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Best of NBA: Green, Beal ejected in Warriors' comeback win over Wizards

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Best of NBA: Green, Beal ejected in Warriors' comeback win over Wizards

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant had 31 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to help rally the Golden State Warriors from 18 points down and beat the Washington Wizards 120-117 on Friday night, a game marred by a fight between Golden State's Draymond Green and Washington's Bradley Beal shortly before halftime that led to both being ejected.

Stephen Curry added 20 points and eight assists, hitting two 3s and two free throws in the final minute of the third quarter to get Golden State within 97-87 heading into the final 12 minutes. Then Klay Thompson and Durant made 3s early in the fourth for a four-point game. Thompson scored 18 points.

Durant's jumper with 1:20 to go put Golden State up by five, but the defending champions still needed his two free throws with 9.4 seconds left. John Wall missed an off-balance 3 then Washington couldn't capitalize on one final chance.

David West made two straight baskets for the Warriors midway through the fourth but Otto Porter Jr. hit consecutive 3-pointers for the Wizards, answering a 3 by Durant with a baseline dagger on the way to 29 points for the Wizards.

With 19.5 seconds left in the second quarter, Beal held the front of Green's jersey with his left hand while grabbing Green around the jaw with his right. That enraged Green, who threw his right arm in frustration and wrapped arms with Beal as if hugging, then other players joined the scrum (see full recap).

Towns has 33 and 19 as Timberwolves hold off Thunder
MINNEAPOLIS — When Jimmy Butler was sidelined for two games with an upper respiratory infection, the Minnesota Timberwolves lacked energy and struggled on defense. The end result was a pair of losses by an average of 22 points.

In Butler's return Friday night against Oklahoma City, it was evident just how different a team Minnesota is with him on the court.

Butler scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and helped the Timberwolves hold on for a 119-116 win over the Thunder. His veteran leadership was felt on both ends of the floor for Minnesota, which improved to 3-2.

"He makes a big difference," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Just having his presence - he's a great leader, does the right things on the floor."

Karl-Anthony Towns had 33 points and 19 rebounds to lead Minnesota. Towns also had arguably his best defensive game of the young season, posting a season-high four blocks (see full recap).

Harden's triple-double lifts Rockets past Hornets 
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni seemed genuinely disappointed his team only attempted 55 3-pointers against the Charlotte Hornets.

"I don't know why we didn't shoot 60," D'Antoni quipped. "We passed up about four."

James Harden had his first triple-double of the season with 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Rockets finished 22 of 57 from beyond the 3-point arc in a 109-93 win Friday night.

Houston nearly broke its own NBA regular season records of 24 3-pointers and 61 3-pointers attempted set last December.

Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson led the 3-point barrage. Gordon was 6 of 16 from beyond the arc and had 26 points, while Anderson was 6 of 15 and finished with 21 points (see full recap). 

Efficient Fournier scores 25 as Magic beat Spurs
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The season is a little more than a week old, but the Orlando Magic continue to shock the NBA.

The Magic buried the San Antonio Spurs 114-87 behind 25 points from Evan Fournier to run their record to an Eastern Conference-best 4-1.

Orlando led by as many as 36 points in a near-perfect performance at both ends of the floor. One week ago, the Magic led the Cleveland Cavaliers by as many as 37 in a 114-93 victory.

Jonathon Simmons  scored 17 points, Aaron Gordon had 16 and Nikola Vucevic scored 15 for the Magic, who closed this one out early. They led by 27 at halftime and pushed the lead to 36 when Fournier conveted a four-point play with just over three minutes left in the third period (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Magic embarrassed by Celtics before Sixers game

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Best of NBA: Magic embarrassed by Celtics before Sixers game

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving scored 17 of his 30 points in a blistering first half and the Boston Celtics jumped to an early lead and coasted to a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

One game after ending their streak of 16 consecutive victories, the Celtics scored 40 points in the first quarter and 73 by halftime -- both season highs -- to send the Magic to their seventh straight loss. Aron Baynes finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Al Horford had 10 assists.

Still wearing a mask after breaking a bone in his face on Nov. 10, Irving was 9 for 15 from the floor and sank all 10 of his free throw attempts, many with the sold-out crowd chanting "M-V-P!"

Orlando scored the first four points of the game and trailed by just four with less than four minutes left in the first before Boston scored 16 of the next 20 points to take a 40-24 lead. Leading 42-30 early in the second, the Celtics went on an 11-2 run and later got back-to-back 3-pointers from Rozier to open a 28-point lead.

Rozier had a career-high 23 points for Boston, which also topped its season-high for points.

Jonathon Simmons scored 14 points for Orlando, and Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and 11 rebounds (see full recap).

James has triple-double, Cavs beat Hornets for 7th straight
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had 27 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists, J.R. Smith made the tiebreaking free throw with 48 seconds left, and the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their winning streak to seven straight with a 100-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

James had season highs in rebounds and assists in his 57th career triple-double. He's 41-6 in the regular season against Charlotte and the Cavaliers have won 12 of 13, including eight straight against the Hornets.

After Smith split a pair from the line, both teams missed 3-point attempts and Charlotte called time with 11.1 seconds left. Jeremy Lamb missed a 3-pointer after the Hornets inbounded at midcourt and the rebound was tapped out to Kemba Walker, but his 3-point attempt fell well short.

For Black Friday, the Cavaliers wore black uniforms. Cleveland also wore black jerseys when it won the first championship in franchise history, but the current edition is minus the sleeves from Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

James also switched from yellow to black shoes after scoring six points in the first half.

Smith had 16 points, while Kevin Love had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland (see full recap).

Pistons overcome 15-point deficit to beat Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Andre Drummond had 17 points and 14 rebounds and the Detroit Pistons overcame a 15-point deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-98 on Friday night.

Russell Westbrook had his sixth triple-double of the season for Oklahoma City with 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. He missed a long 3-point attempt on the final possession to finish 1 of 10 from 3-point range and 10 of 29 from the field.

Down 10 at the half, the Pistons took their first lead on Ish Smith's jumper in the fourth and expanded it to four on Luke Kennard's only basket of the night, a 3-pointer that made it 88-84.

Oklahoma City had numerous chances, missing three shots on one possession in the final minute. The Thunder had the final possession and Westbrook's 26-footer bounced off the rim.

It was the eighth double-digit lead given up by the Thunder this season on their way to a loss (see full recap).

Joel Embiid credits partying in L.A. for torrid stretch

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Joel Embiid credits partying in L.A. for torrid stretch

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid sometimes looks like he’s having a party on the basketball court. It’s no surprise, then, he credits some actual partying with turning around his season.

Yes, that’s right. After Sixers practice Friday afternoon, Embiid said hitting the town in Los Angeles on the team's recent road trip helped him out of a funk.

“All my close friends live in L.A., so before that, I wasn’t really doing anything, I was frustrated because I wasn’t in basketball shape and I wasn’t having fun on the court,” Embiid said. “So I won’t lie, I decided to go out, have fun a little bit. And that just kind of gave me the energy back, and the next game against the Clippers, I had more than 30 points [32], and then the following game I had more than 40 [46], so I think it’s just about having fun and making sure I can control what I can.”

For what it’s worth, Embiid is averaging 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks since the Sixers arrived in Los Angeles. The Sixers are 5-1 in those six games.

As the Sixers keep winning, the expectations keep growing. Is this a legit playoff team? Contenders in the near future? Embiid deals with the pressure that sort of attention can bring the same way he does just about everything else.

“Just be myself," Embiid said. "Have fun on the court. You know, just be myself, and I know it’s going to come, I know the guys are going to find me whenever they have to find me, I know coach is going to call plays for me. I think I kind of figured out if I’m not having fun on the court, I’m not going to play well, so I really need to have fun, and that’s the main thing for me. From there, I’m going to be dominant.”

A big part of having fun on the court for Embiid is trash talk. He insists he doesn’t initiate it, but he’s more than happy to give it back. He’ll be without Ben Simmons Saturday night against Orlando, but he’s eager for some banter with the Magic.

“Me talking trash, it doesn’t usually happen because I want to, it’s because the other guys start talking trash. So if any of the guys want to, I’m up for it. It elevates my game, it makes me play better because I know if you talk trash to me I’m going to talk back, and I’m going to back it up, and that’s going to make me play better. I can’t wait, I really hope they do [trash talk]. It’s going to be exciting.”