NBA Wrap: Rose hurts hamstring in Bulls' victory

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NBA Wrap: Rose hurts hamstring in Bulls' victory

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose had 16 points before leaving in the fourth quarter with a right hamstring injury, and the Chicago Bulls pulled away from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 96-81 victory on Monday night.

Rose grimaced after he drove down the lane for a twisting layup with 3:39 left. He remained in the game for a short time before he was pulled for Kirk Hinrich, and a trainer then attended to the 2011 NBA MVP at the end of the bench.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said it looks like Rose has a "minor" hamstring injury. He said Rose will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

Kyrie Irving had 16 points for Cleveland, but was 5 for 19 from the field in his first game against Rose. The Cavaliers committed 20 turnovers, leading to 29 points for the Bulls (see full recap).

Rockets outlast Raptors in 2OT
HOUSTON -- Jeremy Lin scored 31 points off the bench, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 110-104 in double-overtime to snap a two-game losing streak.

Lin shot 10 of 17 from the field and hit 8 of 9 from the free throw line. James Harden finished with 26 points and 10 assists.

Howard was just 4 of 12 at the foul line. Chandler Parsons had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Rockets, who could not hold a double-digit, second-half lead for the second straight game.

Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 29 points and 10 rebounds but shot 11 of 37 from the field. DeMar DeRozan added 22 points, but he struggled as well, finishing 6 of 25 (see full recap).

Clippers edge Timberwolves
LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Paul added 21 points and the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-107 on Monday night after Nikola Pekovic missed a tip-in at the buzzer.

Love missed first and Pekovic came up just short to end the Wolves' two-game winning streak.

Paul had 11 assists, Jamal Crawford scored 18 points and DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 11 rebounds to help the Clippers improve to 3-0 at home.

Kevin Martin scored 30 points for the Wolves, who lost their sixth straight against the Clippers.

Pekovic had 25 points, and Love had 23 points and 19 rebounds (see full recap).

Pacers rip Grizz to stay unbeaten
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored 23 points and Lance Stephenson had the first triple-double of his career, leading the perfect Indiana Pacers to a 95-79 victory Monday night over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Indiana became the NBA's seventh team to open 8-0 since 2000 -- two more wins than the franchise's previous best start. And they followed a familiar script in the battle between last season's conference runner-ups by dominating the glass, dominating the second half and divvying up top honors.

Stephenson finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists. George Hill scored 13 points and Roy Hibbert added five more blocks to his NBA-leading total.

Memphis was led by Marc Gasol with 15 points and Zach Randolph with 12 (see full recap).

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

NEW ORLEANS -- Of all the players Joel Embiid could be compared to, a similarity between a 7-foot-2, 270-something-pound center and a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard wouldn’t seem like a match.

That’s exactly what Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sees, however, when looking at Embiid and reigning MVP Steph Curry.

“He’s different than anybody that’s been in this league in a long, long time,” Gentry said Thursday before the Sixers win over the Pelicans. “He’s a tremendous talent, he really is. I’ve never seen a guy that size, and with that kind of strength, that’s got such a soft touch. He shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry. It’s so soft when it leaves his hand.”

Curry is shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. Embiid is 45.8 percent from the floor is 44.2 percent from long range.

Embiid flashed a big smile and paused to react when hearing of Gentry’s praise. He had been feeling hard on himself after going 0 for 5 beyond the arc against the Pelicans (see story).

“Steph is probably one of the best shooters in the league right now," Embiid said. "So that compliment means a lot."

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”