|Saturday, January 20, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Grizzlies||vs.||Pelicans||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Pelicans face Grizzlies hoping to improve home performance
Saturday, January 20 at 2:10 AM (EST)
NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Pelicans made franchise history this week by having Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins named as starters for the NBA All-Star Game.
Now Pelicans fans are wondering if that history will pay off with a future worth watching.
Despite the boxcar scoring and rebounding numbers the Twin Towers have posted this season, the Pelicans still are just 23-21 entering Saturday night's game against the 16-28 Memphis Grizzlies, who have beaten New Orleans twice this season in Memphis and in nine of their previous 11 meetings.
Although their record is the Pelicans' best at this point of the season since 2011, they have been a confounding team, beating the elite of the NBA while losing at an alarming rate to sub-.500 teams.
After recording overtime road victories over the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics behind monster performances by Davis -- a combined 93 points and 33 rebounds -- the Pelicans blew a 16-point halftime lead at Atlanta on Wednesday night and lost 94-93, snapping a three-game winning streak.
The Pelicans are a respectable 12-12 on the road but only 11-9 at home, and that has bothered coach Alvin Gentry.
"We would like our record to be a little better," Gentry said. "We keep talking about taking care of business at home. We've got to be much better at home than .500. We've got to make sure we have some separation from the .500 situation."
"We don't want to win in spurts," Cousins said. "We want to win when we're supposed to win. We're still trying to find that consistency. We want to be the team we want to be at all times, not just when it's the big games."
Davis and Cousins have proven that two big men with rare offensive skills can work together seamlessly. Davis ranks fourth in the league in scoring (26.7), seventh in field-goal percentage (.577), eighth in rebounding (10.5) and third in blocks (2.08).
Cousins, meanwhile, is sixth in scoring (25.3), third in rebounding (12.7) and seventh in blocks (1.57). His biggest shortcoming has been handling the ball, averaging a league-worst 5.0 turnovers a game.
At times, though, the Davis-Cousins combo has been stunning. This is Cousins' first time as an All-Star starter and Davis' third starting appearance. Davis has made five All-Star teams and Cousins has made four.
"The biggest question was, was it going to work? I think we just proved that it is and it can work," Davis said. "But it's a testament to our hard work. We like each other, we feel like we complement each other. Just having those two All-Star spots taken up by us is huge for us as players, for our team and the organization."
"What it shows is both those guys are willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team," Gentry said. "Both of those guys are willing to leave a little bit of their game off the floor so that the other guy can be good. They're willing to do whatever is necessary to be successful."
Despite their disappointing record, the Grizzlies won their third consecutive game Friday night, defeating the Sacramento Kings 106-88 by outscoring the Kings 66-48 in the second half. Rookie Dillon Brooks scored a career-high 22 points.
"We've got a of competitors on this team, from top to bottom," Dillon said. "Guys want to play their role and win. Everyone's focused on coming into work and getting their work in. We're not thinking about tanking; we're thinking about winning."
In two home games against New Orleans this season, former Pelican guard Tyreke Evans has averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, and Marc Gasol has averaged 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. The Grizzlies beat New Orleans 103-91 in the season-opener on Oct. 18 and 105-102 on Jan. 10.
|Heat||vs.||Hornets||7:00 (EST) Preview|
Hornets on roll heading into meeting with Heat
Saturday, January 20 at 2:04 AM (EST)
The Charlotte Hornets will seek to continue the momentum created by coach Steve Clifford's return when they go after a second consecutive home win and third straight overall Saturday night against the Miami Heat.
All five starters and two reserves scored in double figures Wednesday when the Hornets thrashed the Washington Wizards 133-109 in Clifford's first game back after taking a five-week leave of absence to deal with stress-related headaches.
A 77-point first half created a comfortable situation for all Hornets in the win, which was their second in a row against a team currently battling for playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte won 118-107 at Detroit on Monday.
After watching his team put up its highest point total of the season, Clifford pronounced the team -- and himself -- healthy.
"It feels good. Physically, I feel really good," he assured after the game. "But we need to win, so that's the best thing."
The Hornets catch a bit of a break Saturday when facing a Heat club that played Friday at Brooklyn and then traveled into Charlotte early in the morning.
On the eve of the matchup, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra was more concerned about his colleague than the schedule.
"It's great (that he's back); we texted this week," Spoelstra said of Clifford. "That's scary. There's a great deal of stress to this position, so all the coaches empathize with what we're going through. It's a great opportunity and none of us take it for granted, but it also reminds us you have to be very intentional about taking care of yourself.
"I've gone down that road and we're not perfect. I think all of our defaults is to become more obsessive, and a lot of times that's counterproductive, so it's a really difficult thing to fight against. But we're all thrilled to have him back out there and you could see the team felt great about it to in just how well they played."
The Heat allowed a 10-point halftime lead slip away in a 101-95 loss at Brooklyn that gave Miami a 1-2 record to open a five-game trip after a seven-game winning streak.
The back-to-back set on the road is the Heat's fourth of the season. They've lost two of three on the second night after winning two of three on the first night in their first three two-in-two's.
The Heat were playing a back-to-back when they won at Charlotte 104-98 last month. They completed a sweep when they returned home and beat the Los Angeles Clippers the next night.
Miami's bench was the difference-maker in the win over the Hornets. Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Bam Adebayo and Jordan Mickey combined for 51 of the 104 points on 19-for-28 shooting.
That foursome outscored a six-man Charlotte reserve crew 51-35.
The Heat had also used superior bench play to edge the Hornets 105-100 two weeks earlier in Miami.
That night, Johnson and Ellington teamed with Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson as the four-man wrecking crew off the bench, combining to outscore the Charlotte backups 44-39.
The Heat will have to deal not only with a Hornets team inspired by its coach Saturday, but also by two veterans making a late push to make the Eastern All-Star team as reserves.
Dwight Howard has been on a major roll of late, having averaged 15.8 points and 13.5 rebounds in his last 11 games.
Kemba Walker, meanwhile, has had 30- and 41-point explosions among his last eight games, during which he's averaged 22.8 points per game.
|Bucks||vs.||76ers||7:30 (EST) Preview|
All-Stars on display in Bucks vs. 76ers
Saturday, January 20 at 2:04 AM (EST)
Newly minted All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid will square off on Saturday, when Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks visit Embiid's Philadelphia 76ers.
Both were named Eastern Conference starters on Thursday, Antetokounmpo after finishing second in balloting to Cleveland's LeBron James. Antetokounmpo, who also started last year, is the first Buck since Marques Johnson in 1979 and '80 to start consecutive years.
"I think it's a great honor," Bucks coach Jason Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's well-deserved not just by the vote -- he would be in the game no matter what. That just shows his popularity here in a small market of being one of the top vote-getters in the league. He's likable on and off the floor."
Embiid is the first Sixer to be named an All-Star starter since Allen Iverson in 2006. He told Philly.com that he feels he is "blessed," and happily passed around credit to others.
"I think this is validation not only for me, but for the whole organization, especially after what we have been through for the last four years," Embiid told Philly.com. "So I'm not excited about myself. I'm excited for the whole city of Philadelphia and the fans world-wide."
Embiid collected 26 points, 16 rebounds and six assists as the Sixers held off Boston 89-80 on Thursday night, Philadelphia's first victory over the East-leading Celtics in four attempts this season.
Overall the Sixers have won six of seven games to improve to 21-20, the first time they have been over .500 at the season's midpoint since 2005-06.
The Bucks (23-21) find themselves in a bit of a tailspin, having lost three of four despite Antetokounmpo's all-around brilliance. He had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists Wednesday against Miami, but the Heat prevailed 106-101 behind Hassan Whiteside's 27-point, 13-rebound, six-block performance.
"He does care, he does want to win," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said of Antetokounmpo, per the Journal Sentinel. "I think he said it before ... that he's going to be judged on winning. The great ones are. When you look at LeBron and Kobe (Bryant) and Michael (Jordan), the great ones are all judged on winning -- not how much money they've made, but winning."
The Bucks have been without forward Jabari Parker (left knee surgery) all season, but he is expected to return early in February.
Forward Mirza Teletovic has missed all but 10 games after undergoing surgery on his right knee and being diagnosed with blood clots in both lungs. It is unclear as to when he might return.
Philadelphia guard Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick in last summer's draft, has missed all but four games because of a shoulder injury. While there is no timetable for his return, he has ramped up his workouts in recent weeks.
Sixers guard J.J. Redick also missed the Boston game because of a leg injury, and will be out at least 10 days. Backup forward Richaun Holmes has been held out of the last two games because of illness and his status for Saturday's game is unknown.
|Warriors||vs.||Rockets||8:30 (EST) Preview|
Saturday, January 20 at 9:38 AM (EST)
HOUSTON -- It didn't require much effort to disregard the rust affecting Houston Rockets guard James Harden on Thursday night to instead take inventory of the potency he provided in lockstep with his fellow backcourt mates Chris Paul and Eric Gordon.
While throttling the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-98, Harden, Paul and Gordon showcased to the league what has been missing in Houston for the better part of the past month. The Rockets (31-12), inundated by injuries throughout the first half of this season, were almost whole against the Timberwolves at Toyota Center, and the glimpse of their productivity was telling.
Houston will remain without Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green, both suspended for their roles in a postgame dustup with the Clippers on Monday, when it hosts the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. But for the first time since Dec. 13, injuries won't undermine the Rockets' plans.
"That's one of the things that we were all excited about, coaching staff included, (Wednesday) in practice. We just all looked so good," Harden said following his return from a seven-game hiatus. "The ball was moving, defensively we were communicating. You've got 10, 11 guys that can produce at any moment. Once we get those guys back you should see a difference."
Harden failed to score at least 20 points for the first time, posting 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting and seven assists in 25 minutes. But Gordon produced 30 points off the bench while Paul delivered another sterling all-around effort with 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
The last time the Rockets had their rotation intact, they beat the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 13 for their 11th consecutive win. They improved to 9-8 since on Thursday, having survived games without Harden, Paul, and Luc Mbah a Moute. With renewed health comes a renewed focus.
"As we're getting healthy, we've got to get back to the things that we need to do best," Gordon said. "That's when we're playing good team ball offensively and we're playing really good team defense. When we're doing both early in the game, you can almost determine that we're going to have a great outcome."
The Warriors (37-9) test the Rockets like no other team in the league, and their 14-game road winning streak will offer a stiff challenge to a team looking to put all their pieces back together.
Golden State has won 24 of 28 games since its last road loss, a 108-91 setback at Oklahoma City on Nov. 22. And while the Warriors have dealt with their share of maladies, from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Andre Iguodala to rookie Jordan Bell, they're better equipped to sidestep roster attrition due in large part to their roster stability. And, of course, their talent.
With a victory, Golden State would set a franchise record for consecutive road victories and would complete its five-game road trip unblemished. Through a scheduling quirk, the Warriors spent four nights in Chicago, where they defeated the Bulls 119-112 on Wednesday, before traveling to Houston, site of the Warriors' 124-114 victory on Jan. 4.
"It's been a phenomenal road trip," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "And now we've got a chance to have ... a leisurely evening in Houston and hopefully finish the trip off right."
The teams have split their previous two meetings this season. The winner on Saturday will claim the season series tiebreaker.
|Clippers||vs.||Jazz||9:00 (EST) Preview|
Rejuvenated Clippers face struggling Jazz
Saturday, January 20 at 2:38 AM (EST)
SALT LAKE CITY -- Basketball is fun again for the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers have been undermanned at times this season after having multiple key players sidelined with injuries. Los Angeles hasn't made excuses or thrown in the towel during those stretches. Their willingness to keep playing hard has paid off.
Los Angeles enters Saturday's game with Utah as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Clippers (23-21) have won six straight games and 12 of their last 15 overall to climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
"Everybody is relaxed and happy," forward Blake Griffin said. "We're a close team. This team trusts each other. I think that's what happens when everybody gets a touch, everybody gets a shot, everybody gets involved. It's fun to play basketball this way."
Lou Williams has played a key role in driving success for the Clippers in January. The veteran guard is having his best season, averaging career-highs in points (23.2), assists (5.0), 3-point field goal shooting percentage (.412) and free throw shooting percentage (.912). Over his last 10 games, Williams has averaged 31.0 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 47.6 percent from the field.
Defenses are forced to focus extra attention on stopping Williams and it is opening the door for other players to do big things for the Clippers. In a 109-104 win over Denver on Wednesday, bench players Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Johnson combined for 33 points.
"We can be down 10," Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. "We've been down 20. This team has -- I don't know what it is, but they keep playing."
Utah would love to emulate the turnaround that the Clippers have enjoyed. The Jazz (18-27) have been in a freefall since early December. They have lost 16 of their last 21 games -- the latest setback being a 117-115 loss to New York on Friday.
There is some hope Utah can turn it around now that Rudy Gobert is back on the court. Gobert returned to action against the Knicks after missing 15 games with a PCL strain and bone bruise. He scored a season-high 23 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Gobert had some moments of fatigue, but he showed well enough to merit being on the court late in the game and playing 30 minutes total.
"I thought he had some really good moments," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "Unfortunately, collectively, we didn't on the defensive end in the second half. That cost us the game."
The Jazz and the Clippers split the first two games in their season series. Utah won most recently, defeating Los Angeles 126-107 on Nov. 30. As a team, the Jazz tallied 38 assists and shot 57.6 percent from the field. Alec Burks led the way with a season-high 28 points in 29 minutes off the bench.
Gobert's return could loom large for Los Angeles, who will have a critical absence in the middle. DeAndre Jordan has missed three straight games because of a left ankle sprain and is not expected to be ready to play in Salt Lake City.
|Raptors||vs.||Timberwolves||9:00 (EST) Preview|
Timberwolves try to bounce back against Raptors
Saturday, January 20 at 1:57 AM (EST)
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are facing one of their biggest tests of the season when the Toronto Raptors come to town on Saturday.
Minnesota (29-18) hasn't lost three games in a row all season. After a dominant five-game homestand, the Timberwolves lost back-to-back games on the road at Orlando and Houston.
"Things can change very quickly in this league," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We went from winning five in a row and now we've slipped, and we've got to play with more of an edge and we have to bounce back. The games keep coming."
Meanwhile, Toronto (31-13) has won two games in a row after beating San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to wrap up a quick, two-game homestand. The Raptors are one of the league's best road teams at 14-10. Only Golden State, Houston and Boston have more road wins this season.
The Wolves have lost back-to-back games five times this season, the four previous occasions they bounced back strong.
"We've done a good job of bouncing back, understanding we can't lose games in a row for us to be the team we want to be," Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns told the Star Tribune. "You put yourself in dangerous position for the playoffs by losing two in a row. We've done a good job so far not doing that."
Saturday will be tough, regardless the situation coming in. Toronto has won seven of its past 10 games and is second in the Eastern Conference. The Wolves are 6-11 against the East this season.
The Raptors have shown an ability to win any way, one reason for their success on the road. They entered Friday night third in the league in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating. Then they beat San Antonio in a defensive slugfest in which neither shot more than 40 percent from the field.
"We're going to see a lot of that," Toronto coach Dwane Casey told the Toronto Sun. "We did some good things, but we also shot ourselves in the foot sometimes.
"We have to make sure we're under control, what we're doing, who we're guarding, what the situation is, time and score in a close-out game like this."
Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points and had seven rebounds and six assists in the win, while point guard Kyle Lowry added 24 points in his third game since returning from injury.
"I thought he had some bounce going downhill," Casey told the Sun. "I may have left him in the third quarter a little too long when they (Spurs) made a run. He normally comes out with two and a half (minutes).
"He had a lot of bounce and just like anything the more games he plays (the better he'll get)."
Toronto guard Fred VanVleet missed his second straight game on Friday with a knee injury.
Minnesota is healthy and has been winning at home. The Wolves' last five losses have all come on the road. They are 18-6 at home this season and responded to their last back-to-back losses by winning the five games on the homestand by at least 10 points.
"It gives us a reminder what a really, really good team looks like and the way they play," Minnesota guard Jimmy Butler told the Star Tribune about the loss in Houston. "And if you don't play hard and don't do what we talk about before the game, what our team looks like.
"We need to learn from this quickly and not let this have a snowball effect."
|Mavericks||vs.||Trail Blazers||10:00 (EST) Preview|
Now torrid Trail Blazers host Mavericks
Saturday, January 20 at 2:23 AM (EST)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- In November and December, the Portland Trail Blazers lost six straight games at Moda Center, which hadn't happened since April 2006.
On Saturday night, the Trail Blazers will be going for their sixth straight home victory when they play host to the Dallas Mavericks.
That's more like it, said point guard Damian Lillard.
"We're locked in a little bit more now," Lillard said. "We just had a rough stretch. We're not the first team or the last team to have that. The important thing is to stay with it. It's never as good or as bad as it seems."
Portland (24-21) is always better with a strong performance from center Jusuf Nurkic, and the Blazers got one in their 100-86 romp past the Indiana Pacers Thursday night at home. The 7-foot Bosnian scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, dominating the middle against an Indiana team going without injured center Myles Turner.
Nurkic came to Portland in a deal with Denver at the February trade deadline last season.
"It's almost a year since I got here," he said, mindful of the impact he made late in the 2016-17 regular season for the Blazers. "It will be February soon. I have to pick up where I left off (last season). It's about time to make another run for the playoffs. Tonight, it just clicked."
Dallas (15-30) has lost two in a row and five of the last seven. The Mavericks have played a number of close games but have been hampered by faulting foul shooting down the stretch.
The Mavericks are a 77 percent foul-shooting team for the season. But in the final minute of games within five points, they shoot only .593. They are 7-23 in games in which they were within five points in the final five minutes.
"It's been a factor," coach Rick Carlisle told the Dallas Morning New. "We also have uncharacteristic misses during the course of the first three quarters that contribute to big challenges at the end of games. It's something we're addressing. We should be a very good free throw shooting team."
There are reasons. Veteran Dirk Nowitzki, an outside foul shooter, is no longer guaranteed to be out there at the end of a close game. Rookie Dennis Smith (.703) shot poorly early in the season, though he has been at 76 percent over the last 14 games. Harrison Barnes (.833) has even missed some in the clutch.
"We have to improve," Barnes said. "I missed big free throws down the stretch. And most of our games are close. There are not too many times when we're getting blown out. So each of those free throws matter. We just have to do a better job."
Dallas reserve guard J.J. Barea (groin) is questionable, though he practiced Thursday and Carlisle was optimistic he'll be able to go Saturday night.
|Thunder||vs.||Cavaliers||3:30 (EST) Preview|
Milestone within James' reach when Cavs play Thunder
Saturday, January 20 at 1:59 AM (EST)
CLEVELAND -- If there was a Friday night dinner planned for Team Banana Boat, Dwyane Wade wasn't going.
His wife, actress Gabrielle Union, is in town this week, so Wade said he's going out with her instead of LeBron James and Oklahoma City's Carmelo Anthony.
James, Wade, and the Cavs host Anthony's Thunder at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC. The three are close friends who vacation together, are standouts from the 2003 draft class, and at present are on teams with high expectations that are trying to figure things out.
"Me, Bron, CP (Houston's Chris Paul) and Melo, we all have a group chat," Wade said. "We all talk more this week than we did last week, more this month than we did last month, whatever the case may be. You don't really talk to guys before the game, like, 'Hey, you ready to play tomorrow?' That's not really the conversation.
"It's always great playing against a friend that you respect. The game is going to be what we all want it to be from the standpoint of the star power that the game brings and we're going to enjoy it."
Wade and James, who played together for four seasons in Miami before reuniting on the Cavs this season, and Anthony, in his first season with the Thunder, may very well be together for a member of the group's latest milestone. James needs just 25 points to become the seventh NBA player to score 30,000 career points.
"It would be cool," Wade said. "When I got 20,000 LeBron was ... we was playing Cleveland and it was actually pretty cool that it happened in that moment and it would be cool to be, with me and Carmelo, to be there.
"This is an elite class for a guy to be in. I mean, 30,000 points is insane. I definitely want him to do it (Saturday) like everybody else."
The Thunder have won three straight and are now 25-20 after starting the year 4-7. Oklahoma City had the league's MVP last year in Russell Westbrook, and added to its roster by trading for Paul George and Anthony during the offseason.
None of them were voted to start in next month's All-Star Game, though Westbrook is having another excellent season with averages of 24.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.9 assists. George is averaging 20.4 points and 5.5 rebounds, and Anthony's 17.6 points per game and 15.6 shots per game are career lows.
But, after early speculation that the new Thunder could break up even before the All-Star break, the team is 17-8 since Dec. 1.
"Once you accept something, regardless of what it is, I think you become comfortable with it," Anthony said, according to ESPN. "You start putting your all into it, you start working on that role and on that acceptance, and it becomes fun. I think right now, after accepting that role, I think early in December, the game is starting to become fun again for me."
The Cavs, meanwhile, snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Orlando 104-103 on Thursday. They'd lost eight of their previous 10 and nine of 12 before edging past the Magic.
Cleveland has gone to three straight NBA Finals and a fourth is expected, but as of now the Cavs are third in the East, six games behind the Boston Celtics.
"This is all part of the story," Wade said. "This is all part of everything that makes the basketball season memorable and what you want. When I first sat up there in front of you guys, I said this is the reason I came here."
|Bulls||vs.||Hawks||5:00 (EST) Preview|
Hawks look to even season series with Bulls
Saturday, January 20 at 1:51 AM (EST)
ATLANTA -- Two weeks ago, the Atlanta Hawks had lost five of six games, including four straight on a West Coast trip, and were cemented in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Today they're no longer in last place and in the throes of a rare winning streak.
Atlanta (13-31) has won two straight and three of its last four and hosts the Chicago Bulls (17-28) on Saturday at Philips Arena. The Hawks are one-half game ahead of Orlando for last place in the east and stand 2 1/2 games behind Brooklyn.
This will be the second meeting between the clubs this year. The Bulls won the first game 91-84 on Oct. 26 in Chicago. The Bulls set a season-high with 62 rebounds and all five starters were in double figures that game. Atlanta has won five straight over Chicago in games played at Philips Arena.
The Hawks have relied on their defense during this recent run of success. In each of the three wins, they have held their opponent to fewer than 100 points. Atlanta ranks second in the league in forcing turnovers (16.3 per game) and rank 10th in the league with 8.4 steals per game.
Atlanta is coming off a 94-93 win over New Orleans, a game in which point guard Dennis Schroder had 15 assists and no turnovers. Atlanta overcame a 19-point deficit and won the game when Kent Bazemore hit a jumper at the buzzer.
"We're improving," Bazemore said. "Coming down the stretch we want to win games and we had a plethora of guys step up. That entire second half we sort of impose our will on them."
Chicago had its three-game winning streak broken on Wednesday with a 119-112 loss to Golden State. The Bulls had been on a roll, with victories over New York, Detroit and Miami. The Bulls hung tough against the Warriors, but couldn't prevent them from winning their franchise best 14th straight road game.
"We played three quarters of really good basketball, but you take one off against a team like (Golden State), you're not going to win," Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said.
The Bulls have been deadly shooting 3-pointers this season. Earlier this year they set a franchise record for nine games of 10-plus 3-point baskets. Rookie Lauri Markkanen has hit multiple 3-pointers in the last 12 games, breaking his former career-best streak of 10 straight games. Nikola Mirotic needs only 10 treys to pass Steve Kerr (430) for fifth on the club's all-time list.
Chicago point guard Kris Dunn is expected to play on Saturday, despite a fall to the floor following a dunk on Wednesday that caused him to chip and dislocate two teeth. Dunn was fitted for braces and will continue to be evaluated for concussion symptoms.
Atlanta assigned DeAndre Bembry, Tyler Cavanaugh and Isaiah Taylor to Erie for a G League assignment and transferred guard Josh Magette to the NBA roster.
The Hawks will wear throwback uniforms on Saturday. The red uniforms are the same worn by the team in 1972.
|Friday, January 19, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Lowry scores 24 points as Raptors beat Spurs 86-83
By IAN HARRISON - Associated Press
Friday, January 19 at 11:14 PM (EST)
TORONTO (AP) Kyle Lowry turned in his best game since returning from injury, turning it on in the fourth quarter to help his Toronto Raptors grind out another home win.
Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the final period, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs.
Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2.
Lowry made eight of 16 shots, going 4 of 9 from 3-point range, in his third game after missing three with a bruised tailbone.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Lowry looked stronger than he had in his previous two outings.
''I thought he had a lot of bounce,'' Casey said.
Lowry got the Raptors off to a quick start, making a 3-pointer on his first shot of the game.
''Just being aggressive,'' he said. ''It's that time of year when everyone is kind of hitting a little bit of a rut, a little bit of a lull. We've got to continue to get better and take the step on the journey to making us a better team.''
LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Patty Mills had 13 as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six road games. The Spurs are 11-15 away from home.
It had been more than two years since Toronto last beat San Antonio. The Raptors won 97-94 at home on Dec. 9, 2015.
''They're a well-rounded group,'' DeRozan said of the Spurs. ''Everybody understands their roles and they play extremely hard.''
San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed his second straight game because of a sore right thigh. Ginobili returned to Texas after the Spurs won at Brooklyn on Wednesday.
The Spurs shot 34 percent, making 31 of 91 attempts. Their season worst was a 33.7 percent showing in an Oct. 27 loss at Orlando.
Toronto is 8-0 this season when holding opponents below 90 points.
''It was a tough one, and we couldn't score,'' San Antonio guard Tony Parker said.
Parker shot 1 for 9 against the Raptors while Aldridge finished 6 for 25 after missing nine of 11 attempts in the first half.
''My shot just never felt good tonight,'' Aldridge said.
The Spurs trailed 70-69 after a 3-pointer by Bryn Forbes at 6:52 of the fourth, but DeRozan and Lowry connected on back-to-back possessions, giving Toronto a 74-69 lead with 5:11 remaining.
After a jump shot by Mills, Toronto reeled off a 6-0 run including baskets by Lowry, Valanciunas and DeRozan to lead 80-71 with 2:40 left.
Another 3-pointer by Forbes made it 86-83 with six seconds left. DeRozan was fouled but missed both free throws, giving San Antonio a chance to tie, but the Spurs couldn't get a shot off in time.
After making seven of 23 shots in the first quarter, the Raptors hit 11 of 20 attempts in the second, including a buzzer-beating jumper from DeRozan that gave Toronto a 44-37 lead at halftime.
Toronto led 55-41 on DeRozan's three-point play at 7:33 of the third but Aldridge did all the scoring in an 8-0 Spurs run that cut the gap to 63-60 heading to the fourth.
Spurs: Aldridge has 19 double-doubles this season, one more than he had all of last season. ... Kyle Anderson matched his career high with 11 rebounds.
Raptors: G Fred VanVleet (right knee) missed his second straight game. ... DeRozan had a team-leading six assists.
HOME SWEET HOME
After playing nine of their past 11 games on the road, the Spurs will be at home for eight of their next nine, including six straight. ''Going home doesn't guarantee wins but it definitely gives us better mojo, better energy,'' Aldridge said.
Spurs: Host Indiana on Sunday. San Antonio has won three straight home meetings with the Pacers, but lost at Indiana earlier this season.
Raptors: Visit Minnesota on Saturday. It's Toronto's final road game of the season against a Western Conference opponent.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Carroll scores 26, leads Nets past Heat, 101-95
By MICHAEL SCOTTO - Associated Press
Friday, January 19 at 11:29 PM (EST)
NEW YORK (AP) Down by 16 points early in the second half against the Heat, the Nets dug in on defense.
DeMarre Carroll tied a career-high with 26 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 and the Brooklyn beat Miami 101-95 on Friday night.
Brooklyn snapped a five-game losing skid at Barclays Center and a seven-game home losing streak to the Heat. The Nets also improved to 11-1 when holding opponents under 100 points this season.
The Heat led 64-48 with 8:53 left in the third quarter but scored just five points the rest of the period as Brooklyn closed to within two.
''What were we up by, like 16 or so?'' Miami's Hassan Whiteside said. ''I think that was really the turning point of the game because it should've been over, you know, you up 16 against a team in the third quarter. Shouldn't be no way they come back from that. We've got to do a better job of playing with a lead and it shouldn't have even come down to the fourth quarter.''
Whiteside had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Goran Dragic scored 17 points for the Heat.
Caris LeVert and Joe Harris each added 12 points for the Nets. D'Angelo Russell played 14 minutes and went 0-for-5 from the field for Brooklyn in his first action after missing 32 games following left knee surgery.
LeVert made an acrobatic layup to give the Nets a 95-91 lead with 57.8 seconds remaining and then made a step-back jumper to ice the game at 97-91.
''I thought Caris and Quincy (Acy) came in the game and changed the energy,'' Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
Carroll hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give Brooklyn an 89-86 lead with 4:19 left.
''There were so many big plays,'' Atkinson said. ''At the end of the day, this is a player's game. DeMarre hits a big three, Caris and Spencer have two big-time drives in the pick-and-roll and we made plays, but more importantly we got stops.''
Brooklyn took a 79-77 lead with 8:57 remaining on a corner 3-pointer from LeVert. It was Brooklyn's first lead since the 5:41 mark of the first quarter.
Whiteside led Miami with 15 points and eight rebounds at the half as the Heat took a 53-43 lead into the locker room. Carroll led Brooklyn with 11 points at the half.
Heat: Coach Erik Spoelstra praised Dragic before the game. ''He means everything to our team. In our eyes, he's having an All-Star season. There's a reason why we are where we are in the East, and he's a big part of it.'' ... Isaiah Whitehead (G-League assignment) and Jeremy Lin (ruptured patella tendon) were out for Brooklyn.
Nets: Atkinson said Russell will play in short stints as he works his way back from left knee surgery. ... Tyler Johnson (left ankle), Dion Waiters (left ankle), Okaro White (left foot) and Rodney McGruder (left tibia) were out for Miami.
Heat: Visit Charlotte on Saturday in the fourth of a five-game trip.
Nets: Begin a five-game trip at Detroit on Sunday.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Grizzlies beat Kings 106-88 in Randolph's return to Memphis
By CLAY BAILEY - Associated Press
Saturday, January 20 at 12:53 AM (EST)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies celebrated Zach Randolph's return and then sent him and his new team away with their seventh straight loss.
Dillon Brooks scored a career-best 22 points, Ben McLemore had a season-high 21 and the Grizzlies beat the skidding Sacramento Kings 106-88 on Friday night for their third straight victory.
The game was a backdrop to Randolph's first return to Memphis since spending eight years as a key figure in the Grizzlies' success. The power forward received a standing ovation when he was introduced with the starting lineups, and the Grizzlies showed a tribute video between the first and second quarters.
''It's emotional, man. It's a great feeling,'' said Randolph, who finished with four points and six rebounds. ''It's home for me. I love the people, and I love this city.''
While Randolph was saluted, there wasn't much to celebrate for the Kings outside of holding the Grizzlies to a 10-point second quarter - the lowest-scoring period of the season for a Sacramento opponent. Otherwise, the Kings were limited to 40 percent shooting and were outrebounded 49-44 while committing 21 turnovers.
''We just had some bad turnovers, unforced turnovers,'' said rookie guard De'Aaron Fox, who had 16 points and six assists to lead the Kings.
He said for most of the night, the Grizzlies ''got to their spots, got what they wanted.''
It's all part of the growing pains for the Kings as coach Dave Joerger plays youngsters like Fox and fellow rookies Justin Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Joerger announced earlier this week that he would start sitting veterans on a rotating basis to give more time to the younger players.
Bogdanovic and veteran Vince Carter had 15 points apiece against the Grizzlies.
''You can see the progress,'' said Joerger, the former Memphis coach. ''There's positive things that are happening, but there's going to be some inconsistency.''
Tyreke Evans added 14 points and six assists for Memphis, while Andrew Harrison finished with 12. McLemore, who had not gotten off the bench in eight of the previous 11 games, was 6 of 13 from the field against Sacramento, where he played four seasons before signing with the Grizzlies in the offseason.
The teams were tied 40-all at halftime. But the Grizzlies opened the third quarter with a 22-7 run and the Kings never really threatened the rest of the way.
Afterward, Randolph was hugging former teammates, fans, ball boys and arena workers. After dressing, he walked the court signing autographs and posing for pictures.
''It was great,'' said Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who played alongside Randolph on the Memphis front line. ''It was beautiful. All the fans did a great job of showing Z-Bo how much he meant to the city and the franchise.
''Z-bo got the big night, and we got a great win.''
Kings: Sacramento has lost 14 of its last 15 games in Memphis. ... Carter hit five 3-pointers, making him the oldest player in NBA history (40 years, 358 days) to make that many in a game. . Willie Cauley-Stein was limited to seven points, but had 11 rebounds.
Grizzlies: Put together their first three-game winning streak since the opening three games of the season. ... McLemore's previous season high was 17 points against Oklahoma City on Dec. 9. ... Brooks has reached double figures in three straight games. ... Memphis has won four straight home games, tying its longest streak of the season.
NO INTROS NECESSARY
Randolph wasn't the only one back who had recent ties to Memphis. Carter also played for the Grizzlies last season before signing with the Kings, and Joerger was the Grizzlies' coach until the end of the 2015-16 season. In addition, F Skal Labissiere played high school ball in Memphis. ''It runs pretty deep,'' Joerger said before the game. ''It's very special. I've got butterflies. I'm sure (Randolph) does. He's excited.''
Kings: Make their second stop on a six-game road trip Monday night at Charlotte.
Grizzlies: At the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
For more NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Wizards score 45 in 3rd, beat Pistons 122-112
By NOAH TRISTER - AP Sports Writer
Friday, January 19 at 11:43 PM (EST)
DETROIT (AP) John Wall felt the third quarter wasn't much different from the first two.
The Washington Wizards just made more of their open shots.
Wall and the Wizards scored 45 points in the third, and although most of their 20-point lead slipped away in the fourth, they were able to hold on for a 122-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 26 points each, and Wall added 16 points and 11 assists.
Washington shot 16 of 20 from the field and 6 of 8 from 3-point range in the third.
''It's the same looks we had in the first half,'' Wall said. ''We missed some easy, wide-open 3s early in the first half. In the second half, guys started to knock them down and the floor started to open up a little bit more.''
The Pistons trailed 83-63 in the third, but the deficit was down to four in the fourth when Wall made a big 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 107-100. Oubre added a four-point play a short while later to push Washington's lead to nine.
Andre Drummond had 14 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists for the Pistons, who have lost four straight.
Both teams were struggling coming into the game. The Wizards lost by 24 at Charlotte on Wednesday, and they fell behind by 15 in the first quarter at Detroit. It was tied at 46 at halftime, though.
''Our guys coming off the bench to start the second quarter just were not ready for the pressure that their bench guys brought,'' Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''The third quarter I really don't know what the problem was.''
Washington dominated the third. Beal scored 13 points in the period and Wall, who was scoreless in the first half, added 10.
''John is one of the best players in the league,'' Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. ''He competes. He's been banged up at times and I love his warrior mentality. He's not going to tell the world that he's banged up, he's just going to go out there and compete for his team.''
The Wizards led 91-74 after three before Detroit rallied, with substitutes Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard and Anthony Tolliver helping lead the comeback.
Wizards: Beal scored at least 20 points for the 35th time this season. No guard in the Eastern Conference has done it more often. ... Oubre set a career high in scoring. His previous mark was 22 points earlier this season.
Pistons: Drummond had 14 rebounds in the first half and played almost the entire second before fouling out.
Detroit forward Jon Leuer told the Detroit News earlier Friday that he had decided to have season-ending ankle surgery.
''He's tried everything to get back,'' Van Gundy said before the game. ''Did not want to go to the route of anything season-ending, right up to the very last day earlier this week. He gave it everything he could to try to get back.''
The 6-foot-10 Leuer has played in only eight games this season.
The 76-point second half was the highest-scoring half of the season for the Wizards. They had 73 in the second at Philadelphia on Nov. 29.
''The way we just got whooped the other day, we definitely wanted to come back and get a win,'' Wall said. ''We're a team that's just got to find some consistency on both ends of the floor.''
Wizards: Visit the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
Pistons: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
Booker scores 30, Warren 25 as Suns beat Nuggets 108-100
By MICHAEL KELLY - Associated Press
Saturday, January 20 at 1:36 AM (EST)
DENVER (AP) A sturdy plane and a good night's sleep did wonders for the Phoenix Suns.
Devin Booker scored 30 points, T.J. Warren had 25 and the Suns defeated the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night.
Josh Jackson and Isaiah Canaan added 16 points apiece off the bench for Phoenix, which snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Nuggets.
The Suns benefited from an earlier arrival than their last game in Denver. Mechanical issues delayed their flight for the Jan. 3 game until five hours before the opening tip, and the Nuggets raced to a 134-111 win.
Phoenix led that game by two at halftime before fading in the second half.
''To be in that game as long as they were, I was surprised and proud of them,'' Suns center Tyson Chandler said. ''I didn't play and I was falling asleep on the bench. I was exhausted.''
The extra night in Denver helped Phoenix to its first win against the Nuggets since Nov. 20, 2015.
Jamal Murray scored 30 in his return to the lineup and Nikola Jokic had 14 points and 17 rebounds for Denver. Murray missed Wednesday's game at the Los Angeles Clippers with concussion symptoms. He was evaluated by doctors before the game and cleared to play.
Murray was one of the few bright spots for Denver. The Nuggets have lost six of eight, including two at home to teams who combined were 34 games below .500.
''How many times do we need to come in at halftime to talk about effort?'' Denver coach Michael Malone said. ''As a coach, it's the hardest thing to do that.
''I can't coach effort. I can't make you play hard. I can't draw it up on a board. It's something that you have to bring to the table as a professional athlete every night. We didn't have that collectively.''
The Suns grabbed the lead with a 17-3 run to start the second quarter and never trailed again. They led by as many as 15 in the first half, but Murray scored seven straight points to start the third quarter to get Denver within 62-59.
Phoenix scored the next 11 points to push the lead to 14. Denver made it 101-97 on a 3-pointer by Jokic and runner by Gary Harris with 3:57 left, but the Nuggets missed their last six shots and the Suns pulled away.
''You're a little concerned, they've got momentum, they're at home, they're starting to come back,'' Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. ''We executed pretty good plays and got fouled.''
Harris finished with 16 points and Trey Lyles had 15 points and seven rebounds in his second start of the season.
Suns: Warren missed the previous two games with lower back soreness. ... F Marquese Chriss missed his fourth straight game with a hip injury. Triano said Chriss might undergo further testing. ''I know that he is concerned,'' Triano said. ''I'm sure he will do what he wants to do.'' ... The Suns won on the road for the first time in 2018.
Nuggets: G Monte Morris was brought up from the G League but did not dress once Murray cleared the concussion protocol and was able to play. ... Several Colorado Rockies players were on hand during the team's winter caravan. Charlie Blackmon, Chris Rusin, Tony Wolters and manager Bud Black sat courtside. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller also was courtside.
Chandler and Nuggets center Mason Plumlee exchanged hard fouls at the end of the second quarter, evoking memories of the 1990s NBA. Chandler's foul was slightly harder and resulted in a flagrant-1 call, but both players kept their cool.
''It was nothing personal,'' Chandler said. ''He fouled me hard, I fouled him back hard and it ends there.''
The Kentucky Wildcats were well-represented in the game. Four of the 10 starters played at least one year for coach John Calipari, including the two leading scorers in the game.
''That's the powerhouse,'' Booker said. ''Calipari knows what he's doing over there. Trey's playing really well now, too. I'm really proud of all of these guys.''
Suns: At the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
For more NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Hardaway scores 31, Knicks topple Jazz 117-115
By KAREEM COPELAND - AP Sports Writer
Saturday, January 20 at 2:53 AM (EST)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Tim Hardaway Jr. had his best game Friday night since returning from a leg injury that sidelined him for more than a month.
The New York Knicks needed all of it, too.
Hardaway scored 31 points as the Knicks rallied for a 117-115 victory over the Utah Jazz.
''I think I'm just getting accustomed to everything, getting my feet wet, getting my rhythm back,'' he said. ''It's one game. It felt good. Came here yesterday with some of the guys. Got a lot of shots and a lot of reps up in here. Ran up and down a little bit to get our wind. It really helped us out today. That played a huge part in my individual success and in other guys' as well.''
Hardaway pulled up for a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and finished the four-point play after a foul, then added a dunk to give the Knicks a 109-100 advantage with 3:21 remaining. The fifth-year guard was 6 for 7 from behind the arc as New York shot 55 percent from 3-point range.
''We were trying to keep him around that 25- to 28-minute range and he was playing really well,'' Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. ''We debated it at halftime whether we should start him in the second half or bring him off the bench. We decided, `Let's start him and get off to a good start and then try to get him out quicker.'''
The Jazz missed three straight 3-pointers on one possession with less than 30 seconds left that would have tied the game at 115 after a late 11-2 run that included Joe Johnson's corner 3 and Rudy Gobert's three-point play.
Courtney Lee's 13-point third quarter helped the Knicks rebound from a 10-point deficit to take an 85-78 lead into the fourth. Lee and Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 points apiece.
''There were a few actions that they executed well,'' Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ''We gave up some stuff in transition where we didn't communicate, and our pick-and-roll defense was not where it needed to be. We weren't as aggressive or physical as we needed to be. ... It wasn't any one thing. It was too many things.
''They had too much space and when a player gets going, Hardaway in particular, the basket starts to look really big.''
Gobert had 23 points and 14 rebounds in his first game since Dec. 15 due to a sprained knee, but the second-team All-NBA center looked athletic in his return. He also had three blocks.
Rodney Hood had 18 points, while Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio each scored 17.
The Jazz took a 55-49 lead into halftime thanks to an aggressive Hood, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time in nearly a month. A 16-6 stretch highlighted by a pair of twisting layups from Gobert and Derrick Favors' dunk pushed the margin to 48-38 before the Knicks chipped away right before the break.
''We came out lackadaisical,'' Mitchell said about the second half. ''They came out there fighting and holding us and being aggressive. We just kind of let them do that to a certain extent.''
Knicks: Hornacek plans to keep Hardaway on a minutes restriction of about 25 per game during the current seven-game road trip as he continues to work his way back from his injury. He played 27 minutes against Utah.
Jazz: Utah hasn't won consecutive games since the first week of December. ... Hood sat out after bruising his lower left leg late in the game. His status will be updated Saturday.
Gobert played 30 minutes in his return, though Snyder has the big man on a minutes restriction. Snyder wasn't sure if Gobert would be available Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back. Snyder said it was possible, but the decision would be made later.
Snyder moved Hood back into the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 21. Joe Ingles was sent to the bench for the first time all season. ''We haven't started games well - that's no secret,'' Snyder said. ''That's no one guy's fault. If that's anybody's fault, it's mine. Guys are going to play about the same minutes, they just play it at slightly different times.''
''I wasn't expecting a jersey retirement anyway.'' - Knicks center Enes Kanter on being booed repeatedly.
Knicks: Travel to face Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Jazz: Host DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/tags/NBAbasketball
Clarkson leads short-handed Lakers to 99-86 win over Pacers
By STEVE DILBECK - Associated Press
Saturday, January 20 at 3:26 AM (EST)
LOS ANGELES (AP) They were missing three injured starters and made two free throws all night. Hard to imagine the Los Angeles Lakers could find a more unlikely way to win.
Reserve guard Jordan Clarkson sparked an undermanned team with 33 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, leading Los Angeles to a 99-86 victory Friday night over the Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers won for the first time in nine games this season without rookie point guard Lonzo Ball. And they did it despite going 2 for 14 from the foul line, a franchise low at 14.3 percent.
''It was defense,'' coach Luke Walton said. ''Our defense was awesome tonight. That was the challenge all day to the guys. It doesn't matter who's out, how many guys are out, if we defend the way we're capable and compete on that end of the floor.''
The Lakers held Indiana to 38.1 percent shooting, including a miserable 2 of 25 from 3-point range.
''We missed shots, turned the ball over and they made shots,'' Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. ''That was really the game.''
The Lakers first grabbed control in the second quarter. Players took turns aggressively slashing through the lane and then Clarkson got hot, scoring nine points as Los Angeles outscored the Pacers 29-14 in the period.
''I was just hooping today,'' Clarkson said. ''I was comfortable, not thinking too much.''
Walton said in his experience, players have breakout offensive games when they're not thinking about scoring.
''To me, guys normally have nights like that when they stop thinking about offense,'' Walton said. ''You kind of get lost in doing other things when you're as gifted as he is offensively. That's when you have nights like that.''
The Lakers shot 55 percent from the floor. But at the foul line, Clarkson made two of his three free throws; the rest of the team was 0 for 11.
''It's like a virus or something,'' Clarkson said.
Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 25 points, but most of his teammates struggled offensively. Darren Collison shot 1 of 9 and Lance Stephenson was 1 for 12.
It marked the first time this season the Pacers, the NBA's third-best shooting team, finished under 40 percent in consecutive games.
''They just didn't go in,'' Oladipo said. ''We were getting open looks, too, and they weren't going in. It's part of the game.''
Pacers: Three former UCLA players returned to Los Angeles with Indiana, including two rookies making their first appearances as pros: forward TJ Leaf (18th overall draft pick) and C Ike Anigbogu (47th). Both have struggled to earn playing time, while Collison has become a fixture at point guard. ... C Myles Turner missed his sixth consecutive game with a strained right elbow.
Lakers: Maybe it's Staples Center. The Lakers played without three regulars in Ball (knee), F Brandon Ingram (ankle) and G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (strained Achilles). So all five players on the court for the opening tip were not typically starters. Their arena-mates, the Clippers, have been playing down at least three starters for most of the season.
Although the rookie point guard is not a big-time scorer, Ball leads the Lakers in assists and defensive rebounds. And until Friday, the Lakers had been winless without him. But against the Pacers, they had 26 assists and moved the ball well. ''Our guys were making the right play all night long,'' Walton said. ''That led to good shots and that led to assists. It's that simple.''
Pacers: Travel to San Antonio, where they've lost their last three, to face the Spurs on Sunday.
Lakers: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon.
More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/tags/NBAbasketball