McCollum leads Blazers past Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Thunder could regret this missed opportunity.
CJ McCollum scored 34 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers beat Oklahoma City 108-105 on Sunday night. Portland doubled its lead to two games over the Thunder for third place in the Western Conference.
The Thunder had several chances to win. Oklahoma City got possession trailing by two with 18.5 seconds remaining. Oklahoma City’s Carmelo Anthony got trapped in the corner and forced his way through before turning the ball over. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook then fouled Portland’s Al-Farouq Aminu with 7 seconds to play and fouled out. Aminu made the first free throw and missed the second to give the Thunder a chance to force overtime, but Anthony missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan felt Anthony was the right person to take the final shot with Westbrook out, despite the fact that he had made just 3 of 12 shots before taking that last jumper.
“Carmelo is a proven scorer in this league and has made shots — big shots — for a large portion of his career,” Donovan said. “I’ve got confidence in him. So we’ll go with him in that situation. That’s just how I felt.”
The arena had the energy of a playoff game, especially in the second half. McCollum liked the way the Trail Blazers had to scrape and claw to get the win in a hostile environment.
“Being down and having to compete, going on runs, coming back and just having to get stops down the stretch,” he said. “They are a good team and made the game very difficult. We executed well on offense to come away with a win.”
Damian Lillard scored 24 points, and Jusuf Nurkic added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who swept all four games with the Thunder this season.
Westbrook led the Thunder with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Steven Adams had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Jerami Grant added 17 points.
Oklahoma City trailed 44-29 in the second quarter before going on a 16-0 run to take the lead. Portland regrouped and led 57-52 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Portland’s Ed Davis came down on Oklahoma City guard Terrance Ferguson’s back, and Davis shoved him as the two fell toward the ground. Ferguson got up quickly and went after Davis, and a skirmish followed. Four technical fouls were issued — to Evan Turner and Davis for Portland and to Ferguson and Westbrook for the Thunder. Shortly after that, Oklahoma City’s Paul George hit a 3 to give the Thunder a 75-74 lead. Portland’s Maurice Harkless made a 3-pointer as the third quarter expired to put the Trail Blazers up 82-80.
“I thought it was a hell of a basketball game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “You can tell this meant a lot to both teams. I thought we made a lot of good plays defensively. We were very good when we needed to be.”
ROCKETS 118, HAWKS 99: James Harden had a triple-double with 18 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in three quarters and the Houston Rockets rolled to their 60th victory, beating the Atlanta Hawks 118-99 on Sunday night.
It was the second straight game where the Rockets never trailed after a rout of New Orleans on Saturday night that set a franchise record for wins in a season. The NBA-leading Rockets have won nine straight and became the 18th team in NBA history to reach 60 wins in the 74th game of the season.
Houston was up by 24 at halftime and the Hawks cut into the lead with a solid third quarter, but never really threatened, allowing Harden to watch the final quarter from the bench for the second night in a row.
Taurean Prince scored 28 and Isaiah Taylor had 26 for the Hawks, who have lost three in a row and nine of their last 10.
Harden, who had 12 assists by halftime, had his fourth triple-double this season and the 35th of his career.
CAVALIERS 121, NETS 114: LeBron James had 37 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets for their fifth straight victory.
James kept up his latest sensational stretch by going 14 for 19 from the floor. He reached 2,000 points in a season for the 10th time, joining Karl Malone and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to do that.
Kevin Love added 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who came in averaging 122.5 points during the streak and just about reached that even with a slow start.
Former Cavs guard Joe Harris scored a career-high 30 points for the Nets, who lost their third straight.
BUCKS 106, SPURS 103: Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from an ankle injury to score 25 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks held on in the final few minutes after building a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs.
Antetokounmpo added 10 rebounds to pick up his 37th double-double of the season.
The Spurs trailed by 15 points with 8 minutes left before rallying to get within three with 35 seconds left on Pau Gasol’s putback. Eric Bledsoe missed a 3-pointer on the other end for the Bucks. San Antonio rushed down court to get one last shot off, but Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton blocked Dejounte Murray’s 3-point attempt from the right wing with 3.7 seconds left.
The loss snapped the Spurs’ six-game winning streak. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 points.
CELTICS 104, KINGS 93: Terry Rozier scored a season-high 33 points and nearly matched the Celtics’ franchise record for 3-pointers, Jaylen Brown made consecutive buckets to break open a close game in the fourth quarter, and Boston held on to beat the Sacramento Kings.
Making his sixth start in place of injured All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, Rozier shot 12 of 16, including 8 of 12 on 3s, in the rookie’s most impressive game of the season. Rozier, who had been averaging 16.2 points in Irving’s absence, also had five rebounds and three assists. The eight 3s were one shy of the Celtics’ single-game record of nine shared by Isaiah Thomas and Antoine Walker.
Brown had 19 points in his return after missing two weeks with a concussion.
Buddy Hield scored 24 points for Sacramento.
JAZZ 110, WARRIORS 91: Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 15 rebounds and the Utah Jazz pulled away from the undermanned, injury-plagued Golden State Warriors in the third quarter on the way to a victory.
Quinn Cook had 17 points and eight assists as defending champion Golden State played without its four injured All-Stars and was forced to use yet another makeshift starting lineup. Before the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr ruled out Stephen Curry for the first round of the playoffs because of a sprained left knee — while Curry vowed to do everything in his rehab power to prove Kerr wrong and return sooner.
Donovan Mitchell scored 21 points for the Jazz, coming off a four-point overtime loss at San Antonio on Friday. Joe Ingles added 14 points with four 3-pointers, eight assists and six rebounds.
PACERS 113, HEAT 107, OT: Victor Oladipo had 23 points and five assists to help the Indiana Pacers clinch a playoff berth.
Thaddeus Young had 22 points, nine rebounds and five steals, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who secured their seventh appearance in the postseason in the last eight seasons.
Tyler Johnson made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, James Johnson had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Bam Adebayo added 14 points for the Heat, who split the four-game season series.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra missed the first game of his career, leaving Indianapolis on Saturday after learning his wife Nikki was entering labor. Assistant coach Dan Craig filled in and Spoelstra is expected to return for Miami’s home game against Cleveland on Tuesday.
KNICKS 101, WIZARDS 97: Trey Burke scored 19 points in his first start in exactly three years, leading eight players in double figures as the New York Knicks defeated the wavering Washington Wizards.
Courtney Lee added eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to send the Wizards to a third straight loss. It’s the second three-game skid of the season for Washington and both have come in the latter portion of a 26-game stretch without All-Star point guard John Wall, who underwent surgery on his left knee in late January. Wall returned to full-contact practice on Saturday.
Bradley Beal scored 14 points, but shot just 5 of 17 for Washington, which led only once after the early stages of the second quarter. Otto Porter Jr. added 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Wizards remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but lost for the eighth time in their last 12 games.
CLIPPERS 117, RAPTORS 106: Lou Williams scored 26 points against his former team, Tobias Harris had 20 and the Los Angeles Clippers overcame an 18-point first-quarter deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors.
Montrezl Harrell scored 19 points and Milos Teodosic had 15 as the Clippers boosted their playoff hopes by winning for the second time in seven games and snapping a three-game losing streak north of the border. Austin Rivers scored 11 points and DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds to help the Clippers wrap up a four-game road trip on a winning note. Los Angeles went 2-2 on the trip, and has won 13 of 20 on the road.
Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who dropped to 30-7 at home, the best mark in the NBA. It was a tough night for Toronto All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan scored 11 points, making three of 12 field goal attempts. Lowry had 11 points and eight assists, shooting 4 for 9.