Los Angeles Clippers center Cole Aldrich (45) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic (40) during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – The understood goal of any second unit in the NBA is to do all it can to hold its ground while its team’s starters get time to rest. So when the reserves add to a lead or flip the flow of the game from one team to another, it’s an unexpected bonus.
San Antonio’s bench and defense were all the difference Tuesday as the Spurs’ reserves helped turn a close game into a rout in the fourth quarter and walloped the Los Angeles Clippers 108-87 Tuesday night.
Kawhi Leonard poured in 20 points to lead five San Antonio players in double figures. But the Spurs (57-10) led by just a point heading to the final quarter before running away from Los Angeles in the first four minutes of the period and never looking back.
Reserve David West had all eight of his points in that fourth-quarter run, and reserve Patty Mills had seven in that stretch. The Spurs eventually expanded their lead to 99-79 and wound up winning by 21.
“They turned up the intensity and the pressure a little bit and put a 37-point fourth quarter on us,” the Clippers’ Chris Paul said. “There are a lot of things that happened over the course of the game for that separation to happen.”
The victory was San Antonio’s 33rd straight at home to open the season and extended the club’s home-game regular-season win streak to a franchise-best 42 games, dating back to a loss to Cleveland last March. The Spurs’ home streak the third-longest in NBA history, behind Chicago’s 44-game regular-season run in 1995-96 and the continuing streak by Golden State (49 games).
LaMarcus Aldridge added 17 points for the Spurs, while Mills had 15. Manu Ginobili hit for 13 points, and Danny Green scored 12 on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Our guys competed and we got a big-time spark off the bench,” Aldridge said. “David (West) was huge and Patty (Mills) brought a lot of juice and energy for us. They definitely carried us down the stretch.”
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 22 points and eight assists. DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles, and Jeff Green and J.J. Redick scored 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The San Antonio bench outscored the Clippers 51-20. The Spurs outrebounded Los Angeles 42-27 and had 25 assists to the Clippers’ 15.
“It was one of those nights when out second unity just didn’t have a lot,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “In the first half (our second unit) got great shots and missed them all — I think they had three points in the first half. The same thing happened in the second half and then I thought they lost their spirit.”
The Clippers (42-24) took things right to San Antonio in the opening minutes, starting the game with an alley-oop pass from Paul for a dunk by Jordan and building 10-6 lead. The Spurs grabbed the momentum and the lead on an Aldridge left-handed hook and boosted their advantage to 18-15 on two free throws by reserve Kevin Martin.
However, the Clippers finished the period with a flurry, as two baskets by Paul and two free throws from Jamal Crawford granted Los Angeles a 21-19 lead at the end of the quarter.
San Antonio’s bench provided a huge boost at the start of the second quarter, fashioning a 13-1 run that handed the Spurs a 31-22 lead. That margin grew to as many as 12 points, at 45-33 on a turnaround jumper by Aldridge, before the Clippers started chipping away, outscoring San Antonio 11-3 in the final minute to get back to within 48-44 at halftime.
Paul led all scorers with 18 points at the half, while the Spurs got 14 from Leonard and 13 from Aldridge in the first 24 minutes of play.
The intensity was increased in the third quarter, and the teams played a nearly even period. Green’s 3-pointer from the right wing brought the Clippers even, and Crawford’s pullup jumper with 14.7 seconds to play gave Los Angeles its first lead since the first quarter.
San Antonio snatched back the advantage on a running baseline jumper from reserve Kyle Anderson that went through the net with no time on the clock, and the Spurs led 71-70 heading into the final period.
The Spurs opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that was keyed by three inside baskets by West and a ringing 3-pointer by Ginobili. San Antonio ended up making 15 of its 21 shots in the final period while Los Angeles made just six of 16.
“We adjusted well and we played a way better second half — everyone could see that,” Ginobili said. “We were more energetic and aggressive and more focused. The bench players try to make a push every time, and last year the Clippers’ second unit created a lot of trouble for us. Today we were more successful.”
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.
(The Sports Xchange) – The Los Angeles Clippers reached an agreement on a blockbuster trade to send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, according to multiple reports Wednesday.
Paul, 32, agreed to opt in to the final year of his $24.2 million contract, clearing the way for the Clippers to execute a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets and bring back assets for the star player, league sources told The Vertical.
The Rockets will send forward Sam Dekker and guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, plus a top-three protected 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers in exchange for Paul, sources told ESPN.
Paul had until Wednesday to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. The Clippers risked losing Paul for nothing in free agency.
Paul could have signed a new deal with the Clippers that started at $34 million a year had he opted out of his contract. He will now be eligible to sign a five-year, $205 million maximum extension with the Rockets since he is being acquired in a trade.
Paul wanted to play alongside Rockets All-Star guard James Harden, according to The Vertical. Paul and Harden reportedly discussed the possibility of a partnership at length and believe they can find a way to thrive together.
Paul, who was acquired by the Clippers in a 2011 trade with New Orleans, is a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA player and a nine-time All-Defensive team member. He played six seasons with Los Angeles after six seasons in New Orleans.
For his career, Paul owns averages of 18.7 points, 9.9 assists and 2.3 steals in 834 NBA games.
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