NBA Notes: Paul Pierce officially retires as a member of the Celtics

NBA Notes: Paul Pierce officially retires as a member of the Celtics

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce is retiring as a member of the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics announced Monday that they have signed Pierce to a contract so the 10-time All-Star can retire with the team where he spent his first 15 seasons in the NBA.

Pierce helped bring Boston a championship in 2008 as part the "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce previously said that last season would be his final one in the NBA.

Drafted by Boston as the 10th overall pick in 1998, Pierce started a 15-season run that is behind only John Havlicek's 16 seasons for the most played in a Celtics uniform.

"It's an honor to have this opportunity to once again call myself a Boston Celtic," Pierce said in a statement. "The organization and city took me in and made me one of their own, and I couldn't imagine ending my career any other way. I'm a Celtic for life" (see full story).

Rockets: Owner Leslie Alexander is selling team
HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets are going up for sale.

Rockets CEO Tad Brown made the announcement Monday, hours after owner Leslie Alexander made the decision.

"It's been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years," Alexander said in a statement. "I've had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans."

Alexander took over as owner on July 30, 1993, and the Rockets went on to win back-to-back titles in 1994-95 behind the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. In 24 seasons under Alexander, the Rockets have won 56.9 percent of their games, fifth-highest in the league.

Brown said the 74-year-old Alexander had been approached over the years by potential buyers, but never considered it until very recently.

"I think it's been something he's been thinking about a little bit," Brown said. "It can wear on you after so many decades and he's tired. There are passions in his life now that are becoming more and more clear. His family, certainly, and his philanthropic efforts, what he'll be able to do with his additional time and his resources on a global scale is something that he's very much looking forward to" (see full story).

Knicks: Team open to moving on with or without Anthony
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Knicks' new regime is ready to move on with or without Carmelo Anthony.

New president Steve Mills said Monday the Knicks have been talking to teams about a trade and will continue looking for a deal that works for the organization and its All-Star forward.

"But we also feel that Carmelo could easily be a part of our team next year, and we have to understand how we're going to play and what the expectations of how we're going to play, and we're going to move forward," Mills said. "So maybe with Carmelo or maybe without Carmelo."

Mills also ruled out a buyout of Anthony's contract, which has two years and about $54 million remaining and might be an easier route to a breakup than a trade.

Phil Jackson had been eager to deal Anthony before he and the Knicks parted ways last month. Mills was promoted to president and the Knicks hired Scott Perry as general manager.

They said the Knicks will focus on youth and athleticism, which doesn't seem to leave room for the 33-year-old Anthony. But they added that veterans will still have a place in mentoring the young talent.

Anthony has a no-trade clause and has told the Knicks he would agree to a deal with Cleveland or Houston. But the Knicks don't want to take back long-term contracts, which makes finding a deal difficult. Now Mills has Perry to help him find one (see full story).

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double


Around 6 p.m., Ben Simmons spoke about mental fatigue and the frustrations it can cause. 

An hour later, he hit the court and posted an 11-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double … with zero turnovers.

“I wish he was more mentally fatigued in the future,” Brett Brown said with a laugh. 

The 21-year-old rookie may be feeling the weight of his first NBA season, but he certainly didn’t show it Monday in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets (see observations)

Simmons recorded his third triple-double in the last four games. He exhibited disciplined court vision by finding his teammates with a high level of ease and chemistry that’s been developing over the season (see highlights).

“I was trusting them to knock down shots,” Simmons simply put it. “They make it easy for me.”

Simmons became the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple-double with 15 assists and no turnovers. Only David Robinson and Andre Iguodala had reached a triple-double without an error as rookies. 

Simmons considers his assists and turnovers to be the most meaningful stats of the triple-double, noting his turnovers usually are caused by mental errors. 

"That’s amazing," Joel Embiid said. "To be able to make the right reads and not turn the ball over, there’s a few guys in the league that can do that ... that just shows you that he can be a great point guard."

The 6-foot-10 point guard is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game over 34 minutes. With each game that passes, Simmons continues to be linked with the feats of Hall of Famers. From joining in the same company as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson to moving ahead of Allen Iverson for most 10-assist games by a Sixers rookie, his performances are often tied back to historical markers. 

“I think people get caught up in how many points I score every game,” Simmons said. “It’s not about that. It’s a matter of points that we’re getting as a team and how many stops we get … 

"People are always going to say I need to do certain things but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m really good at.”

LeBron continues triple-double tour

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LeBron continues triple-double tour

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his third triple-double in four games and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 on Monday night as coach Tyronn Lue began his leave of absence to address health issues.

Lue said Monday in a statement he been dealing with chest pains and loss of sleep, and that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is. Associate head coach Larry Drew will run the team in Lue's absence.

James scored 17 points in the third quarter and finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 16th triple-double this season and 71st of his career.

The four-time MVP took over in the third beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers. After not getting a foul called on a third attempt, he finished Cleveland's next possession with a massive dunk. He was fouled attempting another dunk and made both free throws the following time down.

Milwaukee cut a 17-point lead to 117-109, but James drove the length of the floor for a dunk with just over a minute left.

Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love returned after missing six weeks because of a broken left hand and scored 18 points in 25 minutes. He sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter with two 3-pointers

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points and went 11 for 11 at the foul line for Milwaukee, which is seventh in the Eastern Conference. Khris Middleton had 30 points, making 11 of 16 from the field (see full recap).

Heat set franchise scoring mark in 2OT win
MIAMI -- James Johnson scored a career-high 31 points, Kelly Olynyk added 30 off the bench and the Miami Heat set a franchise single-game scoring record by beating the Denver Nuggets 149-141 in double overtime Monday night.

Miami's total was also an NBA season-high and helped the Heat get back to the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Houston and Oklahoma City each scored 148 in games earlier this season.

Wayne Ellington scored 29 points for the Heat. Nikola Jokic had 34 for Denver, while Wilson Chandler added 26 for the Nuggets.

"That was as playoffs as it comes right there," Olynyk said.

The NBA's stat system crashed late in the first overtime, and crews were scrambling to determine the final numbers long after the buzzer. All that ultimately mattered was the score -- one that moved the Heat closer to a playoff berth and left the Nuggets two games back in the Western Conference race.

Neither team was at full strength. For Miami, Dwyane Wade (left hamstring strain) missed his fourth consecutive game, and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain) sat out his fifth straight contest. Denver was without leading scorer Gary Harris, sidelined again by a strained right knee that could keep him out several more days (see full recap).

Oladipo, Pacers rally past Lakers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Victor Oladipo sparked a decisive run and finished with 20 points, Myles Turner had 21 points and the Indiana Pacers recovered from a poor start for a 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

The victory snapped Indiana's two-game losing streak.

Los Angeles was led by Kyle Kuzma with 27 points and Brook Lopez with 23, but the Lakers still lost their third straight.

Oladipo and Darren Collison got Indiana going with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter for a 77-70 lead. After a layup from Julius Randle, Collison made a 20-footer and Lance Stephenson hit a 10-footer. When the 14-4 flurry ended, Indiana led 85-74 with 3:04 left in the third.

The Lakers never seriously challenged after that.

It was a stark contrast to the Lakers' fast start. Efficient shooting helped them take a 28-19 lead in the first quarter, but when the shooters cooled off, the Pacers charged back and used a 15-6 second-quarter run to make it 51-50 late in the period.

The Pacers still trailed 59-57 at the half -- before Oladipo helped flip things in the second half (see full recap).