Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson (25) looks to pass the ball as he is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half of the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Hornets win 91-88. (Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports)
(The Sports Xchange) – It was another episode of Linsanity, and this time it was more surreal than ever.
Jeremy Lin rescued the Charlotte Hornets on a night when they started miserably, and the Hornets rallied from a 23-point deficit to stun the San Antonio Spurs 91-88 Monday night.
Lin scored 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting with four 3-pointers, and he came up biggest with the game on the line. His fallaway jumper with 48.4 seconds remaining gave the Hornets the lead for good at 89-88, and then he tacked on two free throws with 18.3 left to push the lead to three.
“He’s a very committed player,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “He comes in and he works so hard. You’re going to get his best effort every night. He obviously came in and picked our energy up tonight, in both halves. He was the catalyst.”
The Hornets (40-30) bounced back from a bitter home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night and won for the 10th time in their past 12 games.
“We just turned it up,” Lin said. “I can’t even think, man. We just played hard. I’m just thankful to God. I’ve been struggling so much and we lost one the other night that we felt we shouldn’t have lost, so to come out here and get this win is a huge boost for us. Now we have to come out and take care of business (Tuesday at Brooklyn).”
The Monday game was all San Antonio in the early going, as the Spurs showed no letdown after their big win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
The Spurs led 28-7 after one quarter, limiting the Hornets to 14.3 percent shooting from the field, 3-for-21.
Lin scored 12 points in the second quarter as the Hornets chipped away at the deficit to trail 51-36 at halftime. The Hornets then closed within 72-67 after three quarters, and then they got their first lead at 75-74 on Lin’s 3-pointer with 9:10 remaining.
“I told them, ‘Please try harder, please,'” Clifford joked about what he said after the Hornets fell behind by 23. “‘I’m begging you, please. I know you make more money than me, I know most of you could get me fired. I’m just saying please, so I can sleep on the plane tonight, please just try a little bit harder.'”
Courtney Lee scored 17 points, Nicolas Batum scored 15, and Cody Zeller had 14 rebounds for Charlotte. Leading scorer Kemba Walker was held to six points on 2-of-11 shooting, and Al Jefferson was just 1-for-9 for three points.
The Spurs (59-11) had a six-game winning streak snapped. They had won 14 of their previous 15 and 20 of their previous 22.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich felt the game slipped away in the second quarter, when his team had an opportunity to turn the outcome into a rout.
“In the second quarter, I thought our second team was basically out to lunch,” Popovich said. “They stopped moving the ball. It was one-on-one, turnovers, gave up 29 points in the quarter. That sealed the fate right there. Charlotte recovered. They did a good job of hanging in and playing hard and continued to do that.”
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 19 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Tim Duncan finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard scored 15. The San Antonio bench provided just 18 points, though, and combined to shoot 5-for-22 from the field.
“They just played better in the second half,” Aldridge said. “They picked up their intensity and they ended up making more plays down the stretch than we did. We got some good looks down the stretch, but guys just didn’t make shots.”
DeMar DeRozan had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and Gregg Popovich continued his climb up the NBA’s career wins list as the visiting San Antonio Spurs defeated the Detroit Pistons 119-107 on Monday.
Popovich earned the 1,221st victory of his career, tying him with Jerry Sloan for third on the NBA’s all-time list among coaches. The 23rd-year Spurs coach trails only Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).
San Antonio dominated the last three quarters after falling behind early. Just as they did against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, the Pistons got off to a good start, jumping out to a 21-9 lead with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting for the Spurs, who have won five straight and six of their last seven. Blake Griffin had 34 points and eight assists, and Andre Drummond had 19 points and 14 rebounds in defeat for the Pistons, who have lost five of six.
Rockets 125, Nuggets 113
James Harden produced another sparkling double-double but this time received plenty of help as Houston extended its home-court winning streak to 10 games with a victory over Western Conference-leading Denver.
Harden paired 32 points with 14 assists. The Rockets also received a career-high 31 points from center Clint Capela (plus nine rebounds) and 21 points apiece from P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The Rockets bounced back after having their six-game win streak end Saturday against the Trail Blazers.
Houston finished 22 of 47 from behind the arc to outflank the Nuggets, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost to the Rockets for the second time this season. Nikola Jokic paced Denver with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Celtics 116, Nets 95
Marcus Smart drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the first quarter to begin a game-changing run by host Boston, which went on to beat Brooklyn.
The Celtics have won three straight and four of five. The Nets, who were trying to reach .500 beyond the midway point of the season for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign, had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the fourth time in the last 16 games.
Kylie Irving, who returned after missing two games with a left eye injury, scored 17 points to lead a balanced Celtics attack. Seven other players scored in double figures for Boston. Rookie Rodions Kurucs scored 24 points and drained five 3-pointers for the Nets.
Bucks 114, Jazz 102
Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 30 points and 10 rebounds to help Milwaukee register a win over visiting Utah.
Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points for the Bucks, who won for the 10th time in their past 12 games. Brook Lopez contributed 15 points and eight rebounds, Thon Maker also scored 15 and Khris Middleton had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points for the Jazz but missed all five shots while going scoreless in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Lakers 107, Mavericks 97
Los Angeles put together a dominant third quarter to rally from a 15-point deficit and win at Dallas.
Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 29 points, Lonzo Ball had 21 and Michael Beasley, with 13 points, was key contributor in a third quarter the Lakers won 32-13. Los Angeles earned just its second victory in seven games playing without injured star LeBron James.
Mavs rookie Luka Doncic finished with a team-high 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Pelicans 114, Grizzlies 95
Anthony Davis had 36 points and 13 rebounds as host New Orleans defeated Memphis. The Pelicans, who handed the Cavaliers their ninth consecutive loss on Saturday in Cleveland, gave the Grizzlies their sixth consecutive loss.
The Pelicans last won consecutive games during a three-game winning streak from Nov. 16-19. Memphis dropped to 3-13 since a 107-103 victory against the host Pelicans on Dec. 7.
Frank Jackson came off the bench to add 17 points for the Pelicans. Mike Conley led Memphis with 22 points and 10 assists, JaMychal Green came off the Grizzlies’ bench to score 16.
Kings 111, Magic 95
De’Aaron Fox led a balanced attack with 20 points as host Sacramento followed up a record-setting shooting performance with one of its best defensive efforts of the season in a victory over travel-weary Orlando.
The Kings limited the Magic to 36.8 percent shooting and the third-lowest scoring output for a Sacramento opponent this season en route to their second straight season-series sweep of Orlando.
Terrence Ross came off the bench to score 20 points for the Magic, who were playing their fifth straight on the road and second in two days, having lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Trail Blazers 111, Knicks 101
Jusuf Nurkic scored 20 points to lead six Trail Blazers in double figures as Portland swept to a victory over visiting New York.
CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard both added 17 points, and Lillard had nine assists for the Trail Blazers, who won for the ninth time in 13 games. Seth Curry scored 13 points, and Jake Layman and Evan Turner had 10 apiece for Portland.
Enes Kanter came off the bench for 18 points and 14 rebounds, Emmanuel Mudiay scored 17 points, and Noah Vonleh contributed 16 points and 14 boards for the Knicks, who have lost in 14 of their past 16 outings.
Dec 12, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) runs back up the court during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeat the Spurs 95-89. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – Highlights of National Basketball Association games on Tuesday:
Mavericks 95, Spurs 89
Kawhi Leonard made his long-anticipated season debut Tuesday and looked to be in mid-season form, although his San Antonio Spurs fell apart in the fourth quarter without him and lost to the Dallas Mavericks 95-89.
The Spurs’ All-Star forward missed the first 27 games of the season because of a quad injury. He quickly displayed his all-around excellence, producing 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting and adding six rebounds, one assist, one steal and a block.
Leonard did it all in 16 minutes as coach Gregg Popovich promised a gradual reintroduction. Leonard’s lone offensive rebound was a tip-out to himself that led to a bucket for a 55-50 San Antonio lead, and Popovich pulled him for good soon after.
The Mavericks, sparked by guard J.J. Barea’s aggressive drives to the basket, opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run, went up 91-80 with 4:01 to go and held on to snap the Spurs’ four-game winning streak as well as end their own three-game skid.
76ers 118, Timberwolves 112 (OT)
Joel Embiid had 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, and J.J. Redick scored 26 points as Philadelphia pulled out an overtime victory over Minnesota.
Ben Simmons was held scoreless until 1:17 remained in regulation, but he ended up with seven points and eight assists for Philadelphia. The 76ers snapped a four-game losing streak by scoring the first six points of overtime and holding on in the back-and-forth game.
Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 38 points for Timberwolves, who shot only 40.7 percent from the field. Karl-Anthony Towns had his league-leading 22nd double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points for Minnesota.
Knicks 113, Lakers 109 (OT)
Kristaps Porzingis scored 37 points as New York emerged with an overtime victory over Los Angeles.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope paced the Lakers with 24 points. Los Angeles rookies Lonzo Ball (17 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Kyle Kuzma (19 points) played well in their Madison Square Garden debuts.
Kuzma hit a 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds left to tie the game at 99, but New York’s Michael Beasley had two baskets and an assist on a Doug McDermott layup during a 69-second run in overtime to give the Knicks a six-point lead they would not relinquish.
Cavaliers 123, Hawks 114
Setting a season high with 20 3-pointers, Cleveland topped Atlanta.
LeBron James scored 25 points and tied a career high with 17 assists. He made two 3-pointers. Kyle Korver (19 points) drained six 3-pointers, and Kevin Love (17 points, 12 rebounds) added four treys, as did Jose Calderon (14 points, tying a season high).
Taurean Prince paced the Hawks with 24 points, and Kent Bazemore added 20.
Nuggets 103, Pistons 84
Jamal Murray fired in 28 points and reserve Trey Lyles tossed in 20, leading Denver to the easy victory over slumping Detroit.
Wilson Chandler scored 18 points, while Mason Plumlee supplied 10 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who never trailed. Gary Harris added eight points, six rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
The Pistons lost their seventh straight, their longest skid since dropping 10 in a row during February and March 2015. Langston Galloway led Detroit with 18 points.
Nets 103, Wizards 98
Allen Crabbe shook off a rough shooting night to hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 44 seconds left as Brooklyn beat Washington.
Crabbe was among seven Nets in double figures, finishing with 13 points. He shot 3 of 15 overall, 3 of 14 from 3-point range on a night when Brooklyn made 23.3 percent from long range.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 28 points but only scored three points in the fourth quarter. He shot 11 of 33 and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.
Kings 99, Suns 92
Zach Randolph scored 11 of his 17 points during the final five minutes, and his three-point play with 44.9 seconds left helped lift Sacramento past Phoenix.
George Hill scored 18 points, and Buddy Hield contributed 14 points off the bench as Sacramento ended a three-game home losing streak.
TJ Warren scored 18 points to lead the Suns, who have dropped four in a row and nine of their past 11. Reserve Mike James scored 17 points in 20 minutes, Tyler Ulis added 10 points, and Tyson Chandler had seven points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix.
May 22, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) leaves the court after game four of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili walked off the AT&T Center court for perhaps the final time in his brilliant career on Monday, showered with cheers from the home crowd and respect from both teams.
With Golden State completing an inevitable 4-0 series sweep over the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, the contest became an ode to Argentinian great Ginobili who may announce his retirement this off-season after 15 years in the NBA.
With the end a possibility for the 39-year-old Ginobili, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich put his veteran in the starting lineup for the first time this campaign.
Ginobili responded with 15 points, seven assists and some vintage moments as the crowd chanted “Manu, Manu” throughout the night.
“I started him tonight out of respect. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to honor him in front of our fans,” Popovich told reporters after the Spurs lost 129-115 to the Warriors, who applauded Ginobili as he left the court in the fourth quarter.
“He deserves to have that night of respect to feel we appreciate everything he has done over the years.”
Drafted by San Antonio in 1999, Ginobili did not break into the league until the 2002-03 campaign, but quickly made an impact with his left-handed play-making wizardry.
A four-time NBA champion who willingly accepted a sixth man role with the Spurs despite his talent and profile, Ginobili has yet to decide if he will return or fade off into retirement.
“I always said I wanted to let it sink in for three weeks, whatever. Sit with my wife and see how it feels,” Ginobili said. “I have to choose between two wonderful options.
“One is to keep playing in this league at this age enjoying playing a sport I still love. The other one is to stay at home and be a dad, enjoy my whole family and spend time with them. Whatever I decide to do, I’ll be a happy camper.”
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O’Brien)
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