ATLANTA -- The 76ers' decision to "let it fly" with 3-pointers almost grounded the Hawks' winning streak.

Al Horford's clutch play in the closing minutes helped keep the streak alive.

Horford scored 23 points, including a tying basket after Philadelphia took its first lead late in the game, and Atlanta recovered after squandering a 21-point lead to beat the 76ers 91-85 on Saturday night and stretch its franchise-record winning streak to 19 games.

It was one of the biggest threats yet to a streak that began with a win at Milwaukee on Dec. 27 and has left the Hawks with the NBA's best record.

"That was a rough game," said Atlanta's Jeff Teague, who made only three of 12 shots for 10 points. "We had to battle it out and win any way possible."

Atlanta capped a 17-0 January, the best undefeated record in a calendar month in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Hawks led by 21 in the first half, but the 76ers came back to take their first lead at 83-81 on a jam by Nerlens Noel with less than 3 minutes remaining.

Horford scored to pull the Hawks even, and Dennis Schroeder's 3-pointer with 1:35 left gave Atlanta an 86-83 advantage. Following a miss by Philadelphia's K.J. McDaniels, Horford's jumper gave the Hawks a five-point lead.

The 76ers attacked with 3-pointers in the second half. They set season highs with 14 3s, including nine in the second half, and 35 attempts.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown called the second half "a fantastic learning experience."

"You've put in a lot of work," Brown said. "Let it fly. Go ahead and get your legs into your shot, find your teammate and you will or you won't. And they did.

"And we had to, because they do such a good job of guarding the paint, that's all that was ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Zach Randolph and the streaking Memphis Grizzlies pushed aside the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Randolph had his 12th straight double-double with 21 points and 18 rebounds to help the Grizzlies beat the Thunder 85-74 on Saturday night.

"I'm just playing," Randolph said about the streak that began after he missed nine games with a sore right knee. "I'm feeling good out there. Guys are just giving me the ball. I feel like I'm still in my prime."

Frontcourt mate Marc Gasol added 15 points and 12 rebounds for Memphis, which won its sixth straight. Ten of Randolph's rebounds came on the offensive glass. Mike Conley, returning after missing two games with a sprained left wrist, added 10 points.

The victory marked the second straight game Memphis held an opponent to fewer than 75 points. The Grizzlies beat the Denver Nuggets 99-69 on Thursday night and are re-establishing their defensive identity.

"There's an incredible energy right now," Conley said. "We've set a standard. You've got to play to a certain level defensively as a group. If one guy falls below that line, they feel out of place. They feel like the outcast."

Kevin Durant, a game-time decision after missing the previous two games with a sprained big toe, led the Thunder with 15 points. Russell Westbrook had 14 points, and Serge Ibaka added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Neither team shot particularly well. Memphis hit 37 percent of its field goal attempts to 35 percent for the Thunder.

In addition to their shooting woes, the Thunder were hindered by 18 turnovers, 11 in the second half.

"The turnovers were huge," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They got a lot of deflections. We had to take care of the ball to give ourselves a chance against a very good team."

Durant and Westbrook offered little about the game. Asked about ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Josh Smith was booed when he went to the scorer's table to check in, booed when he touched the ball and booed when he went to the line to shoot free throws.

Just more than a month after Detroit waived the high-priced forward, Pistons fans gave him an unfriendly welcome when he returned to the Palace on Saturday night as a member of the Houston Rockets.

The Pistons themselves did the same, beating the Rockets 114-101.

For his part, Smith said before the game that he had no ill will toward his former team, which went on a seven-game winning streak immediately after cutting him.

"I still have friends on this team, where we hung out and we had fun times and fun memories together," Smith said. "I have no hard feelings. When they went on that winning streak, I knew the process and the hard work that we had to put in right after Labor Day weekend, all the way into training camp -- it was finally kind of paying off."

Smith had seven points on 3-for-11 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks in his return.

Detroit cut Smith loose in late December, less than a season and a half after signing him as a free agent. The Pistons started playing well after his departure, and Smith caught on with one of the league's best teams and is contributing.

"I kind of sat back and looked at it, and I saw it as being a blessing," Smith said. "I had an opportunity now to play for a contender and really try to do something special this season."

The Pistons won those first seven games after waiving Smith, but Brandon Jennings ruptured his left Achilles tendon last weekend, and Detroit began struggling again.

Smith, meanwhile, has for the most part come off ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors have been rolling so much this season that the halftime locker room can be awfully quiet if they're not leading by a lot.

Imagine the mood when they're coming off two consecutive losses and clinging to a one-point lead at intermission.

That was the scenario Saturday night, and the Warriors took out their frustrations on Phoenix. They shook off a slow start and shut down the Suns for a 106-87 win.

"It's very rare to have a group of guys who have a passion of hate for losing," said forward Andre Iguodala, who scored 12 points. "We drop two, we're not the type of guys you want to be around. I think the second half we just said, 'Let's get it together. Let's get the toughness started and let's get another streak rolling.'"

The Warriors outscored Phoenix 54 to 36 in the second half. They shot 46 percent overall and held the Suns to 36.3 percent from the floor. And they forced 22 turnovers while committing 15.

Stephen Curry led the way with 25 points and seven assists, and Klay Thompson scored 22 to help the Western Conference-leading Warriors (37-8) avoid their first three-game losing streak.

"We got back to who we are," said Curry, sporting a black right eye he got in a collision with Jazz big man Rudy Gobert during Friday night's loss at Utah.

Asked about the black eye, Curry said, "It makes me look tough."

Markieff Morris had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Eric Bledsoe scored 16 for Phoenix (28-21), which had won two in a row. The Suns led by 12 in the second quarter but couldn't keep up with the Warriors as the game wore on.

"It's hard to play against them when you start turning the ball over," Suns guard Goran Dragic said. "They ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will replace injured Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant at the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, commissioner Adam Silver announced Friday.

"Kobe's a legend, we all know that," Cousins said before the Kings' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. "Filling his shoes in the All-Star Game, it speaks a lot. So, I'm honored."

Cousins, who said he did not watch the TNT telecast Thursday night announcing the All-Star reserves, said he had resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to make the team, going as far as texting Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and suggesting he should be Bryant's injury replacement. He was told he made the team Friday afternoon in a phone call from Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro.

"Honestly, I really didn't expect myself to make it," Cousins said. "I mean, the West was so tough this year and there are so many talented guys in the West. But the crazy thing is, me and Dame were texting after the results came out and I was telling him, 'Man, you know you're going to make this team, like, it's nothing.' It's just kind of crazy how things worked out."

It is the first All-Star appearance for Cousins, who ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (23.8 points per game) and third in rebounding (12.3 rebounds per game).

As the league noted in a release, over the last 20 years, only five players -- David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kevin Love -- have averaged at least 23 points and 12 rebounds in a season.

Cousins is the Kings' first All-Star since 2004 and he replaces Bryant, who was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star starter for a record 17th consecutive year. The 36-year old Bryant suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last week in ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant is officially done for the season after having surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers also made it official that their superstar doesn't believe his career is finished.

Bryant is expected to need nine months to recover from his third straight season-ending injury. If Bryant meets that timetable, he could return to basketball shortly before the start of the 2015-16 season -- and the Lakers expect to see him in purple and gold again.

Neal ElAttrache and Steve Lombardo performed the two-hour surgery at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

"I expect Kobe to make a full recovery, and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season," ElAttrache said in a statement provided by the Lakers.

The Lakers formally declared Bryant out for the season by acknowledging the expected recovery time for his injury but also effectively confirmed he won't retire and will attempt to play his 20th season in the fall. Bryant, who will be 37 years old this summer, is the NBA's highest-paid player at $23.5 million this season, and he is under contract for $25 million next year.

"In my mind right now, he's coming back next year, unless he tells me something different," coach Byron Scott said at practice Wednesday.

Of Bryant's impending rehabilitation, Scott added, "It's pretty painful from what I've heard, and the rehab is long."

"But I think the biggest thing with Kobe, as long as [the media are] saying that he's done, he's going to come back," Scott said. "I think he proved his point this year that he still has a lot left in the tank. He's still one of the best players in the league."

Scott already had acknowledged Bryant was highly unlikely to play again this season ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

ATLANTA -- Paul Millsap played like one of the league's best players.

Now, he'll wait to see if he's picked for his second straight All-Star game.

Millsap had 28 points and 15 rebounds, five other Atlanta players scored in double figures, and the Hawks stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games in a row with a 113-102 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

"Paul was aggressive," said teammate Al Horford, who also had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. "When he plays like that, we're tough to beat."

Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of 33 and leads the Eastern Conference by a commanding seven games. This was a bit tougher than expected against the struggling Nets, who kept it close most of the way.

The Hawks pulled away in the final quarter, leading by as many as 15. Millsap finished off Brooklyn's last run with a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:34 remaining, pushing Atlanta to a 109-98 edge.

Millsap, who was more of a role player in Utah, had taken a lead since signing with the Hawks. He earned his first All-Star appearance a year ago and is expected to be among at least three Atlanta players getting in when the East reserves are announced Thursday night. Horford and Jeff Teague are favored to get in, and Kyle Korver could make it as well.

"We've definitely got a lot of guys who are deserving," Millsap said. "It's going to be tough if one of those guys doesn't make it."

Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points. It wasn't enough to prevent Brooklyn's 11th loss in 13 games.

"That's why they've won 17 in a row: they've produced every night consistently and their defense had been consistent every night," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "We had some stuff that gave them trouble, but ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

NEW YORK -- Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas are winning over fans and helping the Knicks win games.

Maybe this is the start of Lansanity.

Carmelo Anthony had 31 points and 10 rebounds, Thomas scored a season-high 17 points against his former team and New York beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-92 on Wednesday night.

Russell Westbrook scored 40 points on 13-of-30 shooting for the Thunder, who were without Kevin Durant for a second straight game because of a sprained big toe on his left foot.

"I just had to play my game," Westbrook said. "Tried to help us find a way to win the game. I didn't do a good job of that."

Galloway added 18 points and his fearless shotmaking had Anthony recalling Jeremy Lin, another unheralded player who made a big impact during the brief run of Linsanity in 2012.

"Everybody loves the underdog story," Anthony said.

Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, finishing with 14 for the Knicks, who won for the fourth time in five games, representing nearly half of their nine victories on the season.

"In this league everybody's a professional, so I feel like if you bring it then you have a chance to beat anybody in the NBA," Thomas said. "And with the effort we're putting forward, we're keeping ourselves in games."

Westbrook blitzed the Knicks in his return from injury in November, leading the Thunder to a 27-point romp. But behind players such as Galloway and Thomas, who weren't around then, the Knicks continued their best stretch of the season.

Thomas was originally acquired earlier this month from Oklahoma City as part of a three-team trade with Cleveland, then waived and later re-signed. He is on his second 10-day contract and making a good case to stick around, as Galloway will after signing for the remainder of ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving put on a spectacular show, and LeBron James watched it from a front-row seat.

Irving scored a career-high 55 points, breaking the arena record as James sat out with an injury to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their eighth straight win, 99-94 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

With James sidelined because of a sprained right wrist, Irving delivered a dazzling, tour-de-force performance.

One day before the NBA names its All-Star reserves, Irving put an exclamation point on his resume.

Irving, who scored 38 on Tuesday in a win at Detroit, made a team-record 11 3-pointers and finished 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He scored 24 of Cleveland's final 28 points and 16 of the Cavs' 20 in the fourth quarter. But it was his long jumper with 6.4 seconds left that shook Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving buried a 3-pointer to break a 94-all tie, then grabbed a rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Portland's Damian Lillard. And as many in the crowd chanted "M-V-P" and James danced near the bench, Irving dropped two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.

"It was a total team effort," Irving said, trying to spread praise to his teammates.

James knew better. The four-time MVP politely declined to speak to reporters, saying the focus should be only on Irving.

"This is his night," James said.

No doubt, although James later weighed in via Twitter.

Irving, who missed his first seven shots, broke the previous arena scoring mark set by Allen Iverson on Jan. 6, 2001. His point total also was the highest in the league this season, bettering the 52 scored by Golden State's Klay Thompson and Minnesota's Mo Williams.

Irving was at his best at the end of quarters, scoring Cleveland's last 11 points in the first, the final eight in the second ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...

HOUSTON -- With Dwight Howard out Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks with an ankle injury, the Houston Rockets needed someone to step up.

What they got was a bevy of players chipping in to pick up the slack.

Josh Smith scored 18 points and James Harden added 17 as the Rockets used a balanced scoring effort to outlast the Mavericks for a 99-94 victory.

"We've got so many weapons now," Harden said. "We've got a lot of depth on this team, a lot of guys that can contribute. When we've got so many guys contributing -- six guys in double figures -- it's kind of hard to beat us."

Along with Smith and Harden, Houston got 16 points from Donatas Motiejunas, Corey Brewer had 14, Trevor Ariza added 13 and Terrence Jones scored 10.

It was the third straight win for the Rockets and the fourth loss in a row for Dallas.

The Mavericks were down by 3 with 15.9 seconds left when Harden knocked Tyson Chandler down on a shot. He was given a flagrant foul after a review, but Chandler missed both free throws.

Terrence Jones blocked a shot by Monta Ellis but knocked it out of bounds, giving Dallas another chance. The inbounds pass by Chandler Parsons sailed out of bounds to give Houston the ball. Harden made two free throws after that to secure the win.

Ellis led the Mavericks with 33 points.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said his team was done in by its 23 turnovers.

"It was the decisive factor of the game, without question," he said. "We had chances, but that ultimately killed us."

Dallas scored five quick points to get within 3 with two minutes left, but Smith made a layup before blocking a shot by Chandler on the other end. Dirk Nowitzki made a layup before Harden's flagrant foul.

A 7-2 run ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

read full article...