NBA Wrap: Hot-shooting Clippers top Rockets


NBA Wrap: Hot-shooting Clippers top Rockets

LOS ANGELES -- J.J. Redick scored 19 of his 26 points in the first half to lead seven players in double figures, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat Houston 137-118 Monday night, handing the Rockets their first loss of the season in Dwight Howard's return to Staples Center.

Chris Paul added 23 points and 17 assists, Jamal Crawford had 21 points, and Blake Griffin scored 18 for the Clippers, who led the entire game and tied a franchise record with 78 points in the first half.

Howard finished with 13 points and nine rebounds after getting roundly booed in his first game in Los Angeles since leaving the Lakers and signing with Houston in the NBA's biggest free agent move last summer (see full recap).

Cavs deal Timberwolves first loss
CLEVELAND -- C.J. Miles scored 19 points, Kyrie Irving added 15 and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off a late rally for a 93-92 victory over Minnesota on Monday night, handing the Timberwolves their first loss of the season.

The Timberwolves nearly erased a 23-point deficit midway through the third quarter to stay unbeaten.

Cleveland led 93-84, but was scoreless over the final 2:43. Kevin Love's basket with 38 seconds remaining cut the lead to one point. Following a miss by Irving with 15 seconds left, the Timberwolves called timeout to set up the last shot. Love, the NBA's leading scorer, missed a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining and the ball was tipped away as time ran out.

Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 23 points. Love added 17 points and 13 rebounds (see full recap).

Grizzlies keep Celtics winless
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Jerryd Bayless keyed a fourth-quarter rally, scoring all of his 15 points in the period to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 95-88 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

Bayless was 6 of 7 in the quarter to help Memphis erase a six-point Boston lead with just under 9 minutes to play.

Zach Randolph and Mike Conley also had 15 for Memphis, Conley handing out eight assists. Marc Gasol finished with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds.

Jeff Green led the Celtics with 22 points, while Jared Sullinger scored 16, going 2 of 3 from outside the arc. Avery Bradley scored 14 and Jordan Crawford finished with 12.

The Celtics fell to 0-4 under rookie coach Brad Stevens (see full recap).

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since reaggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.