Clip­pers pull off 126-122 win against Blaz­ers Reign­ing champ Spurs book play­off re­turn

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Los An­ge­les’ Chris Paul had a sea­son-high 41 points and 17 as­sists to lead the Clip­pers to a come- from- be­hind 126-122 win at Port­land on Wed­nes­day, deny­ing the Trail Blaz­ers a win that would have clinched the NBA’s North­west Di­vi­sion ti­tle.

Port­land, which had won its pre­vi­ous four games, will have to wait to clinch their first di­vi­sion ti­tle in five years. The Blaz­ers re­mained 6-1/2 games clear of Ok­la­homa City, which failed to make up ground af­ter suf­fer­ing a home de­feat against Dal­las in an even higher-scor­ing game.

Among other key re­sults, Mil­wau­kee ended its long run of home losses against Chicago by beat­ing the Bulls, and Hous­ton’s James Harden scored a ca­reer-high 51 points to power Hous­ton to victory over Sacra­mento.

The Clip­pers trailed by 19 points in the first half but were led back by Paul and J.J. Redick, who added 25 points, in­clud­ing five 3-point­ers, and eight re­bounds. They then held off a fu­ri­ous Port­land rally at the end.

LaMar­cus Aldridge led the Blaz­ers with 29 points.

Dal­las with­stood a triple-dou­ble from Rus­sell West­brook and won 135-131 at Ok­la­homa City.

West­brook fin­ished with 31 points, 11 re­bounds and 11 as­sists. It was his 10th triple-dou­ble of the sea­son, the 17th of his ca­reer and his eighth since the All-Star break.

Dal­las’ Monta El­lis scored 26 points and Chan­dler Par­son added 22 for the Mav­er­icks, who had seven play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures.

The Thun­der lost de­spite hav­ing three play­ers score at least 30 points. An­thony Mor­row scored 32 and Enes Kanter added a ca­reer-high 30.

Mil­wau­kee snapped a run of nines­traight home losses against Chicago by beat­ing the Bulls 95-91.

Michael Carter-Wil­liams had 21 points and 10 re­bounds while Er­san Ilyasova added 16 for the Bucks, who main­tained a 2-1/2 game lead over Miami and Brook­lyn for sixth place in the Eastern Con­fer­ence.

Chicago’s seven-game win­ning streak against Mil­wau­kee ended de­spite 25 points and seven re­bounds from Jimmy But­ler.

Hous­ton’s James Harden strength­ened his case for the MVP award with a ca­reer-high 51 points and the Rock­ets needed just about all of them as they hung on for a

Reign­ing cham­pi­ons San An­to­nio are headed back to the NBA play­offs for the 18th straight sea­son af­ter a 103-91 victory over Or­lando.

Backup big man Aron Baynes scored a ca­reer-high 18 points to lead the Spurs, whose re­serves outscored the Magic bench 69-12.

Manu Gi­no­bili added 13 points and Marco Be­linelli chipped in 12 for the Spurs. Boris Diaw had 11 points and Kawhi Leonard con­trib­uted 10 points and seven re­bounds.

10,000 Two-point Field Goals

With one of his sig­na­ture bank shots in the third quar­ter, vet­eran Spurs star Tim Dun­can marked his 10,000th two-point field goal. He is one of just 11 play­ers in NBA his­tory to hit 10,000 two-point­ers.

The Spurs trailed 19-16 be­fore scor­ing the last seven points of the first quar­ter to take the lead for good.

San An­to­nio led by as many as 25 points in the sec­ond half, cruis­ing to their fifth straight victory.

The Spurs are 15-3 since Feb. 27, once again show­ing their abil­ity to round into form as the play­offs loom.

“It’s not that we are switch­ing it on now,” Gi­no­bili said. “We tried to get it to­gether early, but we just couldn’t, whether it was from in­juries or just poor play.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn’t sur­prised to see his vet­eran team de­liv­er­ing the goods as the post-sea­son ap­proaches — even on the sec­ond night of back-to­back games.

“They’re high-char­ac­ter guys 115-111 win over Sacra­mento.

Wed­nes­day’s per­for­mance sur­passed Harden’s pre­vi­ous ca­reer best of 50 points, which came on March 19.

An 8-0 run by Harden, which he capped with a 3-point play, pushed the Hous­ton lead to 112-104. Four straight points by the Kings cut the lead to four with less than a minute left, but they didn’t score af­ter that.

DeMar­cus Cousins led Sacra­mento with his sec­ond ca­reer triple-dou­ble with 24 points, 21 re­bounds and 10 as­sists.

San An­to­nio clinched a play­off berth with a 103-91 win at Or­lando.

Aron Baynes had 18 points and and they care about what’s go­ing on,” Popovich said.

The Spurs are cur­rently sixth in the West­ern Con­fer­ence.

Be­hind them the Dal­las Mav­er­icks tight­ened their grip on the sev­enth seed with a 135-131 victory over the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der, who are cur­rently in the eighth and fi­nal play­off spot and four games adrift of the Mavs.

Monta El­lis scored 26 points for Dal­las, Chan­dler Par­sons added 22 with six as­sists and Dirk Manu Gi­no­bili added 13 for the Spurs, who have made the post­sea­son for 18-straight years.

Vic­tor Oladipo led the Magic with 24 points but Or­lando still fell to the Spurs for the eighth straight time.

Bos­ton’s Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points af­ter nearly miss­ing the game with an eye in­jury sus­tained hours be­fore tip-off, and the Celtics beat In­di­ana 100-87 in a match of Eastern Con­fer­ence play­off hope­fuls.

Tyler Zeller scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half for Bos­ton, which is half a game out of a play­off spot. The Celtics sit just be­hind Brook­lyn and Miami, who are tied for sev­enth in the East. Now­itzki added 18 for Dal­las, who snapped a two-game skid.

Rus­sell West­brook, Enes Kanter and An­thony Mor­row did ev­ery­thing they could.

West­brook posted his 10th triple-dou­ble of the sea­son with 31 points, 11 as­sists and 11 re­bounds.

Kanter de­liv­ered a ca­reer-high 30 points with 16 re­bounds and Mor­row came off the bench and drained six three-point­ers on his way to a sea­son-high 32 points.

Ge­orge Hill had 21 points for the Pac­ers, who fell two games be­hind Bos­ton.

Utah cruised to a 98-84 win against Den­ver, with Rudy Gobert scor­ing a ca­reer-high 20 points and grab­bing 12 re­bounds.

Char­lotte beat Detroit 102-78 to keep pace in the play­off race, stay­ing two games be­hind Brook­lyn.

Toronto’s Lou Wil­liams scored 18 points to lead a bal­anced Rap­tors of­fense that won 113-99 at Min­nesota.

Wash­ing­ton stayed three games be­hind the Rap­tors by beat­ing Philadel­phia 106-93, with Marcin Gor­tat con­tribut­ing 23 points and 14 re­bounds.

AP

Or­lando Magic’s Vic­tor Oladipo, right, looks for a way around San An­to­nio Spurs’ Danny Green #14 dur­ing the first half of an NBA bas­ket­ball game in Or­lando, Florida on Wed­nes­day, April 1.

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