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).

LeBron to the rescue for struggling Cavaliers

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LeBron to the rescue for struggling Cavaliers

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James hit a jumper over Jimmy Butler at the buzzer in overtime, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a 140-138 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Moments after James blocked Butler's potential game-winning shot with 1.3 seconds left, he caught a long pass from Jeff Green, created some space from Butler near the foul line and sank his fade-away shot to end Cleveland's eight-game losing streak on national television.

The crowd erupted and James was mobbed by his teammates as the Cavs got a much-needed win to ease tensions during a prolonged slump. Cleveland has won just seven of its last 20.

James finished with 37 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in 48 minutes. He also passed Zydrunas Ilgauskas (5,904) on Cleveland's all-time rebounds list.

Butler scored 35, and Karl-Anthony Towns 30 for the Timberwolves, who were in position to win in OT before James came to Cleveland's rescue (see full recap).

Harden scores 41 as Rockets hold off Heat
MIAMI -- James Harden scored 41 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Miami Heat 109-101 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight victory and 10th in 11 games.

Chris Paul added 24 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds for the Rockets.

Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson each had 30 points for Miami. The Heat have a five-game losing streak, their longest slide of the season.

Harden eclipsed the 40-point mark for the eighth time this season. He was 13 of 25 shots from the field, going 5 of 12 from 3-point, and hit 10 of 12 free frees. He also had six assists and rebounds.

Harden scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and the Heat were unable to get any closer than 94-90 with five minutes left.

Clint Capela added 13 points for the Rockets, who are 24-1 when Harden, Paul, and Capela play.

Harden scored 16 points in the opening quarter to help the Rockets take a 35-24 lead.

The Rockets led by as many as 17 points in the first half at 53-36, but Dragic scored Miami's final 10 points of the half to help cut it to 61-57 lead at the break (see full recap).

Drummond, Griffin lead Pistons to 5th straight win
DETROIT -- Andre Drummond had 17 points and 27 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons extended their winning streak to five with a 115-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Blake Griffin scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Pistons, who have not lost since acquiring him in a trade last week. Griffin will face his old team Friday night when the Los Angeles Clippers are in town.

Allen Crabbe had 19 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter for the Nets. They have lost four in a row and eight of nine.

Crabbe scored 16 of Brooklyn's points in a row during one fourth-quarter stretch, capped by a 3-pointer that cut Detroit's lead to three at 91-88. The Pistons put the ball in Griffin's hands after that, and he scored nine of their next 11.

Drummond had 12 rebounds in the first half and added 11 more in the third quarter. He finished with a season high, just two shy of his career best. It was the third time in the last five games he reached 20 rebounds.

He shot only 5 of 17 from the field, but that just meant more opportunities for offensive rebounds. He had seven of those. Despite all that, the Pistons were actually outrebounded as a team, 50-46 (see full recap).

Pelicans-Pacers postponed over concerns from roof leak
NEW ORLEANS -- The NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans was postponed Wednesday mnight after nearly two-hour delay because of a roof leak that briefly allowed rain water to puddle near one of the foul lines.

While Smoothie King Center crews fashioned a fabric catch basin in the rafters to stop water from dripping on the court, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said coaches and players on both teams didn't want to risk an injury in the event the make-shift fix didn't hold up for the duration of Wednesday night's game.

"It's not a chance you want to take," McMillan said. "Both coaches went out and looked at the floor and looked at the conditions and just really felt that you didn't want to take a chance of these players going out there playing on the floor with the possibility of a leak happening in the course of a 2 1/2-hour game in an area where there's going to be a lot of action right around the free throw line.

"All it takes is one spot for a player to slip on," McMillan added. "Mentally, guys really wouldn't have been able to go out there and play, knowing that situation."

A number of fans left before a public address announcement was made that the game would not be played. Many of those who remained booed.

Officials have not yet announced when the game will be made up (see full recap).

A real fight (not an NBA one) breaks out in Magic win

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A real fight (not an NBA one) breaks out in Magic win

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Evan Fournier scored a season-high 32 points to help the Orlando Magic break a seven-game losing streak with a 108-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

D.J. Augustin added 11 points and three assists in the fourth quarter, when the Magic scored 35 points after trailing by two through three.

Jimmy Butler had 28 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had won five straight games by an average of 18.8 points.

Bismack Biyombo had 16 rebounds for the Magic, leading the team with the NBA's worst rebound percentage to a 51-37 advantage.

Fournier and Augustin hit 3-pointers during a 14-4 fourth-quarter run that put Orlando ahead to stay, and Augustin's three free throws with 2:10 left gave the Magic a nine-point lead, the biggest of the game for either team.

Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns answered with 3-pointers to keep the Timberwolves (29-17) in it, but Biyombo scored five straight Magic points to regain an eight-point lead with 50 seconds left.

A loss would have dropped Orlando (13-31) to the worst record in the NBA.

Magic guard Arron Afflalo and Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica were ejected with 7:58 left in the second quarter when they got into a fight while the game was being played.

Afflalo threw at least one punch in the fight, which came four minutes after both players had been assessed technical fouls (see full recap).

Davis scores 45 as Pelicans top C’s in overtime
BOSTON -- Anthony Davis had 45 points and 16 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 116-113 overtime victory over Boston on Tuesday night, ending the Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

Davis, who scored 48 on Sunday in an overtime win in New York, had four points in overtime and blocked two shots for the Pelicans, who overcame a sluggish start to the fourth quarter and erased a five-point deficit in the final few minutes of regulation.

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday added 23 points and seven assists. Ian Clark added 15 points for the Pelicans, whose size inside ended up prevailing in overtime when Boston's barrage of 3-pointers stopped falling.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 27 points and Al Horford had 14 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown added 16 points apiece for the Celtics, who attempted a season-high 50 3-pointers.

Rather than challenge Davis and Cousins inside, the Celtics lived outside and it cost them in overtime when they went just 1 for 4. Horford's 3-pointer early in OT gave Boston a 107-106 lead and Boston went up 113-110 before the Pelicans away put the game.

A jumper by Cousins cut the lead to 113-112, then Holiday added two more field goals and Boston couldn't catch up from there (see full recap).

Jokic’s big night helps Nuggets slip past Mavs
DENVER -- Nikola Jokic scored 29 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds, Gary Harris hit two late free throws and the Denver Nuggets led by as many as 23 points before holding on for a 105-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Harris finished with 25 points and Will Barton added 22 for the Nuggets, who won for just the second time in six games.

The Nuggets led 82-59 with 4:04 left in the third before Dallas staged a massive comeback. The Mavericks cut the deficit to one on a three-point play by Dennis Smith Jr. with 10.4 seconds remaining. After Harris made two free throws, the Mavericks had a chance for a last-second shot, but Dwight Powell couldn't corral a long pass as the buzzer sounded.

Smith had 25 points for the Mavericks, while Harrison Barnes contributed 17.

Trying to address the issue of slow starts, Nuggets coach Michael Malone tweaked the starting lineup by inserting Barton and sending Mason Plumlee to the bench. The change worked as Denver led at halftime. That's significant because it halted a streak of seven straight games in which the Nuggets trailed at intermission (see full recap).