Trail Blazers 113, Nets 99
When Jusuf Nurkic went to the bench, Portland inserted a player who barely knew its offense.
Imagine how good Portland's center combination can be once Enes Kanter gets up to speed.
Nurkic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Kanter added 18 points and nine boards in his Portland debut, and the Trail Blazers beat Brooklyn on Thursday night.
"Obviously, our two big guys really dominated inside," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
The tandem was so good that the Trail Blazers didn't even need a big night from All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who was just 5 for 21 from the field. He finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
"They're going to change the dynamic for a lot of teams, how they guard us obviously," Blazers guard CJ McCollum said.
Kanter signed last week with the Blazers after losing his job with the Knicks and then getting his release after they couldn't find a deal before the trade deadline. He made his first seven shots and finished 8 for 9, missing only a 3-pointer, as the Blazers relied on a steady diet of pick-and-rolls when he was in to compensate for his unfamiliarity with their sets.
Languishing on the bench during much of what became an 18-game losing streak for the Knicks, Kanter was excited to be on the floor in meaningful situations.
"Last time I got a win I think it was like almost two months," he said.
McCollum added 21 points in a good return from the break for the Blazers after going into it with a 129-107 victory over Golden State. They opened a seven-game road trip and don't play their first home game after the All-Star break until March 7 against Oklahoma City.
Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Allen Crabbe had 17 points for the Nets, who came out of the All-Star break above .500 for the first time since 2013. All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell shot only 4 for 16, finishing with 14 points and eight assists.
"We didn't have great rhythm tonight, didn't play well. I think that's across the board. Didn't coach well, didn't play well," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "It was just one of those games where I think Portland was simply the better team. There's just no way around it."
Lillard's 3-pointer midway through the third — his only one through three quarters — gave Portland a 69-63 lead that the Blazers would extend largely through Kanter's work inside. He followed with four baskets in the period, including one that gave Portland its largest lead at 82-67.
The lead was 14 after his free throws with 10:40 to play before Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier and Crabbe — all former Blazers — fueled a 15-2 surge that trimmed it to 90-89. But Portland pushed the lead back into double digits, with Lillard contributing a 3-pointer with a little over 3 minutes to go and Nurkic getting a three-point play when he was fouled on a powerful dunk.
Caris LeVert had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. He was just 13 for 36 in his first three games since returning from a lengthy absence with a dislocated right foot, but Atkinson kept him in the starting lineup. Atkinson said he still trusted LeVert and thought he was looking good even with his shot not falling yet.
"Obviously we have a long relationship now. He's been here from the beginning and so I'm not thinking of just the past three games, three or four games," Atkinson said. "I'm thinking of preseason and last season and how well he started the season and listen, I think from a physical standpoint he's looked pretty sharp."
Nets forward Jared Dudley returned after missing 16 games with a strained left hamstring. That leaves just sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie on the Nets' injured list, and Atkinson said he is doing plenty of things on the court as he recovers from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.
Warriors 125, Kings 123
Stephen Curry scored 36 points, hitting 10 3-pointers, and the Warriors survived a hectic finish to beat the Kings.
Kevin Durant added 28 points, nine rebounds and tied his career-high with seven blocks. DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 10 rebounds in his first game against his former team since signing with the Warriors this past offseason.
The Warriors led most of the fourth quarter behind Curry's 11 points. The two-time MVP shot 12 of 23 overall and was 10 of 16 beyond the arc.
Golden State still had to hold on to avoid back-to-back losses.
Sacramento trailed 123-117 with 25.5 seconds remaining but closed within 125-123 following back-to-back 3s by Buddy Hield.
After Andre Iguodala missed a pair of free throws, the Kings had a chance to tie but Hield shot an airball as time expired.
Marvin Bagley III had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings.
Lakers 111, Rockets 106
LeBron James scored 29 points, Brandon Ingram added 27 and the Lakers rallied from a 19-point deficit midway through the third quarter to defeat the Rockets.
The Lakers trailed most of the game and were down 95-88 with 7:49 remaining when they went on a 17-4 run over a six-minute span. James, who scored eight points during the run, gave Los Angeles a 99-97 lead with 4:15 remaining. They would lead by as many as eight in the final minute.
It is Los Angeles' sixth comeback victory this season when trailing by 15 or more at any point.
James Harden led Houston with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists before fouling out with 1:24 remaining. It is his 32nd consecutive game where he has scored 30 or more points, overtaking Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in NBA history. Chamberlain also holds the record at 65 games.
76ers 106, Heat 102
Tobias Harris had 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, JJ Redick hit a late 3-pointer and Philadelphia overcame All-Star center Joel Embiid's absence to beat Miami.
Ben Simmons added 21 points, Boban Marjanovic had 19 — including three free throws in the final 1 1/2 minutes — and Jimmy Butler 18. Embiid will be out at least a week with a sore left knee.
Dwyane Wade scored 19 points for Miami, and Dion Waiters added 18.
Miami led 99-98 after Wade's runner with 1:56 left. Marjanovic made two free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-99. Following Wade's missed jumper, Redick made the 3 from the top of the key to make it 103-99 with 1:04 left.
Kelly Olynyk then missed a 3-point attempt, and Marjanovic made the first of two free throws with 38.3 ticks left to put Philadelphia up five.
Cavaliers 111, Suns 98
Cedi Osman scored 19 points, Kevin Love had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Cleveland sent Phoenix to its franchise-record 16th straight loss.
NBA-worst Phoenix (11-49) topped the record of 15 set March 2- April 1, 2018. The Suns' last victory was Jan. 12 over Denver.
Love played 22 minutes in his third game since returning from foot surgery. He was 6 of 13 from the field.
Devin Booker scored 30 points for Phoenix, and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 23.
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