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Kuzma's career night helps Lakers cool off Rockets

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Kuzma's career night helps Lakers cool off Rockets

HOUSTON -- Rookie Kyle Kuzma set career highs with 38 points and seven 3-pointers, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame 51 points from James Harden to end the Houston Rockets' 14-game winning streak with a 122-116 victory Wednesday night.

It was Houston's first loss since Nov. 14 and snapped a three-game skid for the Lakers.

The game was tied before Los Angeles scored 10 straight points -- while Houston missed seven shots in a row -- to go up 110-100 with about four minutes left.

Houston ended an almost four-minute scoring drought when Harden made a free throw, and he added three more after being fouled on a 3-point attempt a few seconds later to cut it to 110-104. But former Rocket Corey Brewer made a 3-pointer before Lonzo Ball hit two free throws to make it 115-104.

Harden powered Houston on a night when Chris Paul had just eight points before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a sore left leg.

The Rockets made seven free throws down the stretch but hit just four field goals in the last eight minutes -- all in the final 1:05.

Kuzma was unstoppable in the first half, making all nine of his shots, including six 3-pointers. He cooled a bit after the break and finished 12 of 17 overall and 7 of 10 from deep (see full recap).

Olynyk goes off on former team as Heat top Celtics
BOSTON -- Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 32 points in his rousing return to Boston, and the undermanned Miami Heat hung on Wednesday for a 90-89 victory over the Celtics.

On a night when the Celtics honored their former forward in his first game back, the popular Olynyk received a standing ovation from Boston fans and led the Heat (16-15) to another win against the top team in the Eastern Conference. Josh Richardson had 19 points and six assists for Miami, which took two of three in the season series. The Heat ended Boston's 16-game winning streak earlier this season with a victory at home.

Olynyk signed with Miami as a free agent during the offseason. His previous high was 30 points on Dec. 15, 2014.

When this one was over, he took photos with fans.

Kyrie Irving paced the Celtics (26-8) with 33 points, but missed a jumper from the right wing that bounced off the rim at the buzzer. Jaylen Brown scored 16 and Marcus Smart had 15 (see full recap).

Bulls blast shorthanded Magic for 7th straight win
CHICAGO -- Denzel Valentine had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Nikola Mirotic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 112-94 on Wednesday night for their seventh straight win.

The Bulls had lost 10 straight with Mirotic out of the lineup prior to his return Dec. 8, and they haven't lost since to improve to 10-20.

Nikola Vucevic scored 18 points for Orlando, which lost its sixth in a row.

Facing the league's fourth-worst scoring defense, the Bulls took a 43-27 lead with 9:05 left in the second quarter on Mirotic's layup, one of many easy baskets. Chicago's strong ball movement resulted in easy looks inside and out, and the team had assists on 10 of its first 15 shots.

Robin Lopez connected on his first four attempts for a club averaging 111.1 points per contest since Mirotic returned to the lineup -- up from 95.7 points in 23 games without the forward.

Injury-riddled Orlando, which played without leading scorers Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, struggled to keep pace. The Magic made only 3 of 15 first-half 3-point tries en route to their 17th loss in 20 games (see full recap).

Raptors continue to take care of business at home

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Raptors continue to take care of business at home

TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Toronto Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs.

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Patty Mills had 13 as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six road games. The Spurs are 11-15 away from home.

It had been more than two years since Toronto last beat San Antonio. The Raptors won 97-94 at home on Dec. 9, 2015.

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed his second straight game because of a sore right thigh. Ginobili returned to Texas after the Spurs won at Brooklyn on Wednesday (see full recap).

Beal, Oubre spark Wizards’ win over Pistons
DETROIT -- Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 26 points each, and the Washington Wizards scored 45 points in the third quarter before holding on for a 122-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

The Pistons cut a 20-point second-half deficit to four in the fourth quarter, but John Wall made a big 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 107-100. Oubre added a four-point play a few possessions later to push Washington's lead to nine.

Andre Drummond had 14 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists for the Pistons, who have lost four straight.

Both teams were struggling coming into the game. The Wizards lost by 24 at Charlotte on Wednesday, and they fell behind by 15 in the first quarter at Detroit. It was tied at 46 at halftime, though (see full recap).

Nets edge Heat to snap 5-game home skid
NEW YORK -- DeMarre Carroll scored 26 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Miami Heat 101-95 on Friday night.

Brooklyn snapped a five-game losing skid at Barclays Center and a seven-game home losing streak to the Heat.

Caris LeVert and Joe Harris each added 12 points for the Nets. D'Angelo Russell played 14 minutes and went 0-for-5 from the field for Brooklyn in his first action after missing 32 games following left knee surgery.

Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Goran Dragic scored 17 points for the Heat.

LeVert made an acrobatic layup to give the Nets a 95-91 lead with 57.8 seconds remaining and then made a step-back jumper to ice the game at 97-91 (see full recap).

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

While Joel Embiid was sharing his first All-Star nod with his teammates and deciding to move on from his former crush, at least one person wasn’t happy that the Sixers’ center was tabbed as a starter.

Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis feels like he should have garnered that final frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Players know,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

True, Porzingis had more of the players’ support as he finished third in the East in that category compared to Embiid in fourth. 

However, Embiid had the trump card with a pair of third-place finishes in both media and fan voting while Porzingis came in fourth. The fan vote was the main key, as it accounted for 50 percent of the overall tally.

“I feel very blessed to be in this type of position,” Embiid said Thursday. “Thank all the fans out there for the support. It’s been a tough couple of years and I really appreciate it — everybody out there, everybody around me, the whole team, the whole organization, the fans especially, for making this happen. We can only get better from here.”

If Embiid is going to get even better, look out. He’s already averaging 23.9 points (48.7 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Oh yeah, he also has the Sixers with a 21-20 record and sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Porzingis’ overall numbers have gone down every month this season. He’s currently putting up 23.6 points (43.4 percent shooting), 6.9 boards, 1.2 assists and 2.4 blocks a night. And the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to 20-25.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Porzingis said. “Fans are one thing. It is what it is. There are a lot of things I could have done better also. It is what it is.”