This version corrects to show Greg Monroe had 19 points.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Mavs slow recent slide with season sweep of Wizards, 98-75
By SCHUYLER DIXON - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 23 at 12:14 AM (EST)
DALLAS (AP) Dennis Smith Jr. scored his first points on a 360-degree dunk before the rookie Dallas guard focused more on the bigger task: trying to slow the high-scoring Washington duo of Bradley Beal and John Wall.
The Mavericks did that Monday night, holding the Wizards guards to 28 percent shooting in a 98-75 victory that completed a two-game season sweep of the Eastern Conference playoff contenders while easing Dallas' slide back toward to the bottom in the West.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn't want to give his players too much credit, though.
''I thought the defense certainly looks good on paper, but there were an awful lot of missed shots,'' Carlisle said. ''They had a lot of looks where we weren't in the best position possible.''
Washington coach Scott Brooks agreed.
''We couldn't make a wide-open shot, couldn't make a layup, and we couldn't even make non-contested free throws,'' Brooks said. ''It was one of those nights.''
Harrison Barnes had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Smith scored 17 and the Mavericks stopped their second three-game losing streak since the beginning of January.
Barnes, who scored a season-best 31 points in a 113-99 win at Washington in November, was 9 of 16 from the field.
Beal scored 18 and Wall had 11 - the only double-digit scorers for the Wizards - as the guards combined to go 8 of 29 from the field. Beal was 7 of 12 on free throws, and the Wizards were just 16 of 27 from the line.
Wall, who was a game-time decision because of a migraine, missed all four of his 3-point attempts as Washington went 7 of 32 from long range (22 percent) and shot 31 percent overall. The Wizards had their second-lowest point total behind a 116-69 loss at Utah in December.
''It was a little difficult trying to play through it, but there is no excuse for the way we played or how we got our tails whooped,'' Wall said.
Dirk Nowitzki had just two points when he converted a four-point play to start the fourth quarter to give Dallas its biggest lead to that point at 75-54.
Nowitzki, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds, hit his 3 before the foul by Mike Scott from the same left corner where Yogi Ferrell connected at the third-quarter buzzer. Ferrell scored 14 points along with Wesley Matthews, who was 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
Wizards: F Markieff Morris and Brooks got technicals in the first half. Morris was complaining about no-calls on fouls after he was called for one when he knocked the ball loose as Smith was going up for a dunk on a 3-on-1 break. Brooks got his in the final seconds of the half, not long after Morris was called for an offensive foul. ... Porter left with a right hip strain and didn't return.
Mavericks: C Salah Mejri was ejected after getting two technicals when he kept arguing with official David Guthrie despite Matthews trying to push him away. ... G Devin Harris is in the concussion protocol and missed the game. He was injured in Saturday's loss at Portland. ... The Mavericks held an opponent to season lows in points in the first half (37) and the game.
Dallas guard J.J. Barea got a technical in the second half when he and Wall exchanged words after Barea fouled him in the fourth quarter. Asked about it afterward, Wall said, ''It was cool. It was funny. Just a little midget trying to get mad out there. I paid him no mind.''
At first, Barea shrugged off the ''midget'' comment, but he got slightly more agitated the more he talked about it after the game. ''When they ask me who I don't like in the NBA, I got a guy now,'' Barea said. ''Nothing new to him. I don't think even his teammates like him.''
Smith and Beal ended up with their arms locked after a whistle, and stayed that way for several seconds. It led to a brief exchange, and wasn't the only time they could be seen talking during the game. ''He's just like all rookies, they hate being called rook from the get-go,'' Beal said. ''He wasn't having it, but at the end of the day, that's the title. We all went through the process at one point.''
Wizards: At Oklahoma City on Thursday in fourth game of five-game trip, tied for their longest of the season. The teams will finish the two-game season series five days later in Washington.
Mavericks: Host Houston on Wednesday.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Murray's 38 points lead Nuggets over Trail Blazers 104-101
By MICHAEL KELLY - Associated Press
Tuesday, January 23 at 1:14 AM (EST)
DENVER (AP) Jamal Murray showed he can be the closer the Denver Nuggets have been looking for all season.
The second-year guard scored a career-high 38 points, including a go-ahead three-point play in the final minute, and Denver beat the Portland Trail Blazers 104-101 on Monday night.
After a solid rookie season, Murray has emerged as a leader this year on a team that lacks a go-to player in the fourth quarter. He embraced that role Monday in a game the Nuggets needed.
''Jamal Murray's a guy that can make (shots) throughout the game but he can also make big plays down the stretch,'' Denver coach Michael Malone said. ''It's great to see a young, 20-year-old guard, second year in the NBA, who's not afraid of the moment.''
Nikola Jokic had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Will Barton hit four free throws in the final 10 seconds to secure the win and spoil Jusuf Nurkic's return to Denver.
The Nuggets had lost six of eight.
''We needed this win,'' Murray said. ''It was a division game and we had lost a few in a row. To come out here at home and get this W, it's going to get us back started again.''
Nurkic had 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in his first game back at Pepsi Center. Damian Lillard had 25 points and seven assists for Portland.
Nurkic played two-plus seasons with the Nuggets to begin his career, and was playing his first game in Denver since getting dealt to Portland last season. He received a smattering of boos when he was introduced as a starter and a few during the game.
He said it didn't feel special to be back.
''It was just another game,'' he said.
He nearly had a happy return, but the Trail Blazers couldn't hold a late lead.
Lillard gave Portland a 93-86 advantage with a 3-pointer, but the Nuggets rallied to take a 97-95 lead on Mason Plumlee's dunk. CJ McCollum made two free throws and Lillard hit a running bank shot to give Portland a 99-97 lead with 41.7 seconds left.
He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
''What bothers me the most is I've got to make that free throw,'' Lillard said. ''We were in position to win. Everybody contributed to us being in that position and I've got to be able to shut the door on them.''
Murray's three-point play with 33.6 seconds remaining gave Denver back the lead. The Trail Blazers had two chances to go back in front but couldn't convert. Barton hit two free throws, and after Nurkic's dunk, sealed it with two more foul shots with 1.8 seconds left.
Nurkic got going in the third quarter on both ends of the floor. He had 11 points, six rebounds and blocked Jokic's shot near the basket. Later in the possession he stole the ball from his former teammate, which led to a Portland fast break.
Trail Blazers: Lillard was selected the Western Conference player of the week by the NBA on Monday. He averaged 29.3 points and eight assists as Portland swept its three games last week. ... The Trail Blazers had more steals (eight) than fouls (seven) in the first half. ... Portland has scored 100 or more points in 12 straight games.
Nuggets: Murray's previous career high was 32 points. ... F Wilson Chandler came off the bench after starting all 42 games in which he had played this season. ... F Kenneth Faried was inactive with left ankle soreness.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Denver caught a break when the officials reversed themselves and decided to review a ruling that the Nuggets knocked the ball out of Lillard's hands with 9.2 seconds left.
''They told me they weren't going to review, so I called timeout,'' Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ''Then once I called timeout, they said they were going to review it. I probably shouldn't have called timeout.''
Lillard said he was fouled on the play, but that non-call was not reversible.
''When they went to review it I knew we were going to be on the wrong side because they can't go back and change it to a foul,'' he said.
Trail Blazers: Host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Nuggets: Host the New York Knicks on Thursday night.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Wiggins carries Timberwolves to 126-118 win over Clippers
By BETH HARRIS - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 23 at 2:40 AM (EST)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Playing short-handed, the Minnesota Timberwolves grew up a bit.
Andrew Wiggins scored a season-high 40 points and Jeff Teague added 30 to help them hang on for a 126-118 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night that snapped the Wolves' four-game road skid.
Without injured Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford, the Timberwolves overcame 56 percent shooting by the Clippers and made 33 of 39 free throws - led by Teague's 16 of 17 - to win for the seventh time in nine games.
''They are playing as well as anybody in the league, so to come in here and get a win, we did do a lot of good things,'' Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''We got great contributions from everybody.''
Clippers coach Doc Rivers and assistant Mike Woodson were ejected with seven seconds left, two of four technicals the team received in the final 4:50. Their second straight loss dropped the Clippers into ninth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Denver for the final playoff spot.
The Wolves led by five early in the fourth quarter only to have the game devolve into a back-and-forth affair in which neither team led by more than three until the final 2:44.
That's when the Wolves pulled away to a 121-114 lead on a 3-pointer by Namanja Bjelica and five straight points by Teague.
''We just stayed aggressive, attacked the rim a lot,'' Wiggins said.
Blake Griffin had a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists for the Clippers. But he had a technical and committed two big turnovers in the closing seconds.
''I can't be the one to get a tech in the fourth quarter. I put us in a hole and sort of started the onslaught of techs in the last four minutes,'' Griffin said. ''We got good looks, a couple calls didn't go our way. At the end of the day, it wasn't the calls.''
One of those calls was a 3-pointer by Lou Williams in the left corner that got waved off when Montrezl Harrell was whistled for an offensive foul with the game tied 106-all.
''That hurt,'' Griffin said.
With Minnesota leading 121-118, Karl-Anthony Towns' bad pass out of bounds gave the Clippers the ball. But they lost it in a wild scramble on the floor before Griffin regained it only to get called for a double dribble.
Griffin turned it over again on an out-of-bounds pass before Rivers was tossed out after assistant Sam Cassell drew a technical on the Clippers' bench. Woodson got a technical and then was booted.
''I literally got thrown out for saying, `You guys gave us some tough calls tonight,''' Rivers said. ''That was it. No swear words, nothing. ... Just like players can lose their composure, officials can lose their composure as well. Sam got a technical for saying, `Three seconds.' Blake said, `Over my back' and got a technical.''
Rivers added: ''One ref told me I couldn't talk. I thought I was the head coach. As long as I'm respectful, I can say whatever I want. ... I guess you can give a guy a tech for anything.''
Los Angeles was limited to one field goal over the final 2:44, when the Clippers made all four free throws.
Harrell and Williams led another strong performance by the Clippers' bench, chipping in with 23 and 20 points, respectively.
''Not a great officiated game, but it happens in the NBA once in a while,'' Williams said. ''They got some calls that went their way that kind of shifted the momentum.''
Towns finished with 11 points - well below his 20.2 average - and 17 rebounds.
Griffin notched his seventh career regular-season triple-double, and second this season. It was his third 30-point game of the season, and he just missed equaling his season high of 33 points.
Williams has scored 20 or more points off the bench in nine straight games, the longest streak among active players and tied for the third-longest streak since 1983-84. His 473 points since Dec. 22 are the most in the NBA.
Timberwolves: Improved to 3-0 against the Clippers this season. ... Crawford sat out with a sprained left big toe in his second game at Staples Center since leaving the Clippers as a free agent last summer. He played all 82 games last season. ''It's still sore, but it's improving,'' he said. ''I'm hopeful every day.''
Clippers: C DeAndre Jordan missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle, but could return soon. His next game will tie Randy Smith (715) for the most in franchise history. ... G Austin Rivers (right ankle) sat out his 10th straight game and could be two weeks from returning. ... F Danilo Gallinari (left glute) is close to coming back. ... G Jawun Evans missed the game with a sore abdominal muscle.
Timberwolves: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday in the middle of their three-game western swing.
Clippers: Host Boston on Wednesday, reuniting Doc Rivers with the team he guided to the 2008 NBA title.
More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/tags/NBAbasketball