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NBA Roundup: Rockets escape Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers guard Pat Connaughton, left, and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul chase the ball. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Portland Trail Blazers guard Pat Connaughton, left, and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul chase the ball. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON — Chris Paul didn’t have a great game Tuesday after missing five of the previous six games to rest while dealing with minor injuries.

The nine-time All-Star was back to his old self Thursday night.

Paul hit an off-balance layup with 0.8 seconds left to lift the Houston Rockets to a 96-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, who were without start Damian Lillard.

Paul scored 27 points to help Houston get its second straight victory since a loss to San Antonio. The Rockets swept their four-game season series with Portland.


INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers looked playoff-ready Thursday night against a Golden State team that’s still working on it.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points on a nearly perfect shooting night, Victor Oladipo added 21 and the Pacers pulled away from the short-handed defending champions for a 126-106 blowout — and their first season sweep of the Warriors since 2011-12.

“We’re the underdog in every matchup,” Oladipo said. “We’ve just got to continue to keep getting better. We still have room to get better, especially going into the playoffs.”

It’s hard to imagine how much better the Pacers can play after dominating the three-time defending Western Conference champs, who played their seventh straight game without Stephen Curry due to a left MCL sprain.


CLEVELAND — LeBron James looked at the clock and scoreboard and didn’t flinch.

It was time to fix things. His time. Closing time.

“He gets that look,” Cavaliers forward Kyle Korver said.

James scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and rallied Cleveland from a 17-point deficit to stun the Washington Wizards 119-115 on Thursday night to maintain the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs trailed 104-87 with 7:35 left before storming back behind James, who added 14 assists, nine rebounds and made sure coach Tyronn Lue got a win in his return after missing nine games due to health reasons.

NETS 119, BUCKS 111

MILWAUKEE — Brooklyn’s long-range shooters dealt a blow to the Milwaukee Bucks’ hopes of moving up in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

They hit 3s whether they were wide open or had a defender in their face. They hit them from the corners and the wings.

The Nets shot 48 percent from behind the arc in a 119-111 win Thursday night over the Bucks, though it seemed like they just couldn’t miss. Allen Crabbe scored 25 points and led a 19-of-39 3-point shooting with two 3s in the closing minutes of a tight game.


DENVER — The Denver Nuggets have stopped scoreboard watching and suddenly started winning.

A novel concept, with coach Michael Malone posting the standings on the board for basically the last time after a loss in Toronto. Since then, they’ve won four straight to make things interesting down the stretch.

Jamal Murray had 22 points to lead six Denver players in double figures, Nikola Jokic sealed the game with a late tip-in and the Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-96 on Thursday night in a pivotal matchup between teams vying for a playoff spot.


SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell looked at coach Quin Snyder when he arrived for shootaround Thursday, and the intensity on his face and in his body language was unmistakable.

“When he comes in like that, man, we generally respond with the same energy,” Mitchell said.

The Jazz rookie scored 19 points, Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 117-95 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.

(Associated Press)