Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin does it all in Pistons debut

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Blake Griffin does it all in Pistons debut

DETROIT -- Blake Griffin had 24 points and 10 rebounds in his debut for Detroit, and the Pistons edged the Memphis Grizzlies 104-102 on Thursday night.

Griffin was impressive throughout his first game for the Pistons since they traded for him earlier this week. His teammates looked uncertain at times, but Detroit was able to outlast a Memphis team that is without Tyreke Evans and Mike Conley.

Anthony Tolliver's 3-pointer with under two minutes remaining gave Detroit a 101-100 lead, and the score stayed that way until the final seconds. Marc Gasol attempted to drive on Griffin but missed his shot, and a wild scramble led to a jump ball between Tolliver and Dillon Brooks with 10.4 seconds left.

The Pistons controlled that tip, with Reggie Bullock running the ball down in the corner. Tolliver gave Detroit a three-point lead with a pair of free throws, and then purposely fouled Wayne Selden with 2.6 seconds remaining. Selden made the first free throw and the second went in even though he was trying to miss and give his team a chance at an offensive rebound.

A free throw by Bullock closed out the scoring.

Griffin was the first Detroit starter announced before the game and received a big hand from the crowd. The arena still didn't appear full -- the Pistons have struggled with attendance for several years -- but the atmosphere was lively, especially during the tight finish (see full recap).

Butler shines as Timberwolves roll over Bucks
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and 11 rebounds for his NBA-best 46th double-double, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Milwaukee Bucks 108-89 on Thursday night.

Jeff Teague added nine points and eight assists for Minnesota, which was coming off consecutive losses at Atlanta and Toronto. The Timberwolves have lost six of their last seven road games and have returned home with back-to-back losses from their last three road trips.

Each time, Minnesota has responded at home with a victory, winning by an average of 14.25 points. The Timberwolves' 21-6 home record represents the second-most home wins in the NBA behind San Antonio's 22.

Khris Middleton scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which had won four in a row. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points and 15 rebounds, but the Bucks shot 37.6 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers.

Milwaukee had five turnovers and shot just 36.8 percent in the first quarter. Towns, who had single-digit shot attempts in five of the past seven games, was aggressive early on with nine points and three rebounds in the quarter.

The Wolves closed the first half on a 30-15 run for a 60-39 lead. The Bucks cut the lead to 12 in the third, but Minnesota responded and led by as many as 23.

In the first meeting between the two teams, Milwaukee erased a 20-point deficit in the third quarter for a 102-96 home win (see full recap).

Harden, Rockets dominate Spurs in 3rd straight win
SAN ANTONIO -- James Harden had 28 points and 11 assists, and the Houston Rockets dominated the San Antonio Spurs for the second time this season with a 102-91 victory Thursday night.

Clint Capela added 14 points and 13 rebounds in Houston's third straight win. The Rockets led by as many as 19 points in the first matchup between the Texas rivals since the Spurs' 124-109 blowout loss on Dec. 15 in Houston.

Danny Green had 22 points to lead San Antonio in scoring for the first time this season. LaMarcus Aldridge was held to 16 points on 8-for-15 shooting.

The Spurs' only lead came in the opening minutes. They trailed by double digits for much of the night.

San Antonio scored the first points of the fourth quarter to close to 82-76 with 10 minutes remaining. Chris Paul hit three jumpers to rebuild Houston's lead to 88-76.

The Rockets captured a 27-14 lead in the first quarter despite having their first four possessions end in two turnovers and two missed shots.

Ryan Anderson got Houston rolling, hitting three straight 3-pointers. Anderson's second 3 prompted San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich to angrily call his first timeout (see full recap).

Pistons eye Sixers' spot with blockbuster as bigger domino looms

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Pistons eye Sixers' spot with blockbuster as bigger domino looms

MILWAUKEE — The Pistons are making a long-term commitment to contend as they battle for a playoff spot this season against the Sixers and other teams in the Eastern Conference.

According to multiple reports Monday (first reported by ESPN), the Pistons will send Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round and a second-round pick to the Clippers in exchange for Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed.

The Pistons (22-26) are currently one spot behind the Sixers (24-23) in a race for a playoff berth. The Sixers are 3-0 against the Pistons so far this season. They will face off again on April 4 in Detroit, a game that could have postseason implications.

Griffin scored 29 points with six rebounds and five assists in the Sixers’ November win over the Clippers this season.

The Pistons are shedding short-term contracts to lock in Griffin (22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists this season) long term. Griffin signed a massive $171 million contract this past summer. He has three years guaranteed after this season and a player option for 2021-22. The contracts of Johnson and Reed expire this season.

The Pistons are willing to part ways with Harris, who is having the best season of his seven-year NBA career with 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Harris has two guaranteed years remaining ($16 million, $14.8 million), as does Marjanovic ($7 million per year).

The Pistons also are shedding Bradley’s expiring contract, a bargain by today’s market at $8.8 million. Bradley once again will play for Doc Rivers, who likely will tap into the guard’s defensive strengths as he did on the Celtics.

This may not be the only major move coming in the East. The Griffin trade could have an impact on the entire league during the summer. 

The New York Times' Marc Stein reported the Clippers feel they could be a team to lure LeBron James out of his player option with the Cavaliers this summer and will look for trade partners for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams by this trade deadline (Feb. 8). If James leaves the Cavaliers, that would create a huge window of opportunity for teams like the Sixers to move up in the conference.

Sixers-Clippers observations: Young guns help snap skid

Sixers-Clippers observations: Young guns help snap skid


LOS ANGELES — Welcome back to Philadelphia. I mean, Los Angeles. It was hard to tell by how loud the fans for the opposing team were at the STAPLES Center. 

There were tussles, dunks and back-and-forth basketball in front of a divided crowd Monday night in the Sixers’ 109-105 win. 

• The Sixers started off hot in California. Early on, Robert Covington and Ben Simmons combined to outscore all of the Clippers 17-16. The Sixers dominated the first quarter, 36-28, as only Lou Williams was in a rhythm for the Clippers. 

• You could feel the tension brewing between Joel Embiid and Willie Reed less than two minutes into the second quarter, and it was no surprise things got chippy. Reed took exception to Embiid’s defense when he was called for a traveling violation. Embiid pointed at Reed and smiled it off, which didn’t exactly squash the issue. Quite the opposite, actually. 

On the next trip down the court, Reed pulled Embiid down by the shoulder as the Sixers’ center went up at the basket. Embiid hit the ground, bounced back up and got in Reed’s face (see video). The big men were separated and Reed was issued a Flagrant 1 foul.

• The Sixers pushed their lead up to 14 points five minutes into the second quarter. The Clippers kept chasing, though, and finished the half on a 9-2 run while the Sixers missed four shots and committed three turnovers. The Sixers led 55-53 at halftime, fueled by 19 points by Embiid. 

• The third was another problematic quarter for the Sixers, just like their last game against the Warriors. They squandered a nine-point lead with just over seven minutes to go and found themselves trailing after the Clippers went on a 12-2 spurt. Embiid scored just four points in the third. 

• This was the type of game that felt like it would come down to the buzzer. Embiid tied the game 100 apiece off a cutting layup from Simmons with 1:18 to play. Embiid tried to take the lead at the basket against Reed, who grabbed the rebound off the miss and this time drew the foul on Embiid. Reed gave the Clippers a 101-100 edge off a free throw, but Dario Saric found Covington for three on the other end. Simmons grabbed a Williams miss and drained both his free throws after getting fouled. Austin Rivers reacted with his own trey and it was a one-point game with 11.9 seconds remaining. Covington sealed the win with four free throws in the final 10 seconds. 

• Time to update Embiid’s career notables. Embiid played a career-high 36 minutes (what minute restrictions?), grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, and scored a season-high 32 points. Covington also set a new career high with 31 points off only 12 field goal attempts. 

• Simmons continues to make double-doubles routine. He recorded his eighth of his rookie season with 22 points and 12 rebounds (see video). Simmons also put on a dunk spectacular throughout the night.

• Remember that note earlier about Williams being in a rhythm in the first? He more than doubled his scoring total in the fourth and finished the game with 31. Brett Brown couldn’t have been that surprised. Earlier in the day he said, "I’m a personal fan of Lou Williams. I just can’t believe he scores still like he scores. He really can score the ball." 

• JJ Redick, who played four seasons for the Clippers, faced his former team for the first time. He struggled on the familiar court, shooting 1 for 7 from three and 3 for 10 overall from the field (10 points). The Clippers thanked Redick with a tribute video in the first quarter. 

• Injury updates: Jerryd Bayless (left wrist), Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) remained sidelined for the Sixers. Jahlil Okafor (upper respiratory) also was ruled out. Patrick Beverley (right knee), Danilo Gallinari (left glute) and Milos Teodosic (left foot) were out for the Clippers. 

• Fultz (not in uniform) joined the Sixers on the court as they warmed up out of halftime. The team may have found an unofficial addition to the coaching staff as the rookie was rebounding and assisting on three-point drills after shootaround earlier in the day.