Best of NBA: Cavaliers tie franchise record with 13th straight win

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Best of NBA: Cavaliers tie franchise record with 13th straight win

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James drained a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and finished with 32 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers tied a franchise record with their 13th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

James, who changed his sneakers three times, also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, helping the Cavs rally from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to remain unbeaten since Nov. 11. His decisive 3-pointer in the final minute was in the face of JaKarr Sampson, who had jawed with James earlier.

Cleveland also won 13 straight in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The Cavs will try for the team record Friday at Indiana.

This one wasn't easy. The Kings gave the Cavs everything they had, but couldn't contain James in the clutch.

Zach Randolph had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Buddy Hield added 17 points for the Kings. Sampson grabbed 16 rebounds in his first start this season (see full recap).

Durant’s triple-double sparks shorthanded Warriors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kevin Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Charlotte Hornets 101-87 on Wednesday night without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

It was Durant's first triple-double of the season and his second since joining the Warriors before last season.

Klay Thompson scored seven of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for the Warriors, who have won five straight overall and seven in a row against the Hornets.

Curry will be sidelined for about two weeks with a sprained ankle, while Green is nursing a sore shoulder.

It hardly mattered.

Durant set the tone, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter to help the Warriors build a 26-18 lead. The edge increased to 26 in the second quarter following back-to-back 3-pointers by Nick Young, who had 10 points.

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 24 points, while Nic Batum added 15 and Dwight Howard 14 (see full recap).

Pelicans win behind Cousins’ monster game
NEW ORLEANS -- DeMarcus Cousins had 40 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans won for the second time in three games without Anthony Davis, defeating the Denver Nuggets 123-114 on Wednesday night.

Jrue Holiday scored 27 points and E'Twaun Moore had 14 for New Orleans, which shot 53.5 percent (46 of 86).

Gary Harris scored 24 for the short-handed Nuggets, who remained without recently injured frontcourt stalwarts Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.

Emmanuel Mudiay scored 17 points, while Will Barton and Jamal Murray each scored 15 for the Nuggets, who were as close as 97-94 after Malik Beasley's 3 with 11:25 to go, only to fade down the stretch.

New Orleans went on a decisive 20-3 run during which Cousins scored six points and blocked two shots. It marked the second time this season Cousins had at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game (see full recap).

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

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Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored 19 points, Marcin Gortat had 18 and the Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.

Washington (40-30) earned its second straight win to move into a tie with Indiana for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards also claimed the first tiebreaker by taking two of three in the season series.

Gortat was 6 for 8 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored a total of 17 points in his previous four games.

Washington went 10 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 54.8 percent from the field overall. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 16 points for the Wizards, and Markieff Morris added 15 (see full recap).

Giannis' double-double helps Bucks hold on to beat Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 122-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

The Bucks finished off the Eastern Conference's worst team with a game-ending 11-5 run, pushing the pace after the Hawks lost ball-handler Dennis Schroder. The guard fouled out with 2:46 left, and was called for a technical foul after exchanging words with an official on the way to the sideline.

Middleton hit the free throw that started the run. The Hawks looked rushed on their next two possessions with a turnover and a blocked shot, allowing the Bucks to brush past them.

Trailing by 13 at one point, Atlanta put up a spirited fight before losing its 50th game of the year. Taurean Prince scored 38 points, while Schroder finished with 18 (see full recap).

LeBron gets 33 points in triple-double as Cavs beat Bulls
CHICAGO — LeBron James scored 33 points as part of a triple-double, Jordan Clarkson had a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:27 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Saturday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 15th triple-double of the season, and Jeff Green added 21 points. Clarkson finished with 19 points to help the Cavaliers salvage a six-game split on their season-high six-game trip.

Denzel Valentine led Chicago with a career-high 34 points, hitting 8 of 11 from long range. The Bulls wiped out a 17-point halftime deficit even though they held out banged-up core players Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, only to come up short in the closing minutes.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue spent the second half in the locker room with an illness, another hit for an already short-handed team (see full recap).

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

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Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

One responsibility of professional athletes is being ready when your number is called.

Seems like a simple concept. However, not everyone can handle the duties of coming into a game cold and making an impact.

The Sixers' Justin Anderson prides himself on being able to thrive in just that type of situation. That's why when Brett Brown told him to be on alert prior to Friday's 120-116 win over the Nets, he was good to go.

"He came up to me before the game, maybe like 20 minutes before the game, and said he was going to go to me tonight," Anderson said. "I told him I was going to be ready. He went to me and we all played well."

Oh, Anderson was definitely ready. The third-year swingman entered at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter and made a trio of three-pointers to keep the sluggish Sixers afloat early on.

“I had hit the first one, and they were talking a little trash. They didn’t respect it, so they continued to go under [screens],” Anderson said. “I was always taught if they go under, raise up and shoot it. That’s what you practice for. I just wanted to make sure I took good shots, played hard, brung energy and I think we did a good of doing that.”

Wait, so guys on the 21-48 Nets squad had the nerve to talk a little smack? While a bit laughable, it didn’t help in knocking Anderson off his game.

“It just showed me that they weren’t disciplined in their scouting report and I tried to take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s not like I’m shooting 20s [percent] from the three. It was what it was and I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Anderson finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range along with two rebounds in 14 minutes. Even with that offensive production, it was his defensive prowess in the final minute that made the biggest impact on the night.

“We had the confidence to both give Richaun (Holmes) some minutes and Justin when it mattered and had a big stop,” Brown said. “I think it was against (Spencer) Dinwiddie. You know, moved his feet, guarded the yard as we call it.

That’s major trust in a player who missed 23 games earlier in the season with shin splints and eight more recently with an ankle sprain. But with the playoffs right around the corner, Brown knows he may need to go to Anderson again in an even more crucial moment.

“Good for him. He’s a wonderful teammate, he’s good people and he’s had sort of an erratic year with injury,” Brown said. “I thought tonight he confirmed what we all think in relation to him being able to help us.”