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DeMarcus Cousins reportedly suffers torn Achilles

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DeMarcus Cousins reportedly suffers torn Achilles

NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis scored 27 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before seriously injuring his left Achilles, and New Orleans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory over the Rockets on Friday night.

A person familiar with the situation said Pelicans team physicians have provided a preliminary diagnosis of an Achilles tear, which would end Cousins' season little more than a week after he was named an All-Star starter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because, officially, the team said an MRI will determine the severity of the injury.

Yahoo! first reported the initial diagnosis.

The injury, which occurred as Cousins pursued a missed free throw with 12 second left in the game, all but squelched the jubilation from a team and its fans, who otherwise would have been celebrating a fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo scores 41 points in return from injury
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 41 points and 13 rebounds to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets 116-91 on Friday night.

Antetokounmpo returned after sitting out two games to manage chronic pain in his right knee. He sealed it late, dribbling between his legs before hitting a jumper over Quincy Acy and drawing a foul. Antetokounmpo made the free throw, and hit a 3-pointer on the next possession.

Khris Middleton added 21 points for the Bucks in their second game since coach Jason Kidd was fired Monday. They also beat the Nets for the ninth consecutive time.

DeMarre Carroll and D'Angelo Russell had 14 points apiece for Brooklyn.

Milwaukee built a 26-point first-half lead. Brooklyn, which had just 35 points at the half, scored 37 in the third quarter and got within seven points late in the period (see full recap).

Rubio's 3-pointer with 4 seconds left lifts Jazz past Raptors
TORONTO — Ricky Rubio's big 3-pointer gave the Utah Jazz back-to-back wins for the first time in more than a month.

Rubio drained the winning basket with 4 seconds remaining as the Jazz earned a 97-93 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

"Ricky is mentally tough," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "He wants those shots and he got one tonight. It was good to see him knock it down."

Rubio had missed all four of his shot attempts in the second half, but didn't flinch before firing up the game-winner.

"It was easy to take that shot," Rubio said. "I was open and I had to take it. There was no other option. It felt good and I let it fly" (see full recap).

Williams posts 40 points, 10 assists in Clippers' win over Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lou Williams had 40 points and matched his season-high with 10 assists in the Los Angeles Clippers' 109-100 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Williams was 12 of 19 from the field and the Clippers shot 49 percent from the field, going 10 of 27 from outside the arc, to snap a three-game skid. Milos Teodosic added 18 points, DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Blake Griffin finished with 14 points.

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol had a triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Memphis was hindered by 20 turnovers leading to 22 Clippers points.

Memphis shot 48 points, but managed to convert only 8 of 27 from outside the arc (see full recap).

Rockets extend streak as Butler exits with injury

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Rockets extend streak as Butler exits with injury

HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 31 points and the Houston Rockets won their 11th straight game with a 120-102 victory Friday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost All-Star Jimmy Butler to an apparent right knee injury.

Butler left the game late in the third quarter. After grabbing a rebound late in the third quarter, he pivoted and planted hard on his right foot before collapsing and grabbing his right knee. He was on the floor for at least three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates. He appeared to avoid putting weight on his right leg when heading to the locker room.

A Timberwolves official said during the fourth quarter that Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau would provide an update on Butler's injury following the game.

Clint Capela had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, getting his 10th double-double over the past 13 games. Chris Paul added 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Rockets trailed for much of the first half before going ahead to maintain the NBA's best record.

Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points, and Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns both had 18 points. Towns added 13 rebounds (see full recap).

Davis sensational in Pelicans’ OT victory over Heat
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Miami Heat 124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade hit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami's third straight loss.

Davis, who has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game during New Orleans' winning streak -- and 42 or more three times -- raised both arms in triumph as he looked up at the jubilant crowd, and then exchanged high fives with fans along the court.

Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks. Ian Clark scored a season-high 21 points and Nikola Mirotic capped his 10-point, nine-rebound performance with a crucial 3 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in overtime when he hacked Davis on a put-back attempt. Davis hit both free throws to tie it at 117, and then gave New Orleans a brief lead with his fifth alley-oop dunk of the game on a fast-break lob from Holiday with 1:10 to go. Wade had 16 points, while Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 15 points (see full recap).

Balanced Celtics rout Pistons
DETROIT -- Kyrie Irving scored 18 points and rookie Daniel Theis added a career-high 19 to lift the Boston Celtics to a 110-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for the Celtics, who went into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak but returned with a solid win on the road. Boston took control by outscoring the Pistons 38-21 in the second quarter.

Blake Griffin scored 17 points for Detroit but shot just 5 of 19 from the field.

Theis eclipsed his previous career high of 12 points. He played an important role after Aron Baynes, the starting center for the Celtics, went to the locker room in the first half with left elbow soreness. Baynes ended up playing only 2:39, but Theis shot 8 of 10 from the field and had seven rebounds.

Ish Smith made his first eight shots and finished with 20 points for the Pistons. Detroit led 39-37 in the second quarter before a 21-5 run by Boston. The Celtics were ahead 61-49 at halftime.

The lead was only four late in the third before Boston scored seven straight points -- five by Irving. The Celtics broke the game open at the start of the fourth (see full recap).

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

The Sixers have been rising steadily in the standings and players around the league are taking notice. 

The young squad improved to 31-25 with a victory over the Bulls Thursday. They have won six straight and have not lost at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018. That totals up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, only two games behind the Wizards for the fourth spot and two games ahead of the Heat for the eighth. 

"I like them," Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler said at the All-Star break. "They've got a lot of great young talent. We do as well. But I think the way that they're going and how they play so hard and play so together, that's how you win basketball games. They're going to be really, really good for a long time."

The Sixers turned heads with a statement win over the Rockets in only their seventh game of the season. From there, they have defeated playoff teams, including a rare sweep of the Spurs, while struggling against sub.-500 opponents. 

They have 26 games remaining to make a postseason push. Of their upcoming opponents, only 10 games are against current top-eight teams in their conferences. Brett Brown has emphasized they can't take any team lightly. This is the time for the Sixers to maximize their schedule and show they learned from previous letdowns.

"They look good," Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said. "Obviously as a young team, it takes time to learn how to win. ... The mature, really high-level teams, they find a way to get it done. I think for them, that's what their record shows. You play against them and it's hard to play against them. 

"They're really talented, they play hard, they play for a great coach. It's just those nights where you might not have it, having that understanding and that experience that'll lead you to more wins. I think once they get to that point, that's when maybe nine or 10 games that they've let slip, maybe they win those games."

The Sixers wrapped up the majority of their Western Conference schedule prior to the All-Star break. They have only the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Mavericks left to play. Those in the conference still are keeping an eye on the Sixers' progress, even if they may not face off again for months. 

"Everyone definitely sees the talent there," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "Any time you've got Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid to build around, they've got a very bright future. I think everyone had very high expectations, but it's hard to have high expectations with a team that's got a lot of first-, second-year guys that have never been in the playoffs. 

"But you can tell that they're going to be in the playoffs for, shoot, the next decade or so, probably be upper echelon pretty soon."