Warriors

Lin leads Knicks to fifth straight win

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Lin leads Knicks to fifth straight win

BOX SCORE
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) In his first three starts, Jeremy Lin's out-of-nowhere emergence all but saved the New York Knicks' season.In his fourth, his teammates returned the favor.Lin hit a free throw with 4.9 seconds left to overcome a dreadful second half and lift the New York Knicks to their fifth straight victory, 100-98, over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.Steve Novak scored 15 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play and Lin used his quickness to draw a foul and get to the line in the closing seconds. He finished with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds.Lin had just five points on 1-for-13 shooting and four turnovers in the second half."It was an ugly one, it was a gutsy one, it was a road win, everybody was tired," Lin said. "That's the beauty of basketball. That's the beauty of our time. We never gave up."Kevin Love had 32 points and 21 rebounds for the Wolves, who missed two chances to win the game in the final five seconds.The Knicks trailed by seven with 6:41 to play and it looked as if a week of Tebow-like hype was finally catching up to Lin. But the Wolves only scored one field goal the rest of the way, and the Knicks hung in there.Playing yet again without the injured Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, who was mourning the death of his brother, Landry Fields scored 19 on 8-for-10 shooting and Iman Shumpert added 20 points.Fields hit a short jumper to make the score 94-93 with 2:10 to go and Shumpert added another for a 95-94 lead with 1:22 to go to give them their first lead since early in the second quarter.But Love, who had 31 points and 31 rebounds in win over the Knicks last year, hit two free throws and Rubio drove to the rim for a left-handed layup for a three-point lead with 39 seconds to play.Novak's 3-pointer tied it at 98 on the next possession and Lin missed the front end of a pair of free throws before sinking the go-ahead shot."I just had to get that first one out of the way," Lin said sheepishly.Bill Walker added free throws to seal it for the Knicks, who scored 29 points on 23 Minnesota turnovers. Two of those came from Rubio in the final minute."I just made two huge mistakes," Rubio said. "I have to learn from that."The matchup of two of the most dynamic young point guards in the league made this an extremely hot ticket. The Timberwolves had to sell standing-room only tickets to pack in an announced crowd of 20,232, the largest crowd here since 2004.Lin and Rubio have each energized dormant franchises in their own way.Rubio's unselfish play and flair for the dramatic have made the Wolves cool again, as evidenced by the fifth sellout this season.The Knicks were lost at 8-15, with rumors of Mike D'Antoni's job security swirling before the coach moved to Lin out of desperation.All he's done since is re-ignite a basketball-loving city's enthusiasm for the game, help fill the league's void in Asia after Yao Ming's retirement and save the Knicks' season.He scored 89 points in his first three starts, including an incredible 38 to beat the Lakers in the Garden on Friday night."This is really just a credit to the team," Lin said. "This team is a team and that's why it's so fun to play with them."In his fourth start, Lin is already drawing the casual fan even in road games. He was cheered heartily in pregame introductions and gave the curious crowd exactly what it was looking for. His quickness gave Rubio fits on defense and he scored in every manner imaginable.There was the crossover of Luke Ridnour and step-back jumper, a tear-drop drive into the lane and stutter-step blow-by for two, and that was just in a three-minute stretch of the first quarter."Just his leadership, and I know he got a little tired, couldn't finish the way he normally would, but his leadership on the floor is invaluable," D'Antoni said. "And that's why sometimes we have to ride him."NOTES: The Timberwolves wore Minnesota Muskies uniforms in tribute to the ABA team that spent one season here in 1967. "I'm still trying to figure out what a Muskie is," F Anthony Tolliver said. ... Timberwolves C Darko Milicic missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right ankle. Coach Rick Adelman said he hoped Milicic would be ready for the game Monday at Orlando. ... The Wolves in-house DJ played Whitney Houston songs during halftime after news of the singer's death at 48.

Poole's 2017-18 NBA predictions: It's the Warriors ... and everyone else

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USATSI

Poole's 2017-18 NBA predictions: It's the Warriors ... and everyone else

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1) Warriors: Rave all you want about Steph and KD and Klay and the incredible offense, but the foundation is the hyperactive, highly intelligent defense.

2) Rockets: Behind James and CP, they will score and score often. They will be better on defense. This will push them, for the second time in 20 years, past the Spurs.

3) Thunder: Russ, PG and Melo all together in GM San Presti’s petri dish. There will be fireworks, and it shouldn’t take long to see if they’ll be beautiful or destructive.

4) Spurs: LA is plodding, Kawhi is limping and Tony P is at least two months away from being a ghost of his former self. This is Pop’s biggest challenge.

5) Nuggets: Millsap is going to help this team. A lot. If Joker stays healthy and the point guard play is solid, they could make a run at a top-4 seed.

6) Timberwolves: Thibs has gathered many pieces, some good and some duplicative. Why does this feel like a salad mixing old avocados and tomatoes with fresh lettuce?

7) Clippers: CP3’s absence gives this bunch a strange look, like a room without a roof. Not much to be ‘Happy’ about, though, except what The Logo can do for the future.

8) Trail Blazers: Points are going to come, but can anybody play D? Some team has to earn the 8-seed and I like the work Dame, CJ and Nurk put in late last season.

9) Pelicans: Boogie and The Brow. This could be epic, or epic fail. Only if Jrue stays healthy and Raj plays young (good luck with that) can this squad make some noise.

10) Jazz: Gordy and G-Hill are gone. Exum may miss the season. Coach Quin is solid, yes, but how far he can go if the second-biggest paycheck is going to Aussie Joe?

11) Grizzlies: Gonna miss oldes Zach and Vince and also The Grindfather, the best nickname in the league, in his element. Glory days are gone, so invite the dawn.

12) Mavericks: Someday, maybe 25 years from now, Cubes will let Dirk limp his way to the Hall. Until then, it’s mediocrity and less. How long will they pack the house?

13) Suns: They’re young and tantalizing. They may be good someday, but for now it’s the Desert Day Care center, with Papa Earl trying to keep the peace and survive.

14) Lakers: The Ball family is in the house, and Lonzo brings the promise of joy. They’ll be more half-watchable this year, because you don’t wanna see this D.

15) Kings: Titanic may be rising from the deep. Nice idea, adding old heads to work with youngsters De’Aaron, Skal and Buddy. But the Kangz are in the wrong division.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1) Celtics: This could take a few weeks. That five-game homer, post-Thanksgiving, should be the time for Kyrie, Gordy & Co. to go to work. What you got, Coach Brad?

2) Cavaliers: This is the year LeBron reaches the dark side of the mountain. That’s trouble for The Land. They could win 55, which is about how many games he’ll play.

3) Wizards: It’s time for John Wall to prove it, to take the Wiz to unfamiliar heights. If Brad Beal can stay on the court (that’s asking a lot), they’ll breathe on the Cavs.

4) Bucks: The D improved when Young Jabari went down, and he’ll be out until February. Hmm. OK. It’s close-up time for the Greek Freak. Can anybody make a J?

5) Raptors: The guards can score but can’t/won’t defend. How much does Serge have left? They’ll have it rough unless the big addition, CJ Miles, has a career year.

6) Heat: Love the Dragon. Love/hate Dion and Hassan. Don’t like much of the rest of the roster, though. Coaching truly matters with this bunch, and they have a fine one.

7) Hornets: A 35-win team in the West, which translates to 44 in the East. Malik Monk is OK, but Kemba’s the engine. It’s a low bar for Dwight. Can he reach it?

8) 76ers: Young Ben, aka Fresh Prince, is our pick for Rook of the Year. We like Saric. We believe JJ will help. But this is about The Process. If he plays 50 games, they win 38.

9) Pistons: Avery B will help the D, but until SVG finds a taker for Reggie J, the playoffs are MIA. Stanley J has skills. It’s time for him to show it.

10) Nets: Hello, D-Lo. We see you, Mr. Crabbe. The clowns won’t be so funny this season. Coach Kenny has ’em playing hard and fast. They can go from 20 wins to 30.

11) Magic: Other than AG’s hops, Jonathon Simmons’ grit and Mo Speights’ smile, there is nothing to see here. This club is 20 percent highlights, 80 percent yikes.

12) Pacers: After making the playoffs in six of seven seasons, you flip four of your top six scorers, including PG. What the . . .? It’s Lottery Time in Indy.

13) Knicks: New York works its rump off to make its teams relevant. The Knicks don’t care. KP6 is saddled with a frat-house clothes hamper of an organization.

14) Bulls: They’ve demolished the franchise MJ made famous and slithered into the basement once occupied, seemingly for decades, by the Sixers. We’re thinking 12-70.

15) Hawks: Baze and Schroder are the best Travis Schlenk has on a team that could go 0-for-the-West. We’re thinking 10-72, only because the least of the East is so junky.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors over Rockets in 5

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Cavs over Celtics in 6

NBA FINALS

Warriors over Cavs in 4

Report: After trade rumors swirled, Spurs give LaMarcus Aldridge an extension

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AP

Report: After trade rumors swirled, Spurs give LaMarcus Aldridge an extension

The San Antonio Spurs have reached an agreement with LaMarcus Aldridge on an extension that will keep him under contract for an additional three years.

A person with knowledge of the agreement tells The Associated Press that Aldridge will exercise the $22 million player option on his contract for the 2018-19 season. He will also get another two years and $50 million tacked on, according to the person who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

The Spurs open the regular season against Minnesota on Wednesday night. The agreement came as a surprise given Aldridge’s difficulty acclimating to the Spurs since he left Portland in 2015.

Aldridge averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last season.