NBA Wrap: Grizzlies cruise past Blazers


NBA Wrap: Grizzlies cruise past Blazers

PORTLAND, OR. -- Zach Randolph scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds and Mike Conley added 19 points and seven assists to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 98-81 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Marc Gasol had 15 points and eight rebounds and Courtney Lee scored 12 points for the Grizzlies (23-20), who have won three straight and seven of eight.

Lamarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 16 rebounds as the Blazers (33-13) slipped three games behind Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City and had their home winning streak snapped at five.

Randolph registered his 27th double-double of the season as well as his franchise-leading 190th for the Grizzlies, who shot 51.8 percent and led from start to finish.

Portland fell to 18-5 at home (see full recap).

Anthony leads Knicks to win over Celtics
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes, and the New York Knicks avenged an embarrassing home loss with a rout of their own, beating the Boston Celtics 114-88 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.

Jeremy Tyler added a career-high 17 points and fellow reserve J.R. Smith also scored 17 for the Knicks, who lost by 41 last time the Celtics came to Madison Square Garden but led this one by 35. New York evened its record at 3-3 on its eight-game homestand, with games remaining against Cleveland on Thursday and Miami on Saturday.

New York is headed in the right direction again since ending a five-game losing streak Friday behind Anthony's 62 points, and is only a half-game out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot (see full recap).

Harden-less Rockets rally past Spurs
HOUSTON -- Dwight Howard scored 23 points, Terrence Jones had 21 and the Houston Rockets held on for a 97-90 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

The Rockets trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before scoring 33 in the third quarter to go on top. San Antonio closed to 90-88 in the final minutes, but Howard and Jeremy Lin helped Houston hold on for the win.

Boris Diaw scored a season-high 22 points for the Spurs, and also had 11 rebounds. Tony Parker added 17 points and Tim Duncan had 12 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

The Rockets were without leading scorer James Harden (bruised left thumb), who is averaging almost 24 points a game this season (see full recap).

Davis dominates in Pelicans' win
CLEVELAND -- Anthony Davis scored 30 points with eight blocks and seven rebounds and Eric Gordon scored 20, leading the New Orleans Pelicans to a 100-89 win over the puzzling Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Davis, one of three No. 1 overall picks in the game, was dominant at both ends of the floor as the Pelicans won their third straight. He injured fingers on his left hand in the final minutes, but got taped up during a timeout and stayed in.

New Orleans scored 16 straight points to close the first half and opened a 22-point lead in the third, causing some fans to boo the listless Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving scored 23 and Dion Waiters 21 for the Cavs, who had a 1-4 homestand after a 3-2 trip out West.

Cavs rookie Anthony Bennett, the first pick in last year's draft, scored a season-high 15 (see full recap).

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.