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Updated: 10 min 40 sec ago
Taj Gibson didn't worry when Chicago fell behind Dallas early, and he wasn't concerned when the Mavericks made a late run for the lead. The Bulls had answers both times. Gibson scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Mike Dunleavy hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and Chicago overtook the Mavericks in the fourth quarter of a 100-91 victory Friday night. ''We're used to this,'' Gibson said after the Bulls (32-26) won for the eighth time in nine games, moved a season-high six over .500 and answered a 22-point home loss to Dallas in December.
The Spurs play a style that's been described as boring and ugly at times, so it only made sense that they felt comfortable down the stretch against Charlotte in a game their own coach said was ''hard to watch.'' Tim Duncan had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and San Antonio overcame a sluggish start to beat the Bobcats 92-82 on Friday night. The Spurs clinched their 17th consecutive winning season, dating to Duncan's first with the team. Manu Ginobili scored 15 points, Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills added 14 each and Kawhi Leonard had 12 for San Antonio (42-16). Overall it was a hell of a win against a very good basketball team.'' Al Jefferson scored 20 points and former Spurs guard Gary Neal added 15 for Charlotte (27-31), which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Kevin Durant often says he'll do whatever his team needs. In the second half against Memphis, his mission was simply to score as often as possible. He had 30 of his 37 points after halftime to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Grizzlies 113-107 on Friday night. Durant made 10 of 15 shots and all eight of his free throws after halftime to help the Thunder hold off a furious rally.
With his injured right ankle heavily taped, Goran Dragic decided to play when the Suns met the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek had said it would be a game-time decision whether Dragic would play. And after the morning shootaround, Dragic did not sound optimistic. The Phoenix playmaker said his injured right ankle still is quite sore and he needs to be at 100 percent to play the way he needs to play.
Cleveland forward Anthony Bennett missed the Cavaliers' game against Utah on Friday night because of a sore right knee, adding to the team's long list of injuries. Center Anderson Varejao (sore back) and guards Dion Waiters (hyperextended left knee) and C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle) also are sidelined. The team said Bennett will be a game-time decision Saturday night at Memphis.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The New Orleans Pelicans say starting point guard Jrue Holiday has undergone surgery for a stress fracture in his right tibia and will miss the rest of the season.
Caron Butler has agreed to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to a person close to the situation. The Milwaukee Bucks agreed to a contract buyout with the 33-year-old forward Thursday and waived him. The source says Butler is expected to sign with Oklahoma City after he clears waivers Saturday. Butler, who won an NBA title with Dallas in 2011, adds a scorer to a team that has lost three straight but expects to contend for an NBA title.
ATLANTA (AP) -- Hawks center Gustavo Ayon will miss the remainder of the season following surgery on his right shoulder.
For LeBron James, the mask was distinctive. So, too, was the outcome for the New York Knicks. Playing with a dark carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose - a ''menacing'' look is how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra described it - James scored 31 points to help Miami beat the reeling Knicks 108-82 on Thursday night. ''I tried to put pressure on the defense, tried to make plays and I was happy to be back on the floor,'' said James, who missed one game because of the nose, which got broken on Feb. 20 at Oklahoma City.
Jason Collins had plenty of gifts for Matthew Shepard's parents: a basket, a blowout, an autographed No. 98 jersey that he wears in honor of their son. Collins played the final eight minutes of the Brooklyn Nets' 112-89 romp over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, and although his three points and four fouls weren't much to look at in the boxscore, rarely has the 35-year-old center been this proud of a performance. Collins, who signed a 10-day contract with the Nets on Sunday, said the chance to meet Dennis and Judy Shepard was ''one of those cool treats in life.'' He gave them a signed black and white jersey - although not a game-worn one. We were happy to finally have the opportunity to meet,'' said Judy Shepard, who had spoken with Collins by phone last year after Collins announced he was gay and wore No. 98 because of her son.
Jason Collins played the final eight minutes of a blowout win. ''I got them a bucket,'' the Brooklyn Nets' center said with a chuckle. And a free throw.'' After his eight-minute cameo in Brooklyn's 112-89 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, the first openly gay athlete in America's four major sports met with the parents of slain Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard. Collins, who signed a 10-day contract with the Nets on Sunday, said the chance to meet Dennis and Judy Shepard was ''one of those cool treats in life.'' He gave them a signed black and white jersey - although not a game-worn one.
The Brooklyn Nets didn't take long to put their worst loss in more than 10 years behind them. Paul Pierce scored 18 points and the Nets rebounded from a 44-point loss the night before by routing the slumping Denver Nuggets 112-89 on Thursday night. ''We looked fresh after the back-to-back,'' Nets coach Jason Kidd said. Guys were creating movement and there was a lot of trust offensively.'' Joe Johnson, Marcus Thornton, and Mason Plumlee each added 10 points for the Nets, who snapped a six-game losing streak in Denver.
Trevor Ariza put down his plate of chicken long enough for a brief postgame interview, but he wasn't about to stop eating. Ariza scored the go-ahead basket on a fast-break layup with 1:20 left in the third overtime and the Washington Wizards outlasted Toronto 134-129 on Thursday night to win the longest game by time in Raptors franchise history. At 3:32, the game was 10 minutes longer than the previous Toronto record, a 3:22, triple-OT loss to the Nets in England on March 5, 2011. ''My feet and back are hurting and I didn't even play,'' Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel was worried about facing the Milwaukee Bucks in a matchup of the teams with the best and worst records in the NBA. ''If you're a team without a great record, and you've got a chance to knock off one of the top dogs, that's obviously a win that scores more points with you,'' Vogel said before the Pacers' 101-96 comeback victory Thursday night. Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Paul George and Lance Stephenson each scored 18 points for Indiana. The Pacers, 44-13 overall and an NBA-best 28-3 at home, blew a 17-point lead in the first half.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks waived forward Caron Butler on Thursday after agreeing to a contract buyout.
Former NBA star Lamar Odom lacked game shape and showed rust in his debut for Spanish club Baskonia, which lost 81-71 to Unicaja Malaga on Thursday. Odom, a two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, joined the Basque team last week after being out of contract since the close of the last NBA season, when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers. Odom did not return in the second half of the Euroleague game as coach Sergio Scariolo said Odom's body was dealing with the aches and pains of a long layaway.
The Dallas Mavericks have assigned Jae Crowder, Shane Larkin and Bernard James to the NBA Development League for a likely one-game stay and have recalled Ricky Ledo. All three regulars on the Dallas roster were set to be available for a home game Thursday night for the team's D-League affiliate in suburban Frisco. The Mavericks play at home Friday night against Chicago. Crowder has started eight games for Dallas but has played less than 3 minutes combined in the past three games, including sitting out one entirely.
Kemba Walker shakes his head and smiles thinking about the Bobcats' upcoming four-game stretch. Walker and the surging Bobcats are about to find out just how competitive they are against the NBA's top teams. ''The good thing about it is we're going to know what we need to work on after that stretch of games,'' coach Steve Clifford said. He said the Bobcats are playing better right now than at any point during his three seasons with the team.