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<img width="18" height="10" src="/images/video.gif">Deron Williams hits 11 3-pointers

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

There's hot, there's a sidewalk in Texas in the summer, there's the of surface of the sun and then there's Deron Williams' hand Friday in the first half.

In the first half, Williams set an NBA record with nine 3-pointers, seven of them coming in the first quarter. Seven!

(Is there anything better than when a player is feeling it and he's got the ball crossing halfcourt and you just know he's about to crank one from deep? I love that.)

He finished the game 11-16 from 3 for 42 points, one off the NBA record for most in a games held by Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant.

Williams was going for it too. With his team up 16 with 1:52 left, he splashed his 11th 3. And with his team up 17 with 1:07 left, he launched his 16th 3 of the game. Mark Jackson would've hired a hitman to take a bat to his knees before his got that one off.

And as you might expect, his Nets cruised over the Wizards 95-78.

Video via The Brooklyn Game


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<img width="18" height="10" src="http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/video.gif" border="0"> Winning dunk

Monday, 11 March 2013

After the game, the Black Mamba would say that he felt horrible about his 8 turnovers, showing a total disregard for taking care of the ball. But despite those issues, Bryant was brilliant, nailing huge shot after huge shot and taking over while still being efficient. He hit a stop-pumpfake-and-launch three to send the game to overtime (thanks to Amir Johnson not fouling), then nailed this to win the game.

A phenomenal season for Bryant continues and the Lakers find themselves only a half game back of the 8th seed. The Lakers are coming.


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Heat pull away late against 76ers, streak hits 17

MIAMI -- So many streaks. And the Miami Heat made sure they all survived.

LeBron James scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade added 22 points and the Heat pulled away late to beat Philadelphia 102-93 on Friday night -- their 12th straight regular-season win over Philadelphia, their 13th in a row at home and most importantly, their 17th straight victory overall.

For good measure, it all came on a night where James got to take the final 8 minutes off, a bit of unplanned rest that started with the outcome not exactly decided, either.

"We got better tonight," James said. "And that's the most important thing."

Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Ray Allen added 12 and Shane Battier scored 11 for the Heat, who matched the 12th-longest winning streak in NBA history and became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot this season.

James went to the bench with 8:02 left and with the Heat only leading by eight. Philadelphia never got any closer than that from there, and James wound up logging his 11th-shortest night of the season in terms of minutes, playing just over 34 on Friday.

"Good team win, particularly in the second half," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Our bench was really dialed in."

Thaddeus Young scored 25 points, Dorell Wright added 14 and Spencer Hawes finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who lost their 12th straight on the road. Jrue Holiday added a game-high 13 assists for Philadelphia.

The 76ers got outscored 48-31 in the final 19 minutes.

"I've very proud of them," Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. "Our guys fought tonight. They did a tremendous job and it's just that Miami is a great, great team and that's what happens with great teams. They ratchet it up on you and squeeze you for about five or six minutes and then they take the game. That's what championships have always done, so I couldn't ask any more of our guys. I thought they did everything they could do."

Down by nine in the third quarter, the Heat took a 76-75 lead when James beat the buzzer to end the period with a 3-pointer, then took control with what became a 17-4 run over a 5-minute stretch of the fourth.

"Anytime you can hit a big shot like that at the end of the quarter, it definitely is a momentum-shifter," Young said. "And I think that's what got them going and they came out and just jumped out on us on the fourth."

Philadelphia gave the Heat all they wanted for the first three quarters, taking a quick 18-11 lead, then making its first five attempts from 3-point range in the second quarter, and finally going on a spurt in the third that had Miami facing a 60-51 deficit at one point.

Much as they did in the first 16 of these wins, the Heat - who host Indiana in a playoff rematch on Sunday - found a way.

Miami had 10 assists on 12 field goals in the third quarter and took a second-half lead for the first time on a brilliant move by Bosh - who spun to his right, got fouled by Hawes and scored with his left hand anyway, all while being off-balance. His free throw put the Heat up 65-64.

Wright, whose career started in Miami, hit a 3-pointer to put Philadelphia back up 71-67, before the Heat closed the third with a trio of 3-pointers from Mario Chalmers, Battier and then James, whose buzzer-beater came seconds after he was hit in the throat area by Philadelphia's Damien Wilkins.

James shook off the hit, made the 3, then took a brief look at the Philadelphia bench for emphasis.

He was fired up, and the mood permeated everyone on the Miami side in the fourth, when the Heat pulled away.

"With the atmosphere here in Miami and with what we had on the line with the streak that everybody outside is probably tired of hearing about, we knew they were going to play very well," Wade said. "We were able to work the game, work the game, until we were able to pull away."

Miami had some big moments in the early going, including one possession where James had three offensive rebounds - two off his own misses - before scoring, and another when Chris Andersen blocked shots by Evan Turner in succession to set up a possession where James got an alley-oop dunk.

But Philadelphia didn't go away, fueled by the second-quarter 3-point barrage, and nine points by Wright in just 4:28 of the third quarter.

The fourth, however, was all Miami, even with James on the bench for the final minutes.

Notes

Miami clinched a playoff spot with 22 games remaining, five games faster than any other team in Heat history. It was the 450th Heat home game, including playoffs, since Wade was drafted in 2003. Miami has won 315 of those games, exactly 70 percent. Hawes was 4 for 5 in the first half, then 0 for 5 in the third quarter. The 76ers won three road games in a four-day span of November. They're 3-21 away from home since. It was Miami's 105th straight home sellout, the franchise's second-longest streak. Wade has at least one steal in 21 straight games, matching the longest such streak of his career. James became the 70th NBA player with 1,000 3-pointers made, according to STATS.

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Kobe clutch as Lakers strike down Raptors in overtime

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant's steely determination never wavers. It's his 34-year-old body he sometimes wonders about.

He skipped pre-game shootaround because his shoulders were tight, and he was feeling weary in overtime.

But Bryant found enough energy to hit the tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play in regulation, then dunked for the go-ahead basket with 10 seconds left in the extra session, helping the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 118-116 on Friday night for their second straight come-from-behind win.

They rallied from 25 points down to beat New Orleans on the road two nights earlier, when Bryant had 42 points and 12 assists. This time, he finished with 41 points and 12 assists, and made 14 of 16 free throws.

"It's like, `Damn, are you kidding again?"' Bryant said. "Do we collectively have the energy to do this again, and we did."

Against the Raptors, the Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit in regulation and a slow start in overtime to close within a half-game of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. They also moved a game above .500.

"It feels good to be back within striking distance," Bryant said. "We're just hell-bent on trying to win games."

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 13 rebounds while going 6 of 13 from the free-throw line as he and Bryant complimented each other well for the second game in a row.

"We know what we're trying to accomplish as a team and we just stuck together," Howard said. "Kobe hit some tough shots and then we got some good stops at the end."

DeMar DeRozan led six Toronto players in double figures with 28 points. Rudy Gay and Alan Anderson added 17 points each, and Kyle Lowry had 15 points and 10 assists. Starter Andrea Bargnani left the game with a strained right elbow in the first quarter.

"Our guys are fighting, scratching their behinds off," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "Now we have to understand the intensity, the speed of the game, how much you have to put thought into the game and execution at the same time as you are playing hard."

The Lakers won their fifth in a row at home and 10th straight at Staples Center against Toronto, which was seeking its first-ever season sweep after winning 108-103 on Jan. 20.

The Lakers found themselves playing catch-up nearly the entire game.

Under defensive pressure in overtime, Bryant passed off to his teammates, but they repeatedly missed. Steve Nash finally hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 115 with 45 seconds left. Then, Bryant's running dunk gave the Lakers their second lead of overtime.

"He's a clutch shooter, you can't just leave him open," Bryant said. "He made them pay."

Howard fouled Alan Anderson, who made the first free throw and deliberately missed the second. But Aaron Gray fouled going for the ball, giving the Lakers possession. Nash got fouled and missed the first but made the second for a 118-116 lead.

Gay's jumper missed as time expired, the same thing that happened to him when he took the last shot of regulation. He shot 7 for 26.

"They didn't go in, so I guess not," he said about the looks he was getting. "I don't like to miss."

Bryant and Howard combined to score 12 straight points in the fourth and Nash hit a 3-pointer as the Lakers trailed 103-99, the third time they closed within four points. Bryant's 3-pointer beat the shot clock and got the Lakers to 105-103.

Anderson hit a jumper for the Raptors, who led 107-103. Bryant missed a 3-pointer, but after a timeout, he caught the inbounds pass from Nash and hit a 3-pointer that drew the Lakers within a point with 29 seconds to go.

Howard fouled Lowry, who made both for a 109-106 lead with 8 seconds left. After another timeout, Bryant caught the inbounds from Steve Blake and fought through traffic to make the tying 3-pointer at 109-all.

"We're just not going to give in," said Bryant, who had nine of his team's 13 turnovers. "I'm a perfectionist. ... The turnovers I had were just tired turnovers."

Bryant had the Lakers in rally mode in the third when they trailed by 13. He keyed a 13-5 run with eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, to get to 83-78. But then Bryant had two straight turnovers, and Antawn Jamison and Bryant missed 3-pointers to close the quarter trailing 89-79.

Howard and Bryant combined to score 17 of the Lakers' 28 points in the second quarter, when they rallied from 15 points down to trail 59-53 at the break. Bryant only played the final five minutes of the period, scoring five points in that time.

The Raptors shot 74 percent in the first quarter, outscoring Los Angeles 37-25. Toronto lost Bargnani with a strained right elbow after he scored two points in nine minutes.

Notes

The Raptors play 18 of their final 20 games against Eastern opponents. Toronto concluded its four-game trip with a 1-3 mark, having changed time zones four times. The Raptors haven't won at Staples since Nov. 13, 2009, when they beat the Clippers. They fell to 9-23 on the road.

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Lillard goes for 35 as Blazers rock Spurs by 30

Sunday, 10 March 2013

SAN ANTONIO -- The Portland Trail Blazers handed the San Antonio Spurs their worst loss in the Tim Duncan era, winning by such a large margin that it stunned them almost as much as the Western Conference's top team.

Damian Lillard had 35 points and nine assists and Portland routed San Antonio 136-106 on Friday night to set a record for the most points by an opponent at the AT&T Center and hand the Spurs their second-worst home loss ever.

"To come in here and win is hard enough," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "To do it in that fashion is pretty remarkable."

LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and J.J. Hickson had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Portland. Eric Maynor added 20 points off the bench and Wesley Matthews had 15 points.

Tim Duncan had 18 points to lead the Spurs, who were playing their third straight game without Tony Parker. The Spurs' All-Star point guard is expected to miss four weeks with a Grade 2 left ankle sprain.

"Of course," Lillard said when asked if it would have been different with Parker in the lineup. "He's one of their best players. It would have been a completely different game. I might be more tired from chasing him around. But that doesn't really matter, `cause he didn't play."

Perhaps it may not have been too different.

Lillard had 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Portland's 98-90 win over Parker and the Spurs on Dec. 13 and he followed it with a similar performance Friday.

Lillard was 12 for 20 from the field and 3 for 4 on 3s while handing out six assists with no turnovers in 40 minutes.

"He was pretty special," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He just bid his time in the first half. Aldridge was playing so well [in the first half]. In the second half, Lillard just took over and we just couldn't stop him."

The inability to stop Lillard led to the second worst home loss in San Antonio's history, trailing only the 33-point defeat to the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 19, 1997, at the Alamodome in Popovich's first season as head coach. The Spurs lost David Robinson to injury earlier that season, but would be awarded the top overall pick that offseason and selected Duncan.

Duncan was on hand for this loss however, and not even an energized performance by the All-Star forward could slow the Trail Blazers.

"It was a combination of us playing bad and them playing well," Duncan said. "Obviously, we'll try and learn from it. There will be a bunch of film session involved with this one."

What they will see is Portland continually beating to the basket and getting shots off before defenders could close. San Antonio had difficulty keeping pace with Portland's athleticism in losing for only the fourth time in 29 home games this season.

The Trail Blazers were 13 for 21 on 3-pointers and also shot 61 percent overall from the field to upend the Spurs, who entered the game with the league's best record but dropped behind Miami (46-14), which beat Philadelphia 102-93 on Friday night.

"They had a great night shooting," Popovich said. "That's a bad combination if they're doing that and we're playing poor defense. I can't remember a night where we played that poorly and, at the same time, the other team shot the heck out of it. That's going to make it tough."

Hickson and Aldridge dominated early, combining for 33 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Lillard scored 25 points in the second half as Portland outscored San Antonio 46-24 in the final quarter.

"J.J. [Hickson] and L.A. [Aldridge] carried us in the first half," Stotts said. "Damien had a solid game. When we went small and spaced the floor it gave him a lot of opportunities."

San Antonio closed within 107-95 on a 6-0 run, but Lillard ended the streak with a 3 that led Maynor to shout "Man down!" as he waited to enter the game. Lillard's 3 sparked a 14-4 run that included three 3s and three free throws by Portland's rookie point guard after he was fouled attempting a 3.

Lillard was 2 for 2 on 3s in the fourth and 4 for 6 from the field overall.

"It's like a confidence," Lillard said. "You feel like everything is fine. When I was scoring and making plays, I felt like we were going to be fine. If we needed a bucket, I was going to be able to get a bucket. If we needed a play to be made, I was going to be able to do it."

Hickson scored 19 points in the first half, going 8 for 11 on a mix jumpers and layups against several Spurs defenders.

Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard added 16 apiece for San Antonio and Cory Joseph had 13 and Danny Green 10. San Antonio shot 52 percent from the field, but were only 6 for 19 from 3s.

Leonard and Joseph got the Spurs off to a speedy start, scoring nine and six points respectively in the opening quarter. Duncan had 12 points and five rebounds in the first half as the Spurs tied the game at 57-all at the half.

Duncan's points included stripping Aldridge of a defensive rebound, beating two players to the loose ball and driving to the basket for a one-handed dunk that gave the Spurs a 29-27 lead with 6.0 seconds left in the first quarter.

Notes

Portland C Meyers Leonard left the game early in the second quarter when he injured his right ankle after stepping on Duncan's foot. His status is unknown. Trail Blazers W Sasha Pavlovic (quadriceps) and G Elliot Williams both missed the game with injuries. San Antonio is 11-23 this season when trailing after the third quarter. With his 26 points, Aldridge became the only player in the league with 1,200 points and 500 rebounds this season. San Antonio celebrated military appreciation night, honoring all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces with video tributes. Gregg Popovich gave the introductory tribute, followed by similar messages from Danny Green and Stephen Jackson. Members of the Wounded Warriors sat at courtside.

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Nets' Williams hits 11 3s in easy win over Wizards

Saturday, 9 March 2013

NEW YORK -- Deron Williams already had five 3-pointers in less than five minutes when he pulled up in transition well behind the line, just to see how hot he really was.

"Yeah, it was a heat check," Williams said. "I think I should have shot another one after that, too."

That probably would have fallen as well.

Williams made an NBA-record nine 3-pointers in the first half, finished with 11 and scored a season-high 42 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 95-78 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

Williams made his first eight shots behind the arc, became the first player in a decade to match the opposing team's score in the first half, and was one shy of the NBA record of 12 3-pointers as the Nets opened a huge early lead and coasted.

He missed from straightaway with 1:08 left in the game, leaving him one shy of the record shared by Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall.

"It kind of reminded me of my days when I first got in the league when I played with Ray Allen," said Nets forward Reggie Evans, referring to the NBA's career leader in 3-pointers.

Williams had four 3-pointers before Washington even made a basket, his fourth giving the Nets a 16-0 lead before Nene finally got Washington on the board. Williams answered right back with one, and then clearly realizing he was in the zone, pulled up from 25 feet on a fast break and nailed it to make it 22-2.

"He hit six 3s that quick. We wasn't making shots all night," Wizards guard John Wall said. "For him to six 3s and you're not scoring, three points add up quicker than two. That's 18 right there. It's kind of tough to get through that when you're not making any shots."

Evans had 11 points and a career-high 24 rebounds while making 5 of 16 free throws for the Nets, earning a standing ovation for his efforts.

Brook Lopez also scored 11 points the Nets, who go right back on the road Saturday for a big game at Atlanta, one of teams they are battling for fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Wall had 16 points for the Wizards, who played without rookie guard Bradley Beal, their leading scorer, because of a sprained left ankle and lost for the fourth time in five games.

Brooklyn plays only four of its 15 games this month at home, with lengthy time away for the A-10 tournament and then the circus.

The Nets celebrated Latin Night on Friday, with starting lineups announced in Spanish, and then Williams treated fans to a performance that was simply en fuego.

He finally missed a jumper with 3:21 left in the first period and departed with 23 points, and the Nets led 38-14 after their highest-scoring first period of the season.

"Deron, he was hot like fish grease," Evans said. "He was hot, so he kind of kicked it off and we just kept it going throughout the game."

Williams checked back in with 7:17 remaining in the half and needed less than a minute to reach 8 for 8, and his streak ended when he was short on a step-back attempt from beyond the arc with 5:50 to go.

But when he struck again with 1:07 to go, he and the Wizards were deadlocked at 33, and he just missed outscoring them for the half when missed an open 3-pointer off an inbounds pass with 0.7 seconds to go.

"I hit the first couple and just they were those shots where when they leave your hand they feel like they're good, and so I just kept shooting them," Williams said.

Tracy McGrady is the last player to equal or surpass the opposing team in the first half when he outscored the Denver Nuggets 37-32 on March 9, 2003, according to STATS.

Washington cut Brooklyn's 59-33 halftime lead to 74-58 after three, and tried to get closer by intentionally fouling Evans, who came in shooting 50.4 percent at the line. He missed five in a row at one point, including an airball that might've been 2 feet short.

But with fans standing and booming chants of "Reggie! Reggie!" filling Barclays Center, he eventually hit two in a row on one trip before exiting.

"I was enjoying the moment, didn't matter if I missed it or made it and stuff, because I was already confident we were going to win the game," Evans said, "so I was just excited."

Williams then knocked down one more 3, equaling Stephen Curry for the most in the NBA this season, but couldn't add another.

"He put on a shooting show, the nine 3s that he hit," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "It's hard to get the ball out of his hands because he's in transition just coming up on the 3-point line. He got hot. I don't know if I've seen him quite like that before in a game.

"It was just a hell of a shooting display."

It was by far the best performance of the season for the two-time Olympian, who didn't even make the All-Star game after signing a five-year extension worth more than $98 million last summer and shooting only 30 percent on 3s before the new year.

But he's been back at his regular level since sitting out a pair of games last month to get treatment on his ankles.

The Nets came in averaging 10.1 3-pointers over the past nine games, but Williams got there himself. He finished 11 of 16 behind the arc, occasionally holding three fingers in the air as he headed back down the floor.

Notes

Williams' seven 3-pointers in the first quarter was one shy of the NBA record for a period, set by former Milwaukee All-Star Michael Redd, Williams' teammate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. Vince Carter held the previous Nets record of nine 3-pointers, set against Memphis on Dec. 11, 2006.

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Report: Rose OK'd to play, but tells Bulls not yet

Derrick Rose's doctor has cleared the Chicago Bulls' star to play, a team source said, but his long-awaited return to the lineup won't occur until he can confidently dunk off his left foot, Rose has told the team.

...

The team is not pressuring Rose, the source said, but the Bulls are confident he will return this season and are still hoping for a mid-March return, which would mark 10 months after his surgery. The Bulls play at Golden State on March 15.

So now we get more of the "Why hasn't Derrick Rose returned yet?" conversations, which are fun and pointless. Let's go over this in bullets to make it plain:

The truth of the matter is Rose could return within a few days, or it could be a week. But we're getting closer, and that's a good thing for basketball fans. He'll get there when he gets there.

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