Best of NBA: Dion Waiters leads Heat's rally over Hornets

Best of NBA: Dion Waiters leads Heat's rally over Hornets

MIAMI -- Dion Waiters scored 24 points, Goran Dragic added 22 points and 10 assists, and the Miami Heat moved within a half-game of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Charlotte Hornets 108-101 on Wednesday night.

Luke Babbitt scored 12 points, Hassan Whiteside had 10 points and 15 rebounds, and James Johnson added 10 points for Miami, which is 20-4 in its last 24 games -- the NBA's best record in that span.

Miami outscored Charlotte 27-15 in the final quarter.

Kemba Walker scored 33 points for Charlotte, which got 16 from Nicolas Batum, 14 from Marvin Williams and 12 from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The Heat made 17 3-pointers, outscoring Charlotte 51-21 from beyond the arc (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo leads Bucks to win over Knicks
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 22 of his 32 points in the second half to help the Milwaukee Bucks overcome a third-quarter deficit and beat the New York Knicks 104-93 on Wednesday night.

The Bucks extended their winning streak to four games with the win, moving to within a half-game of Chicago for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Antetokounmpo also added 13 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Khris Middleton finished with 18 points and Greg Monroe had 17.

Derrick Rose led the Knicks with 26 points, scoring 20 of them in the second half. He was 13 of 16 from the field. Carmelo Anthony scored 16 points in his return after a one-game absence.

The Bucks began the third quarter missing 13 of their first 14 shots and the Knicks built a 69-57 lead on a pair of free throws (see full recap).

Schroder, Millsap pace Hawks past Nets
ATLANTA -- Dennis Schroder scored 31 points, Paul Millsap added 24 and the Atlanta Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 110-105 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 16 points for Atlanta, which had lost six of eight to fall three games behind fourth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference.

Sean Kilpatrick scored 27 points, Brook Lopez had 18 and Jeremy Lin 16 for Brooklyn, the NBA's worst team. The Nets were trying to win consecutive games for the first time since last March 24-26.

Lin's corner 3 trimmed the lead to 106-105 with 13 seconds remaining, but Hardaway and Schroder each hit a pair of free throws to end it (see full recap).

Payton's 2nd straight triple-double leads Magic over Bulls
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Elfrid Payton had 22 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds for his second straight triple-double, and the Orlando Magic rallied for a 98-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Evan Fournier added 20 points to help Orlando erase a 13-point, second-half deficit and snap a two-game losing streak. The fading Bulls have lost three straight and four of their last five games. They entered the night tied with Detroit for seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Jimmy Butler scored 21 points for Chicago but missed some big shots down the stretch (see full recap).

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

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Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored 19 points, Marcin Gortat had 18 and the Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.

Washington (40-30) earned its second straight win to move into a tie with Indiana for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards also claimed the first tiebreaker by taking two of three in the season series.

Gortat was 6 for 8 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored a total of 17 points in his previous four games.

Washington went 10 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 54.8 percent from the field overall. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 16 points for the Wizards, and Markieff Morris added 15 (see full recap).

Giannis' double-double helps Bucks hold on to beat Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 122-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

The Bucks finished off the Eastern Conference's worst team with a game-ending 11-5 run, pushing the pace after the Hawks lost ball-handler Dennis Schroder. The guard fouled out with 2:46 left, and was called for a technical foul after exchanging words with an official on the way to the sideline.

Middleton hit the free throw that started the run. The Hawks looked rushed on their next two possessions with a turnover and a blocked shot, allowing the Bucks to brush past them.

Trailing by 13 at one point, Atlanta put up a spirited fight before losing its 50th game of the year. Taurean Prince scored 38 points, while Schroder finished with 18 (see full recap).

LeBron gets 33 points in triple-double as Cavs beat Bulls
CHICAGO — LeBron James scored 33 points as part of a triple-double, Jordan Clarkson had a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:27 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Saturday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 15th triple-double of the season, and Jeff Green added 21 points. Clarkson finished with 19 points to help the Cavaliers salvage a six-game split on their season-high six-game trip.

Denzel Valentine led Chicago with a career-high 34 points, hitting 8 of 11 from long range. The Bulls wiped out a 17-point halftime deficit even though they held out banged-up core players Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, only to come up short in the closing minutes.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue spent the second half in the locker room with an illness, another hit for an already short-handed team (see full recap).

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

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Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

One responsibility of professional athletes is being ready when your number is called.

Seems like a simple concept. However, not everyone can handle the duties of coming into a game cold and making an impact.

The Sixers' Justin Anderson prides himself on being able to thrive in just that type of situation. That's why when Brett Brown told him to be on alert prior to Friday's 120-116 win over the Nets, he was good to go.

"He came up to me before the game, maybe like 20 minutes before the game, and said he was going to go to me tonight," Anderson said. "I told him I was going to be ready. He went to me and we all played well."

Oh, Anderson was definitely ready. The third-year swingman entered at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter and made a trio of three-pointers to keep the sluggish Sixers afloat early on.

“I had hit the first one, and they were talking a little trash. They didn’t respect it, so they continued to go under [screens],” Anderson said. “I was always taught if they go under, raise up and shoot it. That’s what you practice for. I just wanted to make sure I took good shots, played hard, brung energy and I think we did a good of doing that.”

Wait, so guys on the 21-48 Nets squad had the nerve to talk a little smack? While a bit laughable, it didn’t help in knocking Anderson off his game.

“It just showed me that they weren’t disciplined in their scouting report and I tried to take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s not like I’m shooting 20s [percent] from the three. It was what it was and I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Anderson finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range along with two rebounds in 14 minutes. Even with that offensive production, it was his defensive prowess in the final minute that made the biggest impact on the night.

“We had the confidence to both give Richaun (Holmes) some minutes and Justin when it mattered and had a big stop,” Brown said. “I think it was against (Spencer) Dinwiddie. You know, moved his feet, guarded the yard as we call it.

That’s major trust in a player who missed 23 games earlier in the season with shin splints and eight more recently with an ankle sprain. But with the playoffs right around the corner, Brown knows he may need to go to Anderson again in an even more crucial moment.

“Good for him. He’s a wonderful teammate, he’s good people and he’s had sort of an erratic year with injury,” Brown said. “I thought tonight he confirmed what we all think in relation to him being able to help us.”