NBA Playoffs: Rockets win to avoid elimination

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NBA Playoffs: Rockets win to avoid elimination

HOUSTON -- Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin came off the bench to score 21 points and help the Houston Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 108-98 on Wednesday night to avoid elimination.

The Trail Blazers lead the first-round series 3-2 entering Game 6 on Friday in Portland.

A basket by Damian Lillard got the Trail Blazers within two points before James Harden stepped back and swished a 3-pointer to make it 103-98 with about three minutes left.

Harden's shot was the start of a 12-0 Houston run to close it out. He finished with 17 points and seven assists.

Houston finally slowed down LaMarcus Aldridge, limiting him to eight points, after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Lillard added 26 (see full recap).

Raptors hang on after blowing big lead
TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored a career playoff-high 36 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer after Toronto had blown a 26-point lead, and the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-113 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 and Greivis Vasquez added 15 for the Raptors, who would advance to face Miami in the second round with a victory in Game 6 on Friday in Brooklyn.

Game 7, if necessary, would be Sunday in Toronto.

Joe Johnson scored 30 points and Mirza Teletovic had 17 for the Nets, who scored 44 points in the fourth quarter (see full recap).

Spurs take series lead over Mavs
SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Parker had 23 points hours after the birth of his first child and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in a 109-103 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

Manu Ginobili had 19 points and Tiago Splitter added 17 points and 12 rebounds as San Antonio regained home-court advantage in the tense series against their intrastate rival. Tim Duncan added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points for the Spurs.

Vince Carter scored 28 points, making numerous heavily contested shots in going 10 for 16 from the field for Dallas.

After averaging 16 points in the series' first four games, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki found the stroke in scoring 26 points. Nowitzki was 10-for-20 shooting, but it wasn't enough to overcome Parker and the Spurs returning to form (see full recap).

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

BOX SCORE

The Warriors are the blueprint of a total team in the NBA. They have a star-studded starting lineup and a top sixth man with the positional versatility that creates hard-to-combat matchups.

Yet, as the Warriors notched their 50th win of the season, 119-108, in a collaborative effort against the Sixers, they gave credit to the potential they see in their opponent, even when Brett Brown didn't have his key pieces on the court Monday (see Instant Replay).

"They play hard," Stephen Curry said. "They have some talent to work around. Hopefully they have some consistency with their roster going forward and getting guys healthy. One thing about them, you've got to compliment their energy and effort and fight every night they play."

Facing the Warriors with a full squad is challenging enough. The Sixers did it shorthanded without Joel Embiid, who is out indefinitely with a left knee contusion (see story). They also are less than a week removed from trading starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova and the defensive-minded Nerlens Noel.

"You've got to give this team a lot of credit," Draymond Green said. "They're going to be really, really, really good. I mean, they're missing Embiid and Ben Simmons and they're really on their way."

With 10 available players, including Justin Anderson, who has had just one shootaround to actually get a run in with the team, the Sixers fought until the final buzzer sounded. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 21 points and seven assists, while also collecting seven rebounds. Gerald Henderson scored 16 and both Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes added 15 (see feature highlight). Covington also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

"They play the right way," Klay Thompson said. "They made it tough on us tonight. I'm excited to see their team when Embiid and Simmons are healthy. It should be a scary frontcourt, and with Saric. They're heading in the right direction. They'll only get better this June because they have some high picks. It's a bright future in Philly."

The Sixers held the Warriors to 6 for 29 three-point shooting (20.7 percent), including an 0-for-11 outing by Curry. This was the third time this season and only the 37th time in his career Curry missed all of his three-point attempts.

"I think he had an off night," Brown said. "I think at times we got lucky with them as a team. They didn't shoot it the way the team normally would shoot it. Some of it is I give our guys credit."

Curry took his uncharacteristic performance, which included a pair of air-balls, in stride.

"The weatherman said it was a low-pressure system that was coming and I forgot to adjust," Curry said. "One thing, [I] don't ever get down on myself. Obviously that's why I got 11 of them up and not make one. You still have confidence the next one's going in."

Still, the Warriors turned to team basketball to pull away with the win. While they struggled from long range, they found other ways to run up the scoreboard, including shooting 33 for 39 at the free throw line.

Kevin Durant led all players with 27 points to go with eight rebounds. Green recorded a 14-point, 11-assist double-double and six boards. Thompson scored 21 points and Zaza Pachulia added 16. And at the end of the night, Curry still finished with 19 points in spite of his three-point woes.

"We've been doing this for a while together now and just try to find ways to get it done," Green said. "Obviously you've got to do a lot more on the defensive end to get stops, and try to create more offense. I think it was a good effort from everybody tonight to chip in."

Added Curry: "For us to still have the moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O."

The Warriors are a perennial title contender thanks to their balanced roster and depth of weapons. The Sixers are in the beginning stages of working toward that goal. After Monday's game, the NBA's strongest example of "team" appreciated the direction in which Sixers are moving.

"Putting this franchise back together," Green said, "it's amazing to see."

Best of NBA: Mavs top Heat, improve to 2-0 with Nerlens Noel

Best of NBA: Mavs top Heat, improve to 2-0 with Nerlens Noel

DALLAS -- Seth Curry scored 29 points, Harrison Barnes added 24 and the Dallas Mavericks beat Miami 96-89 on Monday night, handing the Heat just their third loss in 19 games.

Curry looked a little like famous older brother Stephen Curry of Golden State by hitting two long 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the latter giving Dallas a 90-89 lead. The Mavericks rallied from 14 points down in the first quarter and let an 11-point third-quarter lead get away.

Two games after scoring a career-high 31 points in a loss at Minnesota, Curry was 5 of 7 from long range to help the Mavericks improve to 2-0 with forward-center Nerlens Noel, who came from the Sixers before the trade deadline.

Goran Dragic scored 24 points for the Heat, who went scoreless over the final 4:37 as a three-game winning streak ended (see full recap).

DeRozan tops Knicks with late jumper, scores 37
NEW YORK -- DeMar DeRozan made a turnaround jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining, finishing with 37 points and leading the Toronto Raptors to a 92-91 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

The Raptors won their fourth in a row, doing it with DeRozan and defense after learning earlier in the day that All-Star Kyle Lowry will have right wrist surgery that could sideline him the rest of the regular season.

Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points for the Knicks, but finished a 9-for-26 night when he missed a long jumper as time expired.

Newcomers Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker were on the floor down the stretch as the Raptors clawed back from a 17-point, first-half deficit. Ibaka finished with 15 points.

Toronto moved percentage points ahead of Washington for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors host the Wizards on Wednesday.

Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee each scored 16 points for the Knicks (see full recap).

LeBron leads Cavs over Bucks in return from strep throat
CLEVELAND  -- LeBron James returned from a bout with strep throat and scored 24 points, Kyrie Irving added 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off the Milwaukee Bucks 102-95 on Monday night.

James missed Saturday's loss to Chicago -- the Cavs fell to 0-4 this season without their superstar -- and was listed as questionable before arriving at Quicken Loans Arena. He looked fit from the start, delivering an early dunk and adding one in the fourth that he capped by screaming, "That's and one!" at MiIwaukee's John Henson, who fouled him.

James' dunk triggered an 11-0 run that helped put away the Bucks, who were within 86-85 midway through the fourth.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 20 to lead Milwaukee, and Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored just nine on 4-of-13 shooting (see full recap).