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NBA Notes: Clippers acquire Danilo Gallinari in 3-team trade

NBA Notes: Clippers acquire Danilo Gallinari in 3-team trade

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Clippers acquired sharp-shooting forward Danilo Gallinari from Denver as part of a three-team trade that also involved Atlanta on Thursday.

In the swap, Los Angeles sent Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone, cash considerations and a protected 2018 first-round pick to the Hawks. The Nuggets receive a 2019 second-round pick from Atlanta.

Gallinari joins a Clippers team that recently traded Chris Paul to Houston, but agreed to a five-year deal with Blake Griffin. They also have DeAndre Jordan in the frontcourt.

The 28-year-old Gallinari was originally selected by New York with the sixth overall pick in 2008. He wound up in Denver as part of the blockbuster deal in February 2011 that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.

A fan favorite, Gallinari averaged 16.2 points and made 535 3-pointers for the Nuggets. He missed the 2013-14 season as he recovered from a torn left ACL.

"Danilo has been a special player for the Nuggets organization as well as a prominent figure in the Denver community for the last six years," said Tim Connelly, the president of basketball operations for Denver. "He was a consummate professional throughout his time with us and we want to wish him all the best as he begins this new chapter" (see full story).

Mavericks: Nowitzki agrees on 2-year, $10 million deal
DALLAS -- A person with knowledge of the agreement says the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki have agreed on a two-year, $10 million deal that assures a 20th season for the star forward.

The second year of the contract carries a team option, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced the deal. The 39-year-old Nowitzki is set to join Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as the only players to spend 20 seasons with one franchise.

The deal is similar to the one the Mavs and Nowitzki reached last year, although for significantly less money. Last year's contract was for two years and $50 million, and the club declined the option before free agency opened this year (see full story).

Knicks: Hardaway Jr. inks $71 million offer sheet
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks are trying to bring back Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks signed the guard to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet Thursday, agent Mark Bartelstein said.

Hardaway is a restricted free agent, so the Atlanta Hawks will have two days to match the offer.

The deal was first reported by ESPN.

Hardaway was a first-round pick of the Knicks who spent two seasons in New York before they traded him to Atlanta for the rights to point guard Jerian Grant. The Knicks later dealt Grant to Chicago in a trade for Derrick Rose.

Hardaway struggled early in Atlanta but played well last season, averaging 14.5 points.

Pacers: Team says George deal was best for future
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Pritchard struggled to make the deal.

Eventually, he figured dealing Paul George was the best way to protect the Indiana Pacers.

On Thursday, Pritchard finally made the blockbuster trade official by announcing the four-time All-Star was heading to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

"It was difficult both on a personal and professional level," Pritchard said in a statement issued by the team. "Everyone here knows what Paul meant to this franchise; he was both a tremendous human being as well as player here for seven years. We thank Paul and his family for their contributions to the Pacers and wish him well."

George essentially forced the move when word leaked that he intended to leave the team as a free agent next summer just before the NBA draft.

That disclosure put the Pacers in a bind: Build around George for one final run at an NBA title, lose their star player and get nothing in return or shop George for the best deal they could find with his public plans hurting his trade value. Pritchard called the news a "gut punch" during last month's draft. He hasn't spoken to reporters since then, but under NBA rules the deal could be announced Thursday.

"We feel very strongly about the potential Victor and Domantas bring to our team and what they mean for the future of the franchise," Pritchard said. "Both are highly competitive, highly skilled and both are winners. That is why both were lottery picks. That is why we sought them out to be part of this deal" (see full story).

Grizzlies: Team to retire Randolph’s No. 50
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies are planning to retire the No. 50 jersey worn by Zach Randolph, who is leaving the team after eight seasons to sign with the Sacramento Kings.

In a tweet on the Grizzlies' official account , majority owner Robert Pera says that No. 50 "will never be worn by another member of the Memphis Grizzlies." Pera also thanks Randolph for helping "turn a lottery team into a perennial playoff contender" and helping "make a basketball team a model of community service."

Randolph, a free agent, is joining former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger at Sacramento. He agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal.

Randolph, who helped Memphis earn seven straight playoff appearances , will become the first player to have his number retired by the Grizzlies.

Best of NBA: Rockets rally past Pelicans in high-scoring affair

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USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Rockets rally past Pelicans in high-scoring affair

HOUSTON -- Clint Capela had a career-high 28 points and James Harden scored 12 straight points for Houston in the fourth quarter as the Rockets rallied for a 130-123 victory to extend their winning streak to 10 games on Monday night.

The game was tied with about three minutes remaining after Harden made two free throws. Those were the first of seven straight points by Harden that put Houston's up 124-119 with 1:30 left.

Jrue Holiday made a basket after that, but Harden hit a 3-pointer seconds later to push the lead to 127-121. Harden stole the ball from E'Twaun Moore after a timeout by New Orleans. He was fouled and made both free throws to make it 129-121 with 34 seconds left.

After scoring 48 points in Houston's last game, Harden finished with 26 on Monday, but he tied a career-high with 17 assists, finding the 6-foot-10 Capela under the basket again and again.

Holiday had a season-high 37 points for the Pelicans. Moore had a career-high 36 points and made a career-most six 3-pointers on a night New Orleans set a franchise record with 18 3-pointers (see full recap).

Mirotic, Portis help Bulls blow out Celtics
CHICAGO -- Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, Bobby Portis added a career-high 23 and the Chicago Bulls blew out Boston 108-85 on Monday night with Celtics star Kyrie Irving sidelined because of a bruised left quadriceps.

Owners of the NBA's worst record, the Bulls built an 18-point lead in the second quarter against the Eastern Conference leaders. And when Boston cut it to 12 in the fourth, the Bulls simply pulled away for their third straight win.

Mirotic made his first start of the season with leading scorer Lauri Markkanen sidelined because of back spasms. The 6-foot-10 forward hit 9 of 14 shots and grabbed eight rebounds in his third appearance.

Portis shot 10 of 15 and nailed all three 3-pointers.

Before Monday night, Mirotic and Portis had only made headlines together this season for the wrong reasons. Mirotic missed the first 23 games with facial fractures he suffered in a fight at practice with Portis.

Al Horford scored 15 for Boston. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier added 13 points apiece in the Celtics' most lopsided loss of the season (see full recap).

Howard, struggling Hornets roll past Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dwight Howard scored 23 points to help the Charlotte Hornets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-103 on Monday night.

Kemba Walker had 19 points for the Hornets, who had lost seven of eight. Marvin Williams scored 18, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 17 points.

It was Charlotte's second road win of the season in 12 tries.

Russell Westbrook had 30 points and seven assists and Paul George scored 20 points for the Thunder after missing the previous two games with a right calf contusion.

Charlotte shot 53 percent from the field against one of the league's best defensive teams. The Bobcats made 13 of 25 3-point attempts (see full recap).

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

NEW ORLEANS — The Sixers have hit a four-game skid and there is not a clearly defined way out of it thanks to a laundry list of injuries.

“I think it’s painfully obvious,” Brett Brown said of what needs to be done. “Let’s get our better players back in a uniform.”

The Sixers have to play their best with their pieces available down two starters (Joel Embiid, Robert Covington) and a key bench player (T.J. McConnell).

There are adjustments that can be made to prevent a losing streak from spiraling the Sixers down in the standings.

“We need to be just smarter,” Dario Saric said. “I know we are a young team. I know are playing without Joel, without our very important players … we need to find a way. We need to be more calm down, don’t be nervous, especially on defense.” 

Saric pointed to the Sixers’ late-game defense in their 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). They were tied with eight minutes to play before the Pelicans hit threes on their next four straight possessions. Jrue Holiday drained four treys himself during a five-minute stretch to push the lead to 11. The Sixers were outscored 44-29 in the fourth quarter.

“In that situation, to me, we are playing like a high school team,” Saric said. “That cannot happen. We need to be smarter at that point. I hope we will grow up and we will be mentally ready for that last five, six, seven minutes.”

The Sixers also were in the position to come back Saturday in Cleveland. They trailed the Cavaliers, 99-98, with 1:39 to play and did not score after that point.

It was during that final stretch when Covington landed out of bounds and suffered a lower back contusion. A day later, Embiid was a late scratch because of lower back tightness (see story). McConnell has missed five of the last six games with a left shoulder injury.

“We’ve got to be consistent with making the right plays every time,” Ben Simmons said. “It’s hard to make mistakes without those guys there. When you make mistakes and you don’t have Jo or Cov and guys like that to make up for that, it’s tough. But we’ve got to just come together as a team and get through it.” 

The Sixers don't have it easy their next two games. They face the Timberwolves (16-11) Tuesday in Minnesota when Embiid said he expects to play but has not been cleared. Covington is doubtful, while McConnell's status is to be determined. The Sixers return home Friday from a three-game road trip to host the Thunder (12-13).