76ers

Butler takes over in OT to give T-Wolves victory

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Butler takes over in OT to give T-Wolves victory

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jimmy Butler scored 12 of Minnesota's 14 points in overtime and finished with a season-high 39 to lift the Timberwolves to a 128-125 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Andrew Wiggins made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Minnesota, which won its fifth straight. Taj Gibson added 20 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Will Barton led Denver with 28 points, while Trey Lyles added 23 points and 10 rebounds. Nikola Jokic scored 22 for the Nuggets, whose three-game winning streak ended.

Butler scored Minnesota's first 11 points in overtime. Then with the game tied 125-all and 50 seconds to go, he found Jamal Crawford open for an 18-foot jump shot.

After the Nuggets missed on the other end, Butler skied for the defensive rebound, brought the ball down the court and drew a foul. He hit one of two free throws, and Lyles missed a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help Minnesota hang on after blowing a 19-point lead.

The Wolves played the overtime period without Towns, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and point guard Jeff Teague, who limped off the court in the final 20 seconds with what appeared to be a left leg injury (see full recap).

Rondo sets franchise, career highs with 25 assists
NEW ORLEANS -- Rajon Rondo set a franchise record with a career-high 25 assists in just 30 minutes on the court, Anthony Davis had 33 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Brooklyn Nets 128-113 on Wednesday night.

DeMarcus Cousins had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 23 points for the Pelicans, who've won three straight.

Currently sitting on the edge of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Pelicans entered their current three-game homestand looking to string together some victories against teams that have struggled on the road.

They got off to a solid start against Brooklyn, leading by as many as 16 in the first quarter, 23 in the second and 33 in the third.

At that point, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry pulled the starters, only to have to put them back in following a 17-0 Nets run that trimmed New Orleans' lead to 91-75 heading into the fourth quarter (see full recap).

George, Westbrook lift Thunder over Raptors
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the Toronto Raptors 124-107 on Wednesday night.

Paul George scored 33 points - going 7 of 10 from 3-point range - and Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams had 18 points each for Oklahoma City, which has won six straight and is 12-3 in December.

The Thunder won despite being on the wrong end of a 23-2 run in the first half, during which the Raptors built a 12-point lead.

C.J. Miles led the Raptors with 20 points, while Jonas Valanciunas added 16 and DeMar DeRozan had 15.

Toronto entered the game as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, but lost its second game in as many nights and fell to 10-3 in December. Miles went 6 of 12 from 3-point range but the Raptors otherwise struggled from behind the arc, finishing 11 of 38.

The Thunder posted a sizable 52-34 edge in rebounding (see full recap).

Surging Bulls rally past Knicks for win
CHICAGO -- Kris Dunn scored 17 points, including two clutch free throws in the final seconds, and the surging Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the New York Knicks 92-87 on Wednesday night.

Chicago trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, but shut down New York down the stretch of its ninth win in 11 games. The Knicks managed just three points in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

Lauri Markkanen scored 12 points for the Bulls, and Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez had 11 points apiece. Holiday also made three of Chicago's 10 3-pointers in 28 attempts, compared to a 4-for-23 performance from beyond the arc for New York.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with 23 points, and Courtney Lee had 17. New York has dropped three straight (see full recap).

A real fight (not an NBA one) breaks out in Magic win

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A real fight (not an NBA one) breaks out in Magic win

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Evan Fournier scored a season-high 32 points to help the Orlando Magic break a seven-game losing streak with a 108-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

D.J. Augustin added 11 points and three assists in the fourth quarter, when the Magic scored 35 points after trailing by two through three.

Jimmy Butler had 28 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had won five straight games by an average of 18.8 points.

Bismack Biyombo had 16 rebounds for the Magic, leading the team with the NBA's worst rebound percentage to a 51-37 advantage.

Fournier and Augustin hit 3-pointers during a 14-4 fourth-quarter run that put Orlando ahead to stay, and Augustin's three free throws with 2:10 left gave the Magic a nine-point lead, the biggest of the game for either team.

Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns answered with 3-pointers to keep the Timberwolves (29-17) in it, but Biyombo scored five straight Magic points to regain an eight-point lead with 50 seconds left.

A loss would have dropped Orlando (13-31) to the worst record in the NBA.

Magic guard Arron Afflalo and Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica were ejected with 7:58 left in the second quarter when they got into a fight while the game was being played.

Afflalo threw at least one punch in the fight, which came four minutes after both players had been assessed technical fouls (see full recap).

Davis scores 45 as Pelicans top C’s in overtime
BOSTON -- Anthony Davis had 45 points and 16 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 116-113 overtime victory over Boston on Tuesday night, ending the Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

Davis, who scored 48 on Sunday in an overtime win in New York, had four points in overtime and blocked two shots for the Pelicans, who overcame a sluggish start to the fourth quarter and erased a five-point deficit in the final few minutes of regulation.

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday added 23 points and seven assists. Ian Clark added 15 points for the Pelicans, whose size inside ended up prevailing in overtime when Boston's barrage of 3-pointers stopped falling.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 27 points and Al Horford had 14 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown added 16 points apiece for the Celtics, who attempted a season-high 50 3-pointers.

Rather than challenge Davis and Cousins inside, the Celtics lived outside and it cost them in overtime when they went just 1 for 4. Horford's 3-pointer early in OT gave Boston a 107-106 lead and Boston went up 113-110 before the Pelicans away put the game.

A jumper by Cousins cut the lead to 113-112, then Holiday added two more field goals and Boston couldn't catch up from there (see full recap).

Jokic’s big night helps Nuggets slip past Mavs
DENVER -- Nikola Jokic scored 29 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds, Gary Harris hit two late free throws and the Denver Nuggets led by as many as 23 points before holding on for a 105-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Harris finished with 25 points and Will Barton added 22 for the Nuggets, who won for just the second time in six games.

The Nuggets led 82-59 with 4:04 left in the third before Dallas staged a massive comeback. The Mavericks cut the deficit to one on a three-point play by Dennis Smith Jr. with 10.4 seconds remaining. After Harris made two free throws, the Mavericks had a chance for a last-second shot, but Dwight Powell couldn't corral a long pass as the buzzer sounded.

Smith had 25 points for the Mavericks, while Harrison Barnes contributed 17.

Trying to address the issue of slow starts, Nuggets coach Michael Malone tweaked the starting lineup by inserting Barton and sending Mason Plumlee to the bench. The change worked as Denver led at halftime. That's significant because it halted a streak of seven straight games in which the Nuggets trailed at intermission (see full recap).

Yet another bad break for the Sixers' backcourt

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Yet another bad break for the Sixers' backcourt

The Sixers’ backcourt has taken another hit.

Starting shooting guard JJ Redick suffered a left leg injury in Monday’s win over the Raptors. He will be re-evaluated in approximately 10 to 14 days.

An MRI on Tuesday showed bone edema and a small cortical crack in the fibular head of his left leg. X-rays after the game were negative.

Redick suffered the injury when he made contact with Delon Wright receiving a pass from Ben Simmons. He had an immediate reaction of pain, seemed to try to walk it off down the sideline in front of the Sixers’ bench, then rolled the ball back and headed to the locker room. Wright was whistled for a foul.

Redick has been a key piece to the Sixers’ 6-2 record since Christmas Day. He has averaged 20.1 points per game and shot 46.4 percent from three during that stretch. 

The veteran has missed four games this season, most recently two against the Raptors on Dec. 21 and 23 because of right hamstring tightness. Jerryd Bayless started in his place. 

The Sixers’ upcoming schedule is unforgiving of injuries. Looking at the approximation for re-evaluation, Redick would miss five games over the next 10 days (at Celtics, vs. Bucks, at Grizzlies, vs. Bulls, at Spurs). Two weeks would span the road trip that begins in San Antonio and includes the Thunder and Bucks (back-to-back).

Redick's injury comes as fellow guard Markelle Fultz is trying to make his way back on the court since being sidelined in late October because of his right shoulder.