(The Sports Xchange) – Highlights of Saturday’s National Basketball Association games:
Nuggets 96, Warriors 81
The Denver Nuggets limited the Golden State Warriors to 3-for-27 on 3-point shooting Saturday, stunning the defending NBA champions 96-81 on the second night of back-to-backs for both teams.
The loss ended the Warriors’ 11-game winning streak on the eve of their showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.
Coming off a tremendous defensive effort in a 102-85 win at Portland on Friday night, the Nuggets were even better less than 24 hours later, harassing Warriors stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson into a combined 12-for-38 shooting, including 1-for-15 on 3-pointers.
Gary Harris led five players in double figures with 19 points for the Nuggets, who were thumped 127-108 at home by the Warriors earlier this season when Golden State matched its season-high with 18 3-pointers.
Raptors 102, 76ers 86
DeMar DeRozan, who scored a career-best 45 points Thursday against the Philadelphia, came back with 29 points in the rematch.
The Raptors have won six in a row and 12 of their past 13 games while the 76ers have lost five in a row and nine of their past 10.
The Raptors are 18-1 against the 76ers since 2013-2014.
Dario Saric scored 17 points for Philadelphia.
Hornets 111, Bucks 106
Dwight Howard had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and Charlotte salvaged a weekend split against Milwaukee.
The Hornets rallied from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter after the Bucks opened the second half with a 19-2 run to make it 73-55.
The Hornets won thanks to free throws, as they attempted 40 free throws to Milwaukee’s 17. Michael Carter-Williams’ two free throws with 8.4 seconds left pushed a two-point lead to 107-103 and then Kemba Walker tacked on four more free throws in the final six seconds.
The Bucks were missing Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat out with soreness in his right knee. Antetokounmpo came into the game as the NBA’s second-leading scorer at 29.6.
Pacers 123, Nets 119 (OT)
Victor Oladipo scored 38 points to go with six assists as Indiana snapped a three-game home losing streak.
Myles Turner added 23 points, nine rebounds and six blocks, which ties a career high.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 26 points and eight assists, and DeMarre Carroll added 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, helping Brooklyn outrebound the Pacers 51-41.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds despite shooting 7 of 18 from the field.
Wizards 130, Magic 103
Mike Scott paced a balanced scoring attack with 18 points and the unpredictable Wizards returned to their winning ways with a rout over Orlando.
Returning home after Friday’s stunning 119-84 road debacle against the Brooklyn Nets, the Wizards (18-15) led 72-48 at halftime and pushed the margin to 29 in the second half en route to scoring their most points in any game this season.
Bradley Beal and Otto Porter each scored 17 points while Markieff Morris had 16. John Wall finished with 10 points and 13 assists. Washington has won four of six games.
Elfrid Payton scored a career-high 30 points and added 10 assists for the short-handed Magic, who have lost eight in a row.
Hawks 112, Mavericks 107
Guard Dennis Schroder scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half, including 10 in the final five minutes, to help Atlanta win.
Schroder, who didn’t play on Friday night because of an ankle injury, matched his season high with 13 field goals and was 4-for-8 on 3 pointers. He added seven assists and three rebounds to help Atlanta break a two-game losing streak and sweep the season series against the Mavericks.
Schroder’s 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the game gave Atlanta a 110-107 lead. The Mavericks had a chance to tie when Dirk Nowitzki missed a 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining.
Celtics 117, Bulls 92
The Celtics hit Chicago with a 38-point third quarter en route to a blowout of the Bulls that ended Boston’s two-game losing streak.
The Celtics led by a point when Jaylen Brown hit a pair of 3-pointers to start and finish a 12-0 run over 2:49 early in the quarter, breaking the game open and sending the Bulls to their second straight loss after seven wins in a row.
The 38 points was a third-quarter high for the Celtics, who avenged a loss suffered in Chicago two weeks earlier.
Kyrie Irving, who didn’t play in that first meeting, scored 25 points and dished out seven assists and Brown, who missed the loss in New York with Achilles soreness, scored 20.
Pelicans 109, Heat 94
Ian Clark scored 19 points to the lead New Orleans over Miami.
Clark shot 7-of-11 from the field and made 5-of-7 3-pointers. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and Anthony Davis scored 17 points as the Pelicans swept their back-to-back set in Florida games after their win Friday at Orlando.
The Pelicans scored 13 unanswered points and built a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter. Clark’s two 3-pointers and Davis’ triple keyed the run. Davis’ layup with 3:35 remaining capped the surge and gave the Pelicans an 81-64 lead.
Grizzlies 115, Clippers 112
Guard Tyreke Evans scored 30 points with 11 assists as Memphis hung on to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers.
Trailing by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter, the Clippers made it a one-possession game with 1:02 left when guard Lou Williams (36 points) hit a 3-pointer.
After Memphis failed to add to their lead, the Clippers had 21.3 seconds to attempt a game-tying shot. But the Grizzlies’ defense forced Williams into a bad pass and turnover and the clock expired.
Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the third time in the last 22 games. The 115 points marked a season high.
Thunder 103, Jazz 89
Russell Westbrook totaled 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his 11th triple-double of the season to lead Oklahoma City.
Paul George added 26 points and Carmelo Anthony chipped in 16 points for the Thunder. Oklahoma City beat Utah for the third straight time to win the season series 3-1.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting after returning from a two-game absence.
Timberwolves 115, Suns 106
Jimmy Butler scored 32 points and Minnesota blew most of a 22-point third-quarter lead before regrouping to beat Phoenix.
Andrew Wiggins had 17 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, which has won four of the past five games and six of the past eight.
TJ Warren had 24 points and Troy Daniels 18 for Phoenix.
Trail Blazers 95, Lakers 92
Maurice Harkless scored 13 of his season-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to lift Portland to a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Trail Blazers have won 14 straight against the Lakers and eight in a row at Staples Center.
Shabazz Napier started in place of injured leading scorer Damian Lillard and scored 21 points, CJ McCollum scored 17 and Zach Collins contributed 11 off the bench for Portland.
Harkless, who came in averaging 4.9 points, grabbed an offensive rebound, put it back while being fouled and made the free throw with 21.4 seconds left to give Portland a 94-92 lead. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed two 3-point tries in the final 10 seconds for the Lakers.
Spurs 108, Kings 99
Being down two of their starters hardly mattered San Antonio against Sacramento.
The Spurs beat Sacramento for the 11th straight time, riding a 29-point, 10-rebound effort from LaMarcus Aldridge, a triple-double from Pau Gasol and terrific guard play.
San Antonio produced 29 assists as a team and committed only eight turnovers.
By doing so, the Spurs survived a night without All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard and starting guard Danny Green. Leonard, who has missed 30 games this season because of right quadriceps tendinopathy, sat out to rest as part of his comeback plan. Green had tightness in his left groin.