NBA Playoffs: Thunder win to take series lead


NBA Playoffs: Thunder win to take series lead

LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Durant scored 36 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Oklahoma City Thunder outplayed the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter for a 118-112 victory Friday night and a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal.

Serge Ibaka added 20 points and Westbrook had 13 assists for the Thunder in a game that neither team ever led by double digits.

Blake Griffin scored 34 points, and Chris Paul added 21 points and 16 assists for the Clippers, who saw their four-point lead disappear for good early in the fourth quarter. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford added 20 points.

Oklahoma City led 113-107 on Durant's turnaround jumper with 1:23 left. It followed Westbrook's 3-pointer after the Clippers had closed within 108-107 when Griffin muscled in for a layup.

Game 4 is Sunday at Staples Center (see full recap).

Pacers smother Wizards to take series lead
WASHINGTON -- Paul George had his best game of the series with 23 points and eight rebounds, Roy Hibbert was again a factor by scoring 14 points, and the Indiana Pacers held the Washington Wizards to a franchise-low playoff total Friday night in an 85-63 victory.

The Pacers lead the Eastern Conference semifinal 2-1.

Washington made only 24 field goals, another team postseason worst, on 73 attempts, 32.9 percent. That included 4 of 16 on 3s, and it didn't get much better on free throws, where the Wizards were 11 of 21.

So much for the bandwagon-hopping in Washington. There were boos on occasion, and most of the crowd started heading to the exits after George's 3 with 3 minutes left made it 75-58.

Game 4 is Sunday in Washington (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Nets end 11-game skid by routing Pelicans

Best of NBA: Nets end 11-game skid by routing Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS -- Brook Lopez and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points apiece and the Brooklyn Nets ended an 11-game losing streak, routing the New Orleans Pelicans 143-114 on Friday night.

Caris Levert added 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting for the Nets, who had seven players in double figures while beating their season high for points by 16. Their 29-point victory was 11 more than their previous largest. They also set season highs for points in the second quarter (37) and points in any quarter with 43 in the third.

Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 22 points and nine rebounds despite leaving in the third quarter with a leg injury. The defeat was a huge comedown for him and the Pelicans a day after he was named a starter for the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans (see full story).

Warriors top Rockets to win 6th straight
HOUSTON -- Kevin Durant scored 32 points and the Golden State Warriors used a big third quarter to build a huge lead and coast to their sixth straight victory, 125-108 over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

In a matchup of two of the best teams in the Western Conference and All-Star starting guards Stephen Curry and James Harden, the Rockets fell short. Houston, which entered the game leading the NBA with 667 3-pointers, was just 7 of 35 behind the arc. Harden went 0 for 5 and Eric Gordon, who entered the game leading the NBA with 160 3s, missed all seven attempts.

Clint Capela had 22 points and Harden added 17 points with 11 assists for the Rockets, who are third in the West behind Golden State and San Antonio (see full story).

Kemba Walker scores 32 to lead Hornets past Raptors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker scored 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting, and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Toronto Raptors 113-78 on Friday night.

Walker, who came in averaging 23 points and looking to earn his first All-Star selection, scored 16 points in the pivotal third quarter, including a four-point play as the Hornets outscored the Raptors 33-15 to build a 25-point lead.

Walker didn't play at all in the fourth quarter after the Hornets stretched their lead to 30. He finished with eight assists.

Frank Kaminsky had a solid night off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

Kyle Lowry had 24 points and DeMar DeRozan added 23 points for the Raptors, who have lost two straight (see full story). 

Magic pull away for convincing win over Milwaukee
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Elfrid Payton scored 20 points, Jeff Green added 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and the Orlando Magic snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Milwaukee Bucks 112-96 on Friday night.

The Magic, returning home from a 1-5 road trip, played with a small lineup for much of the night and it provided the offense they needed with two of their top scorers out. Orlando had six players in double figures, including starters Aaron Gordon (17), Serge Ibaka (13) and Nikola Vucevic (13).

Orlando shot 46 percent from the field while limiting the Bucks to 41 percent.Jabari Parker led Milwaukee with 25 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed 17 points and 14 rebounds as the Bucks dropped their fourth straight game (see full story). 

Instant Replay: Sixers 93, Trail Blazers 92

Instant Replay: Sixers 93, Trail Blazers 92


Let’s get the injury scare out of the way first. 

Joel Embiid went up for a monster dunk in the third quarter, landed on his left foot, lay on the ground momentarily, then came up grabbing his left knee. Embiid limped off the court on his own as a gasp fell over the arena.

Embiid was diagnosed with a left knee contusion. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation when he returned to the bench minutes later. They would erupt again in the final seconds of regulation when Robert Covington nailed a go-ahead three-pointer with 4.5 left to cap a come-from-behind, 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday night.

The Sixers finished without Embiid, who returned to the game but looked as if he aggravated his knee on a fourth-quarter drive to the basket. He made a few trips up and down before Nerlens Noel subbed in for him with 8:50 to go. Embiid walked off the court in visible discomfort. The Sixers ruled him out for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons. Embiid recorded a double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes.

After the game, Embiid said he felt "great" and "everything looked good" following an MRI. 

So while an Embiid injury dominates any night, there was also a game played.

The Trail Blazers jumped out on the Sixers early, led by 16 points in the first quarter from Damian Lillard. The Sixers fought back from a 13-point halftime deficit to only one point (without Embiid) in the third, when they outscored the Trail Blazers, 27-15. Ersan llyasova scored 11 points in the quarter. 

The fourth quarter got physical, including an exchange between former Trail Blazers teammates and fellow Duke products Gerald Henderson and Mason Plumlee. A Covington three-pointer made it a one-point Trail Blazers lead, 91-90, with 38.2 seconds to play. The biggest one came shortly later as Covington made his second game-winning shot of the season when he drained another trey from T.J. McConnell to give the Sixers another victory at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers fended off Plumlee’s final layup attempt to close it out.

The Sixers improved to 15-26 and have won eight out of their last 10 games. 

Inside the box score
• Ilyasova scored a season-high 24 points.

• Covington scored 22 points, including 5 for 12 from long range.

• Lillard led all players with 30 points.

• Plumlee posted a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double. 

Roster moves before game
The Sixers claimed veteran point guard Mo Williams off waivers on Friday and then waived him, according to a league source (see story). Later in the day, they re-signed Chasson Randle to a second 10-day contract (see story). His first expired on Thursday.

“Albeit new, he really adds to what we're trying to build in relation to the guys that we invite in our program,” Brett Brown said of Randle. “He's a high-character guy."

Up next
The Sixers will travel to Atlanta to play a back-to-back game against the Hawks (24-18) on Saturday.