Wolves halt Rockets’ 9-game winning run

Wolves halt Rockets’ 9-game winning run.....»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardJan 12th, 2017

Beverley brings defensive mindset to Clippers

em>By Jill Painter Lopez /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patrick Beverley was first in line among all the newest Clippers to walk into an introductory news conference. Then Beverley, who was dealt to the Clippers in a six-player trade that sent Chris Paul to Houston, stopped on a dime and allowed the five others to walk onto the stage first. He will not, however, take a back seat to Paul, a nine-time All-Star. When Beverley was asked about replacing Paul, his response was short and strong. “Let me get this out of the way: I’m not Chris Paul,” Beverley said. “I reiterate, I am not Chris Paul. Understand, he is not me either.” And that was that. Beverley wants the comparison to Paul to end there, but it will follow him as long as he’s the point guard for the Clippers and Paul is with the Rockets. They’re inextricably linked, like it or not. Beverley, no longer playing in the same backcourt with James Harden, is expected to have more freedom in an offense that will feature more ball movement than when Paul ran the system under coach Doc Rivers. He will be counted on to provide the same stingy defense for which he is known. He matches up against opponents’ best guards and has done it well, being selected to the NBA’s first-team all defense last month. In 2016, he proclaimed that he was the best defensive player in the NBA. “We’ve been big fans of Pat for a long time,” said Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ executive vice president of basketball operations. “He’s an instigator [and] agitator but sometimes what gets lost in that [is] extremely talented. It seems like every time the bar is raised, he meets it. Size is irrelevant. You look at the rebounds and assists and his size. He shoots a high percentage from three. He’s first-team all defense, but we think there’s a complete game with it.” Beverley averaged 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists and shot 38.2 percent from three-point range last season. He will fit in with former Rockets teammates Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell just fine. Also introduced Tuesday were rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. “We have some dog in us, that’s how we play the game,” Dekker said of the recently traded Houston contingent. “We have a chip on our shoulder…The way we got here was playing hard and playing scrappy, getting in scuffles on the court. That’s what we do. Last year, in Houston, with the second unit when they threw Pat with us, Trez and a couple other guys, when we went on the court, we always said: ‘Let’s bring the dog out. Let’s do what we do and do what we do best, that’s making them work and make them hate us.’ That’s what we did. Our second unit was one of the best in the league, we thought. That’s what we’re going to bring to LA.” Beverley could see his offensive numbers increase on a team that re-signed Blake Griffin, already has DeAndre Jordan and added Danilo Gallinari this offseason. He already has built his reputation on the defensive end, having had success guarding Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and others. But Beverley has said he is looking forward to a new kind of opportunity with the Clippers, one that could showcase more of his offensive skills. “I’m put in a situation where I’m truly blessed to see what the limit is with me,” Beverley said. “I understand coach will push me. It’s going to be fun. My mindset is all about winning. I’m a really black-and-white guy. There’s no grey area. I’m coming to win basketball games. I didn’t come here to look good doing it.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2017

Rhum Masters book PBA D-League Foundation Cup playoff seat

Tanduay became the third team to book its seat in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup playoffs, stopping Wangs Basketball, 93-81, Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. Paul Varilla took the scoring cudgels in the clutch for the Rhum Masters as he poured five of his nine points in the final three minutes to halt the Couriers’ late uprising and turn a close 82-77 lead with 3:03 to play to a commanding 12-point final spread. James Martinez paced Tanduay with 16 points off the bench, while Von Tambeling uncorked 15 markers, six rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Jaymo Eguilos also chimed in 13 points and five boards, while Lester Alvarez had 11 markers, eight assists, and four rebounds in the win as the Rhum Masters solidified their stronghold of the third spot at 6-2. Tanduay extended its winning streak to three games, and coach Lawrence Chongson is seeking to further stretch that as he gears towards the quarterfinals. “We have to stay sharp. Yung focus dapat nandoon, lalo na sa transition defense and we’re really putting emphasis on the team’s collective focus,” he said. “We got sustain the momentum. I’ve been here long enough and we know how it works.” Wangs saw its two-game winning run halted as it goes down to sixth place with its 5-4 record. Michael Juico uncorked 24 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Robbie Herndon had 16 markers and seven boards in the losing effort. In the first game, Marinerong Pilipino kept its flickering hopes alive in the playoff race as it drubbed Zark’s Burgers, 119-74. Mark Isip imposed his veteran presence early, pouring nine of his 12 points in the opening frame, while also hauling down six rebounds, as the Skippers got themselves free from the clutches of the Jawbreakers and establishing an early 17-7 advantage which led to the 45-point beatdown. Pao Javelona also did his part, scattering 17 markers, seven assists, four boards, and three steals, while John Lopez went a board shy of a double-double as he tallied 15 points and nine rebounds. “We just want to break their spirit early on, pound them, and attack them. The players responded even if we found out that Mac (Cardona) was playing today,” said coach Koy Banal, as Marinerong Pilipino streaked to two straight victories and improved its standing to 3-4. Robby Celiz carried also-ran Zark’s Burgers (1-8) with 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while James Mangahas had 12 markers and five boards in the team’s fifth consecutive defeat. Seeking to revive his professional career, Mac Cardona got 11 points, three rebounds, and two assists in his 23 minutes of play for the Jawbreakers.   strong>The Scores: /strong> strong>First Game: /strong> strong>MARINERONG PILIPINO (119) /strong> - Javelona 17, Lopez 15, Isip 12, Moralde 12, Salcedo 12, Gumaru 11, Publico 11, Alabanza 7, Subido 7, Iñigo 5, Sargent 4, Gavieres 4, Javillonar 2, Marata 0. strong>ZARK’S BURGERS (74) /strong> - Celiz 16, Mangahas 12, De Leon 11, Cardona 11, Argamino 9, Nalos 6, Bautista 5, Cudal 4, Ferrer 0. strong>Quarters: /strong>27-15, 55-38, 87-57, 119-74.   strong>Second Game: /strong> strong>TANDUAY (93)  /strong>- Martinez 16, Tambeling 15, Eguilos 13, Alvarez 11, Taganas 10, Varilla 9, Palma 6, Gaco 5, Sollano 4, Villamor 4, Santos 0, Sanga 0, Vigil 0. strong>WANGS BASKETBALL (81)  /strong>- Juico 24, Herndon 16, De Chavez 11, Gabriel 9, Bitoon 7, Ambulodto 5, Habelito 4, Montemayor 2, Arambulo 2, Sorela 1, Riley 0, King 0. strong>Quarters: /strong> 27-16, 46-38, 66-57, 93-81. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2017

Harden intent on winning title in wake of new deal

em>By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press /em> HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden never wants to leave Houston and is intent on bringing another NBA title to the city the Californian now considers home. And the Rockets are doing everything possible to make sure the Beard gets exactly what he wants. The clearest evidence of that came a week ago when they signed him to the biggest contract in league history: a four-year, “supermax” extension that guarantees $228 million over the next six seasons. “I know where I want to retire ultimately and I know where I want to win a championship,” Harden said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “Everything is going to happen in Houston and that’s the reason I’m here forever.” Since orchestrating the trade that brought Harden to Houston from Oklahoma City in 2012, general manager Daryl Morey has known he had a cornerstone player to build a team around. To him, shelling out that much money to keep the 27-year-old off the free agent market until the 2022-23 season was a no-brainer. “Some of our decisions are hard. This one’s easy,” Morey said. “We’d do more if we could. This was the most they allow us to do.” The contract extension followed the Rockets’ trade for nine-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul late last month, giving Harden another superstar to help chase Houston’s first title since the Rockets won two in a row in 1994-95. There have been questions about how the two will fit together in Houston after Harden had the finest season of his career while playing point guard in first-year coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. But Harden isn’t worried about that. “I don’t think anybody’s ever seen anything like this before,” he said. “Two guys that can create and facilitate and just do things with the ball that nobody’s done from the one position and the shooting guard position. So it’s going to be fun. I’m excited to be a part of it.” Harden finished second in MVP voting last season behind Russell Westbrook after ranking second in the league with 29.1 points per game and first with 11.2 assists. He had 64 double-doubles last year after combining for just 67 in the first seven seasons of his career, and notched 22 triple-doubles after getting just nine total before last season. “I’ve coached a lot of people and watched a lot of games and the stuff that he did day in and day out was incredible,” D’Antoni said. “Now I’m just so excited that he’s going to be here for a long time.” Harden’s brilliant season ended with a thud when the Rockets were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in a 39-point loss in game six of the Western Conference semifinals. Harden didn’t attempt a shot until halfway through the second quarter of the blowout and finished with 10 points to tie a season low. That loss still weighs on Harden, who shouldered the blame for the defeat in the hours after the game. “For sure it motivates me,” he said. “Of course it wasn’t how we wanted it to end ... but that’s what life is about. You get tested and you go through certain things where things don’t happen your way ... you have to sit back, look at how you can be better and go out there and just be better at it. And if you fail, do it again.” Harden is excited about his new deal and humbled to have signed the richest contract in NBA history. However, he insists that all those zeros in his bank account will be hollow if he doesn’t take the Rockets to the next level. “Money is cool ... but it doesn’t really mean anything without holding that championship up,” Harden said. “So that’s what we’re working toward. That’s why I’m in the gym every single day and I won’t stop until I get it.”   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2017

Undrafted Dylan Ennis drops 35 for Warriors in Vegas

em>By Kareem Copeland, Associated Press /em> Dylan Ennis went undrafted last month, but the Oregon product was the recipient of “MVP” chants from the crowd in Las Vegas on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Ennis was nearly unstoppable as he scored 35 points during the Golden State Warriors’ 109-100 NBA Summer League victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. “Being undrafted, you take it personal,” Ennis told NBA TV. Teammates waved towels at the end of the game to cool down Ennis, whose career high at Oregon was 22 points. Ennis, who played for the Thunder in the Orlando Summer League before joining the Warriors in Las Vegas, poured in 23 points in 12 first-half minutes, including six of his eight 3-pointers. He previously had 21 points over five games in Las Vegas. “Just don’t think about it,” Ennis said. “It touches your hand, you put it up and the rim looks like the ocean. ... I’ll probably never hear [the ‘MVP’ chants] again in my career.” Ennis’ three-pointer with 1:11 remaining gave the Warriors a 105-97 lead that put the game away. Bryce Alford, undrafted out of UCLA, finished with 16 points. Jaron Johnson scored 18 for the Clippers while 2016 first-round pick Brice Johnson and Jawun Evans had 17 apiece. Teams still alive in tournament play had Friday (Saturday, PHL time) off. The quarterfinal round begins Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) with Portland playing San Antonio, Miami facing Memphis, Dallas against Boston and the Lakers meeting Brooklyn. In other action: strong>HAWKS 92, ROCKETS 86 /strong> Trent Lockett scored 17 points on 50 percent shooting, and Atlanta outscored Houston 34-22 in the fourth quarter to rally. Maryland product Diamond Stone and Bryce Cotton added 12 points apiece off the bench. The Rockets’ rookie from Georgetown, L.J. Peak, scored 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting off the bench. Chris Johnson chipped in 17 points, including five 3-pointers, as he tries to get back in the league after playing 147 NBA games from 2012-2016. He spent last season in what was then known as the NBA Development League. strong>TIMBERWOLVES 80, WIZARDS 73 /strong> Matt Costello blocked a would-be dunk by Michael Young with 59.9 seconds remaining to seal the Timberwolves’ comeback win over the Wizards. Costello, who was undrafted out of Michigan State in 2016 and played in the D-League, had a team-high 14 points and 11 rebounds. “Just trying to make winning plays,” Costello said on NBA TV. “That’s all it was. I know I’m not the best scorer in the world, so I have to make it up in other different areas.” Charles Cooke scored 13, Perry Ellis added 12 and Marcus Paige finished with 11 for Minnesota, which outscored Washington 41-22 in the second half. Danuel House led the Wizards with 13 points. Marcus Keene, a 5’9” guard from Central Michigan, added 12 off the bench. strong>JAZZ 97, BUCKS 76 /strong> Tony Bradley scored 19 points and the Jazz easily won the first game of the Las Vegas session after four straight losses. Bradley, Utah’s No. 28 overall pick from North Carolina, added eight rebounds and two blocks in his best game of the summer. James Southerland scored 16 for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell, the No. 13 pick who has dazzled this summer, did not play. Stephen Zimmerman, Gary Payton II and Travis Trice II led the Bucks with 12 points each. The No. 17 overall pick from Michigan, D.J. Wilson, managed just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting. Thon Maker, last year’s No. 10 pick, sat out. strong>NUGGETS 96, PELICANS 91 /strong> The Pelicans (1-5) were held to just four points over the final 3:30 of a game that featured 15 lead changes. The Nuggets improved to 2-4. Denver second-round pick Monte Morris scored a team-high 17 points and six assists while last year’s first-rounder Malik Beasley and 2017 first-rounder Tyler Lydon did not play. North Florida undrafted guard Dallas Moore added 16 points in 19 minutes off the bench. Peter Jok (22 points) and Jalen Jones (21) carried the load for New Orleans as a pair of undrafted signees the last two years. James Young, the No. 17 overall pick in 2014, added 16. Last month’s No. 31 overall pick, Frank Jackson, did not play. strong>BULLS 99, 76ERS 82 /strong> Brady Heslip drained eight three-pointers en route to 28 points and a Bulls (2-3) victory. Chicago never trailed after the first quarter. Denzel Valentine, the 2016 No. 14 pick, had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds in the victory, and Ryan Arcidiacono totaled 16 points. Philadelphia (1-4) was without No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, who was shut down with an ankle injury last week, but 2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz shined with 22 points and eight rebounds. Korkmaz was 9-for-16 from the floor, including 4 for 9 from behind the arc. Melo Trimble scored 16 on 7-for-9 shooting for the Sixers. strong>KINGS 93, SUNS 87 /strong> Naz Mitrou-Long hit a three-pointer with 28.4 seconds left to give the Kings (2-3) a four-point lead, capping a fourth-quarter rally that brought Sacramento back after trailing since the first. Suns (2-4) guard Mike James missed multiple three-pointers down the stretch. The No. 15 overall pick Justin Jackson led the Kings with 29 points and Mitrou-Long finished with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. James had 25 points, six rebounds and four assists in the loss while Davon Reed chipped in 17. The Suns held out their most marquee players — 2017 No. 4 pick Josh Jackson, 2016 No. 4 pick Dragan Bender and 2016 No. 8 pick Marquese Chriss. An ankle injury forced Chriss from their last game. The Kings No. 5 pick De’Aaron Fox did not play due to an ankle injury. The No. 20 pick Harry Giles, 2016 No. 6 pick Buddy Hield, 2016 No. 22 pick Malachi Richardson and former Kansas Jayhawk Frank Mason did not play. strong>CAVALIERS 78, RAPTORS 75, OT /strong> The Cavaliers (4-1) survived a Raptors fourth-quarter comeback and won in overtime thanks to Sir’Dominic Pointer’s layup in traffic with 35.6 seconds left to take a 77-75 lead. The Raptors (3-2) air-balled two three-pointers in the final seconds of overtime. Andrew White knocked down a three-pointer from atop the arc off an out-of-bounds play to tie the game at 73-73 and force the extra period. T.J. Williams led the Cavs with 21 points, and White added 18 points and six rebounds. “Our bond was really good today,” Williams said. “We made the right plays. I was looking for them and they were looking for me. And shots were falling.” Former North Carolina Tar Heel Kennedy Meeks put up Raptors highs with 18 points and nine rebounds. The 2016 No. 9 pick Jacob Poeltl and Fred VanVleet did not play for Toronto. The Cavaliers held out Kay Felder.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2017

Harden signs extension, giving him richest NBA deal ever

em>By Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press /em> LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Beard has the richest contract in NBA history. The Houston Rockets signed guard James Harden to a four-year contract extension for about $160 million Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), giving him a total six-year deal with $228 million guaranteed. With Harden under contract on his existing deal for another two seasons, the extension will not affect Houston’s aggressive pursuit of free agents this summer as the Rockets try to make a run at the Golden State Warriors. “Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement issued by the team. “Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the city of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship.” Harden is coming off of his finest season. Moving to point guard for new coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden averaged 29.1 points, an NBA-leading 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds and finished second in the MVP race to former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook. Harden’s do-it-all season helped the Rockets bounce back from a massively disappointing 2015-16 season that collapsed under the weight of chemistry issues with the All-Star guard and big man Dwight Howard. With Howard gone, the Rockets put Harden at the center of everything they do on offense, and it paid off in a major way. Houston went 55-27 in the regular season and beat Westbrook and the Thunder in the first round of the Western Conference semifinals. “Houston is home for me,” Harden said. “Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.” ESPN first reported the contract details. Harden seemed to run out of gas a bit in their semifinals loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and GM Daryl Morey has worked quickly to get him some help this summer. Morey traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul, a bold move that gives the Rockets as talented a backcourt as any team in the league. Morey also signed rugged forward P.J. Tucker to boost the defense and brought Nene back as well. And he’s not done yet. This mechanics for this extension are new to the NBA in the latest version of the collective bargaining agreement. Harden was named first team All-NBA, making him eligible for a lucrative, four-year “supermax” extension that gives him long-term security and also sends a message to the rest of the league that the Rockets are committed to stability as they try to challenge the Warriors in the West.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2017

Butler trade sets the stage for looming free agency

em>By Jon Krawczysnki, Associated Press /em> As draft night approached, some of the heavy hitters in the NBA — Cleveland, San Antonio, Houston, Boston, the Clippers among them — were jockeying, making calls and looking for deals to try to position themselves to make a run at the Golden State juggernaut. The Warriors’ greatness has forced the rest of the league to do deep self-examination and be aggressive in upgrading their rosters if they’re even going to have a chance to compete. The Celtics and Cavaliers were looking hard at Pacers star Paul George and Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, the Rockets and Spurs were looking at clearing cap space to make a run at some big-name free agents next week and the Knicks were, well, the Knicks. Draft night always lays the groundwork for what will happen when the circus (officially known as free agency) begins on July 1. And with all of those contenders looking to make a splash, the biggest move was made by ... the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves reunited Tom Thibodeau with Butler, giving up two promising young players in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick to land one of the best two-way players in the game. The move should jumpstart Minnesota’s pursuit of its first playoff spot since 2004 and, the Wolves hope, pave the way for success in free agency. “I think it will [help] a lot,” Thibodeau said. “With players, they look around the league, they see the makeup of the team, they see how they play, play together. That’s the main thing. Both offensively and defensively.” The Timberwolves have long had difficulty attracting free agents to a relatively small market that spends four months of the year covered in ice and snow. Landing a top-15 player like Butler to team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins sends a sign of how aggressive the teams could be. The Bulls plunged head-first into a rebuild with the decision, and now it’s up to the Pacers to decide if they want to do the same. Much to the dismay of Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, George let it be known last week that he did not plan to re-sign in Indiana when he becomes a free agent next summer. Most of the league assumes that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who appear to be in a tug-of-war with the rival Celtics for George’s attention. “I’m confident we’ll get something,” Pritchard told reporters in Indianapolis on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). One of the big markets affected on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) was at point guard, the deepest position in the league. Philadelphia, the Lakers, Sacramento, New York and Dallas all drafted point guards in the top 10, which could diminish the options for veterans like Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Jeff Teague and Patty Mills. The elite point guards available — Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry — should have no trouble finding significant contracts. With Tony Parker suffering a serious injury in the playoffs, the Spurs were reportedly trying to clear space to make a run at Paul, who is widely considered the best point guard in the league. Paul has spent the last six seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, but has yet to advance to the Western Conference finals. The Clippers are trying to make a decision about retooling around the core of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but really it’s a decision that depends largely on Paul’s thinking. He has long struggled to win big in the postseason, and heading to San Antonio to join with Kawhi Leonard or Houston to team up with James Harden could prove to be more attractive. Lowry figures to remain in Toronto with a Raptors franchise that he has helped put back on the map, but after that there will be few teams in the market for a high-priced starting point guard. Denver, Utah, New York and Indiana could wade into those waters. But if they look at themselves as still being a couple of year away, they might be hesitant to spend big bucks on a veteran. Other big names available include Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Andre Iguodala. And while some of the very biggest names like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry figure to stay put, it only ramps up the sense of urgency for teams that have big holes to fill. The clock is ticking and Thursday night provided the first steps toward making big improvements to the roster. The Timberwolves rocked the boat with Butler, but the waters were calm after that, which should only mean one thing: It’s about to get real choppy when the clock strikes midnight on July 1. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2017

Elasto Painters halt Gin Kings' 5-game romp

Rain or Shine banked on the late-game heroics of Jericho Cruz to pull off a 118-112 come-from-behind win over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings Friday night in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome. With the Elasto Painters protecting a slim 112-111 lead with under a minute remaining, Cruz picked the pocket of import Justin Brownlee clean at the top of the key for the breakaway layup that gave RoS a three-point cushion with 32 seconds remaining before sealing the contest with a pair of charities. The Elasto Painters improved their record to 5-4. 'Balik-import' Duke Crews, who replaced Shawn Taggart last week, debuted with 28 points and pulled down 22 rebounds while Cruz nailed 11 of his 19 markers in the payoff period for RoS, which trailed by as much as 77-93 late in the third quarter.   “I think the problem we had at the start of the game was we complained too much and we lost focus,” said Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia. With Cruz and Jay Washington leading the way in the final 12 minutes, RoS made a telling run to take a 109-101 lead before Ginebra countered with a 10-0 blitz capped by a trey by Brownlee for a two-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.    Three free throws by Washington put the Elasto Painters back on top, 112-111, before Cruz’s decisive play.  The Gin Kings threatened for the last time, 115-112, after a split by Scottie Thompson with 20 ticks remaining. Washington had a slit on the line before Cruz sealed the game with two charities with seven seconds remaining.  Ginebra, which came off an 11-day layoff, saw its five-game winning streak snapped as the Gin Kings dropped to 5-2. Brownlee had 38 points while Joe Devance finished with 19 for Ginebra. Japeth Aguilar had 15 while Thompson closed his night with 10.   Box scores: RAIN OR SHINE (118) --- Crews 28, Cruz 19, Washington 16, Yap 15, Ponferada 11, Cahn 8, Tiu 6, Belga 6, Trollano 6, Ahanmisi 2, Norwood 1, Tolomia 0, Matias 0. GINEBRA (112) --- Brownlee 38, Devance 19, Aguilar 15, Thompson 10, Ellis 9, Ferrer 6, Caguioa 6, Mercado 5, Tenorio 4. Quarter scores: 24-31, 56-59, 83-93, 118-112. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2017

Spurs face quick turnaround before conference finals

em>By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press /em> HOUSTON (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs are thrilled to be in the Western Conference finals for the first time since winning the title in 2014. But they won’t have much time to celebrate with a series against the well-rested Golden State Warriors starting on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). In fact, they were barely going to give themselves two hours to bask in their 114-75 win over the Houston Rockets in game six before looking ahead. “We’re just going to enjoy this one right now until midnight, at least,” Danny Green said. “I think this one prepared us for the next one. They’re a fast-paced team that likes to shoot on the perimeter. We have to communicate even better and be more perfect because it doesn’t get any easier.” While San Antonio fought through six games with the Rockets, the Warriors have been off since wrapping up a sweep of the Utah Jazz on Monday (Tuesday, HL time). Along with the fatigue factor, there are also questions about the their lineup heading in game one after All-Star Kawhi Leonard sat out on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) after rolling his left ankle in game five. Coach Gregg Popovich didn’t provide many details about Leonard’s injury on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). When asked if he protested when he chose to sit him, Popovich said: “He’d rather play.” But it still seemed to be bothering him quite a bit after the game when he headed to the bus still walking with a noticeable limp. The Spurs will certainly need his stellar defensive skills to contend with a Warriors team that not only swept the Jazz, but also eliminated the Trail Blazers in four games in the first round. “We understand that the team we’re now facing is the most dangerous team in the league with a lot of weapons,” Pau Gasol said. “You have to prepare for this team a different way. The challenges they present, in some ways, are similar to Houston as far as the ability to shoot the ball from the three-point line, but they have different personnel overall.” The Spurs know that limiting Golden State’s three-point shooting will be a key in the next round, just as slowing Houston from long range was in the conference semifinals. Houston averaged 20.5 3-pointers in its two wins and just 13 in the four losses. Leonard’s ankle problem wasn’t the only injury San Antonio dealt with in this series, as it came after the Spurs lost veteran Tony Parker to a season-ending quadriceps injury in game two. Neither injury seemed to have a major impact on the team, except for the fact that it gave LaMarcus Aldridge a chance to emerge as a dominant scorer for the Spurs. The 11-year veteran, in his second season with the Spurs, averaged just 9.5 points in the first two games before averaging 23.5 in the last four, highlighted by a season-high 34 in game six. “Once he got it going, we tried to keep going back to him,” Patty Mills said of game six. “He was an absolute beast, and that’s who he is.” Aldridge is excited that he was able to play such a big role in helping the Spurs advance, but he isn’t making too much of what will be his debut in the conference finals after failing to get out of the second round in his first six trips to the postseason. “I just came here ready to play,” he said. “Of course it’s a good feeling to be going to the Western Conference finals. But I haven’t thought about it. This team has worked hard all year and we’ve grinded and tried to get better, so I’m happy to finally win [the series].” Though the Spurs won two of three regular-season meetings with Golden State, they know that this series will be much more difficult than their previous meetings this season. But they’re ready for the challenge. “We’re hungry, we’re not satisfied,” Mills said. “This was a good series and we’re moving on, but we’re not satisfied. Everyone is focused in on what we’re trying to achieve here.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2017

Spurs rout James Harden, Rockets 114-75 to win series

em>By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press /em> HOUSTON (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs eliminated the Houston Rockets with a 114-75 victory in game six of the Western Conference semifinals Thursday night (Friday, PHL time), and they didn’t even need Kawhi Leonard to do it. LaMarcus Aldridge had a season-high 34 points and added 12 rebounds in his second big game of the series to pick up the scoring slack with Leonard out after rolling his ankle in San Antonio’s overtime win in game five on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL tiem). The Spurs were up by 19 by halftime in a game that was over quickly, and didn’t let up to reach the Western Conference finals for the first time since winning the title in 2014. The 4-2 series win sends them to conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. Trevor Ariza led Houston with 20 points on a night when MVP hopeful James Harden capped his stellar season by tying a season low with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out with 3:15 left. Jonathon Simmons filled in nicely for Leonard, scoring 18 points and hounding the Rockets on defense. San Antonio was up by 23 after the third quarter and scored the first seven points of the fourth to make it 94-64 and send many of the home fans streaming to the exits. Already without veteran Tony Parker, who suffered a season-ending quadriceps injury in game two, the Spurs looked to be the underdog entering this one without Leonard’s scoring and defense. Instead, things went wrong early for the Rockets with Aldridge scoring 10 points in the first quarter as San Antonio dashed out to a 31-24. Houston was already down 50-29 when Harden took his first shot midway through the second quarter. He made that three-pointer to whittle the lead a bit, but it didn’t get the Rockets going. The Spurs opened the third quarter with an 8-1 run, with six points from Aldridge, to extend their already big lead to 69-43 with about 9.5 minutes left. The Rockets used a 7-2 spurt after that with three-pointers from Ariza and Eric Gordon to cut the lead to 71-50 with about seven minutes remaining in the third. A three-pointer by Harden not long after that got Houston within 20, but San Antonio scored the next four points to make it 77-53 a couple of minutes later. Houston, which relied on its three-point shooting to get this far, couldn’t make shots from long-range going 13-of-40. But the Rockets also had trouble scoring in general, making just 28.6 percent (22-of-77) of their shots overall. When there was about four minutes left, large chunks of empty seats filled the arena dotted by pockets of San Antonio fans who stood and cheered while the remaining Rockets fans sat dejected. During a timeout soon after that several Spurs danced near the bench to music piped through the arena as Aldridge placed a towel over his shoulders and accepted congratulations from his teammates with his work was done for the night. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Spurs: /strong> /em> Danny Green got a technical in the third quarter for a scuffle with Ariza. Patty Mills had 14 points and seven assists, and Pau Gasol added 10 points and 11 rebounds. em> strong>Rockets: /strong> /em> Ariza received a technical in the third for the scuffle with Ariza. Coach Mike D’Antoni added Sam Dekker to the rotation after being criticized for not adding anyone to the rotation Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in the first game since Nene suffered a season-ending thigh injury. Dekker had six points Clint Capela finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. strong>UP NEXT /strong> Game one of the conference finals is Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at Golden State. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 12th, 2017

Spurs look to close out Rockets with Leonard ailing

em>By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press /em> HOUSTON (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs are a victory away from eliminating the Houston Rockets and advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time since winning the NBA title in 2014. But entering Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) game six in Houston there are questions about whether Kawhi Leonard will be at full strength after rolling his ankle in an overtime win on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Spurs’ MVP candidate was hurt when he stepped on James Harden’s foot about midway through the third quarter. He played limited minutes for the rest of regulation and did not play in overtime. San Antonio’s All-Star said after the game that it was “a little sore” and he was limping. But he insisted that he’s fine and will be ready to go on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). If Leonard is still hobbled for game six it will be another blow to a team already without Tony Parker, after the veteran suffered a season-ending quadriceps injury in game two. Leonard was pragmatic when asked if he thinks his team is in control of the series after escaping with a win on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). “No,” he said. “Not in control until we win game six.” After getting blown out in their last trip the Houston, the Spurs know eliminating a team with its back against the wall will be a huge task. “It’s going to be tough,” Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge said. “They’re a great offensive team. A bunch of competitive guys, they play way more confident at home ... it’s going to be about taking care of the ball, playing confident, just trying to minimize our mistakes out there.” The Rockets are left to ponder their missed opportunity after failing to take advantage of Leonard’s absence in overtime of the 110-107 loss. Harden was brilliant through most of Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) game, finishing with a triple-double — 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. But he seemed to run out of gas in an overtime where he was held scoreless, and had a three-pointer which could have tied the game blocked by 39-year-old Manu Ginobili just before the buzzer. “We let one slip away,” Harden said. “Execution and rebounding are probably the two primary things we let slip away in this game. We still have an opportunity in game six to go home and protect home court and bring it back for game seven.” Harden wasn’t the only Rocket who seemed spent late on a night when Houston used just seven players. Coach Mike D’Antoni has used an eight-man rotation throughout the playoffs, but didn’t add anyone to the mix on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in the first game since backup center Nene suffered a torn thigh muscle. D’Antoni wasn’t sure after the game if he’d tweak the rotation in the next game. “I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t think about it too much on the way here, but I’ll think about it and I’ll let you know tomorrow or the next day or maybe not. I have no clue.” ___ strong>Spurs at Rockets, Spurs lead series 3-2 (8am, PHL time - NBA Premium, ABS-CBN S+A, BTV) /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> As has been the case all series, the Spurs will try to limit Houston’s three-pointers. The Rockets, who set an NBA record by making 1,081 three’s in the regular season, have averaged 20.5 three-pointers in their two wins and just 13 in the three losses. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em>Houston’s rotation. Nene averaged 17.9 minutes a game in the team’s first nine playoff games, and at 6’11” and 250-pounds he was a strong inside presence to help deal with Pau Gasol and Aldridge. It will be interesting to see if D’Antoni employs the seven-man rotation on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) or if he gives second-year players Sam Dekker or Montrezl Harrell a chance to contribute. At 6’8” Harrell is undersized to play center, but his athleticism helped him excel when he was getting consistent playing time midway through the regular season. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em>Leonard (ankle) is listed as questionable after he did not play in overtime in game five. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>Both teams. The Spurs will have to win in Houston for the second time this series to avoid a game seven in San Antonio. Houston has to have a victory in game six to keep alive their hopes of reaching the conference finals for the second time in three years. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2017

NBA point guards, beware: The injuries are piling up

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> San Antonio’s Tony Parker needs surgery to fix his left leg and won’t play again until next season. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is dealing with a nasty sprained ankle. Utah’s George Hill is sitting out with a bad toe. Be careful out there, NBA starting point guards. Playoff injuries are piling up, with no team immune. Parker’s season-ending injury — suspected when he needed to be carried off the floor on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), confirmed by the Spurs on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) — will have enormous on-court effect, since it means for the first time since 2001 San Antonio will go into a playoff game without the four-time NBA champion guard in uniform. But go down the list of every starting point guard on all eight remaining teams, and everyone is dealing with something. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving was slowed near the end of the regular season by knee soreness, though seems fine so far in the postseason. Houston’s James Harden, Washington’s John Wall and Golden State’s Stephen Curry have all tweaked ankles, yet escaped major harm. Boston’s Isaiah Thomas is playing with a heavy heart following the tragic and sudden death of his sister, and in a remarkable show of strength his game has stayed sharp. Imagine an NFL postseason where every starting quarterback is ailing. This is basically the NBA equivalent. “Just sucks to see anybody go down, no matter who it was,” Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan said Thursday (Friday, PHL time), when asked about Lowry and how that will impact the Raptors going forward. “Just one of them things. When it rains it pours at this point.” Both of Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) games will have big questions at the point. The Spurs will be without Parker, and the Raptors don’t know how effective Lowry will be — or if he can play, period. San Antonio goes to Houston for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series that’s knotted 1-1, while Toronto is in desperate need of a win against Cleveland in game three of their East semi matchup. The Cavaliers lead there 2-0. Here’s some of what to know going into Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) games: ___ strong>Cavaliers at Raptors, Cleveland leads 2-0 (7:00am - PHL time, NBA Premium, BTV, delayed at 8:30am on ABS-CBN ch.2) /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> LeBron James and the Cavaliers have won nine straight games going back to last year’s playoffs. Another win on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) would match the longest playoff winning streak of James’ career. James is shooting 62 percent in the series, and his teams are 19-8 all-time in Toronto. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Cory Joseph. He might have been Toronto’s bright spot in game two with 22 points in 25 minutes, and he’ll have to play a big role in game three if the Raptors are going to make this a series. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Lowry (ankle) is questionable. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em> Toronto, big-time. The Raptors are 4-4 so far in these playoffs, sputtered a bit before getting things right against Milwaukee, and know that a 3-0 deficit would make this series outcome inevitable (It might already be that way, considering James has never wasted so much as a 2-0 series lead). If the Raptors have a trick left to play, now’s the time. ___ strong>Spurs at Rockets, series tied 1-1 (9:30am  - PHL time, NBA Premium) /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em>Parker’s streak of 221 consecutive playoff appearances will end. The last time he didn’t appear in a Spurs playoff game was 2001 against the Lakers, when David Robinson was still starting (and a game where Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue were both on the floor as backups when time expired). The Rockets won game one by 27; the Spurs won game two by 25. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em>Harden. He says he’s fine, but he’s shooting only 31 percent from the field in his last four games (9-for-30 so far in this series), and a really troubling 19 percent from three-point range in that span. Plus, he’s gotten to the line just 11 times in the two games against the Spurs — a bit low for him. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Parker (left quadriceps) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>Houston. Losing Parker is huge for San Antonio, obviously. But Kawhi Leonard is still there, so is Gregg Popovich, and the Spurs aren’t going to change their philosophy now. The Rockets surely sense opportunity. ___ em>Associated Press Writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed. /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2017

Rockets' 22 3-pointers dismantle Spurs, 126-99 in Game 1

em>By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press /em> SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Trevor Ariza scored 23 points, James Harden added 20 points and 14 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets stormed past San Antonio 126-99 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in game one of the Western Conference semifinals, the Spurs' worst loss in a series opener under Gregg Popovich. The Rockets were 22-for-50 on three-pointers, the most three’s attempted and made against the Spurs in their long postseason history. Houston had six players in double figures, including 20 points and 13 rebounds from Clint Capela. Game two is Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in San Antonio. Houston led by as much as 39 points, including a 30-point lead in the first half, in the opener of the first series between the rivals since the Rockets' victory in the 1995 Western Conference finals. While the hot shooting wasn't completely unexpected from the explosive Rockets, the defense was. Houston was active in rotating to San Antonio's shooters and had both defenders stay on Kawhi Leonard on screens. Leonard had 21 points, fighting his way to 5-for-14 shooting. Tony Parker added 11 points and Jonathon Simmons had 10 for the Spurs. Houston led 69-39 lead in the first half, the Spurs' largest halftime deficit under Popovich. Popovich called a timeout 80 seconds into the game, berating David Lee for a missed defensive assignment that led to a three-pointer. It didn't help. Houston hit 12 three-pointers in the first half, the most San Antonio has allowed to a playoff opponent in the opening two quarters. The game got testy in the second half with a pair of ejections. Nene was thrown out at the close of the third quarter after grabbing Dewayne Dedmon by the throat after the Spurs center and Harden got in each other's face. Dedmon was thrown out in the fourth quarter after arguing with officials during a free throw. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Rockets: /strong> /em> Houston owns an 11-6 postseason record against San Antonio, winning all three previous playoff series against the Spurs. The Rockets have won six straight postseason games in San Antonio. Houston's last postseason loss in San Antonio was May 30, 1995. Rockets owner Les Alexander bought tickets to game one for about 150 staff members, family and friends, bringing the group in several buses from Houston to the AT& T Center. Rockets center Chinanu Onuaku, who is on assignment with Rio Grande Valley, was suspended two games without pay for pushing an official during a Development League playoff game on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). em> strong>Spurs: /strong> /em> San Antonio's largest postseason defeat under Popovich was a 111-72 defeat to the Lakers on May 25, 2001, in game four of a four-game sweep in the West finals. Leonard has scored in double figures in 27 straight playoff games. Danny Green has 169 career three-pointers in the postseason, moving past former Spurs forward Bruce Bowen for 24th in league history. Patty Mills has made at least two three-pointers in 24 postseason games, second most in franchise history to Manu Ginobili's 62. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2017

Spurs facing tough task containing high-scoring Rockets

em>By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press /em> SAN ANTONIO (AP) — After surviving an intense, physical battle with the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs now face James Harden and the freewheeling Houston Rockets. With a leading MVP candidate leading its offense in Harden, Houston averaged 112.8 points in its five-game series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets attempted 169 three-pointers in that series, making 34 percent, and were 134-for-168 from the free throw line. Led by their own MVP candidate in Kawhi Leonard and a resurgent Tony Parker, the Spurs will have to match Houston's offensive output if they can't contain the Rockets when the series tips off Monday night in San Antonio. 'We don't want to, but I feel if we have to, I think we're capable,' said Spurs guard Danny Green, who will be among those trying to slow Harden. 'We have enough guys that can put the ball in the basket, especially at an up-and-down-pace type of game. I think most guys prefer it. I think they'll give us an opportunity to score more, we've just got to take care of the ball.' San Antonio has not faced Houston in the playoffs since the 1995 Western Conference finals, two seasons before the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan with the first overall pick. Still, the intra-state rivals are extremely familiar with each other. San Antonio defeated Houston three times in the regular season, but the average margin of victory was three points in the four-game series. 'We know it's going to be tough, an extremely tough series,' Harden said. 'San Antonio isn't going to beat themselves. So, we've got to be mentally focused and prepared to go out there and execute every possession, every game.' Houston has capable outside shooters in Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, but Harden is the focal point. Harden averaged 29.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 9.5 assists against the Spurs in four regular-season games. He had triple-doubles in the first two games and double-doubles in the final two meetings. Green and Leonard will likely alternate defending Harden, but neither expects to do so alone. 'We have a great group of guys that have a mindset of guarding,' Leonard said. 'One guy can't guard someone one on one the whole game, it's going to be a team effort.' Leonard turned in one of his most memorable performances of the season against Houston in the team's final meeting March 6 (Mar. 7, PHL time). After hitting what became the game-winning three-pointer with 25 seconds remaining, Leonard blocked Harden's layup attempt to preserve a 112-110 victory. The Spurs' 6’7” defensive anchor averaged 28.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists against the Rockets. San Antonio will need is greater output from veterans Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge averaged 14.8 points against the Grizzlies, down from the 17.3 points he scored during the regular season. Parker, the Spurs' 16-year veteran point guard, was able to make up the difference by averaging 16.3 points and 3.0 assists against the Grizzlies. Parker averaged only 10.1 points during the regular season, the lowest output since his rookie season in 2002. Some other things to know about the Rocket-Spurs matchup: ___ em> strong>REMEMBER WHEN: /strong> /em> Harden was on the winning end the only time he faced the Spurs in the playoffs. In his third season, Harden came off the bench as Oklahoma City beat San Antonio in six games to capture the 2012 Western Conference Finals. 'He was tough,' Green said. 'Especially with Russ [Westbrook] and K.D. [Kevin Durant]. Him coming off the bench, he was kind of like their mediator, I would say, kind of controlled Russ and K.D. He came off the bench and kind of calmed them down a little bit controlled the tempo a little, changed it up a little bit.' em> strong>WELCOME BACK: /strong> /em>Houston forward Sam Dekker will be available to play Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) after missing four weeks following surgery to repair a fractured left hand. Dekker averaged 6.8 points in four games against the Spurs this season. em> strong>LIVING OUT LOUD: /strong> /em>The Rockets have not faced the Spurs in the postseason in more than two decades, but many of their players have. So, they know what to expect from the sold-out crowd at the AT& T Center. 'It's pretty loud in there,' Harden said. 'Those fans are extremely loyal to their team and they're going to be there cheering their team on to the highest level. So, we can't let that affect us.' ___ em>AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2017

Rockets determined to play better in conference semis

em>By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press /em> HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden and the Houston Rockets are feeling great heading into the Western Conference semifinals for one big reason. They don't believe they played well so far despite downing the Russell Westbrook-led Thunder 4-1 in the first round. 'That's what's exciting,' Harden said. 'We can play 10-times better, especially offensively.' Houston will face either San Antonio or Memphis in the second round. The Spurs lead the series 3-2 with game six on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). The Rockets set an NBA record by making 1,181 three-pointers and led the league with 14.4 triples a game during the regular season. That sharp-shooting hasn't translated into the postseason, where they rank eighth by making just 9.6 three’s a game and are last with a 28.4 three-point percentage. 'We shot so bad...and we were still able to win a game and we've been doing it all series,' Patrick Beverley said after Houston's 105-99 win in game five. Houston hasn't been known for its defense in recent years. But after harassing Westbrook into poor shooting in the fourth quarter throughout the first round while also shutting down Oklahoma City's secondary options, the Rockets are looking forward to how good they can be when their shots start to fall. 'We're a force to be reckoned with...we're winning games off defense and that has been our Achilles heel the whole entire season,' Beverley said. 'But it's like we're turning the switch. If we can combine...defending and hitting our three’s, the sky's the limit for this team.' The Rockets got some big games from Lou Williams and Eric Gordon in the first round, but are still looking for Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza to have breakout games. Anderson averaged 13.6 points a game during the regular season, but has managed just 7.4 in the playoffs. Ariza's numbers have also fallen off, dropping from 11.7 to just 6.4 points a game. 'We've got so many guys that can step up and make plays that haven't got going yet,' Harden said. 'And that's I think why I'm excited because those guys are going to step up and make big shots in the next series.' Harden doesn't exclude himself when pointing out that the Rockets haven't played well in the playoffs so far. He's quick to note that his shooting has been a bit off despite leading the team in scoring in four of the five games and ranking second only to Westbrook in points a game with 33.2. He was 0-of-7 from three-point range in game four and made just 2-of-13 attempts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) when Houston hit just 6-of-37 three’s. 'I think [Harden] played terrific in trying to figure out what we needed to do,' coach Mike D'Antoni said. 'We were 6-for-37. We figured out another way and that's how we have to do it. That's what he does — he finds another way. He was just relentless in getting to the line because the shots weren't falling. I think that was the difference.' Another difference for Houston in this series was the relentless play of Beverley. He averaged 11.6 points a game, but was arguably Houston's second-most valuable player because of his hustle and defense on Westbrook. 'Pat brings that every single night. He brings it and that's what we love about him,' Harden said. 'He's a dog especially on the ball and his offensive game has gotten a lot better, been knocking down the three-point shots. We need him to be that way. That's what makes us who we are.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2017

The old guys are coming up big so far in these playoffs

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> George W. Bush was early in his first term as president. Seattle was years away from losing the SuperSonics. 'Arrested Development' hadn't even started airing yet. That's how long ago Utah's Joe Johnson and Houston's Nene made their NBA debuts. So-called old guys like them are delivering all across these playoffs thus far. And many of those elder statesmen will be back at work Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) as the Western Conference playoffs continue with a trio of game five’s — Houston will be home with a chance to eliminate Oklahoma City, Memphis goes back to San Antonio and Utah visits the Los Angeles Clippers. Among those expected to be in action: 40-year-old Vince Carter, 39-year-olds Manu Ginobili and Paul Pierce, 37-year-old Jamal Crawford, 36-year-old Pau Gasol, 35-year-olds like Johnson, Zach Randolph and Boris Diaw, and 34-year-olds in Tony Parker and Nene. 'As you get older, as you get more experienced, you understand what 'Winning Time' means,' said Chicago's Dwyane Wade, another non-whippersnapper of 35 who'll play in a game five of the Bulls-Boston series on Wednesday night. Johnson is 6-for-7 on what the NBA calls clutch shots so far in these playoffs. (To put that in some perspective, LeBron James — for as great as he was in the sweep of Indiana — was 5-for-15 in clutch situations during that series.) Johnson shot 12-for-17 overall in Utah's win Sunday (Monday, PHL time) over the Clippers, helping the Jazz knot that series on a night when Gordon Hayward was felled by food poisoning. Former teammate and longtime NBA star Kevin Garnett says Johnson has 'superstar poise,' and it showed Sunday (Monday, PHL time). 'He's one of those guys that we're quick to forget because of the regular season games and what it takes out of you,' Garnett said. 'This is the time where the cream is going to rise to the top for you.' Nene was 12-for-12 in Houston's road win Sunday (Monday, PHL time) over Oklahoma City. In a series where all the talk seems to be on MVP frontrunners Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Nene is shooting an astounding 92 percent (23-for-25) from the floor. 'Kind of a man's game,' Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. 'And he's a man. ... That's Nene. Doesn't surprise me.' Here's what to know going into Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time): ___ strong>Thunder at Rockets, Houston leads 3-1 (8:00am, PHL time - NBA Premium) /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> The Rockets are one win from just their fourth series victory in the last 20 years. And D'Antoni could be heading to the second round for the first time since 2007. Westbrook is likely to finish this series averaging a triple-double, just as he did in the regular season, yet the Thunder are in huge trouble regardless. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Thunder wing Andre Roberson. He's shooting 12 percent from the foul line in this series. Yes, 12 percent, 2-for-17, which is about as mathematically improbable as Nene shooting 92 percent from the field. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Rockets F Sam Dekker (left hand) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em> Both sides. The Thunder are a loss from elimination, yet the Rockets will surely feel a sense of urgency to get this done and enjoy some time off before round two. ___ strong>Grizzlies at Spurs, series tied 2-2 (9:00am, PHL time - NBA Premium cut to live) /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> Memphis is 2-0 since coach David Fizdale's already-infamous 'Take that for data' rant, and now the Grizzlies head back to San Antonio with momentum. The Spurs were in this spot last year — 2-2 series, home for game five — in the second round last season, and wound up losing to the Thunder in six games. But the Spurs also are 19-1 in their last 20 home games against the Grizzlies. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em>Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs' star is a perfect 40-for-40 from the foul line in this series, and not much worse (58 percent) from the floor. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Grizzlies F Tony Allen (right leg) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>The Spurs. Add the three-game losing streak that ended the regular season to the mix, and the Spurs are 2-5 in their last seven contests. And they weren't exactly resting people at the end, either. ___ strong>Jazz at Clippers, series tied 2-2 (10:30am, PHL time - NBA Premium cut to live, BTV) /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> Gordon Hayward (food poisoning) should be back for game five, Rudy Gobert is good to go again and Utah has made this series a best-of-three. The Clippers had a chance to take command in game four, succumbed late and now find themselves in a real fight. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Chris Paul. The Clippers' point guard has been brilliant, averaging 26.8 points and 10.8 assists in the series. He'll probably need to stay that good if the Clippers are to advance. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Clippers backup G Austin Rivers returns for game five. He's been out since March 30 (Mar. 31, PHL time) with a strained left hamstring. 'At least we have another warm body,' coach Doc Rivers said. Clippers F Blake Griffin (right toe) is out for the rest of the playoffs. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>Rivers. He understands the big-picture stakes, and even with Griffin out, another quick playoff exit would likely mean sweeping changes in L.A. this offseason. ___ em>AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report. /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 25th, 2017

Rites of postseason: LeBron looks for sweep, Clippers ailing

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> They seem like postseason traditions: LeBron James is going for a sweep, and the Los Angeles Clippers have big problems. James is one win from the second round and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers might be on the cusp of getting several rest days. Meanwhile, Blake Griffin will miss the rest of the season in a major blow for a Clippers team that now faces playoff drama for the fifth consecutive year. Those are among the NBA's headlines for Sunday (Monday, PHL time), with game four’s in four first-round series. Cleveland can oust Indiana, Houston leads 2-1 over Oklahoma City, Chicago will aim to keep home-court advantage on Boston and the Clippers — 10-1 in their last 11 games at Utah — can take command of their series against the Jazz. 'Closeout games are always the most difficult games,' James said Saturday. He makes them look easy. James' teams are 21-3 in their last 24 closeout opportunities, going back to his first series with Miami in 2011. He's also looking for the 10th sweep of his career and he's coming off a 41-point, 13-rebound, 12-assist masterpiece as the Cavs pulled off an NBA-playoff-record rally from 25 points down at halftime to win game three on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). 'There are three things you can do when you get tested,' Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. 'You can give in, you can give up or you can give all you have.' The Clippers know about getting tested. They blew a 2-0 lead (after Griffin sprained an ankle) in 2013, dealt with the Donald Sterling ban saga in 2014, were up 3-1 to Houston before falling in 2015 and saw Griffin and Chris Paul sidelined at playoff time last year. Here's what you need to know for Sunday (Monday, PHL time): ___ strong>Cavaliers at Pacers, Cleveland leads 3-0 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> Cleveland has won 13 consecutive first-round games and 20 of its last 21. The Cavs have outscored the Pacers by only 12 points in this series, but James — who has a personal 20-game first-round winning streak going back to his Miami days, and is a ridiculous 47-7 all-time in that round — finds ways to get it done. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Indiana F Paul George, and his game seven mentality. In his last six facing-elimination games, he's averaged 27.8 points and 9.3 rebounds. Indiana went 4-2 in those games. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em>None. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>Cavs stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Their jobs obviously aren't in jeopardy, but it'll be interesting to see how they respond after being benched in the fourth quarter of game three. ___ strong>Rockets at Thunder, Houston leads 2-1 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> The Thunder were a couple inches from a 3-0 hole, but James Harden's three-pointer at the buzzer missed Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) and Oklahoma City has new life after a two-point win. Russell Westbrook continues to be stellar for the Thunder, Victor Oladipo looked like he's settled into the playoffs with a solid game three and expect coach Billy Donovan to keep using two-time NBA champion Norris Cole going forward. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Harden. He's the fourth player to open a postseason with three straight games of 35 points or more, joining Michael Jordan (twice), Bernard King and Jerry West. The record is six, by West in 1964-65. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em>Rockets F Sam Dekker (left hand) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em> Houston. The last thing the Rockets want is to get Westbrook in a best-of-three series, and with momentum. ___ strong>Celtics at Bulls, Chicago leads 2-1 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em>Boston got back into the series with a big game three win on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). They won on the strength of 17 three’s, balanced scoring — five players between 11 and 18 points — and a 34-14 edge in assists. Holding the Bulls to 39 percent shooting obviously didn't hurt. Chicago wasn't the same without injured G Rajon Rondo. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em>Bulls G Dwyane Wade. He told teammates Friday (Saturday, PHL time) 'we're in a good position.' He knows how important locker-room morale is at playoff time. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em>Rondo (right hand) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>Boston. All the Celtics have done is ensure the series goes back to their floor. ___ strong>Clippers at Jazz, Los Angeles leads 2-1 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em>Gordon Hayward broke out for 40 points on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), and the Clippers won anyway. George Hill added 26 for Utah, but Jazz bigs Derrick Favors and Boris Diaw were total non-factors — five points and four shots in 62 minutes. Paul was magnificent, and even without Griffin the Clippers out-rebounded Utah 23-11 in the second half. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Clippers F Marreese Speights. He was plus-12 Friday (Saturday, PHL time), and now with Griffin done the Clippers will need him. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Griffin (right big toe) is out. The status of Gobert (left knee) is unclear. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em> Utah. The Jazz have dropped their last five home playoff games going back to 2010. ___ em>AP Sports Writers Michael Marot and Andrew Seligman, and Associated Press Writer Corey Elliot contributed. /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2017

Thunder F Gibson providing scoring help for Westbrook

em>By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press /em> OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Taj Gibson often describes his role for the Thunder as doing whatever the team needs. For now, scoring is playing a bigger part than usual. The versatile 6’9” power forward has found his way since being traded from Chicago and has emerged one of Oklahoma City's few consistent offensive weapons alongside Russell Westbrook in the playoffs. He may need to keep it up to give the Thunder a chance of winning the first-round series with Houston — Oklahoma City trails 2-1 heading into game four Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at home. Gibson built a sterling reputation in Chicago, but the Brooklyn, New York native is more concerned with the respect he's earned since his arrival. 'They see I'm in here late nights, early mornings, just constantly working with my teammates, constantly putting work in,' he said. 'The confidence is going to be there because they understand you do the work, but I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help my team.' Gibson has done a little bit of everything since coming to the Thunder. He has provided experience and versatility to an already stacked frontline that includes emerging young players Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. He also has added toughness, and at times, scoring punch. His athleticism and ability to guard on the perimeter against outside-shooting big men and on switches fills some of the void created when the Thunder traded Serge Ibaka on draft night this past offseason. 'Great vet,' guard Victor Oladipo said. 'Great man, first and foremost. Very positive and does what it takes to win. It was a great pickup for us.' Domantas Sabonis was the starting power forward when Gibson arrived in Oklahoma City, but once he got settled and began to understand coach Billy Donovan's system, the Thunder improved. Gibson replaced Sabonis for the first time March 9 (Mar. 10, PHL time) against San Antonio, and the Thunder went 11-5 with him in the starting lineup. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 regular-season games for the Thunder. He is averaging 11 points on 65 percent shooting in the playoffs. He was effective on offense in game two, establishing himself early and helping put the Thunder in position to win. Oklahoma City went away from him late, and Houston rallied for the victory. In game three, the Thunder went back to him consistently. He finished with 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting in Oklahoma City's 115-113 win on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). 'Taj is a great post player,' Westbrook said. 'He does a great job of getting in great position down low. When we see a matchup that we like we are going to keep going to him. Whether it is a miss or a make, it gives us the opportunity to score the basketball in the paint.' Gibson did damage inside and out and punished the Rockets with his mid-range jumper. 'It's no shock to me, just because that mid-range is automatic for him,' Thunder forward Doug McDermott, who also joined the Thunder in the trade with Chicago, said. 'He's tough to guard on that block too.' Gibson also had a fast start in game two, but once the Thunder began to struggle, they went away from him. Gibson knew he didn't need to change much going into game three. 'Just continue to be aggressive,' he said. 'I felt like I had good shots in game two. Just got to stay with it and play the game as it flows to me.' On defense, Gibson has been a better option than Kanter and Adams, who have struggled to keep up with the more athletic Rockets. Gibson performed well in all facets in game three, and Donovan needs more of that in game four. 'I was happy for him last night,' Donovan said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). 'I thought he gave us a great lift in both the first and second half. He's professional, he's a man, and he's a reliable guy.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2017

Celtics down 2-0, and Boston needs another comeback story

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> Boston, a city with a flair for playoff comebacks, now needs another. The Celtics are on the brink. Down 2-0 to the Chicago Bulls, and on the road for the next two games starting with game three of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), Boston is in massive trouble. Consider: Bulls guard Dwyane Wade has never been on a team that blew a 2-0 series lead (Wade and the Miami Heat were 12-0 in such spots), and the Celtics are 1-16 all-time in series where they lost the first two games. Win or lose, Friday (Saturday, PHL time) won't be the end of Boston's season. But it may be the last chance the Celtics have to save themselves from a stunning freefall that a No. 1 seed has never experienced in NBA history. 'Coming in, I didn't say, 'Hey, we're gonna be up 2-0 on Boston.' No, no one thought that,' Wade said. 'But we are in this position. We've earned it.' The Celtics-Bulls game is the first of three game three’s on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Houston goes to Oklahoma City with the Rockets holding a 2-0 lead after rallying to win Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), and the Los Angeles Clippers play at Utah with that series knotted at a game apiece. 'You can't exhale thinking 'Oh, we're going home, we're going to be OK,'' Jazz forward Joe Johnson said. 'That's not the case. It's a real, real thin line between winning and losing in the playoffs.' Bostonians know playoff fortunes can turn fast. The Red Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 AL Championship Series and somehow prevailed. The Bruins trailed 4-1 in the third period of a game seven against Toronto in 2013 before winning in overtime. The Patriots trailed 28-3 late in the third quarter of this year's Super Bowl against Atlanta and defied all odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Celtics — down 2-0 for their fifth consecutive playoff series — now will try to add to that pile of lore. 'We're fighting for our lives right here,' Celtics forward Al Horford said. Here's a look at Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) games: ___ strong>Celtics at Bulls, Chicago leads 2-0 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em>It is impossible to ignore or measure the effect that the death of Isaiah Thomas' sister on the eve of this series is having on the Celtics star and the rest of his team. He has battled, averaging 26.5 points in the first two games — and is expected to play Friday (Saturday, PHL time) after missing practice Thursday (Friday, PHL time) for his sister's funeral. Jimmy Butler is averaging 26 points for the Bulls. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em>Rebounds. Chicago is out-rebounding Boston 96-74 so far in the series. The Celtics might not win this battle, but they can do better. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em>None of note. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>Brad Stevens. So much has been made of his playoff record now being 2-10, but it's also very fair to wonder what might have been if Danny Ainge made some moves at the trade deadline to add some postseason savvy to this roster. ___ strong>Rockets at Thunder, Houston leads 2-0 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em>Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook had 51 points — on 43 shots — in game two and the Thunder lost anyway. Westbrook became the third player in the last 30 years to score that many points in a playoff loss, joining Michael Jordan (63, 1986) and Ray Allen (51, 2009). em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em> Nene. For as great as James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Eric Gordon were for Houston in the first two games, Nene deserves a big tip of the cap as well. He's 10-for-11 from the field; 0-for-1 on jumpers, 10-for-10 at the rim. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em>Rockets F Sam Dekker (left hand) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em> The Thunder. Game two was the second time this season Westbrook topped 50 points in a loss. How will OKC find a way now? ___ strong>Clippers at Jazz, series tied 1-1 /strong> em> strong>NEED TO KNOW: /strong> /em> Clippers stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul averaged a combined 48 points in the first two games of the series. Utah has four players averaging double figures in the series, but Gordon Hayward is shooting 36 percent. Expect him to break out a bit now that the series has shifted to Utah. em> strong>KEEP AN EYE ON: /strong> /em>J.J. Redick. The Clippers' sharpshooter got only 13 shots in 60 minutes of playing time in the first two games of the series. em> strong>INJURY UPDATE: /strong> /em> Jazz C Rudy Gobert (left knee) is out. em> strong>PRESSURE IS ON: /strong> /em>The Jazz. First, no Gobert again is huge. Plus, the Clippers are 9-1 in their last 10 games in Salt Lake City, the one loss coming last month in a game where Utah trailed most of the way. ___ em>AP Sports Writers Andrew Seligman and Kareem Copeland contributed to this report. /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2017

Klay Thompson scores 41, Warriors roll to 12th straight win

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Klay Thompson scored 41 points for his 10th career 40-point game, Stephen Curry had 19 points and nine assists, and the playoff-ready Golden State Warriors ran their winning streak to 12 straight by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-107 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Matt Barnes contributed 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Golden State could wrap up the West's No. 1 seed as soon as Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) with a win at Phoenix and a Spurs' loss at home to the Lakers. Now, it seems, the Warriors just need one key reinforcement: Kevin Durant. And KD could be back by week's end with his team on quite a roll to finish the regular season atop the NBA again. Andrew Wiggins scored 24 for Minnesota, which couldn't keep up with Golden State's spiffy passing and contributions from so many players on both ends of the floor. In his highest-scoring performance since getting 60 on Dec. 5 (Dec. 6, PHL time), Thompson hit 7-of-14 three-pointers -- giving him at least four triples in a career-best six consecutive games. His 262 three’s rank as eighth-most ever for a single season after he had 276 last season. Andre Iguodala produced another impressive game off the bench with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, while David West dished out five of his season-best six assists in the second quarter to get the offense clicking. Golden State has matched its longest winning streak of the season, also done from Nov. 7-28 (Nov. 8-29, PHL time), and eagerly awaits Durant's return perhaps as soon as Saturday. The Warriors displayed more spot-on ball movement, with West providing the key minutes. He found Iguodala for a second-quarter three, Ian Clark and Barnes on layups and hit Thompson on a jumper before feeding Draymond Green's dunk. With their 204th victory the Warriors have the most wins in NBA history over three seasons, the team said according to Elias. This win avenged a tough defeat last month. The Warriors lost 103-102 on March 10 (Mar. 11, PHL time) at Minnesota during a grueling road stretch that featured two cross-country trips, a one-game visit back to Oakland before back-to-backs at the T-wolves and Spurs. Without injured star Durant, too. On Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), with 1:04 left in the first, JaVale McGee made a hard foul on Gorgui Dieng and their arms tangled. McGee was walking away from the play and Dieng pushed him from behind, McGee turned around and immediately shoved Dieng in the chest as they jawed before being separated. The play went to review, with each player receiving a technical and McGee also a Flagrant 1 foul. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>The Timberwolves shot only 4-for-19 from three-point range. Minnesota is 6-16 on the road vs. the Western Conference. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em> Thompson also has three 30-point games this season against Minnesota. In the first, Curry hit a shot from three-quarters quart but after the whistle blew for a timeout. Golden State had a season-high 41 fast-break points. Hall of Fame Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer, fresh off the Final Four and 1,000 career wins, sat courtside with owner Joe Lacob. strong>DURANT UPDATE /strong> Durant warmed up and was set to travel with the team to Phoenix for the back-to-back, and use Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) off day to do some scrimmaging testing his injured left knee. He will then be re-evaluated with the hope he is ready to return Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against New Orleans at Oracle Arena after being sidelined since Feb. 28 (Mar. 1, PHL time). strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em> At Portland on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) -- where Minnesota has won just twice in the last 22 visits -- to continue a West Coast swing that goes to Utah on Friday and the Lakers on Sunday (Saturday and Monday, PHL time). em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em>Golden State plays its final road game of the regular season Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at the Suns looking for an 11th straight win in the series. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 5th, 2017

Heat win again, hold off Pelicans 120-112

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> MIAMI (AP)-- 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 (Thursday, PHL time). Wayne Ellington scored 19 for the Heat, who made 16 three-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. Miami took the lead for good on a three-point flurry late — three straight, one from Josh Richardson and the last two from James Johnson. That quick 9-0 run put Miami on top 111-102, and the Heat didn’t trail again. The win, at least temporarily, moved Miami past Milwaukee and into the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference standings — a far cry from where the team was two months ago, when the Heat were trying to avoid having the worst record in the NBA. “Nothing’s guaranteed,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Everybody’s talking about how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished. We’re not in the playoffs yet. But at least we were given an opportunity to show persistence and develop that.” Miami led by 14 early, but most of that eroded during a 15-2 New Orleans run in the second quarter. And after never leading in the first half, the Pelicans started the third with a 9-0 spurt to go up 61-54 — finishing off what was a 21-point turnaround over about a nine-minute stretch. But Miami rallied, grabbed an 85-79 lead going into the fourth, and then went 7 for 9 from 3-point range in the final quarter to prevail. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Pelicans: /strong> /em> Cousins got his 19th technical of the season, part of his eventful night. He left the court with 1:35 to play after getting hit in the midsection by Miami’s James Johnson. Cousins was called for a shooting foul on the drive; James Johnson was called for a technical. Davis was bloodied near his right elbow in the second quarter. em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em> Dragic — who missed Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) game in Indiana because his right eye was swollen shut — was fouled on two more three-point tries, giving him 21 of those this season. He’s turned those resulting free throws into 53 points, which would work out to an equivalent three-point percentage of 84.1 percent. Whiteside has 14 consecutive games with at least 10 rebounds, a Heat franchise first. Miami improved to 11-2 on Wednesdays (Thursday, PHL time). strong>WINNING COMBO /strong> The Heat are 19-5 when Dragic, Waiters, Whiteside, Luke Babbitt and Rodney McGruder start a game. When using any other starting five this season — there have been 19 — the Heat are 14-30. strong>WELCOME TO MIAMI? /strong> Including his Sacramento days, Cousins has appeared in 12 games at Miami. His teams are 1-11. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Pelicans: /strong> /em>Host the Houston Rockets on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the start of a three-game homestand. em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em> Host the Timberwolves on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), looking to sweep Minnesota for the first time since 2012-13. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 2017