Celtics survive near-dramatic finish against Nuggets

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Celtics survive near-dramatic finish against Nuggets

DENVER -- Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, Jaylen Brown hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining and the struggling Boston Celtics edged the Denver Nuggets 111-110 on Monday night.

Denver had a chance to win in dramatic fashion at the end but Torrey Craig's tip-in of Will Barton's long attempt from 3-point range was too late.

Irving finished 11 of 17 from the field to lead the Celtics to just their second win in seven games. Jayson Tatum added 20 points and Marcus Morris had 14 off the bench.

Boston blew a 20-point lead and trailed heading into the final period. Then the Celtics couldn't hold onto a six-point advantage in the final two minutes as the Nuggets tied the game at 108 with 43 seconds to go.

Nikola Jokic had a double-double by the first minute of the second half for Denver, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Barton scored 19, Gary Harris 15 and Jamal Murray 14.

Mason Plumlee had 16 points and eight rebounds before he left with a leg injury in the fourth.

The Celtics beat Denver for the second time this season, also prevailing 124-118 on Dec. 13.

Boston made 10 of its first 16 shots from beyond the perimeter to go up 51-31 in the second quarter and led 56-45 at halftime. Irving led the way with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

The Nuggets climbed back on the strength of a 14-5 run to end the half and outscored Boston 37-24 in the third to go up 82-80 (see full recap).

Oladipo, Pacers pull away for win over Hornets
INDIANAPOLIS -- Victor Oladipo scored 25 points, Myles Turner added 22 and the Indiana Pacers pulled away late for a 105-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

The Pacers have won two in a row and four of five.

Kemba Walker finished with 23 points and a trio of 3-pointers to lead the Hornets, who have lost two straight and four of six.

Dwight Howard had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Charlotte. Nicolas Batum made five 3s and wound up with 22 points.

Both teams had chances to take control throughout the first 3 quarters. Neither could until Oladipo's 19-footer spurred a 13-4 run, which finally gave Indiana a 94-86 lead with six minutes to go.

After that, it was no contest.

Turner's 3-pointer started a 7-0 run that extended the lead to 103-89 with 2:46 left -- the biggest advantage of the game for either team.

Charlotte couldn't cut the deficit to single digits until the final minute in a game that featured 18 lead changes and 16 ties (see full recap).

Whiteside helps Heat sweep Mavs yet again
DALLAS -- Hassan Whiteside had 25 points and 14 rebounds as the Miami Heat completed another season series sweep of the Dallas Mavericks with a 95-88 victory Monday night.

The Heat never trailed after Goran Dragic had a steal that led to Tyler Johnson's tiebreaking 3-pointer to make it 38-35 just under 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half. Their lead went to double-digits again after Whiteside had consecutive baskets midway through the third quarter.

Harrison Barnes had 20 points and Wesley Matthews 19 for the Mavericks (16-35), who have dropped four games in a row and seven of eight overall.

This is the 14th time in their 30 seasons that the Heat, who beat Dallas 113-101 at home on Dec. 22, have swept the regular-season series. These teams twice met in the NBA Finals, with Miami getting its first championship in 2006 and the Mavs winning their only title in 2011.

Miami (29-21) led 51-41 when Josh Richardson hit a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left in the first half. But the Mavs trimmed that in half when rookie Dennis Smith Jr. made a defended buzzer-beating 3-pointer from about 27 feet to make it 51-46. James Johnson had a hand up in front of Smiths' face with Whiteside coming from the side.

Richardson had 14 points for the Heat, while Gragic had 13 and Kelly Olynyk 12.

Smith scored 14 for Dallas, and Nowitzki 10 (see full recap).

Western Conference streaks give Sixers a boost

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Western Conference streaks give Sixers a boost

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth straight, 98-90 over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

San Antonio remained in sixth place in the Western Conference, one-half game behind fourth-place Oklahoma City. The Spurs close out a six-game homestand on Friday against Utah, which is 1 games behind San Antonio in eighth place.

Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 21 points to lead the Wizards, who dropped into sixth in the Eastern Conference.

San Antonio's winning streak follows a 3-11 skid that briefly dropped the Spurs out of playoff position.

Aldridge has been critical to the turnaround, averaging 29.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during the streak.

Against Washington, Aldridge scored nine points during a 23-9 run that gave San Antonio a 17-point lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Without injured All-Star John Wall, the Wizards were unable to answer (see full recap).

Davis, Pelicans outlast Pacers for 3rd straight win
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis capped a 28-point, 13-rebound, five-block performance with a 15-foot baseline fade, a gritty put-back and two free throws in the final minute, and the New Orleans Pelicans outlasted the Indiana Pacers 96-92 on Wednesday night.

E'Twaun Moore scored 23 for New Orleans, which had to overcome a scrappy defensive effort by Indiana to win its third straight.

The Pelicans, who average nearly 112 points per game, were limited to 43 percent (34 of 79) accuracy by the Pacers, who also turned 20 New Orleans turnovers into 15 points.

The Pacers shot only 36.6 percent (34 of 93), but kept the game close with 15 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.

Neither team led by more than six, and the game was tied at 87 with 1:49 left, after Victor Oladipo's block of Jrue Holiday sent Darren Collison away for a fast-break layup as he was fouled by Moore.

Moore put back his own miss with 1:24 to play to put the Pelicans back in front, and after Oladipo was called for a travel with 1:12 to go, Davis hit his clutch fade in front of the Pacers' bench, holding his right arm up triumphantly as the shot went down (see full recap).

Howard has historic night in Hornets’ comeback
NEW YORK -- Dwight Howard had 32 points and 30 rebounds, becoming the first player with a 30-30 game against the Nets since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1978, and the Charlotte Hornets stormed back to beat Brooklyn 111-105 on Wednesday night.

Kemba Walker scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, who trailed by as many 23 points in the second half to win in front of an announced crowd of 10,231 at Barclay Center while a heavy snowfall outside blanketed the New York City area.

Trailing 105-102 with 2:14 left in regulation, the Hornets went on a 9-0 run to pull off the impressive comeback.

Jeremy Lamb, who had 17 points to help end Charlotte's two-game losing streak, made a layup to cut the deficit to 105-104. The Hornets then called a timeout after a miss by Caris LeVert with 23 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Walker spun around Quincy Acy and capped a three-point play to put Charlotte up 107-105, the Hornets' first lead of the night since a 16-15 advantage with 5:46 in the opening quarter.

LeVert missed a chance to tie it when he was met by Howard under the basket. Howard then hit a pair of free throws to make it 109-105.

D'Angelo Russell scored 19 points and LeVert added 11 for the Nets, whose two-game winning streak was cut short. They have yet to have won three consecutive this season (see full recap).

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Did you hire someone to shovel out your driveway in Winter Storm Toby?

Robert Covington didn’t. 

“I shoveled my driveway and the sidewalk and my walkway,” Covington said following the Sixers' 119-105 win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday (see observations). “[It took me] about 20 minutes. It wasn’t that bad because the snow wasn’t really heavy and it wasn’t sticking, so I just kind of, in and out.” 

The thing is, Covington actually likes to shovel snow. It’s a task he grew up doing during the winters in Illinois and one that taught him the value of hard work. He shoveled to help his family and elderly neighbors who needed a hand. 

“The responsibility that my parents instilled in me was, when you’re told to do something, you’ve got to make sure you handle your business and you have to do it at a certain level,” Covington said. 

Covington, who signed a $60 million contract this season, easily could have hired a snow removal service to help him get to the game on time. But there was something he liked about taking care of it.  

“I’ve always done it myself,” Covington said. “It kind of gives you a sense of still working and still doing the simple things. Everybody tells me I could have paid someone to do it, one of the kids in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t about that. It was just something quick. I chose to go out there and do it, knock it out.”

The snow didn't slow down Covington at all. He scored 15 points in less than 23 minutes, shooting an efficient 6 for 9 from the field and 3 for 4 from three. 

So given how well he played following the shoveling, did he stumble upon a new pregame routine?

“No,” Covington said with a laugh. “I won’t continue to do that because I kind of got a little sniffles while I was out there. No, I won’t be out doing that too much because I don’t want to get sick.”