76ers

Curry lights up Grizzlies for 38 points in return

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USA Today Images

Curry lights up Grizzlies for 38 points in return

OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry made a sensational return from injury by scoring 38 points with a season-high 10 3-pointers, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 141-128 on Saturday night.

Curry shot 13 for 17 and 10 of 13 from deep in 26 minutes for his ninth 30-point game this season after missing 11 games with a sprained right ankle. His mere presence brought an energy to the Warriors and all of Oracle Arena, and he spent much of the fourth quarter pacing, gesturing in delight while cheering his teammates with a towel draped over his head.

Kevin Durant added 20 points, nine assists and five rebounds, and Klay Thompson scored 21 points as the Warriors wrapped up nearly three weeks at home in California. Zaza Pachulia scored a season-best 17 points and also had eight rebounds and six assists.

Marc Gasol led six Memphis players in double figures with 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting (see full recap).

Porzingis scores 30 to lead Knicks to win over Hornets
NEW ORLEANS — Kristaps Porzingis scored 30 points, Jarrett Jack made two free throws to break a tie with 9 seconds remaining and the New York Knicks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 105-103 on Saturday night.

Jack finished with 15 points, and Michael Beasley scored 15 off the bench for the Knicks, who snapped a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Anthony Davis had 31 points and nine rebounds for the Pelicans and missed a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer. DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 19 rebounds, Jrue Holiday scored 13 and E'Twaun Moore had 12.

Cousins made a 3-pointer and scored on a drive to give New Orleans a 99-91 lead with 2:57 left before New York fought back.

Porzingis scored seven straight points to give the Knicks a 103-101 lead with 38 seconds left (see full recap).

Jazz top Cavs behind Mitchell's 29 points
SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points, and the Utah Jazz handed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers their third straight defeat, 104-101 on Saturday night.

James had 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists on his 33rd birthday as Cleveland lost at Utah for the sixth straight time. The Cavs' three-game losing streak is their second this season.

Mitchell blew by J.R. Smith with the dribble and finished a layup in traffic over James with 35 seconds remaining to give the Jazz a 100-97 lead. James then missed a layup, and Utah finished off the game from the free-throw line. The Jazz snapped a three-game losing streak.

Mitchell shot 10 for 17 from the field. Ricky Rubio had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists (see full recap).

Heat overcome 18-point deficit to beat Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Tyler Johnson scored 22 points in the third quarter and Goran Dragic had 14 in the fourth to help the Miami Heat overcome an 18-point deficit and beat the Orlando Magic 117-111 on Saturday night.

Johnson finished with a season-high 31 points, and Dragic had 25 points and eight assists.

Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 39 points, and Evan Fournier added 23.

Dragic's baseline runner with 2:03 remaining put the Heat up 107-105 and he added a layup to push the lead to four. After Gordon's three free throws with 1:12 left, Johnson hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a four-point lead (see full recap).

Rob's Rants — Heat are now most hated NBA team

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AP Images

Rob's Rants — Heat are now most hated NBA team

The reasons were all on full display Thursday in Miami. From the Justise Winslow’s goggles stomp, to Dwyane Wade’s take-down of Justin Anderson, to Goran Dragic’s flexing, to Kelly Olynyk’s cheap shots and man-bun, to Hassan Whiteside’s laughable belief that he is even in the same league as Joel Embiid, the Miami Heat have vaulted to the top of my current NBA hate list.

That spot had been reserved by the Boston Celtics since I was a kid. Red Auerbach, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, cheap-shot artist, Danny Ainge, and that towel-waving weasel, M.L. Carr, were an easy team to despise. Not to mention the arrogance of their fanbase. They were the Sixers' chief rival in those days. The difference with those Celtics squads and the Heat is, those Boston teams were great. This Miami team because of their lack of talent must play a physical, often cheap, dirty style. 

But the beauty of Game 3 of this first-round series was the Sixers beat them at their own physical game. Thanks in large part to the return of the masked man, Joel Embiid. 

Let’s start with Winslow purposely attempting to break Embiid’s goggles that popped off of his facial mask. The ref was standing right there; how that is not a technical at the very least is beyond comprehension. Then there’s Wade, a future Hall of Famer, no doubt. But a bigger whiner you won’t find and that is saying something in the NBA. Wade cries more than an infant teething. He should have been ejected or issued at the very least the only technical for his tangle with Anderson. The double technical was a classic case of pedigreed player vs. a deep guy.  

Olynyk is a complete hack and in the vein of Wade, never thinks he commits a foul. Whiteside is no match for Embiid. He can only play one end and when Embiid is on the floor it’s clear he can’t even handle him on that one end.

It was thoroughly enjoyable to watch the Sixers silence the faux Miami crowd that is more interested in showing up overpriced, garish clothes and being seen than what is happening on the hardwood.       

It won’t be easy by any stretch but here’s hoping the Sixers can send this bunch packing in five. If Embiid stays healthy, the Sixers advance but between then and now, expect much of the same tactics from Miami. And another layer to the Heat hate.

Justin Anderson downplays Game 3 scuffle with Dwyane Wade

Justin Anderson downplays Game 3 scuffle with Dwyane Wade

Amir Johnson was getting dressed at the locker next to Justin Anderson when the veteran center looked up with a calm request.

“Tell the truth,” Johnson said with a smile.

That’s because Anderson was attempting to downplay his second-quarter run-in with Heat guard Dwyane Wade during the Sixers’ 128-108 Game 3 win Thursday in Miami (see game recap).

“It’s just a common foul. I’m not tripping about it,” Anderson said.

Anderson may not have wanted to make a big deal over the incident, but the foul was anything but common.

With 10:26 on the clock in the second quarter, Anderson locked up with Wade on the defensive end. Anderson pushed off as he attempted to front Wade in the post when the three-time champion latched onto the Sixers guard’s arm and flung him out of bounds. Anderson fell down into a couple photographers before getting up to confront Wade. Both players were separated and assessed taunting technical fouls for the play.

“I don’t remember,” Anderson said. “It was just a tough play for both of us. Just continue to move on. Next play.”

The skirmish was just one example of the heightened physicality in the series. Game 3 witnessed 56 total personal fouls and six technicals.

Despite playing just two minutes in the series prior to Thursday night, Anderson knew he was walking into a battle.

“They hit us in Game 1. They were physical from the start,” said Anderson, who had six points and four rebounds during nine minutes of action in Game 3. “I try to take every opportunity that I’m given. Watching the game for the first two games from the bench, I kind of recognized that the physicality was real high. I just mentally prepared myself that if I go in I’ve got to hit first or they’re going to hit me.”

So is it safe to say Anderson is the Sixers’ new enforcer?

“Like in hockey? Nah,” he said. “I just play hard. I play hard and make sure I do whatever I can to help our team win. That’s all that really matters.”