Damian Lilliard

NBA Notes: Board approves Pistons' downtown move

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NBA Notes: Board approves Pistons' downtown move

NEW YORK -- The NBA's board of governors has approved the Detroit Pistons' relocation to downtown Detroit.

The league announced the approval Thursday.

The Pistons will begin playing next season at Little Caesars Arena, a new venue that will also house the Detroit Red Wings. The Pistons are moving there after 29 seasons playing their home games in the suburbs at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Detroit will now have all four of its major pro teams playing within a few blocks of each other. Comerica Park (Tigers) and Ford Field (Lions) are in the same area as Little Caesars Arena.

The Pistons had formally announced their plans to move downtown in November.

Warriors: Curry shoots 4-over 74 in pro golf debut
HAYWARD, California -- Stephen Curry pumped his right fist, raised his arms in the air with club in hand and gave a firm shoulder bump to caddie Jonnie West, his golf partner on road trips with the Golden State Warriors.

After three bogeys in five holes of his professional golf debut, a birdie was worthy of celebration.

There was the animated, confident Steph that NBA fans know so well, the two-time league MVP finally feeling it and making the tough shots on the challenging course at TPC Stonebrae while competing in a tournament one step below the PGA Tour.

With a bogey on the last hole, he had a respectable 4-over 74.

"It was an amazing experience, I've been looking forward to this since I found out and to finally hit my first shot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment but it was everything I hoped for," Curry said. "If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round I'd take that all day, every day. I'm pretty happy with it" (see full story).

Bucks: Team takes step forward with new practice facility
MILWAUKEE -- Recruiting and retaining players in the NBA means more than just offering top-dollar contracts.

Money, of course, helps. But a shiny new practice facility, complete with a state-of-the-art weight room and even its own barber shop, can help build a case, too.

Consider the Milwaukee Bucks' new downtown training center another step forward for one of the NBA's up-and-coming teams.

"This is amazing," general manager Jon Horst said. "This is going to change the way we do things."

The Bucks held a grand opening ceremony on Thursday for the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center, which is across the street from the construction site of the team's new area scheduled to be ready for the 2018-19 season.

This upcoming season will be the last for the team at the Bradley Center, which is one block south of the new arena site. But when the Bucks return for practice in a couple months, they'll report downtown instead of their old training facility in the Milwaukee suburb of St. Francis (see full story).

Trail Blazers: Lillard’s jersey to be retired by Weber State
OGDEN, Utah -- Weber State will retire the jersey of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Aug. 26.

The two-time All-Star will have his No. 1 retired during an alumni game in which he will be one of the coaches.

Lillard will be the third men's basketball player at Weber State to have his jersey retired, joining Willie Sojourner and Bruce Collins. He was a two-time Big Sky MVP and the only player in Big Sky history to be selected to an All-America team. He was named third-team in 2012.

Lillard was second in the country with 24.5 points per game during the 2011-12 season and finished his career with the third-most points (1,934) in school history. He was the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA draft and went on to be rookie of the year.

Best of NBA: Damian Lillard scores season-high 49 in win over Heat

Best of NBA: Damian Lillard scores season-high 49 in win over Heat

MIAMI -- Damian Lillard scored a season-high 49 points, 28 of them coming after halftime and the Portland Trail Blazers continued their playoff push by beating the Miami Heat 115-104 on Sunday night.

Lillard tied a career high with nine 3-pointers, giving him 1,002 for his career. He shot 14 for 21 from the field, 9 for 12 from 3-point range and made all 12 of his free throws.

Jusef Nurkic added 21 points and 12 rebounds for Portland (32-37), which moved within a game of idle Denver for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. C.J. McCollum scored 18 points and Noah Vonleh added 11 for the Trail Blazers (see full recap).

James Johnson scored 24 points for Miami, which lost for just the second time in its last 17 home games. The Heat (34-36) missed a chance to reach .500 for the first time this season.

Raptors top Pacers in 2016 playoff rematch
TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points in three quarters, and all five Toronto starters were in double figures as the Raptors beat the Indiana Pacers 116-91 on Sunday night.

DeRozan added four assists and three rebounds and was able to rest the entire fourth quarter as the Raptors cruised to their second straight victory. Serge Ibaka had 16 points, while Jonas Valanciunas finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 41-29.

Paul George had 18 points and Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young added 16 apiece for the Pacers, who lost to Toronto for the eighth time in the last nine regular-season meetings.

It was the first meeting between the teams since Game 7 of last year's first-round playoff series, which was won by Toronto. They face each other twice more over the next two weeks (see full recap).

Davis, Cousins lead Pelicans over struggling Timberwolves
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves 123-109 on Sunday.

DeMarcus Cousins added 15 points and 11 rebounds in his return from a one-game absence because of left knee and rib soreness. Reserve guard Jordan Crawford scored 22 points in 21 minutes for the Pelicans, who have won four of five. Jrue Holiday had 21 points, shooting 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 33 for the Timberwolves, who lost their third straight. Andrew Wiggins added 25 points and reserve Shabazz Muhammad had 20 for the Minnesota. Ricky Rubio chipped in with 10 points and 14 assists for the Wolves, who built a 13-point lead in the second quarter only to fade late as New Orleans closed the game on a 21-10 run (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Lillard, Blazers spoil Aldridge's return for Spurs

Best of NBA: Lillard, Blazers spoil Aldridge's return for Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- Damian Lillard scored 36 points and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 110-106 on Wednesday night, spoiling LaMarcus Aldridge's return from a health scare.

C.J. McCollum added 26 points for the Trail Blazers, who were coming off a 23-point loss in New Orleans on Tuesday.

Aldridge had 19 points and seven rebounds after missing two games with a minor heart arrhythmia. He was cleared Wednesday morning and does not have any playing restrictions.

Kawhi Leonard had 34 points to lead San Antonio (52-15), which had won 11 of 12 entering the game but fell one game behind Golden State for the league's best record (see full recap).

Williams, Harden help Rockets punish Lakers
HOUSTON -- Lou Williams scored 30 points against his former team and James Harden had his 17th triple-double of the season to lead the Houston Rockets over the Los Angeles Lakers 139-100 on Wednesday night.

Harden had 18 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds as Houston handed the Lakers their 11th loss in 12 games.

Williams broke out of a recent shooting slump against his ex-teammates. Houston sent Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick to Los Angeles in a trade for Williams three weeks ago.

The deal paid off for the Rockets on Wednesday night as Williams went 7 for 9 from beyond the arc and made his first seven field goal attempts, including four straight 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, Brewer had four points in 21 minutes (see full recap).

Battered, bruised Dragic lifts Heat over Pelicans
MIAMI -- Goran Dragic played through a black eye and bloodied mouth to score 33 points, Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 17 rebounds, and the Miami Heat beat the New Orleans Pelicans 120-112 on Wednesday night.

Wayne Ellington scored 19 for the Heat, who made 16 3-pointers and have won 18 consecutive games when connecting at least 10 times from beyond the arc. Dion Waiters added 14, and James Johnson and Tyler Johnson had 10 apiece for Miami.

The Heat (33-35) won for the 22nd time in 27 games and are 14-1 in their last 15 at home.

Anthony Davis scored 27 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 19 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore scored 18 off the bench on 8-for-12 shooting for New Orleans, which got 11 points apiece from Jrue Holiday and Dante Cunningham (see full recap).