Jimmy Butler

Rockets extend streak as Butler exits with injury

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Rockets extend streak as Butler exits with injury

HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 31 points and the Houston Rockets won their 11th straight game with a 120-102 victory Friday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost All-Star Jimmy Butler to an apparent right knee injury.

Butler left the game late in the third quarter. After grabbing a rebound late in the third quarter, he pivoted and planted hard on his right foot before collapsing and grabbing his right knee. He was on the floor for at least three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates. He appeared to avoid putting weight on his right leg when heading to the locker room.

A Timberwolves official said during the fourth quarter that Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau would provide an update on Butler's injury following the game.

Clint Capela had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, getting his 10th double-double over the past 13 games. Chris Paul added 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Rockets trailed for much of the first half before going ahead to maintain the NBA's best record.

Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points, and Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns both had 18 points. Towns added 13 rebounds (see full recap).

Davis sensational in Pelicans’ OT victory over Heat
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Miami Heat 124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade hit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami's third straight loss.

Davis, who has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game during New Orleans' winning streak -- and 42 or more three times -- raised both arms in triumph as he looked up at the jubilant crowd, and then exchanged high fives with fans along the court.

Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks. Ian Clark scored a season-high 21 points and Nikola Mirotic capped his 10-point, nine-rebound performance with a crucial 3 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in overtime when he hacked Davis on a put-back attempt. Davis hit both free throws to tie it at 117, and then gave New Orleans a brief lead with his fifth alley-oop dunk of the game on a fast-break lob from Holiday with 1:10 to go. Wade had 16 points, while Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 15 points (see full recap).

Balanced Celtics rout Pistons
DETROIT -- Kyrie Irving scored 18 points and rookie Daniel Theis added a career-high 19 to lift the Boston Celtics to a 110-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for the Celtics, who went into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak but returned with a solid win on the road. Boston took control by outscoring the Pistons 38-21 in the second quarter.

Blake Griffin scored 17 points for Detroit but shot just 5 of 19 from the field.

Theis eclipsed his previous career high of 12 points. He played an important role after Aron Baynes, the starting center for the Celtics, went to the locker room in the first half with left elbow soreness. Baynes ended up playing only 2:39, but Theis shot 8 of 10 from the field and had seven rebounds.

Ish Smith made his first eight shots and finished with 20 points for the Pistons. Detroit led 39-37 in the second quarter before a 21-5 run by Boston. The Celtics were ahead 61-49 at halftime.

The lead was only four late in the third before Boston scored seven straight points -- five by Irving. The Celtics broke the game open at the start of the fourth (see full recap).

Our NBA All-Star challenge — describe Embiid in one word

Our NBA All-Star challenge — describe Embiid in one word

LOS ANGELES —  From trash talking on the court to expressing himself on social media, Joel Embiid is a player of many (many) words. So if his fellow All-Stars had to describe him in just one, what would it be? 

Draymond Green: "'Funny.' He's hilarious. The stuff he says, he goes on TV talking about (Kevin Durant's) burner account, he's talking how he's a savage. His Instagram locations, pretty funny. He's a good guy." 

Andre Drummond: "I’d probably say 'charismatic,' 'funny,' 'savage.' He don’t care, he just does what he wants to.”

Paul George: “Personality,' in all caps."

(Why all caps?)

“Because he’s a big dude.”

John Wall: "He's just 'himself.' He's very confident."

Anthony Davis: “'Savage.' Cool dude, he lives by his own rules. He’s just enjoying life and having fun.”

Jimmy Butler: "'Remarkable' in the fact that his game on the court is insane. Then the way he's always saying something to somebody on social media is really 'remarkable.'"

Bradley Beal: “'Wild.' He has no filter, he doesn’t care. That’s my boy, but he just has no remorse, doesn’t care."

LaMarcus Aldridge: “'Entertaining,' because he’s always on TV expressing how he feels. So, entertaining.”

Butler takes over in OT to give T-Wolves victory

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Butler takes over in OT to give T-Wolves victory

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jimmy Butler scored 12 of Minnesota's 14 points in overtime and finished with a season-high 39 to lift the Timberwolves to a 128-125 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Andrew Wiggins made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Minnesota, which won its fifth straight. Taj Gibson added 20 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Will Barton led Denver with 28 points, while Trey Lyles added 23 points and 10 rebounds. Nikola Jokic scored 22 for the Nuggets, whose three-game winning streak ended.

Butler scored Minnesota's first 11 points in overtime. Then with the game tied 125-all and 50 seconds to go, he found Jamal Crawford open for an 18-foot jump shot.

After the Nuggets missed on the other end, Butler skied for the defensive rebound, brought the ball down the court and drew a foul. He hit one of two free throws, and Lyles missed a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help Minnesota hang on after blowing a 19-point lead.

The Wolves played the overtime period without Towns, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and point guard Jeff Teague, who limped off the court in the final 20 seconds with what appeared to be a left leg injury (see full recap).

Rondo sets franchise, career highs with 25 assists
NEW ORLEANS -- Rajon Rondo set a franchise record with a career-high 25 assists in just 30 minutes on the court, Anthony Davis had 33 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Brooklyn Nets 128-113 on Wednesday night.

DeMarcus Cousins had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 23 points for the Pelicans, who've won three straight.

Currently sitting on the edge of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Pelicans entered their current three-game homestand looking to string together some victories against teams that have struggled on the road.

They got off to a solid start against Brooklyn, leading by as many as 16 in the first quarter, 23 in the second and 33 in the third.

At that point, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry pulled the starters, only to have to put them back in following a 17-0 Nets run that trimmed New Orleans' lead to 91-75 heading into the fourth quarter (see full recap).

George, Westbrook lift Thunder over Raptors
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the Toronto Raptors 124-107 on Wednesday night.

Paul George scored 33 points - going 7 of 10 from 3-point range - and Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams had 18 points each for Oklahoma City, which has won six straight and is 12-3 in December.

The Thunder won despite being on the wrong end of a 23-2 run in the first half, during which the Raptors built a 12-point lead.

C.J. Miles led the Raptors with 20 points, while Jonas Valanciunas added 16 and DeMar DeRozan had 15.

Toronto entered the game as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, but lost its second game in as many nights and fell to 10-3 in December. Miles went 6 of 12 from 3-point range but the Raptors otherwise struggled from behind the arc, finishing 11 of 38.

The Thunder posted a sizable 52-34 edge in rebounding (see full recap).

Surging Bulls rally past Knicks for win
CHICAGO -- Kris Dunn scored 17 points, including two clutch free throws in the final seconds, and the surging Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the New York Knicks 92-87 on Wednesday night.

Chicago trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, but shut down New York down the stretch of its ninth win in 11 games. The Knicks managed just three points in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

Lauri Markkanen scored 12 points for the Bulls, and Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez had 11 points apiece. Holiday also made three of Chicago's 10 3-pointers in 28 attempts, compared to a 4-for-23 performance from beyond the arc for New York.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with 23 points, and Courtney Lee had 17. New York has dropped three straight (see full recap).