Isaiah Thomas

Scuffle, ejections overshadow Davis' monster game

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Scuffle, ejections overshadow Davis' monster game

NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had 42 points and 15 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Lakers 139-117 on Wednesday night.

Davis went 15 for 18 from the field with three assists, three steals and two blocks. Jrue Holiday had 24 points and 11 assists, and reserve Darius Miller scored 19 points.

It was the highest scoring game of the season for New Orleans, which has won three in a row heading into the All-Star break.

Kyle Kuzma scored 23 points and Brandon Ingram had 21, but Los Angeles surrendered its most points in a regulation game this season. Julius Randle scored 20 points for the Lakers, and Josh Hart had 15.

Los Angeles guard Isaiah Thomas and coach Luke Walton were ejected in the first half. Thomas was involved in a minor altercation with Rajon Rondo late in the first quarter, also resulting in the ejection of the New Orleans guard. Walton was ejected in the second after protesting a technical foul on Kuzma.

Brook Lopez made two 3-pointers during an 11-0 run that got the Lakers within two early in the third. But Nikola Mirotic scored 11 of his 16 points in the quarter, helping the Pelicans to a 103-91 lead heading into the final period.

Davis made three baskets and Mirotic hit a 3-pointer that gave New Orleans a 120-100 lead with seven minutes remaining.

E'Twaun Moore had 14 points for New Orleans, which shot 53.1 percent (53 for 99) from the field. Miller made four of the Pelicans' 14 3s (see full recap).

Jordan has huge night as Clippers stay hot
BOSTON -- DeAndre Jordan had 30 points and 13 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Boston Celtics 129-119 on Wednesday night for their fourth victory in five games.

Tobias Harris added 21 points, Danilo Gallinari had 20, and Lou Williams 19.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 33 points and eight assists. Al Horford had 20 points, and Marcus Morris added 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics lost for the fourth time in five games, a stretch that has seen them fall behind Toronto for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Boston had opened a 99-95 lead early in the final quarter on Terry Rozier's 3 from the left wing before the Clippers went on 10-0 run over a 1:57 stretch.

Williams sparked the spree by scoring the initial six points, with the first 3 coming on a shot from beyond the arc in front of the Celtics' bench. He added a conventional 3-point play after his driving basket.

Los Angeles saw its lead sliced to three twice before Jordan had an alley-oop dunk and Harris followed with a 3-point play with just under three minutes to play.

Williams' 3-point play made it 126-116 in the final two minutes.

In the third quarter, the lead changed hands 10 times in the final 3:11, with the Clippers taking the final one, 93-91, on Harris' 3 from the left wing (see full recap).

Raptors cruise to 7th straight victory
CHICAGO -- Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 10 assists, Serge Ibaka also scored 20 points and the Toronto Raptors cruised into the All-Star break with their seventh straight victory, 122-98 over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Lowry made four 3-pointers, and he and Ibaka each grabbed seven rebounds.

Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and nine rebounds to help the Raptors complete a four-game sweep against Chicago even though they only got seven points from four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan. But Toronto shot just over 52 percent against a weak defense, sending the Bulls to their ninth loss in 11 games.

Bobby Portis scored 18 points for Chicago, and Lauri Markkanen had 14s. The Bulls were simply overmatched by the Eastern Conference leaders, even though they had point guard Kris Dunn back in the lineup. He had eight points and three assists in 20 minutes after missing 11 games because of a concussion.

The Raptors took a 61-49 lead to the locker room after outscoring the Bulls by 18 in the second quarter.

DeRozan ended a quiet first half with a neat 12-footer, faking David Nwaba and Justin Holiday while leaning in for the basket as time expired.

The Raptors continued to pull away in the third. Lowry converted a four-point play and answered a three-point play by Markkanen by nailing another 3 to make it 75-57 three minutes into the quarter (see full recap).

Thomas plays big in long-awaited Cavs debut

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Thomas plays big in long-awaited Cavs debut

CLEVELAND -- Isaiah Thomas showed flashes of what made him an All-Star in his long-awaited Cleveland debut as the Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 127-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Thomas scored 17 points and played 19 minutes in his first game in seven months, an impressive return to action for the dynamic point guard. Thomas added three 3-pointers and three assists before leaving with 8:10 left and the Cavs up by 12.

LeBron James scored 24 points, Kevin Love had 19 and Jae Crowder added 15 for the Cavs, who were coming off losses at Golden State, Sacramento and Utah.

Damian Lillard scored 25 for the Blazers after missing five games with a hamstring injury. Jusuf Nurkic added 23 and CJ McCollum had 19 for Portland.

The Cavs were unable to separate from the Blazers until Thomas and Dwyane Wade teamed up in the fourth quarter.

Thomas, who finished 6 of 12 from the field, knocked down a jumper and then fired a pass toward the baseline to a cutting Wade, who made a reverse layup. On Cleveland's next possession, Thomas spotted up in the corner in front of Cleveland's bench and buried a 3-pointer to give the Cavs a 100-91 lead.

A few moments later, James was sent in for Thomas, who first got a hug from his teammate and another from coach Tyronn Lue as the crowd roared (see full recap)

Aldridge, Leonard lead Spurs past Knicks
NEW YORK -- LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points, Kawhi Leonard had a season-high 25 and the San Antonio Spurs beat the New York Knicks 100-91 on Tuesday night to give Gregg Popovich sole possession of fifth place on the NBA's coaching wins list.

Manu Ginobili finished with 12 points -- three of them coming on what appeared to be a pass that went into the basket without everyone noticing.

Popovich has 1,176 victories, all with the Spurs. The five-time champion broke a tie with his friend George Karl.

The Spurs beat the Knicks for the second time in six days and won for the fourth time in five games. They beat New York 119-107 on Dec. 28.

Michael Beasley had 18 points for the Knicks, who were playing one of just four home games this month. They play 12 times on the road.

Kristaps Porzingis shot just 5 for 19 and was one of three Knicks to finish with 13 points (see full recap).

Suns pull off late comeback over Hawks
PHOENIX -- Devin Booker sank three free throws to put Phoenix ahead with 12.3 seconds to play, Marquese Chriss blocked Taurean Prince's shot at the rim with 7 seconds to go and the Suns rallied from down 10 in the final 2 minutes to beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-103 on Tuesday night.

Booker scored eight of his 34 points in the final 37 seconds as the Suns finished with a 15-4 run. T.J. Warren scored 31 and Chriss had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks for Phoenix.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Atlanta. Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder added 20 apiece.

Bazemore made 7 of 8 shots, including 4 of 5 3-pointers, but he fouled Booker on a 3-point attempt with the Hawks clinging to a two-point lead.

Booker made all three to put the Suns on top 102-101. Prince then got free for what looked to be an open layup, but Chriss came from the other side of the court to block the shot.

Booker made two more at the line with 6.5 seconds remaining to make it 104-101. With the Hawks needing a 3-pointer to tie it, Schroder instead drove for the layup to cut it to one, but by then there was just a half-second to play and the Suns handed Atlanta its seventh straight road loss (see full recap).

NBA Notes: Nerlens Noel to have thumb surgery, miss several weeks

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NBA Notes: Nerlens Noel to have thumb surgery, miss several weeks

BOSTON -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says forward Nerlens Noel will have surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Carlisle made the announcement Wednesday before the Mavericks game with the Boston Celtics.

Noel will undergo the procedure in Cleveland later this week. Carlisle said he is then expected to be out for several weeks, but couldn't offer a specific timetable for his return.

Noel hasn't played since Nov. 22. He's appeared in 18 games with six starts this season, averaging 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Cavaliers: Thomas plays 4-on-4 as he nears return
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cavaliers All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas played 4-on-4 on Wednesday, a significant step in his recovery from a hip injury.

Thomas, who has yet to make his debut with Cleveland, scrimmaged along with injured forward Tristan Thompson, rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic, and members of the coaching staff.

With coach Tyronn Lue and members of the team's front office watching intently from behind the basket, Thomas moved freely and didn't appear to have any restrictions during the half-court workout that took place following the team's morning shootaround.

Lue reported that Thomas "looked good" and absorbed some contact. It was the second straight day Thomas scrimmaged.

However, Lue did not provide any update on when Thomas might play in a game. Lue planned to check with the team's medical staff to find out the next step in Thomas' recovery program, which the 28-year-old has described as his "slow grind" (see full story).

Suns: Booker (groin) expected to miss 2-3 weeks
PHOENIX -- Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker is expected to be sidelined two to three weeks because of a groin injury.

The Suns said Wednesday that Booker strained his left adductor late in a 126-113 loss in Toronto on Tuesday night and would have an MRI. Booker froze in place near midcourt, and trainers came out to examine him before two teammates awkwardly carried him off the floor.

Booker had 19 points against the Raptors after scoring a season-high 46 points Monday night in a victory in Philadelphia.

The 21-year-old Booker is 10th in the NBA in scoring with a 24.3 average. In 25 games, he's also averaging 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He had a career-high 70 last season at Boston.

Coming off a six-game trip, the Suns return to play Thursday night against Washington.

Hornets: Coach Clifford out indefinitely with ‘health issue’
CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- Hornets coach Steve Clifford will be away from the team for an undetermined period of time to deal with a "health issue."

The team made the announcement Wednesday in a release.

The 56-year-old Clifford missed Monday night's game against Orlando because he was not feeling well. Associate head coach Stephen Silas filled in for Clifford against the Magic.

Clifford has battled heart problems in the past, but a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the issue was not a heart-related. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not released details of Clifford's health issue.

The team said there is no timetable for Clifford's return and that officials would have no further comment.

Silas will continue to coach the team with Clifford out. The Hornets host Golden State Wednesday night.

"I just want to send him my best wishes," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Obviously I have been through some issues, and I don't know what his health issues are, but it's no fun. I'm wishing him well and I hope he gets back on the sideline soon. But more importantly I hope that he's healthy" (see full story).

Nets: Team keeping focus on Thunder in Mexico
MEXICO CITY -- No earthquakes or volcanos are on the back of the mind of the Brooklyn Nets players and coaches ahead of their regular-season game Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Mexico City. At least publicly.

The game will be the 25th in NBA history South of the Border, the most for any country besides the United States and Canada. It also is the first since a 7.1 earthquake on Sept. 19 killed over 300 people, most of them in the nation's capital.

"We talked about it and we talked about precautions with the NBA security on what we should do it happens", Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We are affected by it because it was big news in the U.S. and we saw the pain and suffering and sympathize with the victims. It was very moving to see those images, I can't imagine going through something like that".

The quake was the deadliest in Mexico since the one on 1985 on the same date killed thousands and it came less than two weeks after another powerful quake caused 90 deaths in the country's south.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick expressed relief to leave the country after a regular-season game against the Oakland Raiders played in at Azteca stadium.

"I think we're fortunate there was no volcano eruptions or earthquakes, or anything else while we were down there. You have two NFL franchises in an area that I don't know how stable the geological plates that were below us, but nothing happened, so that was good", Belichick said (see full story).