Griffin’s 44 lifts Pistons vs Clippers

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LOS ANGELES— Blake Griffin scored 44 points in his return to Staples Center for the first time against his old team and the Detroit Pistons beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 109104, yesterday to snap a fourgame skid.

Griffin was greeted with cheers during pregame introductions and received a standing ovation after a first-quarter video tribute from the team that drafted him first overall in 2009.

He stuck his right arm in the air and then brought his raised hands together in a thankful gesture without smiling. He clearly wanted to beat the team that stunningly traded him last January after he had signed a $171 million, five-year extension.

Griffin scored 15 points in the opening quarter when he got razzed by superfan Clipper Darrell during free throw attempts. He had 26 points in the first half to help Detroit to a 65-54 lead.

His 3-pointer to start the third and a basket by Andre Drummond pushed Detroit to a 16-point lead. Griffin had a one-hand slam reminiscent of his old Lob City days.

Andre Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds for the Pistons.

Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points.

Suns 102, Nuggets 93

In Phoenix, Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career high with 26 points for the second time in three games and Phoenix beat Denver, a victory for the team with the worst record in the Western Conference over the team with the best.

Oubre also tied his career best with 11 rebounds. Deandre Ayton added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns. They have won two of three with Devin Booker sidelined with back spasms.

Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets. Denver fell to just a half-game ahead of Golden State for the best record in the West.

Timberwolves 110,

Pelicans 106

In Minneapolis, Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and a career-high 27 rebounds to help the Minnesota Timberwolves hold off Anthony Davis and New Orleans.

Towns swished a 3-pointer to make it 106-103 with 2:55 left, giving the Timberwolves the lead for good. Then he blocked a 3-point try by Davis on the other end, triggering a fast break that Tyus Jones finished with a layup.

Davis had 30 points and 14 rebounds for his 13th consecutive double- double. Jrue Holiday added 25 points and seven assists for the Pelicans. Magic 105, Celtics 103

In Orlando, Florida, Aaron Gordon had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Orlando held off Boston.

Jayson Tatum missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have tied it for the Celtics. They charged back from a nine-point deficit in the final 1:43 before losing to the Magic for the second time this season.

Kyrie Irving scored 25 points for the Celtics, 10 of them from the foul line in the final 4:31.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando.

Thunder 122, Spurs 112

In Oklahoma City, Dennis Schroder scored all of his 19 points in the second half to help Oklahoma City beat San Antonio.

Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City. The Thunder bounced back from a 154-147 loss in double-overtime loss to the Spurs on Thursday night.

Marco Belinelli scored 24 points, and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 after scoring a career-high 56 points Thursday.

Heat 112, Grizzlies 108

In Miami, Justise Winslow scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade had a huge blocked shot in the final seconds and Miami beat Memphis.

Wade blocked a potential tying layup by Shelvin Mack, then won a jump ball to help the Heat escape. Wade scored 10 points to help Miami reached the midpoint of the season at 21-20.

JaMychal Green had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Jazz 110, Bulls 102

In Salt Lake City, Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points, his third straight game with more than 30, to help Utah pull away from Chicago.

The Bulls trailed only 9792 before Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 105-92 with 2:23 remaining.

Ingles, who had 16 points, then waved goodbye as he backpedaled down the court, clinching Utah’s fifth win in its last six games. — AP

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