The Los Angeles Clippers survived a furious fourth quarter rally from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night to hang on to a 109-107 victory at the Staples Center. The Clippers led by 11 points with five minutes to play, but Kevin Love and Kevin Martin spearheaded a comeback that would ultimately fall short at the buzzer.
Minnesota had two follow-up chances off Martin's missed jump shot, down two with just seconds remaning, but Nikoka Pekovic and Love couldn't convert on point-blank attempts to send the game into overtime. The Clippers survived, and moved to 5-3 with the win. The Timberwolves, for their part, fell to 5-3 on the season.
The Clippers were led by their stars, Blake Giffin and Chris Paul. Griffin posted 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Paul finished with 21 points and 11 assists. The halfcourt bomb Jamal Crawford (18 points) hit at the end of the third quarter turned out to make all the difference:
Spurs 109, 76ers 85
The Spurs keep on rolling. San Antonio got out to a big first quarter lead against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday and used it to secure a 109-85 victory without much stress. The Spurs had six different scorers reach double-figures, led by Danny Green's 18 points and seven rebounds. The win moves San Antonio to 7-1, while Philadelphia falls to 4-4.
The Spurs held significant advantages across the stat sheet. San Antonio finished with 10 more assists, 10 more rebounds and eight more three-pointers than the 76ers on the night.
Trail Blazers 109, Pistons 103
Damian Lillard finished with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists to help the Portland Trail Blazers earn a 109-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Lillard converted 7-of-16 shots from the field, but was far from Portland's lone contributor. Six different Blazers reached double-figures, including reserves Mo Williams (17 points) and Dorell Wright (11 points).
The boost from the bench is surely much appreciated for a Portland squad that relied too heavily on its starters last season. But while an improved bench is surely a welcomed boost, the Blazers' starters remain every bit as dependable. LaMarcus Aldridge poured in 18 points and 12 rebounds while Robin Lopez added 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Nuggets 100, Jazz 81
The only winless team in the NBA has yet to claim its first victory, and on Monday night it wasn't even close. Utah lost 100-81 to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, and things are starting to look bleak for Ty Corbin and the Jazz.
Utah was a team tanking heading into the season, but these games aren't even close. The Jazz have lost their previous six games by double digits, and their young players have struggled throughout the stretch. Young forward Gordon Hayward had 22 points, and Derrick Favors had 21 and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.
Rockets 110, Raptors 104, 2 OT
James Harden had 26 points and 10 assists, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets bounced back from their two-game winning streak with a double-overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday.
Rudy Gay had 29 points on 37 shots and teammate DeMar DeRozan had 22 points on 25 shots in what wasn't the most efficient shooting performances you'll ever see. The Raptors took 114 field goal attempts in 58 minutes and managed only 10 assists as a team, though they did grab 20 offensive rebounds that helped keep them in the game.
Bulls 96, Cavs 81
The Chicago Bulls managed to get a much-needed win, but they lost their superstar again in the process. Derrick Rose was removed from the game late in the fourth quarter with a strained right hamstring, but the injury apparently isn't serious.
It was the first-ever matchup between Rose and Kyrie Irving, and Rose's Bulls got the better of Cleveland in this one. The entire Chicago starting lineup scored in double figures, and the Bulls held the Cavs to 41 percent shooting in the game.
Chicago wasn't any better from the floor at 41 percent, but the home team hit 24 of 26 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers in the process. Carlos Boozer led all scorers with 17 points in the game.
Celtics 120, Magic 105
Avery Bradley dropped 24 points while Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford and Kelly Olynyk pitched in 16 apiece as Boston managed to shoot 60 percent from the floor. The young Magic weren't bad with their 45-percent shooting, but it's difficult to keep up when they opposition is putting up those numbers.
Pacers 95, Grizzlies 79
There's no need to worry about an Eastern Conference Finals hangover for the Indiana Pacers. They're doing just fine.
The Pacers hosted Memphis on Monday and promptly beat them 95-79 after outscoring the Grizz 49-40 after halftime. The Indiana defense stifled Memphis into 41 percent shooting and outrebounded the Grizzlies 45-32.
Atlanta trailed Charlotte by eight points at halftime on Monday, but a 34-16 third-quarter explosion changed the fortunes for both teams in the Hawks' 103-94 over the Bobcats.
Al Horford went for 24 points, five rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes. Cartier Martin had 16 points on seven shots off the bench in the win. Seven Bobcats scored in double figures as Josh McRoberts led the way with 19 points. But Charlotte managed to shoot just 40.7 percent from the floor and hit just five three-pointers.
The Hawks hit 46 percent of their shots and registered 26 assists.